Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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If “The truth will set you free,” lies and deception will enslave you and when entertainment rules, lies become valued over truth. When fictional movies and TV shows compete with news programs, news programs become fictionalized. Smart phones, streamed music, movies, and omnipresent electronic connections enable constant entertainment while preventing any gaps, any contemplation, any time for reflection. As Neil Postman wrote, “There’s no business but show business.” In the West, one of the worst punishments is solitary confinement. In Tibet, people work hard for years to secure their families and make enough to support dark retreats, solitary meditations in sealed up caves that last many years.

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Quotes (52)

“The true spirit of delight, the exultation—the sense of being more than Man—is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.”

“Shun pleasure's tempting snare!”

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

“Without an empty mind, people are useless.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter 11
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“The superior man thinks of virtue; the small man thinks of comfort.”

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

Themes: Entertainment

“Nothing contributes to the entertainment of the reader more, than the change of times and the vicissitudes of fortune.”

Cicero 106 – 43 BCE

Themes: Entertainment

“Americans don’t spend billions for entertainment. They spend it in search of entertainment.”

Anonymous -800 to present
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history

Themes: Entertainment

“Pleasure for an hour, a bottle of wine; pleasure for a year, marriage; pleasure for a lifetime, a garden.”

Anonymous -800 to present
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Chinese Proverb​

“Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish… Your life is too short and you have important things to do. Be discriminating about what images and ideas you permit into your mind. If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest… determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap.”

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

60. Less is More

“Sedentary culture is the goal of civilization. It means the end of its lifespan and brings about its corruption.

Ibn Khaldun أبو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي 1332 – 1406 CE

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“Nature has presented us with a large faculty of entertaining ourselves alone: and often calls us to it, to teach us that we owe ourselves in part to society, but chiefly and mostly to ourselves.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE via On giving the lie (tr: Colton and Hazlitt)
from Essays, French Essais

“Truth is as naked and open daylight that does not show the masques, and mummeries, and triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candle-lights. . . A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE

“I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking: I could well wish courtesy would invent some other custom of entertainment.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE

Themes: Entertainment

“Drinking and gambling are curses that lessen any man’s mind and strength and waste his substance.”

Kāngxī 康熙帝 1654 – 1722 CE
from Emperor of China, Self-Portrait of K'ang-hsi

“Amusement is the happiness of those who cannot think.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

“The superfluous is very necessary.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Entertainment

“But pleasures are like poppies spread— You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river— A moment white—then melts forever.”

Robert Burns 1759 – 1796 CE

“If a book is well written, I always find it too short.”

Jane Austen 1775 – 1817 CE
from Catharine and Other Writings

Themes: Entertainment

“When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.”

William Hazlitt 1778 – 1830 CE
One of the English languages best art and literature critics of all time

from The Spirit of Controversy, 1830

Themes: Entertainment

“Let us have Wine and Women, Mirth and Laughter
Sermons and soda-water the day after.”

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

Themes: Entertainment

“Seeking variety is a sign of impotence.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)
from Cousin Bette

“That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi

Themes: Entertainment

“All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.”

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

“We crave for new sensations but soon become indifferent to them. The wonders of yesterday are today common occurrences”

Nikola Tesla Никола Тесла 1856 – 1943 CE
from My Inventions

Themes: Entertainment

“Journalism largely consists in saying, "Lord Jones is dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Entertainment

35. The Power of Goodness

“Impovernment of the bobble by the bauble for the bubble.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Finnegan's Wake

“the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master... murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

Themes: Entertainment

“Distracted from distraction by distraction.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE

72. Helpful Fear

“Radio is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE

Themes: Entertainment

“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Brave New World

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now… but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera… will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

35. The Power of Goodness

“Once one is caught up into the material world not one person in ten thousand finds the time to form literary taste, to examine the validity of philosophic concepts for himself, or to form what, for lack of a better phrase, I might call the wise and tragic sense of life.”

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

“You cannot see the Milky Way in New York City any more ... We risk the loss of our sensual perception. And if you lose those, naturally, you try to compensate by other stimulations, by very loud noises, or by bright lights or drugs.”

René Dubos 1901 – 1982 CE
Influential scientific environmentalist

Themes: Entertainment

“Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE

Themes: Entertainment

“While you sit watching pictures on your color TV set, I stand gazing at ripples in a moonlit pond, thanking the gods for not interrupting with commercials.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

80. A Golden Age

“He comes to believe that political power... is the result of access to the television screen... what he wants is not more liberty as a citizen but better service as a client. He wants a better product rather than freedom from servitude to it. It is vital that he come to see that the acceleration he demands is self-defeating, and that it must result in a further decline of equity, leisure, and autonomy.”

Ivan Illich 1926 – 2002 CE
"an archaeologist of ideas"
from Energy and Equity (1974)

“Mental reflection is so much more interesting than TV it's a shame more people don't switch over to it.”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“entertainment has the merit not only of being better suited to helping sell goods; it is an effective vehicle for hidden ideological messages… the contemporary equivalent of the Roman ‘games of the circus’ that diverts the public from politics and generates a political apathy that preserves the status quo inequality”

Noam Chomsky 1928 CE –
from Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.”

Neil Postman 1931 – 2003 CE
from Amusing Ourselves to Death

60. Less is More

“Our priests and presidents, our surgeons and lawyers, our educators and newscasters worry less about the demands of their discipline than the demands of good showmanship. What is and what is not show business becomes harder and harder to see… ‘There’s No Business But Show Business.’”

Neil Postman 1931 – 2003 CE via Shan Dao
from Amusing Ourselves to Death

“When news is packaged as entertainment, the inevitable result is disinformation—misleading, misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented, superficial information. We begin to take ignorance as knowledge.”

Neil Postman 1931 – 2003 CE via Shan Dao
from Amusing Ourselves to Death

“Mindfulness is the ground; refraining is the path... not grabbing for entertainment the minute we feel a slight edge of boredom coming on.”

Pema Chödrön 1936 CE –
(Deirdre Blomfield-Brown)
First American Vajrayana nun
from When Things Fall Apart

Themes: Entertainment

“People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point.”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: Entertainment

“A warrior doesn’t need color television or video games… doesn’t need to read comic books… the world of entertainment doesn’t arise.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

60. Less is More

“Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV, and you think you're so clever and classless and free… A working class hero is something to be.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

35. The Power of Goodness

“Songs, to me, were more important that just light entertainment. They were my preceptor and guide into some altered consciousness of reality, some different republic, some liberated republic.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –
from Chronicles

“The Beatles saved the world from boredom.”

George Harrison 1943 – 2001 CE
Guitar-playing philanthropist

Themes: Entertainment

“Blow up your TV...throw away your paper...move to the country and build you a home. Plant a little garden...eat a lot of peaches...try and find Jesus on your own.”

John Prine 1946 CE –

“Pleasure is designed by natural selection to evaporate so that the ensuing dissatisfaction will get us to pursue more pleasure.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Why Buddhism is True

“What people do isn't determined by where they live. It happens to be their own damned fault. They decided to watch TV instead of thinking when they were in high school. They decided to blow-off courses and drink beer instead of reading and trying to learn something. They decided to chicken out and be intolerant bastards instead of being open-minded and, finally, they decided to go along with their buddies and do things that were terribly wrong when there was no reason they had to.”

Neal Stephenson 1959 CE –
(Stephen Bury)
Speculative futurist and cultural social commentator

from The Big U (1984)​

“The TV's the altar. I'm what people are sacrificing to.'
'What do they sacrifice?' asked Shadow.
'Their time, mostly,' said Lucy. 'Sometimes each other.'”

Neil Gaiman 1960 CE –
Myth-transmitting creative maelstrom
from American Gods

“Aldous Huxley predicted, ‘What we love will ruin us’ and described a human race destroyed by ignorance, lust for constant entertainment, technology, and too many goods.”

Nina Lvovna Khrushcheva Нина Львовна Хрущёва 1964 CE –


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