Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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One Taste

Vajrayana Buddhism describes “One Taste” as a stage on the path to enlightenment. Normally, we want what we want and don’t want what we don’t want. Here, we want what we have and don’t want what we don’t have. We stop believing our goal-oriented thought patterns that hypnotize us into believing we’ll be happy if we get what want and unhappy if we don’t. In this uncertain world with ever-increasing change and uncertainty, believing our thoughts require a tremendous amount of arrogance. Forgetting all experiences of disillusionment after achieving goals requires a tremendous amount of ignoring. The Taoist Farmer Story vividly exemplifies this with short vignettes in a quick sequence of opposite results from events that first seem extremely positive and negative.

In Eastern traditions, there is much discussion revolving around Duality and Non-duality, One Taste, and Oneness. In Western traditions, these discussions often categorize under the term, Monism. Our direct experience always has a unified wholeness but the foundation of our thinking process continually creates distinctions, separations, dualistic paradox, and conceptual fixations. While this process of separation and categorization may at times benefit the pragmatic details of daily living, it also creates “golden chains” curtailing our creativity, innovation, individuality, and the most wise and skillful means of living our lives. While the seductive pulls of “Two Tastes” normally pull us one way or the other, the possibility of reconciling and unifying these opposites leads to the most wise and compassionate paths leading to happiness, peace, wisdom, and enlightenment.

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Quotes (73)

“Never engage in action for the sake of reward… alike in success and defeat.”

Vyasa व्यास c. 3000 BCE
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

2. The Wordless Teachings

“Learn to look with an equal eye upon all beings, seeing the one Self in all.”

Vyasa व्यास c. 3000 BCE via Aldous Huxley
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma

“Be even-tempered in success and failure; for it is this evenness of temper which is meant by yoga.”

Vyasa व्यास c. 3000 BCE via Bhagavadgita
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: One Taste

“Regard all things of the world as equal, understand that life and death are cyclical and ultimately the same.”

Yin Xi 關尹子 536 – 596 BCE via Li, 1993
Lao Tzu’s first disciple and Taoist patriarch

“Pain is certain, suffering is optional.”

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

Themes: One Taste

2. The Wordless Teachings

“Men do not know how what is at variance agrees with itself. It is an attunement of opposite tensions, like that of the bow and the lyre.”

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

Themes: Paradox One Taste

“Because of the weakness of our senses, we can't judge the truth. What appears is a vision of the unseen... in everything there is a portion of everything.”

Anaxagoras Ἀναξαγόρας 510 – 428 BCE
“The Copernicus and Darwin of his age”

from Fragments

Themes: Truth One Taste

“The wise—having realized the Tao—draw deeply upon it and find its source wherever they turn.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE via Lao and Shan Dao
(Mengzi)

“What he saw as One was One, and what he saw as not One was also One... better to forget both and lose oneself in the Tao.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Lin Yutang
(Zhuangzi)

from Zhuangzi

“The words of arguments are all relative. To reach the absolute, the truth, we have to harmonize opposites and follow their natural evolution.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao 2.4
(Zhuangzi)

from Zhuangzi

2. The Wordless Teachings

“The Tao is great because there is nothing it does not encompass… It gives without seeking a reward it nourishes all creatures and takes nothing for itself… the nature of the Tao is to be itself. It does not imitate anything else.”

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

Themes: One Taste

25. The Mother of All Things

“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
(Huainanzi)
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)

“A Buddha is someone who finds freedom in good fortune and bad.”

Bodhidharma 菩提達磨 5th-6th C. CE
(Daruma)

13. Honor and Disgrace

“They are satisfied with their food because they taste the Tao. They are pleased with their clothing because they are adorned with virtue. They are content with their homes because they are content wherever they are.”

Chéng Xuanying 成玄英 631 – 655 CE
(Ch'eng Hsuan-ying)

80. A Golden Age

“Buddha-nature is nonduality.”

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

22. Heaven's Door

“In ignorance, different flavors are distinct; in realization, all flavors are essential one.”

Sarvabhaksha སརྦ་བྷཀྵ། late 8th, early 9th century via Keith Dowman
( “The Glutton” )
Mahasiddha #75

“Penetrate the essence of each experience until you achieve one taste.”

Ghaṇṭāpa གྷ་ཎྚཱ་པ། early 9th century
(“The Celibate Bell-Ringer”)
Mahasiddha #52

Themes: One Taste

56. One with the Dust

“refrain from giving rise to the idea of 'no traces' or absolute voidness within which you should not abide, for in that case, you would give rise to the idea of 'no traces,' both 'traces' and 'no traces' being in the realm of dualism and having no place in absolute reality”

Huating Decheng 華亭德誠 820 – 858 CE via Charles Luk

Themes: One Taste

“those who seek for something objective outside their own minds have all turned their backs on the Way…Buddhas and sentient beings do not differ at all.”

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

Themes: One Taste Oneness

39. Oneness

“When the midstream has become clear light—the indivisibility of appearances and emptiness—free of inhibition, you can wander in the villages as a crazy saint.”

Nirgunapa ནིརྒུ་ཎ་པ། (9th century)
"The Enlightened Moron" #57

“When all inner and outer phenomena are perceived as mind, all things have the same flavor.”

Kanakhala ཀ་ན་ཁ་ལཱ། late 9th century via Keith Dowman
("The Younger Severed-Headed Sister”)
Mahasiddha #67
from Masters of Enchantment

“In absolute truth, there is no path to be practiced, no difference between what is to be abandoned and the antidote, and nothing abandoned or realized in fruition... everything is produced not by one cause and not by one condition, but rather through the collective force of coincidence.”

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

“To perceive shortening in lengthening, weakening in strengthening, toppling in raising, taking in giving, how could anyone do this if not through the deepest insight? This is the hidden light.”

Lu Huiqing 1031 – 1111 CE

36. The Small, Dark Light

“Although it has no taste, shape, or sound with which to please people, those who use it can never exhaust it.”

Su Che 呂洞 1039 – 1112 CE
(Su Zhe)
Great writer of the Tang and Sung dynasties

Themes: One Taste

35. The Power of Goodness

“Those who realize one taste are always fulfilled.”

Kaṅkaṇa ཀངྐ་ཎ་པ། 11th century CE via Shan Dao
(“The Siddha-King”)
Mahasiddha #29

56. One with the Dust

“Treating all events the same, accustom yourself to non-duality.”

Mekopa མེ་ཀོ་པ། 1050 CE –
("Guru Dread-Stare")
Mahasiddha #43

“Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha.”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Blue Cliff Record, Biyan lu 碧巖錄

44. Fame and Fortune

“In light there is darkness; where it operates no traces remain. With the hundred grass tips in the busy marketplace graciously share yourself. Wide open and accessible, walking along, casually mount the sounds and straddle the colors while you transcend listening and surpass watching.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE
(Shōgaku)

Themes: One Taste

49. No Set Mind

“As soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered This unity is like salt in water, like color in dyestuff. The slightest thing is not apart from self.”

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: One Taste Water

52. Cultivating the Changeless

“Although everything has Buddha nature, we love flowers, and we do not care for weeds.”

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

Themes: One Taste

“All existence involves contrasting pairs. When one is present, both are present. When one is absent, both are absent.”

Wu Cheng 吴澄 1249 – 1333 CE via Red Pine
"Mr. Grass Hut"

2. The Wordless Teachings

“When a person sees All in all, then they stand beyond mere understanding.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

“Given that they are of one taste in naturally lucid awakened mind, samsara and nirvana are fully encompassed within the scope 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: One Taste

“If you hear the wordless sutra once, the heavens will become sutras filled with golden words, clear and obvious before you.”

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

“The river and its waves are one surf: where is the difference between the river and its waves? When the wave rises, it is the water; and when it falls, it is the same water again. Tell me, Sir, where is the distinction? Because it has been named as wave, shall it no longer be considered as water?”

Kabīr कबीर 1399 – 1448 CE

Themes: Water One Taste

“The past 5,000 words all explain 'the Tao of not accumulating’, what Buddhists call 'non-attachment’. Those who empty their minds on the last two lines will grasp most of Lao-tzu's book.”

Chiao Hung 1540 – 1620 CE
(Jiao Hung)

Themes: One Taste

“To arrive at being everything, desire to be nothing.”

John of the Cross 1542 – 1591 CE

Themes: Desire One Taste

“Live always with the mind of total nothingness, and the evils that come to you will dissipate completely.”

Bunan 至道無難 1603 – 1676 CE
(Shido Bunan Zenji Munan)

“Spirit and matter, soul and body, thought and extension are necessary twin ingredients of the universe, and will be forever with equal rights. Those who do not grasp this and rise to the vision might as well waste away their days with the world's idle gossip.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE via Shan Dao
from Letter to Knebel, 1812

“Because you have realized that everything has one taste in being empty, the delusion of fixating on enemy and friend collapses and there is no thought of dualistic fixation on self and other.”

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

56. One with the Dust

“Don’t trust intellectual teachings, recognize that vast and unborn sameness.”

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

Themes: One Taste

2. The Wordless Teachings

“a laugh's the wisest, easiest answer to all that's queer; and come what will, one comfort's always left—that unfailing comfort is, it's all predestinated... I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.”

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

“Worrying is like paying a debt you don't owe.”

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

Themes: One Taste

63. Easy as Hard

“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894 CE

44. Fame and Fortune

“Get rid of your regrets. You are what you are because of what you've experienced. And rightly understood and accepted, all experiences are good, bitter ones best of all.”

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

“If you don't cling, whatever arises is naturally freed. Simply remain in the great equal taste without rejecting or accepting.”

Shechen Gyaltsap 1871 – 1926 CE via Matthieu Ricard

“After a certain age, our memories are so intermingled that the thing we are thinking of or the book we are reading hardly matters at all... quite as valuable discoveries as we could make in Pascal's Thoughts may be inspired by a soap advertisement.”

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

“Does a man who is acting on the stage in a female part forget that he is a man? Similarly, we too must play our parts on the stage of life, but we must not identify ourselves with those parts.”

Ramana Maharshi 1879 – 1950 CE
from Be As You Are

“They looked at each other silently; but in his heart the young man said, 'There but for the lack of time , go I.' and in his eyes the old man said, 'I, too, was once young like you; hungry for knowledge, hopeful of achievment, eager for change.”

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

Themes: One Taste

“perhaps one has to be very old before one learns how to be amused rather than shocked.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE
from China, Past and Present (1972)​

Themes: One Taste

“The ultimate way of Being lies beyond all contradictory pairs of opposites with which our two dimensional thinking mind operates. As soon as we are successful in silencing the restless activity of the thinking mind and give a chance to intuition, the pure all embracing spirit in us will manifest effortlessly.”

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

“If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”

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

“Into the sphere of clear light, empty, without edge or center, the nature of the mind, grasping nothing, dissolves as one taste. If only I had the good fortune to practice this day and night, knowing for myself unspoken untainted bliss.”

Gendün Chöphel དགེ་འདུན་ཆོས་འཕེལ། 1903 – 1951 CE

“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

“Wisdom that is not put into action is without true value; therefore ghanta—which symbolizes awakened wisdom—and vajra—which symbolizes the power to actively realize the means of compassion—must act together.”

Li Gotami Govinda 1906 – 1988 CE
(Ratti Petit)
Pioneering, fearless, artistic woman of wisdom
from Tibet in Pictures

“good and bad are words which have meaning only with reference to the individual, never to the whole. If we take the universe, the Tao, as a whole, we discover that there are no such qualities as 'good' and 'bad'... it may seem bad for me, but it will not be bad for the universe!”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE
from Talk (1978)

“My wife loves me; ‘O what joys behind hibiscus curtains!’ My wife has left me; how peaceful it is now. Old Wang has a delicious concubine I have a charming blue-eyed cat.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

44. Fame and Fortune

“A problem cannot be solved by people who are concerned with only one or another of its parts.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE
from One Straw Revolution

“If the universe is just arising with no space and time, it means everything that is arising is of equal importance. It means all these things are equally arising”

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

from Ordinary Wonder

Themes: One Taste

“all legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences, between boys and girls, animals and stones, day and night, heat and cold.”

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

“Wholeness, rather than fragmentation, is the basic nature of reality... In effect, the fragmentation expressed in conventional medicine and in our social relations may be a distortion of nature, a false premise which has permeated our lives.”

Ralph Alan Dale 1920 – 2006 CE
Translator, author, visionary
from Tao Te Ching, a new translation and commentary

Themes: One Taste Oneness

“Let us focus on the commonalties of all religions, on the inner core of all religions which is purity of heart. We should all give importance to this aspect of religion and avoid conflict over the outer shell of the religions, which is various rites, rituals, festivals and dogmas”

Goenka ဂိုအင်ကာ 1924 – 2013 CE
(Satya Narayan)
"The Man who Taught the World to Meditate"

Themes: One Taste

“The cutting edge of this instant right here and now is always nothing less than the totality of everything there is.”

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

“low and high, winning and losing, destruction and self-destruction, reverse themselves, each turning into its seeming opposite.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Victory One Taste

42. Children of the Way

“…the endlessness of all that is, and the limitation of mortal bodily life, are the same, and their sameness is the key to the door.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

“Enlightened mind reflects all the five wisdoms in equanimity. But... because of our obscured ordinary mind, our ego makes categories out of equanimity. With ego and categories come substance, with the birth of substance comes its death, and with death comes suffering.”

Thinley Norbu གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ 1931 – 2011 CE
(Kyabjé Dungse)
from Magic Dance (1981)

“One taste does not mean that everything becomes gray and tasteless. By one taste, we mean the absence of all tastes. Tasting in this way becomes very natural and very beautiful. One taste is no taste; therefore, it is everything.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Tantric Path of Indestructible Wakefulness

Themes: One Taste

56. One with the Dust

“You begin to experience the simplicity of awareness,so although the sensorial hallucinations might continue, they don’t mean anything to you. There is a quality of one flavor, or one taste.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Path of Individual Liberation

56. One with the Dust

“Everything has a bright side. The top of even the blackest, thickest cloud shines like silver.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Killing Commendatore

“Relationships chisel the final shape of one’s being. I am me, and you.”

N. K. Jemisin 1972 CE –
from Broken Earth

“Everything we perceive is a reconstruction created in the mind... there's not difference between what is seen and the mind that sees it.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from The Joy of Living (2007)

Themes: One Taste

“consciousness is the greatest mystery in the universe, and mundane feelings of heat and itching are every bit as mysterious as feelings of rapture or cosmic oneness”

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

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Themes: One Taste

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