Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 51
Mysterious Goodness

All things arise from the Tao
And the Power of Goodness nourishes them
As their own being shapes them,
As their own energy completes them.
In this way, the 10,000 things
All hold the Tao Sacred
And follow the Power of Goodness.

Unforced and natural,
This reverence and devotion
Arises spontaneously
As the Way gives life and supports,
Mothers and trains,
Shelters and protects,
Comforts and completes.

Mysterious, hidden, and profound;
This highest goodness
Holds without possessing,
Succeeds without taking credit,
Leads without controlling.

Commentary

“The town may be changed but the well cannot be changed. It neither decreases nor increases… Thus the well is the symbol of that social structure which is independent of all political forms… Life is also inexhaustible. It grows neither less nor more; it exists for one and for all.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 48, "The Well"
c. 2852–2737 BCE
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

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“Good actions should be done not from hope of reward but for their own sake.”

Democritus Dēmókritos
460 – 370 BCE
Father of modern science and greatest of ancient philosophers

Themes: Hope

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“The man of spirit hates to see people gather around him. He avoids the crowd… There is nothing to be gained from the support of a lot of half-wits who are doomed to end up in a fight with each other.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Fame

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“Real people are those united with the Tao. Wandering in the vastness beyond mundane clutter, they work freely without making an issue of it, know without learning, see without looking, achieve without striving and understand without trying.”

Liú Ān 劉安 via Thomas Cleary
(Huainanzi)
c. 179–122 BCE
from Huainanzi

Themes: Inscrutable

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“Learn the true nature of your own mind. Then let go and dissolve into unstrsuctusred reality. This tensionless state is the yogin’s life.”

Āryadeva འཕགས་པ་ལྷ།
(Kannadeva)
3rd C. CE
from Four Hundred Verses on the Yogic Deeds of Bodhisattvas

Themes: Mind Letting Go

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“The Way is what things follow. Virtue is what they attain. ‘Dark Virtue’ means virtue is present but no one knows who controls it.”

Wang Bi 王弼
226 – 534 CE

Themes: Virtue

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“You ask why I stay in the mountains and I smile without speaking. My heart content, peach blossoms float into the distance. There’s another realm beyond the world of man.”

Tao Yuanming
365 – 427 CE

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“To do a certain kind of thing, you have to be a certain kind of person.”

Jianzhi Sengcan 鑑智僧璨
(Jiànzhì Sēngcàn)
529 – 606 CE

Themes: Livelihood

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“The Bodhisattva’s mind is like the void, for he relinquishes everything… all action is dictated purely by place and circumstance, subjectivity and objectivity are forgotten... no hope of reward is entertained.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)
? - 850 CE

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“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it.”

William Shakespeare
1564 – 1616 CE
from As You Like It

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“Self-nature is empty and illuminating, so let things take care of themselves”

Bankei 盤珪永琢
(Bankei Yōtaku)
1622 – 1693 CE

Themes: Letting Go

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“Taking hold of the not-thought that lies in thoughts, in their every act they hear the voice of Truth… As the Truth reveals itself in its eternal tranquility, this very earth is the Lotus-Land of Purity, and this body is the body of the Buddha.”

Hakuin Ekaku 白隠 慧鶴
1686 – 1769 CE

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“Whoever is rich in spirit makes much of his life. Every acquaintance, every incident… an endless series—the beginning of an endless novel.”

Novalis
1772 – 1831 CE

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“We taste and feel and see the truth. We do not reason ourselves into it.”

W.B. (William Butler) Yeats
1865 – 1939 CE

Themes: Truth

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“There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Curiosity

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“the long silence from which everything begins and in which everything ends. Intimately known and yet strange like Nature, lovingly tender and yet cruel like fate,.. the totality of life of which we are a small and helpless part.”

Carl Jung
1875 – 1961 CE

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“One faces the future with one's past.”

Pearl Buck
1892 – 1973 CE

Themes: Time

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“He talks to the plants and they answer him. He listens to the voices of all those who move upon the earth, the animals. He is as one with them. From all living beings, something flows into him all the time, and something flows from him.”

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

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“The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, and to all people experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages...”

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

Themes: Openness

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“The key to warriorship and the first principle of Shambhala vision is not being afraid of who you are… If we are willing to take an unbiased look, we will find that, in spite of all our problems and confusion, all our emotional and psychological ups and downs, there is something basically good about our existence.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

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“You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!”

John Lennon
1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: True Self

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Comments (1)

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  1. Shan Dao
    In the first line, Le Guin translates as “bears,” Wu as “gives them life,” Cleary as “gives birth,” Lin as “produces them,” Carus as “reason qluickens all creatures.” We’re closest to the Gia Fu Feng/English, “All things arise from Tao.”