Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Tao Te Ching
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.


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

Chuang Tzu 莊周 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 369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Wu Wei

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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།།། 685 – 763 CE
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
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 1
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)

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 1063 – 1135 CE via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Zen Letters

Themes: Non-Thought Dream

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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 1881 – 1968 CE
(Emanuel Morgan)

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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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Comments (3)

  1. Shan Dao
    Shan Dao 6 years ago
    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.”
  2. The original letters almostSeem to say that they aresome kind of mythologicalBear like creature
    That the sage is like an old bearOr better still, A mythologicalBear like creatureWho knows how to fend for themselves.Without evil personal flaws, They are able to just Do what they need toPick berries, catch a nice salmon,Just wander around Being some kind of bear like, Mythological creature.
    • Totally thought my formatting would carry over.
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