Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Here and Now

Though almost everyone seems to recognize that only the here and now is real, that the past is gone and the future not here yet; almost everyone also seems to disregard the here and now and give all their allegiance, attention, and energy to the past and the future. Since the past created the here and now and because the here and now creates the future, how could our priorities become so confused?

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Quotes (73)

“The heart thinks constantly. This cannot be changed, but the movements of the heart – that is, a man’s thoughts – should restrict themselves to the immediate situation. All thinking that goes beyond this only makes the heart sore”

Fu Xi 伏羲 c. 2852–2737 BCE via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 52
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

Themes: Here and Now

26. The Still Rule the Restless

“Hold fast to the perpetual, momentary flickering of mind.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter #14
(Lǎozǐ)
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Here and Now

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

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Witter Bynner
(Lǎozǐ)
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

Themes: Time Here and Now

“The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There's only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment.”

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

Themes: Here and Now

40. Returning

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

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

79. No Demands

“Reality is now, all at once, one and continuous, not divisible, never any more or less of it and nothing that could stop it holding together but always alike and full of what is.”

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

12. This Over That

“Seek not, my soul, the life of the immortals; but enjoy to the full the resources that are within thy reach.”

Pindar Πίνδαρος 522 – 443 BCE
Archetype of poetry

“Don’t spoil what you have by desiring what you don’t. Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
from On Nature

9. Know When to Stop

“carpe diem (seize the day)… As we speak, cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow.”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE

Themes: Here and Now

35. The Power of Goodness

“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

“Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’… do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Saint Matthew
from New Testament Διαθήκη

Themes: Here and Now

“‘What did your rabbi consider the most essential thing?’ Whatever he happened to be engaged in at that particular moment he considered the most essential thing.”

Rabbinic Sages 20 – 200 CE via Rabbi Moshe of Kobrin
from Talmud

Themes: Here and Now

“People hear the Buddha's doctrine of immediacy and if they accept it, the demons will be crushed as easily as a roofing tile. But if they cannot accept, what a pity!”

Yòngjiā Xuānjué 永嘉玄覺 665 – 713 CE
(Yung-chia Ta-shih; Yōka Genkaku; "The Overnight Guest")
from Song of Enlightenment 证道歌

Themes: Here and Now

“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: Here and Now Time

40. Returning

“Birth and death apply to everybody constantly, at this very moment.”

Padmasambhava པདྨཱ་ཀ་ར། 8th century CE via Chögyam Trungpa & Francesca Fremantle
("The Lotus-Born", Guru Rinpoche)
from Tibetan Book of the Dead

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“The experience right before your eyes is no different from the Buddhas of all times but you do not believe it and continue looking somewhere else outside.”

Rinzai Gigen 臨済義玄 ? - 866 CE via Shan Dao
(Línjì Yìxuán)

Themes: Here and Now

1. The Unnamed

“The ignorant avoid experience but not thought; the wise avoid thought but not experience.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运 ? - 850 CE
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)

21. Following Empty Heart

“I who live in spontaneous reality... exist in things as they are.”

Virupa བི་རཱུ་པ། 9th century CE via Keith Dowman
(“Dakini Master”)
Mahasiddha #3
from Masters of Enchantment

Themes: Here and Now

32. Uncontrived Awareness

“When your home is nowhere, the mind is centered.
There is nothing to be gained by seeking elsewhere.”

Udhilipa ཨུ་དྷི་ལི་པ། (9th century CE) via Keith Dowman
The Bird-Man

“Worry over what has not occurred is a serious malady.”

Solomon ibn Gabirol שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול 1021 – 1070 CE via Ascher
(Avicebron)
from Choice of Pearls

Themes: Here and Now

“Be happy for this moment - this moment is your life.”

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

from Rubaiyat

Themes: Here and Now

“the Path is right where you stand... why would you need to search the pages for someone else's dead words?”

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

“Sounds and colors crowd in together, carefree and transcendent, directly leaping into each other.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE via Dan Leighton
(Shōgaku)
from Cultivating the Emplty Field

“Sounds and colors crowd in together, carefree and transcendent, directly leaping into each other.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE via Dan Leighton
(Shōgaku)
from Cultivating the Emplty Field

“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

“Time goes from present to past.”

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

Themes: Time Here and Now

“Creative imagination resolves duality into unity and spontaneity, illuminates the ultimate meaning of life, and establishes meaningful being in the now.”

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་

“Wherever you are is the entry point.”

Kabīr कबीर 1399 – 1448 CE

Themes: Here and Now

35. The Power of Goodness

“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand--and melting like a snowflake...”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE

Themes: Here and Now

35. The Power of Goodness

“Only the present has a right to exist because the past is only a memory and the future has no existence.

Thomas Hobbes 1588 – 1679 CE

40. Returning

“The propensity of mankind is to exalt the past, and to depreciate the present.”

Edward Gibbon 1737 – 1794 CE
from Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

Themes: Here and Now

“There is no past we can bring back by longing for it. There is only an eternal now that builds and creates out of the past something new and better.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

40. Returning

“All memory is present.”

Novalis 1772 – 1831 CE

“While the intellectual horizon of the normal man is wider than that of the animal—one continual present with no consciousness of past or future—it is not so immeasurably wide as generally supposed.”

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

Themes: Here and Now

“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

“Our grand business undoubtedly is, not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

Thomas Carlyle 1795 – 1881 CE
"Great Man” theory of history creator

Themes: Here and Now

“He who strives with the present strives with a single thing against which he can use his entire strength. He who fights with the future has more dangerous enemy. He can never remain ignorant about himself; he fights with himself.”

Søren Kierkegaard 1813 – 1855 CE
"The first existentialist philosopher"
from Edifying Discourses

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

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

Themes: Here and Now

40. Returning

“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

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886 CE

Themes: Time Here and Now

25. The Mother of All Things

“The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE

“Be reverent before the dawning day. Do not think of what will be in a year, or in ten years. Think of to-day.”

Romain Rolland 1866 – 1944 CE
“The moral consciousness of Europe”
from Jean Christophe Vol I

Themes: Here and Now

“What was any art but a mold to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself- life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

from My Ántonia

Themes: Art Here and Now

1. The Unnamed

“Why should you trouble yourself about the future? You do not even properly know about the present. Take care of the present, the future will take care of itself.”

Ramana Maharshi 1879 – 1950 CE

Themes: Here and Now

“Let us leave theories there and return to here's hear.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Finnegan's Wake

“Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Ulysses

Themes: Here and Now

40. Returning

“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: Here and Now Time

“I do not know which makes a man more conservative - to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.”

John Maynard Keynes 1883 – 1946 CE
Revolutionary economist credited with saving capitalism

Themes: Here and Now

“You forget to pay attention to what's happening. And that's the same as not being here and now.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

“If you want to live at every moment as it presents itself, you've got to die to every other moment.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

40. Returning

“If you want to live at every moment as it presents itself, you've got to die to every other moment.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

40. Returning

“Society tries to focus us on distant goals making it easy for us to forget that our only goal is to live, to live each and every day”

Jean Giono 1895 – 1970 CE via Shan Dao

Themes: Here and Now

42. Children of the Way

“Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time.”

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

“Limit your activity to what you can do just now.. when you sit, just sit; when you eat, just eat.”

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

Themes: Here and Now

“You may think that if there is no purpose or no goal in our practice, we will not know what to do… The way to practice without having any goal is to limit your activity to what you can do just now, in this moment… just concentrate on the activity which we do in each moment.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

26. The Still Rule the Restless

“We look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day.”

Albert Camus 1913 – 1960 CE

Themes: Here and Now

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”

Albert Camus 1913 – 1960 CE

“How beautiful life is and how sad! How fleeting, with no past and no future, only a limitless now.”

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

Themes: Here and Now

“The present moment is the door to all moments.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: Here and Now

“People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: Here and Now

“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”

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

“The cutting edge of this instant right here and now is always nothing less than the totality of everything there is.”

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

“The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Here and Now

40. Returning

“one of the characteristic diseases of the twentieth century was making its way: the suspicion that they would be greatly improved if they were somewhere else.”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

Themes: Here and Now

80. A Golden Age

“When one of the emperors of China asked Bodhidharma what enlightenment was, his answer was, ‘Lots of space, nothing holy’… It’s all good juicy stuff … the art of living in the present moment.”

Pema Chödrön 1936 CE –
(Deirdre Blomfield-Brown)
First American Vajrayana nun

64. Ordinary Mind

“No one knows what’s next, but everybody does it.”

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

Themes: Here and Now

“This life, this experience of the universe is the only thing; there is nothing beyond this at all... it would be much easier to make up a mysterious myth or a mystical experience out of it, rather than seeing things as they are.”

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

“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

“Imagine all the people, living for today.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

37. Nameless Simplicity

“You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.”

Joan Baez 1941 CE –

“We are lured by the expectation that… one day we will reach ‘happily ever after’ … We believe our grand performance is yet to come, so we do not live for today.”

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: Here and Now

57. Wu Wei

“There is no wisdom higher than present mind itself”

Dzogchen Pönlop 1965 CE –

Themes: Here and Now

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