Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Though most of us don’t really believe in magic; the attraction, fascination, and feelings the word brings up may verge on universal. Does it only explain what we don’t understand or does it evoke a deeper, empyrean reality?

According to historians, magic and magicians were the foundation of all science. Ancient communities gave shamans the task of foretelling, predicting, and preparing for the vagaries of nature: drought, fire, famine, flood, and war. In the beginning, the tools for practicing this art came from superstitions, wild guesses, and wishful thinking. Over time however, these practioners noticed that some of these tools worked better than others, some were frequently accurate, some not at all. In order to maintain their place and prestige in the tribe, they not only brought these observations into their advice and predictions; they also began actively researching and testing, looking for repeatable and consistent results. These led to ever-increasing agricultural knowledge, the beginnings of psychology, the study of weather patterns, biology, medicine, astronomy, all probably all the sciences. The tradition hasn't changed that much, mainly the credentials and letters posted after names.

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Quotes (73)

“There in the heat of Love, the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover’s whisper, irresistible–magic to make the sanest man go mad.”

Homer 1
Primogenitor of Western culture

Themes: Sex Magic

41. Distilled Life

“That which is added to and does not increase, is taken away from and does not decrease... fathomless like the sea, inexhaustible; it sustains and gives life to all creation.”

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

from Zhuangzi

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

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

from Metamorphoses, 8 CE

Themes: Magic Moon

“Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature”

Augustine ɔːɡəstiːn 354 – 430 CE
(Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, Augustine of Hippo)

Themes: Magic

“The secret of the magic of life consists in using action in order to achieve non-action.”

Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 1 via Richard Wilhelm
(Lü Tung-Pin)

from Secret of the Golden Flower 太乙金華宗旨; Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ

Themes: Magic Wu Wei

“When the world is filled with seeming sin, all mishaps should be diverted into the path of bodhi.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)

Themes: Magic

50. Claws and Swords

“For in and out, above, about, below,
’Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.”

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

from Rubaiyat

Themes: Illusion Magic

“Your mind is like a magical gem manifesting all that is”

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

“Mind itself is a vast expanse, the realm of unchanging space. It's indeterminate display is the expanse of the magical expression of its responsiveness.”

Longchenpa ཀློང་ཆེན་རབ་འབྱམས་པ། 1308 – 1364 CE via Richard Barron
(Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer)
from The Basic Space of Phenomena

Themes: Mind Magic

“Magic is a powerful faculty, full of mystery and comprising a profound knowledge of the most secret thing, their nature, power, quality, substance and effects.. It is a philosophical science; it is physics, mathematics, and theology.”

Agrippa 1486 – 1535 CE via Kurt Seligmann
(Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim)
Historian of the occult and early, important influence on science
from Three Books of Occult Philosophy or Magic

Themes: Magic

“If you realize that you don’t understand… this is the door to all mystery. If you cling to understanding while trying to discover what you don’t understand… this is the door to all misfortune.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

Themes: Magic

71. Sick of Sickness

“The ‘valley spirit’… is named the Mysterious Female and the Doorway of the Mysterious Female is the base from which Heaven and Earth sprang. It is there within us all the while; draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.”

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

Themes: Magic

6. The Source

“Use unfortunate events to polish oneself, to find increase within reduction, to change a faulty beginning into a blameless end.”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 1734 – 1821 CE via Thomas Cleary, Shan Dao, #42 Increase
(Liu I-ming)
from Taoist I Ching, , Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真

“The happy do not believe in miracles.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Herman and Dorothea

Themes: Magic

“The origin of all women may be called celestial, for their power is the offspring of the gifts of Nature; but, by yielding to pride and ambition they soon destroy the magic of their charms.”

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

“The power of thought,—the magic of the mind!”

Lord Byron 1788 – 1824 CE
(George Gordon Byron)
The first rock-star style celebrity
from The Corsair (1814)

Themes: Magic Power

“although the absurd, as a rule, predominates, and it seems impossible that the voice of the individual can ever penetrate through the chorus of the befooling and the befooled, there yet remains to the genuine works of every age, a quite peculiar, silent, slow, and powerful influence and, as if by a miracle, we see them rise at last out of the turmoil like a balloon that floats up out of the thick atmosphere of this globe into purer regions”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE
from The World as Will and Idea (1844)

“Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn.”

John Keats 1795 – 1821 CE
Writer of "poems as immortal as English"
from Ode to a Nightingale, 1820

Themes: Magic Shambhala

“Perseus wore a magic cap that the monsters he hunted down might not see him. We draw the magic cap down over eyes and ears as a make-believe that there are no monsters.”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE
from Das Kapital; Capital: Critique of Political Economy

Themes: Deception Magic

“miracles are never a stumbling-block to the realist... if he is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather disbelieve his own sense than admit the fact.”

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

Themes: Magic

“Evidently Proclus does not advocate here simply a superstition, but science; for notwithstanding that it is occult, and unknown to our scholars, who deny its possibilities, magic is still a science... a profound and exhaustive knowledge of natural law—this was and is the basis of magic.”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy
from Isis Unveiled

Themes: Magic

“I'm not performing miracles, I'm just using up and wasting a lot of paint...”

Claude Monet 1840 – 1926 CE
"the driving force behind Impressionism"

Themes: Magic Humility

“Democracy is still upon its trial. The civic genius of our people is its only bulwark and neither laws... monuments.. battleships... libraries... mechanical invention... churches... universities... nor political adroitness can save us from degeneration if the inner mystery be lost.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from Pragmatism (1907)

Themes: Democracy Magic

“Words have a magical power capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men's actions. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE

“Astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind.”

Swami Vivekananda ʃami bibekanɔnd̪o 1863 – 1902 CE
"The maker of modern India"

Themes: Magic

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

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

Themes: Magic

25. The Mother of All Things

“There is, in fact, neither red, green nor yellow magic. There is 'doing. Only 'doing' is magic.”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

Themes: Magic

“Neither Gautama nor Lao Tzu nor Confucius had any inkling of this idea of a jealous God who would not tolerate any lurking belief in magic or old customs… The intolerance of the Jewish mind did keep its essential faith clear and clean”

H. G. Wells 1866 – 1946 CE
A father of science fiction and One World Government apostle
from Outline of History

“To fashion stars out of dog dung, that is the Great Work.”

Alexandra David-Néel 1868 – 1969 CE

Themes: Magic

“Babylonian religion—unlike that of Egypt—was more concerned with prosperity in this world than with happiness in the next. Magic, divination, and astrology were more developed there than elsewhere… From Babylon come some thing that belong to science: the division of the day into 24 hours, and of the circle into 360 degrees; also the discovery of a cycle in eclipses which enabled lunar eclipses to be predicted with certainty”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from History of Western Philosophy

Themes: Magic

“Has the world ever been changed by anything save the thought and its magic vehicle the Word?”

Thomas Mann 1875 – 1955 CE
Deep, psychologically insightful author
from Freud and the Future (1937)​

Themes: Magic Change Change

“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.”

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

Themes: Magic Problems

“That is where my dearest and brightest dreams have ranged — to hear for the duration of a heartbeat the universe and the totality of life in its mysterious, innate harmony.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE via Hilda Rosner
from Gertrude

Themes: Dream Magic

“My religion consists in a humble awe before the higher reality that reveals itself in the smallest details”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Religion Magic

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel is as good as dead.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE
from Ideas and Opinions

Themes: Art Science Magic

1. The Unnamed

“These are my two drops of rain
Waiting on the window-pane…
All the best and all the worst
Comes from which of them is first…
John is there, and John has won!
Look! I told you! Here's the sun!”

A.A. Milne 1882 – 1956 CE
(Alan Alexander Milne)
from Waiting At The Window

76. The Soft and Flexible

“the great secret: that by means of poetry all this suffering and effort could be transformed into dream; no matter how much of the ephemeral existed, poetry could immortalize it by turning it into song.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Report to Greco

Themes: Magic Poetry

“The appearance of things changes according to the emotions; and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Magic

76. The Soft and Flexible

“Underneath all civilization, ancient or modern, moved and still moves a sea of magic, superstition and sorcery. Perhaps they will remain when the works of our reason have passed away.”

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

Themes: Magic

“Magic is the father of science... Many of the most famous and trusted cures in history were magical... It was to the advantage of the magicial to study causes and effects, to find natural means of accomplishing the desired end... our scientists in every filed of research are the direct descendants of those ancient magicians.”

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

Themes: Magic

“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.”

Eugene O'Neill 1888 – 1953 CE

Themes: Delusion Magic Peace

“I go forth to seek —
To seek and claim the lovely magic garden
Where grasses softly sigh and Muses speak.”

Anna Akhmatova Анна Ахматова 1889 – 1966 CE via Irina Zheleznova
(Andreyevna Gorenko)
Russia's most loved female poet

Themes: Gardening Magic

“performers and spectators are welded into one and have both become active participants in a magic rite, which initiates them into one of the most ancient mysteries which is the origin of all religious life and the beginning of the awakening of man.”

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

from Way of the White Clouds (1966)

“Ah destiny… touched by that dark miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world.”

Thomas Wolfe 1900 – 1938 CE
(Thomas Clayton Wolfe)
Father of autobiographical fiction
from Look Homeward, Angel

“The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

Themes: Magic

21. Following Empty Heart

“If all was told, supposing there lived a person who could tell all, there would be no mysteries left, and that would be very bad. Man cannot live without mystery.”

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

Themes: Magic

70. Inscrutable

“The human woman gives birth just as the earth gives birth to the plants. She gives nourishment, as the plants do. So woman magic and earth magic are the same... In the ancient agricultural world, the Goddess was the only visualized divinity”

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

Themes: Magic Agriculture

“The primitive magician, the medicine man or shaman is not only a sick man, he is above all, a sick man who has been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself.”

Mircea Eliade 1907 – 1986 CE

Themes: Magic Medicine

“by taking 'magical practices' literally at the beginning, one gradually becomes aware of an esoteric significance not meant to yield its secrets at first glance”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE
from Magical Buddhism (1976)

Themes: Magic

“It was under the rubric of magic that the Taoist church—dividing the territory with freelance wizards, exorcists, and shamans—divided ways to harness higher powers for humane ends.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

Themes: Magic

“The Tao Te Ching is a magic mirror, always found to reflect our concept of the truth. How easily we find our image in it! From person to person the sense changes, but the truthfulness remains.”

Holmes Welch 1924 – 1981 CE

Themes: Taoism Magic

“In truth we are not separate from each other or from the world… there is just one mysteriously palpitating aliveness.”

Toni Packer 1927 – 2013 CE
A Zen teacher minus the 'Zen' and minus the 'teacher.’

Themes: Magic Indra's Net

39. Oneness

“All of us live in the unfathomable mystery and infinitude of the universe.”

Yayoi Kusama 草間 彌生 1929 CE –

“In the crystal-mirror theater of Awareness Mind, the supreme artist performs his magical displays. But rare indeed is the clear-insight audience capable of viewing this wisdom.”

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

Themes: Magic

“Religion, mysticism and magic all spring from the same basic 'feeling' about the universe: a sudden feeling of meaning, which human beings sometimes 'pick up' accidentally, as your radio might pick up some unknown station.”

Colin Wilson 1931 – 2013 CE
from The Occult

“I think that all women are witches, in the sense that a witch is a magical being. And a wizard, which is a male version of a witch, is kind of revered, and people respect wizards. But a witch, my god, we have to burn them. It’s the male chauvinistic society that we’re living in for the longest time, 3,000 years or whatever. And so I just wanted to point out the fact that men and women are magical beings. We are very blessed that way, so I’m just bringing that out. Don’t be scared of witches, because we are good witches, and you should appreciate our magical power.”

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

“Magic is afoot, God is alive… Magic never weakened, magic never hid… But magic is no instrument, Magic always ruled, Magic is the end… And mind itself is magic, magic is afoot...”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 CE
from Beautiful Losers

Themes: Magic

“When we draw down the power and depth of vastness into a single perception, then we are discovering and invoking magic.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

4. The Father of All Things

“With the mandalic approach, nothing is excluded, everything finds its place and students move through a world of magic in which they are a tongue of the earth, chanting her song to the stars.”

José Argüelles 1939 – 2011 CE via Shan Dao
from Mandala

“The point at which we can either extend ourselves further and go towards an unfamiliar brilliance, or return to a more soothing and familiar dimness is the threshold of magic.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Magic

73. Heaven’s Net

“Once we give up our heart and brain, the magic begins. We give up our little heart, our little brain, and then we get greater nothingness. Actual magic begins there.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Magic

“Take me for a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship
All my senses have been stripped
And my hands can't feel to grip
And my toes too numb to step
Wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin'
I'm ready to go anywhere I'm ready for to fade
On to my own parade”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –
from Mr. Tambourine Man

Themes: Magic

“Oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go, nowhere to go.”

Paul McCartney 1942 CE – via Paul McCartney
(Sir James Paul McCartney)
from Abbey Road

“Marxism is a flight from the magic of the person and the mystique of hierarchy. It distorts the character of western culture, which is based on the charismatic power of person. Marxism can work only in pre-industrial societies of homogeneous populations. Raise the standard of living, and the rainbow riot of individualism will break out. Personality and art, which Marxism fears and censors, rebound from every effort to oppress them.”

Camille Paglia 1947 CE –
Fearless and insightful status quo critic
from Sexual Personae (1990)

Themes: Socialism Magic

“The key component is not the quality of the materials─what’s needed is magic. If that magic is present, the most basic daily matters and the plainest language can be turned into a device of surprising sophistication. First and foremost, though, is what’s packed away in your garage. Magic can’t work if your garage is empty. You’ve got to stash away a lot of junk”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Ted Goossen
from “So What Shall I Write About?” (2015)

Themes: Magic

“A real story requires a kind of magical baptism to link the world on this side with the world on the other side.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Philip Gabriel
from Sputnik Sweetheart

Themes: Magic Pluralism

“Seek and you shall find your illusions through the magic of tourism.”

Amy Tan 1952 CE –
Rock and roll singer, bartender, and insightfully talented author
from Saving Fish From Drowning

Themes: Travel Magic

“Our ancestors replaced dogma, tradition and authority with reason, debate and institutions of truth-seeking. They replaced superstition and magic with science.”

Steven Pinker 1954 CE –
Humanistic scientist, insightful cultural commentaror
from Enlightenment Now

Themes: Science Magic Belief

“Hafiz shares his intoxication with the magic and beauty of divine life that pulsates everywhere around us and within us. He encourages us to celebrate even the most ordinary experience of life as precious divine gifts.”

Henry S. Mindlin 1
Poet, musician, spiritual seeker

Themes: Magic

“'Ah, music,' he said, wiping his eyes. 'A magic beyond all we do here!'”

J.K. Rowling 1965 CE –

Themes: Music Magic

“a never-changing map of the ever-constant ineffable… an atlas of clouds.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Cloud Atlas

Themes: Magic

“Magic, though, feels effortless… it is simply about knowing it’s there. Training yourself to see it.”

N. K. Jemisin 1972 CE –
from Broken Earth

Themes: Magic Wu Wei

“A ritual is a magical act that makes the abstract concrete and the fictional real. The essence of ritual is the magical spell 'Hocus-pocus [Hoc est corpus] X is Y!... powerful spells that transform a frog into a prince and a pumpkin into a carriage.”

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

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Themes: Magic

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