Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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A poor farmer loses his only horse and his neighbors say, “Oh, how terrible!” The farmer only says, “We’ll see.”
The horse brings back seven wild horses and the neighbors say, “Oh, how wonderful!” The farmer only says, “We’ll see.”
The farmer’s son breaks his leg trying to train one of the horses and the neighbors and the farmer say the same things.
As they do the next day after soldiers come and take all the young men but not the son because of his broken leg.

This story repeats itself in different ways many times every day for the farmer, for the neighbors, and for all of us.

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Quotes (77)

“Learn to look with an equal eye upon all beings, seeing the one Self in all.”

Vyasa व्यास 1 via Aldous Huxley
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma

“Life and death are balanced as it were on the edge of a razor.”

Homer 1 via Samuel Butler​
Primogenitor of Western culture
from Iliad

Themes: Equanimity

“Regard all things of the world as equal, understand that life and death are cyclical and ultimately the same.”

Yin Xi 關尹子 536 – 596 BCE via Li, 1993
Lao Tzu’s first disciple and Taoist patriarch

“when sages govern people, they see to it that people suit their individual natures, are secure in their homes, live where they are comfortable, work at what they can do, and give their best. In this way all people are equal, with no way to overshadow each other.”

Wenzi 文子 1 via Thomas Cleary
"Authentic Presence of Pervading Mystery.”
from The Wenzi, Wénzǐ 文子

Themes: Equanimity

“For men to get all they wish is not the better thing; it is disease that makes health pleasant; evil, good; hunger, surfeit; toil rest”

Heraclitus Ἡράκλειτος 535 – 475 BCE
(of Ephesus, the "Weeping Philosopher")
A Greek Buddha

“Opposites cooperate. The most beautiful harmonies come from opposition.”

Heraclitus Ἡράκλειτος 535 – 475 BCE
(of Ephesus, the "Weeping Philosopher")
A Greek Buddha

“Maintain perfect balance in each and every set of circumstances and thus keep to steadfast principle at all times.”

Zisi 子思 481 – 402 BCE via Daniel K. Gardner
(Kong Ji or Tzu-Ssu)
Confucius' grandson and early influence on Neo-Confucianism
from Doctrine of the Mean, Maintaining Perfect Balance, Zhongyong 中庸

“Whom, then, do I call educated?... those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not unduly overcome by their misfortunes”

Isocrates Ἰσοκράτης 436 – 338 BCE
from Panathenaicus

“The wise—having realized the Tao—draw deeply upon it and find its source wherever they turn.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE via Lao and Shan Dao

“If we are content with whatever happens and follow the flow, joy and sorrow cannot affect us. This is what the ancients called freedom from bondage.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

44. Fame and Fortune

“What he saw as One was One, and what he saw as not One was also One... better to forget both and lose oneself in the Tao.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Lin Yutang

from Zhuangzi

“The gates of Heaven are open wide; off I ride born on a dark cloud... one Yin for every Yang.”

Qu Yuan 屈原 340 – 278 BCE via The Great Controller of Destinies (tr: Arthur Waley)
(Qū Yuán)
"King of the Water Immortals"
from Nine songs: a study of shamanism in ancient China (1955)

“All men are my children. What I desire for my own children—and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next—that I desire for all men.”

Ashoka 304 – 232 BCE
One of the world's most enlightened leaders

“sages alone do not leave their sacred ground… They do not plan ahead yet do not abandon opportunity… They do not seek to gain yet do not reject misfortune.”

Liú Ān 劉安 1 via Thomas Cleary
from Huainanzi

44. Fame and Fortune

“Sages do not let their desires disturb harmony… when they are happy, they do not rejoice too much, and when they are sad, they do not grieve too much.”

Liú Ān 劉安 1 via Thomas Cleary
from Huainanzi

77. Stringing a Bow

“Piety lies not in praying or prostrating to images, in going to temples, or in rituals, beliefs, and practices. It lies in looking upon all things with equanimity and peace.”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE via Shan Dao
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

“Pale Death knocks with impartial foot at poor men's hovels and kings' palaces.”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE
from Odes

“Show me a man who—though sick, is happy; who—though in danger, is happy and I'll show you a Stoic.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος 55 – 135 CE

“A Buddha is someone who finds freedom in good fortune and bad.”

Bodhidharma 菩提達磨 1

13. Honor and Disgrace

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

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“In ignorance, different flavors are distinct; in realization, all flavors are essential one.”

Sarvabhaksha སརྦ་བྷཀྵ། 1 via Keith Dowman
( “The Glutton” )
Mahasiddha #75

“When all inner and outer phenomena are perceived as mind, all things have the same flavor.”

Kanakhala ཀ་ན་ཁ་ལཱ། 1 via Keith Dowman
("The Younger Severed-Headed Sister”)
Mahasiddha #67
from Masters of Enchantment

“To perceive shortening in lengthening, weakening in strengthening, toppling in raising, taking in giving, how could anyone do this if not through the deepest insight? This is the hidden light.”

Lu Huiqing 1031 – 1111 CE

36. The Small, Dark Light

“Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And bury me by some sweet Gardenside.”

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

from Rubaiyat

Themes: Equanimity

“Treating all events the same, accustom yourself to non-duality.”

Mekopa མེ་ཀོ་པ། 1050 CE –
("Guru Dread-Stare")
Mahasiddha #43

“Those who realize one taste are always fulfilled.”

Kaṅkaṇa ཀངྐ་ཎ་པ། 1 via Shan Dao
(“The Siddha-King”)
Mahasiddha #29

56. One with the Dust

“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good; I was actually being redirected to something better.”

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

“Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha.”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Blue Cliff Record, Biyan lu 碧巖錄

44. Fame and Fortune

“The water is clear right down to the bottom, fish lazily swim on. The sky is vast without end, birds fly far into the distance.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE via The Acupuncture Needle of Zazen
from Cultivating the Emplty Field

Themes: Equanimity Water
“There is no fixed shape to the preservation of perfect balance; it depends on the circumstances of the moment.”

Zhu Xi 朱熹 1130 – 1200 CE via Daniel K. Gardner
(Zhū Xī)
from Four Books

“Chop wood, carry water.”

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

34. An Unmoored Boat

“Love may turn into an inordinate clinging to the love object, compassion can turn into sentimentality and a feeling of helplessness, joy can turn into a feeling of elation and over-excitement that gets lost in unrealistic goals, but equanimity brings us back to solid ground. It’s still vulnerable to apathy but this is countered by love completing the cycle.”

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་

“Through kindness you become loveable, through compassion a benefit to others, through joy distinguished, and through equanimity untroubled.”

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

“intelligence… lets the first impulse pass by and waits for the second, or even the third.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Equanimity

57. Wu Wei

“Live always with the mind of total nothingness, and the evils that come to you will dissipate completely.”

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

“No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.”

Baruch Spinoza 1632 – 1677 CE

42. Children of the Way

“Each simple substance is a perpetual, living mirror of the universe and this interconnection of all created things to each other brings it about that each simple substance has relations that express all the others.”

Leibniz 1646 – 1716 CE
(Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz)

“The poor have little,
Beggars none;
The rich too much,
Enough not one.”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE
from Poor Richard's Almanack

50. Claws and Swords

“A few years' experience will convince us that those things which at the time they happened we regarded as our greatest misfortunes have proved our greatest blessings.”

George Mason 1725 – 1792 CE
First American abolitionist, founding father, and Constitutional savior

“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses joy as it flies by
Will live in eternity's sunrise.”

William Blake 1757 – 1827 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“I’ve never bothered about getting ahead… What use is there in fame and fortune? In my hut, I listen to the evening rain and stretch my legs without a care in the world.”

Ryokan 良寛大愚 1758 – 1758 CE
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)

44. Fame and Fortune

“Because you have realized that everything has one taste in being empty, the delusion of fixating on enemy and friend collapses and there is no thought of dualistic fixation on self and other.”

Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol ཞབས་དཀར་ཚོགས་དྲུག་རང་གྲོལ། 1781 – 1851 CE via Erik Pema Kunsang
from Flight of the Garuda

56. One with the Dust

“Misfortune is a stepping stone for genius, the baptismal font of Christians, treasure for the skillful man, an abyss for the feeble.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

“Though thou loved her as thyself, as a self of purer clay,
Though her parting dims the day, stealing grace from all alive;
Heartily know, when half-god go, the gods arrive.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism
from Give All to Love

“Truths for a new day: Equality between men and women. Prejudice of all kinds must be forgotten. Universal Peace.”

Bahá'u'lláh بهاء الله‎‎, 1817 – 1892 CE
("Glory of God")

Themes: Equanimity Peace

“Do not be afraid of your difficulties. Do not wish you could be in other circumstances than you are. For when you have made the best of an adversity, it becomes the stepping stone to a splendid opportunity”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy

“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894 CE

44. Fame and Fortune

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE

“Get rid of your regrets. You are what you are because of what you've experienced. And rightly understood and accepted, all experiences are good, bitter ones best of all.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE via Shan Dao
from A Thousand and One Epigrams

“How can we know whether a thing is evil until we reach the end of it? It may be good!”

David Grayson 1870 – 1946 CE
(Ray Stannard Baker)
One of the most insightful journalists, historians, and biographers of his time

from Great Possessions

Themes: Equanimity Evil

“If you don't cling, whatever arises is naturally freed. Simply remain in the great equal taste without rejecting or accepting.”

Shechen Gyaltsap 1871 – 1926 CE via Matthieu Ricard
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's main teacher

“night begins at midday”

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

Themes: Equanimity

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Equanimity

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions that differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Equanimity

“Time is your boat not your home.
God is not remote from us. He is at the point of my pen, my (pick) shovel, my paint brush, my (sewing) needle - and my heart and thoughts.”

Teilhard de Chardin 1881 – 1955 CE via Bernard Wall
from Divine Milieu

34. An Unmoored Boat

“In the particular is contained the universal.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“Reason alone confines; passion unattended burns to destruction… rest in reason and move in passion.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

Themes: Equanimity

“Dualism... Without it there can hardly be good literature. With it, there most certainly can be no good life.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

39. Oneness

“if time did not intervene, the polar forces facing each other on the same axis would balance each other so completely that all movement, and with it all development or change, would cease.”

Anagarika​ (Lama) Govinda 1898 – 1985 CE
(Ernst Hoffmann)
Pioneer of Tibetan Buddhism to the West

from Inner Structure of the I Ching

“For all objects and experiences there is a quantity that has an optimum value. Above that quantity, the variable becomes toxic. To fall below that value is to be deprived.”

Gregory Bateson 1904 – 1980 CE
from Mind and nature: a necessary unity (1988)​

“Yamantaka combines in himself the animal, the demon, and the god, the primordial powers of life in its aspects of creation and destruction and the faculty of knowledge which ripens into liberating wisdom.”

Li Gotami Govinda 1906 – 1988 CE
(Ratti Petit)
Pioneering, fearless, artistic woman of wisdom
from Tibet in Pictures

“‘We have nothing on which to dine, Splendid, we shall have more time to sit outside and enjoy the moonlight, with music provided by the wind in the pines.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

56. One with the Dust

“the I Ching teaches us how nature's currents flow and makes it easier for us to fit into them—their main function helping us see into nature's ways with a view to bending ourselves to suit those ways instead of trying to conquer nature and win power over it.. almost every kua [trigram or hexagram] tells us one of 4 things: When a situation is favorable, we go forward swiftly and joyfully. When it is not favorable, we know how to go slowly cautiously, or else to halt, or go back.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE
from Talk (1978)

“My wife loves me; ‘O what joys behind hibiscus curtains!’ My wife has left me; how peaceful it is now. Old Wang has a delicious concubine I have a charming blue-eyed cat.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

44. Fame and Fortune

“Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two.”

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

“Goodness can be found sometimes in the middle of hell.”

Charles Bukowski 1920 – 1994 CE
"Laureate of American lowlife”
from Women

40. Returning

“…the endlessness of all that is, and the limitation of mortal bodily life, are the same, and their sameness is the key to the door.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

“Don’t complain of terrible circumstances… they are the sources of celebrated trophies.”

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

“Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”

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

“Enlightened mind reflects all the five wisdoms in equanimity. But... because of our obscured ordinary mind, our ego makes categories out of equanimity. With ego and categories come substance, with the birth of substance comes its death, and with death comes suffering.”

Thinley Norbu གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ 1931 – 2011 CE
(Kyabjé Dungse)
from Magic Dance (1981)

“It was like a water experience in the sense that when you go to meet someone, if you can still the water, the reflection appears.”

Jakusho Kwong 1935 CE –
from Mind Following Breath

Themes: Equanimity 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

“Good and bad, happy and sad, all thoughts vanish into emptiness like the imprint of a bird in the sky”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee
from Sadhana of Mahamudra

“Equanimity, not fabricated by anyone, is a unified circle, not confused anywhere.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Vajravairochana Translation Committee
from Sadhana of Mahamudra

Themes: Equanimity

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

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Killing Commendatore

“When the affliction of negative emotions is blazing like fire, then wisdom is also blazing like fire.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from In Love With the World

Themes: Equanimity Wisdom

“what we cultivate first is equanimity... developing our ability to feel the same sense of closeness and affection toward people we find annoying and people we do not know as we do toward our loved ones.”

Karmapa XVII ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗ 1985 CE –
(Orgyen Thrinlay Dorje)
from Interconnected (2017)

Themes: Equanimity

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