Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Artur Szczybylo


Quotes (79)

“Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.”

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

Themes: Simplicity

60. Less is More

“The man is happiest who lives from day to day and asks no more, garnering the simple goodness of life.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

53. Shameless Thieves

“Pride more than age hastens life to its end;
And they who in pride pretend
Beyond man's limit, will lose what lay
Close to their hand and sure.”

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

“He who eats with most pleasure is he who least requires sauce.”

Xenophon of Athens Ξενοφῶν  (430–354 BCE)
General, Socratic biographer, philosopher

Themes: Simplicity

“Like water that becomes clear when left alone, the wise make no plans and casually adjust themselves to events.”

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

from Zhuangzi

Themes: Simplicity

“Everything natural is easily procured, and only the useless is costly.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
Western Buddha
from On Nature

Themes: Wealth Simplicity

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“He that increases knowledge increases sorrow. In much wisdom is much grief.”

Koheleth c. 330–180 BCE
from Ecclesiastes קֹהֶלֶת‎

Themes: Simplicity

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Saint Matthew
from New Testament Διαθήκη

Themes: Simplicity

“Let not things, because they are common, enjoy for that the less share of our consideration.”

Pliny 23 – 79 CE
(Pliny Gaius Plinius Secundus, Pliny the Elder)
Founding father of the encyclopedia

from Natural History

Themes: Simplicity

“To discover the Tao, nothing is better than embracing simplicity.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE

Themes: Simplicity

32. Uncontrived Awareness

“The world was easier to understand when choices fell away. It was like understanding a tree when all the leaves dropped: There it was, the pattern of the boughs, the tree itself.”

Hilda of Whitby 614 – 680 CE

35. The Power of Goodness

“In the village of nothingness
Gnarled trees prosper
Useless, nothing will harm them.”

Han Shan c. 730-850 CE
(Cold Mountain)

Themes: Simplicity

1. The Unnamed

“How miraculous and wondrous, hauling water and carrying firewood!”

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“A mountain doesn’t have to be high if a saint lives there. Water doesn’t have to be deep if it shelters a dragon. My tiny, simple and shabby room becomes a palace when wisdom reveals itself.”

Liú Yǔxī 刘禹锡 772 – 842 CE via Shan Dao
"Mad old man poet," politician, and philosopher

Themes: Simplicity Water

“When occupations come to us we must accept them; when things come to us we must understand them from the ground up.”

Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 796 CE - via Richard Wilhelm
(Lü Tung-Pin)

from Secret of the Golden Flower 太乙金華宗旨; Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ

Themes: Simplicity

27. No Trace

“Rest in the nature of alaya (‘simplicity and in clear and nondiscriminating mind’- CTR).”

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;

Themes: Simplicity

28. Turning Back

“Do not cling to one side or one direction.
Look into the midst of the space of simplicity.”

Marpa Lotsawa 1012 – 1097 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee

Themes: Simplicity

“Although the stars are greater in number, it is the moon which dispels the darkness.”

Gesar of Ling གེ་སར་རྒྱལ་པོ། 11th century CE via Robin Kornman
from Gesar of Ling Epic

Themes: Simplicity

“The reeds blossom under the bright moon; the jade thread fits into the golden needle; the opportunity arises to turn around, enter the world, and respond to conditions.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE
from Cultivating the Emplty Field

“I go to the marketplace with my wine bottle and return home with my staff. I visit the wine shop and the market, and everyone I look upon becomes enlightened.”

Kakuan Shien 廓庵師遠 1100 – 1200 CE
(Kuo-an Shih-yuan, Kuòān Shīyuǎn )
Most popular Ten Bulls artist/poet

from 10 Bulls

“Apricots burst into bloom; a simple-hearted person faces the simple-hearted flowers.”

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

Themes: Simplicity

“The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct.”

William of Ockham 1287 – 1347 CE

Themes: Simplicity

37. Nameless Simplicity

“It is present in everyone but within the reach of only a few... If you rest naturally with whatever manifests, without conscious striving, it is evident.”

Longchenpa ཀློང་ཆེན་རབ་འབྱམས་པ། 1308 – 1364 CE via Padma Translation Committee
(Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer)
from The Basic Space of Phenomena

Themes: Simplicity

“Those who are content with little live day by day and treat any day like a feast day.”

Poggio Bracciolini 1380 – 1459 CE via Sansoni
from Nel VI Centenario della Nascita

“If it would please God, I would go and tend sheep with my sister and brother.”

Joan of Arc Jeanne d'Arc 1412 – 1431 CE
Mystical, visionary warrior

Themes: Simplicity

“The closer one approaches to God, the simpler one becomes”

Teresa of Avila 1515 – 1582 CE
from Way of Perfection

Themes: Simplicity

35. The Power of Goodness

“What is simple has no name. Once we make something,we give it a name. But name gives rise to name. Where does it end? Hence Lao-tzu tells us to stop chasing names.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

Themes: Simplicity

32. Uncontrived Awareness

“Too much money means too many things to attend to.”

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

Themes: Simplicity

“Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.”

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

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

Isaac Newton 1642 – 1726 CE

Themes: Simplicity

“Simplicity is the mean between ostentation and rusticity.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer
from Preface to the Iliad (1715)

Themes: Simplicity

“He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

“Simplicity and sincerity generally go hand in hand, as both proceed from a love of truth.”

Mary Wollstonecraft 1759 – 1797 CE
Seminal feminist

Themes: Simplicity

“Simplicity is the seal of truth... naked truth must be so simple and intelligible that it an be imparted to everyone it its true shape—without disguising it as religion.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE
from Essays and Aphorisms

Themes: Simplicity

“Too much reading robs the mind of all elasticity... the surest way of never having any thoughts of your own is to pick up a book (smart phone or computer) every time you have a free moment.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via R.J. Hollingdale, Shan Dao
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

“It is proof of high culture to say the greatest matters in the simplest way.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism
from The Conduct of Life (1860)

Themes: Simplicity

“the necessary ingredients of happiness: simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and above all, a clear conscience.”

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

81. Journey Without Goal

“Simplicity if the essence of the great, the true, and the beautiful”

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

Themes: Simplicity

“Let us worship God again in simplicity instead of making a fool of him in splendid edifices.”

Søren Kierkegaard 1813 – 1855 CE
"The first existentialist philosopher"
from Preparations for a Christian Life

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! Let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand... keep your accounts on a thumbnail.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

Themes: Simplicity

“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

44. Fame and Fortune

“The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.”

Walt Whitman 1819 – 1892 CE
Premier "poet of democracy" and model for Dracula
from Leaves of Grass

Themes: Simplicity

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE

Themes: Truth Simplicity

“Teach us Delight in simple things,
And Mirth that has no bitter springs.”

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

from Puck of Pook's Hill (1906)

Themes: Simplicity

“Simplicity delights only when others know that you can well afford not to be simple.”

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

Themes: Simplicity

“After a certain age, our memories are so intermingled that the thing we are thinking of or the book we are reading hardly matters at all... quite as valuable discoveries as we could make in Pascal's Thoughts may be inspired by a soap advertisement.”

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

Themes: Simplicity

“A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live.”

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

Themes: Simplicity

“To be simple is the best thing in the world; to be modest is the next best thing. I am not that sure about being quiet.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE
from All Things Considered (1908)

Themes: Simplicity

“Consciousness is forever interfering… It would be a simple enough thing to do, if only simplicity were not the most difficult of all things.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Introduction to Secret of the Golden Flower

“Self-conceit is hostile to simplicity… Simplicity, beauty, and fearlessness - Christ and Buddha spoke of nothing more. Simplicity is a blessing of the spirit that vibrates in these Teachings.”

Helena Roerich Елéна Ивáновна Рéрих 1879 – 1955 CE

“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

26. The Still Rule the Restless

“She was beautiful in her ignorance, virtuous in her simplicity, and strong in her weakness. Today she has become ugly in her ingenuity, superficial and heartless in her knowledge. Will the day ever come when beauty and knowledge, ingenuity and virtue, and weakness of body and strength of spirit will be united… ?”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

61. Lying Low

“There is much pleasure in the simple work of the hands, and, as the old rabbis taught, even the scholar will find that the possession of a trade may save him from selling his conclusions for an income.”

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

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE

“Remember, all of man's happiness is in the little valleys. Tiny little ones. Small enough to call from one side to the other.”

Jean Giono 1895 – 1970 CE

52. Cultivating the Changeless

“appalled by the raw vigor that chafed under the old euphemisms, and by the too obtrusive fate that heeded its inhabitants along a short cut from nothing to nothing, she saw something awful in the very simplicity she failed to understand.”

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

“Children understand… All grown-ups were once children but only few of them remember it… I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them… Only the children know what they are looking for.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

Themes: Simplicity Forget

76. The Soft and Flexible

“Uncarved wood… metaphysically means the One, simple and undifferentiated… simplicity, plainness, genuineness in spirit and heart”

Wing-tsit Chan 陳榮捷 1901 – 1994 CE
from Way of Lao Tzu

15. Inscrutability

“Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out... let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about.”

George Orwell 1903 – 1950 CE
English, poet, humanist, apostle of doubt, and powerful political influence
from Politics and the English Language, 1945

“When your practice is calm and ordinary, everyday life itself is enlightenment.”

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

“Instead of only criticizing your culture, you should devote your mind and body to practicing this simple way. Then society and culture will grow out of you.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

54. Planting Well

“Meditation could be said to be the Art of Simplicity: simply sitting, simply breathing and simply being.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ། 1910 – 1991 CE via Matthieu Ricard
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from Journey to Enlightenment

36. The Small, Dark Light

“The everyday practice is just ordinary life itself.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ། 1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from Maha Ati

47. Effortless Success

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE
The “People's Economist”
from Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered

Themes: Simplicity

57. Wu Wei

“The simple hearth of the small farm is the true center of our universe.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE via Larry Korn
from One Straw Revolution

Themes: Simplicity

59. The Gardening of Spirit

“Chuang Tzu is mysterious because it is so simple that it can get along without being a way at all… Chuang Tzu would have agreed with St. John of the Cross, that you enter upon this kind of way when you leave all ways and, in some sense, get lost.”

Thomas Merton 1915 – 1968 CE

Themes: Simplicity

34. An Unmoored Boat

“What is Zen? Simple, simple, so simple. Infinite gratitude toward all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility to all things future.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“Everyday mind is the path.”

Seungsahn 숭산행원대선사 1927 – 2004 CE
(Soen Sa Nim)

“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”

Bill Mollison 1928 – 2016 CE
Permaculture's Founder-Father

“The simplicity or singleness of the Way is that of water which always rejoins itself.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Simplicity Water

8. Like Water

“You begin to experience the simplicity of awareness,so although the sensorial hallucinations might continue, they don’t mean anything to you. There is a quality of one flavor, or one taste.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Path of Individual Liberation

56. One with the Dust

“When we look at things as they are on a very simple and ordinary level, we find that they are fantastically , obviously true, frighteningly true… There is a kind of courtship, a love affair between the obviousness and you perceiving it.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Simplicity Truth

47. Effortless Success

“Name takes sides. Complexity limits options Hence, those who uphold nameless simplicity don’t take sides and keep their options. Open”

Red Pine 1943 CE –
( Bill Porter)
Exceptional translator, cultural diplomat

37. Nameless Simplicity

“Maybe working on the little things as dutifully and honestly as we can is how we stay sane when the world is falling apart.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Men Without Women (2017)

Themes: Simplicity

“To embrace simplicity is to delight in household activities, caring for loved ones, enjoying the sexual company of a partner, nourishing the body, and freeing the mind from anxiety and negativity.”

Eva Wong (c. 1951- )
Champion of Qigong, Fengshui, and a Taoist approach to health and healing

Themes: Simplicity Sex

“In a culture obsessed with hard work and career success, it can be difficult to wean ourselves off the work ethic. And we may not want to if we are engrossed in a career that is making us feel fully alive. But if we do seek the space to nurture other parts of who we are, then we might be wise to put our hopes in the virtues of simple living”

Roman Krznaric c. 1964
Practical, popular, modern philosopher

“Immersed in consumerism, how can we break away from this culture of addiction? We will need inner discipline and we'll need to choose a lifestyle of minimum needs and maximum contentment.”

Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche ཛི་གར་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ། 1964 CE – via Shan Dao
from Minimum Needs and Maximum Contentment

“Glimpses of pristine awareness can be treransfomative, but it takes work to stabilize the view. This why we say, Short moments, many times. Many, many times.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from In Love with the World

Themes: Simplicity

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