Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Did slavery in the world end because of people’s sense of injustice or only because it stopped being economically profitable? As technology evolves, unskilled labor becomes both less necessary and less valuable. As physical slavery organically ended in the world, mental slavery, true-believership, and wage slavery may be both rapidly increasing and ending now. There's a scene in the old movie, Dr. Zhivago where a chained prisoner (Amourski) in a rail people are traveling in raises his shackled hands and says, "I am the only free man on this train! The rest of you are CATTLE!" Again we have the gap between the words and the sense. From the words only, this is ridiculous - he is the only one physically chained and enslaved. From a deeper understanding though, from the sense of the word slavery; he could have been the only really free person on that train.

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Quotes (96)

“Satisfaction linked with dishonor or with harm to others is a prison for the seeker.”

Zarathushtra زرتشت‎‎ 628 – 551 BCE via Dinshaw Jamshedji Irani

from Avesta

Themes: Slavery

“They have advanced technology but they aren’t mesmerized by their tools, hypnotized by their computers, enslaved by their inventions.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao, chapter #80
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“This is slavery, not to speak one's thought.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

Themes: Slavery

“No trace of slavery ought to mix with studies… No study, pursued under compulsion, remains rooted in the memory.”

Socrates 469 – 399 BCE
One of the most powerful influences on Western Civilization

Themes: Slavery Education

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Society has set up a system of rewards - fame, fortune, pleasure, and power - and when people chase after these, they spend their lives following other people's demands never living a life of their own, like a slave or a prisoner.”

Lie Yukou 列圄寇/列禦寇/列子 1 via Eva Wong, Shan Dao
(Liè Yǔkòu, Liezi)
from Liezi "True Classic of Simplicity and Perfect Emptiness”

“The name of peace is sweet and the thing itself good, but between peace and slavery there is the greatest difference.”

Cicero 106 – 43 BCE

Themes: Peace Slavery

“All wicked men are slaves.”

Cicero 106 – 43 BCE via Mortimer J. Adler
from Paradoxa Stoicorum

Themes: Slavery Evil

“How little is required to enslave a mind greedy for praise.
(Sic leve, sic parvum est, animum quod laudis avarum Subruit ac reficit)”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE via Shan Dao

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

Horace 65 – 8 BCE

67. Three Treasures

“Every desire degrades us, and renders us slaves of what we desire... If it's freedom you seek, then wish nothing and shun nothing that depends on others, or you will always be a helpless slave.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος 55 – 135 CE
from Discourses of Epictetus, Ἐπικτήτου διατριβαί

Themes: Slavery

46. Enough

“He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.”

Augustine ɔːɡəstiːn 354 – 430 CE
(Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, Augustine of Hippo)

69. No Enemy

“Those who are penniless but still obsessed with business seem to have sold themselves out to debt.”

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

Themes: Slavery

“Desire makes slaves out of kings, and patience makes kings out of slaves.”

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

“Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature—opposition to it, is his love of justice.”

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

“A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE
Grandfather of the Enlightenment

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE
Grandfather of the Enlightenment
from Essays, French Essais

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“People only know the work of working. They don’t know that the work of not working is the greatest work of all… If they knew that something came from nothing, they would no longer enslave themselves to things.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

40. Returning

“Money is a great servant but a bad master.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE

44. Fame and Fortune

“Do not be the slave of first impressions… Wait for the second or even the third edition of the news.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Slavery

20. Unconventional Mind

“all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery”

Jonathan Swift 1667 – 1745 CE
"Foremost prose satirist in the English language"

from Drapier's Letters (1733)

Themes: Slavery Democracy

“slavery - a Practice so gross & hurtful to Religion, and destructive to government, beyond what Words can set forth”

Benjamin Lay 1682 – 1759 CE
from All Slave-Keepers That keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates

Themes: Slavery

“Man is born free, yet everywhere is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE
from Social Contract

Themes: Slavery

“It appears, accordingly, from the experience of all ages and nations, I believe, that the work done by freemen comes cheaper in the end than that performed by slaves”

Adam Smith 1723 – 1790 CE
''The Father of Economic Capitalism"
from Wealth of Nations

Themes: Slavery

“As much as I value an union of all the states, I would not admit the southern states into the union, unless they agreed to the discontinuance of this disgraceful trade, because it would bring weakness and not strength to the union… The augmentation of slaves weakens the states; and such a trade is diabolical in itself, and disgraceful to mankind.”

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

Themes: Slavery

“mankind is governed by names… and submit to slavery, provided they are respectfully assured that they still enjoy their ancient freedom.”

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

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Slavery Delusion

“Each man must create his own system or else he is a slave to another mans.”

William Blake 1757 – 1827 CE

Themes: Slavery

71. Sick of Sickness

“Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.”

Mary Wollstonecraft 1759 – 1797 CE
Seminal feminist
from Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

Themes: Beauty Slavery

“I am the greatest slave among men; my master is the nature of things.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE via Levy

Themes: Slavery True Self

“Slavery is the daughter of darkness: an ignorant people is a blind instrument of its own destruction… they take license for liberty, treachery for patriotism, and vengeance for justice.”

Simon Bolivar Simón Bolívar 1783 – 1830 CE
El Libertador
from Speech, 1819

Themes: Slavery Justice

“Poverty and slavery are thus only two forms of—one might almost say two words for—the same thing, the essence of which is that a man's energies are expended for the most part not on his own behalf but on that of others”

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

Themes: Poverty Slavery

“... Ye can tell
That which Slavery is too well,
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE
from Masque of Anarchy, 1819

Themes: Slavery

“I have born 13 children and seen em most all sold off to slavery. And when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me”

Sojourner Truth 1797 – 1883 CE
(Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree)

Themes: Slavery

“If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism
from Self-Reliance

Themes: Slavery

“Slavery...dishonors labor. It introduces idleness into society, and with idleness, ignorance and pride, luxury and distress. It enervates the powers of the mind and benumbs the activity of man.”

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805 – 1859 CE
Pioneering researcher into the conflicts between freedom and equality

Themes: Slavery

“If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong... I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world... causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

Themes: Slavery

“The subordination of labor to capital is the source of all slavery: political, moral, and material.”

Mikhail Bakunin 1814 – 1876 CE
Romantic rebel, revolutionary anarchist, founding father of modern socialism
from Gesammelte Werke

“Talk about slavery! It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or tool, and surrenders his inalienable right of reason and conscience.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Journal, 1860

Themes: Slavery Reason

“Slavery has existed in all nations since the beginning of the world. All that modern nations have achieved is to disguise slavery at home and import it.”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE

Themes: Slavery

77. Stringing a Bow

“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”

Frederick Douglass 1818 – 1895 CE
International symbol of social justice

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“You are either to abolish slavery or it will abolish you”

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

Themes: Slavery

“All of us are slaves… landsmen pent up in lath and plaster—tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks”

Herman Melville 1819 – 1891 CE
from Moby Dick or The Whale

“For their happiness, we will seduce them into slavery with the rewards of an imagined but false heaven and eternity.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE via Constance Garnett, Shan Dao
from Brothers Karamatzov

Themes: Slavery

“Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal—that there is no human relation between master and slave.”

Leo Tolstoy 1828 – 1910 CE
from What Is to Be Done? (1889)

Themes: Slavery Money

“Slavery to State and men has disappeared only to make room for slavery to things and Self, to one's own vices and idiotic social customs and ways. Rapid civilization, adapted to the needs of the higher and middle classes, has doomed by contrast to only greater wretchedness the starving masses.”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy
from The Key to Theosophy (1889)

“This is the age which, although proclaimed as one of physical and moral freedom, is in truth the age of the most ferocious moral and mental slavery, the like of which was never known before.”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy
from The Key to Theosophy (1889)

“‘And what does it amount to?’ said Satan, with his evil chuckle. ‘Nothing at all. You gain nothing… Who gets a profit out of it? Nobody but a parcel of usurping little monarchs and nobilities who despise you… whom you slave for, fight for, die for… it is the foundation upon which all civilizations have been built.’”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

53. Shameless Thieves

“when we reflect on the increasing number of those who are bound down to machines as slaves, and of those who devote their whole souls to the advancement of the mechanical kingdom, is it not plain that machines are gaining ground on us? This is the art of the machines—they serve that they may rule”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Erewhon

Themes: Slavery

“Are you a slave? Then you cannot be a friend. Are you a tyrant? Then you cannot have friends.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE
from Thus Spoke Zarathustra

“We are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men. Whenever wages are to be reduced, the capitalist class use women to reduce them.”

Lucy Parsons 1853 – 1942 CE
(Eldine Gonzalez)
Political activist “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”

“The fear of death is the beginning of Slavery.”

Arthur Desmond 1859 – 1929 CE
from Might Is Right

“Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

33. Know Yourself

“You are in prison. If you wish to get out of prison, the first thing you must do is realize that you are in prison. If you think you are free, you can't escape.”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

Themes: Slavery

71. Sick of Sickness

“Man is becoming a willing slave. He no longer needs chains. He begins to grow fond of his slavery, to be proud of it. And this is the most terrible thing that can happen to a man.”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

80. A Golden Age

“A man without fear cannot be a slave.”

Edith Hamilton 1867 – 1963 CE
from The Greek Way, 1930

Themes: Fear Slavery

“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”

W. E. B. Du Bois 1868 – 1963 CE

Themes: Freedom Slavery

“Most will throw themselves with greed back at men, things, and thoughts, whose slaves they will become from then on.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Red Book, Liber Novus

“There is no tyranny more ferocious than the tyranny of morality. Everything is sacrificed to it.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE

Themes: Slavery

“Free yourself from one passion to be dominated by another and nobler one. But is not that, too, a form of slavery? To sacrifice oneself to an idea, to a race, to God? Or does it mean that the higher the model, the longer the tether of our slavery?”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“Who passes not his days in the region of dreams is the slave of those days.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from A Tear and a Smile

Themes: Slavery

“A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him.”

Ezra Pound 1885 – 1972 CE

Themes: Slavery

“Agriculture, while generating civilization, led not only to private property but to slavery. In purely hunting communities, slavery had been unknown”

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

“National socialism is the determination to create a new man. There will no longer exist any individual arbitrary will, nor realms in which the individual belongs to himself. The time of happiness as a private matter is over.”

Adolf Hitler 1
the most immoral and cruel conqueror in human history

Themes: Socialism Slavery

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Brave New World

Themes: Slavery Control

“When a civilization loses simplicity, it becomes increasingly full of troubles and degenerates. People become slaves of external ideas, thoughts, ambitions and social systems.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE

“Specialization is in fact only a fancy form of slavery wherein the ‘expert’ is fooled into accepting a slavery.”

Buckminster Fuller 1895 – 1983 CE

Themes: Slavery

12. This Over That

“Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
from Core of the Teaching

Themes: Slavery

11. Appreciating Emptiness

“You cannot expect the slave to show the virtues of the free man unless you first set him free.”

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

Themes: Slavery

“The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots.”

Eric Fromm 1900 – 1980 CE

Themes: Slavery

80. A Golden Age

“Instead of allowing wild thoughts to enslave you, realize their essential emptiness.”

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

Themes: Slavery

“There is no logical reason why thoughts, which have no substance, should have so much power over you, nor is there any reason why you should become their slave.”

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

Themes: Slavery

“Meaningless work is an abomination... reject meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-racking work [where you are] made the servant of a machine or a system.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE
The “People's Economist”
from Good Work

“To the Russian, the exciting event in Pavlov's experiment was not the conditioning of the dogs but of the laboratories. But to the Westerner, the revelation that he was a preconditioned robot... was a most disagreeable discovery.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE
from War and Peace in the Global Village

Themes: Slavery Free Will

“The Civil War delayed the abolition of slavery.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE
from War and Peace in the Global Village

Themes: Slavery

“The slave is completely at the mercy of external events. If fortune smiles on him, he struts and boasts and attributes her favors to his own power and wisdom—which, as often as not, had nothing to do with it. If fortune frowns, he whines and weeps and grovels, putting the blame for his sufferings on everything and everybody except himself.”

Robert S. De Ropp 1913 – 1987 CE

“We are free when we are not the slave of our impulses, but rather their master [when] we become the authors of our own dramas rather than characters in them.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“in that growth of American capitalism—before and after the Civil War—whites as well as blacks were in some sense becoming slaves”

Howard Zinn 1922 – 2010 CE
Historian of the oppressed and defeated

from A People's History of the United States​

“So many people have said to me, ‘If we didn't make children do things, they wouldn't do anything.’ Even worse, they say, ‘If I weren't made to do things, I wouldn't do anything.’ It is the creed of a slave.”

John Holt 1923 – 1985 CE
from How Children Fail

Themes: Freedom Slavery

“In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.”

Ivan Illich 1926 – 2002 CE
"an archaeologist of ideas"
from Tools for Conviviality (1973)

“Each person, not being himself either to himself or the other… and haunted by the ghost of his own murdered self… is addicted to other persons, and the more addicted, the less satisfied, the more lonely.”

R. D. Laing 1927 – 1989 CE
from Politics of Experience

Themes: True Self Slavery

“A slave mentality which had been built into him by years of carrot-and-whip grading, a mule mentality which said, ‘If you don’t whip me, I won’t work.’ He didn’t get whipped. He didn’t work.”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Education Slavery

“The concept of freedom did not emerge in a vacuum. Nothing highlighted freedom—if it did not fact create it—like slavery.”

Toni Morrison 1931 – 2019 CE
(Chloe Ardelia Wofford)
Story-telling voice of American wisdom
from Beloved (1987)

Themes: Slavery Freedom

“Our world is now marred by many prison-cultures with the machinery of thought control… distracted by trivia, a perpetual round of entertainments… Big Brother does not watch us by his choice. We watch him by ours.”

Neil Postman 1931 – 2003 CE
from Amusing Ourselves to Death

“They change their shirts every day, but never their conception of themselves... These men are in prison... caged animals who have never known freedom; but it is a prison all the same.”

Colin Wilson 1931 – 2013 CE
from Outsider

Themes: Slavery

“We find ourselves constantly assailed by forces trying to manipulate and control us. Internally they manifest as vestigial emotions and instincts based on prehistoric human conditions. Externally, they often arise from political and economic interests with goals diametrically opposed to our own self interests and values.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Control Slavery
“These cultural mind prisons. . . . have been crippling to human moral and spiritual growth… freedom of thought.. and clearly a barrier to world peace. So long as we continue to attach more importance to our own narrow group membership than to the ‘global village’ we will propagate prejudice and ignorance.

Jane Goodall 1934 CE –

18. The Sick Society

“the Emperor of Shambhala waged war against and subdued the Three Lords of Materialism [who] extend their power and seduction, enslaving the human mind with psychological and spiritual materialism.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE

Themes: Slavery

“Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV, and you think you're so clever and classless and free… A working class hero is something to be.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

35. The Power of Goodness

“As legal slavery passed, we [black people in the US] entered into a permanent period of unemployment and underemployment from which we have yet to emerge.”

Julian Bond 1940 – 2015 CE
Courageous civil rights leader

Themes: Slavery

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”

Bob Marley 1945 – 1981 CE

Themes: Slavery Freedom

“The early Roman Republic was fed by its citizen-farmers; the Roman Empire, by its slaves.”

Eric Schlosser 1959 CE –
Investigative journalist and author.
from Fast Food Nation (2001)

Themes: Slavery

“Slavery is not a condition. Slavery is a cult. Human trafficking is a cult. Slavery got a rebrand, the Alt Right. These dazzling new plantation owners built a pipeline to take our children from school to prison quicker than a cut can bleed. And the lucky ones go from school to the NFL where they don't even let them niggahs take a knee.”

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

Themes: Slavery Evil

“It takes a long time to dissolve the bars of a mental cage.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali 1969 CE –
Powerful voice for Islamic reform
from Infidel

Themes: Slavery Delusion

“No need for guards when you can convince people to collaborate in their own internment.”

N. K. Jemisin 1972 CE –
from Broken Earth

Themes: Slavery

“The Atlantic slave trade did not stem from racist hatred towards Africans... the craving to increase profits and production blinds people to anything that might stand in the way... Capitalism has killed millions out of cold indifference coupled with greed.”

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

from Sapiens

Themes: Slavery