Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Though described as an important virtue in the Christian traditions, the East as well as Western mystics look on it with more skepticism. A prime motivating factor in the rampant materialism of modern culture, hope also sets up much unnecessary pain and suffering, confuses clear seeing, and helps alienate people from themselves, their friends, and communities.

Hope lures possibilities into view
But often blinds us to what’s true
While Illusion often helps us through
The yin and yang of hope stay true.

Chogyam Trungpa described “The bandits of hope and fear.” Bandits because they so easily and frequently steal our awareness away from nowness, from the here-and-now immediacy of our lives; hope and fear most often determine our decisions, guide our vision, enslave our creativity and uniqueness. And yet fear cautions our choices, keeps us from too much danger, and prevents foolish judgment. Hope seduces us with unrealistic fantasy; yet without this, creativity, innovation, and new ventures would die as merely flickering thought. Our fear of failure may much more often become true; but, without seemingly unrealistic hope, we would never accomplish anything innovative and meaningfully helpful to ourselves and to the world.

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Quotes (72)

“Discontent springs from a constant endeavor to increase the amount of our claims when we are powerless to increase the amount which will satisfy them.”

Homer 1 via Arthur Schopenhauer
Primogenitor of Western culture
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

Themes: Suffering Hope

“Shut out from sight the things of desire so that the people's hearts shall not be disturbed.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Lin Yutang, chapter 3
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Desire Hope

Focused on uncontrived awareness, not seduced by hope and fear, grasping and fixation; they are not swayed by a desire for change.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao, chapter #15
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Hope Change Desire

“Elevate your mind above desire and hope... Let us triumph over thirst, let us uproot desire, let us empty out our bowels! Do not say, 'I want to die,' or 'I do not want to die.' Say, 'I do not want anything.'”

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

Themes: Hope

“The cause of suffering is the desire to change things, to try to make them different, or hope they change.”

Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE via Stephen H. Wolinsky
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth

Themes: Suffering Hope

“Hope is man's curse... whenever a city has to vote on a question of war, not man ever takes his own death into account but shifts this misfortune to his neighbor”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE via G. M. Cookson
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Suppliants

Themes: Hope War

“Ten thousand men possess ten thousand hopes. A few bear fruit in happiness; the others go awry. But he who garners day by day the good life, he is happiest.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE via Philip Vellacott
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Bacchae Βάκχαι

Themes: Happiness Hope

“Good actions should be done not from hope of reward but for their own sake.”

Democritus Dēmókritos 460 – 370 BCE
Father of modern science and greatest of ancient philosophers

Themes: Hope

51. Mysterious Goodness

“How can a soul that hopes be free? Whoever hopes is afraid both of this life and the life to come; he hangs indecisively in the air and waits for luck of God's mercy.”

Ananda 阿難 1 via Nikos Kazantzakis
"Guardian of the Dharma"

Themes: Hope

“Poetry serves to communicate the hearts and hopes of men.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Lin Yutang

from Zhuangzi

Themes: Poetry Hope

“Don’t spoil what you have by desiring what you don’t. Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
Western Buddha
from On Nature

Themes: Desire Hope

9. Know When to Stop

“So long as the object of our craving is unattained, it seems more precious than anything. But once it is ours, we crave for something else.”

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

Themes: Desire Hope

“The only hope for the doomed is no hope at all”

Virgil 70 – 19 BCE
(Publius Vergilius Maro)
from Aeneid

Themes: Hope

“Abandon hope and fear. Let go of trying to accomplish something or exhibiting anything.”

Saraha 1

Themes: Hope Fear

72. Helpful Fear

“The Bodhisattva’s mind is like the void, for he relinquishes everything… all action is dictated purely by place and circumstance, subjectivity and objectivity are forgotten... no hope of reward is entertained.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运 1
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)

51. Mysterious Goodness

“Give up all hope of fruition.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
from Seven Points of Mind Training, Lojong བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ;

“The worldly hope men set their hearts upon, like snow on the desert's dusty face, lighting a little hour or two—is gone.”

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

from Rubaiyat

Themes: Hope

“Without judgment evaluation or significance what is there to be desired.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE via Stephen H. Wolinsky
from Book of Equanimity

Themes: Desire Hope

“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

Themes: Teachers Hope

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“The wise know they have everything they need within themselves. Hence, they do not seek anything outside themselves.”

Li Xizhai 1 via Red Pine
(Li Hsi-Chai)
from Tao-te-chen-ching yi-chieh

Themes: Desire Hope

44. Fame and Fortune

“If the diver always thought of the shark, he would never lay hands on the pearl.”

Saadi Shiraz سعدی شیرازی 1210 – 1292 CE

Themes: Hope

“Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand.”

Thomas Aquinas 1225 – 1274 CE

Themes: Hope

“All hope abandon, ye who enter here!”

Dante 1265 – 1321 CE
(Durante degli Alighieri)

Themes: Hope

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

Erasmus 1466 – 1536 CE
(Desiderius Roterodamus)
"Greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance"

“Hope has a good memory, gratitude a bad one.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Hope Memory

72. Helpful Fear

“Hope is a great falsifier of truth.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, #19
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Truth Hope

“we never live but only hope to live; and always hoping to be happy, it is inevitable that we will neer be so.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time
from Pensées (1669)

Themes: Hope

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always will be, blest.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer
from Respect to the Universe

Themes: Hope

“One day everything will be well—that is our hope.
Everything's fine today—that is our delusion.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE
from Poéme sur le désastre de Lisbonne, 1756

Themes: Delusion Hope

“In politics, as on a sickbed, men toss from side to side in the hope of lying more comfortably.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE via Ungar

“The nature of realization is the absence of hope and fear.”

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

Themes: Hope Fear

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“Hope is the confusion of the desire for a thing with its probability.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Confusion Hope

13. Honor and Disgrace

“He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything”

Thomas Carlyle 1795 – 1881 CE
"Great Man” theory of history creator

Themes: Health Hope

“what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

from Middlemarch

Themes: Hope

“Here lies your iniquity: you have given the laborer nothing but his daily food—not even his lodgings… his wages—thanks to your competitive system—were beaten down to the minimum on which he could or would work, without the hope or the possibility of saving a farthing.”

Charles Kingsley 1819 – 1875 CE
Founder of Christian Socialism in England
from Alton Locke, 1848​

Themes: Capitalism Hope

“'Hope' is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul –
... Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.”

Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886 CE

Themes: Hope

“The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE

Themes: Hope Dream

“The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE

Themes: Hope Dream

“The wise expect nothing, hope for nothing, and therefore avoid all disappointment and anxiety.”

Alexandra David-Néel 1868 – 1969 CE

Themes: Hope

“In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

Themes: Moon Hope

“as in all metaphysical questions, both are true; Life is—or has—meaning and meaninglessness. I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will preponderate and win the battle.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE via Richard and Clara Winston
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections

“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.”

Lǔ Xùn 鲁迅 1881 – 1936 CE via Lin Yutang
(Zhou Shuren; Lusin)
Insightful satirist representing the "Literature of Revolt"

from Epigrams of Lusin

Themes: Hope

“The hopes of the Republic cannot forever tolerate either undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth.”

Franklin Roosevelt 1882 – 1945 CE
Champion and creator of a more just and equitable society

Themes: Poverty Hope

“All that produces longing in the heart deprives the heart of freedom.”

Inayat Khan 1882 – 1927 CE

Themes: Hope Desire

48. Unlearning

“the man who either hopes for heaven or fears hell cannot be free. Shame on us if we continue to become intoxicated in the taverns of hope or the cellars of fear.”

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

Themes: Hope

“only by means of hope can we obtain what is beyond hope”

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

Themes: Hope

“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via tombstone

Themes: Hope Fear

72. Helpful Fear

“In the depth of your hopes and desires likes your silent knowledge... like seeds dreaming beneath the snow”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

Themes: Hope

“The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

Themes: Hope Fear

72. Helpful Fear

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE

Themes: Less is More Hope

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“the moment we want to be something we are no longer free.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

“Regard life with passion to see its manifest forms, do away with passion to see the Secret of Life.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao
from Wisdom of Laotse

Themes: Hope Desire

1. The Unnamed

“Forget everything and discover something quite new and different moment after moment... As long as we have some definite idea about the past or some hope in the future, we cannot be serious with the moment that exists right now.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE via Trudy Dixon, Shan Dao
from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Memory Hope

“Optimism disregards the present but is a source of inspiration, of vitality, and hope when other have given up. It empowers us with confidence and enables us to claim the future instead of abandoning it to an enemy.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 – 1945 CE via Eberhard Bethge, Shan Dao
from After Ten Years, 1953

“What stirs lyrical poets to their finest flights is neither the delight of the senses nor the fruitful contentment of the settled couple; not the satisfaction of love, but its passion. And passion means suffering.”

Denys de Rougemont 1906 – 1985 CE
Non-conformist leader, influential cultural theorist
from Love in the Western World

Themes: Suffering Hope

“Learn to see everyday life as a mandala in which one is the center and be free of the bias and prejudice of past conditioning, present desires, and future hopes and expectations… be natural and spontaneous, accept and learn from everything.”

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

45. Complete Perfection

Unless there are conscious efforts to the contrary, wants will always rise faster than the ability to meet them.”

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

Themes: Desire Hope

“Hope is really a thought that maybe it will be different someday... If you hope, you're thinking. The reality of practice is just to be.”

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

from Ordinary Wonder

Themes: Hope

“‘What can I do to help thee?’ he asked. ‘Believe there is a tomorrow.’”

James Clavell 1921 – 1994 CE
Fictionalizing and fictional historian
from Shōgun, 1975

Themes: Hope

“Expecting something for nothing is the most popular form of hope.”

Warren Bennis 1925 – 2014 CE
Authentic Leadership pioneering thought leader

Themes: Hope

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: Hope

“Every thing that is done in the world is done by hope.”

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

Themes: Hope

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

53. Shameless Thieves

“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something… We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment.”

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

Themes: Fear Hope

15. Inscrutability

“The bandits of hope and fear are subdued and all experiences are transformed into crazy wisdom.”

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

“Hope is the source of pain, and hope operates on the level of something other than what there is. We hope, dwelling in the future, that things might turn out right. We do not experience the present, do not face the pain or neurosis as it is.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Dome Darshan

Themes: Hope

“Hopelessness has surprised me with patience.”

Meg Wheatley 1944 CE –
Bringing ancient wisdom into the modern world.

Themes: Hope Patience

“There is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Themes: Hope

“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

“Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won't find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity… We fall in love because we long to escape from ourselves with someone as beautiful, intelligent, and witty as we are ugly, stupid, and dull. We can only be somewhat shocked-how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they have the bad taste to approve of someone like us?”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge
from On Love

Themes: Hope Materialism

“Don't despair: despair suggests you are in total control and know what is coming. You don't—surrender to events with hope.”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge

Themes: Hope

“neither myths nor mysteries can hold a candle to the most infinitesimal spark of hope.”

N. K. Jemisin 1972 CE –
from Broken Earth

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