Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Blame and Scapegoating

Scapegoating Immigrants
The world has a huge and rapidly growing lowering-of-wages and unemployment problem. The inevitable consequence of industrialization, automation, and artificial intelligence; this process naturally streams most of the wealth away from the lower rungs of society and up to a tiny percentage of elites. These elites could share this unearned windfall with philanthropy endeavors and the creation of non-profit-oriented jobs in fields like art, poetry, music, and human development. Instead though—to their own inner and society’s external detriment—they can and do sell their souls to the devils of selfishness, deception, and meme manipulation. A frequent method of this corruption is trying to shift the social blame for poverty and lack of jobs away from the true cause which is themselves to immigrants, religious, racial, and ethnic minorities.

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Quotes (77)

“Return to the way. How could there be blame in this?”

Fu Xi 伏羲 1 via Richard Wilhelm
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

28. Turning Back

“If the myriad regions have any fault may it rest upon my person; but if I have any fault may it not extend to the myriad regions.”

Cheng Tang 成湯 1675 – 1646 BCE via Mozi
(Tang of Shang)
Tang Dynasty founder and example of just leadership

“Ah how shameless – the way these mortals blame the gods.”

Odysseus Ὀδυσσεύς 1 via Homer
Trickster lineage hero and symbol
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

8. Like Water

“See now, how men lay blame upon us gods for what is after all nothing but their own folly.”

Homer 1 via Samuel Butler​
Primogenitor of Western culture
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

“Every man carries two bags about him, one in front and one behind, and both are full of faults. The bag in front contains his neighbors' faults, the one behind his own. Hence it is that men do not see their own faults, but never fail to see those of others.”

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

33. Know Yourself

“Even as a solid rock is unshaken by the wind, so are the wise unshaken by praise or blame.”

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

77. Stringing a Bow

“He advances yet does not seek fame,
He retreats yet does not avoid blame.
He seeks only to preserve the people.”

Sun Tzu 孙武 544 – 496 BCE
(Sun Zi)
HIstory's supreme strategist

9. Know When to Stop

“Keep alive the light of justice,
And much that men say in blame will pass you by.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from The Suppliant Women (421 BCE)

“When people laughed at him because he walked backward beneath the portico, he said to them: ‘Aren't you ashamed, you who walk backward along the whole path of existence, and blame me for walking backward along the path of the promenade?’”

Diogenes 412 – 323 BCE via Will Durant
(of Sinope)
from Life of Greece

41. Distilled Life

“While he does not follow the crowd, he won't complain about those who do... The man of Tao remains unknown.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Stephen Mitchell

from The Man of Tao

“Though bitter, good medicine cures illness. Though it may hurt, loyal criticism will have beneficial effects.”

Sima Qian 司馬遷 145 – 86 BCE
(Ssu-ma Ch'ien)
Father of Chinese historians
from Shiji, Records of the Grand Historian, 太史公書

“He who exposes the faults of others endangers himself.”

Sima Qian 司馬遷 145 – 86 BCE via Burton Watson
(Ssu-ma Ch'ien)
Father of Chinese historians
from Shiji, Records of the Grand Historian, 太史公書

“One dog barks at something, the rest bark at him.”

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

“One can see a louse as far away as China but is unconscious of an elephant on their nose.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Malay Proverb

“To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult.”

Plutarch 46 – 120 CE
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)
from Parallel Lives

“Small-minded people blame others. Average people blame themselves. The wise see all blame as foolishness.”

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

8. Like Water

“When you start to criticize someone’s fault, ask yourself which of your own faults most closely resembles it.

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE via Shan Dao
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

“Prohibitions are intended to put an end to poverty, and yet the people become poorer. Tools are intended to strengthen the country, and yet the country becomes weaker and more chaotic. This is due to cultivating the branches instead of the roots.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE

57. Wu Wei

“Drive all blame into one.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE via Chögyam Trungpa
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
from Seven Points of Mind Training, Lojong བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ;

8. Like Water

“Whosoever complains of the bad character of another man has revealed the badness of his own character.”

Al-Ghazali أبو حامد محمد بن محمد الطوسي الغزالي 1058 – 1111 CE
(Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali)
Philosopher of Sufism

“The main characteristics of noble people are not to be pleased by praise; not to be displeased by criticism.”

Sakya Pandita ས་སྐྱ་པཎྜ་ཏ་ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་མཚན། 1182 – 1251 CE via John T. Davenport; Shan Dao
(Kunga Gyeltsen)
from Ordinary Wisdom, Sakya Legshe (Jewel Treasury of Good Advice)

“If you wish to be free from all blame, there is no better course than to be always sincere... All blame from others is due to pretending experience, making oneself out to be skillful, putting on superior airs, and looking down on people.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE via Sir George Bailey Sansom
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Essays in Idleness

“Then give me neither thank nor give me blame
The fault, if anywhere my tale be lame,
... for who would dare assert
A blind man should in colors be expert?”

Geoffrey Chaucer 1343 – 1400 CE via W. W. Skeat
“Father of English literature”
from Troilus and Cressida

“The envious nature of men, so prompt to blame and so slow to praise, makes the discovery and introduction of any new principles and systems as dangerous almost as the exploration of unknown seas and continents”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from Discourses on Livy

“the people often, deceived by an illusive good, desire their own ruin; and, unless made sensible of the evil of the one and the benefit of the other course, they will expose the republic to infinite peril and damage”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE via Detmold, Shan Dao
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from Discourses on Livy

“Blame is like lightning—it hits the highest.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #83
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

“People Are Always Wrong About: hating to be fooled by others while liking to be fooled by oneself.”

Bunan 至道無難 1603 – 1676 CE
(Shido Bunan Zenji Munan)

“People Are Always Wrong About: Discriminating others' right and wrong while not acting properly oneself.”

Bunan 至道無難 1603 – 1676 CE
(Shido Bunan Zenji Munan)

“We find fault with perfection itself.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time
from Pensées (1670)

“Censure is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent.”

Jonathan Swift 1667 – 1745 CE
"Foremost prose satirist in the English language"

from Thoughts on Various Subjects (1711)

“It is harder to avoid censure than to gain applause—which may be gained by one great or wise action. But to escape censure, a man must pass his whole life without saying or doing one ill or foolish thing.”

David Hume 1711 – 1776 CE
"One of the most important philosophers"

“Use unfortunate events to polish oneself, to find increase within reduction, to change a faulty beginning into a blameless end.”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 1734 – 1821 CE via Thomas Cleary, Shan Dao, #42 Increase
(Liu I-ming)
from Taoist I Ching, , Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真

“The most worthless of mankind are not afraid to condemn in others the same disorders which they allow in themselves; and can readily discover some nice difference in age, character, or station, to justify the partial distinction.”

Edward Gibbon 1737 – 1794 CE
from Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

“The new statement is always hated by the old, and to those living in the old, comes like an abyss of scepticism.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

“Every human action is determined by hereditary constitution, [the environment], the example and the teaching of others… This view should teach one profound humility—one deserves no credit for anything. Nor should one blame others… It’s right to punish criminals but solely to deter others.”

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882 CE

“Nobody blamed the credulity and avarice of the people, – the degrading lust of gain, which had swallowed up every nobler quality in the national character… These things were never mentioned.”

Charles Mackay 1814 – 1889 CE
from Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

18. The Sick Society

“Like very many men is such cases, he put faith above all in change of place. If only it were not for these people, if only it were not for these circumstances, if only he could fly away from this accursed place—he would be altogether regenerated”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE via Constance Garnett
from Brothers Karamatzov

“One must first learn to live oneself before one blames others.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE
from Notes From Underground (1864)

“Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of anyone. For no one can judge a criminal until he recognizes that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men to blame for that crime.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE
from Brothers Karamatzov

“What if my whole life has all been wrong?... I was going up in public opinion, but to the same extent life was ebbing away from me”

Leo Tolstoy 1828 – 1910 CE
from The Death of Ivan Ilyich

“[We do not]... blame, but rather pity, in our innermost heart, the 'wise men' of our age for trying to carry out the only policy that will keep them on the pinnacle of their 'authority'; as they could not, if even they would, act otherwise and preserve their prestige with the masses, or escape from being speedily outcast by their colleagues.”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy
from The Key to Theosophy (1889)

“There has never been a just [war], never an honorable one--on the part of the instigator of the war… Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked… and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”

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

69. No Enemy

“A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else”

John Burroughs 1837 – 1921 CE
Literary naturalist

“When we remember that some of the best and noblest men that ever lived have been reviled, indicted, and executed by so-called good men, how can we believe stories that revile and discredit anyone?”

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

“The bad man is the man who—no matter how good he has been—begins to deteriorate, to grow less good. The good man is the one who—no matter how morally unworthy he has been—is moving to become better. Such a conception makes one severe in judging himself, and humane in judging others.”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"
from Reconstruction in Philosophy, 1920

“Because there is safety in derision
I talked about an apparition”

W.B. (William Butler) Yeats 1865 – 1939 CE via "The Apparitions"

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you… Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it”

Rudyard Kipling 1865 – 1936 CE
Greatest—in-English—short-story writer

from If—

“criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those led, - this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society”

W. E. B. Du Bois 1868 – 1963 CE
from Souls of Black Folk

“To the bad habit of talking about oneself and one's faults must be added the related habit of criticizing the same faults in others. This is only a hidden manner of talking about oneself which combines the pleasure of absolution with that of confession.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Justin O'Brien
Apostle of Ordinary Mind

“We do not like to be robbed of an enemy; we want someone to hate when we suffer. It is so depressing to think that we suffer because we are fools.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

“She thought there were no Gods; no one was to blame; and so she evolved this atheist's religion of doing good for the sake of goodness.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Mrs. Dalloway

“I want to give the worst explanation: I say I did it from cowardice, because I want to shame my soul and keep it from doing the same thing again.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

“Praise out of season, or tactlessly bestowed, can freeze the heart as much as blame.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE
from To My Daughters, With Love (1967)

“A superior man blames himself, a common man blames others.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE

“It sucks that we can’t have it all
It sucks nothing is perfect
Then again, it sucks that’s the excuse we use to be unhappy.”

Margaret Postgate Cole 1893 – 1980 CE

“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

10. The Power of Goodness

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one... just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.”

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

“The stages of developing awareness begin with blaming and then expand to a discovery that the transgressions were only a response to what others have done”

Gregory Bateson 1904 – 1980 CE

“Freud tells us to blame our parents for all the shortcomings of our life, and Marx tells us to blame the upper class of our society. But the only one to blame is oneself… Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit”

Arnold Glasow 1905 – 1998 CE
Business with humor

“The slave is completely at the mercy of external events. If fortune smiles on him, he struts and boasts and attributes her favors to his own power and wisdom—which, as often as not, had nothing to do with it. If fortune frowns, he whines and weeps and grovels, putting the blame for his sufferings on everything and everybody except himself.”

Robert S. De Ropp 1913 – 1987 CE

“All situations result from and merge into other situations... We accept what cannot be altered with tranquil joy, never repining, no matter what unpleasant things happen to us. We make the best of each temporary setback.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE
from Talk (1978)

“Social conditioning depends entirely on persuading people not to accept themselves.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

“When one experiences truth, the madness of finding fault with others disappears.”

Goenka ဂိုအင်ကာ 1924 – 2013 CE
(Satya Narayan)
"The Man who Taught the World to Meditate"

“It's only terrorism if they do it to us. When we do much worse to them, it's not terrorism.”

Noam Chomsky 1928 CE –
from Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda

31. Victory Funeral

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“No one can blame the conqueror for writing history the way he sees it, and certainly not for digesting human events and discovering their patterns according to his own point of view. But it must be admitted … that conventional history supports and complements a very grave and almost pristine ignorance.”

Toni Morrison 1931 – 2019 CE
(Chloe Ardelia Wofford)
Story-telling voice of American wisdom
from A Humanist View (1975)​

“One of humanity’s most persistent and damaging illusions is that happiness and suffering are caused by external factors.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

“Most of us don't realize the difference we could make… point fingers at others. ‘Surely,’ we say, ‘the pollution, waste, and other ills are not our fault. They are the fault of the industry, business, science. They are the fault of the politicians,’ This leads to a destructive and potentially deadly apathy.”

Jane Goodall 1934 CE –

“Maybe the most important teaching is to lighten up and relax. It’s such a huge help in working with our crazy mixed-up minds to remember that what we’re doing is unlocking a softness that is in us and letting it spread. We’re letting it blur the sharp corners of self-criticism and complaint.”

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

63. Easy as Hard

“[If we] give up on free will; no one really deserves blame or credit for anything; we are all slaves of biology.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Moral Animal — Why we are the Way we Are

“our best chance of contentment lies in taking up the wisdom offered to us in coded form through our coughs, allergies, social gaffes, and emotional betrayals, and to avoid the ingratitude of those who blame”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge
from How Proust Can Change Your Life

“Do you blame its walls when they inevitably crush the people inside? No; you blame whoever was stupid enough to think they could defy the laws of nature forever.”

N. K. Jemisin 1972 CE –
from Broken Earth

“On a purely emotional level, aversion tends to manifest as anger and even hatred. Instead of recognizing that whatever unhappiness you feel is based on a mentally constructed image, you find it only 'natural' to blame other people, external objects, or situations for your pain.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from The Joy of Living (2007)

“most people end up blaming either external conditions or themselves. However, because it reflects a loss of confidence in oneself, blame only makes the search for happiness more difficult”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

“Nothing is intrinsically or ultimately bad. Any situation that arises is only relatively good or bad based on many factors, including—most significantly—how you perceive the situation and how you respond to it.”

Karmapa XVII ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗ 1985 CE –
(Orgyen Thrinlay Dorje)

20. Unconventional Mind

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