Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 56
One with the Dust

Those who know don’t tell,
Those who tell don’t know.

By watching what you say,
By not having rough edges to catch,
By keeping it simple and unconfused,
Become one with the dust of the way
And realize the deep sameness of One Taste.

Then you will stop being controlled
By love and rejection,
By profit and loss,
By praise and humiliation,
By fame and fortune,
By pleasure and power
And you will stabilize the highest realization.

Commentary

“There was never a time when you and I and all the kings gathered here have not existed and nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist.”

Vyasa व्यास c. 3000 BCE
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

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“Empty words are evil.”

Homer 850 BCE - ?
Primogenitor of Western culture

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“After all is said and done, more is said than done.”

Aesop 620 – 546 BCE
Hero of the oppressed and downtrodden
from Aesop's Fables, the Aesopica

Themes: Less is More

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“If what one has to say is not better than silence, then one should keep silent.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

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“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE

Themes: Less is More

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“Those who know, value deeds not words. A team of horses can’t overtake the tongue. More talk means more problems.”

Heshang Gong 河上公 202 – 157 BCE
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)

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“Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος 55 – 135 CE
from Discourses of Epictetus, Ἐπικτήτου διατριβαί

Themes: Less is More

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“Moon light by the bedding shines
So bright like frost upon the loam.
The head lifts gazing at the moon,
And sinks back down with thoughts of home.”

Li Bai 李白 701 – 762 CE
(Li Bo)

Themes: Moon

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“Penetrate the essence of each experience until you achieve one taste.”

Ghaṇṭāpa གྷ་ཎྚཱ་པ། early 9th century
(“The Celibate Bell-Ringer”)
Mahasiddha #52

Themes: One Taste

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“I realized the value of all things - what joy to be free of pleasure and pain!”

Cauraṅgipa ཙཽ་རངྒི་པ། 10th century CE via Keith Dowman
("The Dismembered Stepson")
Mahasiddha #10
from Masters of Mahamudra

Themes: Pleasure

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“Those who realize one taste are always fulfilled.”

Kaṅkaṇa ཀངྐ་ཎ་པ། 11th century CE via Shan Dao
(“The Siddha-King”)
Mahasiddha #29

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“Why dost thou prate of God? Whatever thou sayest of Him is untrue.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

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“What is seen is not the Truth, what is cannot be said.”

Kabīr कबीर 1399 – 1448 CE

Themes: Truth

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“Long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: the less people know and understand about them, the more positively they attempt to argue.”

Galileo 1564 – 1642 CE

Themes: Opinion

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“Listen to many, speak to a few.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from Hamlet

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“A resolution declared is never highly thought of.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Progress

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“The tongue is a wild beast – once let loose it is difficult to chain… The worst is that he who should be the most reserved is the least.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

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“The more a man knows, the less he talks.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Less is More

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“People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE

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“Knowledge of the ingredients without knowledge of the process cannot accomplish the Tao.”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 1734 – 1821 CE via Thomas Cleary
(Liu I-ming)
from Taoist I Ching, , Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真

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“The more they talk, the more wrong they go. It’s like pouring on oil to put out a fire - just foolishness and nothing else.”

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

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“Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.”

Novalis 1772 – 1831 CE

Themes: Poetry

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“Because you have realized that everything has one taste in being empty, the delusion of fixating on enemy and friend collapses and there is no thought of dualistic fixation on self and other.”

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

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“The actual life of a thought lasts only until it reaches the point of speech... As soon as our thinking has found words it ceases to be sincere.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

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“The bad thing about all religions is that, instead of being able to confess their allegorical nature, they have to conceal it.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

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“true genius… prefers silence to saying the something which is not everything that should be said.”

Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allen Poe 1809 – 1849 CE

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“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation…”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

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“I would only believe in a god who could dance.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

Themes: God

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“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

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“Religion is to mysticism what popularization is to science.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE

Themes: Science Religion

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“What can be explained is not poetry.”

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

Themes: Poetry

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“It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Reality

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“Life is fraught with opportunities to keep your mouth shut.”

Winston Churchill 1874 – 1965 CE

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“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

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“It is the empty pitcher that makes a noise when you knock upon it, but the pitcher which is full of water does not make any sound; it is silent, speechless.”

Inayat Khan 1882 – 1927 CE

Themes: Water

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“I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

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“All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven't the time to write, and all those who have the time don't live them!”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

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“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

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“In religion all words are dirty words. Anybody who gets eloquent about Buddha, or God, or Christ, ought to have his mouth washed out with carbolic soap.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

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“A man who knows that he is silent, or knows that he loves, doesn’t know what love is, nor what silence is.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
from Awakening of Intelligence

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“If we have not found the heaven within, we have not found the heaven without.”

James Hilton 1900 – 1954 CE
from Lost Horizon

Themes: Basic Goodness

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“Whenever Dogen-zenji dipped water from the river, he used only half a dipperful, returning the rest to the river again… when we are one with the water, we intuitively do it in Dogen’s way.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE
from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Water

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“All words, in every language, are metaphors.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE

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“‘We have nothing on which to dine, Splendid, we shall have more time to sit outside and enjoy the moonlight, with music provided by the wind in the pines.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

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“Confucius may have had access to the manifest aspects of the Tao ‘that can be named,’ but the basis of all Chuang Tzu’s critique of Ju philosophy is that it never comes near to the Tao ‘that can not be named,’ and indeed takes no account of it.”

Thomas Merton 1915 – 1968 CE

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“time has no hold on her who filled the night with laughter”

Gesshin Myoko Roshi 1931 – 1999 CE
from A Sudden Flash of Lightening: Words Out of Silence

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“By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: Truth

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“You begin to experience the simplicity of awareness,so although the sensorial hallucinations might continue, they don’t mean anything to you. There is a quality of one flavor, or one taste.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Path of Individual Liberation

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“One taste does not mean that everything becomes gray and tasteless. By one taste, we mean the absence of all tastes. Tasting in this way becomes very natural and very beautiful. One taste is no taste; therefore, it is everything.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Tantric Path of Indestructible Wakefulness

Themes: One Taste

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“Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Water

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“One of the qualities I most treasure in Chuang Tzu is his sense of the spontaneous, the uncapturable. This makes it easy to follow in his footsteps. Since there are no footsteps, all you an follow is what he himself followed: the Tao.”

Stephen Mitchell 1943 CE –
from Second Book of Tao

Themes: Conformity

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“"If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn’t be any religious people."”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from The Bone Clocks

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Comments (1)

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  1. Shan Dao
    This chapter presages the Buddhist teaching called “The Four Worldly Dharmas” - the motivating forces of fame, fortune, pleasure and power. Likewise, “One Taste” is a Vajrayana term/teaching we used to amplify what is more commonly rendered into English as just “Deep Sameness,” the “Dark Union” that comes before the dualistic split into subject/object.