Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Tao Te Ching
Chapter 66
Go Low

By always seeking the most lowly position,
Oceans can welcome and receive all rivers and streams.
In this way the wise, by placing themselves lower than others
Gain the most respect and influence.
They teach and guide by listening.
They lead by following behind.

For these reasons,
When the wise are in charge,
The people don’t feel oppressed.
When the wise are in front,
The people don’t feel blocked.

The world never tires of praising
And appreciating this kind of leader.
Because they don’t struggle or compete,
They have no competition.


“Therefore, 100 victories in 100 battles is not the most skillful. Subduing the other’s military without battle is the most skillful.”

Sun Tzu 孙武 544 – 496 BCE via Denma Translation Group
(Sun Zi)
HIstory's supreme strategist
from Art of War 孙子兵法

Themes: Skillful Means

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“Wise up by going low.”

Koheleth 1
from Ecclesiastes קֹהֶלֶת‎

Themes: Humility

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“Sages… treat the people as if they were their children. Thus, the whole world wants them for their leaders. The people never grow tired of them because sages don’t struggle against them. Everyone struggles against something but no one struggles against those who don’t struggle against anything.”

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

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“Sages wear what no one looks at, do what no one watches, and say what no one disputes… they are different but appear ordinary.”

Liú Ān 劉安 1 via Thomas Cleary
from Huainanzi

Themes: Ordinary Mind

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“The lofty pine is oftenest shaken by the winds; High towers fall with a heavier crash; And the lightning strikes the highest mountain.”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE

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“The person who desires to rise above all things must descend below all things”

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

Themes: Humility

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“The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.”

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

Themes: Philosophy

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“Recognize that the waves are not different from the ocean itself.”

Saraha 1

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“All living beings by nature are one’s parents… How will you find the Guru to accept you when you look down on others?”

Nāropā 955 – 1040 CE

Themes: Equality

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“Sages… do not act unless they are forced. They do not respond unless they are pushed. They do not rise unless they have to choice. Thus, in their actions, they place themselves behind others.”

Lu Huiqing 1031 – 1111 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

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“Just resting is like the great ocean accepting hundreds of streams, all absorbed into one flavor.. How could they not reach into the genuine source?”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE

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“The truly holy person welcomes all that is earthly.”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

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“If I have become great it is because I have won men’s hearts by kindness and gentleness.”

Saladin صلاح الدين يوسف بن أيوب‎‎ 1137 – 1193 CE
(An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub)

Themes: Kindness

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“[Giants are dwarfs.] Giants are usually really dwarfs as abundance lowers importance. Don’t value books by their thickness, quantity over quality, magnitude over intensity.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Shan Dao, #27

Themes: Appreciation

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“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off.”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

Themes: Patience

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“When we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home, that is happiness.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

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“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Poetry

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“A great man is different from an eminent one in that he is ready to be the servant of the society.”

B.R. Ambedkar 1891 – 1956 CE

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“Never have so many capable writers warned mankind against the dangers of wrong speech—and never have words been used more recklessly by politicians or taken more seriously by the public.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

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“But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

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“We destroy the love of learning… by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards… A's on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean's lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys, in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else.”

John Holt 1923 – 1985 CE

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“It helps to remember that our spiritual practice is not about accomplishing anything—not about winning or losing—but about ceasing to struggle and relaxing as it is.”

Pema Chödrön 1936 CE –
(Deirdre Blomfield-Brown)
First American Vajrayana nun

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