Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Almost everyone wants happiness more than almost everything else; but, most of us, most of the time undermine our true happiness chasing false gods of pleasure that quickly dissolve into pain. Advertising firms recruit top psychologists to learn how to best manipulate their customers into believing that if they only buy this or that product, they will find happiness. They assume (almost always correctly) that, by the time the customers discover the falseness of their claims, they will be too busy chasing after a new claim to complain much about the one that just failed them. And the faster and more energetically we chase after all these false hopes of happiness, the more we miss the true happiness that’s always here, right with us.

Confused and distorted views about the sources of happiness devolve into corruptions like nepotism as idiot compassion. We think we’re expressing our love and family loyalty by elevating them to a post or position above their natural and acquired talent. They may temporarily gain a little fame and fortune but they won’t be happy and they won’t do a good job. They lose their happiness from doing what they love as well as the satisfaction from successfully and beneficially accomplishing a task. And then the organization/country/family also loses both because of the incompetence and from the lack of inspiration.

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Quotes (136)

“From joy all beings have come and unto joy they all return.”

Yājñavalkya 1
One of the earliest non-dual philosophers

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are, it solely relies on what you think.”

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

Themes: Mind Happiness

58. Goals Without Means

“There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.”

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

Themes: Happiness

81. Journey Without Goal

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought… if we speak or act with a pure thought, happiness follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

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

“Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness”

Sophocles Σοφοκλῆς 497 – 405 BCE
“The Wise and Honored One”

Themes: Wisdom Happiness

“Until he is dead, keep the word ‘happy’ in reserve. Till then, he is not happy, but only lucky.”

Herodotus Ἡρόδοτος 1
“The Father of History”
from Histories

“Happiness does not come from fame, riches, or virtue. It only arises when posterity—reflecting on our life—believes it to be a life they would wish to live.”

Herodotus Ἡρόδοτος 1 via Shan Dao
“The Father of History”
from Histories

“Ten thousand men possess ten thousand hopes. A few bear fruit in happiness; the others go awry. But he who garners day by day the good life, he is happiest.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE via Philip Vellacott
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Bacchae Βάκχαι

Themes: Happiness Hope

“The man is happiest who lives from day to day and asks no more, garnering the simple goodness of life.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

53. Shameless Thieves

“Happiness appears to consist in leisure... the free exercise of any power, whatever it may be, is happiness.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Happiness

9. Know When to Stop

“If we are content with whatever happens and follow the flow, joy and sorrow cannot affect us. This is what the ancients called freedom from bondage.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

44. Fame and Fortune

“Lao-tzu said everyone else seeks happiness. He alone saw that to be incomplete was to become whole.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Happiness

22. Heaven's Door

“We cannot enjoy full happiness, untroubled by suffering unless we realize the nature of things.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
Western Buddha
from On Nature

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“When happiness is present, we have everything; but when it is absent, we do everything to possess it.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
Western Buddha
from On Nature

Themes: Happiness

72. Helpful Fear

“The happiest men are they who have arrived at the point of having nothing to fear.”

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

Themes: Fear Happiness

“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

“The world is what we make it and all happiness and suffering is self-created. Why continuously make more and more unnecessary problems?”

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”

“We believe that success is the key to happiness but in truth happiness is the key to success.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history

Themes: Happiness Success

“The first to apologize is the bravest, the first to forgive is the strongest, the first to forget is the happiest.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history

Themes: Happiness Forget

“Happy the man, and happy he alone, he who can call today his own: he who, secure within, can say, tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE

40. Returning

“Show me a man who—though sick, is happy; who—though in danger, is happy and I'll show you a Stoic.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος 55 – 135 CE

“It is impossible to deny the good of life to any order of living things… Those that deny the happy life to plants are really denying it to all living things.”

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

“The phenomenal appearance of empty space transcends pleasure into pure joy and happiness.”

Kaṅkāripa ཀངྐཱ་རི་པ། 1
(”The Lovelorn Widower”)
Mahasiddha #7

21. Following Empty Heart

“How miraculous and wondrous, hauling water and carrying firewood!”

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“When kings do not act out of happiness and anger, their punishments and rewards will not be excessive, nor will metal weapons and leather armor arise.”

Wang Zhen 809 – 859 CE via Ralph D. Sawyer
from Daodejing Lunbing Yaoyishu, The Tao of War

“The Five Joys:
1. Long life
2. Wealth
3. Health—soundness of body, serenity of mind
4. Love of Integrity
5. An end crowning the life”

Sima Guang 司马光 1019 – 1086 CE via Jonathan D. Spence, Shan Dao
"Greatest of all Chinese historians”
from Book of History

“Happiness follows sadness just as day follows night;
The glow of dawn guides us out of the dark of night.”

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

Themes: Happiness

“If thou and I be sitting in the wilderness, —
that would be a joy to which no sultan can set bounds.”

Omar Khayyám 1048 – 1131 CE via Edward Heron-Allen
Persian Astronomer-Poet, prophet of the here and now

from Rubaiyat

Themes: Happiness Love

“All of a man’s happiness is in his being the master of his ego, while all his suffering is in his ego being his master.”

Al-Ghazali أبو حامد محمد بن محمد الطوسي الغزالي 1058 – 1111 CE
(Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali)
Philosopher of Sufism

“If there is anything that may properly be called happiness here below, I am persuaded it is the union of two persons who love each other with perfect liberty.”

Heloise 1090 – 1164 CE

Themes: Happiness

“Attachment to small pleasures prevents great happiness.”

Sakya Pandita ས་སྐྱ་པཎྜ་ཏ་ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་མཚན། 1182 – 1251 CE via John T. Davenport, Shan Dao #24
(Kunga Gyeltsen)
from Ordinary Wisdom, Sakya Legshe (Jewel Treasury of Good Advice)

“Happiness comes from wanting others to be happy, suffering from only wanting happiness for ourselves.”

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)

“There can be no joy of life without joy of work.”

Thomas Aquinas 1225 – 1274 CE via E.F. Schumacher

“Like a dream, our actions seem to not be very meaningful or important; but, they bring about all the variety of happiness and suffering.”

Longchenpa ཀློང་ཆེན་རབ་འབྱམས་པ། 1308 – 1364 CE via Herbert V. Guenther, Shan Dao
(Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer)
from Kindly Bent to Ease Us, Trilogy of Finding Comfort and Ease ངལ་གསོ་སྐོར་གསུམ་

“Love may turn into an inordinate clinging to the love object, compassion can turn into sentimentality and a feeling of helplessness, joy can turn into a feeling of elation and over-excitement that gets lost in unrealistic goals, but equanimity brings us back to solid ground. It’s still vulnerable to apathy but this is countered by love completing the cycle.”

Longchenpa ཀློང་ཆེན་རབ་འབྱམས་པ། 1308 – 1364 CE via Herbert V. Guenther, Shan Dao
(Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer)
from Kindly Bent to Ease Us, Trilogy of Finding Comfort and Ease ངལ་གསོ་སྐོར་གསུམ་

“Those who are content with little live day by day and treat any day like a feast day.”

Poggio Bracciolini 1380 – 1459 CE via Sansoni
from Nel VI Centenario della Nascita

“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"

“What greater wealth can there be than cheerfulness, peace of mind, and freedom from anxiety?”

Thomas More 1478 – 1535 CE
from Utopia

Themes: Wealth Happiness

“Happiness comes from prospering, not in having prospered”

Thomas Hobbes 1588 – 1679 CE

Themes: Happiness

“The first great rule of life - to put up with things – is half of all wisdom… We often have to put up with the most from those on whom we most depend… Out of patience comes forth peace, the priceless boon that is the happilness of the world.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, Shan Dao chapter #159
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

61. Lying Low

“With great wealth endless worries quickly come and peace of mind quickly leave. You become a target of envy and you don’t know if people are only pretending to like you for an advantage. Fears of theft and robbery arise. What chance is there for enjoying life?”

Lǐ Yú 李漁 1610 – 1680 CE
(Li Liweng)
from Art of Living

Themes: Wealth Happiness

“Happiness is neither within us only, or without us; it is the union of ourselves with God”

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

“Why should we build our happiness on the opinions of others, when we can find it in our own hearts?”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE

Themes: Happiness

“There is only one passion, the passion for happiness.”

Diderot 1713 – 1784 CE

Themes: Happiness Desire

“Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.”

Immanuel Kant 1724 – 1804 CE
from Critique Of Pure Reason

“Don't wait around for your life to happen to you. Find something that makes you happy, and do it. Because everything else is all just background noise.”

George Mason 1725 – 1792 CE
First American abolitionist, founding father, and Constitutional savior

“If you feel unhappy, place yourself above that and act so that your happiness is not dependent on anything.”

Catherine the Great Екатери́на Вели́кая 1729 – 1796 CE
(Catherine II)

Themes: Happiness

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe."”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE

“The man who is born with a talent which he is meant to use, finds his greatest happiness in using it.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Meister Wilhelm's Apprenticeship

Themes: Happiness

“Must it ever be thus-that the source of our happiness must also be the fountain of our misery?”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

46. Enough

“The cause of justice is the cause of humanity. Its advocates should overflow with universal good will. We should love this cause, for it conduces to the general happiness of mankind.”

William Godwin 1756 – 1836 CE
Provocative and influential social, political, and literary critic
from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

Themes: Justice Happiness

“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses joy as it flies by
Will live in eternity's sunrise.”

William Blake 1757 – 1827 CE

34. An Unmoored Boat

“The power of attaching an interest to the most trifling or painful pursuits ... is one of the greatest happinesses of our nature”

William Hazlitt 1778 – 1830 CE
One of the English languages best art and literature critics of all time

“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Happiness

81. Journey Without Goal

“The ordinary man places his life’s happiness in things external to him – in property, rank, wife and children, friends, society and the like so that when he loses them or finds them disappointing, the foundation of his happiness is destroyed.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via T. Bailey Saunders
from Wisdom of Life

“All happiness depends on courage and work.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

Themes: Happiness

“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”

Disraeli, Benjamin 1804 – 1881 CE
(Earl of Beaconsfield )
Political balance between mob rule and tyranny

Themes: Happiness

“the necessary ingredients of happiness: simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and above all, a clear conscience.”

George Sand 1804 – 1876 CE
(Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin)

81. Journey Without Goal

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

Themes: Happiness

“You could construe abandoning all hope of results as being to your welfare. For example fame, renown, comfort, and happiness in this life, later happiness among gods or men, even the desire to achieve the transcendence of misery itself.”

Jamgon Kongtrul the Great འཇམ་མགོན་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་བློ་གྲོས་མཐའ་ཡས། 1813 – 1899 CE
(Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé)
from Torch of Certainty

77. Stringing a Bow

“All suffering comes from desiring happiness for oneself.”

Jamgon Kongtrul the Great འཇམ་མགོན་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་བློ་གྲོས་མཐའ་ཡས། 1813 – 1899 CE
(Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé)
from Torch of Certainty

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones
37. Nameless Simplicity

“There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel.”

Anthony Trollope 1815 – 1882 CE
Novelist as teacher

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

9. Know When to Stop

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.”

Walt Whitman 1819 – 1892 CE
Premier "poet of democracy" and model for Dracula

“men are made for happiness, and any one who is completely happy has a right to say to himself, 'I have done God's will on earth.'”

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

Themes: Happiness

“Life will bring you many misfortunes, but it is precisely in them you will find your happiness”

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

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.”

Leo Tolstoy 1828 – 1910 CE

Themes: Happiness

81. Journey Without Goal

“How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it.”

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

36. The Small, Dark Light

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE

Themes: Happiness

“To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"

“On the whole, the happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause for being happy except that they are so.”

Dean Inge 1860 – 1954 CE
Christian mystic and philosopher

“On the whole, the happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause for being happy except that they are so.”

Dean Inge 1860 – 1954 CE
Christian mystic and philosopher

“Knowledge of the possible is the beginning of happiness.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

W.B. (William Butler) Yeats 1865 – 1939 CE

39. Oneness

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 CE

“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”

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

18. The Sick Society

“The secret of happiness is this: let your interest be as wide as possible and let your reactions to the things and persons who interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.”

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

Themes: Happiness

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

“Even a happy life cannot cannot be without a measure of darkness. And the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

Themes: Happiness

“one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure. Every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE via Hilda Rosner
from Siddhartha

“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

“The law of the dignity of human personality beyond castes and outer distinctions creates a continuous rainbow of joy for humanity.”

Helena Roerich Елéна Ивáновна Рéрих 1879 – 1955 CE

“Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.”

Ramana Maharshi 1879 – 1950 CE

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

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

“It is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

20. Unconventional Mind

“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

26. The Still Rule the Restless

“Then, for no reason, all would suddenly be changed, and I felt a great, inexplicable joy, a joy so powerful that I could not restrain it but had to beak into song, a mighty song, with only room for one word: joy, joy! And then in the midst of such a fit of mysterious and overwhelming delight I became a shaman not knowing myself how it came about. I could see and hear in a totally different way.”

Igjugarjuk 1
Eskimo healer, Caribou teacher, great Inuit shaman

Themes: Happiness

“The basic reality in life is not politics, nor industry, but human relationships—the associations of a man with a woman... the family is greater than the State, devotion and despair sink deeper into the heart than economic strife, in the end our happiness lies not in possessions, place, or power, but in the gift and return of love.”

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

“Happiness hates the timid! So does science!”

Eugene O'Neill 1888 – 1953 CE

Themes: Science Happiness

“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Brave New World

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Everybody strains after happiness, and the result is that nobody's happy.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

78. Water

“Remember, all of man's happiness is in the little valleys. Tiny little ones. Small enough to call from one side to the other.”

Jean Giono 1895 – 1970 CE

52. Cultivating the Changeless

“The moment you are aware that you are happy, you cease to be happy.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Themes: Happiness

“As long as we invent and progress in mechanical things and not in love, we shall not achieve happiness.”

Jean Giono 1895 – 1970 CE

80. A Golden Age

“Of all the unhappy people in the world,the unhappiest are those who have not found something they want to do.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE
from On the Wisdom of America, 1950

Themes: Happiness

“What matters most are the simple pleasures so abundant that we can all enjoy them...Happiness doesn't lie in the objects we gather around us. To find it, all we need to do is open our eyes.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

81. Journey Without Goal

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.”

Erich Fromm 1900 – 1980 CE
One of the most powerful voices of his era promoting the true personal freedom beyond social, political, religious, and national belief systems

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.”

George Orwell 1903 – 1950 CE
English, poet, humanist, apostle of doubt, and powerful political influence

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness must happen, it cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself”

Viktor Frankl 1905 – 1997 CE
Brave and insightful concentration camp survivor

from Man's Search for Meaning

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness is indeed a Eurydice, vanishing as soon as gazed upon. It can exist only in acceptance, and succumbs as soon as it is laid claim to.”

Denys de Rougemont 1906 – 1985 CE
Non-conformist leader, influential cultural theorist

“To wish happiness for others, even for those who want to do us harm, is the source of consummate happiness.”

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

Themes: Happiness

“Bliss and radiance occur of themselves when the mind is tranquil.”

Freda Bedi, Sister Palmo 1911 – 1977 CE

“When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the effort to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized.”

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

“How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? People work at dying, they don't work at living.”

Jack LaLanne 1914 – 2011 CE

Themes: Happiness

“My opinion is that you never find happiness until you stop looking for it. My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness”

Thomas Merton 1915 – 1968 CE

Themes: Happiness

20. Unconventional Mind

“Happiness is the 'up-up-up.' Joy is the peace in what is... When we understand practice as being okay with what is, that leads to joy. Joy is what's going on, minus our opinion about it.”

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

from Ordinary Wonder

Themes: Happiness

“For real happiness, for real lasting stable happiness, one has to make a journey deep within oneself and see that one gets rid of all the unhappiness and misery stored in the deeper levels of the mind.”

Goenka ဂိုအင်ကာ 1924 – 2013 CE
(Satya Narayan)
"The Man who Taught the World to Meditate"

Themes: Happiness Travel

“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”

Carlos Castaneda 1925 – 1998 CE

59. The Gardening of Spirit

“There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

“You go back. You search for what made you happy when you were smaller. We are all grown up children, really... So one should go back and search for what was loved and found to be real.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Happiness

76. The Soft and Flexible

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Happiness

58. Goals Without Means

“The path to true happiness is the same whoever, whenever, or wherever you are.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Happiness Health

4. The Father of All Things

“The little Angels of the trees and flowers. They offered to unlock my mind… till every fiber Of my soul was bathed in harmony.”

Jane Goodall 1934 CE –

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

67. Three Treasures

“The ultimate source of happiness is not money and power, but warm-heartedness.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

Themes: Happiness

44. Fame and Fortune

“Every movement of the mind becomes bliss and emptiness”

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

Themes: Mind Happiness

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

72. Helpful Fear

“every painful feeling is caused by a prior thought... the only thing that an interrupt happiness is an untrue thought.”

Stephen Mitchell 1943 CE –
from Second Book of Tao

“If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.”

Bob Marley 1945 – 1981 CE

Themes: Happiness Wealth

“Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things.”

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

Themes: Happiness

“The percentage of Americans who considered themselves happy peaked in 1957, although consumption has more than doubled since then... The fact that we in the developed world are now consuming so much more does not seem to be having much effect on our level of contentment.”

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

“Happiness is a flimsy premise upon which to base one’s life.”

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

Themes: Happiness

58. Goals Without Means

“Imagine feeling completely satisfied and content with your life just as it is.”

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

48. Unlearning

“Protestant ideals in the 16th and 17th centuries.. abolished carnivals and festivities, while thousands of laws were introduce to ban fairs and dances, sports and theater... happiness was not to be enjoyed in this life but was rather a reward granted by God to true believers in the next”

Roman Krznaric 1
Practical, popular, modern philosopher

from Carpe Diem Regained (2017)

“True wisdom is free of the dramas of culture or religion and should bring us only a sense of peace and happiness.”

Dzogchen Pönlop 1965 CE –

“The lie that happiness is about borrowing money you haven’t got to buy crap you don’t need”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Bone Clocks

53. Shameless Thieves

“There are few things humans are more dedicated to than unhappiness… the frailty of our bodies, the fickleness of love, the insincerities of social life, the compromises of friendship, the deadening effects of habit… we might naturally expect that no event would be awaited with greater anticipation than the moment of our own extinction.”

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

“Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

“Happiness and unhappiness are not primarily created by the material world or the physical body. First and foremost, they are decisions of the mind… The quickest route to happiness is to help others.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

Themes: Happiness

“Buddha agreed with modern biology and New Age movements that happiness is independent of external conditions. Yet his more important and far more profound insight was that true happiness is also independent of our inner feelings.”

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

from Sapiens

Themes: Happiness

“Happiness does not really depend on objective conditions of either wealth, health or even community. Rather, it depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations.”

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

from Sapiens

Themes: Happiness

“Think about what happens when we think that we must do something to achieve or possess something else […] the intolerance of what is not leads to unhappiness”

Yi-Ping Ong 1978 CE –
from Tao Te Ching - Introduction and Notes

“The one resource we are all seeking, all the time—happiness—is unlimited, renewable, and most certainly increases we it is shared. When we truly and fully experience the truth of that fact, everything changes.”

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

Themes: Happiness

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