Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Continuity is a central teaching in Vajrayana Buddhism (the literal meaning of "Tantra") and a major factor in understanding culture, evolution, history, and our own psychology. Too much and we become more like animals and insects with very little or no art, creativity and innovation. But when not enough, society and individuals fall into confusion, chaos, and insanity. When our focus is too narrow, we lose track of our place in the evolutionary panorama, we lose awareness of our deep and meaningful but egoless place in the continuity of life and wisdom. When we realize this and understand our place in evolution’s relay, self-focus dissolves and we join the Great Conversation discovering the profound meaningfulness of life.

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Quotes (78)

“Continuity beyond the realm of things, unthinkable thought beyond imagination.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao, chapter #14
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Continuity Reason

“The highest and humblest, wombs of the world, continuously, endlessly, give birth.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Witter Bynner, #28
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

Themes: Continuity

28. Turning Back

“The Tao is what we can never leave. What we can leave isn't the Tao.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE via Red Pine
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"
from Chungyung

Themes: Continuity

“This world has always been, is, and always shall be: an everlasting fire rhythmically dying and flaring up again.”

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

Themes: Continuity

“Man, who is an organic continuation of the Logos, thinks he can sever that continuity and exist apart from it.”

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

Themes: Continuity

“When a dog is tied to a cart, if it wants to follow, it is pulled and follows, making its spontaneous act coincide with necessity. But if the dog does not follow, it will be compelled in any case. So it is with men too: even if they don't want to, they will be compelled to follow what is destined.”

Zeno Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς 334 – 262 BCE
(of Citium)

Themes: Continuity

“He has also set eternity in the human heart.”

Koheleth 1
from Ecclesiastes קֹהֶלֶת‎

Themes: Continuity

32. Uncontrived Awareness

“The Tao gives birth to the beginning. One gives birth to yin and yang. Yin and yang give birth to the breath between them,the mixture of clear and turbid. These three breaths divide themselves into Heaven, Earth, and Humankind and together give birth to the ten thousand things.”

Heshang Gong 河上公 202 – 157 BCE
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)

42. Children of the Way

“The beginnings of fortune and calamity are subtle, so people are heedless of them. Only sages see the beginning and know the end.”

Liú Ān 劉安 1 via Thomas Cleary
from Huainanzi

Themes: Continuity

52. Cultivating the Changeless

“We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

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

“Our lives we borrow and men, like runners, pass along the torch of life.”

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

Themes: Continuity

“now here, now there, the vital forces conquer and, in turn, are conquered; with the funeral dirge mingles the wail that babies raise when they reach the shores of light.”

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

“Happy the man, who, studying nature's laws,
Thro' known effects can trace the secret cause.”

Virgil 70 – 19 BCE via John Dryden
(Publius Vergilius Maro)
from Georgics (29 BC)

“An owl, noiseless as a feathered cloud, glided away in the moonlight, a songbird in its left foot. Fate goes ever as it must.”

Hilda of Whitby 614 – 680 CE via Nicola Griffith

“When there is continuous awareness from mind-moment to mind-moment you will naturally meet the Source on all sides.”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Zen Letters

6. The Source

“The moon accompanies the current… understanding and the the changing world fulfill each other… go forward and see for yourself.”

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

Themes: Moon Continuity

“After awakening, continuity is the function of self dropped away.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

“When one thought arises, another thought follows. When the first thought springs from enlightenment, all subsequent thoughts are true.”

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

from 10 Bulls

Themes: Continuity Reason

“Charcoal does not become ashes... Everything is just a flashing into the vast phenomenal world.”

Dōgen Zenji 道元禅師 1200 – 1253 CE via Suzuki Roshi

Themes: Continuity

“The timeless ground, the innately abiding ground, is the ground that is at the very heart of enlightenment... do not stray from the lucid expanse that is the ultimate meaning of awareness!”

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

Themes: Continuity

“As long as art lives, never shall I accept that men are truly dead.”

Giorgio Vasari dʒordʒo vaˈzaːri 1511 – 1574 CE

“Men are linked with animals, these with plants, and these again with fossils which in their turn are connected with elements that sense and imagination represents to us as completely dead”

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

“We are not people because of our bodies but because of our spirits... 'death' means resurrection and a continuation of life.”

Emanuel Swedenborg 1688 – 1772 CE
Scientist, mystic, influential philosopher

from Heaven and Hell​​

“The body of B Franklin (Like the cover on an old book, it's contents torn out)... lies here, food for worms. But the work shall not be lost; for it will appear once more, in a new and elegant edition revised and corrected”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE
from epitaph when 22 and thought he was going to die

Themes: Continuity

“What you have inherited from your forefathers, you must first win for yourself if you are to possess it.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE via R.J. Hollingdale

“As soon as the breach is made, the equilibrium is broken and the rest is nothing.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE

Themes: Continuity

“the reason man's life is more full of suffering than the animal's is his greater capacity for knowledge... at each stage of animal life there is a corresponding increase in pain... the will is the string, its frustration the vibration of the string, knowledge the sounding -board, and pain the sound.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE
from Essays and Aphorisms

Every book is a quotation, and every house is a quotation out of all forests and mines and stone quarries, and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

“Be not deceived. Revolutions do not go backward.”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

“Out of every fruition of success, no matter what, comes forth something to make a new effort necessary.”

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

“Everything lives and perishes through magnetism; one thing affects another one, even at great distances, and its 'congenitals' may be influenced to health and disease by the power of this sympathy, at any time, and notwithstanding the intervening space.”

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

Themes: Continuity

“New truth is always a go-between... It marries old opinions to new facts so as ever to show a minimum of jolt, a maximum of continuity.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from Pragmatism (1907)

“there is some kind of continuity in any case since every experience affects for better or worse the attitudes which help decide the quality of further experiences”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"

Themes: Continuity

“I’m looking for the face I had before the world was made.”

W.B. (William Butler) Yeats 1865 – 1939 CE

7. Lose Yourself, Gain Your Soul

“What we call our love or our jealousy is not a single continuous passion. It is composed of an infinite number of successive loves, of different ephemeral jealousies, which, following each other without interruption, give the impression of continuity, the illusion of unity.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Justin O'Brien
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from In Search of Lost Time

Themes: Continuity

“I found myself thinking of the places and people of my own infinitesimal past... whenever my consciousness was quickened, all those early friends were quickened within it, and in some strange way they accompany me through all my new experiences.”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

from My Ántonia

“time, far from being an abstraction, is a concrete continuum which contains qualities which can manifest themselves in relative simultaneousness in different places and in a parallelism which cannot be explained, like in cases of simultaneous appearance of identical thoughts, symbols, or psychic conditions.”

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

Themes: Time Continuity

“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

“In spite of all uncertainties, I feel a solidity underlying all existence and a continuity in my mode of being.”

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

Themes: Continuity

“I began to think of reincarnation as a manifestation of stability amidst flux, of continuity in tradition, of intellectual life, of individual life that transcends time”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

“In each of us, the entire history of the world is reflected. And however autonomous our soul, it is indebted to an inheritance worked upon it from all sides—before it came into being—by the totality of the earth's energies.”

Teilhard de Chardin 1881 – 1955 CE
from Divine Milieu

Themes: Karma Continuity

“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE

“For books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE

Themes: Continuity

“Only the immortal dead entice me, the great Sirens Christ, Buddha, and Lenin. From my early years I sat at their feet and listened intently to their seductive love-filled song. I struggled all my life to save myself from each of these Sirens without denying any one of them, struggled to unite these three clashing voices and transform them into harmony.”

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

Themes: Continuity

“As the sanity of the individual lies in the continuity of his memories, so the sanity of a group lies in the continuity of its traditions; in either case, a break in the chain invites a neurotic reaction... To break sharply with the past is to court the madness that may follow the shock”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Lessons of History

“In every generation, civilization is the laborious product and precarious obligating privilege of an engulfed minority.”

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

“It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at the moment. The preset is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time.”

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

“Where I had seen omnipresent death, I saw now everywhere the pageant and triumph of life.”

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

“In spite of earthquakes, epidemics, famines, eruptive migrations and catastrophic wars; the continuity of history reasserts itself and the essential processes of civilization are not lost – snatching them from the conflagration, some younger culture takes them up”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE via Shan Dao
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Age of Faith

Themes: Continuity

“Civilization doesn’t die, it migrates.”

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

Themes: Continuity

“In the end, nothing is lost. Every event, for good or evil, has effects forever.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

80. A Golden Age

“The faculty of continual transformation... is a profound expression of the dynamic character of the mind.”

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

“It is the task of every generation to reassess the tradition in which it lives, to discard what it cannot use, and to bring into context with the distant and intermediate past the most recent contributions to the Great Conversation.”

Robert Hutchins 1899 – 1977 CE
(Robert Maynard Hutchins)
from The Great Conversation

“Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.”

Thomas Wolfe 1900 – 1938 CE
(Thomas Clayton Wolfe)
Father of autobiographical fiction
from Look Homeward, Angel

Themes: Continuity

“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
from Look Homeward, Angel

Themes: Karma Continuity

“A sense of continuity with the rest of creation is a form of religious experience essential to sanity.”

René Dubos 1901 – 1982 CE
Influential scientific environmentalist

Themes: Continuity

“in the dim region where art, magic, and religion meet and overlap, human beings have evolved the 'metaphor that is meant,' the flag which men will die to save, and the sacrament that is felt to be more than an outward and visible sign, given unto us.'”

Gregory Bateson 1904 – 1980 CE
from A Theory of Play and Fantasy

“Each existence depends on something else. Strictly speaking, there are just many names for one existence… We have nowhere to escape… That is why we emphasize everyday life rather than some particular state of mind. We should find the reality in each moment, and in each phenomenon.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“Life lives by killing and eating itself, like the moon, casting off death and being reborn.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

Themes: Moon Continuity

“The principles of the I Ching apply at the highest levels to the great planets and stars wheeling in their courses and, at another level, to each individual person like you and me... We use the I Ching to trace arising situations back to their origin and/or forward to their completion; in this way, we learn the ways of life and death... This book is too sacred to be used for trivial purposes.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE
from Talk (1978)

Themes: Continuity

“Respect ethical tradition not because is is sacrosanct but because it is the only way of being in communication with others.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

“...the only thing that continues is the consequences of our action.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“Many organizations dedicated to ‘Jewish continuity’ are running a heart and lung machine to keep a dying patient alive. They don't have a sense of how to build a future for Judaism, because most of the time they want immediate results.”

Reb Zalman 1924 – 2014 CE

“If we believe in the continuity of mind, then love inconspicuously connects us to the ones we love with continuous positive energy, so that even tangible separations between people who love each other do not reduce the intangible power of love.”

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

Themes: Continuity

“Change is itself the very basis of our continuity as persons. Only that which can change can continue.”

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

Themes: Continuity Change

“Unrepeatability is a characteristic of culture everywhere... culture does not have a tradition; it is a tradition... Cultural deviation does not return us to the past, but continues what was begun and not finished”

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

Themes: Continuity

“We live in an historical river of wisdom but often only dwell on the banks. When in the river itself, our role is helping shape the channel to the modern times and issues.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Continuity

“The aspect of continuity is extremely important. When we change from one thing to another thing, we just get lost in change. Either continuity, or the image revealed in the water is always filled with ripples.”

Jakusho Kwong 1935 CE –
from Mind Following Breath

Themes: Continuity

“Emotionally, spiritually, domestically, politically; things don't seem to be associated or connected with each other and somehow these isolated situations, which from our confused way of thinking seem to have nothing to do with the basic quality of continuity, are the continuity itself.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Six States of Bardo

Themes: Continuity

“Nothing is fatalistic, everything is continuously growing, as an evolutionary, developing process. Rebirth takes place every moment, every instant is death; every instant is birth.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Six States of Bardo

Themes: Continuity

“The best approach is a long-term approach,,, trying to develop some trend of continuity in a different direction rather than believing there will be tremendous good news if the right person is elected. It takes the work of centuries.”

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

“I'm not afraid of death because I don't believe in it. It's just getting out of one car, and into another.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

50. Claws and Swords

“As enlightenment begins to dawn, reality, which had seemed all chopped up, turns out to possess an underlying continuity, a kind of infrastructure of interconnection.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Why Buddhism is True

“Not only are there no happy endings, there aren't even any endings.”

Neil Gaiman 1960 CE –
Myth-transmitting creative maelstrom
from American Gods

Themes: Continuity

“Reincarnation is a continuity of everything we have learned, like lighting one candle from another, or a face and its reflection in a mirror.”

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 Not For Happiness: A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices

Themes: Continuity

“We can see our lives as a series of choices extnding through time with the potential to shape not just what we do but who we are.”

Roman Krznaric 1
Practical, popular, modern philosopher

from Carpe Diem Regained

Themes: Continuity

“Letting go is itself is an example of dying. But recognition of this dying is what allows us to inhabit the continuous cycle of dying and being reborn with ease.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from In Love With the World

“If you can understand what happens to you as one moment ends and another moment begins, you will also understand what will happen to you at the moment of death.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

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