Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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if authentic, kindness is one of the most wonderful virtues. If deceptive though, it easily dissolves into flattery, deception, and Idiot Compassion. After all the soul-searching, philosophical speculations, lectures and writing of Aldous Huxley’s life, he concluded, “It’s embarrassing to tell you this, but it seems to come down mostly to just learning to be kinder.” Many will denigrate this sentiment with quips like, “Nice guys finish last” and advocate an Ayn Rand type of me-first selfishness. Rand’s life vividly uncovers the consequences of this approach. And seeing the actions of her modern-day acolytes like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan further demonstrate the moral bankruptcy of abandoning kindness in favor of a greedy, narcissistic materialism. A biological, intrinsic emotion; our choice of following, rejecting, or ignoring the appeal of kindness may be the most potent influence determining the meaningfulness, happiness, and peace of our individual, political, and planetary lives.

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Quotes (76)

“The wise see themselves in all others and all others in themselves; and so, they refrain from harming others so that they do not harm themselves.”

Vyasa व्यास 1 via Bhagavad Gita (tr: Shan Dao)
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: Peace Kindness

“Your soul is nourished when you are kind, destroyed when you are cruel.”

King David 1000 – 920 BCE
"The baffled king composing Hallelujah!"
from Book of Psalms

Themes: Kindness

“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind; it is destroyed when you are cruel.”

Solomon 990 – 931 BCE
Magician, exorcist, great prophet of Judaism and Islam

Themes: Kindness

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Aesop 620 – 546 BCE
Hero of the oppressed and downtrodden
from Aesop's Fables, the Aesopica

Themes: Kindness Conflict

67. Three Treasures

“A man is never as big as when he is on his knees to help a child.”

Pythagorus 570 – 495 BCE
(of Samos)
"The most influential philosopher of all time"
from Golden Verses of Pythagoras Χρύσεα

36. The Small, Dark Light

“If you propose to speak always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.”

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

Themes: Kindness

69. No Enemy

“Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto other that you would not have them do unto you.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"
from Analects

Themes: Kindness

“Every gift which is given, even though is be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.”

Pindar Πίνδαρος 522 – 443 BCE
Archetype of poetry

Themes: Kindness

“One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.”

Sophocles Σοφοκλῆς 497 – 405 BCE via Grene
“The Wise and Honored One”
from Philoctetes (409 BCE)

Themes: Kindness

“The unfortunate need people who will be kind to them; the prosperous need people to be kind to.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE via Thomson
from Nicomachean Ethics

Themes: Kindness

“To give protection to the people is to be a true king.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE via Daniel K. Gardner
from Book of Mencius 孟子

“Perfect kindness does not concern itself with kindness... Kindness that has fixed objects loses its integrity.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao

from Zhuangzi

Themes: Kindness

“You must always remember that all men are your brothers, down to the vilest and most debased; they are your family and your friends, your fellow-citizens as well. You must be kind therefore, endlessly kind”

Zeno Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς 334 – 262 BCE via Edith Hamilton
(of Citium)

“Those who honor the Way and Virtue… are angered by nothing. They use kindness among neighbors and virtue among strangers. They conquer their enemies without fighting and command through humility.”

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

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“When the country is at peace, no one thinks about kindness and the people are free from desire. When the Tao prevails, kindness and justice vanish like the stars fading when the sun appears.”

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

18. The Sick Society

“A word of kindness is better than a fat pie.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Russian proverb

Themes: Kindness

“One person buys a sheepskin to keep warm in winter, and another buys wood to light a fire. What is the difference between the two? The first wants to keep warm, but the second wants to warm others, too.”

Rabbinic Sages 20 – 200 CE via Rabbi of Kotzk
from Talmud

Themes: Kindness

“He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.”

Augustine ɔːɡəstiːn 354 – 430 CE
(Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, Augustine of Hippo)

69. No Enemy

“Return evil with Kindness.”

Muhammad محمد‎; محمد‎; 570 – 632 CE
from Koran

Themes: Evil Kindness

“Just as one turns to the warmth of the sun, whoever shows great kindness must be rewarded.”

Gesar of Ling གེ་སར་རྒྱལ་པོ། 1 via Robin Kornman
from Gesar of Ling Epic

Themes: Kindness

“Confucius relied on kindness and justice, ritual and music to order the kingdom. Lao-tzu’s only concern was to open people’s minds”

Su Che 呂洞 1039 – 1112 CE via Red Pine
(Su Zhe)
Great writer of the Tang and Sung dynasties
from Tao-te-chen-ching-chu

19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“Be as gentle as caressing an infant and atop the mountain, thunder will shake the earth.”

Sun Bu'er 1119 – 1182 CE via Shan Dao
from Secret Book on the Inner Elixir

Themes: Power Kindness

“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

66. Go Low

“It is necessary to accept hard and inconvenient advice, to punish bad people with merciless law, to protect the numerous subjects with kindness, to strive after a good name that is honored everywhere.”

Genghis Khan 1162 – 1227 CE via Paul Kahn
from Secret History of the Mongols, Монголын нууц товчоо, 元朝秘史

“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given.”

Francis of Assisi 1181 – 1226 CE

77. Stringing a Bow

“Through kindness you become loveable, through compassion a benefit to others, through joy distinguished, and through equanimity untroubled.”

Longchenpa ཀློང་ཆེན་རབ་འབྱམས་པ། 1308 – 1364 CE via Hebert V. Guenther
(Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer)
from Kindly Bent to Ease Us, Trilogy of Finding Comfort and Ease ངལ་གསོ་སྐོར་གསུམ་

“Kindness and good nature unite men more effectually and with greater strength than any agreements”

Thomas More 1478 – 1535 CE
from Utopia

“whichever one is remorseful and compassionate will win. For the Way of Heaven is to love life and to help those who are compassionate to overcome their enemies.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

69. No Enemy

“Earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from Merchant of Venice

Themes: Justice Kindness

“Teaching rich men to enjoy life means asking them to give money away, which is difficult, to say the least. But it doesn’t have to be a huge amount. Not constantly grasping for more is good start and small amounts are greatly appreciated by the poor. Small and frequent gestures benefit both giver and recipient helping to banish envy and enmity.”

Lǐ Yú 李漁 1610 – 1680 CE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao
(Li Liweng)
from Art of Living

“Kind words don’t cost much yet accomplish a great deal.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time

Themes: Kindness

“A life of kindness is the primary meaning of divine worship.”

Emanuel Swedenborg 1688 – 1772 CE
Scientist, mystic, influential philosopher

from New Jerusalem

Themes: Kindness

“What wisdom can you find greater than kindness.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE

Themes: Kindness

63. Easy as Hard

“The wise support others with warmth, a warmth that requires genuine practice, true application barring insult and attack, bearing all difficulty, hardship, sickness, and calamity, just as the earth supports the mountains.”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 1734 – 1821 CE via Thomas Cleary, Shan Dao
(Liu I-ming)
from Taoist I Ching, , Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真

Themes: Kindness

25. The Mother of All Things

“Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

63. Easy as Hard

“As we grow in wisdom, we pardon more freely… To understand everything makes one very tolerant… Who understands much, forgives much.”

Madame de Staël 1766 – 1817 CE
(Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein)
"The greatest woman of her time"

Themes: Kindness

“That best portion of a man's life—
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.

William Wordsworth 1770 – 1850 CE

Themes: Kindness

“The drying up of a single tear has more
Of honest fame, than shedding seas of gore.”

Lord Byron 1788 – 1824 CE
(George Gordon Byron)
The first rock-star style celebrity
from Don Juan (1819)

Themes: Kindness

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

67. Three Treasures

“Some day you will find out that there is far more happiness in another's happiness than in your own.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

“You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

Themes: Kindness

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”

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

Themes: Kindness

63. Easy as Hard

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

67. Three Treasures

“Who shall be fairest? - who shall be rarest? Who shall be first in the songs that we sing? She who is kindest when fortune is blindest, Bearing through winter the blooms of the spring.”

Charles Mackay 1814 – 1889 CE

63. Easy as Hard

“let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.”

Herman Melville 1819 – 1891 CE
from Moby Dick or The Whale

Themes: Kindness

“If I can stop one heart from breaking, if I can ease one life the aching, I shall not live in vain.”

Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886 CE

67. Three Treasures

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

Themes: Kindness

63. Easy as Hard

“I wish I could make him understand that a loving good heart is riches enough, and that without it intellect is poverty.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

Themes: Poverty Kindness

53. Shameless Thieves

“their only religion was that of self-respect and consideration for other people.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Erewhon

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

Henry James 1843 – 1916 CE

Themes: Kindness

“Time deals gently only with those who take it gently.”

Anatole France 1844 – 1924 CE via Hearn
(Jacques Anatole Thibault)
from The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, 1881

Themes: Time Kindness

“Men are only as great as they are kind and the only sin is to be unkind.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE via Shan Dao
from A Thosand and One Epigrams, 1911

Themes: Kindness

67. Three Treasures

“love alone acts as the civilizing factor in the sense that it brings a change from egoism to altruism.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE
from Group Psychology and the analysis of the Ego (1921)

Themes: Kindness

“Men are cruel, but Man is kind.”

Rabindranath Tagore 1861 – 1941 CE
from Stray Birds (1916)

Themes: Kindness

“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.”

David Grayson 1870 – 1946 CE
(Ray Stannard Baker)
One of the most insightful journalists, historians, and biographers of his time

Themes: Kindness

“Autumn wind, autumn rain — they make one die of sorrow”

Qiu Jin 秋瑾 1
"China’s Joan of Arc"

Themes: Kindness

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

Franklin Roosevelt 1882 – 1945 CE
Champion and creator of a more just and equitable society

Themes: Kindness

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

Franklin Roosevelt 1882 – 1945 CE
Champion and creator of a more just and equitable society
from Radio address (1940)

Themes: Kindness

“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Kindness

45. Complete Perfection

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Kindness

67. Three Treasures

“Self-preservation remains the basic law of life. Within that limit, the philosopher may seek to practice his trade, which is to understand and forgive.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Age of Napoleon

Themes: Kindness

“The Hindus criticize the Mohammedans for having spread their religion by the use of the sword. They also ridicule Christianity on the score of the Inquisition. But really speaking, who is better and more worthy of our respect?… if the Mohammedan has been cruel, the Hindu has been mean; and meanness is worse than cruelty.”

B.R. Ambedkar 1891 – 1956 CE

Themes: Kindness

“It’s embarrassing to tell you this, but it seems to come down mostly to just learning to be kinder.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Kindness

69. No Enemy

“It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life... It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald 1896 – 1940 CE
Prototype of "Jazz Age" exuberance
from Great Gatsby

“I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Catcher in the Rye

“Kindness and compassion toward all living things is the mark of a civilized society.”

César Chavez César Estrada Chávez 1927 – 1993 CE
(César Estrada Chávez)

Themes: Kindness

“It's not what you look like, or what planet you were born on. It's how kind you are. The quality of kindness, to me, distinguishes us from rocks and sticks and metal, and will forever, whatever shape we take, wherever we go, whatever we become.”

Philip K. Dick 1928 – 1982 CE
Legendary consciousness provocateur

Themes: Kindness

“We must use our lives to make the world a better place to live, not just to acquire things. That is what we are put on the earth for.”

Dolores Huerta 1930 CE –

“Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved.”

Jane Goodall 1934 CE –

Themes: Kindness

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

Themes: Kindness

49. No Set Mind

“It is the time where we partner with Creation in the creation of ourselves, in the restoration of the biosphere, the regenesis of society and in the assuming of a new type of culture; the culture of Kindness.”

Jean Houston 1937 CE –

“Instead of having our own anxiety, we produce a further state of anxiety in others... Everybody is constantly making everybody else feel bad. We have been participating in this tremendous project, this constant mishap, this terribly bad mistake, for a long time—and we are still doing it.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Path of Individual Liberation

Themes: Kindness

“If you're feeling helpless, help someone.”

Aung San Suu Kyi အောင်ဆန်းစုကြည် 1945 CE –

67. Three Treasures

“He had one of the finest attributes a human being can have—kindness without motives.”

Amy Tan 1952 CE –
Rock and roll singer, bartender, and insightfully talented author
from Saving Fish From Drowning

Themes: Kindness

“The more we allow ourselves to be guided by compassion—to pause for a moment and try to see where another person is coming from—the less likely we are to engage in conflict.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

Themes: Kindness Conflict

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