Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Non-Thought

Most cultures over-value thinking. Belief in concepts helps political, religious, and philosophical tyrants control and enslave their followers. Without good quality thinking however, a good life would become almost impossible. Thinking is more helpful if we don’t believe our thoughts but instead understand them as symbols, sign posts pointing toward the deeper truth, the non-thought reality that nurtures wisdom, compassion, and enlightenment.

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Quotes (34)

“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.”

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

Themes: Non-Thought

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE

Themes: Non-Thought

“If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.”

Bodhidharma 菩提達磨 5th-6th C. CE
(Daruma)

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

“Knock on the sky and listen to the sound.”

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

Themes: Non-Thought

25. The Mother of All Things

“In ignorance, samsara and nirvana are separate; in realization, they are the union of pure pleasure.”

Sarvabhaksha སརྦ་བྷཀྵ། late 8th, early 9th century
( “The Glutton” )
Mahasiddha #75

“Here it is—right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运 ? - 850 CE
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)

Themes: Non-Thought

“The foolish reject what they see and not what they think; the wise reject what they think and not what they see.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运 ? - 850 CE
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)
from Zen Teachings of Huang Po on the Transmission of Mind, John Blofeld translation

Themes: Non-Thought

2. The Wordless Teachings

“Without self, not thinking, not achieving… I live in consummate pure delight and perfect awareness.”

Virupa བི་རཱུ་པ། 9th century CE via Keith Dowman
(“Dakini Master”)
Mahasiddha #3
from Masters of Enchantment

13. Honor and Disgrace

“Only if you can forget the words and embody the meaning will you (have)... the ability to kill people's false selves and conditioned perceptions”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Zen Letters

48. Unlearning

“experience the absence of conditioned mind and observe that all phenomena are like dreams… enter into the uncontrived, uncluttered ocean of true nature.”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Zen Letters

Themes: Dream Non-Thought

7. Lose Yourself, Gain Your Soul

“Thinking good and bad is hell and heaven.

Mumon Ekai 無門慧開 1183 – 1260 CE
(Wumen Huikai)
from The Gateless Gate, 無門関, 無門關

Themes: Non-Thought

20. Unconventional Mind

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from Hamlet

Themes: Non-Thought

49. No Set Mind

“Without thinking of anything whatsoever, rest vividly awake in the practice of mind essence.”

Karma Chagme Rinpoche I ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱས། 1613 – 1678 CE via Erik Pema Kunsang
from Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen

29. Not Doing

“Originally, thoughts have no real substance… if they arise, just let them arise; if they stop, just let them stop. As long as you’re not attaching to these reflected traces, delusions won’t be produced.”

Bankei 盤珪永琢 1622 – 1693 CE
(Bankei Yōtaku)

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

“Taking hold of the not-thought that lies in thoughts, in their every act they hear the voice of Truth… As the Truth reveals itself in its eternal tranquility, this very earth is the Lotus-Land of Purity, and this body is the body of the Buddha.”

Hakuin Ekaku 白隠 慧鶴 1686 – 1769 CE

51. Mysterious Goodness

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

“There are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts: those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking, and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE

“You can't prevent time passing. When something has passed, why do thoughts still loiter?”

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

Themes: Non-Thought

5. Christmas Trees

“when spirit began to degenerate into intellect, there set a reaction against it, … the dark, earth-born, feminine principle with its emotionality and instinctiveness reaching far back into the depths of time and into the roots of psychological continuity.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

6. The Source

“No time, no devotion, can be too great, therefore, which makes the vehicle of our message less distorting. We must shape our words till they are the thinnest integument for our thoughts [and] Thoughts are divine.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Orlando: A Biography

“For a seeker of reality, there is only one meditation—the rigorous refusal to harbor thoughts. To be free from thoughts is itself meditation.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj 1897 – 1981 CE
Householder guru of non-duality
from I Am That

“What you see with your eyes closed is what counts.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

Themes: Non-Thought

47. Effortless Success

“Moment after moment we should renew our life, we should not stick to old ideas of what life is, or what our way of life is… If we always stick to old ideas and always repeat the same thing over and over again, then we are confined in our old way of life.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Non-Thought

49. No Set Mind

“To do something without thinking is the most important point in understanding ourselves… when you just do something, and when your mind is just acting as it is, that is how you catch your mind in the true sense.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE
from Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

29. Not Doing

“When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Non-Thought

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“All great work artistic, poetic, intellectual or spiritual is produced at those moments when creators forget themselves altogether and are free from self-consciousness.”

Walpola Rahula Thero 1907 – 1997 CE
“Supreme Master of Buddhist Scriptures”

“All phenomena are completely new and fresh, absolutely unique and entirely free from all concepts of past, present, and future.”

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

40. Returning

“All thoughts are completely without substance… Once you recognize this, they can no longer fool you.”

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

11. Appreciating Emptiness

“The true artist-seer, the heavenly fool who can and does produce beauty, is mainly dazzled to death by his own scruples, the blinding shapes and colors of his own sacred human conscience.”

​ J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE

“The passageway into the world of shamans opens up after the warrior has learned to shut off his internal dialogue.”

Carlos Castaneda 1925 – 1998 CE
from Wheel of Time: The Shamans of Mexico Their Thoughts About Life Death & the Universe

Themes: Non-Thought

2. The Wordless Teachings

“No thinking, no mind. No mind, no problem.”

Seungsahn 숭산행원대선사 1927 – 2004 CE
(Soen Sa Nim)

“The Buddhist approach is not based on hope. It would look at the chaos and problems that exist as delightful and something to work on relaxed with the turmoil in complete confidence.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from A Buddhist Approach to Politics

“The Tao that cannot be named is the intelligence of the universe: whatever is happening right now... the don't-know mind”

Stephen Mitchell 1943 CE –
from Second Book of Tao

Themes: Non-Thought

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“The best ideas are thoughts that appear, unbidden, from out of the dark.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Killing Commendatore

Themes: Non-Thought

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