Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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The Wenzi, Wénzǐ 文子

By Wenzi

Although traditionally attributed to a close disciple of Lao Tzu, Wenzi; the assignment of authorship during this time extended beyond individuals and often referred to schools and traditions. In spite of Wenzi being known as a close disciple of Lao Tzu, he is described and an advisor to King Ping of Zhou hundreds of years before Lao Tzu's time. Revered during the Tang Dynasty, questioned and dismissed as a forgery during the Han, and authenticated by a discovery in 1973; The Wenzi represents one of the last and most clear expositions of philosophical Taoism. After this time, most Taoist schools degenerated into magical and spiritual materialism. Describing an ideal society, The Wenzi seriously criticizes the political, social, and economic abuses of its time on both the internal and external levels. A true example of an open-minded, perennial philosophy approach, the Wenzi not only includes thoughts and quotes in the Taoist lineage; but also text and concepts from the Confucian, Mohist, and Legalist traditions.

Quotes from The Wenzi, Wénzǐ 文子

“Don’t be materialistic trying to either create fortune or avoid misfortune.”

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“Existence arises from nonexistence, and the Full emerges from the Empty. . . . The Way is the oneness from which all beings arise.”

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“If you drink and eat immoderately and treat the body carelessly and cheaply, then illnesses will kill you.”

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Themes: Health

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“Limiting what is kept results in clarity, minimizing what is sought results in attainment... If you can attain the center, then you can govern the eternal.”

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Themes: Less is More

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“listen to people's music and you know their manners, observe them at play and you know their customs.”

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Themes: Music

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“Local rulers establish laws that are each different, and cultivate customs that are mutually antagonistic. They pull out the root and abandon the foundation... After this, the world can never be at peace in its essential life.”

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Themes: Nationalism

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“Nothing pleases them, nothing pains them, nothing delights them, nothing angers them... When you have no likes or dislikes, this is the consummation of evenness... When you neither grieve nor delight, this is the consummation of virtue.”

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Themes: One Taste Virtue

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“Sagehood has nothing to do with governing others but is a matter of ordering oneself... esteem self-government and disdain governing others.”

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Themes: Discipline

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“The governments of latter-day society have not stored up the necessities of life, they have not diluted the purity of the world, destroyed the simplicity of the world, and made the people confused and hungry... law and justice are at odds”

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“The Great Way is level and not far from oneself. Those who seek it afar go and then return.”

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Themes: Travel

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“Those who embrace reality and exercise true sincerity move the spirits of heaven and earth... Even if they don't say a single word, nevertheless all the people in the world evolve along with them.”

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Themes: Reality Evolution

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“Whatever is written or inscribed and can be handed on to others is crude generalization... the world does not know to esteem those who do not speak.”

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“When rulers don't exploit them, the people naturally grow rich, when the rulers don't manipulate them, the people naturally become civilized.”

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“when sages govern people, they see to it that people suit their individual natures, are secure in their homes, live where they are comfortable, work at what they can do, and give their best. In this way all people are equal, with no way to overshadow each other.”

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Themes: Equanimity

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“When the upper and lower classes are on good terms with each other even philanthropists have to projects to undertake.”

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Themes: Economics

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“When there is one, there is stability; with two, there is contention”

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“When we realize the universal oneness, there will be nothing we do not know. But if we do not realize the oneness, there will be nothing that we truly know.”

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“When you do not crave what is useless, you do not hurt your nature by greed... If you are endlessly greedy and ambitious, then penalties will kill you.”

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