Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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The first stone tools go back 3.3 million years and the electric light less than 200. That means we’ve had electric light at night for roughly 1000th of 1% of recognized human life on this planet. So for almost all of the collective human experience, the moon has been by far the main source of light at night. And since the darkness of night encompasses roughly 1/2 of human life, of course the moon became a major symbol and influence in the myths and stories of human culture. And since love-making most often occurs at night and the moon dominates the night-time environment, naturally the imagery of the moon intertwined with strong emotions, romance, and sex. The slight illumination during times of major darkness gave it a mysterious connection to the unknown and to the unconscious. Physically, as a piece of the earth reflecting back brings it into the mythic symbolism of Narcissus. As he saw his reflection in a pool of water, we could say the Earth “sees” it’s reflection in the Moon.

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Quotes (81)

“When the moon begins to grow, blood and breath are at their fullest, tendons and muscles are at their strongest. When the moon is completely empty, tendons and muscles are at their weakest.”

Huangdi 國語 2698 – 2598 BCE
(The Yellow Emperor)
Taoist patron saint, founder of Chinese civilization
from Internal Book of Medicine

Themes: Health Moon

“Men call women faithless, changeable, and though they say it in jealousy of their own ever-threatened sexual honor, there is some truth in it... As the moon changes yet is one, so we are virgin, wife, mother, grandmother.”

Lavinia 1 via Ursula Le Guin
Prophetess and co-foundrer of the Roman Empire
from Lavinia

Themes: Moon Sex

25. The Mother of All Things

“As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night,
O'er heaven's clear azure spreads her sacred light,
Then shine the vales, the rocks in prospect rise,
A flood of glory bursts from all the skies.”

Homer 1 via Alexander Pope
Primogenitor of Western culture
from Iliad

Themes: Moon

“The gleaming stars all about the shining moon hide their bright faces, when—full-orbed and splendid in the sky—she floats, flooding the shadowed earth with clear silver light.”

Sappho 612 – 570 BCE
“The Poetess” and most famous Greek woman

Themes: Moon

“Three things can not hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.”

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

Themes: Moon Truth

70. Inscrutable

“When a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger.”

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

64. Ordinary Mind

“My purpose in life? The investigation of sun, moon, and heaven.”

Anaxagoras Ἀναξαγόρας 510 – 428 BCE via Pliny, Shan Dao
“The Copernicus and Darwin of his age”

Themes: Livelihood Moon

“King Wen was like the sun or moon, shedding his bright light in the four quarters and over the western land... the universal love of King Wen was so broad that it embraced the whole world like the universal light of the sun and the moon shines upon the whole world without partiality.”

Mozi 墨子 470 – 391 BCE via Burton Watson
Chinese personification of Newton, da Vinci, and Jesus
from Universal Love

Themes: Moon

“The ancients heard thunder, saw lightning, conjunctions of the stars, eclipses of the Sun and Moon, became afraid, and began believing in gods to explain what they couldn’t understand.”

Democritus Dēmókritos 460 – 370 BCE
Father of modern science and greatest of ancient philosophers

Themes: Religion Moon

“Shine, Moon of the night who love to look on revels, shine through the lattice and let your light fall on golden Callistiŏn… You bless her and me, I know, O Moon”

Philodemus Φιλόδημος 110 – 35 BCE
(of Gadara)

Themes: Moon

“Worshipping unknown gods with unknown singing, her customary magic, would cover the white moon’s face and darken the sun with cloud.”

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

from Metamorphoses, 8 CE

Themes: Magic Moon

“An owl, noiseless as a feathered cloud, glided away in the moonlight, a songbird in its left foot. Fate goes ever as it must.”

Hilda of Whitby 614 – 680 CE via Nicola Griffith

“Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger.”

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

64. Ordinary Mind

“The one Moon reflects itself wherever there is a sheet of water,
And all the moons in the waters are embraced within the one Moon.”

Yòngjiā Xuānjué 永嘉玄覺 665 – 713 CE
(Yung-chia Ta-shih; Yōka Genkaku; "The Overnight Guest")
from Song of Enlightenment 证道歌

“The moon shines on my bed brightly,
So bright like frost upon the loam.
Looking up and gazing at the mountain moon,
My head sinks back down with thoughts of home.

Li Bai 李白 701 – 762 CE
(Li Bo)

Themes: Moon

56. One with the Dust

“The setting moon spills light on the rafters; for a moment I think it's your face.”

Du Fu 杜甫 杜甫 712 – 770 CE

Themes: Moon

“A flower blooming in the sky,
The son of a barren woman rides a horse...
He kills his enemy in the space of dharmata...
The sun and moon dance, blowing trumpets.”

Nāropā 955 – 1040 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee

Themes: Moon

“Yin and yang take turns. The four seasons come and go. The moon waxes and wanes. All things have their time. They don’t have to be summoned to come.”

Wang Anshi 王安石 1021 – 1086 CE

Themes: Moon Middle Way

73. Heaven’s Net

“if the conch moon did not rise in the sky, who could find their way in the pitch black of night?”

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

Themes: Moon

“I lean over the fishing rock, dip the deep clear river current;
Store the reflection of the large Spring moon, return it to the jar”

Su Shi 苏轼 1037 – 1101 CE
(Dongpo, Su Tungpo)
"pre-eminent personality of 11th century China"

Themes: Moon

“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

“The monkey grabs at the reflection in the moon.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE
from Book of Equanimity

Themes: Moon Illusion

“Like the moon overwhelming the darkness, from the beginning just beam through all gloom.”

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

Themes: Moon

25. The Mother of All Things

“The reeds blossom under the bright moon; the jade thread fits into the golden needle; the opportunity arises to turn around, enter the world, and respond to conditions.”

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

“The moon accompanies the current… understanding and the the changing world fulfill each other… go forward and see for yourself.”

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

Themes: Moon Continuity

“A person of the Way fundamentally does not dwell anywhere... The moon sets and the water is cool. Each bit of autumn contains vast interpenetration without bounds.”

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

Themes: Travel Moon

20. Unconventional Mind

“When the stains from old habits are exhausted the original light appears, blazing through your skull, not admitting any other matters. Vast and spacious, like sky and water merging during autumn, like snow and moon having the same color, this field is without boundary, beyond direction, magnificently one entity without edge or seam.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE

54. Planting Well

“All is one law, not two. It is as gold and dross, or the moon emerging from a cloud. One path of clear light travels on throughout endless time.”

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 you've cooked the marrow of the sun and moon, the pearl is so bright you don't worry about poverty.”

Sun Bu'er 1119 – 1182 CE via Cahill
from Secret Book on the Inner Elixir

Themes: Moon Poverty

“The mirror of mind is bright as the moon; the universe in a grain of sand.”

Sun Bu'er 1119 – 1182 CE via Thomas Cleary
from Secret Book on the Inner Elixir

Themes: Mind Moon

“In the morning, greet the energy of the sun; at night, inhale the vitality of the moon.”

Sun Bu'er 1119 – 1182 CE via Thomas Cleary
from Secret Book on the Inner Elixir

“Be praised my Lord, for sister moon and the stars, in the sky you have made them brilliant and precious and beautiful.”

Francis of Assisi 1181 – 1226 CE via Stephen Mitchell
from Canticle of the Sun

Themes: Moon

“One moon shows in every pool, in every pool the one moon.”

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

Themes: Moon

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

“Hundreds of flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
A cool breeze in summer, and snow in winder;
If there is no vain cloud in your mind,
For you it is a good season.”

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

from Mumonkan

“The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.”

Dōgen Zenji 道元禅師 1200 – 1253 CE

Themes: Moon

81. Journey Without Goal

“Moonlight floods the whole sky from horizon to horizon;
How much it can fill your room depends on its windows.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

Themes: Moon

25. The Mother of All Things

“Patience is not sitting and waiting, it is foreseeing. It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose, looking at the night and seeing the day. Lovers are patient and know that the moon needs time to become full.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)

Themes: Patience Moon

“at last the bottom fell out. No more water in the pail, no more moon in the water!”

Mujū Dōkyō 無住道曉 1227 – 1312 CE via Paul Reps
(Ichien Dōkyō )
”The Non-Dweller”
from Shaseki-shu (Collection of Stone and Sand)

Themes: Moon Water

“The autumn moon is of loveliness without end. Nobody is more pitiable than a man who cannot see the difference and thinks the moon is the same at all times.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE via Sir George Bailey Sansom
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Essays in Idleness

Themes: Moon

“Even the moonshine seems to gain in friendly brilliance, striking into the house where a good man lives in peaceful ease.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE via Sir George Bailey Sansome
Inspiration of self-reinvention
from Harvest of Leisure

Themes: Moon

“Kissed lips don’t lose their fortune; but, on the contrary, like the moon, quickly renew themselves.”

Giovanni Boccaccio dʒoˈvanni bokˈkattʃo 1313 – 1375 CE via Shan Dao

“And when the Moon says, 'it is time to plant,' why not dance, dance and sing?”

Hafiz خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی 1315 – 1394 CE via Daniel Ladinsky
(Hafez, Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad)
Inspiring friend to the true and free human spirit

“And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Themes: Moon Marriage

“The moon’s the same old moon, the flowers exactly as they were;
Yet I’ve become the thingness of all the things I see!”

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

“The limitless sky of meditation, the clear moonlight of wisdom; the truth revealed as eternal stillness.”

Hakuin Ekaku 白隠 慧鶴 1686 – 1769 CE

“When the dirt is gone the mirror is clear, when the clouds disperse the moon appears; revealing the indestructible body of reality, they transcend yin and yang and Creation, and merge with the eternity of space.”

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

Themes: No Trace Moon

“One never realizes fully that a language is originally only symbolical, using only pictures, and that it never expresses the objects directly but only reflects.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Moon

“When a thief came to rob Ryokan, there was nothing to steel so Royokan offered him his clothes. When the thief slunk away, Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. ‘Poor fellow,’ he mused, ‘I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.’”

Ryokan 良寛大愚 1758 – 1758 CE via Paul Reps
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)
from Shasekishū (Sand and Pebbles)

Themes: Beauty Moon

50. Claws and Swords

“I had a dream, which was not all a dream...
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expired before;
Darkness had no need of air from them --- She was the Universe.”

Lord Byron 1788 – 1824 CE
(George Gordon Byron)
The first rock-star style celebrity
from Darkness (1816)

Themes: Emptiness Dream Moon

“Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.”

Lord Byron 1788 – 1824 CE
(George Gordon Byron)
The first rock-star style celebrity

Themes: Moon Sex

“Like the young Moon
When on the sunlit limits of the night
Her white shell trembles amid crimson air
And whilst the sleeping tempest gathers might
Doth, as a herald of its coming, bear

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE
from The Triumph of Life

Themes: Moon

“We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon...
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Naught may endure but Mutability.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE
from Mutability

Themes: Change Moon

“The poetic mind has no self, no character, no identity; it is every thing and nothing, continually filling some other Body: The Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women”

John Keats 1795 – 1821 CE
Writer of "poems as immortal as English"

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

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

Themes: Moon

“Sometimes in the afternoon sky a white moon would creep up like a little cloud, furtive, without display, suggesting an actress who does not have to 'come on' for awhile, and so goes 'in front' in her ordinary clothes to watch the rest of the company but keeps in the background, not wishing to attract attention to herself.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from In Search of Lost Time

Themes: Moon Anonymity

“Before Galileo it was held that there was a radical difference between regions below the moon and regions from the moon upwards... below there was change and decay... From the moon upwards... there was no such thing as change or decay”

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

Themes: Moon

“In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

Themes: Moon Hope

“The God of words is cold and dead and shines from afar like the moon, mysteriously and inaccessibly”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE via Sonu Shamdasani
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Red Book, Liber Novus

“Create an ocean from a dewdrop. Do not beg for light from the moon, obtain it from the spark within you.”

Muhammad Iqbal محمد اقبال 1877 – 1938 CE

“We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

Themes: Moon

“Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE

Themes: Moon

45. Complete Perfection

“as the moon rose higher, the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island—a fresh green breast of the new world... vanished trees [that] had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams... for a transitory enchanted moment many must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor denied”

F. Scott Fitzgerald 1896 – 1940 CE
Prototype of "Jazz Age" exuberance
from Great Gatsby

“Life lives by killing and eating itself, like the moon, casting off death and being reborn.”

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

Themes: Moon Continuity

“When you see the earth from the moon, you don’t see any divisions there of nations or states. This is the symbol for the new mythology to come, the country we are going to be celebrating, the people we are one with.”

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

“As the full moon rises / The swan sings in sleep / On the lake of the mind.”

Kenneth Rexroth 1905 – 1982 CE
"Father of the Beats”

Themes: Moon Mind

“Not only the Chinese, but the ancient Greeks and Hindus, the Finns, the Pawnee, and the Arapaho all likened the moon to a bow. Thus the Way of Heaven is like a bow.”

Du Erwei 1913 – 1987 CE
Modern Chinese scholar

Themes: Moon Hinduism

77. Stringing a Bow

“‘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

Tao originally meant 'moon.' The Yiching stresses bright moon, while Lao Tzu stresses the dark moon.”

Du Erwei 1913 – 1987 CE via Red Pine
Modern Chinese scholar

Themes: Moon Taoism

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

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

“Moonlight's Almost
Like someone
Was tryin to
Light my Way”

Jack Kerouac 1922 – 1969 CE
from Some of the Dharma

Themes: Moon

“Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness.”

Allen Ginsberg 1926 – 1997 CE

Themes: Moon Confidence

18. The Sick Society

“Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides. Just like hopes springing high, still I’ll rise.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

Themes: Moon

“Tape the sound of the moon fading at dawn. Give it to your mother to listen to when she's in sorrow.”

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

Themes: Moon Moon

“Tape the sound of the moon fading at dawn. Give it to your mother to listen to when she's in sorrow.”

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

Themes: Moon Moon

“We are truly like the moon: any amount of light makes a full halo.”

Jakusho Kwong 1935 CE –
from No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen

Themes: Moon True Self

“Emotions are very aggressive, so in order to cut through them, you need some kind of cool moon, fresh water, iceberg.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Judith Lief, editor
from Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion

Themes: Moon

“We can plant the moon of bodhichitta in everyone’s heart and the sun of the Great Eastern Sun in their heads.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE

Themes: Moon Gardening

“We all shine on...like the moon and the stars and the sun...we all shine on...come on and on and on...”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Moon

25. The Mother of All Things

“Every month the moon effortlessly shows us that something comes from nothing.”

Red Pine 1943 CE –
( Bill Porter)
Exceptional translator, cultural diplomat
from Lao-Tzu's Taoteching

Themes: Moon Emptiness

“loneliness seeps deep down inside your body, like a red-wine stain on a pastel carpet... For Men Without Women, the world is a vast, poignat mix, very much the far side of the moon.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Men Without Women (2017)

Themes: Moon

“Were it not for businessmen seeking to make money, Columbus would not have reached America James Cook would not have reached Australia, and Neil Armstrong would never have taken that small step on the surface of the moon.”

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

from Sapiens

Themes: Business Moon

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