Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Interested more in creating and nourishing than academically defining, Aristotle took a practical approach to discussing friendship and described three main kinds. The first, based on the utility of accomplishing goals (business partners, classmates, colleagues) only lasts as long and the benefits remain. The second form, based on pleasure includes people we have fun with enjoying mutual interests but quickly ends when tastes or values change. He depicts the highest and most rare form of friendship as standing on the deep sense of virtue that—far above pleasure and utility—values goodness, appreciates others as they are in themselves rather than only valuing the personal benefit, and—seeing through the cultural facades—respects the true and authentic qualities of the person as they really are. This last requires time, patience, and awareness but earns longevity, brings joy, and in Aristotle’s estimation gathers the possibility of friends becoming "as one soul in two bodies."

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Quotes (94)

“When two people are at one in their inmost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 c. 2852–2737 BCE via George Seldes
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

“a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother.”

Homer 850 BCE - ? via G. H. Palmer
Primogenitor of Western culture
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

Themes: Friendship

“Criticize your friend privately; praise him publicly.”

Solon 638 – 558 BCE via Shan Dao
Founder of Athenian democracy

Themes: Friendship

“Birds of a feather will flock together. Wise men will judge us by the company we keep.”

Aesop 620 – 546 BCE via Oliver Goldsmith
Hero of the oppressed and downtrodden
from Aesop's Fables, the Aesopica

Themes: Friendship

“An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.”

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

Themes: Friendship Evil

35. The Power of Goodness

“I do not want a friend who smiles when I smile, who weeps when I weep. My shadow in a pond can do better than that.”

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

Themes: Friendship

35. The Power of Goodness

“Of all possessions, a friend is the most precious.”

Herodotus Ἡρόδοτος c. 484 - 425 BCE
“The Father of History”
from Histories

Themes: Friendship

“It is better to fall in with crows than with flatterers; for in the one case you are devoured when dead, in the other case while alive.”

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

Themes: Friendship

“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: Friendship Enemy

“Without friends, no one would want to live, even if he had all other goods.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE

Themes: Friendship

35. The Power of Goodness

“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
Western Buddha
from On Nature

Themes: Friendship

35. The Power of Goodness

“Of all the things that wisdom provides for the happiness of the whole life, by far the most important is friendship... the chief concerns of the right-minded person are wisdom and friendship of which the former is a mortal benefit, the latter an immortal one.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE via Diogenes Laërtius
Western Buddha
from Maxims

“Just as a mirror reflects as a man’s face, his choice of friends reflects his character. Always be careful in forming friendships because one’s friends become a visible extension of our inner inclinations and tendencies.”

Chandragupta Maurya 340 – 297 BCE
Ashoka’s grandfather, founder of the Maurya Empire

Themes: Friendship

“All the good are friends of one another.”

Zeno Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς 334 – 262 BCE
(of Citium)

Themes: Friendship

“A friend after one's own heart is hard to find. If you have such a friend, what more can be lacking?”

Lie Yukou 列圄寇/列禦寇/列子 4th C. BCE
(Liè Yǔkòu, Liezi)

Themes: Friendship

“It is impossible to live pleasurably without living prudently, justly and honorably; without making friends and without being philanthropic.”

Philodemus Φιλόδημος 110 – 35 BCE via Giovanni Indelli
(of Gadara)
from On Choices and Avoidances

Themes: Friendship Virtue

“Virtue is the parent and preserver of friendship. Without virtue, friendship cannot exist at all.”

Cicero 106 – 43 BCE
from On Friendship

Themes: Virtue Friendship

“With the exception of wisdom, humanity has nothing better than friendship.”

Cicero 106 – 43 BCE via Shan Dao
from De Amicitia, 44 BCE

Themes: Friendship

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

Anonymous -800 to present
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Tibetan proverb

Themes: Friendship Enemy

“Love will enter cloaked in friendship's name.”

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

Themes: Friendship

“Everywhere is nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.”

Seneca ˈsɛnɪkə 4 BCE – 65 CE
(Lucius Annaeus)

Themes: Travel Friendship

“Adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.”

Plutarch 46 – 120 CE
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)

35. The Power of Goodness

“I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.”

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

“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

“There are three types of friends: those like food without which you can't live; those like medicine which you need occasionally; and those like an illness which you never want.”

Solomon ibn Gabirol שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול 1021 – 1070 CE via Ascher
from Choice of Pearls

“Better an auspicious connection than a hundred material goods.”

Gesar of Ling གེ་སར་རྒྱལ་པོ། 11th century CE via Robin Kornman
from Gesar of Ling Epic

Themes: Friendship

“No friend is better than your own wise heart [...] no one should be closer to you than your own consciousness.”

Genghis Khan 1162 – 1227 CE via Jack Weatherford

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Why keep an undependable friend? Rainbows have beautiful colors but only a fool would depend on rainbow clothes.”

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)

Themes: Friendship

“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)

“The world is full of nice people. If you can't find one, be one.”

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: Friendship

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship… Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.”

Thomas Aquinas 1225 – 1274 CE

Themes: Friendship

“Looking back on months and years of intimacy, to feel that your friend, while you still remember the moving words you exchanged, is yet growing distant and living in a world apart—all this is sadder far than partings brought by death.”

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

Themes: Friendship

“It is not easy to stop thinking ill of others. Usually one must enter into a friendship with a person who has accomplished that great feat himself Then something might start to rub off on you of that true elegance.”

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

Themes: Friendship

“If you are alone, you are all your own; with a companion you are half yourself.”

Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519 CE

42. Children of the Way

“The first opinion one forms of someone and of his understanding, is by seeing those he has around him.”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE via W.K. Marriott, Shan Dao
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from The Prince

Themes: Friendship

“I am always alone and speak to no one... I have no friend of any kind and I do not want any.”

Michelangelo 1475 – 1564 CE via Romain Rolland

“The sage should be self-sufficient, his own universal friend depending on himself alone.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, Shan Dao, chapter #137

Themes: Friendship

“Foolish friends get you into trouble, wise ones keep you out of it.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #156
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

“We’re judged by our friends, the insight of a true friend is invaluable, and yet most don’t pay attention. Choosing good friends is one of the most important things in life. Therefore choose them by choice, not by chance.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, Shan Dao chapter #156
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Friendship

“Friendship multiplies the good life, divides the evil, guards against misfortune, and brings fresh air to the soul.”

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

Themes: Friendship Evil

“A friend is a second self... seek someone everyday who will wish you well.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #111
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Friendship

“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

“Those who laugh together become like the waves of the sea… They are no more separate than are two waves.”

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

42. Children of the Way

“Friendship is a serious affection; the most sublime of all affections, because it is founded on principle, and cemented by time.”

Mary Wollstonecraft 1759 – 1797 CE
Seminal feminist

Themes: Friendship

“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?… we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine; But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne.”

Robert Burns 1759 – 1796 CE

Themes: Friendship Change

“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: Friendship Enemy

67. Three Treasures

“Nothing so fortifies a friendship as a belief on the part of one friend that he is superior to the other.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

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

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

67. Three Treasures

“A man's friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.”

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882 CE

Themes: Friendship

“Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.”

Bahá'u'lláh بهاء الله‎‎, 1817 – 1892 CE
("Glory of God")

“Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”

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

Themes: Friendship

“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: Friendship Enemy

“Friends are a costly luxury, and when one invests one's capital in a mission in life, one cannot afford to have friends.”

Henrik Ibsen 1828 – 1906 CE
"The world's 2nd most-performed playwright"
from Peer Gynt (1867)

“Friendship is like money, easier made than kept.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist

Themes: Friendship

“You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your 'friends.'”

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

35. The Power of Goodness

“Are you a slave? Then you cannot be a friend. Are you a tyrant? Then you cannot have friends.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE
from Thus Spoke Zarathustra

“Life is short, even for those who live a long time, and we must live for the few who know and appreciate us, who judge and absolve us, and for whom we have the same affection and indulgence. The rest I look upon as a mere crowd”

Sarah Bernhardt 1844 – 1923 CE
“One of the finest actors of all time”
from My Double Life: The Memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt

Themes: Friendship

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894 CE

Themes: Travel Friendship

35. The Power of Goodness

“Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is by far the best ending for one.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE
from Picture of Dorian Gray

“If you would have friends, be one.”

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

Themes: Friendship

“We choose not randomly each other. We meet only those who already exists in our subconscious.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE

“Friendship lies in contradiction and not in agreement!”

Vasily Vasilievich Rozanov Васи́лий Васи́льевич Рóзанов 1856 – 1919 CE

Themes: Friendship

“Friendship is in the end no more than a lie which seeks to make us believe that we are not irremediably alone”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Alain de Botton
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from In Search of Lost Time

Themes: Friendship

“I found myself thinking of the places and people of my own infinitesimal past... whenever my consciousness was quickened, all those early friends were quickened within it, and in some strange way they accompany me through all my new experiences.”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

from My Ántonia

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

Themes: Friendship

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction both are transformed.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

Themes: Friendship

45. Complete Perfection

“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.”

Rainer Maria Rilke 1875 – 1926 CE
Profound singer of universal music

“Friendships, even the best of them, are frail things.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE

Themes: Friendship

“Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

Themes: Friendship

“Disease served as your great enemy and also your greatest friend, the only one that stayed loyal to the death. It never permitted you to relax or remain where you were, never allowed you to declare: I am fine here, I shall go no further.”

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

Themes: Health Friendship

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

Eleanor Roosevelt 1884 – 1962 CE

Themes: Friendship

35. The Power of Goodness

“The rich have butlers and no friends, and we have friends and no butlers.”

Ezra Pound 1885 – 1972 CE

Themes: Wealth Friendship

“Love is a cannibal of friendships.”

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

Themes: Friendship

“Anyone who wishes to learn to enjoy life must find friends of the same type of temperament, and take as much trouble to gain and keep their friendship as wives take to keep their husbands.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE

Themes: Friendship

“Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

“Over time you learn that real friends are few and whoever doesn’t fight for them, sooner or later, will find himself surrounded only with false friendships.”

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

Themes: Friendship

“Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

80. A Golden Age

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

Anais Nin 1903 – 1977 CE

81. Journey Without Goal

“Like how a crystal takes on the color of cloth underneath it, the people we spend time with make a huge difference in the direction our life takes.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ། 1910 – 1991 CE via Matthieu Ricard, Shan Dao
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo

Themes: Friendship

“Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

Albert Camus 1913 – 1960 CE

“I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot... What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”

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

“I liked all the people. I just didn’t like their lifestyle. And I was against the drugs.”

Carolyn Cassady 1923 – 2013 CE

Themes: Friendship

“A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”

Warren Bennis 1925 – 2014 CE
Authentic Leadership pioneering thought leader

Themes: Friendship

“True friends are families which you can select.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Friendship

35. The Power of Goodness

“We discover that all human beings are just like us, so we are able to relate to them more easily. That generates a spirit of friendship in which there is less need to hide what we feel or what we are doing.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

Themes: Friendship

74. The Great Executioner

“Counting on friends has brought nothing but sorrow and insecurity.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee
from Sadhana of Mahamudra

Themes: Friendship

“There are two types of friends—those who buy and appreciate your habitual patterns and your true friends that don't buy into and support those same patterns.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE

Themes: Friendship

“True friends are like stars; you can only recognize them when it's dark around you.”

Bob Marley 1945 – 1981 CE

Themes: Friendship

“The best friends are the ones who see each other least clearly… Friends engage in mutual inflation. Being a person’s true friend means endorsing the untruths he hold dearest… Self-love becomes a mutual admiration society.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Moral Animal — Why we are the Way we Are

Themes: Friendship

“We should always have three friends in our lives-one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”

Michelle Obama 1964 CE –

Themes: Friendship

“the level of insincerity apparently required in every friendship... a project to secure affection, and a project to express ourselves honestly... the pursuit of affection and the pursuit of truth are fundamentally rather than occasionally incompatible”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge
from How Proust Can Change Your Life

Themes: Friendship

“Invite death. Serve tea and make friends with it. Then you won't have anything to worry about.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from In Love with the World

Themes: Friendship

“with friends we learn to enjoy what we like and not look for faults. It does not mean there is no awareness of shortcomings... We do not reject them simply because we notice a blemish. We put their faults in context because we keep most prominently in mind all that we have found to admire and enjoy in them.”

Karmapa XVII ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗ 1985 CE –
(Orgyen Thrinlay Dorje)
from Interconnected (2017)

Themes: Friendship

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