Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Student’s Memory Book


One of the biggest problems with politics is the necessity of putting large and complex problems into tiny conceptual boxes. Word-boxes that are easy to remember as a slogan but inevitably far from the original meaning and inspiration. The larger the political organization, the more complete this trivializing and narrowing process becomes. Wherever our religious, scientific, philosophical, or political belief system fits in the world, the more solidly we believe in it, the further we abandon truth. Memory is one of the strongest reinforcements in this process. While memory became an essential tool of civilization, it all too easily becomes an unforgiving slave master. Because our experiences are so complicated, we need to forget in order to act creatively. A major problem in forgetting though is forgetting that we forgot so much and becoming arrogant.

In a more personal way, memories easily attach to objects. When we see an object, either consciously or unconsciously we tend to remember the circumstances around it: who it came from, how we feel about them, what we did to get it, or other events it became a part of. And these connections effect our mood and state of mind. If the objects (or people) represent something negative, each time we see them it effects us in a negative way. And the same way for positive associations. By creating and surrounding ourselves with good-memory-attached objects, places, and people, we can help ourselves stay in good moods with optimistic attitudes.

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Quotes (86)

“Meanwhile let us two, here in the hut, over our food and wine, regale ourselves with the unhappy memories that each can recall. For a man who has been through bitter experiences and traveled far can enjoy even his sufferings after a time.”

Homer 1 via E. V. Rieu
Primogenitor of Western culture
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

Themes: Memory Pleasure

“Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again.”

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

Themes: Memory Forget

18. The Sick Society

“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”

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

Themes: Memory

79. No Demands

“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.”

Aeschylus Αἰσχύλος 525 – 455 BCE
The Father of Tragedy

Themes: Memory

“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

Aeschylus Αἰσχύλος 525 – 455 BCE via Robert F. Kennedy
The Father of Tragedy

“They will say I have no sense of what befits my age but they will be wrong. It's a happy thing to forget one's age. The gods have drawn no distinction between young and old, which should dance and which should not.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE via Philip Gabriel, Shan Dao
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Bacchae Βάκχαι

“Yet is it more honorable, and just, and upright, and pleasing, to treasure in the memory good acts than bad.”

Xenophon of Athens Ξενοφῶν 1
General, Socratic biographer, philosopher
from Anabasis​

Themes: Memory

“when there is excellence of character, physical appearance is forgotten. When people do not forget what to forget, but forget what not to forget, this is really forgetting.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Thomas Cleary

Themes: Memory Forget

“The purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten. The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten. Where can I find a man who has forgotten the words, so that I can talk to him?”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“Who is more fortunate, the man who loses his memory and forgets all his worries or the one who doesn’t forget and suffers his worries all the time?”

Lie Yukou 列圄寇/列禦寇/列子 1 via Zhang Zhan (370 CE) / Eva Wong / Shan Dao
(Liè Yǔkòu, Liezi)
from Liezi "True Classic of Simplicity and Perfect Emptiness”

Themes: Forget Memory

“The palest ink is better than the best memory.”

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

Themes: Memory
“No day shall erase you from the memory of time

Virgil 70 – 19 BCE
(Publius Vergilius Maro)
from Aeneid

Themes: Forget Memory

“I am like one of those old books that ends up moldering for lack of having been read. There's nothing to do but spin out the thread of memory and—from time to time—wipe away the dust building up there.”

Seneca ˈsɛnɪkə 4 BCE – 65 CE
(Lucius Annaeus)

Themes: Forget Memory

“The memory of most men is an abandoned cemetery where lie, unsung and unhonored, the dead whom they have ceased to cherish. Any lasting grief is reproof to their neglect.”

Hadrian 76 – 180 CE

Themes: Forget Memory

“unless students can forget the teacher, their vision will be obscured.”

Xuanzong 武隆基 685 – 756 CE
(Hsuan-Tsung or Wu Longji)

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“the wine is being pressed
I'll have enough to drink
to drown bad memories and help
fend off unhappy thoughts”

Du Fu 杜甫 杜甫 712 – 770 CE via David Young
from Qiang Village Poems

Themes: Memory

“Forgetfulness of self is remembrance of God.”

Abu Yazid al-Bisṭāmī بایزید بسطامی‎‎ 804 – 874 CE

“In my cottage in the wood, I read my books, dream and think.
Love o'er all the past I brood and the present with it link.”

Su Shi 苏轼 1037 – 1101 CE via The Stork (tr: J. Dyer Ball; Shan Dao)
(Dongpo, Su Tungpo)
"pre-eminent personality of 11th century China"

Themes: Memory

“Remember tonight... for it is the beginning of always.”

Dante 1265 – 1321 CE
(Durante degli Alighieri)

“But O ye lovers, bathed in bliss always, recall the griefs gone by of other days… forgetting not that ye have felt yourselves Love’s power to displease, lest ye might win Love’s prize with too great ease.”

Geoffrey Chaucer 1343 – 1400 CE via George Philip Krapp
“Father of English literature”
from Troilus and Cressida

“In a discussion, when someone cites an authority, they are using memory, not reason.”

Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519 CE via Shan Dao

Themes: Belief Memory

“Whoever refers to authorities in disputing ideas works with his memory rather than with his reason.”

Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519 CE

Themes: Memory

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE
Grandfather of the Enlightenment

Themes: Memory Forget

“Once we forget form, our self becomes empty. Once our self is empty, nothing can harm us. Once there is no self, there is no life. How then could there be any death?”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

Themes: Memory Forget

50. Claws and Swords

“Hope has a good memory, gratitude a bad one.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Memory Hope

72. Helpful Fear

“Remember to forget. The things we remember best are those better forgotten… Very often the only remedy for the trouble is to forget it, and all we forget is the remedy.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Memory Forget

79. No Demands

“The manner in which Epictetus, Montaigne, and Salomon de Tultie wrote, is the most usual, the most suggestive, the most remembered, and the oftener quoted; because it is entirely composed of thoughts born from the common talk of life.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time
from Pensées (1669)

Themes: Memory

“I forget most of what I read, just as I do most of what I have eaten, but I know that both contribute no less to the conservation of my mind and my body on that account.”

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg 1742 – 1799 CE
One of history’s best aphorists

Themes: Memory Forget

“Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.”

Abigail Adams 1744 – 1818 CE
One of the most exceptional women in American history

“All memory is present.”

Novalis 1772 – 1831 CE

“History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE

Themes: History Memory

“Life cannot go on without a great deal of forgetting.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

Themes: Memory Forget

“conservatism goes for comfort, reform for truth... Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory. Reform has no gratitude, no prudence, no husbandry... Conservatism tends to universal seeming and treachery, believes in a negative fate; believes the men's temper governs them;”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism
from The Conservative (1841)

“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

Themes: Lies Memory

40. Returning

“The memory has as many moods as the temper and shifts its scenery like a diorama.”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

from Middlemarch

Themes: Memory

“pain must enter into its glorified life of memory before it can turn into compassion”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

from Middlemarch

Themes: Memory

“there is nothing higher or stronger and more wholesome and useful for life in after years than some good memory, especially a memory connected with childhood, with home... if we have only one good memory left in our hearts, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.”

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

Themes: Forget Memory

“You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your 'friends.'”

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

35. The Power of Goodness

“To live is to remember and to remember is to live. To die is to forget and to forget is to die.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Note-Books (1912)

Themes: Forget Memory

“It isn't so astonishing, the number of things that I can remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren't so.”

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

Themes: Memory

“In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important as remembering.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from Principles of Psychology, 1890

Themes: Forget Memory

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good thing for the first time.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

Themes: Memory

“A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Forget Memory

79. No Demands

“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

“Nothing can be brought to an end in the unconscious; nothing is past or forgotten.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE
from The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)

Themes: Forget Memory

“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE

Themes: Memory

“In endowing us with memory, nature has revealed to us a truth utterly unimaginable to the collective creation—the truth of immortality.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet
from Reason in Religion

“Islands of memory begin to rise above the river life. At first they are little uncharted islands, rocks just peeping above the surface of the waters. Round about them and behind in the twilight of the dawn stretches the great untroubled sheet of water; then new islands, touched to gold by the sun.”

Romain Rolland 1866 – 1944 CE
“The moral consciousness of Europe”
from Jean Christophe Vol I

Themes: Memory

“Voluntary memory—the memory of the intellect and the eyes—[gives] us only imprecise facsimiles of the past which no more resemble it than pictures of bad painters resemble the spring... So we don't believe that life is beautiful because we don't recall it”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from In Search of Lost Time

Themes: Forget Memory

“...the memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment.”

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

Themes: Memory

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

Themes: Memory Forget Health

“All other memories of travels, people, and my surroundings have paled beside these interior happenings... Recollection of the outward events of my life has largely faded or disappeared... bouts with the unconscious are indelibly engraved upon my memory; everything else has lost importance”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Themes: Memory Travel Forget

“He is resolved to forget that the desperate clinging to the self, and the desperate clinging to life are the surest way to eternal death.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE
from Steppenwolf

Themes: Karma Forget Memory

“There is no possibility of remembering what has been found and understood… It disappears as a dream disappears. Perhaps it is all nothing but a dream.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

Themes: Memory Forget Dream

“The ability to forget the past enables people to free themselves gradually from the pain they once suffered; but it also often makes them repeat the mistakes of their predecessors.”

Lǔ Xùn 鲁迅 1881 – 1936 CE
(Zhou Shuren; Lusin)
Insightful satirist representing the "Literature of Revolt"

from Epigrams of Lusin

Themes: Memory Forget

“Morals are the memory of success that no longer succeeds.”

William Carlos Williams 1883 – 1963 CE
from In the American Grain

Themes: Memory Success

22. Heaven's Door

“It takes a minute to have a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone... but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Memory Forget

20. Unconventional Mind
79. No Demands

“More than wine or love, more underhandedly than ideas, art is able to entice man and make him forget. Art takes the place of duty; it fights to convert the ephemeral into the eternal and to transubstantiate man's suffering into beauty... Art makes us scorn the petty everyday concern for food, and even for justice; we forget that this is the root which nourishes the immortal flower.”

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

Themes: Forget Memory

“New material no longer seems to find room, and recent impressions fade as rapidly as a politician's promises, or the public's memory of them... The ability to learn decreases with each decade of our lives, as if the association fibers of the brain were accumulated and overlaid in inflexible patterns.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Forget Memory

“Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take, towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE
from Four Quartets

Themes: Gardening Memory

“We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE
from The Cocktail Party

Themes: Forget Memory

“Today I have so much to do:
I must kill memory once and for all,
I must turn my soul to stone,
I must learn to live again—”

Anna Akhmatova Анна Ахматова 1889 – 1966 CE via Judith Hemschemeyer
(Andreyevna Gorenko)
Russia's most loved female poet

Themes: Confidence Memory

“Man's memory shapes
Its own Eden within”

Jorge Luis Borges 1899 – 1986 CE
Literary Explorer of Labyrinthian Dreams, Mirrors, and Mythologies
from Dreamtigers

“The reason a writer writes a book is to forget and the reason a reader reads one is to remember.”

Thomas Wolfe 1900 – 1938 CE
(Thomas Clayton Wolfe)
Father of autobiographical fiction

“When we forget ourselves, we are the true activity of reality itself and there is no problem whatsoever in this world.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE
from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Forget Memory

“Forget everything and discover something quite new and different moment after moment... As long as we have some definite idea about the past or some hope in the future, we cannot be serious with the moment that exists right now.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE via Trudy Dixon, Shan Dao
from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Hope Memory

“Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past, what to enjoy in the present, and what to plan for in the future”

Arnold Glasow 1905 – 1998 CE
Business with humor

Themes: Memory

“We all have our own personality, unique and distinctive; and at the same time, this distinctive personality blends with the wind, with the footsteps in the street, with the noises around the corner, and with the silence of memory”

Octavio Paz 1914 – 1998 CE
Persuasive poet and convincing social commentator

“Most people, when they reach a certain age, let down and talk about what they used to do. Well, who gives a damn about what you used to do? It's what you're doing now.”

Jack LaLanne 1914 – 2011 CE

Themes: Forget Memory

“After his great awakening, the Buddha continued to meditate and to devote himself to others; otherwise his vision would have receded into a pleasant memory.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

Themes: Memory Buddhism

“don't hate me because I can't remember some person immediately. Especially when they look like everybody else, and talk and dress and act like everybody else.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE via Franny
from Franny and Zooey

Themes: Forget Memory

“There are three side effects of LSD: enhanced long-term memory, decreased short-term memory, and I forget the third.”

Timothy Leary 1920 – 1996 CE
Pioneering psychonaut, performing philosopher, and counter-cultural hero

Themes: Forget Memory

“To gain your own voice you have to forget about having it heard.”

Allen Ginsberg 1926 – 1997 CE

Themes: Memory Forget

44. Fame and Fortune

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

Gabriel García Márquez 1927 – 2014 CE
(Gabo, Gabito)
The greatest Colombian

Themes: Forget Memory

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“I heard a definition once: ‘Happiness is health and a short memory!’ I wish I'd invented it, because it is very true.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Memory Health

79. No Demands

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE
Leading world influence for equality, peace, non-violence, and poverty alleviation

Themes: Enemy Memory

“At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to.”

Toni Morrison 1931 – 2019 CE
(Chloe Ardelia Wofford)
Story-telling voice of American wisdom
from Tar Baby (1981)​​

“there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable... A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our door step once again. It starts much earlier and is really never over, because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical standstill.”

Ryszard Kapuściński 1932 – 2007 CE
“One of the most credible journalists the world has ever seen"
from Travels with Herodotus (2004)

Themes: Memory Travel

“There is a humiliating memory at the bottom of all serious conflicts... it is only by remembering what we have forgotten that we an enter into competition with sufficient intensity”

James P. Carse 1932 – 2020 CE
Thought-proving, influential, deep thinker
from Finite and Infinite Games

Themes: Memory

“How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me?”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 CE
from Beautiful Losers

Themes: Memory Forget

“Sometimes I wish I could forget more things. I have to make a conscious effort to free my mind, open it again, because memory can be tremendously rapacious.”

Jim Harrison 1937 – 2016 CE
"untrammeled renegade genius”
from Paris Review, 1988​

Themes: Forget Memory

“If you have a knot in your past that stops the flow of your life, it’s a psychic impediment. Your memories enlarge in ways proportionally to how willing you are to allow them to enlarge.”

Jim Harrison 1937 – 2016 CE
"untrammeled renegade genius”
from Paris Review, 1988​​

Themes: Forget Memory

“Memory can give warmth to time. And art can—when it goes well—give shape to that memory, even fix it in history. Much as van Gogh inscribed the figure of a country mailman on our collective memory so well that he lives on, even today.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Killing Commendatore

Themes: Memory

“The ones who did it always rationalize their actions and even forget what they did… But the surviving victims can never forget… That’s what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel
from 1Q84

Themes: Memory Forget

53. Shameless Thieves

“Memories and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age, and certain memories can never fade”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Jay Rubin
from Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Themes: Forget Memory

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