Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 47
Effortless Success

Without leaving home
You can understand all that goes on in the world.
Without looking through a window,
You can see the universal patterns.
The farther you go,
The less you know.
The wise therefore
Don’t go but know,
Don’t look but see,
Don’t try but succeed.
The best way to do is to be.

Commentary

“When some one reminded him that the people of Sinope had sentenced him to exile, he said, 'And I sentenced them to stay at home.'”

Diogenes via Will Durant
(of Sinope)
412 – 323 BCE
from Life of Greece

Themes: Punishment

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“The wise take Heaven as their ancestor, virtue as their home, and the Tao as their door and escape change.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Virtue Change

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“They change their sky, not their soul, who rush across the sea.”

Horace
65 – 8 BCE

Themes: Travel Change

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“‘Without traveling’ means to know without depending on previous or external experience… ‘without trying’ means to focus the spirit on the tranquility that excels at making things happen.”

Chéng Xuanying 成玄英
(Ch'eng Hsuan-ying)
631 – 655 CE

Themes: Travel

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“How long will you keep pounding on an open door begging for someone to open it?”

Rabia Basri رابعة العدوية القيسية‎‎
(Rābi‘a al-‘Adawīyya)
714 – 801 CE

Themes: Openness

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“One is on the way for aeons without leaving his house; one leaves his house without being on the way.”

Rinzai Gigen 臨済義玄 via Irmgard Schloegl
(Línjì Yìxuán)
? - 866 CE
from Zen Teachings of Rinzai (Record of Rinzai), Irmgard Schloegl translation 1976

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“The reason sages of the past understood everything without going anywhere was simply because they kept their natures whole.”

Su Che 呂洞 via Red Pine
1039 – 1112 CE
from Tao-te-chen-ching-chu

Themes: Travel

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“For the wise, knowledge is not limited to form… Name is not limited to matter… Success is not limited to action… they don’t have to do anything.”

Li Xizhai via Red Pine
(Li Hsi-Chai)
12th century CE
from Tao-te-chen-ching yi-chieh

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“There is no need to look for God here or there. He is no farther away than the door of your own heart.”

Meister Eckhart
(Eckhart von Hochheim)
1260 – 1328 CE

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“Bidden or Unbidden, God is Present.”

Erasmus
(Desiderius Roterodamus)
1466 – 1536 CE

Themes: God

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“We have the knowledge not to search for divinity removed from us if we have it near; it is within us more than we ourselves are.”

Giordano Bruno via Gosselin and Lerner
1548 – 1600 CE

Themes: God Travel

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“Much that would be something has become nothing by being left alone, and what was nothing has become of consequence by being made much of… Often the remedy causes the disease. It is by no means the least of life’s rules to let things alone.”

Balthasar Gracian
1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Travel Letting Go

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“An old young man will be a young old man.”

Benjamin Franklin
1706 – 1790 CE
from Poor Richard's Almanack

Themes: Old Age

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“Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet.”

Jeremy Bentham
1748 – 1832 CE
from Principles of Morals and Legislation

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“Fortunate is he whose world lies in his home.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832 CE
from Faust, part II

Themes: Travel

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“Wherever I happen to be is home.”

Ryokan 良寛大愚
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)
1758 – 1758 CE

Themes: Travel

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“Searching through the paths and levels for a place far away, they have never had a chance to arrive at buddhahood.”

Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol ཞབས་དཀར་ཚོགས་དྲུག་རང་གྲོལ། via Erik Pema Kunsang
1781 – 1851 CE
from Flight of the Garuda

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“how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be his world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.”

Mary Shelley
1797 – 1851 CE
from Frankenstein

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“The quest for enlightenment only makes sense because buddha-nature is already present.”

Jamgon Kongtrul the Great འཇམ་མགོན་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་བློ་གྲོས་མཐའ་ཡས། via Judith Hanson
(Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé)
1813 – 1899 CE
from Torch of Certainty

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“I have traveled a great deal in Concord.”

Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

Themes: Travel

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“if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams… In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

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“Good judgment is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgment.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Themes: Karma

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“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Themes: Mistakes

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“I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life.”

Anatole France
(Jacques Anatole Thibault)
1844 – 1924 CE

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“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”

Elbert Hubbard
1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Mistakes

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“I know so many women who have kept all the things that she had lost, but whose inner glow has faded. Whatever else was gone, Antonia had not lost the fire of life.”

Willa Cather
1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

Themes: Inspiration

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“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

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“There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Travel

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“The only journey is the ‘Let life happen to you.’ Believe me: life is in the right, always. Journey within.”

Rainer Maria Rilke
1875 – 1926 CE
Profound singer of universal music
from Duino Elegies

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“Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience.”

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955 CE

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“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.”

Inayat Khan
1882 – 1927 CE

Themes: Travel

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“Whether drifting through life on a boat or climbing toward old age leading a horse, each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.— Matuso Basho (1644-1694)

Inayat Khan
1882 – 1927 CE

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“Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.”

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883 – 1957 CE

Themes: Travel

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“What you see with your eyes closed is what counts.”

John Fire Lame Deer via Richard Erdoes
1903 – 1976 CE
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

Themes: Non-Thought

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“No matter what the situation, you cannot neglect Buddha, because you yourself are Buddha… Usually when someone believes in a particular religion, his attitude becomes more and more a sharp angle pointing away from himself… in our way the point of the sharp angle is always towards ourselves.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Buddhism

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“The everyday practice is just ordinary life itself.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ།
1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from Maha Ati

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“There is no place to go. The whole foundation is already here in each one of us.”

Toni Packer
1927 – 2013 CE

Themes: Travel

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“We tend to expect great things from ‘seeing the world’ and ‘getting experience.’…Lao Tzu’s point: it’s the inner eye that really sees the world.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE
from Lao Tzu - A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

Themes: Travel

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“Studying history is going on a journey and traveling into the past.”

Shan Dao 山道
1933 CE –
from Tao Te Ching — The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words

Themes: Travel History

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“Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90. Time is a concept that humans created.”

Yoko Ono 小野 洋子
(“Ocean Child”)
1933 CE –

Themes: Time Old Age

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“There comes . . . a longing never to travel again except on foot.”

Wendell Berry
1934 CE –

Themes: Travel

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“When we look at things as they are on a very simple and ordinary level, we find that they are fantastically , obviously true, frighteningly true… There is a kind of courtship, a love affair between the obviousness and you perceiving it.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Simplicity Truth

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“Wisdom is connected with looking, and knowledge is connected with seeing.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Wisdom

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“The day you stop racing, is the day you win the race.”

Bob Marley
1945 – 1981 CE

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“… in this house that Carl Jung built, piling up stones with his own hands, at the very entrance, he found the need to chisel out these words… Sometimes I lose my eyes and repeat them over and over, and they make me strangely calm. ‘Cold or Not, God Is Present.’”

Haruki Murakami via Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel
1949 CE –

Themes: Travel

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“I think that I was quite a grown-up child, and I have been a pretty childish adult.”

Arundhati Roy
1961 CE –

Themes: Old Age

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“Such a cozy room, the windows are illuminated… Our house is a very, very, very fine house with two cats in the yard; Life used to be so hard; Now everything is easy 'cause of you.”

Crosby Stills & Nash
1968 CE –

Themes: Family Marriage

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  1. Shan Dao
    Instead of Shakespeare’s “Much ado about nothing,” (from Aesop, “Don't make much ado about nothing” ) Lao Tzu suggests, “No ado about everything.”