Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Most may think of meditation as only a spiritual practice, something tied up exclusively with religion. A better understanding requires a broader view. Universal to almost all religions, meditation also creates a foundation for the reasoning mind, for science, philosophy… for even politics and military strategy. Meditation disrupts thought-chains, the momentum of past training, prejudice, and tradition. It makes creativity possible. This ability to subtly shift the direction of our thinking may be our only real freedom. Without this, our lives become quickly controlled by the propaganda of mass media, instincts based on prehistoric human conditions, confused family and social prejudice.
Meditation without materialism becomes a potent key to unlocking appropriate. innovative and the most successful action free to go beyond the biological, cultural, and conceptual prisons we inherit.

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Quotes (82)

“Knowledge is indeed better than blind practice; meditation excels knowledge; surrender of the fruits of action is more esteemed than mediation. Peace immediately follows surrender.”

Vyasa व्यास 1 via Bhagavad Gita (tr: Swami Parananda)
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: Meditation

“A reflective, contented mind is the best possession.”

Zarathushtra زرتشت‎‎ 628 – 551 BCE via Dinshaw Jamshedji Irani

from Avesta

Themes: Wealth Meditation

“Empty your mind of all thoughts... Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Stephen Mitchell

Themes: Meditation

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”

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

Themes: Meditation

“Give a ceremonial bath to your mind!
Light comes from darkness, predicables from the formless, life springs into existence without a visible source, disappears into infinity.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao

“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history

“Nowhere can we find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in our own soul.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

Themes: Meditation

“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE

Themes: Meditation

“Once Contemplative Wisdom comes into play, all the virtues may have to yield.”

Plotinus 204 – 249 CE via Stephen MacKenna, B.S. Page, Shan Dao
from Enneads Ἐννεάδες Plotinus / Porphyry

“Outwardly in the world of good and evil, yet without thoughts stirring the heart—this is meditation.
Inwardly seeing one's own true nature and not being distracted from it—this is meditation.”

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

“O fool, know yourself. It is not a matter of meditation, or concentration… the diversity of existence is but a form of thought.”

Saraha 1

33. Know Yourself

“I am unable to wander from place to place as you do but if you could teach me how to meditate while remaining here on my throne in my palace...”

Lakshmincara ལཀྵྨཱིངྐ་རཱ།། 1 via Keith Dowman
(“The Princess of Crazy wisdom”)
from Masters of Mahamudra

17. True Leaders

“Understanding the unity of multiplicity is meditation.”

Bhadrapa 1

39. Oneness

“When the mind is at peace, the world too is at peace... I don't hold on to anything, don't reject anything; nowhere an obstacle or conflict.”

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE via Stephen Mitchell

“I am unable to wander from place to place as you do but if you could teach me how to meditate while remaining here on my throne in my palace...”

Lilapa སྒེག་པ། 1 via Keith Dowman
(“Master of Play”)
Mahasiddha #2
from Masters of Enchantment

Themes: Meditation

17. True Leaders

“know that a sudden comprehension comes when the mind has been purged of all the clutter of conceptual and discriminatory thought-activity.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运 1
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)

Themes: Meditation

55. Forever Young

“True teachings pacify violent emotions, conflicting thoughts, and still these wave-like disturbances in meditation.”

Nirgunapa ནིརྒུ་ཎ་པ། 1 via Keith Dowman
"The Enlightened Moron" #57

“As soon as you meet a situation, join it with meditation.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE via Chögyam Trungpa
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
from Seven Points of Mind Training, Lojong བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ;

Themes: Meditation

16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

“The noblest functions of the human soul begin with reflecting on art and meditating on things of beauty. Rather than fixating on fame, fortune, pleasure, and power; it waits for the revelations of truth.”

Avicenna أبو علي الحسين بن عبد الله بن الحسن بن علي بن سينا 980 – 1037 CE via Arberry, Shan Dao
from Avicenna on Theology

“There is nothing to abandon or practice, no meditation or post-meditation. Just this.”

Niguma 1 via Miranda Shaw

“Knowing the phenomenal world is the nature of mind,
Meditation requires no further antidote.”

Marpa Lotsawa 1012 – 1097 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee

Themes: Meditation

“Since life is short and the time of death unknown, devote yourselves wholly to meditation. Even at the cost of your life, act wisely and courageously according to your innate insight.”

Milarepa རྗེ་བཙུན་མི་ལ་རས་པ། 1052 – 1135 CE

“You should meditate on death without thinking of anything else, like a mother whose only child has died.”

Gampopa སྒམ་པོ་པ། 1079 – 1153 CE via Herbert Guenther
(Sönam Rinchen, Dakpo Rinpoche)
from Jewel Ornament of Liberation

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“This is the time and place to leap beyond the ten thousand emotional entanglements of innumerable kalpas. One contemplation of ten thousand years finally goes beyond all the transitory, and you emerge with spontaneity.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE

57. Wu Wei

“One instant is eternity; eternity is the now.”

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

“Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ”

Karma Pakshi ཀརྨ་པཀྴི་ 1204 – 1283 CE via Sanskrit ॐ मणिपद्मेहूं, Tibetan ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་པདྨེ་ཧཱུྃ​

Themes: Meditation

“Meditate focusing your attention on the pure radiant light. Contemplate the deities of the vast Mandalas in which they (and you) reside. Feel the pride of being divine like them.”

Tsongkhapa ཙོང་ཁ་པ། 1357 – 1419 CE via Shan Dao
(Zongkapa Lobsang Zhaba, "the Man from Onion Valley")

“Rest the mind by directing one-pointed attention on a specific object.”

Wangchuk Dorje 1556 – 1603 CE via Callahan​
(9th Gyalwa Karmapa)
from Mahamudra: The Ocean of Definitive Meaning

Themes: Meditation

“I neglect God and his angels for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door.”

John Donne 1572 – 1631 CE
from Sermons, 1626

Themes: Meditation

“Study and learn the teachings but become more and more non-sectarian. Follow and learn from teachers but leave them and combine all into one. Meditate and do spiritual practices but don’ think they improve anything.”

Karma Chagme Rinpoche I ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱས། 1613 – 1678 CE via Shan Dao

81. Journey Without Goal

“As for zazen, since za (sitting) is the Buddha Mind's sitting at ease, whilst Zen (meditation) is another name for Buddha Mind, the Buddha Mind's sitting at ease is what is meant by zazen. When you are abiding in the Unborn, all the time is zazen; zazen isn't just when you are practicing formal meditation.”

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

Themes: Meditation

“All the troubles of man come from his not knowing how to sit still.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time
from Pensée

“Meditation in action is a billion times superior to meditation in stillness.”

Hakuin Ekaku 白隠 慧鶴 1686 – 1769 CE via John Stevens

Themes: Meditation

“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

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in eternal awareness or pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Meditation

“I meditate a great deal. If I seem equal to the occasion and ready to face it when it comes, it is because I have thought the matter over a long time before undertaking it.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE via Will Durant

“Nothing is more necessary to the culture of the higher sciences, or of the more elevated departments of science, than meditation”

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

“The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.”

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882 CE

“Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”

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

Themes: Water Meditation

“The man of meditation is the man who wastes no time, scatters no energy, misses no opportunity.”

Annie Besant 1847 – 1933 CE

Themes: Meditation

“Once you have embarked on the path of liberation, it is inappropriate to behave in an ordinary way: observe your mind all the time with vigilance and lucidity.”

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

“A billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.”

Rainer Maria Rilke 1875 – 1926 CE via Stephen Mitchell
Profound singer of universal music
from Buddha in Glory

“Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.”

B.R. Ambedkar 1891 – 1956 CE

Themes: Meditation

44. Fame and Fortune

“what you are… that is what we must realize. And to this realization Zen practice leads us step by step. This is the aim of Zen.”

Ruth Fuller Sasaki 1892 – 1967 CE

“[Meditation cultivates] the state of mind that makes it possible for the dazzling ecstatic insights to become permanent and habitual illuminations… and by getting to know oneself to the point where one won’t be compelled by one’s unconscious to do all the ugly, absurd, self-stultifying things that one so often finds oneself doing.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

Themes: Meditation

“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

“Meditation isn't something you learn, a technique; you cannot possibly learn from anybody and therefore there is no authority.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Themes: Meditation

“For a seeker of reality, there is only one meditation—the rigorous refusal to harbor thoughts. To be free from thoughts is itself meditation.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj 1897 – 1981 CE
Householder guru of non-duality
from I Am That

“Chan or Zen—one of the most attractive schools of Buddhism which has drawn the attention of the world to the importance of meditation and spiritual awakening—is an amalgam of Taoism and Buddhism in China.”

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

from Inner Structure of the I Ching

Themes: Meditation

“The Buddhist philosopher, Nagarjuna was probably the first to express a similar idea—reality is in itself a relative term which depend on the standpoint of an observer—and base his whole philosophy on it which led to the foundation of Mahayana, the Great Way, which became the main religion of China and was amalgamated with Taoism in the creation of Ch'an or Zen (the meditative school of Buddhism).”

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

from Inner Structure of the I Ching

“While the Gelugpas had to qualify themselves through a long course of studies in one of the monastic universities, the highest qualificatiomn of a Kargyupa consisted in his ability to spend long periods in complete seclusion in caves, hermitages, meditation chambers”

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

from Way of the White Clouds (1966)

Themes: Meditation

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

25. The Mother of All Things

“The true purpose of Zen is to see things as they are and to let everything go as it goes.”

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

“Meditation practice is just medicine… sometimes it’s necessary but you should not mistake medicine for food.”

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

“Meditation could be said to be the Art of Simplicity: simply sitting, simply breathing and simply being.”

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

36. The Small, Dark Light

“The world of meditation is of extraordinary beauty… all concepts and confusion fall away.”

Freda Bedi, Sister Palmo 1911 – 1977 CE

“Youth passes – so does spring. Old age comes – so do winter’s lovely snowscapes… I’m bursting with energy, so I’ll jog or climb Mount Hua. I’m too ill to move, so I’ll enjoy my warm bed and meditate”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

55. Forever Young

“Meditation has become quite popular lately, but where it involves mental concentration, I consider this a form of brainwashing that is, if anything, a dangerous road. Zen, I believe is oriented toward escape from the world of ideas. It is foolish to be tied down to things such as the soul and malevolent apparitions that don't exist at all.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE
from Road Back to Nature

Themes: Meditation

“To really do nothing, with perfection, is as difficult as doing everything.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE

Themes: Meditation

“Meditation is one of the ways in which the spiritual man keeps himself awake.”

Thomas Merton 1915 – 1968 CE

Themes: Meditation

“A life of practice is the most rewarding, the most exciting, and the most alive thing you can do. But it's no piece of cake.”

Charlotte Joko Beck 1917 – 2011 CE
Authentic, pioneering Western Zen master

from Ordinary Wonder

Themes: Meditation

“To meditate means to go home to yourself. Then you know how to take care of the things that are happening inside you, and you know how to take care of the things that happen around you.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: Meditation

“Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness we know what to do and what not to do to help.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: Meditation

“Mindfulness must be engaged. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: Meditation

“When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: Meditation

“If we practice meditation, we can inhale all of the elements so that our inner and outer elements are mixed inseparably and our mind pervades everywhere, dissolving into clear space.”

Thinley Norbu གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ 1931 – 2011 CE
(Kyabjé Dungse)
from Magic Dance (1981)

Themes: Meditation

34. An Unmoored Boat

“Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.”

Toni Morrison 1931 – 2019 CE
(Chloe Ardelia Wofford)
Story-telling voice of American wisdom
from Nobel Prize Lecture (1993)

“Breath sweeps mind.”

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

Themes: Meditation

“Meditation is an invitation to notice when we reach our limit and to not get carried away by hope and fear... opening and relaxing with whatever arises, without picking and choosing.”

Pema Chödrön 1936 CE –
(Deirdre Blomfield-Brown)
First American Vajrayana nun
from When Things Fall Apart

Themes: Meditation

“Meditation in action is… awareness of how we... create our basic perceptions out of our preconceptions… and the games going on do not become big games but simply illusory games.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa

12. This Over That

“it is absolutely important to make the practice of meditation your source of strength,your source of basic intelligence.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Meditation

29. Not Doing

“the distinctions between meditation and the postmeditation experience no longer occur.”

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

Themes: Meditation

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

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

“The ultimate goal of meditation is to transform yourself to better transform the world.”

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

“You can best achieve success at meditation by not pursuing success, and achieving this success may mean caring less about success”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Why Buddhism is True

“True buddhist meditation - using any techniques or practices that help transform our habit of thinking that things are solid into the habit of seeing them as compounded, interdependent, and impermanent.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

“The virtue of mindfulness is that it enables people to stop and listen to the music of their lives. It allows them to be immersed in the moments of their day and be seized by them.”

Roman Krznaric 1
Practical, popular, modern philosopher

from Carpe Diem Regained

Themes: Meditation

“Self-reflection is the gateway to freedom, grater appreciation and enjoyment. We begin to enjoy spending time with our own mind.”

Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche ཛི་གར་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ། 1964 CE –

16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

“the essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from The Joy of Living (2007)

Themes: Meditation

“Everywhere the mind goes, the opportunity for meditation exists. The idea that meditation is something that we only do sitting on a cushion in a particular way or at a particular time has created a lot of confusion… we can recognize awareness anywhere, anytime”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

“For years I had lived under the impression that I was the master of my life, the CEO of my own personal brand. But a few hours of meditation were enough to show me that I had hardly any control over myself. I was not the CEO; I was barely the gatekeeper.”

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

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Themes: Meditation

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