Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Like many conclusions under the rubric of "if it's not a paradox, it's not the truth," pointing out benefits of having an enemy both goes against conventional opinion as well as religious doctrine. Potential harm, however, mainly arises from aggressively acting against enemies rather than from the state of only recognizing them. Without rivals, competitors, those who challenge our opinions and assumptions, perhaps little progress comes about. Without protest, attention dissipates. Without confrontation, we easily fall asleep in a stupor of cliché. Without competition, not much changes. Taken from this point of view, instead of hating and letting enemies arouse the poison of hatred in our hearts, we can learn to appreciate those who contend against us, critique our views, and criticize our actions. We can find there inspiration, motivation, and meaningfulness.

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Quotes (81)

“Attracting the disaffected weakens the enemy and strengthens the state.”

Jiang Ziya 姜子牙 1
"Master of Strategy"

Themes: Enemy Paradox

“And may the gods accomplish your desire: a home, a husband, and harmonious converse with him – the best thing in the world being a strong house held in serenity where man and wife agree. Woe to their enemies, joy to their friends!”

Homer 1 via Robert Fitzgerald
Primogenitor of Western culture
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

“Man’s duty is three-fold: To make him who is an enemy a friend, to make him who is wicked righteous; and to make him who is ignorant learned.”

Zarathushtra زرتشت‎‎ 628 – 551 BCE via Dawson

from Avesta

Themes: Evil Virtue Enemy

“Those who voluntarily put power into the hands of a tyrant or an enemy, must not wonder if it be at last turned against themselves.”

Aesop 620 – 546 BCE
Hero of the oppressed and downtrodden

Themes: Power Enemy

“Your own worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your thoughts if left unguarded; but, if guarded, nothing or no one could help you as much—not even your mother or father.”

Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE via Jack Kornfiled, Shan Dao
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth
from Dhammapada धम्मपद

Themes: Discipline Enemy

“Protecting ourselves against defeat is in our own hands; the opportunity of defeating the enemy is in theirs.”

Sun Tzu 孙武 544 – 496 BCE via Lionel Giles and James Clavell
(Sun Zi)
HIstory's supreme strategist
from Art of War 孙子兵法

Themes: Enemy Power

“There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself - an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.”

Antisthenes 445 – 365 BCE
Creator of a religious tradition without religion

Themes: Enemy Friendship

“Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes.”

Antisthenes 445 – 365 BCE
Creator of a religious tradition without religion

Themes: Enemy Mistakes

“Every dictator is an enemy of freedom, an opponent of law.”

Demosthenes Δημοσθένης 384 – 322 BCE

“The wise become their own best friend and appreciate privacy while the man of no virtue or ability—afraid of solitude—turns into his own worst enemy”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE via Shan Dao
from Nicomachean Ethics

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE

Themes: Victory Desire Enemy

“The truly good has no enemies.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE via Daniel K. Gardner
from Book of Equanimity

Themes: Enemy Warriors

“When the ruler view his ministers as his hands and feet, they regard him as their heart and soul. When he views them as dirt and weeds, they regard him as an enemy and a thief.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE
from Book of Mencius 孟子

17. True Leaders

“Clarity is the enemy of self-deception and of the larger deception known as ideology.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history

“One enemy is too many. One hundred friends are too few.”

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

Themes: Enemy Friendship

“There are people who owe more to bitter enemies than to apparently pleasant friends: the former often speak the truth, the latter never.”

Cato 95 – 46 BCE
(the Younger, Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis)

“Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Saint Luke
from New Testament Διαθήκη

“Those desiring to escape suffering hasten right toward it. With the very desire for happiness, out of delusion they destroy their own happiness as if it were an enemy.”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།། 685 – 763 CE via Alan Wallace
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)

“Armed with the sword of undying awareness, I conquer my enemies, the demons of the 3 realms.”

Khaḍgapa ཁཌྒ་པ། 1 via Keith Dowman
("The Fearless Thief")
Mahasiddha #15
from Masters of Mahamudra

12. This Over That

“With the realization that appearance is mind,
There is no difference between friends and enemies.”

Marpa Lotsawa 1012 – 1097 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee

Themes: Enemy One Taste

“Except for the enemies of the Buddha's doctrine and those who bring harm to sentient beings, I, Gesar, have no enemies.”

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

Themes: Enemy

“Those who meet resistance with agreement, toil with relaxation pride with humility, and action with stillness have no enemy. Wherever they go, the conquer.”

Lu Huiqing 1031 – 1111 CE

69. No Enemy

“No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.”

Francis of Assisi 1181 – 1226 CE

Themes: Projection Enemy

69. No Enemy

“Wise enemies can help us but foolish friends will only harm.”

Sakya Pandita ས་སྐྱ་པཎྜ་ཏ་ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་མཚན། 1182 – 1251 CE via John T. Davenport, Shan Dao
(Kunga Gyeltsen)
from Ordinary Wisdom, Sakya Legshe (Jewel Treasury of Good Advice)

“Conquering our own anger simultaneously conquers all enemies.”

Sakya Pandita ས་སྐྱ་པཎྜ་ཏ་ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་མཚན། 1182 – 1251 CE via John T. Davenport, Shan Dao #424
(Kunga Gyeltsen)
from Ordinary Wisdom, Sakya Legshe (Jewel Treasury of Good Advice)

Themes: Enemy Anger

“Man has no greater enemy than himself.”

Petrarch 1304 – 1374 CE

23. Nothing and Not

“Flattery is more dangerous than hatred... A wise person gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, #84
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

“The chief characteristic of highminded integrity is speaking well of an enemy.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via John Blofeld, Shan Dao
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Enemy Warriors

“Make use of your enemies… The wise will turn ill will into a mirror more faithful than that of kindness”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, Shan Dao chapter #84
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Enemy Hate

31. Victory Funeral

“People have no enemies, none at all right from the start. You create them all yourself fighting over right and wrong.”

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

Themes: Enemy Conflict

“Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.”

Isaac Newton 1642 – 1726 CE

“Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

“It was an inflexible maxim of Roman discipline that good soldier should dread his own officers far more than the enemy.”

Edward Gibbon 1737 – 1794 CE
from Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

“It's useless to complain about your enemies; if your whole being is a standing reproach to them, they can never become your friends.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE via Arthur Schopenhauer, Shan Dao
from Westoóstlicher Divan

“Democracy restores to man a consciousness of his value, teaches him by the removal of authority and oppression to listen to the dictates of reason, gives him confidence to treat all other men as his fellow human beings, and induces him to regard them no loner as enemies against whom to be upon his guard, but as brethren whom it comes him to assist.”

William Godwin 1756 – 1836 CE
Provocative and influential social, political, and literary critic
from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

“With compassion, even enemies turn into friends. Without compassion, even friends turn into enemies.”

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

Themes: Enemy Friendship

67. Three Treasures

“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

“This grave contains all that was mortal of a young English poet, who, on his deathbed, in the bitterness of his heart at the malicious power of his enemies, desired these words to be graven on his tombstone, 'Here lies one whose name was writ in water.'”

John Keats 1795 – 1821 CE
Writer of "poems as immortal as English"
from Epitath on his tombstone

Themes: Enemy Emptiness

“If there be no enemy there's no fight. If no fight, no victory and if no victory there is no crown.”

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

“Men will not accept truth at the hands of their enemies, and truth is seldom offered to them by their friends”

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805 – 1859 CE
Pioneering researcher into the conflicts between freedom and equality

Themes: Enemy Truth

“I would as soon be descended from a baboon... as from a savage who delights in torturing his enemies... treats his wives like slaves... and is haunted by the grossest superstitions”

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882 CE
from Descent of Man

Themes: Enemy Evolution

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

67. Three Treasures

“This is the reason my soul always turns back to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. I feel that those who speak there are at least human beings; they hate, they love, they murder their enemies, and curse their descendants throughout all generations, they sin.”

Søren Kierkegaard 1813 – 1855 CE via Swenson
"The first existentialist philosopher"
from Either/Or (1843)

Themes: Enemy

“I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.”

Walt Whitman 1819 – 1892 CE
Premier "poet of democracy" and model for Dracula

Themes: Enemy Friendship

“but he has his enemies too; there are always people who can't forgive an able man for differing from them.”

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

from Middlemarch

Themes: Enemy

“The great enemy of knowledge is not error… One error conflicts with another, each destroys its opponent, and truth is evolved.”

Henry Thomas Buckle 1821 – 1862 CE
from History of Civilization

Themes: Truth Conflict Enemy

43. No Effort, No Trace

“The two forces, the two worst enemies of civil freedom are absolute monarchy and revolution.”

Lord Acton 1834 – 1902 CE
(John Dalberg-Acton)
Prolific historian and politician
from Letters to Mary Gladstone, 1881

“When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”

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

Themes: Truth Enemy

37. Nameless Simplicity
70. Inscrutable

“The deadliest enemies of nations are not their foreign foes; they always dwell within their own borders. And from these internal enemies civilization is always in need o being saved.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from Memories and Studies (1911)

“But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

Themes: Projection Enemy

63. Easy as Hard
69. No Enemy

“This is a busy world, and no one has time to sit right down and hate you. The only enemies we have are those we conjure up ourselves. The idea that we have enemies is only egotism gone to seed.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE via Shan Dao
from A Thosand and One Epigrams, 1911

Themes: Hate Conflict Enemy

“I would rather have this life of combat than moral calm and mournful stupor. God give me struggle, enemies, howling crowds, all the combat of which I am capable.”

Romain Rolland 1866 – 1944 CE
“The moral consciousness of Europe”
from Reflections, 1915-1940

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate but it is fear.”

Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 CE

Themes: Fear Hate Enemy

“I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

“It's all very well to tell us to forgive our enemies; our enemies can never hurt us very much. But oh, what about forgiving our friends?”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

Winston Churchill 1874 – 1965 CE

Themes: Enemy

69. No Enemy

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

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

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Truth Teachers Enemy

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“I stop drinking and take cod liver oil to lengthen my life... principally because of those who are my enemies—so that some regret may remain in their too perfect world... to make the so-called gentlemen uncomfortable for a few more days.”

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

from Epigrams

“You cannot struggle with men, not you, because at the very moment you are fighting, you keep thinking that your enemy might be right, and no matter what he does to you after that, you forgive him.”

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

Themes: Enemy Conflict

“Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

72. Helpful Fear

“Such men as this puppet are our worst and our true enemies, for they have betrayed themselves and us in them. The enemy from outside is a disease but the puppets are our own weakness”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE
from Dragon Seed

“As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought the enemy instead of ourselves.”

Margaret Chase Smith 1897 – 1995 CE

Themes: Democracy Enemy

“But prejudice is the greatest enemy of objective observation and creative thought, while an awareness of yet unexplored possibilities will open our minds to new perspectives which reveal new facts.”

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

Themes: Enemy Non-Thought

“a man can be an enemy of other men, of the moments of other men, but not of a country: not of fireflies, words, gardens, streams of water, sunsets.”

Jorge Luis Borges 1899 – 1986 CE
Literary Explorer of Labyrinthian Dreams, Mirrors, and Mythologies

Themes: Enemy

“Love thine enemies because they are the instruments of your destiny.”

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

“There can be no more wars of faith. The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 – 1945 CE

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

30. No War

“It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral”

Saul Alinsky 1909 – 1972 CE
from Rules for Radicals

“Sentient beings, self and others, enemies and dear ones-all are made by thoughts. It is like seeing a rope and mistaking it for a snake… We have been deluded by our thoughts.”

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

Themes: Enemy Delusion

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

John Kennedy 1917 – 1963 CE
Modern America's most popular president

Themes: Enemy Conformity

“Of all the non-Western religions, Islam stands closest to the west—closest geographically, and also closest ideologically; for religiously it stands in the Abrahamic family of religions while philosophically it builds on the Greeks. Yet Islam is the most difficult religion for the West to understand... Common borders have given rise to border disputes... for a good part of the last 1400 years, Islam and Europe have been at war, and people seldom have a fair picture of their enemies.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

Themes: Enemy

“In war and in peace, a good enemy can be more valuable than a good ally.”

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

Themes: Enemy Paradox

“How can you have a war on terrorism while war itself is terrorism! War itself is the enemy of the human race.”

Howard Zinn 1922 – 2010 CE
Historian of the oppressed and defeated

Themes: Enemy War

“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy, a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

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

Themes: Enemy Memory

“I read this poem as saying that if you can take life as it comes, it doesn’t come at you as your enemy.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Enemy

50. Claws and Swords

“I defeat my enemies when I make them my friends.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“trying constantly to attain something higher and greater... completely drunk on competitiveness... everyone is regarded as the enemy... your experiences are so strong that they overpower you, hypnotize you.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Myth of Freedom

Themes: Enemy Competition

“We deal with our mind from morning till evening, and it can be our best friend or our worst enemy.”

Matthieu Ricard माथ्यु रिका 1946 CE –
"The happiest person in the world”

Themes: Enemy Mind

“military globalization: War spreads ideas, technologies, and people far more quickly than commerce does... People care far more about their enemies than about their trade partners. For every American film about Taiwan, there are probably fifty about Vietnam.”

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

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Themes: Enemy Conflict

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