Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
Search Quotes Search Sages Search Chapters


True Self

True self is no self but we’re constantly deluded by external praise and blame, internal doubt and delusion. Evolutionary biologists argue that the ability to delude ourselves increases our ability to delude others which makes us more successful in life. This success has produced more offspring which has increased and passed on this particular trait. The “success” of self-deception however has serious down sides and easily becomes a selling of our souls to the devils of materialism. It pads us in a cocoon of illusion that blinds to any kind of authentic, truly meaningful life.

Read More

Quotes (94)

“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection.”

Vyasa व्यास 1 via Bhagavad Gita
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

18. The Sick Society

“That which is the finest essence–this whole world has as its soul. Tat tvam asi — thou art that.”

Yājñavalkya 1
One of the earliest non-dual philosophers

“Rest satisfied with doing well, and leave others to talk of you as they please.”

Pythagorus 570 – 495 BCE
(of Samos)
"The most influential philosopher of all time"
from Golden Verses of Pythagoras Χρύσεα

Themes: True Self

“All things that appear in this world are transient. If you view all things that appear as never having appeared, then you will realize your true self.”

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

“Whoever is his true self has an understanding of the universe; whoever has a true understanding of the universe realizes his true self.”

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

Themes: True Self

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

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

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“The true nature of anything is what it becomes at its highest.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE via Edith Hamilton

Themes: True Self

“The great person is one who does not lose his mind-and-heart of a child.”

Mencius 孟子 372 – 289 BCE
from Book of Mencius 孟子

Themes: True Self

55. Forever Young

“Why are you running away from yourself and seeking for things outside?... What good is this?”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

Themes: True Self

“No self is true self and the greatest man is nobody.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

13. Honor and Disgrace

“Life is such a short journey, why get imprisoned by social convention, peer approval, and useless worries?”

Lie Yukou 列圄寇/列禦寇/列子 1 via Zhang Zhan (370 CE) / Eva Wong
(Liè Yǔkòu, Liezi)
from Liezi "True Classic of Simplicity and Perfect Emptiness”

Themes: True Self

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via MacRae
from Gospel According to Thomas

Themes: True Self

“The world is just reflections and echoes.”

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE

“Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. The original nature of your own mind, it is home, the natural, unmanisfestated state of the universe.”

Padmasambhava པདྨཱ་ཀ་ར། 1
("The Lotus-Born", Guru Rinpoche)
from Tibetan Book of the Dead

Themes: True Self

“The real being, with no status, is always going in and out through the doors of your face.”

Rinzai Gigen 臨済義玄 1 via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Línjì Yìxuán)
from Zen Letters

“Your not having perceived your own nature does not imply that you lack that nature — perception itself IS that nature....”

Hui Hai 大珠慧海 788 – 831 CE
from Essential Gate for Entry Into Sudden Enlightenment (Tun-wu ju dao yao-men)

Themes: True Self

“Your true nature is something never lost to you even in moments of delusion, nor is it gained at the moment of Enlightenment.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运 1
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)
from Zen Teachings of Huang Po on the Transmission of Mind, John Blofeld translation

Themes: True Self

“What does it matter how the world sees you?”

Mekopa མེ་ཀོ་པ། 1050 CE –
("Guru Dread-Stare")
Mahasiddha #43

“things themselves are the true self and the true self itself is things”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Zen Letters

“What is it that resides prior to emptiness and form?”

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

“There are many winds full of anger, and lust and greed. They move the rubbish around, but the solid mountain of true nature stays where it's always been”

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

“Could there ever be a more wonderful story than your own?”

Nichiren Daishonin 1222 – 1282 CE

Themes: True Self

62. Basic Goodness

“Follow your star, for if in all of the sweet life I saw one truth shine clearly, you cannot miss your glorious arrival.”

Dante 1265 – 1321 CE via Canto XV
(Durante degli Alighieri)
from Divine Comedy

Themes: True Self

“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.”

Joan of Arc Jeanne d'Arc 1412 – 1431 CE
Mystical, visionary warrior

“The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.”

Erasmus 1466 – 1536 CE
(Desiderius Roterodamus)
"Greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance"

“Be not another if you cannot be yourself.”

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

Themes: True Self

“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from Hamlet

Themes: True Self

“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from As You Like It

57. Wu Wei

“Receive information with more caution from one who praises than from one who blames”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, Shan Dao chapter #80
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: True Self

“I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE

“He who thinks and thinks for himself, will always have a claim to thanks… If it is right, it will serve as a guide to direct; if wrong, as a beacon to warn.”

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

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“The soul is a fire that darts its rays through all the senses; it is in this fire that existence consists; all the observations and all the efforts of philosophers ought to turn towards this Me, the centre and moving power of our sentiments and our ideas.”

Madame de Staël 1766 – 1817 CE
(Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein)
"The greatest woman of her time"

“I am the greatest slave among men; my master is the nature of things.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE via Levy

Themes: Slavery True Self

“Life is short and truth works far and lives long: let us speak the truth.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: True Self

“We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

18. The Sick Society

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

Themes: True Self

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”

Frederick Douglass 1818 – 1895 CE
International symbol of social justice

Themes: True Self

33. Know Yourself

“Only you must not be like everybody else, that’s all. Even if everyone else is one way, you be the only one not like that even if you are the only one.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE
from Brothers Karamatzov

Themes: True Self

“What is man's first duty? To be himself.”

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

“It is possible that our millions of suns make up altogether but a spec in a minute insect in a world vast beyond our ability to imagine which is in some other world no more than a speck of dust.”

Anatole France 1844 – 1924 CE
(Jacques Anatole Thibault)
from The Garden of Epicurus

Themes: True Self Reality

1. The Unnamed

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare

Themes: True Self

“Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

Rudyard Kipling 1865 – 1936 CE
Greatest—in-English—short-story writer

Themes: True Self

“He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world.”

W. E. B. Du Bois 1868 – 1963 CE
from Souls of Black Folk

Themes: True Self

“I hate being all tidy like a book in a library where nobody reads”

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

Themes: True Self

“If the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

Themes: True Self

“If no one else, the dying must notice how unreal, how full of pretense, is all that we accomplish here, where nothing is allowed to be itself.”

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

“I am life which wills to live, and I exist in the midst of life which wills to live.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

Themes: True Self

“My real self wanders elsewhere, far away, wanders on and on invisibly and has nothing to do with my life.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE via Hilda Rosner
from Siddhartha

Themes: True Self

“When we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home, that is happiness.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

66. Go Low

“A sound man... by never being an end in himself... endlessly becomes himself.”

Witter Bynner 1881 – 1968 CE
(Emanuel Morgan)

7. Lose Yourself, Gain Your Soul

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE

Themes: True Self

“You are not enclosed within your bodies, nor confined to houses or fields. That which is you dwells above the mountain and roves with the wind.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

“I am I plus my circumstances.”

Ortega y Gassett, José 1883 – 1955 CE
Spanish philosopher, historian, and essayist
from Time Magazine, 1955

Themes: True Self

“Doubtless like all of us he was many men, turned on one or another of his selves as occasion required, and kept his real self a frightened secret from the world.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

Themes: True Self

33. Know Yourself

“I came to think of myself, not as a dance and chaos of molecules, but as a brief and minute portion of that majestic process”

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

“I mourn when brilliant writers... tell us that we should yield to every impulse and desire, and 'be ourselves'! What jejune nonsense! Civilization... is at almost every moment dependent upon the repression of instincts, and intelligence itself involves discrimination between desire that may be pursued and those that should be subdued.”

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

“To run true to type is the extinction of a man, his condemnation to death. If he cannot be assigned to a category... half of what is needed is there. He is free from himself, he has acquired an atom of immortality.”

Boris Pasternak Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к 1890 – 1960 CE
Russia's greatest poet
from Doctor Zhivago (1957)

“When you don't follow your nature there is a hole in the universe where you were supposed to be.”

Dane Rudhyar 1895 – 1985 CE
( Daniel Chennevière)
Agent of cultural evolution

Themes: True Self

“Man’s main task is to give birth to himself.”

Eric Fromm 1900 – 1980 CE

Themes: True Self

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“The white man's symbol is the square. Square is his house, his office buildings with walls that separate people from one another. Square is the door that keeps strangers out... gadgets, boxes—TV sets, washing machines, computers, cars... You become a prisoner inside all these boxes. More and more young white people want to stop being 'straight' and 'square' and try to become round, join our circle. That is good.”

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

“When you are you, you see things as they are, and you become one with your surroundings. There is your true self.”

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

Themes: True Self

“A good case can be made for our nonexistence as entities... We are shared, rented, occupied... Our genomes are catalogs of instructions from all kinds of sources in nature... I cannot feel as separate an entity as I did before I was told these things”

Lewis Thomas 1913 – 1993 CE
Gestaltist of science and art
from Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Themes: True Self

“In an age where there is so much talk about ‘being yourself,’ I reserve the right to forget about being myself, since in any case there is very little chance of my being anybody else.”

Thomas Merton 1915 – 1968 CE

Themes: True Self

79. No Demands

“Social conditioning depends entirely on persuading people not to accept themselves.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

“the purpose of your life is just to be yourself. That doesn't mean to be yourself in the ordinary sense. It means to be your true self, a self that does good.”

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

from Ordinary Wonder

Themes: True Self

“We are free when we are not the slave of our impulses, but rather their master [when] we become the authors of our own dramas rather than characters in them.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.”

Warren Bennis 1925 – 2014 CE
Authentic Leadership pioneering thought leader

“True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There's no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

“Each person, not being himself either to himself or the other… and haunted by the ghost of his own murdered self… is addicted to other persons, and the more addicted, the less satisfied, the more lonely.”

R. D. Laing 1927 – 1989 CE
from Politics of Experience

Themes: True Self Slavery

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: True Self

33. Know Yourself

“Forget yourself. Become one with eternity. Become part of your environment.”

Yayoi Kusama 草間 彌生 1929 CE –

39. Oneness

“No matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: True Self

34. An Unmoored Boat

“Even the best weapon is an unhappy tool.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: True Self

31. Victory Funeral

“One of the most important things in life may be learning to think for ourselves rather than just following a group-mind, status quo belief system. A gauge of how much we truly do this is the extent we share opinions with large groups,”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: True Self

“Religious, political, and social labels are like clothing, like a shirt. It’s what people see, but not who we are.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: True Self

“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: True Self Moon

“Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy... or they become legend.”

Jim Harrison 1937 – 2016 CE
"untrammeled renegade genius”

“Everybody is a caricature of themselves… as well as everything having its own basic fullness. You represent yourself not by name but by being. So there is a sense of completion.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

50. Claws and Swords

“People pick up some kind of psychic vibrations that you put out, and before you exchange words there is a kind of meeting of the two psyches... If you can afford to be what you are, then that automatically means you could receive others as your guests which makes them feel more comfortable and welcome.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Six States of Bardo

Themes: True Self

“Maintain the autonomy of what you have.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Shanyen

Themes: True Self

“You don't have to dress up in fancy costumes, you don't have to have someone—or a whole organization—behind you to prove that what you're doing is right... a tremendous conflict with form goes along with that.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via The Six Chakras and the Four Karmas (tr: Judith Lief, editor, Shan Dao)
from Secret Beyond Thought, Boston, 1971

“You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: True Self

51. Mysterious Goodness

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE
from Magical Mystery Tour

“But tomorrow I’ll be a different person, never again the person I was. Not that anyone will notice... on the outside nothing will be different.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Philip Gabriel
from Sputnik Sweetheart

Themes: True Self Change

“For a brief spell, we share a stage. Others are coming to kick us off. But while you're here, write yourself a good part. Act it well.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Utopia Avenue

Themes: True Self

“In spite of your fears, no matter what happens to your physical body, your true nature is essentially indestructible.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from Joy of Living, 2007

“We are born buddhas, and all dharma practices help us recognize and nurture this truth.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

Themes: True Self

“the complete integrity of Hesse’s self-absorption is what guarantees the permanence of his work. As long as people struggle with the need to be themselves, and the difficulty of doing so, he will be a living presence—which is even better, perhaps, than being a great writer”

Adam Kirsch 1976 CE –
from The New Yorker

Themes: True Self

“both the 'self' and freedom are mythological chimeras borrowed from the fairy tales of ancient times... in order to understand ourselves, a crucial step is to acknowledge that the 'self' is a fictional story that the intricate mechanisms of our mind constantly manufacture, update, and rewrite... Like the government spin doctors... my inner propaganda machine creates a personal myth with prized memories and cherished traumas that often bear little resemblance to the truth.”

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

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

“But when you see death, things change. It doesn’t matter if you can’t smile or blink properly”

Malala Yousafzai ملالہ یوسفزئی 1997 CE –
from I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

39. Oneness


Comments (0)