Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Salvador Dali


Faust’s imagery of selling our souls to the devil becomes real every time we don’t follow our heart, every time we do something for money instead of inner passion, every time we conform to social norms instead of our inner insight, every time we sacrifice the sacredness of the precious and precarious time we inherit in favor of a materialistic goal. Blake talked about holding infinity in the palm of our hands and experiencing eternity in an hour and—as easily as we stand in wonder and appreciation of his phrase—we almost immediately sacrifice the insight on the alter of our consumerism, egocentricism, and goal-oriented delusions. Bertrand Russell challenges the common truism that “time is money” saying “to realize the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.” And of course time normally has a very different meaning for the young only seeing a vast horizon of future possibilities than for the old seeing only a very limited number of years at best. We much too easily sacrifice our full experience and awareness of time by rushing and “multi-tasking” in efforts to “save time.” As Seneca wrote, “Time discovers the truth” but only if we shed our fixations and open awareness to the real.

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Quotes (89)

“They lived at a slower tempo and if they were aware of time, it was in the sense that its passage formed a hazy backdrop to their life. It was a measure, not a master.”

Imhotep 2650 – 2600 BCE
First Western architect, engineer and physician

Themes: Time

40. Returning

“What is is the was of what shall be.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Witter Bynner
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

Themes: Time Here and Now

“The time of long ago is just like the present. Actually there is no such thing as long ago and the present or the beginning and the end... Both life and death are dependent on something else and find their unity elsewhere.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE via Lin Yutang, Shan Dao
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Time

40. Returning

“The value of time—being a little ahead of our opponent—has counted for more than either numerical superiority or the best calculations”

Sun Tzu 孙武 544 – 496 BCE via Lionel Giles and James Clavell
(Sun Zi)
HIstory's supreme strategist
from Art of War 孙子兵法

Themes: Time

“Time in its aging course teaches all things, overtakes all things alike, and brings all things to pass.”

Aeschylus Αἰσχύλος 525 – 455 BCE via Lattimore, Grene, Shan Dao
The Father of Tragedy
from Prometheus Bound 478 BCE, Eumenides 458 BCE

Themes: Time

“Time is the wisest counselor of all.”

Pericles 495 – 429 BCE via Thucydides
Disprover that all power corrupts

Themes: Patience Time

“Love makes time pass. Time makes love pass.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

Themes: Time Carpe diem

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Koheleth 1
from Ecclesiastes קֹהֶלֶת‎

Themes: Time

20. Unconventional Mind

“All the world fears Time but Time fears the Pyramids.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Arabic proverb

Themes: Time Fear

“Time is a file that wears but makes no noise.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from English proverb

Themes: Time

“Time heals what reason cannot and discovers the truth.”

Seneca ˈsɛnɪkə 4 BCE – 65 CE via Shan Dao
(Lucius Annaeus)
from Agamemnon

Themes: Truth Time

“[The problem] is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste so much of it... there is nothing the busy man is less busy with than living. [The wise] plan out every day as if it were the last.”

Seneca ˈsɛnɪkə 4 BCE – 65 CE
(Lucius Annaeus)

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“See that you are part of a universe in flux and have a very limited time to clear away the clouds in your mind.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE via Shan Dao
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

Themes: Time

“In this immensity of past and future time, what is the difference between living three days or three generations?”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE via Shan Dao
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

Themes: Longevity Time

“Time is like a river of events - each arising, carried away, and quickly replaced by something also quickly replaced.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE via Shan Dao
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“The past is already past—don’t try to regain it. The present does not stay, don’t try to touch it from moment to moment. The future is not come, don’t think about it beforehand.”

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE

Themes: Time Here and Now

40. Returning

“The bird of time has but a little way to fly—and lo! the bird is on the wing...
Ah, fill the Cup:—what boots it to repeat
How Time is slipping underneath our Feet:
Unborn Tomorrow and dead Yesterday.

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

from Rubaiyat

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“Time goes from present to past.”

Dōgen Zenji 道元禅師 1200 – 1253 CE via Suzuki Roshi

Themes: Here and Now Time

“The wisest are the most annoyed at the loss of time.”

Dante 1265 – 1321 CE
(Durante degli Alighieri)

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“everything is timelessly equal, with no time frame of earlier or later, no better or worse”

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

Themes: Time

“Monuments, names, words, proverbs, traditions, fragments of stories, passages of books, and the like all help save us from the deluge of time.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE via Shan Dao
from Advancement of Learning, 1605

Themes: Time

“There is always time to add a word, never to withdraw one. Talk as if you were making your will: the fewer words, the less litigation.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Less is More Time

5. Christmas Trees

“Know how to wait…You must pass through the circumference of time before arriving at the center of opportunity… ‘Time and I against any two.’”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Time

26. The Still Rule the Restless

“Everyone fears death and knows they will die but still continue to fool themselves into thinking there is plenty of time.”

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

50. Claws and Swords

“Years following years steal something every day;
At last they steal us from ourselves away.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer
from Imitations of Horace, 1733

Themes: Old Age Time

“If you love life, do not squander time for that's the stuff life is made from.”

Benjamin Franklin 1706 – 1790 CE
from The Way to Wealth, 1757

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“Time makes more Converts than Reason.”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE
from Common Sense, 1776

Themes: Reason Time

“The ruins of Time build mansions in Eternity.”

William Blake 1757 – 1827 CE
from letter to Haley, 1800

Themes: Time

“Strategy is the art of making use of time and space.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE

Themes: Time Strategy

“There is one kind of robber who the law does not strike and who steals what is most precious: time.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE
from Maxims, 1804

Themes: Time

“Time ceases to persecute only those it has delivered over to boredom.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via R.J. Hollingdale, Shan Dao
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“The world is weary of the past,
O might it die or rest at last!”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE
from Hellas, 1821

Themes: Here and Now Time

“Time is the only capital of those who just have their intelligence as fortune.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

Themes: Time

“Time sanctifies everything it doesn’t destroy. The mere fact of anything being spared by this great foe makes it a favorite with us, who are sure to fall his victims.”

Charles Mackay 1814 – 1889 CE
from Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

“Time is but the stream I go fishing in.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi

Themes: Time

“The future is no more uncertain than the present.”

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

Themes: Time

“Time, like money, is measured by our needs.”

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

from Middlemarch

Themes: Time Money

“Time is a Test of Trouble
But not a Remedy
If such it prove, it prove too
There was no Malady.”

Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886 CE

Themes: Obstacles Time

“the future depends on the present, and the present depends upon the past, and the past is unalterable... the more the past and present are known, the more the future can be predicted... this is the foundation on which morality and science are built.”

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

Themes: Time Science

“Space and time are thus vehicles of continuity by which the world's parts hang together.”

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

Themes: Continuity Time

“Time deals gently only with those who take it gently.”

Anatole France 1844 – 1924 CE via Hearn
(Jacques Anatole Thibault)
from The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, 1881

Themes: Kindness Time

“There is a time for everything. Possibilities for everything exist only for a definite time.”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.”

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

Themes: Time Confusion

“An hour is not just an hour, it is a vase full of perfume, sounds, projects, and moods.”

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

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“The time at our disposal each day is elastic; the passions we feel dilate it, those that inspire us shrink it, and habit fills it.”

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

Themes: Inspiration Time

“time, far from being an abstraction, is a concrete continuum which contains qualities which can manifest themselves in relative simultaneousness in different places and in a parallelism which cannot be explained, like in cases of simultaneous appearance of identical thoughts, symbols, or psychic conditions.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Secret of the Golden Flower Introduction

Themes: Continuity Time

“I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Carpe diem Time

40. Returning

“Modern man no longer knows what to do with the time and the potentialities he has unleashed. We groan under the burden of this wealth.”

Teilhard de Chardin 1881 – 1955 CE via Bernard Wall
from Phenomenon of Man

Themes: Time Wealth

80. A Golden Age

“What more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment? That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side, the future on another.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Orlando: A Biography

Themes: Time Here and Now

“time's ruins build eternity's mansions.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Ulysses

Themes: Time

43. No Effort, No Trace

“All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“But time—all blessings upon it—takes pity on us. Time is a sponge, and it erases. The new crop of spring grass quickly covers the tombstones, and life pantingly resumes the ascent.”

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

Themes: Time

“Yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream… let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

Themes: Time

“you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had... And so it is with a city, a country, a race... It is only the past that lives.”

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

Themes: Time Karma

“Civilization is always older than we think; and under whatever sod we tread are the bones of men and women who also worked and loved, wrote songs and made beautiful things, but whose names and very being have been lost in the careless flow of time.”

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

Themes: Time Impermanence

“Don't sleep, don't sleep, artist,
Don't give in to sleep.
You are eternity's hostage
A captive of time.”

Boris Pasternak Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к 1890 – 1960 CE
Russia's greatest poet
from Night (Ночь)

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“One faces the future with one's past.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE

Themes: Time

51. Mysterious Goodness

“life is short and information endless: nobody has time for everything.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Time

20. Unconventional Mind

“The reality of time is identified with the reality of the wholeness of wholes. The quality of the moment when a group becomes an operative whole determines the quality of the wholeness... and the span of wholeness cannot be isolated from the essence of the whole.

Dane Rudhyar 1895 – 1985 CE via Shan Dao
( Daniel Chennevière)
Agent of cultural evolution
from Astrology of Personality, 1936

Themes: Time Reality

“if time did not intervene, the polar forces facing each other on the same axis would balance each other so completely that all movement, and with it all development or change, would cease.”

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

from Inner Structure of the I Ching

“The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.”

Ariel Durant 1898 – 1981 CE
(Chaya Kaufman)

Themes: History Time

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”

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

Themes: Time

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

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE

80. A Golden Age

“The dark ancestral cave, the womb from which mankind emerged into the light, forever pulls one back—but... you can't go home again... you can't go back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

Thomas Wolfe 1900 – 1938 CE
(Thomas Clayton Wolfe)
Father of autobiographical fiction

Themes: Evolution Time

“Modern man thinks he loses something - time - when he does not do things quickly. Yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains, except kill it.”

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
from Art of Loving

Themes: Time

64. Ordinary Mind

“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

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

Themes: Time

“There is no connection between I myself yesterday and I myself in this moment; there is no connection whatsoever.”

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

Themes: Time Egolessness

“Time lost is time when we have not lived a full human life, time unenriched by experience, creative endeavor, enjoyment and suffering.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 – 1945 CE via Eberhard Bethge, Shan Dao
from Letters from prison, 1953

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“One is devoured by Time, not because one lives in Time, but because one believes in its reality, and therefore forgets or despises eternity.”

Mircea Eliade 1907 – 1986 CE

Themes: Time

“For tribal man, space was the uncontrollable mystery. For tehnological man, it is time that occupies the same role.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE
from The Mechanical Bride, 1951

Themes: Time

“As evolutionary time is measured, we have only just turned up and have hardly had time to catch breath, still marveling at our thumbs, still learning to use the brand-new gift of language. Being so young, we can be excused all sorts of folly and can permit ourselves the hope that someday, as a species, we will begin to grow up.”

Lewis Thomas 1913 – 1993 CE
Gestaltist of science and art
from Search for Solutions (1980)

Themes: Time

“We are condemned to kill time, thus we die bit by bit.”

Octavio Paz 1914 – 1998 CE
Persuasive poet and convincing social commentator

Themes: Time

“time has no single measure, time can be like frost or lightning or a tear or siege or storm or sunset, or even like a rock.”

James Clavell 1921 – 1994 CE
Fictionalizing and fictional historian
from Shōgun, 1975

Themes: Time

“the future is an evanescent dew, a shadow, a lightening flash, just as the past, just as now”

Jack Kerouac 1922 – 1969 CE
from Some of the Dharma

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“Civilizations have been destroyed many times, and this civilization is no different. It can be destroyed. We can think of time in terms of millions of years and life will resume little by little. The cosmos operates for us very urgently, but geological time is different.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

“The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality… the moment of vision before intellectualization”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

Themes: Time Delusion

“Time divided into periods is... not a time lived, but a time viewed... The infinite player is us does not consume time but generates it... Time does not pass... each moment is a beginning... time is a function of freedom.”

James P. Carse 1932 – 2020 CE
Thought-proving, influential, deep thinker
from Finite and Infinite Games

Themes: Time

“Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90. Time is a concept that humans created.”

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

Themes: Old Age Time

47. Effortless Success

“The new poverty in our country is time poverty. We need to recognize what’s missing from our lives and then make time for them. We need to live in the present, and try to experience a freedom from time.”

Jacob Needleman 1934 CE –
American religious scholar, historian, philosopher, and author

Themes: Time

“The future will soon be a thing of the past.”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: Time

40. Returning

“The past empowers the present, and the sweeping footsteps leading to this present mark the pathways to the future.”

Mary Catherine Bateson 1939 CE –

Themes: Time

“The premature evocation of the future veils the present moment. Dwelling on one's good dream of the future and borrowing from others in the present on the basis of it is the attitude of pet dogs and cats.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Political Treatise (1972)

Themes: Carpe diem Time

“The best thing you can buy with money is freedom, time. I don't know how much I earn a year. I have no idea.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –

Themes: Money Time Freedom

“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes—possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Dance, Dance, Dance

Themes: Time

“It was a strange feeling, as if he were recollecting the present from the future. As if time had somehow been split in two, so that memory and experience revolved within a closed cycle”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Men Without Women (2017)

Themes: Time

“The TV's the altar. I'm what people are sacrificing to.'
'What do they sacrifice?' asked Shadow.
'Their time, mostly,' said Lucy. 'Sometimes each other.'”

Neil Gaiman 1960 CE –
Myth-transmitting creative maelstrom
from American Gods

“Time is what stops everything from happening at once.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Utopia Avenue

Themes: Time

“You can break down the present into smaller and smaller increments, but between the instant of present experience and the instant you identify that instant as 'now', the moment has already passed. It is not longer now. It’s then.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

Themes: Time

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