Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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A good teacher can open doors into experiences and understandings we didn't realize were possible. They also can easily become "golden chains" that restrict us to dogmatic world views and narrow-minded opinions. As Hóngzhì Zhēngjué said back in the 12th century, “ten thousand sages are no more than footprints on the trail”and as Bob Dylan sang more recently, "Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters." At the same time though, it's hard to get anywhere without the help of a larger and deeper perspective. (Picture here is Aspasia with one of her students, Socrates.)

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Quotes (65)

“When leaders work for personal reward, honesty fails and deception rules.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“Stop believing in wise words and reason; you will become your own sage.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter #19
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

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

Themes: Teachers

33. Know Yourself

“Examine my words the way a goldsmith examines gold. Don't just take my word because it is my word.”

Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE via Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche ཛི་གར་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth

Themes: Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“The wisest men follow their own direction.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

Themes: Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Beware when the so-called sagely men come limping into sight.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via J. D. Salinger

“Sages… treat the people as if they were their children. Thus, the whole world wants them for their leaders. The people never grow tired of them because sages don’t struggle against them. Everyone struggles against something but no one struggles against those who don’t struggle against anything.”

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

66. Go Low

“As long as you look for a Buddha somewhere else, you'll never see that your own mind is the Buddha.”

Bodhidharma 菩提達磨 5th-6th C. CE

Themes: Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“When the pupil is ready to learn, a teacher will appear.”

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

Themes: Teachers

1. The Unnamed

“To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.”

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

Themes: Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“unless students can forget the teacher, their vision will be obscured.”

Xuanzong 武隆基 685 – 756 CE
(Hsuan-Tsung or Wu Longji)

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.

Rinzai Gigen 臨済義玄 ? - 866 CE via Irmgard Schloegl
(Línjì Yìxuán)
from Zen Teachings of Rinzai (Record of Rinzai), Irmgard Schloegl translation 1976

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Whatever the wise see becomes their teacher and their teachings.”

Catrapa ཙ་ཏྲ་པ། 750 – 850 CE via Shan Dao
("The Lucky Beggar")
Mahasiddha #23

Themes: Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“You cannot expect to enlighten more than one or two men for Ch'an is not so easy to understand. It will suffice to enlighten one or two.”

Huating Decheng 華亭德誠 820 – 858 CE

Themes: Teachers

“Sesame oil is the essence. Although the ignorant know that it is in the sesame seed, they do not understand the way of cause, effect, and becoming and therefor are not able to extract the essence. In the same way, the guru shows the truth of tathata. If it is not shown by the guru, it cannot be realized just like the sesame oil that remains in the seed”

Tilopa 988 – 1069 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee
from Rain of Wisdom

Themes: Teachers Karma

“What sort of man at such a time would come to visit the teacher?
As this is not a time for flowers, I find I've come alone.”

Su Shi 苏轼 1037 – 1101 CE
(Dongpo, Su Tungpo)
"pre-eminent personality of 11th century China"

“One cannot be considered a swimmer if he needs a bridge.”

Milarepa རྗེ་བཙུན་མི་ལ་རས་པ། 1052 – 1135 CE

Themes: Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“The heat of a candle flame can’t compete with the heat of the sun… When you grasp this, then all things will be your teacher.”

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

34. An Unmoored Boat

“When thoughts arise, recognize them clearly as your teacher.”

Gampopa སྒམ་པོ་པ། 1079 – 1153 CE via Herbert Guenther
(Sönam Rinchen, Dakpo Rinpoche)
from Jewel Ornament of Liberation

Themes: Teachers

27. No Trace

“Those who recommend faith without understanding are in many cases seeking to cover up their inability to teach faith intelligibly”

Peter Abelard Pierre Abélard 1079 – 1142 CE via Remusat

“ten thousand sages are no more than footprints on the trail”

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

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“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

“No friend is better than your own wise heart [...] no one should be closer to you than your own consciousness.”

Genghis Khan 1162 – 1227 CE via Jack Weatherford

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Zui-Gan called out to himself every day, 'Master.' Then he answered himself, 'Yes, sir.'
And then he added, 'Become sober.' Again he answered, 'Yes, sir.'
After that he continued, 'do not be deceived by others.' 'Yes, sir; yes, sir,' he replied.

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

Themes: Teachers

“If you cannot find a true teacher, it is better not to practice.”

Dōgen Zenji 道元禅師 1200 – 1253 CE

Themes: Teachers

“It is Being itself that becomes the real teacher as we learn by encountering ourselves in and through others.”

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་

“There is no one who cannot teach someone something… Wise men appreciate everyone, for they see the good in each and know how hard it is to make anything good.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Teachers

52. Cultivating the Changeless

“Combine all the teachers you have met into one.”

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

Themes: Teachers

71. Sick of Sickness

“In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

Themes: Teachers

77. Stringing a Bow

“Message to his son’s teacher: 'Teach him the wonder of books but also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside. Teach him it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.'”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

“One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE
from Thus Spoke Zarathustra

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“The business of the teacher is to produce a higher standard of intelligence in the community, and the object of the public school system is to make as large as possible the number of those who possess this intelligence.”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"

Themes: Teachers

“You have to grow from the inside out. No one can teach you, no one can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”

Swami Vivekananda ʃami bibekanɔnd̪o 1863 – 1902 CE
"The maker of modern India"

Themes: Teachers

“How often does a man ruin his disciples by remaining always with them?”

Swami Vivekananda ʃami bibekanɔnd̪o 1863 – 1902 CE via Romain Rolland
"The maker of modern India"

Themes: Teachers

“You must learn not what people around you consider good or bad, but to act in life as your conscience bids you. An untrammelled conscience will always know more than all the books and teachers put together.”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

64. Ordinary Mind

“Socrates, a unique philosopher, unlike all philosophers that ever were outside of Greece... was everything rather than what we expect a learned man and a philosopher to be... The attitude peculiar to Socrates among all the great teachers of the world: he will not do their thinking for the men who come to him, neither in matters small nor great.”

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

Themes: Teachers

“The attitude peculiar to Socrates among all the great teachers of the world: he will not do their thinking for the men who come to him, neither in matters small nor great.”

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

Themes: Teachers

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

“Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE via Hilda Rosner
from Siddhartha

Themes: Teachers

“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Truth Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“When a person no longer confuses a personal body with self and recognizes all people as members of their own body, neither failure or success can bother them and they become safe to guide and guard others.”

Witter Bynner 1881 – 1968 CE via Shan Dao
(Emanuel Morgan)

13. Honor and Disgrace

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Report to Greco

Themes: Teachers

19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

Eleanor Roosevelt 1884 – 1962 CE

“History is an excellent teacher with few pupils.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

“Great books are great teachers; they are showing us every day what ordinary people are capable of. These books come out of ignorant, inquiring humanity. They are usually the first announcements for success in learning. Most of them were written for, and addressed to, ordinary people.”

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

Themes: Teachers

“I put the relation of a fine teacher to a student just below the relation of a mother to a son.”

Thomas Wolfe 1900 – 1938 CE
(Thomas Clayton Wolfe)
Father of autobiographical fiction

Themes: Teachers

“A good teacher is there to watch the young person and recognize what the possibilities are—then to give advice, not commands... to talk it out, give some general clues.”

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

Themes: Teachers

“Wherever you go, you will find your teacher.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Teachers

25. The Mother of All Things

“The moment you meet a teacher, you should leave the teacher, and you should be independent.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

8. Like Water
19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“An authentic spiritual teacher is like the sail that enables a boat to cross the ocean swiftly.”

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

Themes: Teachers

“Scratch an incompetent schoolteacher—or, for that matter, college professor—and half the time you find a displaced first-class automobile mechanic or a goddam stonemason.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE via Zooey
from Franny and Zooey

“The biggest enemy to learning is the talking teacher.”

John Holt 1923 – 1985 CE
from How Children Fail

48. Unlearning

“Elders serve as conduits between the divine realm and the mundane world.”

Reb Zalman 1924 – 2014 CE
from From Age-Ing to Sage-Ing

Themes: Teachers

17. True Leaders

“Seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, challenge them, and unless a justification… dismantle to increase the scope of human freedom.”

Noam Chomsky 1928 CE –
from Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Themes: Teachers Freedom

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Gurdjieff on the contrary, has become steadily better known, and his influence continues to grow. One of the main reasons for this is that there was so little of the charlatan about him. He is no cult figure with hordes of gullible disciples. What he has to teach makes an appeal to the intelligence, and can be fully understood only by those who are prepared to make a serious effort.”

Colin Wilson 1931 – 2013 CE
from They Had Strange Powers (1975)

Themes: Teachers

“I don’t consider myself a teacher… I only try to show people how to turn on their light”

Gesshin Myoko Roshi 1931 – 1999 CE
Moon heart miraculous light

“The guru introduces us to our own Buddha-nature. Believing with faith and devotion in one’s own guru or sublime teacher can introduce our own mind to its own Buddha-nature.”

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

Themes: Teachers

“Whether it is a vacuum cleaner salesman or a guru, we find the same level of salesmanship.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Teachers

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“According the Buddhist scriptures, a true guide is one who helps you to cross the turbulent river, then burns your boat for you.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa

Themes: Teachers

19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“The search for an external protector has met with no success.”

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

Themes: Teachers Failure

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Iinstead of seeing things as new, you see them as very ordinary and full of details… You yourself become a living teaching; you yourself become living dharma… the reference point takes the form of awareness… choiceless awareness.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

40. Returning

“In such a world, the last thing a teacher needs to give her pupils is more information. They already have far too much of it. Instead, people need the ability to make sense of information, to tell the difference between what is important and what is unimportant, and above all to combine many bits of information into a broad picture of the world.”

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

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)

Themes: Teachers

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

Malala Yousafzai ملالہ یوسفزئی 1997 CE –
from I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

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