I was only recently drawn to the Tao Te Ching. It is ancient knowledge so maybe this is the right place for it. It has 81 short chapters and rather than putting these wise statements under Triggering Quotes I thought this may be a right place for it.
Here is the first one.
WHAT IS THE TAO?
The Tao that can be understood is not the eternal, cosmic Tao, just as an idea that can be expressed in words is not the infinite idea. And yet this ineffable Tao is the source of all spirit and matter; expressing itself, it is the mother of all created things. Not to desire material things is to know the freedom of spirituality; and to desire them is to suffer the limitations of matter. Yet these two things, matter and spirit, so different in nature, have the same origin. This unity is the mystery of mysteries, and the gateway to spirituality.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 1). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
When beauty is only a masquerade, it is simply ugliness. In the same way, goodness, if it is not sincere, is not really goodness. Existence and nonexistence are incompatible. The difficult and the easy are mutually opposed. The long and the short, the high and the low, the loud and soft, the before and the after— all are opposites. Each reveals the other. The wise are not conspicuous in their actions or given to much talking. When troubles arise, they are not irritated. They produce, but do not hoard; They act, but expect no praise; They build, but do not dwell therein. And because they do not dwell therein, They never depart.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 2). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
When a ruler is silent on the subject of virtue, the people are discouraged from practicing it. Meanwhile, a ruler who revels in riches encourages thievery. Value virtue over wealth, and the people’s hearts will be at rest. Wise rulers do not accumulate treasures, but seek to quiet the hearts of their people. They soothe the people’s appetites and strengthen their bones. They treasure innocence, and protect the simple from the schemes of the clever. When a ruler practices restraint, everything will be in peace.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 3). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
The Tao seems empty, yet it is never exhausted. Oh, it is profound! It existed before anything. It dulls its own sharpness, breaks its own bonds, dims its own brightness, identifies with its own dust. Oh, it is peaceful! It is infinite, eternal. No one knows from where it came. It is older than the gods.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 4). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
The earth and the stars do not take sides— they are impartial. They regard all individuals as insignificant, as though they were playthings made of straw. The wise are also impartial; to them all people are equal and alike. The space between earth and the stars is like a bellows— it is empty but does not collapse; as it contracts, it creates. Gossips, by contrast, spew out words till they are empty, because they are not impartial.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 5). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
The Spirit of the perennial spring is said to be immortal. She is called the Mysterious One. The Mysterious One is the source of the universe. She is continually, endlessly giving forth life, without effort.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (pp. 6-7). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
The universe is eternal, and earth is lasting. The reason they are eternal and lasting is that they do not exist for themselves. That is why they endure. The wise humble themselves— and because of their humility, they are worthy of praise. They put others first, and so become great. They are not focused on outcomes or achievements; therefore they always succeed.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 7). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
True goodness is like water; it nurtures everything and harms nothing. Like water, it ever seeks the lowest place, the place that all others avoid. This is the way of the Tao. For a dwelling it chooses the quiet meadow; for a heart the circling eddy. In generosity it is kind; in speech it is sincere; in power it is order; in action it is gentle; in movement it is rhythm. Because it is always peaceable, it soothes and refreshes.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 8). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
If you continue filling a pail after it is full, the water will be wasted. If you continue grinding an axe after it is sharp, the edge will wear away. Who can protect a house full of gold and jewels? Excessive fortune brings about its own misfortune. To win true merit—to earn a good reputation— you must be prudent. This is the way of the Tao.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 9). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
By patience, you can discipline your desires. By self-control, you can develop strong character. By practicing gentleness, you can become as a little child. By purifying the subconscious, you may become perfect. Because wise rulers love the people, they lead without using force. In measuring out rewards, wise rulers act like mother birds. While seeing into every corner, they are unobtrusive. While protecting the people, they do not control them. They are motherly and fatherly, but not domineering. They persuade with words, not weapons. This is their crowning virtue.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 10). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
A wheel may have thirty spokes, but its usefulness lies in the empty hub. A jar is formed from clay, but its usefulness lies in the empty center. A room is made from four walls, but its usefulness lies in the space between. Matter is necessary to give form, but the value of reality lies in its immateriality. Everything that lives has a physical body, but the value of a life is measured by the soul.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 11). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
Too much light blinds the eye; too much noise deafens the ear; too many spices dull the taste; too much exercise weakens the body; the pursuit of great riches leads to ruin. The wise attend to the inner truth of things and are not fooled by outward appearances. They ignore matter and seek the spirit.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching (p. 12). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
In ancient times, the masters were subtle, spiritual, profound, and wise. Their thoughts could not be easily understood.
They were cautious as men wading across a river; they were alert as soldiers in wartime; they were reserved as guests in another’s home; they were elusive as ice at the point of melting; they were lowly as a valley between mountains; they were obscure as muddy waters.
Since they were difficult to understand, I will try to make their thoughts clear.
To clarify muddy waters, you must hold them still and let things settle. To glimpse the secret of the Tao, you must keep still and quiet your mind.
Lao Tzu; Renewal, Ancient; Torode, Sam. Tao Te Ching (p. 15). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
If a ruler lacks faith, so will the people. Unworthy rulers are despised. Common rulers are feared by their subjects. Good rulers win the affection and praise of their subjects. But when great rulers lead, the people are hardly aware of their existence.
How carefully wise rulers choose their words; how simple are their actions. Under such a government, the people think they are ruling themselves.
Lao Tzu; Renewal, Ancient; Torode, Sam. Tao Te Ching (p. 17). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
The great Tao is ignored, yet we speak of goodness and righteousness. Relatives are unfriendly, yet we talk of familial love and respect. The state and the family are in confusion and chaos, yet we praise ourselves for loyalty and faithfulness.
This is great hypocrisy.
Lao Tzu; Renewal, Ancient; Torode, Sam. Tao Te Ching (p. 18). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
I thought I would make an attempt to continue Hans thread (since I enjoyed it), although his Kindle version is slightly different than what I have.
Forget about knowledge and wisdom, and people will be a hundred times better off. Throw away charity and righteousness, and people will return to brotherly love. Throw away profit and greed, and there won't be any thieves.
These things are superficial and aren't enough to keep us at the centre of the circle, so we must also:
Embrace simplicity. Put others first. Desire little.
Renounce knowledge and your problems will end. What is the difference between yes and no? What is the difference between good and evil? Must you fear what others fear? Nonsense, look how far you have missed the mark!
Other people are joyous, as though they were at a spring festival. I alone am unconcerned and expressionless, like an infant before it has learned to smile. Other people have more than they need; I alone seem to possess nothing. I am lost and drift about with no place to go. I am like a fool, my mind is in chaos.
Ordinary people are bright; I alone am dark. Ordinary people are clever; I alone am dull. Ordinary people seem discriminating; I alone am muddled and confused. I drift on the waves on the ocean, blown at the mercy of the wind. Other people have their goals, I alone am dull and uncouth.
I am different from ordinary people. I nurse from the Great Mother's breasts.
The greatest virtue you can have comes from following the Tao; which takes a form that is intangible and evasive.
Even though the Tao is intangible and evasive, we are able to know it exists. Intangible and evasive, yet it has a manifestation. Secluded and dark, yet there is a vitality within it. Its vitality is very genuine. Within it we can find order.
Since the beginning of time, the Tao has always existed. It is beyond existing and not existing. How do I know where creation comes from? I look inside myself and see it.
If you want to become whole, first let yourself be broken. If you want to become straight, first let yourself become twisted. If you want to become full, first let yourself become empty. If you want to become new, first let yourself become old. Those whose desires are few get them, those whose dreams are great go astray.
For this reason the Master embraces the Tao, as an example for the world to follow. Because she isn't self-centered, people can see the light in her. Because she does not boast of herself, she becomes a shining example. Because she does not glorify herself, she becomes a person of merit. Because she wants nothing from the world, the world cannot overcome her. When the ancient Masters said, 'If you want to become whole, then first let yourself be broken,' they weren't using empty words. All who do this will be made complete.
Nature uses few words: when the gale blows, it will not last long; when it rains hard, it lasts but a little while; What causes these things to happen? Heaven and Earth.
Why do we humans go on endlessly about little when nature does much in a little time? If you open yourself to the Tao, you and Tao become one. If you open yourself to Virtue, then you can become virtuous. If you open yourself to loss, then you will become lost.
If you open yourself to the Tao, the Tao will eagerly welcome you. If you open yourself to virtue, virtue will become a part of you. If you open yourself to loss, the lost are glad to see you.
When you do not trust people, people will become untrustworthy.
Those who stand on tiptoes do not stand firmly. Those who rush ahead don't get very far. Those who try to outshine other dim their own light. Those who call themselves righteous can't know how wrong they are. Those who boast of their accomplishments diminish the things they have done.
Compared to the Tao, these actions are unworthy. If we are to follow the Tao, we must not do these things.