Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Ordinary Mind

Government, religion, business, and culture manipulate us by convincing that there is something missing, something not quite right about our life and basic experience, that we’re somehow “born bad” and need external sources to become okay. True wisdom traditions teach the opposite: that our basic existence, perceptions, and thoughts are sacred without need of manipulation.

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Quotes (76)

“Forget even these rules - you will discover ordinary mind.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter #18
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“How can you hide from what never goes away?”

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

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE

46. Enough

“He who does not sweep the droppings at home is not likely to notice that weeds run riot on the sacred ceremonial mounds.”

Xun Kuang 荀況 310 – 235 BCE
(Xún Kuàng, Xúnzǐ)
Early Confucian philosopher of "basic badness"

Themes: Ordinary Mind

53. Shameless Thieves

“Sages wear what no one looks at, do what no one watches, and say what no one disputes… they are different but appear ordinary.”

Liú Ān 劉安 c. 179–122 BCE via Thomas Cleary
from Huainanzi

Themes: Ordinary Mind

66. Go Low

“sages alone do not leave their sacred ground… They do not plan ahead yet do not abandon opportunity… They do not seek to gain yet do not reject misfortune.”

Liú Ān 劉安 c. 179–122 BCE via Thomas Cleary
from Huainanzi

44. Fame and Fortune

“Piety lies not in praying or prostrating to images, in going to temples, or in rituals, beliefs, and practices. It lies in looking upon all things with equanimity and peace.”

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

“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

“It is because things are the way they are that they are good.”

Plotinus 204 – 249 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“These five tell us to refrain from acting and to govern things by relying on their nature rather than on their form.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

27. No Trace

“To wear coarse cloth is to become one with what is ordinary. To keep one’s jade concealed is to treasure the truth. Sages are difficult to know because they do not differ from ordinary people and because they do not reveal their treasure of jade.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

70. Inscrutable

“For ordinary man is Buddha… A foolish passing thought makes one an ordinary man, while an enlightened second though makes one a Buddha.”

Huineng 惠能 638 – 713 CE
(Huìnéng, Enō)
The Sutra of Hui Neng

Themes: Ordinary Mind

23. Nothing and Not

“How miraculous and wondrous, hauling water and carrying firewood!”

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“If you love the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion.”

Rinzai Gigen 臨済義玄 ? - 866 CE
(Línjì Yìxuán)

“there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient things, but that sentient being are attached to forms and so seek externally… By their very seeking they lose it.”

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

Themes: Ordinary Mind

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form
64. Ordinary Mind

“When your home is nowhere, the mind is centered.
There is nothing to be gained by seeking elsewhere.”

Udhilipa ཨུ་དྷི་ལི་པ། (9th century CE) via Keith Dowman
The Bird-Man

“innate coemergent wisdom abides in the heart of all beings... the far-reaching, unfathomable meaning is apparent at this very moment. O how wonderous!”

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

“Cut through the root of your own mind: Rest within naked awareness.”

Tilopa 988 – 1069 CE via Elizabeth M. Callahan
from Ganges Mahamudra

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“If you do not realize that all things are merely of the mind, endless apparitions will never cease.”

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

Themes: Ordinary Mind

21. Following Empty Heart

“Here is the unsophisticated Self—your original face. Here is the landscape of your birthplace—bare and beautiful.”

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

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“I go to the marketplace with my wine bottle and return home with my staff. I visit the wine shop and the market, and everyone I look upon becomes enlightened.”

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

from 10 Bulls

“When an ignorant person understands, he becomes a saint. When a saint understands, he becomes an ignorant person.”

Mumon Ekai 無門慧開 1183 – 1260 CE
(Wumen Huikai)
Pioneering pathfinder to the Gateless Gate

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“Chop wood, carry water.”

Mumon Ekai 無門慧開 1183 – 1260 CE
(Wumen Huikai)
Pioneering pathfinder to the Gateless Gate

from The Gateless Gate, 無門関, 無門關

34. An Unmoored Boat

“God and God's will are one; I and my will are two.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“other approaches are like attempts to create the already-present sun by dispelling clouds and darkness through a process of effort and achievement.”

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

“To understand the essence, listen to the call of frogs, the billowing wind, the falling rain, all speaking the wonderful language of the essential Nature.”

Bassui Tokushō 抜隊 得勝 1327 – 1387 CE
Meditation master without distraction

“Only original mind exists... Instead of holding onto things in your mind, let them go!”

Bankei Yōtaku 盤珪永琢 1622 – 1693 CE via Peter Haskel
Zen Master of the unborn

from Song of Original Mind

“My miracle is that when I feel hungry I eat, and when I feel thirsty I drink.”

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

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time

“Find the silence that contains thoughts.”

Hakuin Ekaku 白隠 慧鶴 1686 – 1769 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“True emptiness is like the inner openness of a bell or a drum; when a bell is struck it rings, when a drum is beaten it resounds. It is because they have nothing inside that they are able to ring and resound. ineffable existence is like the sounding of a bell or a drum when struck... empty yet not empty, not empty yet empty, aware and efficient, lively and active, refining everything in the great furnace of Creation”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 1734 – 1821 CE
(Liu I-ming)

“But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing.”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“Educate the senses to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, the finite as infinite.”

Novalis 1772 – 1831 CE

45. Complete Perfection

“Besides the mind, there is no other Dharma. Therefore, you have no other action to carry out somewhere else.”

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

Themes: Ordinary Mind

25. The Mother of All Things

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

Themes: Ordinary Mind

71. Sick of Sickness

“Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.”

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

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, while all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”

“The visible world is but man turned inside out that he may be revealed to himself.”

Henry James 1843 – 1916 CE

“The original mind is what counts—most people are merely echoes.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE
from A Thousand and One Epigrams

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“Little minds are interested in the extraordinary; great minds in the commonplace.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

45. Complete Perfection

“Only he who can be can do”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“Life holds hardly any interest except on the days when the dust of reality is mingled with magic sand—when some ordinary incident of life becomes a springboard for the imagination.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Justin O'Brien
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from Maxims of Marcel Proust

“All men are ordinary men; the extraordinary men are those who know it.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE
from The Uses of Diversity

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

23. Nothing and Not

“The 'natural mind' is the mind which says absolutely straight and ruthless things. That is the sort of mind which springs from natural sources, and not from opinions taken from books; it wells up from the earth like a natural spring, and brings with it the peculiar wisdom of nature.”

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

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“There is an artistry so deep, so primordial and elemental, that no yearning seems to it sweeter and more worthy of tasting than that for the raptures of common-placeness.”

Thomas Mann 1875 – 1955 CE
Deep, psychologically insightful author
from Tonio Kröger (1903)​

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“Instead of narrowing your world and simplifying your soul, you will have at the last to take the whole world into your soul, cost what it may.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE
from Steppenwolf

“Time is your boat not your home.
God is not remote from us. He is at the point of my pen, my (pick) shovel, my paint brush, my (sewing) needle - and my heart and thoughts.”

Teilhard de Chardin 1881 – 1955 CE via Bernard Wall
from Divine Milieu

34. An Unmoored Boat

“Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things...as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value.”

Teilhard de Chardin 1881 – 1955 CE via Bernard Wall
from Divine Milieu

59. The Gardening of Spirit

“In the particular is contained the universal.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“This secret is concerned not with supramundane problems but with everyday ones in all their fervent detail, with the incessantly renewed problems of man's life here upon this earth.”

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

“Feeling is the essential element of knowing.”

Jeanne de Salzmann 1889 – 1990 CE
(Madame de Salzmann)
Follower, preserver, and promoter of Gurdjieff's teachings
from The Reality of Being

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“One must have an extraordinary sense of energy which has no cause, which has no motive, which has the capacity to be utterly quiet, and this very quietness has its own explosive quality.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
from Awakening of Intelligence

Themes: Ordinary Mind

57. Wu Wei

“The Siddhas had rediscovered the direct way of spontaneous awareness and realization of the universal depth-consciousness which had been buried under the masses of scholastic learning, abstract philosophical speculation, hair-splitting arguments and monastic rules”

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

from Way of the White Clouds (1966)

“To come to man's estate... The man who can see the miraculous in a poem, who can take pure joy from music, who can break his bread with comrades, opens his window to the same refreshing wind off the sea.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE
from Wind, Sand, and Stars (1939)

“For a man to change the basic beliefs that determine his perception - his epistemological premises - he must first become aware that reality is not necessarily as he believes it to be.”

Gregory Bateson 1904 – 1980 CE
from Steps to an Ecology of the Mind

“Love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god.”

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

“Everything is naturally perfect just as it is, completely pure and undefiled. All phenomena naturally appear in their uniquely correct modes and situation, forming ever-changing patterns full of meaning and significance, like participants in a great dance… The everyday practice is just ordinary life itself.”

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

34. An Unmoored Boat

“‘We have nothing on which to dine, Splendid, we shall have more time to sit outside and enjoy the moonlight, with music provided by the wind in the pines.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

56. One with the Dust

“In a world of tension and breakdown, it is necessary for there to be those who seek to integrate their inner lives not by avoiding anguish and running away from problems, but by facing them in their naked reality and in their ordinariness.”

Thomas Merton 1915 – 1968 CE

“There is no knowledge except knowledge of the present, there is no observer separate from the flow of events and as a result, the sense of self shifts from an independent observer to everything that is observed.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

“The Tao is that which first lets the light, then the dark; occasions the interplay of the two primal forces so that there is always renewal.”

Philip K. Dick 1928 – 1982 CE
Legendary consciousness provocateur
from Man in the High Castle,

“The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha - which is to demean oneself.”

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

“[Language] must simply be a biological property of the human mind.”

Noam Chomsky 1928 CE –

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to.”

Toni Morrison 1931 – 2019 CE
(Chloe Ardelia Wofford)
Story-telling voice of American wisdom
from Tar Baby (1981)​​

“Suddenly you’re seeing something extraordinary arising out of a very ordinary thing.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Ordinary Mind

64. Ordinary Mind

“The more you see that it is very ordinary, the more that becomes an extraordinary case, which creates a further veil.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Ordinary Mind

8. Like Water

“In the case of primordial craziness of crazy wisdom, we do not permit ourselves to get seduced by passion or aroused by aggression at all... crazy wisdom becomes completely accurate out of the moment of things as they are... if anything comes up in the midst of that complete ordinariness and begins to make itself into a big deal, then we cut it down... Crazy wisdom is just the action of truth.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Crazy Wisdom (1972)

“Don’t pointless things have a place, too, in this far-from-perfect world? Remove everything pointless from an imperfect life and it’d lose even its imperfection.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Philip Gabriel
from Sputnik Sweetheart

“The world was constantly speaking to Ancient Man... When they observed the world, the world observed them back.”

Susanna Clarke 1959 CE –
from Piranesi

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“When we look in the mirror, the one thing we don’t want to see is an ordinary human being.”

Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche ཛི་གར་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ། 1964 CE –

Themes: Ordinary Mind

36. The Small, Dark Light

“It’s a huge psychological achievement to accept other humans in their bewildering mixture of good and bad… no one we love will ever satisfy us completely—but that this is never a reason to hate them either. We should move away from the naivety and cruelty of splitting people into the camps of the awful and the wondrous, to the mature wisdom of integrating them into the large collective of the ‘good enough’.”

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

“Real gods aren't what most of you Christians think of as gods. Gods are people. Sometimes dead people, sometimes still alive. Sometimes never lived... They fall in love. Have babies. Fight. Die. It's duty. It's normal. Get over it.”

N. K. Jemisin 1972 CE –
from The City We Became (2020)

Themes: Ordinary Mind God

“Use every distraction as an object of meditation and they cease to be distractions.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

Themes: Ordinary Mind

“In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.

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

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century


In Search of Lost Time

by Marcel Proust

Apostle of Ordinary Mind

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