Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 7
Lose Yourself, Gain Your Soul

Heaven is eternal and earth will endure
Because they don’t live for themselves
Or nurture an independent self.
In this way the wise put themselves in the background
And end up in front
Put themselves outside
And find themselves safe and centered.
Because they don’t strive for personal goals,
They find fulfillment.

Commentary

“Life and death are nothing to the true people of Tao, nothing can touch them.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

from Zhuangzi

Themes: Death and Dying

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“The sage has no goal and people are transformed. He doesn’t talk but people are taught, doesn’t act but everything is done, speaks without intention and even beggars in the street benefit.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

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“I am striving to give back the Divine in myself to the Divine in the All.”

Plotinus
204 – 249 CE

Themes: Integrity

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“Those who live for themselves fight with others. Those who don’t live for themselves are the refuge of others.”

Wang Bi 王弼
226 – 534 CE

Themes: Warriors

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“When happiness is liked by me and others equally, what is so special about me that I should strive after happiness only for myself?”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།།
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
685 – 763 CE
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

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“discard all you have acquired as being no better than a bed spread for you when you were sick.”

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

Themes: Wealth

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“experience the absence of conditioned mind and observe that all phenomena are like dreams… enter into the uncontrived, uncluttered ocean of true nature.”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
1063 – 1135 CE
from Zen Letters

Themes: Dream Non-Thought

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“I’m looking for the face I had before the world was made.”

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

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“A sound man... by never being an end in himself... endlessly becomes himself.”

Witter Bynner
(Emanuel Morgan)
1881 – 1968 CE

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“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have - for their usefulness.”

Thomas Merton
1915 – 1968 CE

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“the result of anything aimed at enriching the ego is destruction, complete confusion, perpetual confusion.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

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“The first will be last and the last will be first; the times they are a changin’.”

Bob Dylan
1941 CE –

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  1. Shan Dao
    In this chapter, our translation most closely follows Henricks’ Ma-wang tui text but their last line, “he is therefor able to realize his self-interest” seems at best too easily misunderstood as the exact opposite of Lao Tzu’s meaning. While Le Guin version (“why let the self go? To keep what the soul needs”) may be the most compelling, Bynner may again be furthest from the words, closest to the sense: “He endlessly becomes himself.”