Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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It’s so easy to complain, to criticize, to focus on the negativity and ignore all the good things that are happening. Looking only at the negative may make us feel better about our relatively better situation. It may explain why good news isn’t even considered news and why almost all the news stations, newspapers, and talk radio are so quick to cover disasters, scandals, and dramatically horrific events. This fostering of negativity however creates a thick veil over all the wonderful things in our lives shielding us from the wonder and joy and sacredness of our immediate experience. It saps our wonder, our inspiration, our appreciation—the appreciation that gives our lives meaning.

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Quotes (82)

“The surest test if a man be sane is if he accepts life whole, as it is.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Witter Bynner
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

Themes: Appreciation

“Take care of and appreciate but don't puff up and exaggerate; let go of that and choose this.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao, chapter #72
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Appreciation

“The surest test if a man be sane is if he accepts life whole, as it is.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Witter Bynner
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

21. Following Empty Heart

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”

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

Themes: Appreciation

10. The Power of Goodness

“To generous souls every task is noble.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

Themes: Appreciation

64. Ordinary Mind

“Judgments of right and wrong are what I am calling feelings. What I call having no feelings is when people do not harm themselves inwardly by likes and dislikes but always go by what is natural and not try to add to life.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Appreciation

22. Heaven's Door

“The fool’s life is empty of gratitude and full of fears.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
Western Buddha
from On Nature

15. Inscrutability

“The wise man is but little favored by fortune; but his reason procures him the greatest and most valuable goods, and these he does enjoy, and will enjoy the whole of his life.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE via Diogenes Laërtius
Western Buddha
from Maxims

“Away with your tears, old reprobate! Have done with your grumbling! You are withering now after tasting all the joys of life. But, because you are always pining for what is not and unappreciative of the things at hand, your life has slipped away unfulfilled and unprized... To none is life given in freehold; to all only on lease.”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE via R.E. Latham
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

“He will always be a slave who does not know how to live upon a little.”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE

67. Three Treasures

“Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not ‘This is misfortune,’ but ‘To bear this worthily is good fortune.’”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE

Themes: Appreciation

44. Fame and Fortune

“What good fortune to live upon the earth. What pleasure in wielding the sword of awareness and meeting friends when we encounter the Aim-less Ones.”

Nagabodhi ནཱ་ག་བོ་དྷི། 1
(The Red-Horned Thief)

Themes: Appreciation

“In the landscape of spring, there is neither better nor worse. The flowering branches grow naturally, some long, some short.”

Jianzhi Sengcan 鑑智僧璨 529 – 606 CE
(Jiànzhì Sēngcàn)

Themes: Appreciation

34. An Unmoored Boat

“I rejoice with delight at the good done by all beings.”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།། 685 – 763 CE via Kate Crosby and Andre Skilton
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

Themes: Appreciation

“Wind, light and time ever revolve; Let us then enjoy life as best we can.”

Du Fu 杜甫 杜甫 712 – 770 CE

Themes: Appreciation

“The wise don’t reject anything - both positive and negative qualities are aids on the path. —”

Ghaṇṭāpa གྷ་ཎྚཱ་པ། 1 via Keith Dowman, Shan Dao
(“The Celibate Bell-Ringer”)
Mahasiddha #52

“Be grateful to everyone.”

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: Appreciation

31. Victory Funeral

“Unless we are crushed by conditions... unless our own mouths water from hunger, we never appreciate a poor man's need to hoard.”

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

“A spring evening—one priceless moment.
The smell of fresh flowers and the glow of the moon.
Sweet song drifts down from the balcony—beautiful.
The garden swing hangs motionless as evening drips away.”

Su Shi 苏轼 1037 – 1101 CE via Baudelaire Jones
(Dongpo, Su Tungpo)
"pre-eminent personality of 11th century China"

Themes: Appreciation

“And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean—
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!”

Omar Khayyám 1048 – 1131 CE via Edward Fitzgerald
Persian Astronomer-Poet, prophet of the here and now

from Rubaiyat

“Know that thankfulness is from the highest of stations, and it is higher than patience, fear, and detachment of the world.”

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

“One instant is eternity; eternity is the now.”

Mumon Ekai 無門慧開 1183 – 1260 CE via Stephen Mitchell
(Wumen Huikai)
Pioneering pathfinder to the Gateless Gate

“Lovely snowflakes, they fall nowhere else!”

Mumon Ekai 無門慧開 1183 – 1260 CE
(Wumen Huikai)
Pioneering pathfinder to the Gateless Gate

from The Gateless Gate, 無門関, 無門關

Themes: Appreciation

25. The Mother of All Things

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was 'thank you,' that would suffice.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

Themes: Appreciation

37. Nameless Simplicity

“Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, the moon only when it is cloudless? To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blinds and be unaware of the passing of the spring - these are even more deeply moving. Branches about to blossom or gardens strewn with flowers are worthier of our admiration.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Harvest of Leisure

“If man were never to fade away ... but lingered on forever in the world, how things would lose their power to move us. The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Harvest of Leisure

Themes: Appreciation

“Authentic presence may have a dream-like quality but it is not dreaming or tied to any purpose but founded on the recognition of reality developing from acceptance and appreciation.”

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

“All I know is Love,
And I find my heart Infinite
And Everywhere!”

Hafiz خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی 1315 – 1394 CE
(Hafez, Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad)
Inspiring friend to the true and free human spirit

“Water the ground of appreciation and love, sew the seeds of compassion, and watch the tree of awakened heart grow.”

Tsongkhapa ཙོང་ཁ་པ། 1357 – 1419 CE via Shan Dao
(Zongkapa Lobsang Zhaba, "the Man from Onion Valley")

“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

“Love is everything, and it affects everything”

Giordano Bruno 1548 – 1600 CE

“I have never met a man so ignorant I could not learn something from him.”

Galileo 1564 – 1642 CE

Themes: Appreciation

45. Complete Perfection

“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that hath such people in it!”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from The Tempest

“[Giants are dwarfs.] Giants are usually really dwarfs as abundance lowers importance. Don’t value books by their thickness, quantity over quality, magnitude over intensity.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Shan Dao, #27

Themes: Appreciation

66. Go Low

“Pay respect that you may be respected and know that to be esteemed you must show esteem.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #119
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Appreciation

“Think more highly of what fate has given you rather than what it has denied.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #120
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Appreciation

“perhaps it is wiser and well to be contented with the good things before us, and to be thankful for what we have, rather than be thoughtful about what we have not.”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE
from Letter to Abigail Adams, 1817

Themes: Appreciation

“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe—the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”

Immanuel Kant 1724 – 1804 CE
from Critique Of Pure Reason

“There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils,”

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

“One should—every day at least—hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1796)

Themes: Appreciation

“Whoever is rich in spirit makes much of his life. Every acquaintance, every incident… an endless series—the beginning of an endless novel.”

Novalis 1772 – 1831 CE

Themes: Appreciation

51. Mysterious Goodness

“He prayeth best, who loveth best all things both great and small”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 – 1834 CE
from Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Themes: Appreciation

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“The power of attaching an interest to the most trifling or painful pursuits ... is one of the greatest happinesses of our nature”

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

“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.”

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

69. No Enemy

“Such is beauty ever,—neither here nor there, now nor then,—neither in Rome nor in Athens, but wherever there is a soul to admire.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Journal (1838)

“I know nothing more rare than a reverent appreciation of the People—of their measureless wealth of latent worth and capacity, their vast, artistic contrasts of lights and shades... far surpassing all the vaunted samples of book-heroes in all the records of the world.”

Walt Whitman 1819 – 1892 CE
Premier "poet of democracy" and model for Dracula
from Democratic Vistas (1870)

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”

Themes: Appreciation
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Henry James 1843 – 1916 CE

Themes: Appreciation

“Should not the giver be thankful that the receiver received? Is not giving a need? Is not receiving, mercy?”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

“I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Appreciation

23. Nothing and Not

“The ultimate function of literature is to appreciate the world, sometimes indignantly, sometimes sorrowfully, but best of all to praise”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"

Themes: Appreciation

“The names of railway stations in a time table could offer far better value than fine volumes of philosophy. Linked to an order of reveries, one could imagine themselves stepping from the train on an autumn evening, when the trees are already bare and smelling strongly in the keen air”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Shan Dao
Apostle of Ordinary Mind

Themes: Appreciation

“In normal life, negligence deadens desire. Our laziness hides and incessantly delays projects, travels, love affairs, studies: our life. But life suddenly seems wonderful if we are threaten with death. We shouldn’t need a cataclysm to love life today. It should be enough to just realize that we are human and therefore death may come this evening.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE
Apostle of Ordinary Mind

Themes: Appreciation

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Appreciation

62. Basic Goodness

“after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE via Hilda Rosner
from Siddhartha

“There is not a human being from whom we cannot learn something if we are interested enough to dig deep.”

Eleanor Roosevelt 1884 – 1962 CE

Themes: Appreciation

45. Complete Perfection

“Yes, your appreciation of yourself blinds you. It is the biggest obstacle to a new life.”

Jeanne de Salzmann 1889 – 1990 CE
(Madame de Salzmann)
Follower, preserver, and promoter of Gurdjieff's teachings
from The Reality of Being

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Appreciation

62. Basic Goodness

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Brave New World

“There is so much to love and admire in this life—it’s an act of ingratitude not to be happy and content”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE

Themes: Appreciation

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

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

“I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. she perfumed my planet and lit up my life.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

Themes: Appreciation

57. Wu Wei

“Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time.”

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

“Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.”

René Dubos 1901 – 1982 CE
Influential scientific environmentalist

from Celebrations of life (1981)

“That is the 'eye of wisdom' - to appreciate things and people 'as they are' and live our lives fully in the universe that is 'as it is.'”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE via David Chadwick

“We owe our lives to the sun... How is it, then, that we feel no gratitude?”

Lewis Thomas 1913 – 1993 CE
Gestaltist of science and art
from Earth Ethics (1990)

Themes: Appreciation

“We aren't sloppy when we're really appreciating what goes on. Basically, our attention is always slipping from what's arising and going back to our notion of ourselves.”

Charlotte Joko Beck 1917 – 2011 CE
Authentic, pioneering Western Zen master

from Ordinary Wonder

Themes: Appreciation

“Without love, we are self-centered, but love enables us to move the center of our lives outside our ego… it expands our lives”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“The larger the island of wisdom, the longer the shoreline of wonder.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“If we're not happy with what we have already, we're not likely to be happy with what we're trying to get either.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Appreciation

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

Themes: Appreciation

62. Basic Goodness

“People think love is an emotion. Love is good sense.”

Ken Kesey 1935 – 2001 CE

“One can appreciate and celebrate each moment — there’s nothing more sacred. There’s nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there’s nothing more!”

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

35. The Power of Goodness

“Appreciation deals with qualities, fascination deals with the colors of those qualities.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Appreciation

“Appreciation of the world outside is called compassion, and the appreciation of yourself is called maitri. Unless those two are working together, it is a dead end.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Judith Lief, editor
from Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion

Themes: Appreciation

“It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

69. No Enemy

“Everything has a bright side. The top of even the blackest, thickest cloud shines like silver.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Killing Commendatore

“Ironically, we never truly appreciated the experience for which we are nostalgic because we were too busy clinging to our hopes and fears at the time.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

“Art has replaced religion as a touchstone of our reverence and devotion.”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge
from Religion for Atheists

“Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain.”

Simon Sinek 1973 CE –
from Start With Why

Themes: Appreciation


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