Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 55
Forever Young

Those steeped in goodness
Are like a newborn baby,
The eternal beginning, the life-bringing source:

Insects don’t sting,
Wild animals don’t attack.
They have weak muscles and soft bones
But a strong and firm grip.
They don’t know anything about sex
But their sexual organs still swell.
Full of true essence in balanced harmony,
They can cry all day without getting hoarse.
With perfectly balanced breath,
They live at endless ease with everything.

Knowing this harmony,
They understand the eternal.
Understanding the eternal,
They become wise.

The foolish though rush about,
Straining and trying to control
Exhausting their vital breath
Leading to rigidity and decay.

Commentary

“My heart is like that of a child.”

Sappho
612 – 570 BCE
“The Poetess” and most famous Greek woman

Themes: Longevity

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“The great person is one who does not lose his mind-and-heart of a child.”

Mencius 孟子
(Mengzi)
372 – 289 BCE
from Book of Mencius 孟子

Themes: True Self

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“Rise above yourself and grasp the world.”

Archimedes
(of Syracuse)
287 – 212 BCE

Themes: Inspiration

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“Once plants reach their height of development, they wither. Once people reach their peak, they grow old. Force does not prevail for long. It isn’t the Tao. What is withered and old cannot follow the Tao. And what cannot follow the Tao soon dies.”

Heshang Gong 河上公 via Edward Erkes
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)
202 – 157 BCE
from Lao-tzu-chu

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“Unless you become like little children, you cannot know the meaning of Life, for your minds must be cleared of the falsehoods of this realm if you are to be taught Eternal Truth.”

Jesus via Didymos Thomas
3 BCE – 30 CE
from Gospel According to Thomas

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“Old and sick final years over a hundred
Face brown head white content with mountain life
Cloth robe pulled tight I accept my karma
Why would I envy the clever ways of others?”

Han Shan
(Cold Mountain)
c. 730-850 CE

Themes: Karma

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“know that a sudden comprehension comes when the mind has been purged of all the clutter of conceptual and discriminatory thought-activity.”

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

Themes: Meditation

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“Winter always turns into Spring.”

Nichiren Daishonin
1222 – 1282 CE

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“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”

William Wordsworth
1770 – 1850 CE

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“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible -- and achieve it, generation after generation.”

Pearl Buck
1892 – 1973 CE

Themes: Progress

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“A child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

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“The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

Buckminster Fuller
1895 – 1983 CE

Themes: Business

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“I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.”

Thurgood Marshall
1908 – 1993 CE

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“Youth passes – so does spring. Old age comes – so do winter’s lovely snowscapes… I’m bursting with energy, so I’ll jog or climb Mount Hua. I’m too ill to move, so I’ll enjoy my warm bed and meditate”

John Blofeld
1913 – 1987 CE

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“The person who can most easily take up natural agriculture… has the mind and heart of a child. One must simply know nature . . . real nature, not the one we think we know!”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 via Larry Korn
1913 – 2008 CE
from One Straw Revolution

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“What is eternal is forever young, never grows old…The Way never fails. We are waves. It is the sea.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Longevity

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“Whatever you may be doing, every minute of every hour is a new chapter, a new page.”

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

Themes: Impermanence

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“May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you…Forever young, forever young, May you stay forever young.”

Bob Dylan
1941 CE –

Themes: Truth Longevity

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Comments (1)

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  1. Shan Dao
    Thanks to Bob Dylan for the title and to Lao Tzu for the insight differentiating this sane attitude toward youthful qualities from our modern worship of the superficial side of being young as well as the confused “Taoist” search for longevity during later centuries.