Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
Search Quotes Search Sages Search Chapters

Chapter 81
Journey Without Goal

True words aren’t fancy,
Charming words aren’t true.
Good people don’t argue,
Proselytizers aren’t good.
The wise aren’t academic,
Scholars aren’t wise.
The foolish understand the words,
The wise understand the sense.

The wise don’t accumulate, hoard or grasp;
The more they do for others,
The more they fulfill themselves.
The more they give to others,
The more they have.

This way of life leaves no trace,
Sharpens without cutting,
Benefits without causing harm.
The wise act without effort,
Accomplish great things
Without striving or struggle.

Commentary

“Life is largely a matter of expectation.”

Homer
850 BCE - ?
Primogenitor of Western culture

Themes: Projection

Comments: Click to comment

“The journey is the thing.”

Homer
850 BCE - ?
Primogenitor of Western culture

Themes: Travel

Comments: Click to comment

“It is better to travel, than to arrive.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
563 – 483 BCE
Awakened Truth

Themes: Travel

Comments: Click to comment

“There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
563 – 483 BCE
Awakened Truth

Themes: Happiness

Comments: Click to comment

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

Socrates
469 – 399 BCE
One of the most powerful influences on Western Civilization

Comments: Click to comment

“Many much-learned men have no intelligence.”

Democritus Dēmókritos
460 – 370 BCE
Father of modern science and greatest of ancient philosophers

Themes: Paradox Wisdom

Comments: Click to comment

“When Lao Tan and Yin Hsi heard of people who considered accumulation as deficiency, they were delighted.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Consumerism

Comments: Click to comment

“Sages do not need authority to be noble, do not need wealth to be rich, and do not need power to be strong. Peaceful and empty, they are not subject to outside influences; they fly freely with evolution.”

Liú Ān 劉安 via Thomas Cleary
(Huainanzi)
c. 179–122 BCE
from Huainanzi

Comments: Click to comment

“I did not so much gain the knowledge of things by the words, as words by the experience I had of things.”

Plutarch
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)
46 – 120 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“We are not disturbed by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens to us.”

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

Themes: Suffering

Comments: Click to comment

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

Marcus Aurelius
121 – 219 CE

Themes: Projection

Comments: Click to comment

“The more you seek the Buddha and the Dharma, the further away they become.”

Rinzai Gigen 臨済義玄 via Shan Dao
(Línjì Yìxuán)
? - 866 CE
from Zen Teachings of Rinzai (Record of Rinzai), Irmgard Schloegl translation 1976

Comments: Click to comment

“The last line summarizes the entire 5,000 words of the previous eighty verses. It doesn’t focus on action or inaction but simply on action that doesn’t involve struggle.”

Wang Zhen via Ralph D. Sawyer
809 – 859 CE
from Daodejing Lunbing Yaoyishu, The Tao of War

Comments: Click to comment

“You have always been one with the Buddha, so do not pretend you can attain to this oneness by various practices.”

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

Comments: Click to comment

“Give up any possibilities of fruition.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
980 – 1054 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The problem is not enjoyment; the problem is attachment.”

Tilopa
988 – 1069 CE

Themes: Problems

Comments: Click to comment

“Ten thousand flowers in spring; the moon in autumn; a cool breeze in summer; snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.”

Mumon Ekai 無門慧開
(Wumen Huikai)
1183 – 1260 CE
from The Gateless Gate, 無門関, 無門關

Comments: Click to comment

“The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.”

Dōgen Zenji 道元禅師
1200 – 1253 CE

Themes: Moon

Comments: Click to comment

“What you seek is seeking you.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
1207 – 12783 CE
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

Comments: Click to comment

“A free mind is one which is untroubled and unfettered by anything, which has not bound its best part to any particular manner of being or devotion and which does not seek its own interest in anything.”

Meister Eckhart
(Eckhart von Hochheim)
1260 – 1328 CE

Themes: Moral Freedom

Comments: Click to comment

“Art lies in conceiving and designing, not in the actual execution.”

Leonardo da Vinci
1452 – 1519 CE

Themes: Art

Comments: Click to comment

“All the way to heaven is heaven.”

Teresa of Avila
1515 – 1582 CE
from Way of Perfection

Comments: Click to comment

“At the beginning of this book, Lao-tzu says that Tao can’t be put into words. But are its 5,000-odd characters not words? Lao-tzu waits until the last verse to explain this. He tells us that though the Tao itself includes no words, by means of words it can be revealed – but only by words that come from the heart.”

Deqing
(Te-Ch’ing)
1546 – 1623 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Study and learn the teachings but become more and more non-sectarian. Follow and learn from teachers but leave them and combine all into one. Meditate and do spiritual practices but don’ think they improve anything.”

Karma Chagme Rinpoche I ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱས། via Shan Dao
1613 – 1678 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“If you are concerned with the welfare of the future, it is most important to become more and more non-sectarian.”

Karma Chagme Rinpoche I ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱས། via Shan Dao
1613 – 1678 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”

Matsuo Bashō 松尾 芭蕉
1644 – 1694 CE

Themes: Enlightenment

Comments: Click to comment

“I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet
1694 – 1778 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“It is ever true that he who does nothing for others, does nothing for himself.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Compassion

Comments: Click to comment

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is - infinite.”

William Blake
1757 – 1827 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”

Arthur Schopenhauer
1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Happiness

Comments: Click to comment

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“the necessary ingredients of happiness: simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and above all, a clear conscience.”

George Sand
(Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin)
1804 – 1876 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.”

Leo Tolstoy
1828 – 1910 CE

Themes: Happiness

Comments: Click to comment

“Your thoughts are not your experiences, they are an echo and after-effect of your experiences: as when your room trembles when a carriage goes past.”

Friedrich Nietzsche
1844 – 1900 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”

Robert Louis Stevenson
1850 – 1894 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them.”

Elbert Hubbard
1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Projection

Comments: Click to comment

“Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.”

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

Comments: Click to comment

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Complaint

Comments: Click to comment

“The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Openness

Comments: Click to comment

“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”

Hermann Hesse
1877 – 1962 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Every means is an obstacle. Only where all means have disintegrated encounters occur.”

Martin Buber מרטין בובר‎‎
1878 – 1965 CE
from Ich und Du, I and Thou

Themes: Obstacles

Comments: Click to comment

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Pluralism

Comments: Click to comment

“By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact we live steeped in its burning layers.”

Teilhard de Chardin via Bernard Wall
1881 – 1955 CE
from Divine Milieu

Themes: Delusion

Comments: Click to comment

“I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance, and affection to be art.”

Kahlil Gibran
1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Art

Comments: Click to comment

“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
1884 – 1962 CE

Themes: Change

Comments: Click to comment

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
1884 – 1962 CE

Themes: Wisdom Livelihood

Comments: Click to comment

“The journey, not the destination matters...”

T.S. Eliot
1888 – 1965 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Our goal is to discover that we have always been where we ought to be. Unhappily we make the task exceedingly difficult for ourselves.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Buckminster Fuller
1895 – 1983 CE

Themes: Change Creativity

Comments: Click to comment

“What matters most are the simple pleasures so abundant that we can all enjoy them...Happiness doesn't lie in the objects we gather around us. To find it, all we need to do is open our eyes.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
1900 – 1944 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Words are the source of misunderstandings.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
1900 – 1944 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

Anais Nin
1903 – 1977 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“When we ask what Buddha nature is, it vanishes; but when we just practice zazen, we have full understanding of it… When you give up trying to understand it, true understanding is always there.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The end justifies the means. But what if there never is an end? All we have is means.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE
from The Lathe of Heaven

Comments: Click to comment

“This last poem is self-reflexive, wrapping it all up tight in the first verse, then opening out again to praise the undestructive, uncompetitive generosity of the spirit that walks on the Way.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Competition

Comments: Click to comment

“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”

Wendell Berry
1934 CE –

Themes: Travel

Comments: Click to comment

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso
1935 CE –

Themes: Meaningfulness

Comments: Click to comment

“We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement… all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”

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

Comments: Click to comment

“It isn't the things that happen to us in our lives that cause us to suffer, it's how we relate to the things that happen to us that causes us to suffer.”

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

Themes: Karma

Comments: Click to comment

“I think it’s a question of being in contact with reality, then we don’t have to crank up something else.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Realizing Enlightened Society

Themes: Reality

Comments: Click to comment

“At the beginning and at the end of the Taoteching, Lao-tzu reminds us not to become attached to the words. Let the words go. Have a cup of tea.”

Red Pine or Bill Porter via Red Pine
1943 CE –
from Lao-Tzu's Taoteching

Comments: Click to comment

 

Comments (0)

Please log in or create an account to comment.