Tao Te Ching

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


Books, philosophies, religious teachings, 'truth,' and various 'words of wisdom' are like herbs, the pharmacology of medicine, like medical prescriptions. And like medicines, their value is always very contextual: the most beneficial and healing drug in one situation can be a poison in another. A doctor's skill is normally not related to inventing something new but in applying something from the past to the present, knowledge of an herb's effects to an individual's in-the-moment malady. Words are similar. They're not beneficial or harmful in themselves, it all depends on the context. The role of authentic teachers is pulling from the vast storehouse of ancient and modern wisdom and applying the insight to a contemporary situation or problem. This is only possible when that teacher understands the sense and not just the words.

Read More

Quotes (149)

“Truth is one but the sages speak of it by many names.”

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

“Truth is best of all that is good.”

Zarathushtra زرتشت‎‎ 628 – 551 BCE via Dinshaw Jamshedji Irani

from Avesta

Themes: Truth

“The more words, the less truth.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao, chapter #5
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“No human being will ever know the Truth, for even if they happen to say it by chance, they would not even known they had done so.”

Xenophanes Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος 570 – 475 BCE
(Xenophanes of Colophon)
from Fragments

“Three things can not hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.”

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

Themes: Moon Truth

70. Inscrutable

“Truth cannot be cut up into pieces and arranged into a system. Words are only a figure of speech.”

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

“Admit that you do not know what you do not know—that is knowledge.”

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

Themes: Truth

“Learn the unshaken heart of persuasive truth. Don’t believe status quo opinions in which there is no truth at all.”

Parmenides 540 – 450 BCE via Shan Dao
Grandfather of Western philosophy
from On Nature

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“Because of the weakness of our senses, we can't judge the truth. What appears is a vision of the unseen... in everything there is a portion of everything.”

Anaxagoras Ἀναξαγόρας 510 – 428 BCE
“The Copernicus and Darwin of his age”

from Fragments

Themes: Truth One Taste

“Truth is always the strongest argument.”

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

Themes: Truth

“Use oneness [truthfulness] to put the 3 universal world virtues—wisdom, goodness, and courage—into practice.”

Zisi 子思 481 – 402 BCE via Daniel K. Gardner, Shan Dao
(Kong Ji or Tzu-Ssu)
Confucius' grandson and early influence on Neo-Confucianism
from Doctrine of the Mean, Maintaining Perfect Balance, Zhongyong 中庸

“This may be true, bit is also very likely to be untrue; and therefore, I would not have you be too easily persuaded... Reflect well”

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

Themes: Truth

“Verily, we know nothing. Truth is buried deep.”

Democritus Dēmókritos 460 – 370 BCE
Father of modern science and greatest of ancient philosophers

Themes: Truth Humility

67. Three Treasures

“What we have in us of the image of God is the love of truth and justice.”

Demosthenes Δημοσθένης 384 – 322 BCE

Themes: God Truth Justice

“Abandon your plan… respond to the demands of inner truth… and war will end by itself!”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Thomas Merton

from Zhuangzi

Themes: War Truth

30. No War

“People usually look at things from their personal point of view and therefore miss the truth.”

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

from Zhuangzi

Themes: Egolessness Truth

“You can win over a greedy person by offering money, a proud person by cowering, a foolish one by agreeing with him; but you can only win over the wise with truth.”

Chandragupta Maurya 340 – 297 BCE via Shan Dao
Ashoka’s grandfather, founder of the Maurya Empire

Themes: Truth Victory

“Traditions and customs are set by people. Therefore what people regard as 'truth' tends to be a subjective matter.”

Lie Yukou 列圄寇/列禦寇/列子 1
(Liè Yǔkòu, Liezi)
from Liezi "True Classic of Simplicity and Perfect Emptiness”

Themes: Culture Truth

“If it is the truth, what does it matter who said it?”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history

Themes: Anonymity Truth

“Fools admire and love falsely claimed truths that only sweetly stroke the ears.”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

Themes: Deception Truth

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

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

Themes: Time Truth

“The ordinary, isolated intellect, no matter how brilliant or inspired, has not the energy to command our thoughts, words, impulses, memories and experiences in a way that conforms to truth and the Good.”

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

Themes: Truth

70. Inscrutable

“Everything in the world may be imitated except truth, because truth that is imitated is no longer the truth.”

Rabbinic Sages 20 – 200 CE via Rabbi of Kotzk
from Talmud

Themes: Truth Conformity

“Like the lotus flower that grows out of muddy water but stays untouched by mud, engage in life without cherishing envy or hatred; live in the world not a life of self but a life of truth.”

Ashvaghosha སློབ་དཔོན་དཔའ་བོ། 80 – 150 CE
"Bodhisattva with a Horse-Voice" (because even horses listened to his talks)
from Buddhacarita

“All things are interwoven, a sacred bond uniting them into the oneness of truth.”

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

Themes: Oneness Truth

“The truth is hidden from us. Even if a mere piece of luck brings us straight to it, we shall have no grounded conviction of our success; there are so many similar objects, all claiming to be the real thing.

Lucian of Samosata 125 – 180 CE via Fowler
Monumental influence on western literature.
from Rival Philosophies

Themes: Truth

“There is nothing true anywhere, the True is nowhere to be found… When the True is left to itself, there is nothing false in it for it is Mind itself.”

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

Themes: Truth

40. Returning

“Ritual worship is futile and conceals the truth.”

Kukkuripa ཀུ་ཀྐུ་རི་པ། 915 CE –
("The Dog Lover")
Mahasiddha #34

Themes: Religion Truth

“Aren't you ashamed to care so much to make all the money you can, and to advance your reputation and prestige—while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no care or worry?”

Machig Labdrön མ་གཅིག་ལབ་སྒྲོན། 1055 – 1149 CE

“The holy truths are empty”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Blue Cliff Record, Biyan lu 碧巖錄

“The present perception is the Truth, but the Truth is beyond this perception.”

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

Themes: Truth

“the first key to wisdom is assiduous and frequent questioning… for by doubting we come to inquiry, and by inquiring we arrive at truth”

Peter Abelard Pierre Abélard 1079 – 1142 CE
from Dialogue Between a Philosopher, a Jew, and a Christian

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“From the beginning, truth is clear. One who is not attached to 'form' need not be 'reformed'.

Kakuan Shien 廓庵師遠 1100 – 1200 CE
(Kuo-an Shih-yuan, Kuòān Shīyuǎn )
Most popular Ten Bulls artist/poet

from 10 Bulls

“Truth cannot contradict truth.”

Averroes, Ibn Rushd ابن رشد‎‎ 1126 – 1198 CE

Themes: Truth

“Truth is a matter that can withstand mockery, this is freshened by any ironic gesture directed at it. Whatever cannot withstand satire is false.”

Dōgen Zenji 道元禅師 1200 – 1253 CE

Themes: Truth

41. Distilled Life

“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”

Dōgen Zenji 道元禅師 1200 – 1253 CE

80. A Golden Age

“nothing can be known, save what is true”

Thomas Aquinas 1225 – 1274 CE
from Summa Theologica

Themes: Truth

“Truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep the truth and let God go.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

Themes: Truth

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Though you have talent, do not trust in it. Confucius himself was unsuited to his times... Do not trust in promises. Truth is rare.”

Yoshida Kenkō 兼好 1284 – 1350 CE via Sir George Bailey Sansom
Inspiration of self-reinvention

“Our knowledge is molded and limited by our means and ways of perceiving things; it is locked up in the prison of our minds and it must not pretend to be the objective or ultimate truth about anything.”

William of Ockham 1287 – 1347 CE via Will Durant

“Buddha Nature, the Self of all beings, is the simple Truth. From Buddhas to insects, it is the seer, hearer, and mover.”

Bassui Tokushō 抜隊 得勝 1327 – 1387 CE
Meditation master without distraction

“What is seen is not the Truth, what is cannot be said.”

Kabīr कबीर 1399 – 1448 CE

Themes: Truth

56. One with the Dust

“The truth of things is a supreme food for fine intelligences, but not for wandering wits.”

Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519 CE

Themes: Truth

41. Distilled Life

“Make men understand that to tell you the truth does not offend you... Those who do otherwise are either overthrown by flatterers, or so often changed by varying opinions that they fall into contempt.”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE via W. K. Marriott, Shan Dao
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from The Prince

Themes: Truth

“History is a sacred kind of writing, because truth is essential to it, and where truth is, there God himself is, so far as truth is concerned.”

Miguel de Cervantes 1547 – 1616 CE
One of the world's best novelists
from Don Quixote (1605-1615)

Themes: History Truth

“Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”

Giordano Bruno 1548 – 1600 CE
from Cause, Principle, and Unity: And Essays on Magic

Themes: Truth Belief

“Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE

Themes: Truth

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Human knowledge is a mere ill-digested mass made up of credulity, accident, and childish notions.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE via Shan Dao

“Hell is truth seen too late.”

Thomas Hobbes 1588 – 1679 CE
from Leviathan

“Hope is a great falsifier of truth.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, #19
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Truth Hope

“Lies always come first, truth lags last limping along on the arm of time.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #146
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Lies Truth

“Think with the few and speak with the many… Truth is for the few, error is both common and vulgar… The wise person therefore retires into silence and if he allows himself to come out of it he does so in the shade and before few and fit persons.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

41. Distilled Life

“The truth is generally seen, rarely heard.”

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

Themes: Truth

“Once your soul has been enlarged by a truth, it can never return to its original size.”

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

Themes: Truth

“Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many.”

Baruch Spinoza 1632 – 1677 CE

Themes: Truth Conformity

18. The Sick Society

“Every feeling is the perception of a truth.”

Leibniz 1646 – 1716 CE
(Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz)

Themes: Truth

“When I was a child, everyone praised my archery except for one old teacher; he said I was not good, and it was because of him, the critical one, that I now shoot and ride so well.”

Kāngxī 康熙帝 1654 – 1722 CE via Jonathan D. Spence
from Emperor of China, Self-Portrait of K'ang-hsi

Themes: Truth

“Getting out of danger requires that one believe it is dangerous – belief rules the mind… If there is truthfulness, then the mind develops.”

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

Themes: Truth Belief

80. A Golden Age

“You can make a good living from sooth-saying but not from truth-saying”

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg 1742 – 1799 CE
One of history’s best aphorists

Themes: Livelihood Truth

“It is much easier to recognize error than to find truth; error is superficial and may be corrected; truth lies hidden in the depths.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Truth

“In all ten directions of the universe, there is only one truth. When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same.”

Ryokan 良寛大愚 1758 – 1758 CE via Stephen Mitchell
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)

“All truth is a species of revelation.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 – 1834 CE via George Seldes
from Letter to Shomas Poole

Themes: Truth

“Death conceals everything but truth, and strips a man of everything but genius and virtue. It’s a sort of natural canonization.”

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

Themes: Truth

“It is only our own basic thoughts that possess truth and life… other people’s thoughts are like crumbs form another’s table, the cast-off clothes of an unfamiliar guest.”

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

Themes: Truth Pluralism

“No words suffice the secret soul to show,
For truth denies all eloquence to woe.”

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

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Truth

41. Distilled Life

“A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth, at once the center and circumference of knowledge. Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted... it awakens and enlarges the mind lifting the veil from the hidden beauty of the world.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE via Christopher Moore

Themes: Poetry Truth

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

John Keats 1795 – 1821 CE
Writer of "poems as immortal as English"
from Ode on a Grecian Urn, 1819

Themes: Truth Beauty

“Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism
from Prudence

Themes: Lies Truth

“Men will not accept truth at the hands of their enemies, and truth is seldom offered to them by their friends”

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

Themes: Truth Enemy

“Any, even unintentional, deviation from truth... keeps back civilization, virtue, everything on which human happiness on the largest scale depends.”

John Stuart Mill 1806 – 1873 CE via Utilitarianism

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

Themes: Truth

“Truth is subjectivity.”

Søren Kierkegaard 1813 – 1855 CE
"The first existentialist philosopher"

Themes: Truth

“vain to popularize profundities, and all truth is profound”

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

73. Heaven’s Net

“Every new truth which has ever been propounded has, for a time caused mischief, produced discomfort, and often unhappiness; sometimes disturbing social and religious arrangements... the face of society is disturbed, or perhaps convulsed.”

Henry Thomas Buckle 1821 – 1862 CE
from History of Civilization

Themes: Truth Problems

“The great enemy of knowledge is not error… One error conflicts with another, each destroys its opponent, and truth is evolved.”

Henry Thomas Buckle 1821 – 1862 CE
from History of Civilization

Themes: Truth Conflict Enemy

43. No Effort, No Trace

“Everything passes, only truth remains.”

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

Themes: Truth Change

“Error runs down an inclined plane, while Truth has to laboriously climb its way up hill.”

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

Themes: Truth

“Truth consists not in never lying but in knowing when to lie and when not to do so... Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well... The best liar is he who makes the smallest amount of lying go the longest way.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Note-Books (1912)

Themes: Truth Lies

“When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”

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

Themes: Truth Enemy

37. Nameless Simplicity
70. Inscrutable

“Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it... Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.”

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

Themes: Truth

20. Unconventional Mind

“One must be very particular about telling the truth. Through truth one can realize God.”

Ramakrishna 1836 – 1886 CE

Themes: Truth

True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from The Meaning of Truth (1909)

Themes: Truth

“People don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

Themes: Illusion Truth

“Anarchism is the usher of science — the master of ceremonies to all forms of truth. It would remove all barriers between the human being and natural development.”

Lucy Parsons 1853 – 1942 CE
(Eldine Gonzalez)
Political activist “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”

Themes: Science Truth

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE

Themes: Truth Simplicity

“All great truths begin as blasphemies.”

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

Themes: Truth Paradox

“Comfort is no test of truth. Truth is often far from being comfortable”

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

Themes: Truth

“We taste and feel and see the truth. We do not reason ourselves into it.”

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

Themes: Truth

51. Mysterious Goodness

“Let us seek truth everywhere; let us scatter it to the winds of heaven where it will blow, find new ground, and germinate in this wide universe of souls.”

Romain Rolland 1866 – 1944 CE via Shan Dao
“The moral consciousness of Europe”

Themes: Truth

“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”

Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 CE

Themes: Truth

“Of all evils of war the greatest is the purely spiritual evil: the hatred, the injustice, the repudiation of truth, the artificial conflict.”

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

Themes: Truth Conflict

“Averroes is more important in Christian than in Mohammedan philosophy. In the latter he was a dead end; in the former, a beginning… [he] regarded religion as containing philosophic truth in allegorical form.”

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

Themes: Truth

“A harmful truth is better than a useful lie.”

Thomas Mann 1875 – 1955 CE via Arthur Koestler​
Deep, psychologically insightful author

Themes: Lies Truth

“Words that oscillate between nonsense and supreme meaning are the oldest and truest.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE via Sonu Shamdasani
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Red Book, Liber Novus

Themes: Truth

“Myth embodies the nearest approach to absolute truth that can be stated in words.”

Ananda Coomaraswamy குமாரசுவாமி 1877 – 1947 CE
Perennial philosophy's Citizen of the World

Themes: Truth

“When truth has no burning, then it is philosophy, when it gets burning from the heart, it becomes poetry.”

Muhammad Iqbal محمد اقبال 1877 – 1938 CE

“Those who tell of two ways and praise one are recognized as prophets or great teachers. They save men from confusion and hard choices. They offer… simple schemes, but truth is not so simple.”

Martin Buber מרטין בובר‎‎ 1878 – 1965 CE
from Ich und Du, I and Thou

Themes: Confusion Truth

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Like the goal of art is the search for beauty, the goal of religion is the search for God and truth.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

Themes: Art Religion Truth God

“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Truth Teachers Enemy

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Man at his best loves the pick of words that tell the truth, the fair profit of able dealings.”

Witter Bynner 1881 – 1968 CE
(Emanuel Morgan)

“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes makes its way to the surface.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE

Themes: Truth

“Is there anything truer than truth? Yes, legend. This gives eternal meaning to ephemeral truth.”

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

Themes: Truth

“Truth is seldom simple; often it has a right and a left hand, and moves on two feet.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Age of Napoleon

Themes: Truth

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE
from Four Quartets

Themes: Truth

“What is laid down, ordered, factual is never enough to embrace the whole truth: life always spills over the rim of every cup.”

Boris Pasternak Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к 1890 – 1960 CE
Russia's greatest poet

Themes: Truth

“The truth is always exciting. Speak it, then. Life is dull without it.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE

Themes: Truth

“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

56. One with the Dust

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

41. Distilled Life

“The very perception of seeing what is false is the truth.

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Themes: Truth

21. Following Empty Heart

“Truth is a pathless land, not a ready-made object that can be give to you by a religion or a guru. It has to be discovered.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE via Satish Kumar, Shan Dao
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Themes: Truth

“Only one thing is right, and that is the Truth, but nobody knows what it is. It is a thing that changes all the time, and then comes back to the same thing.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE

Themes: Truth

“Truth, for any man, is that which makes him a man.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1900 – 1944 CE
from Wind, Sand, and Stars (1939)

Themes: Truth Integrity

“In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

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

Themes: Truth

“The naked truth, terrifying to behold, is not to be covered with robes of self-deception. This is the first vow of the scholar. Please keep it though it costs you your life.”

Gendün Chöphel དགེ་འདུན་ཆོས་འཕེལ། 1903 – 1951 CE via Donald S. Lopez

Themes: Truth Deception

“Thinking does not lead to truth; truth is the beginning of thought.”

Hannah Arendt 1906 – 1975 CE
Fearless researcher into the darker reaches of the human psyche

Themes: Truth

“Truth needs no label: it is neither Buddhist, Christian, Hindu nor Moslem. It is not the monopoly of anybody. Sectarian labels are a hindrance to the independent understanding of Truth, and they produce harmful prejudices in men's minds.”

Walpola Rahula Thero 1907 – 1997 CE
“Supreme Master of Buddhist Scriptures”

Themes: Truth Fanaticism

“When you see a garden of flowers, remember naturally free life in harmony with Truth.”

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

Themes: Truth

“When you see a garden of flowers, remember naturally free life in harmony with Truth.”

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

Themes: Beauty Truth

“Poetry is a special use of language that opens onto the real. The business of the poet is truth telling, which is why in the Celtic tradition no one could be a teacher unless he or she was a poet.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

Themes: Poetry Truth

“Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true... People never notice anything.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Catcher in the Rye

Themes: Truth

“Truth is like a bird
Flying silently
In the silken sky
To a hidden tree
In the cottonmouth

Jack Kerouac 1922 – 1969 CE
from Some of the Dharma

Themes: Truth

“When one experiences truth, the madness of finding fault with others disappears.”

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

“The truth is to keep moving. If you get stuck in one concept, the truth dies.”

Hua-Ching Ni 1925 CE –
from Complete Works of Lao Tzu

Themes: Truth

“Followers who tell the truth, and leaders who listen to it, are an unbeatable combination.”

Warren Bennis 1925 – 2014 CE
Authentic Leadership pioneering thought leader

Themes: Truth

“I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

Malcolm X الحاجّ مالك الشباز‎‎ 1925 – 1965 CE

“I don'think there is any truth. There are only points of view.”

Allen Ginsberg 1926 – 1997 CE

Themes: Truth Judaism

20. Unconventional Mind

“If you want to get the plain truth, be not concerned with right and wrong.”

Seungsahn 숭산행원대선사 1927 – 2004 CE
(Soen Sa Nim)

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I'm looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away.”

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

Themes: Travel Truth

“the voices of the gods proved to be ignorant and false; they have been silenced by the truth.”

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

Themes: Truth

“The more people believe something, the less likely it’s true but the more likely people will believe it’s true.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Truth

“Oh, how short-sighted you who dismiss the philosophy or sage
Because of one small disagreement.
Don’t you know that every whole is flawed
And also full of truth?
Much more suspect
Believing all of anything is true.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

Themes: Complaint Truth

“But it's the truth even if it didn't happen.”

Ken Kesey 1935 – 2001 CE

Themes: Truth

“By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.”

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

Themes: Truth

56. One with the Dust

“There is no truth to seek or to confirm logically; rather what one needs to do is to discover just how much the mind continually limits itself in a condition of dualism.”

Namkhai Norbu ཆོས་རྒྱལ་ནམ་མཁའི་ནོར་བུ་ 1938 – 2018 CE via John Shane
Dzogchen Master
from Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State

Themes: Truth

“When we look at things as they are on a very simple and ordinary level, we find that they are fantastically , obviously true, frighteningly true… There is a kind of courtship, a love affair between the obviousness and you perceiving it.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Simplicity Truth

47. Effortless Success

“you don’t spell out the truth, you imply the truth with wakeful delight… When you spell out the truth it loses its essence and becomes either ‘my’ truth or ‘your’ truth… By implying the truth, the truth doesn’t become anyone’s property.”

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

70. Inscrutable

“The truth may hurt, but it's the truth.”

Julian Bond 1940 – 2015 CE
Courageous civil rights leader

Themes: Truth

“May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you…Forever young, forever young, May you stay forever young.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

Themes: Truth Longevity

55. Forever Young

“The opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.”

Stephen Mitchell 1943 CE –
from Second Book of Tao

Themes: Truth

“If words are of any use at all, they are the words of the poet. For poetry has the ability to point us toward the truth, then stand aside.”

Red Pine 1943 CE – via Red Pine
( Bill Porter)
Exceptional translator, cultural diplomat
from Lao-Tzu's Taoteching

1. The Unnamed

“The truth may be hard to find, but it is out there—somewhere. If we do not continue the work, the truth remains hidden. If we stop the search, then the censor has defeated us.”

Jack Weatherford 1945 CE –
from Secret History of the Mongol Queens

Themes: Truth

“Can anything be completely correct, or completely incorrect? We live in a world where rain might fall 30% or 70% of the time. Truth is probably no different. There could be 30% or 70% truth.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –
from Killing Commendatore

Themes: Truth

“While it is good to speak well, it is better to speak the truth.”

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

Themes: Truth

“In fact, one big lesson from Buddhism is to be suspicious of the intuition that your ordinary way of perceiving the world brings you the truth about it.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Why Buddhism is True

Themes: Truth

“sometimes the truth is so harsh that when people hear it spoken, it sounds like abuse... everyone is so easy to offend nowadays that no one is willing to say the things that are true.”

Neal Stephenson 1959 CE –
(Stephen Bury)
Speculative futurist and cultural social commentator

from Interface (1994)

Themes: Truth

“A storyteller does not concern themselves with the truth. Stories are truer than the truth.”

Neil Gaiman 1960 CE –
Myth-transmitting creative maelstrom

Themes: Truth

“Drama is illusion that acts like truth, and dharma is truth itself—the way things are, the basic state of reality that does not change from day to day according to fashion or our mood or agenda.”

Dzogchen Pönlop 1965 CE –

Themes: Truth

“The truth is that truth was never high on the agenda of Homo sapiens... false stories have an intrinsic advantage over the truth when it comes to uniting people... If you stick to unalloyed reality, few people will follow you... if you dream of a society in which truth reigns supreme and myths are ignored... Better to try your luck with chimps.”

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

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Themes: Truth

Comments (0)