Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Nature, Environment

Quotes (70)

“The god-given is called Nature; to follow that nature is called Tao; to cultivate the Tao is called Culture.”

Zisi 子思 481 – 402 BCE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao
(Kong Ji or Tzu-Ssu)
Confucius' grandson and early influence on Neo-Confucianism

“He is richest who is content with the least, for contentment is the wealth of nature.”

Socrates 469 – 399 BCE
One of the most powerful influences on Western Civilization

67. Three Treasures

“Do not let finely meshed nets be cast in ponds and lakes and the fish and turtles will be more than can be consumed; let axes enter the mountain groves only at the appropriate time and the timber will be more than can be used.”

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

“This fear, this night of the mind must be dispelled, not by the rays of the sun, but by the face of nature and her laws.”

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

“Be a friend of the world.”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།། 685 – 763 CE via Marion L. Matics
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

“Why do I live among the green mountains?
I laugh and answer not, my soul is serene;
It dwells in another heaven and earth belonging to no man.
The peach trees are in flower and the water flow on.”

Li Bai 李白 701 – 762 CE
(Li Bo)

“All of creation God gives to humankind to use. If this privilege is misused, God’s justice permits creation to punish humanity.”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

57. Wu Wei

“The winds are burdened by the utterly awful stink of evil, selfish goings-on. Thunderstorms menace. The air belches out the filthy uncleanliness of the peoples. The earth should not be injured! The earth must not be destroyed!”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

53. Shameless Thieves

“Glance at the sun. See the moon and stars. Gaze at the beauty of the green earth. Now think.”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

45. Complete Perfection

“Nature is the highest good and the highest excellence lies in accepting the laws of Nature completely.”

Zhu Xi 朱熹 1130 – 1200 CE via Wang Yang Ming, Will Durant
(Zhū Xī)

“Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.”

Mumon Ekai 無門慧開 1183 – 1260 CE via Stephen Mitchell
(Wumen Huikai)
from The Gateless Gate, 無門関, 無門關

“Amazed at the heights of mountains, the ocean’s wideness, the power of nature, and the distance of stars; ourselves we consider not.”

Petrarch 1304 – 1374 CE

33. Know Yourself

“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

“Man is a microcosm, a little world, because his is an extract from all the stars and planets, from the earth and the elements, and so he is their quintessence.”

Paracelsus 1493 – 1541 CE
(Theophrastus von Hohenheim)
Revolutionary, shamanistic alchemist
from Archidoxies, 1525

“One night as I walked in the desert, the mountains rode on my shoulders, the sky became my heart, and the earth - my own body”

Meera 1498 – 1546 CE
(Mirabai, Meera Bai )
Inspiring poet, cultural freedom inspiration

“Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE

57. Wu Wei

“Art may improve but cannot surpass nature.”

Miguel de Cervantes 1547 – 1616 CE
One of the world's best novelists

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from As You Like It

51. Mysterious Goodness

“Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet.”

Jeremy Bentham 1748 – 1832 CE
from Principles of Morals and Legislation

47. Effortless Success

“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”

William Wordsworth 1770 – 1850 CE

55. Forever Young

“Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs, -
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress
Its music.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE

“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

“Blessed are they who never read a newspaper, for they shall see Nature and through her, God.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Essays and Other Writings

“Summer is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

John Ruskin 1819 – 1900 CE

“Deer-stalking would be a very fine sport if only the deer had guns.”

W. S. Gilbert 1836 – 1911 CE
Innovative, influential, inspiring dramatist

“Every day I discover even more beautiful things. It is intoxicating me, and I want to paint it all - my head is bursting.. ..I want to fight, scratch it off, start again, because I start to see and understand. I seems to me as if I can see nature and I can catch it all...”

Claude Monet 1840 – 1926 CE
"the driving force behind Impressionism"

“What you call God I call Nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter… Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me, He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in?”

Thomas Edison 1847 – 1931 CE
America's greatest inventor

“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.”

Dean Inge 1860 – 1954 CE
Christian mystic and philosopher

“In general, I find that things that have happened to me out of doors have made a deeper impression than things that have happened indoors.”

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

“As I looked about me I felt that the grass was the country as the water is the sea... the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running.”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

from My Ántonia

“Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE
from Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

“Nothing could persuade me that 'in the image of God' applied only to man. In fact, it seemed to me that the high mountains the rivers, lakes, trees flowers, and animals far better exemplified the essence of God than men with their ridiculous clothes, their meanness, vanity, mendacity, and abhorrent egotism”

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

“Let yourself be carried away, like the clouds in the sky. You shouldn’t resist. God exists in your destiny just as much as he does in these mountains and in that lake.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

67. Three Treasures

“The forests are the "lungs" of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. Truly, they make the country more livable.”

Franklin Roosevelt 1882 – 1945 CE
Champion and creator of a more just and equitable society

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

80. A Golden Age

“I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out… I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life… and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled… It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late… That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Report to Greco

64. Ordinary Mind

“Sometimes, wandering alone in the woods on a summer day, we hear or see the movement of a hundred species of flying, leaping, creeping, crawling, burrowing things. Suddenly we perceive to what a perilous minority we belong on this impartial planet, and for a moment we feel, as these varied denizens clearly do, that we are passing interlopers in their natural habitat.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

“A love of nature keeps no factories busy.

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Brave New World

“They thought they would improve on Nature by turning dry prairies into wheat fields, and produced deserts; chopped down vast forests to provide the newsprint demanded by that universal literacy which was to make the world safe for democracy, and got wholesale erosion, pulp magazines and the organs of Fascist, Communist, capitalist and nationalist propaganda... the free press is everywhere the servant of its advertisers, of a pressure group, or of the government.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Perennial Philosophy

“If you lose touch with nature you lose touch with humanity.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

“The earth is literally our mother, not only because we depend on her for nurture and shelter but even more because the human species has been shaped by her in the womb of evolution. Our salvation depends upon our ability to create a religion of nature.”

René Dubos 1901 – 1982 CE
Influential scientific environmentalist

“A medicine man has to be of the earth, somebody who reads nature like white men read a book.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

27. No Trace

“He talks to the plants and they answer him. He listens to the voices of all those who move upon the earth, the animals. He is as one with them. From all living beings, something flows into him all the time, and something flows from him.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

51. Mysterious Goodness

“Is the human species changing its own environment with slowly increasing pollution and rotting its mind with slowly deteriorating religion and education in such a saucepan? [frog in slowly heating water]”

Gregory Bateson 1904 – 1980 CE

“If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork.”

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

50. Claws and Swords

“The person who can most easily take up natural agriculture… has the mind and heart of a child. One must simply know nature . . . real nature, not the one we think we know!”

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

55. Forever Young

“In nature, the emphasis is in what is rather than what ought to be.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“The re-establishment of an ecological balance depends on the ability of society to counteract the progressive materialization of values. The ecological balance cannot be re-established unless we recognize again that only persons have ends and only persons can work towards them.”

Ivan Illich 1926 – 2002 CE
"an archaeologist of ideas"

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos - the trees, the clouds, everything.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

“downstream in this river of life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision.”

Oren Lyons 1930 CE –

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and slaughters a visible Nature without realizing that this Nature he slaughters is the invisible God he worships.”

Hubert Reeves 1932 CE –

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

53. Shameless Thieves

“A man who is willing to undertake the discipline and the difficulty of mending his own ways is worth more to the conservation movement than a hundred who are insisting merely that the government and the industries mend their ways.”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

29. Not Doing

“We can't leave people in abject poverty, so we need to raise the standard of living for 80% of the world's people, while bringing it down considerably for the 20% who are destroying our natural resources.”

Jane Goodall 1934 CE –

“Most of us don't realize the difference we could make… point fingers at others. ‘Surely,’ we say, ‘the pollution, waste, and other ills are not our fault. They are the fault of the industry, business, science. They are the fault of the politicians,’ This leads to a destructive and potentially deadly apathy.”

Jane Goodall 1934 CE –

“If you're a Conservative, why aren't you behind conserving the land?”

Ken Kesey 1935 – 2001 CE

“Save the planet? We don't even know how to take care of ourselves.”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

67. Three Treasures

“When man ceases to revere nature, his knowledge of nature also ceases to be fully integrated into his way of life.”

José Argüelles 1939 – 2011 CE
from Mandala

“Probably the most visible example of unintended consequences, is what happens every time humans try to change the natural ecology of a place.”

Meg Wheatley 1944 CE –
Bringing ancient wisdom into the modern world.

“The only deserts are deserts of the imagination.”

Paulo Lugari 1944 CE – via Alan Weisman

“Francis Bacon kept the famine imagery but turned it to rather different ends. He described nature as a 'common harlot' who needed to be 'tortured' in order to make her yield her secrets.”

David Loy 1947 CE –
from A Buddhist History of the West

“Judaism, Christianity’s parent sect, is the most powerful of protests against nature. The Old Testament asserts that a father god made nature and that the differentiation into objects and gender was after the fact of his maleness.”

Camille Paglia 1947 CE –
Fearless and insightful status quo critic
from Sexual Personae (1990)

“from the crow language… ‘Caw, caw, caw’ had become an English word - ‘Hawk!’”

Kim Stanley Robinson 1952 CE –
from 2312

“When we’re young, we think we are the only species worth knowing. But the more I come to know people, the better I like ravens.”

Louise Erdrich 1954 CE –

“In an individual, selfishness uglifies the world; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from The Bone Clocks

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“We were all guilty. All complicit in the crime of attempting to enslave the world itself.”

N. K. Jemisin 1972 CE –
from Broken Earth

“The romantic contrast between modern industry that 'destroys nature' and our ancestors who 'lived in harmony with nature' is groundless. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of life.”

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

from Sapiens

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