Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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As the I Ching frequently mentions, "perseverance furthers" but this becomes more and more difficult as technology takes over more and more of our lives. Most people part of the new “iGen” have never known a time without the internet, smart phones, and constant digital input. The distractions are omnipresent and increasingly seductive. Even at a stoplight there are no gaps, no time for contemplation, for thinking about things and being creative instead of only passively taking things in. At first glance, the internet with it’s almost immediate access to almost all of the world’s knowledge, philosophy, music, and art represents a magnificent, cultural evolution… and that remains a possibility. The more immediate effect though seems to be be a trivialization of culture, a spreading, superficial understanding on a wide spectrum with a quickly shrinking in-depth realization and appreciation for everything just a little deeper than the surface. One of the first casualties may be perseverance.

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Quotes (81)

“‘Perseverance furthers,’ for it is perseverance that make the difference between seduction and courtship.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 1 via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 31
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

43. No Effort, No Trace

“The road to virtue is long and goes steep up hill, hard climbing at first, but the last of it, when you get to the summit (if you get there) is easy going after the hard part.”

Hesiod 846 – 777 BCE
“History’s first economist”
from Works and Days

Themes: Perseverance

“Salvation means deliverance from all saviors. This is the supreme freedom, the highest, where a man breathes only with difficulty. Do you have the endurance?”

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

Themes: Perseverance

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising up every time we fall.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Perseverance

“To persevere, trusting in what hopes he has, is courage in a man. The coward despairs.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE via Arrowsmith
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Heracles (422 BCE)

Themes: Perseverance

“Seven times down, eight times up.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Japanese proverb

Themes: Perseverance

“The start is half the deed.”

Anonymous 1 via Will Durant
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Roman proverb

Themes: Perseverance

“love is built up bit by bit by mere usage. Nothing can resist the continually repeated impact of a blow, however light, as you see drops of water falling on one spot at long last wear through a stone.”

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

“Endure the hardships of your present statel Live, and reserve yourselves for better fate... Endure the hardships of your present state, live, and reserve yourselves for better fate... Yield not to misfortunes, but advance all the more boldly against them.”

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

Themes: Perseverance

“If someone admires the great but does not emulate them, they are anything but great.”

Yang Xiong 揚雄 53 BCE – 18 CE via Michael Nylan, Shan Dao
from Fayan 法言, Exemplary Figures or Model Sayings

Themes: Perseverance

“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”

Ovid oʊvɪd 43 BCE – 18 CE
(Publius Ovidius Naso)
Great poet and major influence on the Renaissance, Humanism, and world literature

Themes: Perseverance

“Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.”

Plutarch 46 – 120 CE
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)
from Parallel Lives

Themes: Perseverance

“Caught in a net, how is it you still have wings?”

Du Fu 杜甫 杜甫 712 – 770 CE

Themes: Perseverance

“Only after one hundred days of consistent work, only then is the light genuine; only then can one begin to work with the spirit-fire.”

Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 1 via Richard Wilhelm
(Lü Tung-Pin)

from Secret of the Golden Flower 太乙金華宗旨; Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ

Themes: Perseverance

“Don’t transfer the cow’s load to the ox.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)

Themes: Perseverance

77. Stringing a Bow

“The jewel-casket of original mind—free from selfish passions—shines like the infinite sky.”

Tilopa 988 – 1069 CE via Guenther
from Acintaya-mahamudra

“For their minds are dry as a piece of rock;
If you do not carve its hard surface with a chisel,
Even if you soak it in a stream, it will not give way.”

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

Themes: Perseverance

“Don’t stop in a run-down shack in an isolated village. Go through the mountain pass of the buddhas and ancestors.”

Touzi Yiqing 投子義青 1032 – 1083 CE
(Tōsu Gisei, “Zen Master of Complete Compassion”)

“When the bottom is filled with rubbish, just walk through the sludge.”

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

“The good of anything is in finishing it.”

Genghis Khan 1162 – 1227 CE via Jack Weatherford

Themes: Perseverance

“Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting, and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE via Donald Keene
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Harvest of Leisure

Themes: Perseverance

“Read, persevere, sit up nights, inquire, exert the utmost power of your mind. If one way does not lead to understanding, take another; if obstacles arise, then still another; persist until you find clarity in what at first looked dark.”

Giovanni Boccaccio dʒoˈvanni bokˈkattʃo 1313 – 1375 CE

“Those who interrupt their spiritual practices are like those who let a bird escape from their hand, it’s very difficult to catch again.”

John of the Cross 1542 – 1591 CE

Themes: Perseverance

“To recognize the Way is hard. Once you recognize it, holding on to it is even harder.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

Themes: Perseverance

28. Turning Back

“Most things are not obtained simply because they are not attempted.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #68
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

“The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure... you are above everything distressing.”

Baruch Spinoza 1632 – 1677 CE

59. The Gardening of Spirit

“If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent.”

Isaac Newton 1642 – 1726 CE

Themes: Perseverance

“No matter where your interest lies, you will not be able to accomplish anything unless you bring your deepest devotion to it.”

Matsuo Bashō 松尾 芭蕉 1644 – 1694 CE

27. No Trace

“There is no place for rulers to rest, and no resting place to which they can retreat… I tried to emulate the wise rulers of the Three Dynasties, and desired to bring lasting peace to the whole earth, and make all men happy in their work. For decades I have exhausted all my strength, day after day working with unceasing diligence and intense watchfulness, never resting, never idle.”

Kāngxī 康熙帝 1654 – 1722 CE via Jonathan D. Spence, Shan Dao
from Emperor of China, Self-Portrait of K'ang-hsi

“Those that are most slow in making a promise are the most faithful in the performance of it.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE

Themes: Perseverance

“These are the times that try men's souls... Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE
from The American Crisis, 1776

“The first step toward wisdom is to question everything - and the last is to accept everything.”

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg 1742 – 1799 CE via Shan Dao
One of history’s best aphorists

“He only earns his freedom and existence who daily conquers them anew.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Faust, part II

“You must rise above
The gloomy clouds
Covering the mountaintop
Otherwise, how will you
Ever see the brightness?”

Ryokan 良寛大愚 1758 – 1758 CE
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)

Themes: Perseverance

“The principles of war are the same as those of a siege. Fire must be concentrated on a single point and as soon as the breach is made, the equilibrium is broken and the rest is nothing.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE

“A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer.”

Novalis 1772 – 1831 CE

Themes: Perseverance

43. No Effort, No Trace

“Spirit cannot be compared with matter. You are free, they are slaves. Fight, and you shall win. For God grants victory to perseverance.”

Simon Bolivar Simón Bolívar 1783 – 1830 CE via Masur
El Libertador

Themes: Perseverance

“Endurance is patience concentrated.”

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

“If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy's trenches, and if, once in, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one ... he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)
from Cousin Bette

Themes: Perseverance Art

“People do not lack strength; they lack will.”

Victor Hugo 1802 – 1885 CE
Literary pioneer, poet, and social justice provocateur

Themes: Perseverance

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

Themes: Perseverance

43. No Effort, No Trace

“Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

Themes: Perseverance

“There is hardly a single point of excellence belonging to human character, which is not decidedly repugnant to the untutored feelings of human nature.”

John Stuart Mill 1806 – 1873 CE

Themes: Perseverance

“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.”

Anthony Trollope 1815 – 1882 CE
Novelist as teacher

Themes: Perseverance

“we are in danger of forgetting the language which all things and events speak without metaphor… No method nor discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

70. Inscrutable

“A man vows, and yet will not cast away the means of breaking his vow. Is it that he distinctly means to break it? Not at all, but the desires which tend to break it are at work in him dimly and make their way into his imagination and relax his muscles in the very moments when he is telling himself over again the reasons for his vow.”

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

from Middlemarch

Themes: Perseverance

“God keep me from ever completing anything… For small creations may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity.”

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

“Permanent success cannot be achieved except by incessant intellectual labor, always inspired by the ideal.”

Sarah Bernhardt 1844 – 1923 CE
“One of the finest actors of all time”

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Thomas Edison 1847 – 1931 CE
America's greatest inventor

Themes: Perseverance

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE

Themes: Perseverance

“When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”

H. G. Wells 1866 – 1946 CE
A father of science fiction and One World Government apostle

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained”

Madame Curie 1867 – 1934 CE
(Maria Salomea Skłodowska)

“When heat, moisture, and fertile soil come together, you do whatever you can to sow grain. When the crops are ready in autumn, you do whatever you can to harvest them... Now that you have a precious human life free of all impediments and endowed with all favorable conditions, apply yourself unrelentingly to spiritual practice!”

Shechen Gyaltsap 1871 – 1926 CE via Matthieu Ricard
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's main teacher
from Chariot of Complete Liberation

“In resigning ourselves to our fate without a struggle, we are guilty of inhumanity.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

“Today the two hundred million men in our country are entering into a civilized new world...but we, the two hundred million women, are still kept down in the dungeon... With all my heart I beseech and beg my two hundred million female compatriots to assume their responsibility as citizens. Arise! Arise! Chinese women, arise!”

Qiu Jin 秋瑾 1
"China’s Joan of Arc"

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

43. No Effort, No Trace

“No one succeeds without effort. Mind control is not your birthright. Those who succeed owe their liberation to perseverance.”

Ramana Maharshi 1879 – 1950 CE

“From youth right to old age every word or deed which diverted me from my destiny I considered a sin... I pushed away the refreshing face of every young girl”

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

Themes: Perseverance

“Perhaps the basic skill that we should ask a teacher to impart to his pupil is the ability to discipline himself; for in this stormy age every individual, like every people, has in the long run only two choices—effective self-government, or practical subjection”

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

“Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don't freeze up.”

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

“Somehow life doesn't always pay off for those who are most insistent.”

Max Lerner 1902 – 1992 CE
(Maxwell Alan)
from The Postponed Generation (1949)

Themes: Perseverance

“Rigor alone is paralytic death, but imagination alone is insanity.”

Gregory Bateson 1904 – 1980 CE

“Open yourself and give up everything”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE
from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”

James Michener 1907 – 1997 CE
Historical and Generational Saga Master

from Chesapeake (1978)

“I don't want you to go away with the impression that there're any—you know—inconveniences in the religious life. I mean a lot of people don't take it up just because they think it's going to involve a certain amount of nasty application and perseverance”

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

“When I really worry about something, I don't just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I don't go. I'm too worried to go. I don't want to interrupt my worrying to go.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Catcher in the Rye

“To think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral you down into ever-increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one of the things that need discipline –training… So train your mind”

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

“You keep going. That is the bodhisattva’s way. As long as it benefits even one being you have to, without any sense of discouragement, go on.”

Karmapa XVI ཀརྨ་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད། 1924 – 1981 CE
(Rangjung Rigpe Dorje)
from Rangjung Rigpe Dorje

43. No Effort, No Trace

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

Carlos Castaneda 1925 – 1998 CE

23. Nothing and Not

“the highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline”

César Chavez César Estrada Chávez 1927 – 1993 CE
(César Estrada Chávez)

“To make a great dream come true, the first requirement is a great capacity to dream; the second is persistence.”

César Chavez César Estrada Chávez 1927 – 1993 CE
(César Estrada Chávez)

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

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

Themes: Perseverance

“Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.”

Yoko Ono 小野 洋子 1933 CE –
(“Ocean Child”)

“The false god of finishing... how many times do we force ourselves to do something we really don't want to do because of a compulsion to finish?”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Perseverance

“Stolen from Africa, brought to America
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival...”

Bob Marley 1945 – 1981 CE
from Buffalo Soldier, 1983

Themes: Perseverance

“Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding but curiosity evaporates. We need guts to go for the long haul. Like an amusing friend you can’t really trust, curiosity turns you on but then leaves you to make it on your own—with whatever courage you can muster”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Jay Rubin, Shan Dao
from Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

“I must be in love with this woman... I don't have any choice... Danger may be lurking there, I might end up losing everything but there's no turning back even if it means I'll be burned up and gone forever.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Philip Gabriel
from Sputnik Sweetheart

Themes: Perseverance Love

“The importance of choice as a route to a life of meaning was central to the thought of Viktor Frankl, one of the founders of existential psychotherapy in the 1940's. 'What is man?' he asked. 'He is being who continually decides what he is.'”

Roman Krznaric 1
Practical, popular, modern philosopher

from Carpe Diem Regained

Themes: Perseverance

“Just as a parent can't buy the love of their children with gifts, a company can't buy the loyalty of their employees with salaries and bonuses... We will judge a boss who spends time after hours to help us as more valuable than a boss who simply gives us a bonus”

Simon Sinek 1973 CE –
from Leaders Eat Last

Themes: Perseverance

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