Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 62
Basic Goodness

The Tao is the hidden center of all things.
Treasured by the good, it brings refuge to the bad.

Beautiful words can buy honor,
Good deeds can buy respect -
Even the most foolish can claim these.
Basic goodness though has no price and is here for all.
Though people stray far from this path,
It will never abandon them.

Therefore when a leader is empowered,
Don’t bother with material gifts or fine words.
Offer instead stillness and uncontrived awareness.

This is why the Tao is revered now and since ancient times:
When looked for, it appears;
When lost, mistaken, and confused;
It begins again fresh and pure.

Commentary

“No intelligent man believes that anybody ever willing errs or willingly does base and evil deeds.”

Protagoras
490 – 420 BCE
“The wisest man alive”—Socrates

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“All things are good and acceptable. That is why all things – a blade of grass or a hundred-foot pine, a leper or a legendary beauty, a national hero or a traitor – are equal in the Tao.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

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“Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.”

Marcus Aurelius
121 – 219 CE

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“‘Good’ refers to our original nature before our parents were born. Before anything develops within us, we possess this goodness. ‘Good’ means natural.”

Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 via Richard Wilhelm
(Lü Tung-Pin)
796 CE -

from Secret of the Golden Flower 太乙金華宗旨; Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ

Themes: Basic Goodness

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“There is nothing that is not the Tao. When good people seek it, they are able to find it. When bad people seek it, they are able to avoid punishment.”

Wang Anshi 王安石
1021 – 1086 CE

Themes: Punishment

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“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.”

Hildegard of Bingen
1098 – 1179 CE

Themes: Sacred World

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“Better than disks of jade followed by teams of horses would be one good word or one good deed to keep the people from losing sight of the good.”

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

Themes: Meaningfulness

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“Could there ever be a more wonderful story than your own?”

Nichiren Daishonin
1222 – 1282 CE

Themes: True Self

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“The Tao is in us all. Though good and bad might differ, our nature is the same. How then, can we abandon anyone?”

Deqing
(Te-Ch’ing)
1546 – 1623 CE

Themes: Basic Goodness

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“Wisdom has its root in goodness, not goodness its root in wisdom.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882 CE

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“We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.”

Robert Louis Stevenson
1850 – 1894 CE

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“It's a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.”

Elbert Hubbard
1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Skillful Means

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“she still had that something which fires the imagination… that somehow revealed the meaning in common things… to make you feel the goodness of planting and tending and harvesting at last… It was no wonder that her sons stood tall and straight. She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races.”

Willa Cather
1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

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“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Appreciation

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“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Appreciation

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“The ‘speakers of fine words’… were the itinerant sophists and sages who at that time went round from capital to capital, selling their services to the ruler who offered them the highest inducements.”

Arthur Waley
1899 – 1969 CE
from The Way and its Power

Themes: Deception

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“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”

Thurgood Marshall
1908 – 1993 CE

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“I think the line of thought throughout the poem has to do with true reward as opposed to dishonorable gain, true giving as opposed to fake goods.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

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“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso
1935 CE –

Themes: Appreciation

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“The result of letting go is that you discover a bank of self-existing energy that is always available to you – beyond any circumstance. It actually comes from nowhere, but is always there. It is the energy of basic goodness.”

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

Themes: Basic Goodness

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“They did not tell us that we were born as whole, and that no-one in our lives deserve to carry on his back such responsibility of completing what is missing on us: we grow through life by ourselves. If we have a good company it’s just more pleasant.”

John Lennon
1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Basic Goodness

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