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quotes from realized Daoist Masters & Authors




03/11/2021 – TODAY’S QUOTE:

“How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.” – Kurt Vonnegut

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi.” Today we look at the two cocluding paragraphs of Chapter 5 and a brief conversation between Chaungzi and Hi Tzu.

Mr. Lame-Hunchback-No-Lips talked to Duke Ling of Wei, and Duke Ling was so pleased with him that when he looked at normal men he thought their necks looked too lean and skinny.9 Mr. Pitcher-Sized-Wen talked to Duke Huan of Ch’i, and Duke Huan was so pleased with him that when he looked at normal men he thought their necks looked too lean and skinny. Therefore, if virtue is preeminent, the body will be forgotten. But when men do not forget what can be forgotten, but forget what cannot be forgotten – that may be called true forgetting.

So the sage has his wanderings. For him, knowledge is an offshoot, promises are glue, favors are a patching up, and skill is a peddler. The sage hatches no schemes, so what use has he for knowledge? He does no carving, so what use has he for glue? He suffers no loss, so what use has he for favors? He hawks no goods, so what use has he for peddling? These four are called Heavenly Gruel. Heavenly Gruel is the food of Heaven, and if he’s already gotten food from Heaven, what use does he have for men? He has the form of a man but not the feelings of a man. Since he has the form of a man, he bands together with other men. Since he doesn’t have the feelings of a man, right and wrong cannot get at him. Puny and small, he sticks with the rest of men. Massive and great, he perfects his Heaven alone.

PLEASE NOTE: I won’t be doing the DAOIST DAILY NOTE for a week or two. I need some time to do my taxes and work on my Daoist Internal Arts practices.


“The most influential person in the room isn’t the one who is being a bully, talking loudly, and imposing him- or herself on others. Surrendered people understand that true power comes from being respectful and listening. Surrendered people know themselves and are empathetic toward others. They don’t measure themselves by how much they are liked, nor do they compete for attention. When they sit quietly in a room, others always seem to come to them.” – Judith Orloff

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 77. I have selected this particular chapter because in many ways it reflects what is going on in our country today. Look at the two factions in our government. Is one faction more empathetic and concerned about the lives of real people. They seem to be more aligned with the Way (the Tao) while the other faction is more selfish and only interested in their own self-interest, what is best for them. They seem more aligned with the Way of Man. We can see it in the response of COVID-19, in the fight over the stimulus bill and the challenges to voting rights for minorities and people of color. On a personal basis, what about your own life? Are there certain types of people you are more attracted to. Why? Are they friendlier? More concerned about you or others they are close to? What about them is it that attracts you? And what about you, yourself? Look at Today’s Quote from Judith Orloff. Does this describe you or someone you know? Does what others think of you truly matter to you? Do you compromise your values, your core beliefs so others will like you, or, at the very least, you won’t offend them. Do others find you genuine? Empathetic, concerned? Are you someone they like to be around? And, even more importantly, are you someone you like to be around?

Chapter 77, Bending the Bow,
translated by Lin Yutang

The Tao (way) of Heaven,
Is it not like the bending of a bow?
The top comes down and the bottom-end goes up,
The extra (length) is shortened, the insufficient (width) is expanded.
It is the way of Heaven to take away from those that have too much
And give to those that have not enough.
Not so with man’s way:
He takes from those that have not
And gives it as tribute to those that have too much.
Who can have enough and to spare to give to the entire world?
Only the man of Tao.
Therefore the Sage acts, but does not possess,
Accomplishes but lays claim to no credit,
Because he has no wish to seem superior.



“What the world needs most is openness: Open hearts, open doors, open eyes, open minds, open ears, open souls.” – Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” Hexagram #9, Hsiao Ch’u. Yesterday, we viewed Part 1 of Kari Hohne’s contemporary commentary on Hsiao Ch’u with a rather insightful take on defensiveness, which is opposition, dissent, refusal, rejection. Whereas, submissiveness is acceptance, agreement, consent. Here, what we are accepting or rejecting is the Way (the Dao). So let’s delve further with Kari Hohne as she looks at the Image of Hsiao Ch’u in Part 2.

Hsiao Ch’u is a picture of how small things are domesticated and suggests how habitual responses are trained and can lead to self-imposed restraint. If you chain a wild horse to a fence long enough, its spirit will not only be broken, it may also forget that it ever roamed free.

The nuclear trigrams suggest “dense clouds, no rain.” Condensation gathers energy above the Water, but the Winds cannot disperse it, and the atmosphere is left with an unproductive heaviness. Self-limiting ideas can take hold like a dam that appears to block your forward progress. Let go and believe in yourself to find success.

You may be moving in circles, while obstacles appear to be everywhere. The smallest restraint can make you feel paralyzed, although when obstacles appear insurmountable, you must only release the dam within. Either take the time to understand what is created by fear, or you may encounter it later as an obstacle. The obstacle is merely a tangible vehicle that allows you to see how you become stuck.

To engage the energy of life productively, combine your power to create with the openness that makes anything possible. The greatest power we can express is through silence. When there is nothing to defend, we are strong.

Unchanging: Clouds gather = the rain has not yet arrived.If things are unfolding slowly and you get Hsiao Ch’u unchanging, the message relates to the way clouds are gathering but have not developed enough to bring forth rain. In this case, the idea of surrender or abiding means to just keep doing the work until the way becomes clear again. Nature moves season to season very slowly. We, on the other hand, want something and we want it now. Small Restraint is a message calling for patience so that some type of blockage within you or another might clear. The object of your enquiry is still developing. However, the time spent waiting is productive in opening you to greater realizations.



“The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child.” – Thomas Raymond Kelly

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” Hexagram #9. Yesterday, we looked at Richard Wilhelm’s commentary on Hexagram #9 Hsiao Ch’u. Today we jump ahead some seven decades and view Part 1 of Kari Hohne’s contemporary version with a rather insigshtful take on defensivenwess versus submissiveness. You can find her commentary at her website: Tomorrow in Part 2, we will go deeper into her commentary on the Image of Hexagram #9 and what it entails.

Hsiao Ch’u (Small Restraint)
I Ching Hexagram 9
Hsiao Ch’u (Small Restraint)

Action: Surrender
Hu Gua (hidden influence) 38 Opposition: Yield
Zong Gua (underlying cause) 16 Enthusiasm: Align
There is no real blockage that can withstand submission.

“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting
for our wits to grow sharper.” – Eden Phillpotts

Reading at a Glance: Because of the one weak Yin line holding the fourth place among strong Yang lines, we see the idea how something small or weak can tame the powerful. Yin is the gentle influence operating in Tao that magnetizes the powerful Yang. The feminine side of courtship shows how a strong element can be held in check through gentle submissiveness. In Small Restraint power is accumulated by gently withholding its expression. We see this in the ‘coming soon’ advertising that creates anticipation, and also in the mating dance of courtship. At the same time, weakness and insecurity within the psyche can become powerful because it is repressed. Anything locked in a vacuum can grow out of proportion to what it is. Ideas of failure can stunt even the most obvious talents. Opposition is the hidden influence or mirror of how we meet our Shadow, or repressed qualities of ourselves in another. We think someone is the enemy when they have come to set us free from self imposed restrictions. After waking from period of Enthusiasm or possible illusion, we discover how nightmares are a positive sign that power has begun to stir in the psyche. In Taoism, the idea of ‘Te’ is the inherent authenticity that you are born with. You need only peel away the layers of fear that keep you from expressing it. In either case, you will need to approach the object of your enquiry with gentle submissiveness to exercise, discover or release your power. Defensiveness ensures that the negative outcome is relentless. Submissiveness always opens new doors for success so simply surrender to the Way.

When obstacles are
insurmountable –
open to the teaching.

“Holding together, restraint is certain to come about.” The Gentle Wind stirs above the Creative portraying how constant action, regardless of how small, makes creation possible. Hsiao Ch’u reveals how your power to create always comes as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the smallest effort will eventually bear fruit as the image of the fertile soil gathering in a river valley. It also suggests how the tiniest seed becomes reality in the ideas that you cultivate.

The master said: “The Gentle has its own power, like water dripping onto stone.” Hsiao Ch’u suggests the ways in which your thoughts might either hold you back or allow you to succeed. The power of intention is being examined.



“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” – Saint Francis de Sales

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” Hexagram #9, Hsiao Ch’u / The Taming Power of the Small. While its title may be a little deceiving, this is a somewhat tricky fortune. Its success lies in a weak line holding a strong line in check. Tai Chi and aikido, in which a weak person can overcome a stronger opponent by using gentleness are good examples of how this hexagram can be employed. The commentary below is from the Richard Wilhelm translation.


TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” Hexagram #9, Hsiao Ch’u / The Taming Power of the Small. While its title may be a little deceiving, this is a somewhat tricky fortune. Its success lies in a weak line holding a strong line in check. Tai Chi and aikido, in which a weak person can overcome a stronger opponent by using gentleness are good examples of how this hexagram can be employed. The commentary below is from the Richard Wilhelm translation.

#9 Hsiao Ch’u / The Taming Power of the Small


This hexagram means the force of the small–the power of the shadowy–that restrains, tames, impedes. A weak line in the fourth place, that of the minister, holds the five strong lines in check. In the Image it is the wind blowing across the sky. The wind restrains the clouds, the rising breath of the Creative, and makes them grow dense, but as yet is not strong enough to turn them to rain. The hexagram presents a configuration of circumstances in which a strong element is temporarily held in leash by a weak element. It is only through gentleness that this can have a successful outcome.


Has success.
Dense clouds, no rain from our western region.

This image refers to the state of affairs in China at the time when King Wên, who came originally from the west, was in the east at the court of the reigning tyrant Chou Hsin. The moment for action on a large scale had not yet arrived. King Wên could only keep the tyrant somewhat in check by friendly persuasion. Hence the image of many clouds, promising moisture and blessing to the land, although as yet no rain falls. The situation is not unfavorable; there is a prospect of ultimate success, but there are still obstacles in the way, and we can merely take preparatory measures. Only through the small means of friendly persuasion can we exert any influence. The time has not yet come for sweeping measures. However, we may be able, to a limited extent, to act as a restraining and subduing influence. To carry out our purpose we need firm determination within and gentleness and adaptability in external relations.


The wind drives across heaven:
The image of THE TAMING POWER OF THE SMALL. Thus the superior man
Refines the outward aspect of his nature.

The wind can indeed drive the clouds together in the sky; yet, being nothing but air, without solid body, it does not produce great or lasting effects. So also an individual, in times when he can produce no great effect in the outer world, can do nothing except refine the expression of his nature in small ways.



“The history of mankind is a history of the subjugation and exploitation of a great majority of people by an elite few by what has been appropriately termed the ‘ruling class’. The ruling class has many manifestations. It can take the form of a religious orthodoxy, a monarchy, a dictatorship of the proletariat, outright fascism, or, in the case of the United States, corporate statism. In each instance the ruling class relies on academics, scholars and ‘experts’ to legitimize and provide moral authority for its hegemony over the masses.”- Ed Crane, co-founder of the Cato Institute

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching.” Today we look at two chapters, 29 and 30. Chapter 29 is Laozi’s advice to rulers and would-be dictators, who seek to rule for personal gain. Chapter 30 is Laozi’s advice to generals and ministers who would help a ruler accomplish his/her goals. We can extend his advice to presidents, governors, CEOs and anyone who uses a group of adults, whether large or small, to gain personal benefit.

Advice to a would-be ruler:
“If you try to grab hold of the world and do what you want with it, you won’t succeed.
The world is a vessel for spirit, and it wasn’t made to be manipulated.
Tamper with it and you’ll spoil it.
Hold it, and you’ll lose it.
With Tao, sometimes you move ahead and sometimes you stay back;
Sometimes you work hard and sometimes you rest;
Sometimes you’re strong and sometimes you’re weak;
Sometimes you’re up; sometimes you’re down.
The sage remains sensitive, avoiding extremes, avoiding extravagance, avoiding excess.”
– Translated by Brian Browne Walker, 1996, Chapter 29

Advice to a would-be general or minister:
“Whoever advises a ruler according to Tao
opposes conquest by war.
Policies of war tend to rebound.
Where the armies march, brambles grow.
Whenever a great army is formed,
hunger and evil follow.

So, a wise general achieves his goal and stops;
he does not battle beyond victory.
He wins, but does not boast of it;
he wins, but does not celebrate it;
he wins, but does not revel in the spoils;
he wins, for it is his duty to win;
he wins, but not from love of violence.

Things reach their peak, then decline.
Violence opposes Tao.
Whoever opposes Tao dies early.”
– Translated by C. Ganson, Chapter 30


“Our task is to strike a balance, to find a middle way, to learn not to overextend ourselves with extraneous activities and preoccupations, but to simplify our lives more and more. The key to finding a happy balance in modern life is simplicity.” – Sogyal Rinpoche

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is a short lesson from the beginning of Chapter 3 in the “Zhuangzi.” Since it is from an early chapter, we know it was written by Zhuanzi, himself, and is his simple advice on what Laozi would call following the middle way and living out your years without complicating it.

“YOUR LIFE HAS A LIMIT but knowledge has none. If you use what is limited to pursue what has no limit, you will be in danger. If you understand this and still strive for knowledge, you will be in danger for certain! If you do good, stay away from fame. If you do evil, stay away from punishments. Follow the middle; go by what is constant, and you can stay in one piece, keep yourself alive, look after your parents, and live out your years.”



“Nature is flexible and resilient. Nature likes redundancy and dispersion. It is approximate and deals in gradients. All boundaries are permeable. Nature nests small systems like molecules within larger systems like cells, which in turn are nested in systems called organs, organisms, ecosystems. We grew from ancient one-celled ancestors. Nature likes mergers: we contain multitudes of other life forms within us. We stand at the crest of four billion years, bacteria molded into wondrous form, burning with a slow fire and about to take the next step.” – Robert Frenay

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is Part 2 of Kari Hohne’s contemporary commentary on Hexagram 59, Huan/Dispersion from her website. It so happens that her commentary echoes the theme presented in Today’s Quote by Robert Frenay.

The wellness of nature’s individual parts relies on the well-being of the whole. The master said: “If this was not the most divine thing on the earth, how could it do this?” The sublime complexity of nature creates communities where each species thrives in each other’s presence. Herbivores need plants; carnivores depend on herbivores, and predation keeps a natural balance. Without scavengers like bacteria, waste could not be regenerated into plants. Without the carbon consuming oceans and rainforests, the animals would be deprived of oxygen. At the same time that life is broken up, you can observe how it is regenerated through a reuniting. In the image of how life scatters to expand, “there is a thing confusedly formed.”

When you open to life’s interconnectivity, you can observe nature performing at its best. “How do we know what life wants of us? It embraces and benefits all. How do we know that it embraces all? Because it holds all in its possession and bestows all creatures with the gift of food.” Although you may take this simple benevolence for granted, it is actually quite profound. This is not a time for limitations and self imposed barriers in your thought processes.

When we observe the interdependency inherent in the natural world, we must wonder if we too, are scattered to reunite in some way that we have yet to understand. The master said: “My Way has one string which threads it all together.”

“The Firm comes and does not exhaust itself; the Yielding receives and what is above is in harmony with it.” One who can appreciate nature’s profound power for renewal, and would explore ‘harmony in one’s greater relationship to life’ will find a profound level of initiation on a pathway of environmental work. “Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” To become a steward of just one small portion of life will create a chain reaction that reverberates across the entire tapestry, which always returns to make you stronger.

“Who can be muddy and yet, settling slowly come to life? Who can be at rest and yet, stirring slowly come to life? One who holds fast to Tao.”

Undefined and yet, complex; interdependent and inspired to drive each thing to be unique, life finds harmony, even while it honors diversity. Observing this complicated chain of sustenance reveals that nature is not only your teacher, it is also your redeemer. It suggests how you must sometimes let something go in order to discover if it is real for you. Nothing real can be threatened because if it is real it will remain. Open to the ways you are connected to others and don’t be afraid to share everything you are in all of your quirkiness. Whether a hardened outlook needs to soften or a relationship has reached an impasse, when you discover and open to your profound connection to everything around you, Dispersion is the only way home.

Unchanging: The inner landscape is like a garden = time is the wind that keeps it renewed. While you may find yourself at an impasse with another, there is a gentle and penetrating influence stirring deep emotional reflection. In the image of wind blowing over the water any hardness that might lead to dissolution will dissipate. Barriers that are preventing you from the object of your desire need to be addressed. This is not the time for limitations and defenses. You need to flow more. You may feel disconnected from others or feeling out of place but dispersing suggests that you begin to understand how you rely on others. The only thing stopping you from deeper interaction is your own fear of being real. With Abundance as the underlying cause, you may be holding onto what you possess without realizing that sharing can lead to deeper fulfillment. The Gentle Wind moves slowly so you may need to give the situation time to develop. The deep waters can suggest spiritual, emotional or a creative rebirth that is brought about by opening.



“There is a destiny that makes us brothers, no one goes his way alone; All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.” – Edwin Markham

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is again from the “I Ching,” Hexagram #59, Huan/ Dispersion (of Dissolution). Yesterday, we looked at Richard Wilhelm’s 70 year-old commentary on Huan/Disperson. Today, we look at Part 1 of a somewhat different contemporary take on Hexagram 59 from Kari Hohne at…

I Ching Hexagram 59, Part 1
Huan (Dispersion)
Action: Flow
Hu Gua (hidden influence) 27 Nourishing Vision: Nurture
Zong Gua (underlying cause) 55 Abundance: Fulfill

There is a thing confusedly formed ~ life is an all or nothing equation.

Reading at a Glance: Dispersion focuses on the interdependency of life and your connection to all you see. If you are feeling isolated or cut off from others, examine the defenses or walls that make you feel uncomfortable opening up to others. When a landscape becomes hardened because of a lack of rain, dust storms scatter the soil and the winds can actually create the storms that rise up to renew the parched environment. All things are supple when alive and are only hard when dead. Dispersion is nature’s tendency toward renewal so when events appear like a storm, open your soul to the rain. In this situation there can be a hardness in thinking or response that is leading you to encounter hardness in the situations you face. We join groups because of the ways we are alike and grow uncomfortable because of our differences. But it is our differences that make us the unique creation that nature intended. There will never be anyone like you and only you know what it means to be fearlessly yourself. Dispersion is a snapshot of the way that nature finds harmony even while it honors differences. The hidden influence of Nourishing Vision asks you to take responsibility for how your outlook effects what you experience. If you want to experience union, seek to unite. If you want joy, be joyous. The underlying cause of Abundance showed a sense of recognizing your potential and shining alone, but now it is time to share who and what you are with others. If you are in a situation that appears to be dissolving, know that behind any hardness your emotions are being reinvigorated much like the rain. Don’t be afraid to allow the truth to come to light because something can only be corrected by admitting that correction or healing is needed.

Life scatters to reunite
in seeds
upon the wind.
Be lifted up
by the unknown.

“After joy, comes dispersal. Dispersion means scattering.” As a child, perhaps you played with dandelion pods, blowing their white, billowing seeds into the wind. Little did you realize the enormous complexity of a life form that harnesses the wind in its pursuit of regeneration. Scattering is a message about sharing your unique gifts and releasing any boundaries that separate you from others.

Over 100,000 species of mammals, insects and birds go about their daily routines, inadvertently transferring seeds or pollen grains from the male variety of one plant to the female variety of another. Why would nature devise such a complicated system of reproduction? If you were to view life as one giant organism, you would discover many checks and balances that seem to amount to an all or nothing equation.



“An inflated consciousness is always egocentric and conscious of nothing but its own existence. It is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead.” – Carl Jung

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” Hexagram #59, Huan/ Dispersion (of Dissolution). I selected this particular hexagram because it harkens back to ancient times, in which the ruler of countries encountered the very same disunity and devisiveness that plagues this nation today, namely devisive egotism, beginning with the ex-ruler who has set himself up as a defacto king with an army of followers, many of whom are violent and beset with the same “Me-First” egotism as their leader, and have set themselves firmly against the newly-elected ruler and his government. This hexagram explains what the ancient rulers did to overcome this national devisiveness and bring about a return to national unity. The hexagram also states what personal qualities we must put forth to dissolve the hardness of egotism in our own lives.

59. Huan / Dispersion [Dissolution], commentary by Richard Wilhelm, English translation by Cary Baynes.


Wind blowing over water disperses it, dissolving it into foam and mist. This suggests that when a man’s vital energy is dammed up within him (indicated as a danger by the attribute of the lower trigram), gentleness serves to break up and dissolve the blockage.



The king approaches his temple.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Perseverance furthers.

The text of this hexagram resembles that of Ts’ui, GATHERING TOGETHER #45. In the latter, the subject is the bringing together of elements that have been separated, as water collects in lakes upon the earth. Here the subject is the dispersing and dissolving of divisive egotism. DISPERSION shows the way, so to speak, that leads to gathering together. This explains the similarity of the two texts. Religious forces are needed to overcome the egotism that divides men. The common celebration of the great sacrificial feasts and sacred rites, which gave expression simultaneously to the interrelation and social articulation of the family and state, was the means of employed by the great ruler to unite men. The sacred music and the splendor of the ceremonies aroused a strong tide of emotion that was shared by all hearts in unison, and that awakened a consciousness of the common origin of all creatures. In this way disunity was overcome and rigidity dissolved. A further means to the same end is co-operation in great general undertakings that set a high goal for the will of the people; in the common concentration on this goal, all barriers dissolve, just as, when a boat is crossing a great stream, all hands must unite in a joint task. But only a man who is himself free of all selfish ulterior considerations, and who perseveres in justice and steadfastness, is capable of so dissolving the hardness of egotism.


The wind drives over the water:

The image of DISPERSION.

Thus the kings of old sacrificed to the Lord
And built temples.

In the autumn and winter, water begins to freeze into ice. When the warm breezes of spring come, the rigidity is dissolved, and the elements that have been dispersed in ice floes are reunited. It is the same with the minds of the people. Through hardness and selfishness the heart grows rigid, and this rigidity leads to separation from all others. Egotism and cupidity isolate men. Therefore the hearts of men must be seized by a devout emotion. They must be shaken by a religious awe in face of eternity-stirred with an intuition of the One Creator of all living beings, and united through the strong feeling of fellowship experienced in the ritual of divine worship.

Tomorrow we will look at Kari Hohne’s version of Hexagram 59 from her website.



“All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue.” – Plato

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 81. Yesterday, we viewed the conclusion of Chapter 16, a very important chapter in the “Zhuangzi.” Today we review the final chapter in the “Tao Te Ching.” This brief chapter is a summary of the key points within the entire “Tao Te Ching.” These are principles or virtues, if you will, that Laozi would like us to develop and follow.

“True words are not beautiful
Beautiful words are not true
Those who are good do not debate
Those who debate are not good
Those who know are not broad of knowledge
Those who are broad of knowledge do not know

Sages do not accumulate
The more they assist others, the more they possess
The more they give to others, the more they gain

The Tao of heaven
Benefits and does not harm
The Tao of sages
Assists and does not contend”
– Translated by Derek Linn, 2006, Chapter 81



“Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success of failure: which is more destructive? If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
– Translated by Stephen Mitchell, 1988. Laozi’s “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 44

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 16. Today we look at the last paragraph and final lesson in this chapter, “Mending the Inner Nature.” Though it is the last, it is certainly not the least. In fact, it is one of the most important lessons in all of Zhuangzi’s teachings and asks the question, “Can you be called an upside-down person?” I could think of no better quote for today that compliments this last section in Chapter 16 than Laozi’s very own words from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 44. Tomorrow we will look at Laozi’s final chapter of the “Tao Te Ching.”

“When the men of ancient times spoke of the fulfillment of ambition, they did not mean fine carriages and caps. They meant simply that joy was so complete that it could not be made greater. Nowadays, however, when men speak of the fulfillment of ambition, they mean fine carriages and caps. But carriages and caps affect the body alone, not the inborn nature and fate. Such things from time to time may happen to come your way. When they come, you cannot keep them from arriving, but when they depart you cannot stop them from going. Therefore carriages and caps are no excuse for becoming puffed up with pride, and hardship and poverty are no excuse for fawning on the vulgar. You should find the same joy in one condition as in the other and thereby be free of care, that is all. But now, when the things that happened along take their leave, you cease to be joyful. From this point of view, though you have joy, it will always be fated for destruction. Therefore it is said, Those who destroy themselves in things and lose their inborn nature in the vulgar may be called the upside-down people.”

“A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type … The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.” – Rudolf Steiner

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 80. Yesterday in the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 16, we saw how the Sages of the period responded to the dissolution of the Golden Age and the Fate of the times turning against them. They responded the only way one would expect a Taoist Sate to respond – with tota, ujabashed acceptance. In today’s passage, Laozi, on the other hand, instead of looking back, looks ahead and projects his vision of the ideal nation…

“80. The Small Utopia
(Let there be) a small country with a small population,
Where the supply of goods are tenfold or hundredfold,
more than they can use.
Let the people value their lives and not migrate far.
Though there be boats and carriages,
None be there to ride them.
Though there be armor and weapons,
No occasion to display them.
Let the people again tie ropes for reckoning,
Let them enjoy their food,
Beautify their clothing,
Be satisfied with their homes,
Delight in their customs.
The neighboring settlements overlook one another
So that they can hear the barking of dogs and crowing
of cocks of their neighbors,
And the people till the end of their days shall never
have been outside their country.”
– Translated by Lin YuTang



“There are very few men and women in whom a Universalist feeling is altogether lacking; its prevalence suggests that it must be part of our inborn nature and have a place in Nature’s scheme of evolution.” – Arthur Keith

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 16, “Mending the Inborn Nature.” With the dissolution of the Golden Age, civiization had drifted from the Way, and the Sage realized that the fate of the times was no longer with them. How did they respond to that realization? What could they do to survive? We find out next…

“The so-called scholars in hiding of ancient times did not conceal their bodies and refuse to let them be seen; they did not shut in their words and refuse to let them out; they did not stow away their knowledge and refuse to share it. But the fate of the times was too much awry. If the fate of the times had been with them and they could have done great deeds in the world, then they would have returned to Unity and left no trace behind. But the fate of the times was against them and brought them only great hardship in the world, and therefore they deepened their roots, rested in perfection, and waited. This was the way they kept themselves alive.

“Those in ancient times who wished to keep themselves alive did not use eloquence to ornament their knowledge. They did not use their knowledge to make trouble for the world; they did not use their knowledge to make trouble for Virtue. Loftily they kept to their places and returned to their inborn nature. Having done that, what more was there for them to do? The way has no use for petty conduct; Virtue has no use for petty understanding. Petty understanding injures Virtue; petty conduct injures the Way. Therefore it is said, Rectify yourself, that is all. When joy is complete, this is called the fulfillment of ambition.”



“The rise and fall of civilizations in the long, broad course of history can be seen to have been largely a function of the integrity and cogency of their supporting canons of myth; for not authority but aspiration is the motivator, builder, and transformer of civilization.” – Joseph Campbell

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 58. Yesterday, we looked at Zhuangzi’s view of how the Golden Age decayed. Today, Laozi tells us that mankind has been deluding itself and gone astray for a long time. But the Sage, however, remains straight and square but without any sharp corners. Perhaps, Joseph Campbell is right. Is aspiration the prime motivator? What do you think? Take a look at what Laozi thinks…

“When the government is lazy and dull,
Its people are unspoiled;
When the government is efficient and smart,
Its people are discontented.
Disaster is the avenue of fortune,
And fortune is the concealment for disaster.
Who would be able to know its ultimate results?
As it is, there would never be the normal.
But the normal would immediately revert to the deceitful.
And the good revert to the sinister.
Thus long has mankind gone astray!
Therefore the Sage is square and has firm principles,
but not cutting sharp-corners,
Has integrity but does not hurt others,
Is straight, but not high-handed,
Bright, but not dazzling.”
– Translated by Lin Yutang, 1948, Chapter 58



“So the city became the material expression of a particular loss of innocence – not sexual or political innocence but somehow a shared dream of what a city might at its best prove to be – its inhabitants became, and have remained, an embittered and amnesiac race, wounded but unable to connect through memory to the moment of injury, unable to summon the face of their violator.” – Thomas Pynchon

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 16. We have been switching back and forth bdetween this and the “Tao Te Ching.” The past two days we compared Zhuangzi’s and Laozi’s view of the Ancient Sages of the Golden Age. So, what happened to the Golden Age? Why isn’t right here today? Well, this next section in Chapter 16 tells us exactly that…

“The time came, however, when Virtue began to dwindle and decline, and then Sui Jen and Fu Hsi stepped forward to take charge of the world. As a result there was compliance, but no longer any unity. Virtue continued to dwindle and decline, and then Shen Nung and the Yellow Emperor stepped forward to take charge of the world. As a result, there was security, but no longer any compliance. Virtue continued to dwindle and decline, and then Yao and Shun stepped forward to take charge of the world.3 They set about in various fashions to order and transform the world, and in doing so defiled purity and shattered simplicity. The Way was pulled apart for the sake of goodness; Virtue was imperiled for the sake of conduct. After this, inborn nature was abandoned and minds were set free to roam, mind joining with mind in understanding; there was knowledge, but it could not bring stability to the world. After this, “culture” was added on, and “breadth” was piled on top. “Culture” destroyed the substantial, “breadth” drowned the mind, and after this the people began to be confused and disordered. They had no way to revert to the true form of their inborn nature or to return once more to the Beginning.

“From this we may see that the world has lost the Way, and the Way has lost the world; the world and the Way have lost each other. What means does a man of the Way have to go forward in the world? What means does the world have to go forward in the Way? The Way cannot go forward in the world, and the world cannot go forward in the Way. So, although the sage does not retire to dwell in the midst of the mountain forest, his Virtue is already hidden. It is already hidden, and therefore he does not need to hide it himself.”


“As a water bead on a lotus leaf, as water on a red lily, does not adhere, so the sage does not adhere to the seen, the heard, or the sensed.” – Gautama Buddha

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 66, “The Lords of the Ravines.” Yesterday, we looked at the Chaptersa 16 in the “Zhuangzi,” which related Zhuangzi’s view of the ancients in the Golden Age. Now here is Laozi’s version of the Sages of that period…

66. The Lords of the Ravines
How did the great rivers and seas become the Lords
of the ravines?
By being good at keeping low.
That was how they became Lords of the Ravines.
Therefore in order to be the chief among the people,
One must speak like their inferiors.
In order to be foremost among the people,
One must walk behind them.
Thus it is that the Sage stays above,
And the people do not feel his weight;
Walks in front,
And the people do not wish him harm.
Then the people of the world are glad to uphold him forever.
Because he does not contend,
No one in the world can contend against him.



“In ancient times, those who wished to illuminate the world with virtue first brought order to their nations. Wishing to order well their nations, they first harmonized their families. Wishing to harmonize their families, they first cultivated themselves. Wishing to cultivate themselves, they first rectified their minds. Those who wished to rectify their minds first made their intentions sincere.” – Confucius


TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 16, “Mending the Inborn Nature.” We continue with the next section in this chapter, which describes the ancients and the so-called “Golden Age.” Laozi has referred to them several times in the “Tao Te Ching.” Tomorrow we will review one of those times and compare it with today’s short reading from the “Zhuangzi.” But for right now, notice the difference in the two views of the Golden Age, between Confucius above in Today’s Quote and the “Zhuangzi” below.

“The men of old dwelt in the midst of crudity and chaos; side by side with the rest of the world, they attained simplicity and silence there. At that time the yin and yang were harmonious and still, ghosts and spirits worked no mischief, the four seasons kept to their proper order, the ten thousand things knew no injury, and living creatures were free from premature death. Although men had knowledge, they did not use it. This was called the Perfect Unity. At this time, no one made a move to do anything, and there was unvarying spontaneity.”



“Rushed, impatient energy diffuses our capacity for favorable outcomes. When we push energy, this cancels the experience of flow and creates hiccups in our intentions. It’s our mind that tends to rush energy; our heart chooses balance, rhythm, and flow. This cooperation reduces resistance and increases our desired outcomes with much less stress and the energy deficit that accompanies it.” – Sara Childre, President, HeartMath Institute

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 65. Yesterday, we started the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 16, “Mending the Inborn Nature.” As the name implies, this important chapter discusses how to and how not to mend our inborn nature. We viewed the first section that contrasts the vulgar ways the common man attempts to mend his inborn nature with the men of ancient times. Laozi does the same thing in Chapter 65. Let’s have a look…

Here are two translations to compare, some 120 years apart. This shorter one is from 1884…

“Those who, in ancient times, were eminent for the practice of Tao,
abstained from enlightening the people, and kept them simple.
The difficulty of governing the people arises from their excess of shrewdness.
He who employs shrewdness in governing a State, becomes a robber of the State;
he who does not do so, is a blessing to it.
The man who knows both these things presents an ideal of good government,
and a knowledge of this ideal constitutes Sublime Virtue.
Sublime Virtue is deep and far-reaching, and is in direct opposition to all objects of desire;
thus it is able to bring about universal accordance with the Tao.”
– Translated by Frederic Henry Balfour, 1884, Chapter 65

This longer one is from 2005…

“There were those of old who knew the Way,
And loved it in their daily lives.
They did not preach enlightenment,
Or practice deceit among the people.
They lived well because they lived simply.

Now with trickery and brilliance
Are the people governed,
And yet with the utmost difficulty!

A country ruled with cleverness
Is a country gone to waste.
Govern your country in simple innocence,
And it will be blessed among nations.

Remaining aware of the alternatives,
Our conduct may be correctly guided.
Holding fast to this guiding awareness
Is the action of natural virtue.

Natural virtue comes from clarity-
The resonant clarity of the Cosmic Source.
It draws us back within, to the Original Essence-
The great Harmonic, which may be touched
Every day in loving gratitude.”
– Translated by Brian Donohue, 2005, Chapter 65

As you can see, both stress Laozi’s main idea that we should purpose try to enlighten people, that is, make them clever. Cleverness is filled with deceipt and trickery and even brilliance, but it is a brilliance that leads to difficulty and destruction. We see that even today. January 6, 2021 is a testament to that brilliance which has turned the vulgar into an unruly armed mob.

Tomorrow, we will have a look at the second section of the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 16.


“Hidden away in the inner nature of the real man is the law of his life, and someday he will discover it and consciously make use of it. He will heal himself, make himself happy and prosperous, and life in an entirely different world. For he will have discovered that life is from within and not from without.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” (The Book of Zhuangzi). Today we start Chapter316, “Mending the Inborn Nature.” As the name implies, this important chapter will discuss how to and how not to mend our inborn nature. Since it is several pages long, I will divide it into smaller, relevant sections and contrast each on the following day with an appropriate chapter from the Tao Te Ching.

This first section contrasts the vulgar ways the common man attempt to mend his inborn nature with the men of ancient times (the Golden Age, which Laozi refer to several times in the Tao Te Ching) who set about quite differently to maintain their inner nature.

THOSE WHO SET ABOUT MENDING the inborn nature through vulgar learning, hoping thereby to return once more to the Beginning; those who set about muddling their desires through vulgar ways of thought, hoping thereby to attain clarity – they may be called the blind and benighted people.

The men of ancient times who practiced the Way employed tranquility to cultivate knowledge. Knowledge lived in them, yet they did nothing for its sake. So they may be said to have employed knowledge to cultivate tranquility. Knowledge and tranquility took turns cultivating each other, and harmony and order emerged from the inborn nature.

Virtue is harmony, the Way is order. When Virtue embraces all things, we have benevolence. When the Way is in all respects well ordered, we have righteousness. When righteousness is clearly understood and all things cling to it, we have loyalty. When within there is purity, fullness, and a return to true form, we have music. When good faith is expressed in face and body and there is a compliance with elegance, we have rites. But if all emphasis is placed on the conduct of rites and music, then the world will fall into disorder. The ruler, in his efforts to rectify, will draw a cloud over his own virtue, and his virtue will no longer extend to all things. And should he try to force it to extend, then things would invariably lose their inborn nature.

Tomorrow we will check Laozi’s view of the ancients vs. the common men in Chapter 65 of the Tao Te Ching.



“And though behind you lies a road of dust and heat and discouragement, and before you the challenge and uncertainty of untried paths, in this brief hour you are master of all highways, and the universe nestles in your soul.” – Max Ehrmann

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” (The Book of Zhuangzi), Chapter 15, “Rigid and Arrogant,” We were looking at the final four paragraphs of Chapter 15. Last week we reviewed the first two. Today we will review the last two. The first compares our spirit with water. It tells us the best way to care for the spirit is to follow the way of water. The final paragraph tells us how to become one with the spirit and why we must guard it.

So it is said, If the body is made to labor and take no rest, it will wear out; if the spiritual essence is taxed without cessation, it will grow weary, and weariness will bring exhaustion. It is the nature of water that if it is not mixed with other things, it will be clear, and if nothing stirs it, it will be level. But if it is dammed and hemmed in and not allowed to flow, then, too, it will cease to be clear. As such, it is a symbol of Heavenly Virtue. So it is said, To be pure, clean, and mixed with nothing; still, unified, and unchanging; limpid and inactive; moving with the workings of Heaven – this is the way to care for the spirit.

The man who owns a sword from Kan or Yueh lays it in a box and stores it away, not daring to use it, for to him it is the greatest of treasures. Pure spirit reaches in the four directions, flows now this way, now that – there is no place it does not extend to. Above, it brushes Heaven; below, it coils on the earth. It transforms and nurses the ten thousand things, but no one can make out its form. Its name is called One-with-Heaven. The way to purity and whiteness is to guard the spirit, this alone; guard it and never lose it, and you will become one with spirit, one with its pure essence, which communicates and mingles with the Heavenly Order. The common saying has it, “The ordinary man prizes gain, the man of integrity prizes name, the worthy man honors ambition, the sage values spiritual essence.” Whiteness means there is nothing mixed in; purity means the spirit is never impaired. He who can embody purity and whiteness may be called the True Man.



“People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.” – Emily Dickinson

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (“Book of Changes”), Hexagram 47, Kùn (Oppression/Exhaustion) Part 2, Commentary by Kari Hohne, “Cafe au Soul.” We looked at Part 1 yesterday. The point here is that oppression and adversity actually open us up to new insights and reveal our hidden capabilities. So read on…

Hexagram 47, Kùn (Oppression/Exhaustion) Part 2, Commentary by Kari Hohne, “Cafe au Soul.”

When you model nature, observe how all life forms follow instincts or an inborn pattern of development. Adaptation reveals how oppression ‘out there’ acts as a mechanism to unleash your capabilities ‘in here.’ To measure success only by outward accomplishment, you may fail to see how adversity pushes you back to discover your real capabilities. When you explore your value in the mirror of the unknown, you are ‘just so,’ living the life that you are meant to be living, here and now.

Oppression pushes back against you and has a way of whittling away the unnecessary that leads to exhaustion, until only the necessary remains. The master said: “When great responsibility is about to befall one, life appears to confound all undertakings. Thereby it stimulates the mind, toughens the nature and improves all deficiencies.” Without friction, the unnecessary cannot be carved away. Its message is that “great fullness seems empty.”

To believe that life is working against you will lead to exhaustion and manipulation. That is why the judgment says “there are words that are not honest.” Feeling confined, we may serve base desires with a type of neediness that is not healthy. Success comes when you can approach all of life without prejudice. “With gentle compassion, I can be brave. With economy, I can be liberal. Not presuming to claim precedence in the world I can make myself a vessel fit for the most distinguished service.” In the image of a tree growing within an enclosure, you can be hemmed in and still grow. Success takes root when “you are abundant and yet, not reactive.”

Bamboo symbolizes great virtue because its leaves droop, portraying how one can bow down to the changes and still be content. When the winds of change blow, it moves too, and simply bends in shimmering laughter. Great fullness comes when you recognize success as a pathway of self-completion, and that the seed is always within. “The power that is most sufficient looks inadequate.” When you do not contend, nothing contends with you: that is real power. When there is no longer anything to be removed, you are rich.

Unchanging: If you are abundant but not reactive = nothing gets exhausted. Oppression unchanging can show the long term effects of dealing with a deteriorating situation that you have been unsuccessful in changing. Even with the patience of a saint this can only lead to exhaustion. It may be time to throw in the towel because unchanging, the Oppression is simply confining you in an unhealthy way. You may want an answer or something spoken but the truth and the growth you might have achieved was revealed in the silence. Perhaps you don’t want to face it? Unwilling to adapt to the challenge presented, the opportunity for growth can be missed. This can happen when you are feeling depressed but doing nothing to get out of your rut. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result. “There are words that are not believed” can mean that you have stopped trusting in your intuition, in another or even in the purposeful flow of events. Perhaps you have even begun to lie to yourself? Another may no longer trust what you say as the truth. In this situation somebody feels hemmed in, trapped and movement or communication has stopped. There can be a clash of interests or the exhaustion that comes from not being heard. Perhaps stepping back or changing course is the only way forward. If you feel isolated, talk to someone who can be objective in helping you find your way forward.


“Patience is one of those feminine qualities which have their origin in our oppression but should be preserved after our liberation.” – Simone de Beauvoir

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (“Book of Changes”), Hexagram 47, Kùn (Oppression/Exhaustion) Part 1, Commentary by Kari Hohne, “Cafe au Soul.” We looked at Hexagram 47. the Richard Wilhelm translation and commentary a few days ago. If you remember, Kun, 47, can be very unfavorable. Kari Hohne’s commentary is unfavorable as well but she describes pathways to help navigate your way through such negative situations. As she points out, many times these oppressive situations rise up within either the family or other close relationships, and you find a significant other, a parent, a sibling or a child knows just how to push your buttons so you find yourself locked up with anger or frustration as well as disgust at yourself for letting your buttons get pushed and blowing up once again. We take a look at Part 2 of Kari Hohne commentary tomorrow.

Kùn (Oppression/Exhaustion) Part 1, Commentary by Kari Hohne
I Ching Hexagram 47
Kùn (Oppression/Exhaustion)
Action: Adapt

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 37 Family: Support
Zong Gua (underlying cause) 22 Grace: Accept

Success is a pathway of self-completion
and the seed is always within you.

Perfection is reached, not when there is no longer anything to add,
but when there is no longer anything to take away. – Antoine de St. Exupery

Reading at a Glance: Kùn is an image of a tree growing within an enclosure and offers a lesson about remaining cheerful and abundant in the face of confining situations. Tranquility in Disturbance is one of Tao’s greatest lessons to overcome the extremes of responses. “Who can be patient until life returns us to it’s dance?” Whatever unfolds might simply be a lesson to cultivate patience and to become less reactive. Great frustration can mount when you feel hemmed in or when your words are not believed. However, sometimes you have to be backed into a corner to discover your inner truth or real capabilities. The hidden influence of Family can show dynamics at play when you feel your buttons have been pushed. At some point you have to take responsibility for your condition and stop looking around for blame. The Family provides an environment that shows us the responsibility of caring where giving is not exhausted because it is done with no strings attached. We care for others because they are a part of us. Nature shows how adaptation mechanisms evolve to help species overcome adversity. These mechanisms are not external. They are inborn, and in the same way all that you will ever need to survive blossoms from within. The underlying cause of Grace offered a message to accept what you cannot change. Now Kùn offers a lesson about adapting and changing to the present circumstances. After a time of Pushing Upward, it is normal to meet with resistance. Sometimes Oppression rises when you are most successful as healthy competition emerges. The greatest thing Kùn presents is that while you may feel weak within, it is exactly those Oppressive situations that reveal an inner strength. It cannot be exhausted because it is not dependent on external conditions. “Keep knocking and the joy inside will eventually open a window to look out and see who is there.” (Rumi) Allow this time of Oppression to reveal the abundance within you.

“Life’s gentle prodding
whittles away
the unnecessary –
until only what is necessary

“The Joyous Lake is dispersing water into the Abysmal Water below. Since both bodies of water tend to move downward, eventually the Lake is drained. “There is no water in the Lake” and when oppression appears, you can lose your joy and consider giving up.

The Lake represents a sense of trying to contain fulfillment, while the Abysmal Water suggests a source that is inexhaustible. Kùn’s message is that while you tend to attach yourself to what can be held within the hand, you cannot know today what will come to fulfill you tomorrow. Like an ocean that cannot be depleted because all streams lead back to it, you access a source within that is inexhaustible. It is inexhaustible only when you do not try to contain it. In giving it is only when there are strings attached that we become exhausted. The hidden influence of Family shows us the proper way to support others as if everyone is our Family.


“To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” – Gautama Buddha

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the |”Zhuangzi,” (The Book of Zhuangzi), Chapter 15. Thes are the last four paragraphs in the chapter. I will do the first two today and the final two tomorrow. ay close attention to the first paragraph below as it outlines the life of a sage who is in harmony with the Virtue of the Tao. The second one makes a case for the middle way, contentment, the mind is without worry or joy, and experiences neither grief or happiness. We will review the last two paragraph in Chapter 15 next time.

So it is said, With the sage, his life is the working of Heaven, his death the transformation of things. In stillness, he and the yin share a single Virtue; in motion, he and the yang share a single flow. He is not the bearer of good fortune, nor the initiator of bad fortune. Roused by something outside himself, only then does he respond; pressed, only then does he move; finding he has no choice, only then does he rise up. He discards knowledge and purpose and follows along with the reasonableness of Heaven. Therefore he incurs no disaster from Heaven, no entanglement from things, no opposition from man, no blame from the spirits. His life is a floating, his death a rest. He does not ponder or scheme, does not plot for the future. A man of light, he does not shine; of good faith, he keeps no promises. He sleeps without dreaming, wakes without worry. His spirit is pure and clean, his soul never wearied. In emptiness, nonbeing, and limpidity, he joins with the Virtue of Heaven.

So it is said, Grief and happiness are perversions of Virtue; joy and anger are transgressions of the Way; love and hate are offenses against Virtue. When the mind is without care or joy, this is the height of Virtue. When it is unified and unchanging, this is the height of stillness. When it grates against nothing, this is the height of emptiness. When it has no commerce with things, this is the height of limpidity. When it rebels against nothing, this is the height of purity.



“But curb thou the high spirit in thy breast, for gentle ways are best, and keep aloof from sharp contentions.” – Homer

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 68, “The Virtue of Not-Contending” translated by Henry Wei. Non-contending is the very backbone of the Taoist principle of “Wu Wei,” or what is incorrectly translated as “non-action,” but is actually more like no unaware or brash action.

“A good warrior is not warlike;
A good fighter does not lose his temper;
A good conqueror is not pugnacious;
A good leader of men is humble.
This is called the virtue of non-contention,
Also called the use of other’s strength,
Also called harmony with Heaven’s Eternal Supreme Will.”
– Translated by Henry Wei, 1982, Chapter 68

So breaking it down, the first line means a good warrior is not prone to violence. This would be his last resort in stop an attacking enemy, and he would use it with much remorse. Next, a good fighter does not lose his temper because anger clouds his mind and blinds him to the proper way in which to use his skill. A good conqueror is not pugnacious because he uses his skill as a thoughtful tactician rather than heavy-handed brutality to triumph. A good leader of men is humble. He does not put himself first or elevate himself by putting others down. He remains gracious and accomodating, and thus wins over the hearts of the people and often even the enemy. This is called being in harmony with the Way (the Tao).


“Enthusiasm is always connected with the senses, whatever be the object that excites it. The true strength of virtue is serenity of mind, combined with a deliberate and steadfast determination to execute her laws. That is the healthful condition of the moral life; on the other hand, enthusiasm, even when excited by representations of goodness, is a brilliant but feverish glow which leaves only exhaustion and languor behind.” – Immanuel Kant

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (Book of Changes), Hexagram #47/ Last week we reviewed Hexagram #32, Heng/Duration, a very favorable hexagram to have as your direction in life. However, just to show you how the Cosmos under the influence of the Dao and it Te (mystic virtue) changes with the direction of various interactions, I am presenting one of the more unfavorable hexagrams – #47 K’un/Oppression (Exhaustion). So, what happened? We were breezing along under the influence of #32, Heng/Duration when all of a sudden our momentum changes from endurance to complete exhaustion as we run smack into K’un/Oppression. Here’s what happened, two simple changes. The third line, a strong yang at the top of the lower trigram, Sun, in #32, suddenly turned into a weak yin line. That changed the nature of the lower trigram from Sun, the Gentle, Wind, to K’an, the Abysmal, Water. Then just the opposite took place in the upper trigram, Zhen, where the middle line, a weak yin line turned into a strong yang line. That changed the upper trigram’s nature from Zhen or Chen, the Arousing /Thunder to Tui, the Joyous, Lake. But the water is not above the Lake; it is beneath it, signifying that the Lake is empty, dried up, “Exhaustion.” In this Cosmos that is how easy and quickly things can change from favorable to highly unfavorable.

So, this is why the “I Ching” and the “Tao Te Ching” tell us to always to use caution especially when everything in our lives even when conditions are favorable. Remember our relationships, jobs, careers, businesses, finances or investments can change in an instant.

And now for the Richard Wilhelm commentary on Hexagram #47…

47. K’un / Oppression (Exhaustion)


The lake is above, water below; the lake is empty, dried up. Exhaustion is expressed in yet another way: at the top, a dark line is holding down two light line; below, a light line is hemmed in between two dark ones. The upper trigram belongs to the principle of darkness, the lower to the principle of light. Thus everywhere superior men are oppressed and held in restraint by inferior men.


OPPRESSION. Success. Perseverance.

The great man brings about good fortune.

No blame.
When one has something to say,
It is not believed.

Times of adversity are the reverse of times of success, but they can lead to success if they; befall the right man. When a strong man meets with adversity, he remains cheerful despite all danger, and this cheerfulness is the source of later successes; it is that stability which is stronger than fate. He who lets his spirit be broken by exhaustion certainly has no success. But if adversity only bends a man, it creates in him a power to react that is bound in time to manifest itself. No inferior man is capable of this. Only the great man brings about goof fortune and remains blameless. It is true that for the time being outward influence is denied him, because his words have no effect. Therefore in times of adversity it is important to be strong within and sparing of words.


There is not water in the lake:

The image of EXHAUSTION.

Thus the superior man stakes his life
On following his will.

When the water has flowed out below, the lake must dry up and become exhausted. That is fate. This symbolizes an adverse fate in human life. In such times there is nothing a man can do but acquiesce in his fate and remain true to himself. This concerns the deepest stratum of his being, for this alone is superior to all external fate.


“Stop talking, stop thinking, and there is nothing you will not understand. Return to the root and you will find Meaning.” – Sengcan, the Third Patriarch of Chan Buddhism.

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 20. It is the story of Pei-Kung, a simple woman who collects taxes for Duke Ling. Although the story is quite short, I have chosen it because Pei-Kung exemplifies the tenets of Taoism that Laozi outlined in Chapter 52 of the “Tao Te Ching,” which we reviewed yesterday. When her material work amid the external world is done, she returns to the Mother – her internal connection with the Tao.

Pei-kung She was collecting taxes for Duke Ling of Wei in order to make a set of bells. He built a platform outside the gate of the outer wall, and in the space of three months the bells were completed, both the upper and lower tiers. Prince Ch’ing-chi, observing this, asked, “What art is it you wield?”

Pei-kung She replied, “In the midst of Unity, how should I venture to `wield’ anything? I have heard it said, When carving and polishing are done, then return to plainness. Dull, I am without understanding; placid, I dawdle and drift. Mysteriously, wonderfully, I bid farewell to what goes, I greet what comes; for what comes cannot be denied, and what goes cannot be detained. I follow the rude and violent, trail after the meek and bending, letting each come to its own end. So I can collect taxes from morning to night and meet not the slightest rebuff. How much more would this be true, then, of a man who had hold of the Great Road?”


“To be whole is to be part;
true voyage is return.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” by Laozi. Today we study Chapter 52, which Lin Yutang has entitled, “Stealing the
Absolute. This is one of Laozi’s most profound teachings. It details the basic tenets upon which the entire foundation of Taoism is set.

52. Stealing the Absolute
There was a beginning of the universe
Which may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe.
From the Mother, we may know her sons.
After knowing the sons, keep to the Mother.
Thus one’s whole life may be preserved from harm.

Stop its apertures,
Close its doors,
And one’s whole life is without toil.

Open its apertures,
Be busy about its affairs,
And one’s whole life is beyond redemption.

He who can see the small is clear-sighted;
He who stays by gentility is strong.
use the light,
And return to clear-sightedness –
Thus cause not yourself later distress.
– This is to rest in the Absolute.

Here is what Laozi is teaching in this chapter. He is stating that the Tao, which has brought about all appearances, is the mother of all things. So, once we know this we will know the mother. This means we have turned within and meditated on this profound knowledge. Then as we turn our everyday mind and awareness outward once again, we now know her sons, all the worldly pleasures and desires. But we must pull ourselves away and return our awareness inward even though we have been attracted by those pleasures and desires. We must forget them, or, at the very least, ignore them and keep to the Mother (the Dao or the Way). Then our entire inner life will remain calm and peaceful and our life, along with our original nature and inherent virtues will be preserved.

In the next stanza, stopping its apertures and closing its doors concerns our senses, which must be withdrawn steadily and effectively from the outside world and returned inward. If this is done, one’s entire life becomes fruitful. But if the senses cannot be withdrawn from looking outward, (third stanza) we won’t be able to recover our true inner nature.

And finally Laozi tells us that our awareness is clear-sighted when we are able to notice small insignificant details about people and things.”Gentility” here means being calm and wakeful not brash or abrupt. The line about “use the light,” I believe, is something that the Taoist sages taught in Nei Gong, a high level state where a light or radiant glow is produced within the Mind. Follow it, and one will return to clear-sightedness. Follow these tenets, and we are following the Way, (the Tao).



“Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality… Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.” – Abraham Lincoln


TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (“Book of Changes”), Hexagram #32, Heng (Duration). Yesterday, we reviewed the same hexagram using Richard Wilhelm’s translation and commentary published in 1950, 7 decades ago. Today, we contrast it with Kari Hohne’s contemporary commentary and interpretation of Hexagram #32. While the underlying substance is the same, Ms. Hohne gives us different insights and ideas to study and put into practice. Read it carefully and see if the views she stresses inspire and stimulate your inner nature.

I Ching Hexagram 32
Heng (Duration)

Action: Commit

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 43 Determination: Breakthrough
Zong Gua (underlying cause) 42 Increase: Expand

Commitment is the force of attraction that brings all things back to you.

“Tis not the many oaths that make the truth;
but the plain single vow, that is vowed true.” – Shakespeare

Reading at a Glance: While much changes in life, there are elements that are enduring. Constancy and commitment ensure success in both relationships and career. A person who is committed to achieving a particular goal will persevere until the goal is achieved. They do so because they focus on results and not just tasks. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter how many tasks you accomplished. Rather, did you accomplish your goal? When obstacles appear, it is the commitment to succeed that can turn the obstacle into a learning experience. For someone not committed to success, an obstacle is a reason to give up. If we share a lot of words to tell the story of our failure, it is a good sign that commitment was lacking. Commitment needs no words and is reflected in endurance. In the same way, marriages that operate on commitment weather any conditions. Marriages sought just for benefit or pleasure will break apart the moment difficulties set in. Yet in nature difficulty or limitations are its treasure trove for bringing something to a higher level. This can enhance relationships which explore difficulty as a means of digging deeper into intimacy and understanding. The hidden influence is Determination because breaking through any obstacle requires this constancy and commitment. The underlying cause of Expansion shows that rather than look at accomplishment out there, we turn within and examine our foundation. Commitment is like gravity that pulls you toward the object of your desire. Once in orbit, there is not much that can pull you from success. You can be sure that there is an element of consistency associated with the object of your inquiry. You can be committed to either failure or success and the end result will always reveal which one it is.

Nature teaches constancy –
in relentless
Never complete
and without extremes.

“Relationships should be long lasting; therefore follows the principle of duration.” The Thunder and Wind Arouse movement in an enduring portrayal of what remains constant.

The situation requires your commitment to weather the highs and lows in the same way that all successful partnerships are founded in this way. Either you are validating reasons to go or reasons to stay. Observing this validation process will reveal your level of commitment to stay the course.

The master said: “When you act from benevolence, it will feel good; it will feel like self-realization.” Benevolence allows you to recognize your connection to what unfolds. Nowhere is this more apparent than when you make a commitment to your spouse. Fulfilling their needs is inseparable from fulfilling your own. Only when both of you are fulfilled, do you experience personal contentment in the relationship.

The same commitment should be cultivated in following the Way.(the Tao)

The nuclear trigrams of the Joyous Lake and the Creative portray ‘firmness in joy.’ Firm in joy, you will experience the joy of discovery. The image of two broken pieces of pottery that fit together perfectly suggests the partnership formed at the threshold of perspective. Commitment is the force of attraction that brings all things back to you.

Commitment gives durability to the changes. Nature is composed of phenomenon that arises from the unseen or hidden movement of something deeper. Thunder is the explosive sound of expanding air when heated by lightning. Wind is the movement of air when hot and cold pressure systems collide. Although you cannot see the greater force, you can observe its effects in what unfolds. This is how a commitment or trust in the way gives durability to that which is to come.

Benevolence is an unconditional appreciation for what is, and keeps you open. Union brings two things together to make them one. In this case, your inner perspective is ‘joined’ with experience. Whether in relationship to each other or to events, “stand firm and do not change direction.”

Embodied in Heng is the idea that although things come to a conclusion there remains a quality that is enduring. A torrential storm can pass through a landscape, but what is firm will not only remain, it will be strengthened. The master said: “It furthers one to have somewhere to go.” Through movement you can you test your unwavering commitment in the face of adversity.



“It is indeed immensely picturesque. I can fancy sitting all a summer’s day watching its shadows shorten and lengthen again, and drawing a delicious contrast between the world’s duration and the feeble span of individual experience. There is something in Stonehenge almost reassuring; and if you are disposed to feel that life is rather a superficial matter, and that we soon get to the bottom of things, the immemorial gray pillars may serve to remind you of the enormous background of time.” – Henry James

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (“Book of Changes”), Hexagram #32, Heng (Duration). This is not any kind of duration. It is the duration of a joined union as in a marriage, a special relationship, a business partnership, etc. Today’s translation and commentary is by Richard Wilhelm. Tomorrow we will view Kari Hohne’s translation and commentary at

32. Hêng / Duration


The strong trigram Chên is above, the weak trigram Sun below. This hexagram is the inverse of the preceding one. In the latter we have influence, here we have union as an enduring condition. The two images are thunder and wind, which are likewise constantly paired phenomena. The lower trigram indicates gentleness within; the upper, movement without. In the sphere of social relationships, the hexagram represents the institution of marriage as the enduring union of the sexes. During courtship the young man subordinates himself to the girl, but in marriage, which is represented by the coming together of the eldest son and the eldest daughter, the husband is the directing and moving force outside, while the wife, inside, is gentle and submissive.


DURATION. Success. No blame.
Perseverance furthers.
It furthers one to have somewhere to go.

Duration is a state whose movement is not worn down by hindrances. It is not a state of rest, for mere standstill is regression. Duration is rather the self-contained and therefore self-renewing movement of an organized, firmly integrated whole, taking place in accordance with immutable laws and beginning anew at every ending. The end is reached by an inward movement, by inhalation, systole, contraction, and this movement turns into a new beginning, in which the movement is directed outward, in exhalation, diastole, expansion. Heavenly bodies exemplify duration. They move in their fixed orbits, and because of this their light-giving power endures. The seasons of the year follow a fixed law of change and transformation, hence can produce effects that endure. So likewise the dedicated man embodies an enduring meaning in his way of life, and thereby the world is formed. In that which gives things their duration, we can come to understand the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.


Thunder and wind: the image of DURATION.

Thus the superior man stands firm
And does not change has direction.

Thunder rolls, and the wind blows; both are examples of extreme mobility and so are seemingly the very opposite of duration, but the laws governing their appearance and subsidence, their coming and going, endure. In the same way the independence of the superior man is not based on rigidity and immobility of character. He always keeps abreast of the time and changes with it. What endures is the unswerving directive, the inner law of his being, which determines all his actions.



“The heart has its reasons but the mind makes the excuses.”― Amit Abraham

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” (Book of Zhuangzi), Chapter 20. Today we are continuing with the conversation between the Master from south of the Market and the Marquis of Lu. This is the second part of that conversation, which concerns all the excuses we make to avoid giving up our comforts and desires rather than ridding ourselves of the chains that shackle us.

The Master from south of the Market said, “In Nan-yueh there is a city and its name is The Land of Virtue Established. Its people are foolish and naive, few in thoughts of self, scant in desires. They know how to make, but not how to lay away; they give, but look for nothing in return. They do not know what accords with right, they do not know what conforms to ritual. Uncouth, uncaring, they move recklessly – and this way they tread the path of the Great Method. Their birth brings rejoicing, their death a fine funeral. So I would ask you to discard your state, break away from its customs, and, with the Way as your helper, journey there.”

The ruler of Lu said, “The road there is long and perilous. Moreover, there are rivers and mountains between and I have no boat or carriage. What can I do?”

The Master from south of the Market said, “Be without imperiousness, be without conventionality – let this be your carriage.” 4

But the ruler of Lu said, “The road is dark and long and there are no people there. Who will be my companion on the way? When I have no rations, when I have nothing to eat, how will I be able to reach my destination?”

The Master from south of the Market said, “Make few your needs, lessen your desires, and then you may get along even without rations. You will ford the rivers and drift out upon the sea. Gaze all you may – you cannot see its farther shore; journey on and on – you will never find where it ends. Those who came to see you off will all turn back from the shore and go home, while you move ever farther into the distance.

“He who possesses men will know hardship; he who is possessed by men will know care. Therefore Yao neither possessed men nor allowed himself to be possessed by them. So I ask you to rid yourself of hardship, to cast off your cares, and to wander alone with the Way to the Land of Great Silence.

“If a man, having lashed two hulls together, is crossing a river, and an empty boat happens along and bumps into him, no matter how hot-tempered the man may be, he will not get angry. But if there should be someone in the other boat, then he will shout out to haul this way or veer that. If his first shout is unheeded, he will shout again, and if that is not heard, he will shout a third time, this time with a torrent of curses following. In the first instance, he wasn’t angry; now in the second he is. Earlier he faced emptiness, now he faces occupancy. If a man could succeed in making himself empty, and in that way wander through the world, then who could do him harm?”



“Love rushed into my veins emptying me of myself. Now filled with the Beloved my only possession is my name.” – Rumi

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi (the Book fo Zhuangzi), Chapter 20, “The Tree on the 3ountain.” To3ay’s episode details the conversation between the Master from south of the Market and the Marquis of Lu. It deals with stripping away all excesses in order to cleanse your mind. I will start with the first part of that conversation, which is rather short with a very explicit metaphor using a fox and an elegantly spotted leopard.

The next part is somewhat longer, so I will save that for next time.

I-liao from south of the Market called upon the marquis of Lu. The marquis had a very worried look on his face. “Why such a worried look?” asked the Master from south of the Market.

The marquis of Lu said, “I study the way of the former kings, I do my best to carry on the achievements of the former rulers, I respect the spirits, honor worthy men, draw close to them, follow their advice, and never for an instant leave their side. And yet I can’t seem to avoid disaster. That’s why I’m so worried.”

The Master from south of the Market said, “Your technique for avoiding disaster is a very superficial one. The sleek-furred fox and the elegantly spotted leopard dwell in the mountain forest and crouch in the cliffside caves – such is their quietude. They go abroad by night but lurk at home by day – such is their caution. Though hunger, thirst, and hardship press them, they steal forth only one by one to seek food by the rivers and lakes – such is their forethought. And yet they can’t seem to escape the disaster of nets and traps. Where is the blame? Their fur is their undoing. And this state of Lu-is it not your coat of fur? So I would ask you to strip away your form, rid yourself of this fur, wash clean your mind, be done with desire, and wander in the peopleless fields.”



It is while you are patiently toiling at the little tasks of life
that the meaning and shape
of the great whole of life dawns on you. – Phillips Brooks

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching.” (Book of Changes) Hexagram #45, which we did about a week or so ago. I wanted to repeat it because this particular hexagram has been very constructive in my life. But instead of using the Wilhelm/Baynes translation, I found another translation, which is somewhat different from my comments at the time, but which I like very much. This one is from, authored by Kari Hohne, an expert on comparative symbolism and the eastern and western archetypes. Check out her work at her website if you get a chance.

Cui (Gathering Together)
I Ching Hexagram 45

Success is allowing your lot
to reach its highest degree.

Reading at a Glance: Gathering Together is a hexagram that shows interdependency and people coming together because of a shared ideal. The hidden influence of Development reveals the natural exuberance generated in grass root efforts where people of like mind network and become a strong voice. It can appear when there will be meetings or events where you find people with common interests. Where the underlying cause of Controlled Power was a time of fortification of vision, the time has come for increased social interaction. The image of grass multiplying in nature shows how the individual root is strengthened and multiplies because other roots are joined to its cause. There is great magnetism created in this situation which brings others to share your vision. In business it is important to network in whatever way allows you to expose your product or services to others. In relationships, Gathering Together is more about shared interests and enthusiasm rather than romance and intimacy. In this situation it is not as important to focus on outer events as it is to keep fortifying your vision in a way that others understand and can participate in it. There is a cliquish quality to this hexagram that focuses more on similarities rather than differences. By fortifying order the group assembles around a shared goal and this gives the situation a shared sense of purpose.


“When creatures meet one another, they mass together. Hence, follows the principle of gathering together.” Over the Earth, is the Joyous Lake in the image of crowds drawing together. “The strong stands in the middle, therefore others mass around it.” The nuclear trigrams suggest a character that emulates the movement and influence of the Wind, while remaining steadfast like a Mountain. “When you have in your hold the great image, the empire will come to you.”

The mind forever travels in search of success to be achieved ‘out there.’ Yet, to be still, while “in silent harmony with one’s ultimate capacity, means allowing one’s lot to reach its highest degree.” This is using each moment as an opportunity to blossom. The master said: “Nothing exists but the present. If one cannot live there, one cannot live anywhere.” You must not make where you are going more important than where you are. “If one allows their nature to follow its own course, there will be no place for joy and sorrow.”

“Only when you stop liking and disliking will all be understood.” Your journey is not in the pursuit of perfection; seek only the authenticity that unfurls from within. Like the performer who discovers self-consciousness as a barrier to their craft, being authentically yourself is what draws others to you. “This is why the sage puts themselves last and finds that they are in the forefront; treats the self as extraneous and it is preserved. Is it not because one is without personal desires that one is able to fulfill one’s desires?” Discard the extraneous and open to the cultivation of your real essence.

Te is not a virtue that develops from moral rectitude; it is the creative power of authenticity that comes from spontaneous and natural expression. If the character is authentic, one becomes, quite naturally, effective. “Because this power is most true, within it there is confidence.” This confidence creates the magnetism that draws others to you.

As the image of grass growing and multiplying, life drives the strength of the individual through interdependency. The strength of the one root relies upon the growing strength of the collective root, while the collective thrives on the power of the individual. You may gather in places because of the ways that you are like others, but your Te is revealed in the ways that you are different. This contrast allows you to hear your drummer on the pathway to your destiny.

Authentic in the moment, you can detect the greater shape and the larger meaning of life’s interdependency. “That is why the sage concentrates on the core of things and not the husk. They let go of the ‘that’ to lay hold of the ‘this.” When you remove your outer covering that brings you together with others, you discover that ‘this’ is the person you are meant to be.

In life, you take your part in the group by serving others with your unique way of giving. In this way, you are not taking but giving; and through giving, you will strengthen the core of who you are.


To find your clan = open the door. If you are spending too much time alone, Gathering Together unchanging can be a message that it is time to become more sociable. There is great potential to expand and even achieve greater happiness, which is something that cannot occur until you open the door and go outside. Often when people feel listless or depressed, joining some type of activity can work wonders in invigorating enthusiasm or inspiration. You may be part of a group and feel out of place when this hexagram appears unchanging. The focus is on finding similarities and shared interests. In relationships there can be stark differences in social standing that must be considered. In business, the message can be to network in a way that allows others to find you, such as creating an identifiable brand or social media presence. You can only remain an outcast if you keep hiding. Your clan is out there. You need only go in search of it.



“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 33.The first 4 or 5 lines of this chapter are often quoted by scholars and true seekers. They differentiate between those with worldly values and those with true spiritual values regardless of one’s relgion.

“He who knows others is wise;
He who knows himself is enlightened.
He who conquers others is strong;
He who conquers himself is valiant.
He who knows contentment is rich;
He who acts with determination has high aims.
He who has not lost his proper abode endures;
He who dies and yet does not perish becomes immortal.”
– Translated by Henry Wei, 1982, Chapter 33

A person may be quite intelligent and have a high IQ but is controlled by his emotional urges and desires. While his monkey mind may be quite intelligent, it, nevertheless, jumps all over the place like a restless monkey from one urge to another. But a truly wise person know who to tame his mind and operate from the center of his/her being. One may be strong on the outside, but, unlike the wise person, is not strong enough internally to see through his/her emotions and desires and can set them aside without have to placate them. While others are running around chasing one money scheme or investment after another and unable to help themselves when it comes to buy needless luxuries and accoutrements, the wise person is content with what they have and grateful for anything they receive.

One more note: the word “perish” in the last line is from slightly newer versions of the text. An older version found in the Mawangdui caves in the 1970s date from 200 BC and has the word “forgotten” instead, meaning one who will not be forgotten has longevity (rather than immortal).


“Everyone lets the present moment slip by, then looks for it as though he thought it was somewhere else. No one seems to have noticed this fact. But grasping this firmly, one must pile experience upon experience. And once one has come to this understanding he will be a different person from that point on, though he may not always bare it in mind. When one understands this settling into single-mindedness well, his affairs will thin out.” – Yamamoto Tsunetomo, 17th century Samurai of the Saga Domain.

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” (Book of Zhuangzi), translated by Burton Watson. Today we start a new chapter, Number 20, entitled
“The Mountain Tree.” It gets its title from our first story by the same name and involves none other than the master himself, Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi). In this story, Chuang Tzu teaches us an important lesson on single mindedness.

CHUANG TZU WAS WALKING in the mountains when he saw a huge tree, its branches and leaves thick and lush. A woodcutter paused by its side but made no move to cut it down. When Chuang Tzu asked the reason, he replied, “There’s nothing it could be used for!” Chuang Tzu said, “Because of its worthlessness, this tree is able to live out the years Heaven gave it.”

Down from the mountain, the Master stopped for a night at the house of an old friend. The friend, delighted, ordered his son to kill a goose and prepare it. “One of the geese can cackle and the other can’t,” said the son. “May I ask, please, which I should kill?”

“Kill the one that can’t cackle,” said the host.

The next day Chuang Tzu’s disciples questioned him. “Yesterday there was a tree on the mountain that gets to live out the years Heaven gave it because of its worthlessness. Now there’s our host’s goose that gets killed because of its worthlessness. What position would you take in such a case, Master?”

Chuang Tzu laughed and said, “I’d probably take a position halfway between worth and worthlessness. But halfway between worth and worthlessness, though it might seem to be a good place, really isn’t – you’ll never get away from trouble there. It would be very different, though, if you were to climb up on the Way (the Tao) and its Virtue (the Te) and go drifting and wandering, neither praised nor damned, now a dragon, now a snake, shifting with the times, never willing to hold to one course only. Now up, now down, taking harmony for your measure, drifting and wandering with the ancestor of the ten thousand things, treating things as things but not letting them treat you as a thing – then how could you get into any trouble? This is the rule, the method of Shen Nung and the Yellow Emperor.

“But now, what with the forms of the ten thousand things and the codes of ethics (Confucius) handed down from man to man, matters don’t proceed in this fashion. Things join only to part, reach completion only to crumble. If sharp-edged, they are blunted; if high-stationed, they are overthrown; if ambitious, they are foiled. Wise, they are schemed against; stupid, they are swindled. What is there, then, that can be counted on? Only one thing, alas! – remember this, my students – only the realm of the Way (the Tao) and its Virtue! (the Te)”



“Contemplation is life itself, fully awake, fully active, and fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant Source.” – Thomas Merton

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching” (“Book of Changes”), Hexagram #20, Kuan, Contemplation (View). It is not only interesting in the fact that it enables great persons through inner concentration to fathom the mysterious and divine laws of life but also gives us an historical perspective of how dieties were invoked to receive the offerings from their faithful in ancient China.

20. Kuan / Contemplation (View) Translated by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes


A slight variation of tonal stress gives the Chinese name for this hexagram a double meaning. It means both contemplating and being seen, in the sense of being an example. These ideas are suggested by the fact that the hexagram can be understood as picturing a type of tower characteristic of ancient China.

A tower of this kind commanded a wide view of the country; at the same time, when situated on a mountain, it became a landmark that could be seen for miles around. Thus the hexagram shows a ruler who contemplates the law of heaven above him and the ways of the people below, and who, by means of good government, sets a lofty example to the masses. This hexagram is linked with the eight month (September-October). The light-giving power retreats and the dark power is again on the increase. However, this aspect is not material in the interpretation of the hexagram as a whole.


CONTEMPLATION. The ablution has been made,
But not yet the offering.
Full of trust they look up to him.

The sacrificial ritual in China began with an ablution and a libation by which the Deity was invoked, after which the sacrifice was offered. The moment of time between these two ceremonies is the most sacred of all, the moment of deepest inner concentration. If piety is sincere and expressive of real faith, the contemplation of it has a transforming awe-spiring effect on those who witness it. Thus also in nature a holy seriousness is to be seen in the fact that natural occurrences are uniformly subject to law. Contemplation of the divine meaning underlying the workings of the universe gives to the man who is called upon to influence others the means of producing like effects. This requires that power of inner concentration which religious contemplation develops in great men strong in faith. It enables them to apprehend the mysterious and divine laws of life, and by means of profoundest inner concentration they give expression to these laws in their own persons. Thus a hidden spiritual power emanates from them, influencing and dominating others without their being aware of how it happens.


The wind blows over the earth:
Thus the kings of old visited the regions of the world,
Contemplated the people,
And gave them instruction.

When the wind blows over the earth it goes far and wide, and the grass must bend to its power. These two occurrences find confirmation in the hexagram. The two images are used to symbolize a practice of the kings of old; in making regular journeys the ruler could, in the first place, survey his realm and make certain that none of the existing usages of the people escaped notice; in the second, he could exert influence through which such customs as were unsuitable could be changed. All of this points to the power possessed by a superior personality. On the one hand, such a man will have a view of the real sentiments of the great mass of humanity and therefore cannot be deceived; on the other, he will impress the people so profoundly, by his mere existence and by the impact of his personality, that they will be swayed by him as the grass by the wind.



“Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” – Jerry Bridges, a best-selling Christian author

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the “Tao Te Ching” by Laozi, Chapter 51, one of the most confusing and difficult chapters to explain, but I will try my best in my comments below..

“The Way brings them forth,
Virtue nurtures them,
Matter shapes them,
Environment forms them.
Therefore, all things without exception venerate the Way and value virtue.
The Way’s venerability and virtue’s value
are that they do not command but constantly are natural.
Therefore, the Way brings them forth,
Virtue nurtures them,
Grows them and rears them,
Matures them and ripens them,
Nourishes them and shelters them.
Producing without possessing,
Acting without taking credit,
Growing without controlling, —
This is called mystical virtue.”
– Translated by Yi Wu, Chapter 51

The first line the Way or simply the Tao brings them forth (gives them birth or existence). So, in essence the Tao (Way) an invisible, inaudible, intangible and yet infinite Non-Being gives life to all Beings. So, we can say from infinite Non-Being all Beings arise, appear for a while (some longer, many shorter) then fall back and are absorbed by the Tao’s infinitude. Virtue nurtures them is not quite correct. The “Te” as in Tao “Te” Ching is actually the Mystical Virtue or Mysterious Virtue. The ancients named it that because they didn’t know exactly how it worked. They just knew that it existed, not as a part, but as the true essence or nature of the Tao. In the Christian world, we might call the Te God’s Grace. In this case, it is the benevolent grace that spontaneously flows from the Tao. Like the Tao, it is also invisible, inaudible and intangible. However, in the material world it manifests as the pure radiance (invisible white light) of Qi. Like invisible white light shined through a prism, the invisible light is refracted and all the colors of the rainbow appear. In this case it is that Radiance which was refracted as it passed through the original “Big Bang” and appeared as the various material forms of Qi. These forms of Qi combined in different combinations and became the myriad or 10,000 things (including us) by appearing as the very space, form and structure in which each one appears to dwell and function. In other words, their environment. So, Laozi says “Matter shapes them, environment forms them.” By the very appearance, in Nature “all things without exception venerate the Way and value virtue.” Yet the way does not command or order this veneration, it comes naturally. So, when you see a stately mountain like Yosemite, or a field of gorgeous wild flowers, or the ocean coastline around Big Sur or a desert sky filled with stars, you are breathtaken and gasp, “How beautiful!” This is the veneration of Nature and, in turn, Nature’s true source, the Tao and the Te. The rest of the stanzas are just a repeat of the beginning, outlining all the previous steps that has occured.



“Cultivate a sympathetic heart, humility in dealings, and selflessness in action. If these are practiced with earnestness and sincerity, then you will win the race of life.” – Baba Hari Dass

Today’s Daoist Daily Note is anither parable on selflessness from chapter 19 “Mastering Life” in the Zhuangzi…

Artisan Chui could draw as true as a compass or a T square
because his fingers changed along with things and he didn’t
let his mind get in the way. Therefore his Spirit Tower10
remained unified and unobstructed.
You forget your feet when the shoes are comfortable.
You forget your waist when the belt is comfortable.
Understanding forgets right and wrong when the mind is
comfortable. There is no change in what is inside, no
following what is outside, when the adjustment to events is
comfortable. You begin with what is comfortable and never
experience what is uncomfortable when you know the
comfort of forgetting what is comfortable.



“The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us* – Voltaire

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (“Book of Changes”), translated by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes, Hexagram #54, The Marrying Maiden. It is not a very auspicious hexagram to cast for it signifies misfortune. However, the reason I chose it is to show what marriage was like in ancient China down through the ages until the Communist revolution and Chairman Mao changed the way things were done. Things have loosened up a bit since then but as far as an open marriage is concerned, they have not returned to the old ways.

54. Kuei Mei / The Marrying Maiden


Above we have Chên, the eldest son, and below, Tui, the youngest daughter. The man leads and the girl follows him in gladness. The picture is that of the entrance of the girl into her husband’s house.


Undertakings bring misfortune.

Nothing that would further.

A girl who is taken into the family, but not as the chief wife, must behave with special caution and reserve. She must not take it upon herself to supplant the mistress of the house, for that would mean disorder and lead to untenable relationships. The same is true of all voluntary relationships between human beings. While legally regulated relationships based on personal inclination depend in the long run entirely on tactful reserve. Affection as the essential principle of relatedness is of the greatest importance in all relationships in the world. For the union of heaven and earth is the origin of the whole of nature. Among human beings likewise, spontaneous affection is the all-inclusive principle of union.


Thunder over the lake:


Thus the superior man
Understands the transitory
In the light of the eternity of the end.

Thunder stirs the water of the lake, which follows it in shimmering waves. This symbolizes the girl who follows the man of her choice. But every relationship between individuals bears within it the danger that wrong turns may be taken, leading to endless misunderstandings and disagreements. Therefore it is necessary constantly to remain mindful of the end. If we permit ourselves to drift along, we come together and are parted again as the day may determine. If on the other hand a man fixes his mind on an end that endures, he will succeed in avoiding the reefs that confront the closer relationships of people.



“To overextend yourself is to invite defeat.” ~G. William Domhoff

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching.” Chapter 9, “The Danger of Overextending,” an often quoted chapter. If you remember the last time, we looked at Chapter 15, which detailed the character of the ancient holy sages. However, even 2500 years ago, back in Laozi’s day, he knew that people could never live up to that high ideal. So he concluded Chapter 15 with this admonition to his followers back then and into the future not to overindulge: “Embrace this Tao, and don’t try to overfill. If you don’t try to overfill, you are beyond wearing out or renewal.” Chapter 9, proceeded that admoninition as a basis for not over indulging or, in this case, overextending.

“Stretch a bow to the very full,
And you will wish you had stopped in time;
Temper a sword-edge to its very sharpest,
And you will find it soon grows dull.
When bronze and jade fill your hall.
It can no longer be guarded.
Wealth and place breed insolence.
That brings ruin in its train.
When your work is done, then withdraw!
Such is Heaven’s Way.”
– Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 9

A final note: The last line “Such is Heaven’s Way.” Heaven’s Way, the Way of the Tao, the Tao and simply the Way are all synonymous.



” Our practice should be based on the ideal of selflessness. Selflessness is very difficult to understand. If you try to be selfless, that is already a selfish idea. Selflessness will be there when you do not try anything.” – Shunryu Suzuki

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is our third parable on selflessness from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 19, “Mastering Life.” This one is about a master craftsman who fashion bell stands…

Woodworker Ch’ing carved a piece of wood and made a bell stand, and when it was finished, everyone who saw it marveled, for it seemed to be the work of gods or spirits. When the marquis of Lu saw it, he asked, “What art is it you have?”

Ch’ing replied, “I am only a craftsman – how would I have any art? There is one thing, however. When I am going to make a bell stand, I never let it wear out my energy. I always fast in order to still my mind. When I have fasted for three days, I no longer have any thought of congratulations or rewards, of titles or stipends. When I have fasted for five days, I no longer have any thought of praise or blame, of skill or clumsiness. And when I have fasted for seven days, I am so still that I forget I have four limbs and a form and body. By that time, the ruler and his court no longer exist for me. My skill is concentrated and all outside distractions fade away. After that, I go into the mountain forest and examine the Heavenly nature of the trees. If I find one of superlative form, and I can see a bell stand there, I put my hand to the job of carving; if not, I let it go. This way I am simply matching up `Heaven’ with `Heaven.’ That’s probably the reason that people wonder if the results were not made by spirits.”



“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.” – Abraham Lincoln

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching.” (“Book of Changes”), Hexagram #49, Ko/Revolution (Molting). Changes in political government can be peaceful as seen in elections, or they can be armed revolutions changes by force. Originally, our most recent change in governments was by the overwhelming will of the voters. But the party that was ousted did not accept the will of the people and tried an armed coup, which fortunately failed. Ultimately, for a any political revolution to succeed and new government to emerge, it must be in alignment with Nature and have a competent leader who is unselfish and regards the needs of the people as the top priority.

49. Ko / Revolution (Molting)


The Chinese character for this hexagram means in its original sense an animal’s pelt, which is changed in the course of the year by molting. From this word is carried over to apply to the “moltings” in political life, the great revolutions connected with changes of governments.


REVOLUTION. On your own day
You are believed.

Supreme success,
Furthering through perseverance.
Remorse disappears.

Political revolutions are extremely grave matters. They should be undertaken only under stress of direst necessity, when there is no other way out. Not everyone is called to this task, but only the man who has the confidence of the people, and even he only when the time is ripe. He must then proceed in the right way, so that he gladdens the people and, by enlightening them, prevents excesses. Furthermore, he must be quite free of selfish aims and must really relieve the need of the people. Only then does he have nothing to regret. Times change, and with them their demands. Thus the seasons change in the course of the year. In the world cycle also there are spring and autumn in the life of peoples and nations, and these call for social transformations.


Fire in the lake: the image of REVOLUTION.

Thus the superior man

Sets the calendar in order
And makes the seasons clear.

Fire below and the lake above combat and destroy each other. So too in the course of the year a combat takes place between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, eventuating in the revolution of the seasons, and man is able to adjust himself in advance to the demands of the different times.


“The greatest crimes do not arise from a want of feeling for others but from an over-sensibility for ourselves and an over-indulgence to our own desires” – Edmund Burke

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 15, “The Wise Ones of Old.” It needs no explanation. It’s very straight-forward, in which Laozi describes the ancient sage scholars, whom he refers to time and again in his text. They are the sages that gave us the various ancient texts of Taoism that predate Laozi and the “Tao Te Ching.” At the very end of the chapter is Laozi’s admonition to us regarding the dangers of overindulgence. I opened with Edmund Burke in Today’s Quote because it reminds us that besides all the things we usually overindulge in such as food, drink and sex, we often forget that over-sensibility for ourselves (self-consciousness), which erupts into selfishness, the overindulgence to our own desires.

Chapter 15, Tao Te Ching
“The Wise Ones of Old”

The good scholars of ancient times
knew the small, the subtle,
the mysterious, and the coursing.
They were deeper than we could know
and most people didn’t understand them.
This is how they looked:
Relaxed! Like those fording a winter stream.
Undecided! Like those with danger all around.
Grave! Like those with great dignity.
Expansive! Like melting ice.
Honest! Like raw wood.
Broad! Like a valley.
Murky! Like muddy water.
Who can still muddy waters
and let them settle into clarity?
Who can calm great force
into quiet growth?
Embrace this Tao, and don’t try to overfill.
If you don’t try to overfill, you are beyond
wearing out or renewal.
– translated by Deng Ming-Dao



“Yet the definition we have made of ourselves is ourselves. To break out of it, we must make a new self. But how can the self make a new self when the selflessness which it is, is the only substance from which the new self can be made?” – Robert Penn Warren

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is another parable from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 19, “Mastering Life,” as we continue exploring the process of attaining “Selflessness.” This one centers on the development of a Selfless diver and implicit in its nature is a response to Robert Penn Warren’s profound question in Today’s Quote.

Confucius was seeing the sights at Lu-liang, where the water falls from a height of thirty fathoms and races and boils along for forty li, so swift that no fish or other water creature can swim in it. He saw a man dive into the water and, supposing that the man was in some kind of trouble and intended to end his life, he ordered his disciples to line up on the bank and pull the man out. But after the man had gone a couple of hundred paces, he came out of the water and began strolling along the base of the embankment, his hair streaming down, singing a song. Confucius ran after him and said, “At first I thought you were a ghost, but now I see you’re a man. May I ask if you have some special way of staying afloat in the water?”

“I have no way. I began with what I was used to, grew up with my nature, and let things come to completion with fate. I go under with the swirls and come out with the eddies, following along the way the water goes and never thinking about myself. That’s how I can stay afloat.”

Confucius said, “What do you mean by saying that you began with what you were used to, grew up with your nature, and let things come to completion with fate?”

“I was born on the dry land and felt safe on the dry land – that was what I was used to. I grew up with the water and felt safe in the water – that was my nature. I don’t know why I do what I do – that’s fate.”


Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching” (“Book of Changes”), Hexagram 45, in honor of #45, the old King, defeated and disgraced, leaving the White House, and #46, the Victor and New King taking over the White House with over 81 million supporters. Thus, after four years of internal strife, divisiness, bigotry and violence, it is definitely a time to gather our wits together and take a deep communal breath before starting the massive work of uniting this terribly divided nation and defeating the awesome yet invisible foe that has us surrounded and under siege.

45. Ts’ui / Gathering Together


This hexagram is related in form and meaning to Pi, HOLDING TOGETHER #8

In the latter, water is over the earth; here a lake is over the earth. But since the lake is a place where water collects, the idea of gathering together is even more strongly expressed here than in the other hexagram. The same idea also arises from the fact that in the present case it is two strong lines (the fourth and the fifth) that bring about the gather together, whereas in the former case one strong line (the fifth) stands in the midst of weak lines.



The king approaches his temple.
It furthers one to see the great man.

This brings success. Perseverance furthers.

To bring great offerings creates good fortune.
It furthers one to undertake something.

The gathering together of people in large communities is either a natural occurrence, as in the case of the family, or an artificial one, as in the case of the state. The family gathers about the father as its head. The perpetuation of this gathering in groups is achieved through the sacrifice to the ancestors, at which the whole clan is gathered together. Through the collective piety of the living members of the family, the ancestors become so integrated in the spiritual life of the family that it cannot be dispersed or dissolved. Where men are to be gathered together, religious forces are needed. But there must also be a human leader to serve as the center of the group. In order to be able to bring others together, this leader must first of all be collected within himself. Only collective moral force can unite the world. Such great times of unification will leave great achievements behind them. This is the significance of the great offerings that are made. In the secular sphere likewise there is no need of great deeds in the time of GATHERING TOGETHER.


Over the earth, the lake:


Thus the superior man renews his weapons
In order to meet the unforeseen.

If the water in the lake gathers until it rises above the earth, there is danger of a break-through. Precautions must be taken to prevent this. Similarly where men gather together in great numbers, strife is likely to arise; where possessions are collected, robbery is likely to occur. Thus in the time of GATHERING TOGETHER we must arm promptly to ward off the unexpected. Human woes usually come as a result of unexpected events against which we are not forearmed. If we are prepared, they can be prevented.



“The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.”

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 19, “Mastering Life.” There are several short parables towards the end of the chapter that point out the nature of selflessness. Also in my commentary at the end, I will note how the opening quote from Atisa, an 11th century Bengali Mahayana Master, coincides with the parable.

Chi Hsing-tzu was training gamecocks for the king. After ten days the king asked if they were ready.

“Not yet. They’re too haughty and rely on their nerve.”

Another ten days and the king asked again.

“Not yet. They still respond to noises and movements.”

Another ten days and the king asked again.

“Not yet. They still look around fiercely and are full of spirit.”

Another ten days and the king asked again.

“They’re close enough. Another cock can crow and they show no sign of change. Look at them from a distance and you’d think they were made of wood. Their virtue is complete. Other cocks won’t dare face them, but will turn and run.”

As the mind leaves the head and slowly descends, moved by the Dao’s benevolent grace manifested as gravity, and joins with the heart, not the human heart but the spiritual heart, different aspects of the egoic mind are discarded and replaced instead by the fundamental characteristics of virtue until complete selflessness is achieved and the inherent virtue of our original nature are regained. This is not a quick and easy process, but one that must be develped attentively over time. The Atisa quote outlines this same process as a step-by-step meditation beginning at the bottom with the greatest wisdom then moving up over time (weeks, possibly months) to the step above – the greatest meditation and so on until total selflessness is reached.



“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form” – Gautama Buddha

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11, The Utility of Non-Being or Emptyness

“Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.”
– Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, 1989, Chapter 11

The point here is that emptyness and nothingness follow each other seamlessly, and we make “use” of this everyday. Thus, being flows from non-being. If we have a solid block of clay, we have a good deal of potential, but in and of itself, there isn’t much usefulness. However shape it and leave the center empty, and that potential has now become a bowl or pot. So, from that non-being the empty center, we now have being – a useful bowl.



“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.” – Nhat Hanh

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” Hexagram #37, Chia Jen/The Family (The Clan). With a new President and his staff taking over the reins of government, we are hearing a lot about unifying the nation. I selected #37 The Family because there is no better symbol of Unity than the Family, and when we are speaking about Unitty in government and unifying the Nation, as Wilhelm suggests, we can extend the I Ching’s analysis Chia Jen to the role of governing the whole nation.

37. Chia Jên / The Family [The Clan]


THE FAMILY shows the laws operative within the household that, transferred to outside life, keep the state and the world in order. The influence that goes out from within the family is represented by the symbol of the wind created by fire.


THE FAMILY. The perseverance of the woman furthers.

The foundation of the family is the relationship between husband and wife. The tie that holds the family together lies in the loyalty and perseverance of the wife. Her place is within (second line), while that of the husband is without (fifth line). It is in accord with the great laws of nature that husband and wife take their proper places. Within the family a strong authority is needed; this is represented by the parents. If the father is really a father and the son a son, if the elder brother fulfills his position, and the younger fulfills his, if the husband is really a husband and the wife a wife, then the family is in order. When the family is in order, all the social relationships of mankind will be in order. Three of the five social relationships are to be found within the family-that between father and son, which is the relation of love, that between the husband and wife, which is the relation of chaste conduct, and that between elder and younger brother, which is the relation of correctness. The loving reverence of the son is then carried over to the prince in the form of faithfulness to duty; the affection and correctness of behavior existing between the two brothers are extended to a friend in the form of loyalty, and to a person of superior rank in the form of deference. The family is society in the embryo; it is the native soil on which performance of moral duty is made early through natural affection, so that within a small circle a basis of moral practice is created, and this is later widened to include human relationships in general.


Wind comes forth from fire:

The image of THE FAMILY.Thus the superior man has substance in his words
And duration in his way of life.

Heat creates energy: this is signified by the wind stirred up by the fire and issuing forth from it. This represents influence working from within outward. The same thing is needed in the regulation of the family. Here too the influence on others must proceed from one’s own person. In order to be capable of producing such an influence, one’s words must have power, and this they can have only if they are based on something real, just as flame depends on its fuel Words have influence only when they are pertinent and clearly related to definite circumstances. General discourses and admonitions have no effect whatsoever. Furthermore, the words must be supported by one’s entire conduct, just as the wind is made effective by an impression on others that they can adapt and conform to it. If words and conduct are not in accord and consistent, they will have no effect.

01/08/2021 – TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Bound by conventions, people tend to reach for what is easy. Here we must be unafraid of what is difficult. For all living beings in nature must unfold in their particular way and become themselves despite all opposition.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi, Chapter 19, the Full Understanding of Life.” In this passage, a conversation between Yen Yuan and Confucius shows the importance of being unafraid of Life…

Yen Yuan said to Confucius, “I once crossed the gulf at Goblet Deeps and the ferryman handled the boat with supernatural skill. I asked him, `Can a person learn how to handle a boat?’ and he replied, `Certainly. A good swimmer will in no time get the knack of it. And, if a man can swim under water, he may never have seen a boat before and still he’ll know how to handle it!’ I asked him what he meant by that, but he wouldn’t tell me. May I venture to ask you what it means?”

Confucius said, “A good swimmer will in no time get the knack of it – that means he’s forgotten the water. If a man can swim under water, he may never have seen a boat before and still he’ll know how to handle it – that’s because he sees the water as so much dry land, and regards the capsizing of a boat as he would the overturning of a cart. The ten thousand things may all be capsizing and backsliding at the same time right in front of him and it can’t get at him and affect what’s inside – so where could he go and not be at ease?

“When you’re betting for tiles in an archery contest, you shoot with skill. When you’re betting for fancy belt buckles, you worry about your aim. And when you’re betting for real gold, you’re a nervous wreck. Your skill is the same in all three cases – but because one prize means more to you than another, you let outside considerations weigh on your mind. He who looks too hard at the outside gets clumsy on the inside.”

The Zhuangzi’s point here is the more you value external things, the less you are able to stay calm, undisturbed, and unafraid on the inside. The more nervous you are on the inside, and the less your chances for success.

“I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.” – Albert Camus

“And real nobility (that of the heart) is based on scorn, courage, and profound indifference.” – Albert Camus

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from Laozi’s “Tao Te Ching,” Chapter 5. This is a much maligned chapter in the Tao Te Ching which is often misunderstood. Out of all the quotes I read on “indifference” it seems like Albert Camus was the only one to get it right twice. See how you feel after reading this short selection…

“Heaven and earth are not humane;
they regard all beings as straw dogs.
Sages are not humane;
they see all people as straw dogs..
The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows and pipes,
empty yet inexhaustible, producing more with each movement.
The talkative reach their wits’ end again and again;
that is not as good as keeping centered.”
– Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 5

After being told all our lives that God is good and God is love and kindness, many are appalled by those first four lines and surprised to learn that God or the Tao, which appears as Heaven and Earth (sometimes translated as Nature) is not humane and treats everyone like straw dogs (sacrificial images) which are simply discarded after a sacrificial ritual is completed. Some even wonder if translators made a mistake since there are dozens of different translations for this chapter, but almost all carry a negative connotation.

So, let me explain what Laozi (himself, a sage) realizes here. Look at that word in the title that follows Tao. The word is “Te,” and it stands for the Tao’s inherent Mystical or Mysterious Virtue, which like the bellows decsribed in the second part of this brief chapter, continuously, inexhaustibly and spontaneously emits its benevolent grace, which, in turn, manifests throughout all of Nature as the radiance of chi (Qi), including this massive and expanding Universe containing all of Heaven and Earth down to the most infinitesimal and as yet undiscovered particle and includes all of the myriads in beween, which includes all the stars, planets, moons, and here on earth all the plants, trees, animals , birds, fish and us. The chi does this by appearing as each one, permeating and flowing through each as the very space, form and structure in which it appears to dwell and function.

Since a true Daoist sage like Laozi is aligned with the Tao and follows its spontaneous flow of benevolence understands that this flow, like the bellows, is the great provider and available to us all the time. Everything you touch, feel, observe and consume is this radiant chi, a manifestation of the Tao’s benevolent grace continuously flowing throughout Nature. So, the Tao, itself, can remain indifferent to our pleas, prayers and supplications since its inherent Virtue has provided all we ever need. And, so too, the Sage in the very core of the heart-mind, knows he/she has this same grace flowing from this center and can simply ignore all the outside chatter and remain centered as Laozi reminds us in the last part of this chapter.



“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” – Albert Einstein

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.” – Horace

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (Book of Changes), Hexagram #39, Chien, Obstruction/Adversity. Chien is one of the more deceptive hexagrams. On the surface one would think that obstruction and adversity can be destructive, even devastating, and, indeed, they can be but do not have to be. In fact Chien can be one of the more rewarding hexagrams depending on how one approaches it.

39. Chien / Obstruction – Translated by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes


The hexagram pictures a dangerous abyss lying before us and a steep, inaccessible mountain rising behind us. We are surrounded by obstacles; at the same time, since the mountain has the attribute of keeping still, there is implicit a hint as to how we can extricate ourselves. The hexagram represents obstructions that appear in the course of time but that can and should be overcome. Therefore all the instruction given is directed to overcoming them.


The southwest furthers.
The northeast does not further.
It furthers one to see the great man.
Perseverance brings good fortune.

The southwest is the region of retreat, the northeast that of advance. Here an individual is confronted by obstacles that cannot be overcome directly. In such a situation it is wise to pause in view of the danger and to retreat. However, this is merely a preparation for overcoming the obstructions. One must join forces with friends of like mind and put himself under the leadership of a man equal to the situation: then one will succeed in removing the obstacles. This requires the will to persevere just when one apparently must do something that leads away from his goal. This unswerving inner purpose brings good fortune in the end. An obstruction that lasts only for a time is useful for self-development. This is the value of adversity.


Water on the mountain:

The image of OBSTRUCTION.

Thus the superior man turns his attention to himself
And molds his character.

Difficulties and obstructions throw a man back upon himself. While the inferior man seeks to put the blame on other persons, bewailing his fate, the superior man seeks the error within himself, and through this introspection the external obstacle becomes for him an occasion for inner enrichment and education.


“It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”- Harry S. Truman

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 19, “Perfect Happiness. I’m sure you have heard the old adage: “Birds of a feather flock together.” But what about birds of a different feather? Well, this short passage is about differences and the different ways we regard those differences. It is aimed at the leaders in the ancient world but is, nevertheless, viable in today’s political climate as President Truman in Today’s Quote was well aware.

When Hui Tzu went east to Ch’i, Confucius had a very worried look on his face.Tzu-kung got off his mat and asked, “May I be so bold as to inquire why the Master has such a worried expression now that Hui has gone east to Ch’i?”

“Excellent-this question of yours,” said Confucius. “Kuan Tzu had a saying that I much approve of: `Small bags won’t hold big things; short well ropes won’t dip up deep water.’ In the same way I believe that fate has certain forms and the body certain appropriate uses. You can’t add to or take away from these. I’m afraid that when Hui gets to Ch’i he will start telling the marquis of Ch’i about the ways of Yao, Shun, and the Yellow Emperor, and then will go on to speak about Sui Jen and Shen Nung. The marquis will then look for similar greatness within himself and fail to find it. Failing to find it, he will become distraught, and when a man becomes distraught, he kills.

“Haven’t you heard this story? Once a sea bird alighted in the suburbs of the Lu capital. The marquis of Lu escorted it to the ancestral temple, where he entertained it, performing the Nine Shao music for it to listen to and presenting it with the meat of the T’ai-lao sacrifice to feast on. But the bird only looked dazed and forlorn, refusing to eat a single slice of meat or drink a cup of wine, and in three days it was dead. This is to try to nourish a bird with what would nourish you instead of what would nourish a bird. If you want to nourish a bird with what nourishes a bird, then you should let it roost in the deep forest, play among the banks and islands, float on the rivers and lakes, eat mudfish and minnows, follow the rest of the flock in flight and rest, and live any way it chooses. A bird hates to hear even the sound of human voices, much less all that hubbub and to-do. Try performing the Hsien-ch’ih and Nine Shao music in the wilds around Lake Tung-t’ing when the birds hear it they will fly off, when the animals hear it they will run away, when the fish hear it they will dive to the bottom. Only the people who hear it will gather around to listen. Fish live in water and thrive, but if men tried to live in water they would die. Creatures differ because they have different likes and dislikes. Therefore the former sages never required the same ability from all creatures or made them all do the same thing. Names should stop when they have expressed reality, concepts of right should be founded on what is suitable. This is what it means to have command of reason, and good fortune to support you.”

This, of course, is the trouble today, especially in Washington. Our political leaders do not have a command of reason or good fortune. Democrats look across the aisle and see only supporters of autocracy and racism. The Republicans stare back and see only free-spending socialists. Hopefully, Joe Biden and the Biden-Harris team will be more like Harry Truman and see opportunities to sit down with those of opposing viewpoints and work out their differences.



“Oh, most magnificent and noble Nature!
Have I not worshipped thee with such a love
As never mortal man before displayed?
Adored thee in thy majesty of visible creation,
And searched into thy hidden and mysterious ways
As Poet, as Philosopher, as Sage?”- Humphry Davy

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 6, one of its shortest verses and perhaps its most controversial. One can find literrally hundreds of commentaries on this passage and only a very few of those are in agreement.

“The Valley Spirit never dies.
It 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.”
– Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 6

Despite all the controversial commentaries, Chapter 6 is only complicated if one is looking for it to be so. Too many commentators approach the chapter as though it holds some great secret of life, when, in fact, it is rather simple, one of Laozi’s simplest and straight-forward chapters. Two words in this translation that throw readers off are “Spirit” (Shen) and Mysterious. So, right away they start looking for deeper and deeper meanings. A valley is simply. a low plain or river between to mountains. It usually is a very fertile, natural area in contrast to the more rugged terrain of the two mountains. So, this Valley represents the Tao, itself, or Nature and how its creative properties bring about life and transformation.

The mountains represent Heaven (the Creative or Yang, male energy) and the Valley represents Earth, Nature (the receptive or Yin, female energy). So, yang energy is what infuses life and begins the creative process. Without the male’s yang energy (jing) there would be no birth. Earth or Nature, the receptive female needs that original spark to get creation (whether it’s the creation of the Universe, a human child, or a beast) percolating. Once the Vital Jing energy is received and consummation is completed, the Mysterious Female commences the growth process within its Valley (the womb), which Waley translates as the “base” but others have termed more appropriately the “doorway” or “gate” from which Heaven and Earth sprang, as well as all life.

Then, referring to the Female or Yin Qi, Laozi tells us it is always there, so “Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.” It never runs dry because we replenish it every day through food, water, sunlight and exercise in the mysterious feminine or natural (biological) processes known as nourishment and metabolism. However, the original Yang Qi or Jing, which our fathers gave us, cannot be replenished. It is stored in the kidneys (the two mountains overlooking the “Ming Men,” Gate of Life in the lumbar area). We lose a little Jing each day, determined by how hard we drive our bodies and the amount of stress we put on them. While we can add to our everyday Yang energy, once the Jing is gone, an organism dies. So, this is the reason Laozi tells us to draw upon the female Yin energy.



“Great effort is required to arrest decay and restore vigor. One must exercise proper deliberation, plan carefully before making a move, and be alert in guarding against relapse following a renaissance.” – Horace

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the Yijing, “Book of Changes,” Hexagram #18, Ku, Decay, Neglect. Hexagram 18 urges us to “Work on what has been spoiled,” usually through our neglect. Whether it is spoiled food that has decayed in the refrigerator, or a neglected relationship with our significant other or our children or parents. It could be outside the home, such as a friendship or business relationship or your latest project. It could even be something material like one’s car or worse something physical like your health. Hexagram 18 completely agrees with Horace’s suggestion in Today’s Quote, “one must exercise proper deliberation and plan carefully before making a move…” Feeling guilty doesn’t help. You need to get to work on repairing the situation. So, read on…

18. Ku / Work on what has been spoiled [ Decay, Neglect ]
– Translation by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes


The Chinese character ku represents a bowl in whose contents worms are breeding. This means decay. IT is come about because the gentle indifference in the lower trigram has come together with the rigid inertia of the upper, and the result is stagnation. Since this implies guilt, the conditions embody a demand for removal of the cause. Hence the meaning of the hexagram is not simply “what has been spoiled” but “work on what has been spoiled”.


Has supreme success.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Before the starting point, three days.
After the starting point, three days.

What has been spoiled through man’s fault can be made good again through man’s work. IT is not immutable fate, as in the time of STANDSTILL, that has caused the state of corruption, but rather the abuse of human freedom. Work toward improving conditions promises well, because it accords the possibilities of the time. We must not recoil from work and danger-symbolized by crossing of the great water-but must take hold energetically. Success depends, however, on proper deliberation. This is expressed by the lines, “Before the starting point, three days. After the starting point, three days.” We must first know the cause of corruption before we can do away with them; hence it is necessary to be cautious during the time before the start. Then we must see to it that the new way is safely entered upon, so that a relapse may be avoided; therefore we must pay attention to the time after the start. Decisiveness and energy must take the place of inertia and indifference that have led to decay, in order that the ending may be followed by a new beginning.


The wind blows low on the mountain:
The image of DECAY.
Thus the superior man stirs up the people
And strengthens their spirit.

When the wind blows slow on the mountain, it is thrown back and spoils the vegetation. This contains a challenge to improvement. It is the same with debasing attitudes and fashions; they corrupt human society. His methods likewise must be derived from the two trigrams, but in such a way that their effects unfold in orderly sequence. The superior must first remove stagnation by stirring up public opinion, as the wind stirs up everything, and must strengthen and tranquilize the character of the people, as the mountain gives tranquility and nourishment to all that grows in its vicinity.



“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.” – Oscar Wilde


TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 18, “Perfect Happiness.” This short passage is another one of Zhuangzi’s most popular stories. It needs no explanation from me, and I’m sure you will understand why I chose this wonderful Oscar Wilde quote to go along with it.

When Chuang Tzu went to Ch’u, he saw an old skull, all dry and parched. He poked it with his carriage whip and then asked, “Sir, were you greedy for life and forgetful of reason, and so came to this? Was your state overthrown and did you bow beneath the ax, and so came to this? Did you do some evil deed and were you ashamed to bring disgrace upon your parents and family, and so came to this? Was it through the pangs of cold and hunger that you came to this? Or did your springs and autumns pile up until they brought you to this?”

When he had finished speaking, he dragged the skull over and, using it for a pillow, lay down to sleep.

In the middle of the night, the skull came to him in a dream and said, “You chatter like a rhetorician and all your words betray the entanglements of a living man. The dead know nothing of these! Would you like to hear a lecture on the dead?”

“Indeed,” said Chuang Tzu.

The skull said, “Among the dead there are no rulers above, no subjects below, and no chores of the four seasons. With nothing to do, our springs and autumns are as endless as heaven and earth. A king facing south on his throne could have no more happiness than this!”

Chuang Tzu couldn’t believe this and said, “If I got the Arbiter of Fate to give you a body again, make you some bones and flesh, return you to your parents and family and your old home and friends, you would want that, wouldn’t you?”

The skull frowned severely, wrinkling up its brow. “Why would I throw away more happiness than that of a king on a throne and take on the troubles of a human being again?” it said.



I know many of us are glad to put 2020 behind us. Many families were devasted this year by COVID-19, unemployment and a bungling administration that completely refused to accept any responsibility for diminishing the effects of this pandemic. To the contrary, Trump and his enablers used the pandemic to further divide this nation and question the will of the 81 million voters who elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris over the incumbents, one of the few bright spots in 2020.

So, for all of you survivors of 2020, I offer you my special New Year’s gift to welcome in 2021, the Year of Hope and Unity. It is the very special New Year’s poem by a Daoist/Buddhist poet from long ago.

Su Shi, art name Dongpo (Chinese: 東坡), January 8,1037 – August 24, 1101, was one of the greatest and most famous Chinese poets throughout Asia. He was also a politician, calligrapher, painter, pharmacologist, and gastronome of the Song dynasty.

Su Shi is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished figures in classical Chinese literature, having produced some of the most well-known poems, lyrics, prose, and essays. Su Shi was famed as an essayist, and his prose writings lucidly contribute to the understanding of topics such as 11th-century Chinese travel literature or detailed information on the contemporary Chinese iron industry. His poetry has a long history of popularity and influence in China, Japan, and other areas in the near vicinity and is well known in the English-speaking parts of the world through the translations by Arthur Waley, among others. In terms of the arts, Su Shi has some claim to being “the pre-eminent personality of the eleventh century.” Dongpo pork, a prominent dish in Hangzhou cuisine, is named in his honor.

Now enjoy his “New Year’s Watch,” very much viable today as we say good-bye to 2020 and welcome in 2021

“New Year’s Watch” by Su Shi

“I wish I could understand how the year’s end approaches:
it seems to slither like a snake into a hole—
those patterned scales are nearly gone!
Who could stop a snake determined to leave
even if they wanted to tie its tail?
No matter how hard we try, we can’t do it.
The children force themselves not to sleep,
each guarding the night with joyous clamor.
Roosters: don’t sing the morning in just yet;
night-watch drums: don’t beat just yet.
Let’s sit until the lamps sputter and dim,
and we get up to watch the Northern Dipper tilt.
Will next year be good or not?
I worry that my heart’s ambitions might go amiss.
But take strength! Let’s send off this night
with all the boisterousness of youth!



“The preservation of a free government requires not merely that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority and are Tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.” – James Madison

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 17, entitled “Rulers.” This is a very short chapter. in which Laozi attempts to say a good deal without saying alot. Thus, he has chosen a poetic style that exemplifies what he considers as the best type of ruler. However, this makes interpreting the meaning somewhat tricky. So, I have posted several translations, each from a different decade, beginning with James Legge’s 1891 translation and continuing up to the present day…

“In the highest antiquity, the people did not know that there were rulers.
In the next age they loved them and praised them.
In the next they feared them.
In the next they despised them.
Thus it was that when faith in the Dao was deficient in the rulers a want of faith in them ensued.
How irresolute did those earliest rulers appear, showing by their reticence the importance which they set upon their words!
Their work was done and their undertakings were successful, while the people all said, ‘We are as we are, of ourselves!’ ”
– Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 17

“When great men rule, subjects know little of their existence.
Rulers who are less great win the affection and praise of their subjects.
A common ruler is feared by his subjects, and an unworthy ruler is despised.
When a ruler lacks faith, you may seek in vain for it among his subjects.
How carefully a wise ruler chooses his words.
He performs deeds, and accumulates merit!
Under such a ruler the people think they are ruling themselves.”
– Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 17

“Of the highest, the people merely know that such a one exists;
The next they draw near to and praise.
The next they shrink from, intimidated; but revile.
Truly, “It is by not believing people that you turn them into liars”.
But from the Sage it is so hard at any price to get a single word
That when his task is accomplished, his work done,
Throughout the country every one says: “It happened of its own accord”.”
– Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 17

17. Rulers
Of the best rulers
The people (only) know that they exist;
The next best they love and praise;
The next they fear;
And the next they revile.

When they do not command the people’s faith,
Some will lose faith in them,
And then they resort to oaths!
But (of the best) when their task is accomplished,
their work done,
The people all remark, “We have done it ourselves.”
– Translated by Lin Yutang, 1948, Chapter 17

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.
If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”
– Translated by Stephen Mitchell, 1995, Chapter 17

“The greatest rulers are the ones whose existence the people do not notice at all,
The rulers who are inferior to them are the ones whom the people honor and praise,
And inferior to those are the ones of whom they are afraid of,
And inferior to those are the ones whom they despise.
When there is a lack of faith in the ruler,
No one believes in his rule.
Now, learn how much importance must be attributed to words.”
– Translated by Chou Wing Chohan, 2004, Chapter 17

Throughout the Tao Te Ching, Laozi has left us quite a few chapters about governments and governing. This one in particular, though shorter than most, deals specifically with the four types of rulers. To find the greatest, Laozi has to delve back into antiquity, when men of Tao ruled, most likely they were sages, who knew the importance of words, and therefore, chose theirs very carefully. As for governance, they performed theirs behind the scenes, which is why Laozi says the people did not notice at all. Not that they were being secretive or clandestine. Quite the contrary, they were being humble and practicing “wuwei,” the art of “non-action.” This meant no rash or selfish actions. Like their words, they chose their actions very carefully, making certain they were assessing the needs and will of the people, not their own personal desires. That way, when they did act, their actions were spontaneous.

The second type is more visible than the first and not as spontaneous. He is not attuned to the Way of Tao like the sage/ruler who exemplifies Laozi and Zhuangzi. The second is more like Confucius, acting upon a set of rules. Therefore, his actions were ethical and principled rather than spontaneous. Nevertheless, the people honored and often loved them because they were benevolent and not harsh or commanding like the last two types of rulers.

These last two types are the despots and dictators. The third is aggressive and power-oriented. Their one aim is to be prominent and very visible. Thus they put demands on their people that cause the masses to fear them. Notice today how our current government has put unnecessary demands on the wage earners and working class as well as low-income families and immigrants. Thus, the people fear them. The last type is perhaps what our current government would have become, if they had not been voted out of office. They are not only demanding but extremely manipulative, spewing constant lies and fictitious allegations against other political parties and their followers with the sole purpose of segmenting and dividing the people, alienating them through confusion and animosity for the rule of law. Thus, the suppressed masses not only fear them but wholly despise them.



“Men strengthen each other in their faults. Those who are alike associate together, repeat the things which all believe, defend and stimulate their common faults of disposition, and each one receives from the others a reflection of his own egotism.” – Henry Ward Beecher

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching” (Book of Changes) Hexagram 59. Huan/Dispersion (Dissolution). I can think of no better time than Christmas Week to analyze this Hexagram, which is about Dispersion of Egotism. But not your garden-variety egotism, but the very egotism Henry Ward Beecher addresses in Today’s Quote – the egotism that strengthens the common faults of those who are very much alike and, by gathering together, defend and stimulate their common faults. Thus, each one receives from the others in their group a reflection of his/her own egotism. Hence, Hexagram 59 addresses the very divisive egotism of groups like the Proud Boys, White Supremacists, and other nationalistic groups that have banded together with a devout, religious-like fervor for the Great Egotist – Donald Trump – a president who has displayed over four years a divisive egotism that has driven stake through the heart and soul of this nation.

But if you are one of the 81 million who voted for Biden and Harris and their platform to save the soul of this nation, then you need to study this Hexagram and understand it is a blueprint for dissolving the rigidity and dispersing that divisive egotism which Trump and his avid supporters have created to divided us. So, please read on…

59. Huan / Dispersion [Dissolution]


Wind blowing over water disperses it, dissolving it into foam and mist. This suggests that when a man’s vital energy is dammed up within him (indicated as a danger by the attribute of the lower trigram), gentleness serves to break up and dissolve the blockage.



The king approaches his temple.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Perseverance furthers.

The text of this hexagram resembles that of Ts’ui, GATHERING TOGETHER, #45

In the latter, the subject is the bringing together of elements that have been separated, as water collects in lakes upon the earth. Here the subject is the dispersing and dissolving of divisive egotism. DISPERSION shows the way, so to speak, that leads to gathering together. This explains the similarity of the two texts. Religious forces are needed to overcome the egotism that divides men. The common celebration of the great sacrificial feasts and sacred rites, which gave expression simultaneously to the interrelation and social articulation of the family and state, was the means of employed by the great ruler to unite men. The sacred music and the splendor of the ceremonies aroused a strong tide of emotion that was shared by all hearts in unison, and that awakened a consciousness of the common origin of all creatures. In this way disunity was overcome and rigidity dissolved. A further means to the same end is co-operation in great general undertakings that set a high goal for the will of the people; in the common concentration on this goal, all barriers dissolve, just as, when a boat is crossing a great stream, all hands must unite in a joint task. But only a man who is himself free of all selfish ulterior considerations, and who perseveres in justice and steadfastness, is capable of so dissolving the hardness of egotism.


The wind drives over the water:

The image of DISPERSION.

Thus the kings of old sacrificed to the Lord
And built temples.

In the autumn and winter, water begins to freeze into ice. When the warm breezes of spring come, the rigidity is dissolved, and the elements that have been dispersed in ice floes are reunited. It is the same with the minds of the people. Through hardness and selfishness the heart grows rigid, and this rigidity leads to separation from all others. Egotism and cupidity isolate men. Therefore the hearts of men must be seized by a devout emotion. They must be shaken by a religious awe in face of eternity-stirred with an intuition of the One Creator of all living beings, and united through the strong feeling of fellowship experienced in the ritual of divine worship.



“A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake.” – Carl Sandburg

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is on “Birth” in honor of Christmas. Starting with a famous American poet, Carl Sandburg who gives us Today’s quote above, which shows that his personal philosophy is very much in line with our two Daoist philosophers. The first is from Laozi and Chapter 6 of the Tao Te Ching…

“The spirit of emptiness is immortal.
It is called the Great Mother
because it gives birth to Heaven and Earth.
It is like a vapor,
barely seen but always present.
Use it effortlessly.”
– Translated by John H. McDonald, Chapter 6

The next is from the “Zhuangzi”, Chapter 18, Perfect Happiness..

“Let me try putting it this way. The inaction of Heaven is its purity, the inaction of earth is its peace. So the two inactions combine and all things are transformed and brought to birth. Wonderfully, mysteriously, there is no place they come out of. Mysteriously, wonderfully, they have no sign. Each thing minds its business and all grow up out of inaction. So I say, Heaven and earth do nothing and there is nothing that is not done. Among men, who can get hold of this inaction?

“Chuang Tzu’s wife died. When Hui Tzu went to convey his condolences, he found Chuang Tzu sitting with his legs sprawled out, pounding on a tub and singing. “You lived with her, she brought up your children and grew old,” said Hui Tzu. “It should be enough simply not to weep at her death. But pounding on a tub and singing – this is going too far, isn’t it?”

“Chuang Tzu said, “You’re wrong. When she first died, do you think I didn’t grieve like anyone else? But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a spirit. In the midst of the jumble of wonder and mystery a change took place and she had a spirit. Another change and she had a body. Another change and she was born. Now there’s been another change and she’s dead. It’s just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter.

“Now she’s going to lie down peacefully in a vast room. If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don’t understand anything about fate. So I stopped.”

I certainly hope you have enjoyed all of my Daoist Daily Notes, and Wish each and everyone of my friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New  Year.


“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy


TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching’s” Hexagram 29, K’AN, As JFK’s quote points out, danger is always accompanied by opportunity. We must prepare to face the danger but always be aware of the opportunity.

29. K’an / The Abysmal (Water)


This hexagram K’AN is one of the eight hexagrams in which doubling occurs. The trigram K’an means a plunging in. As an image it represents water, the water that comes from above and is in motion on earth in streams and rivers, giving rise to all life on earth. In man’s world K’an represents the heart, the soul locked up within the body, the principle of light enclosed in the dark–that is, reason. Because the trigram is doubled, K’AN has the additional meaning, “repetition of danger.” Thus the hexagram is intended to designate an objective situation to which one must become accustomed, . Hence a ravine is used to symbolize danger; it is a situation in which a man is in the same pass as the water in a ravine, and, like the water, he can escape if he behaves correctly.


The Abysmal repeated.
If you are sincere, you have success in your heart,
And whatever you do succeeds.

Through repetition of danger we grow accustomed to it. Water sets the example for the right conduct under such circumstances. It flows on and on, and merely fills up all the places through which it flows; it does not shrink from any dangerous spot nor from any plunge, and nothing can make it lose its own essential nature. It remains true to itself under all conditions. Thus likewise, if one is sincere when confronted with difficulties, the heart can penetrate the meaning of the situation. And once we have gained inner mastery of a problem, it will come about naturally that the action we take will succeed. In danger all that counts is really carrying out all that has to be done–thoroughness–and going forward, in order not to perish through tarrying in the danger. Properly used, danger can have an important meaning as a protective measure. Thus heaven has its perilous height protecting it against every attempt at invasion, and earth has its mountains and bodies of water, separating countries by their dangers. Thus also rulers make use of danger to protect themselves against attacks from without and against turmoil within.


Water flows on uninterruptedly and reaches its foal:

The image of the Abysmal repeated.

Thus the superior man walks in lasting virtue
And carries on the business of teaching.

Water reaches its goal by flowing continually. It fills up every depression before it flows on. The superior man follows its example; he is concerned that goodness should be an established attribute of character rather than an accidental and isolated occurrence. So likewise in teaching others everything depends on consistency, for it is only through repetition that the pupil makes the material his own.



“Simplicity in character, in manners, in style; in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from Chapter 37 of the Tao Te Ching, entitled “Simplicity,” translated by Lin Yutang.

“The Tao never does,
Yet through it everything is done.
If princes and dukes can keep the Tao,
the world will of its own accord be reformed.
When reformed and rising to action,
Let it be restrained by the Nameless pristine simplicity.
The Nameless pristine simplicity
Is stripped of desire (for contention).
By stripping of desire quiescence is achieved,
And the world arrives at peace of its own accord.”                                          – translated by Lin Yutang

The image for simplicity is the uncarved block. Uncarved, the wood has not been smoothed over or honed but is in its raw, coarse natural state and thus represents simplicity as the natural state of things before human intervention and culturization.

Like the Tao in the first chapter, Laozi pronounces this simplicity as nameless. He does this to call one’s attention to the close relationship between simplicity and the Tao, which leads me to believe that the other name for this nameless pristine simplicity is “Te” as in Tao Te Ching. More commonly Te has also been described as pristine or mystic virtue, which flourishes within a simplistic lifestyle. Hence, Daoist sages tend to lead simple lives in order to cultivate this simplicity or mystic virtue, which is stripped of desire. If one is free of desire or, at least, able to notice it arising, then one can negate it very quickly and return to one’s natural state, remaining in accord with the Tao and the natural flow of events. When one is in this flow, then life is effortless. One has to do nothing (inaction) in order to benefit. Because one does not interfere with the natural laws, the laws, themselves, bring things to fruition.

I will let this quote from Lin Yutang summarize this chapter on Simplicity, which he has translated: “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” – Lin Yutang



“Man who stand on hill with mouth open will wait long time for roast duck to drop in.” – Confucius

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from Chapter 18 of the “Zhuangzi,” entitled “Perfect Happiness.” In Yesterday’s text, the “Zhuangzi” stated how man’s quest for happiness wears his body down and brings only unhappiness. In Today’s follow-up text, it asks the questions: Is there really such a thing as goodness or isn’t there? and In the end is there really happiness or isn’t there?

Men of ardor are regarded by the world as good, but their goodness doesn’t succeed in keeping them alive. So I don’t know whether their goodness is really good or not. Perhaps I think it’s good – but not good enough to save their lives. Perhaps I think it’s no good – but still good enough to save the lives of others. So I say, if your loyal advice isn’t heeded, give way and do not wrangle. Tzu-hsu wrangled and lost his body. But if he hadn’t wrangled, he wouldn’t have made a name. Is there really such a thing as goodness or isn’t there?

What ordinary people do and what they find happiness in – I don’t know whether such happiness is in the end really happiness or not. I look at what ordinary people find happiness in, what they all make a mad dash for, racing around as though they couldn’t stop – they all say they’re happy with it. I’m not happy with it and I’m not unhappy with it. In the end is there really happiness or isn’t there?

I take inaction to be true happiness, but ordinary people think it is a bitter thing. I say: perfect happiness knows no happiness, perfect praise knows no praise. The world can’t decide what is right and what is wrong. And yet inaction can decide this. Perfect happiness, keeping alive – only inaction gets you close to this!

Let me try putting it this way. The inaction of Heaven is its purity, the inaction of earth is its peace. So the two inactions combine and all things are transformed and brought to birth. Wonderfully, mysteriously, there is no place they come out of. Mysteriously, wonderfully, they have no sign. Each thing minds its business and all grow up out of inaction. So I say, Heaven and earth do nothing and there is nothing that is not done. Among men, who can get hold of this inaction?

It seems as though nearly everyone -even Confucius (in today’s quote) – disagrees with the “Zhuangzi.” They do not realize what a Daoist sage means by that word “inaction.” To a sage, it can best be translated as non-action, meaning no rash action stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response to an event. It also means no premeditated action based on the ego’s attachment to earthly desires as driven by its inherent weaknesses – greed, jealousy, anger and the like.

Of course, the “Tao Te Ching” contains a dozen or so chapters with reference to inaction and non-doing. Being a follower of Laozi’s, it is not surprising that Zhuangzi would incorporate this keystone of Daoist philosophy into his own personal philosophy and teachings.

The Buddha also taught inaction to his followers as noted in the Buddha’s conversation with General Siha, Licchavi general of Vesali. He was a follower of the Niganthas. When the Buddha visited Vesali, Siha, having heard reports of his greatness, wished to see him, but Nigantha Nataputta dissuaded him, saying that Gotama denied the result of actions and was not worth a visit. But in the end Siha, accompanied by five hundred chariots, went to the Buddha. Having discovered in their conversation that the Buddha was falsely accused (by Nigantha) of preaching wrong doctrines, Siha declared himself the Buddha’s follower.

The Buddha told Siha that he indeed taught inaction to his followers when it came to their wickedness and negative traits and that he also taught positive action towards their virtuous traits and inherent benevolence.

So, whether Daoist or Buddhist, the first and most important tenet of your personal philosophy should be “Know Thyself.”



“Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.” – Saint Augustine

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from Chapter 18 of the “Zhuangzi,” entitled “Perfect Happiness.” First of all, I love Today’s Quote from St. Augustine, which summarizes today’s short Daoist sermon in just one sentance. It seemed to me that happiness is what people need most in this horrid environment of Coronavirus killing off unending numbers, spreading pain and suffering in so many families, and a rogue president acting like a third world dictator without the brains of one, trying to tear down our democracy and replacing it with martial law while poisoning the waters for our new president and his efforts to heal and unite our divided nation. So, the “Zhuangzi” leads off the chapter with the very question we are asking ourselves…

IS THERE SUCH A THING as perfect happiness in the world or isn’t there? Is there some way to keep yourself alive or isn’t there? What to do, what to rely on, what to avoid, what to stick by, what to follow, what to leave alone, what to find happiness in, what to hate?

This is what the world honors: wealth, eminence, long life, a good name. This is what the world finds happiness in: a life of ease, rich food, fine clothes, beautiful sights, sweet sounds. This is what it looks down on: poverty, meanness, early death, a bad name. This is what it finds bitter: a life that knows no rest, a mouth that gets no rich food, no fine clothes for the body, no beautiful sights for the eye, no sweet sounds for the ear.

People who can’t get these things fret a great deal and are afraid – this is a stupid way to treat the body. People who are rich wear themselves out rushing around on business, piling up more wealth than they could ever use – this is a superficial way to treat the body. People who are eminent spend night and day scheming and wondering if they are doing right – this is a shoddy way to treat the body. Man lives his life in company with worry, and if he lives a long while, till he’s dull and doddering, then he has spent that much time worrying instead of dying, a bitter lot indeed! This is a callous way to treat the body.

Does this sound familiar? Did St. Augustine summarize this introduction with his quote? Tomorrow we will discover what the “Zhuangzi” suggests to save our bodies and live a better life. Thanks for viewing.



“The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes.”- Charles Spurgeon

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (Book of Changes), Hexagram #5 Hsu, Waiting, Translated by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes. Considering the fast spread of COVID-19 and the slow distribution of the vaccines, many of us are forced to wait, wait and continue wearing masks, endlessly washing our hands, 6-foot social distancing and avoiding social gatherings. The waiting may make us feel uncomfortable, irritable and closed-in. Today’s daily note along with the quote from Charles Spureon and yesterday’s quote from Abraham Lincoln, show us the value of waiting.

5. Hsü / Waiting (Nourishment)


All beings have need of nourishment from above. But the gift of food comes in its own time, and for this one must wait. This hexagram shows the clouds in the heavens, giving rain to refresh all that grows and to provide mankind with food and drink. The rain will come in its own time. We cannot make it come; we have to wait for it. The idea of waiting is further suggested by the attributes of the two trigrams–strength within, danger in from. Strength in the face of danger does not plunge ahead but bides its time, whereas weakness in the face of danger grows agitated and has not the patience to wait.


WAITING. If you are sincere,
You have light and success.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

Waiting is not mere empty hoping. It has the inner certainty of reaching the goal. Such certainty alone gives that light which leads to success. This leads to the perseverance that brings good fortune and bestows power to cross the great water. One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing. Only a strong man can stand up to his fate, for his inner security enables him to endure to the end. This strength shows itself in uncompromising truthfulness [with himself]. It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized. This recognition must be followed by resolute and persevering action. For only the man who goes to meet his fate resolutely is equipped to deal with it adequately. Then he will be able to cross the great water–that is to say, he will be capable of making the necessary decision and of surmounting the danger.


Clouds rise up to heaven:
The image of WAITING.
Thus the superior man eats and drinks,
Is joyous and of good cheer.

When clouds rise in the sky, it is a sign that it will rain. There is nothing to do but to wait until after the rain falls. It is the same in life when destiny is at work. We should not worry and seek to shape the future by interfering in things before the time is ripe. We should quietly fortify the body with food and drink and the mind with gladness and good cheer. Fate comes when it will, and thus we are ready.

So, let’s follow the advice of the “I Ching” and not let the waiting get us down, but look for that light to develop out of events which can led us to a path of  greater expansion of ourselves, our values, and our roles in society.


“A man watches his pear-tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe pear at length falls into his lap.” – Abraham Lincoln


“You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things… It doesn’t frighten me.” – Richard P. Feynman



TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is another short parable to close out Chapter 17 in the “Zhuangzi.”

Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu were strolling along the dam of the Hao River when Chuang Tzu said, “See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That’s what fish really enjoy!”

Hui Tzu said, “You’re not a fish – how do you know what fish enjoy?”

Chuang Tzu said, “You’re not I, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”

Hui Tzu said, “I’m not you, so I certainly don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish – so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!”

Chuang Tzu said, “Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy – so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao.”

Today’s Quote from Richard Feynman, who was a theoretical physicist, shows that he is willing to accept and live with the doubt of not knowing. Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu), on the other hand, conjectures that he knows not by deduction or induction, not by logic or any other process of thought but buy “feeling.” Although he doesn’t explicitly state this, he implies it when he says, “…by standing here beside the Hao.” This tells us he is using his senses and the experiences they afford him to know what fish enjoy.



“When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need.” – Dalai Lama

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the Chapter 17 of the “Zhuangzi.” It’s a very short parable on contentment, but one of the “Zhuangzi’s” most memorable…

“Once, when Chuang Tzu was fishing in the P’u River, the king of Ch’u sent two officials to go and announce to him: “I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm.”

Chuang Tzu held on to the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, “I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Ch’u that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead and have its bones left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?”

“It would rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud,” said the two officials.

Chuang Tzu said, “Go away! I’ll drag my tail in the mud!”

So, what would you do if you were in a position like Zhuangzi is? Let’s say you were working in a lowly, poorly paying job, but you loved what you were doing. Then an old acquaintance, who had become very successful, notices you and offers you a high-level, high-paying position, but one that you know would be tiring and stressful. Would you take it? Or, say thanks, but no thanks?”



“To desire and strive to be of some service to the world, to aim at doing something which shall really increase the happiness and welfare and virtue of mankind – this is a choice which is possible for all of us; and surely it is a good haven to sail for.” – Henry Van Dyke

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching.” Hexagram 42, I or Yi, meaning Increase. The quote from Henry Van Dyke is actually the closest of all the quotes by Western Writers to conveying a real sense of Hexagram 42. The first part of his quote: “To desire and strive to be of some service to the world, to aim at doing something which shall really increase the happiness and welfare and virtue of mankind…” conveys the essence of the Judgement – “Sacrifice on the part of those above for the increase of those below fills the people with a sense of joy and gratitude that is extremely valuable for the flowering of the commonwealth…” The last part of Van Dyke’s quote: “…this is a choice which is possible for all of us; and surely it is a good haven to sail for.” implies the hexagram’s Image of a ship sailing across the ocean to a pleasant haven, which is the symbolism behind the upper and lower trigrams. The Upper Trigram, Sun, the gentle, wind or wood; gives us a sense of a ship setting sail; and the Lower Trigram, Chen, the Arousing or Thunder implies movement. So, we have a ship being moved by the ocean’s current and with the wind in its sails making progress across a great ocean.

42. I / Increase



INCREASE. It furthers one

To undertake something.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

Sacrifice on the part of those above for the increase of those below fills the people with a sense of joy and gratitude that is extremely valuable for the flowering of the commonwealth. When people are thus devoted to their leaders, undertakings are possible, and even difficult and dangerous enterprises will succeed. Therefore in such times of progress and successful development it is necessary to work and make the best use of time. This time resembles that of the marriage of heaven and earth, when the earth partakes of the creative power of heaven, forming and bringing forth living beings. The time of INCREASE does not endure, therefore it must be utilized while it lasts.


Wind and thunder: the image of INCREASE.

Thus the superior man:
If he sees good, he imitates it;
If he has faults, he rids himself of them.

While observing how thunder and wind increase and strengthen each other, a man can note the way to self-increase and self-improvement. When he discovers good in others, he should imitate it and thus make everything on earth his own. If he perceives something bad in himself, let him rid himself of it. In this way he becomes free of evil. This ethical change represents the most important increase of personality.

To summarize, the way to increase your own sense of self-worth and all around self-improvement and self-increase is to increase the self-worth of others and thus, uplift your entire community. As you do, you cannot help but note the merits of others. So, see if you can find those same merits in yourself, and at the same discard any shortcomings you perceive in yourself and sail on.



“When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity your very effort fills you with activity.” – Sengcan


TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from Chapter 16 of the Tao Te Ching. It stresses certain points made in the “Autumn Floods” excerpt we just concluded yesterday from Chapter 17 of the “Zhuangzi.” There are dozens of translations of Tao Te Ching’s Chapter 16, and none are alike. I picked the following Lin Yutang translation as one of the more concise and most comprehensible.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 16
– translated by Lin Yutang

“Attain the utmost in Passivity,
Hold firm to the basis of Quietude.

The myriad things take shape and rise to activity,
But I watch them fall back to their repose.
Like vegetation that luxuriantly grows
But returns to the root (soil) from which it springs.

To return to the root is Repose;
It is called going back to one’s Destiny.
Going back to one’s Destiny is to find the Eternal Law.
To know the Eternal Law is Enlightenment.
And not to know the Eternal Law
Is to court disaster.

He who knows the Eternal Law is tolerant;
Being tolerant, he is impartial;
Being impartial, he is kingly;
Being kingly, he is in accord with Nature;
Being in accord with Nature, he is in accord with Tao;
Being in accord with Tao, he is eternal,
And his whole life is preserved from harm.”

The second stanza of Chapter 16 compliments this point about our own mortality as stated in the “Zhuangzi” Chapter 17:” “The Way is without beginning or end, but things have their life and death – you cannot rely upon their fulfillment. One moment empty, the next moment full – you cannot depend upon their form. The years cannot be held off; time cannot be stopped. Decay, growth, fullness, and emptiness end and then begin again.”

The last stanza of Chapter 16 regards the Eternal Law and being tolerant synonymous with living by our principles as raised in Chapter 17 of the “Zhuangzi: “He who understands the Way is certain to have command of basic principles. He who has command of basic principles is certain to know how to deal with circumstances. And, he who knows how to deal with circumstances will not allow things to do him harm.” The passage from the “Zhuangzi” concludes: “When a man has perfect virtue, fire cannot burn him, water cannot drown him, cold and heat cannot afflict him, birds and beasts cannot injure him. I do not say that he makes light of these things. I mean that he distinguishes between safety and danger, contents himself with fortune or misfortune, and is cautious in his comings and goings. Therefore nothing can harm him.” This passage, a most important one as I pointed out yesterday, is in agreement with the last three lines of today’s passage and is nearly the same as the concluding lines of Chapter 50 in the Tao Te Ching: 

“The rhinoceros finds no place to insert its horn.
The tiger finds no place to put its claws.
Weapons of war find no place to thrust their blades.
For what reasons?
Because one never lets himself be in a vulnerable situation.”

Also, I want to call your attention to today’s opening quote from Sengcan: “When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity your very effort fills you with activity.” We need to let our passivity arise naturally from within as part of our inner nature. If you try to force passivity upon yourself by forcibly stopping activity, you are doing the exact opposite.

“Perfect wisdom has four parts: Wisdom, the principle of doing things aright. Justice, the principle of doing things equally in public and private. Fortitude, the principle of not fleeing danger, but meeting it. Temperance, the principle of subduing desires and living moderately.” – Plato

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE conclues the “Autumn Floods” section from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 17, as the Lord of the River asks the key question…

“Well then,” said the Lord of the River, “what should I do and what should I not do? How am I to know in the end what to accept and what to reject, what to abide by and what to discard?”

Jo of the North Sea said, “From the point of view of the Way, what is noble or what is mean? These are merely what are called endless changes. Do not hobble your will, or you will be departing far from the Way! What is few, or what is many? These are merely what are called boundless turnings. Do not strive to unify your actions, or you will be at sixes and sevens with the Way! Be stern like the ruler of a state – he grants no private favor. Be benign and impartial like the god of the soil at the sacrifice – he grants no private blessing. Be broad and expansive like the endlessness of the four directions – they have nothing which bounds or hedges them. Embrace the ten thousand things universally – how could there be one you should give special support to? This is called being without bent. When the ten thousand things are unified and equal, then which is short and which is long?

“The Way is without beginning or end, but things have their life and death – you cannot rely upon their fulfillment. One moment empty, the next moment full – you cannot depend upon their form. The years cannot be held off; time cannot be stopped. Decay, growth, fullness, and emptiness end and then begin again. It is thus that we must describe the plan of the Great Meaning and discuss the principles of the ten thousand things. The life of things is a gallop, a headlong dash – with every movement they alter, with every moment they shift. What should you do and what should you not do? Everything will change of itself, that is certain!”

“If that is so,” said the Lord of the River, “then what is there valuable about the Way?”

Jo of the North Sea said, “He who understands the Way is certain to have command of basic principles. He who has command of basic principles is certain to know how to deal with circumstances. And, he who knows how to deal with circumstances will not allow things to do him harm. When a man has perfect virtue, fire cannot burn him, water cannot drown him, cold and heat cannot afflict him, birds and beasts cannot injure him. I do not say that he makes light of these things. I mean that he distinguishes between safety and danger, contents himself with fortune or misfortune, and is cautious in his comings and goings. Therefore nothing can harm him.

“Hence it is said: the Heavenly is on the inside, the human is on the outside. Virtue resides in the Heavenly. Understand the actions of Heaven and man, base yourself upon Heaven, take vour stand in virtue ,12 and then, although you hasten or hold back, bend or stretch, you may return to the essential and speak of the ultimate.”

“What do you mean by the Heavenly and the human?”

Jo of the North Sea said, “Horses and oxen have four feet – this is what I mean by the Heavenly. Putting a halter on the horse’s head, piercing the ox’s nose – this is what I mean by the human. So I say: do not let what is human wipe out what is Heavenly; do not let what is purposeful wipe out what is fated; do not let [the desire for] gain lead you after fame. Be cautious, guard it, and do not lose it – this is what I mean by returning to the True.”

This concludes the entire passage of “Autumn Floods” from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 17. If you do not remember anything else from the conversation between the Lord of the River and Jo, the Lord of the North Sea, remember this: “He who has command of basic principles is certain to know how to deal with circumstances. And, he who knows how to deal with circumstances will not allow things to do him harm.” Write it down so you don’t forget it, and what’s more read it daily and try to live by it.


“Bonaparte was a lion in the field only. In civil life, a cold-blooded, calculating, unprincipled usurper, without a virtue; no statesman, knowing nothing of commerce, political economy, or civil government, and supplying ignorance by bold presumption.” – Thomas Jefferson

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE continues the conversation between the Lord of the River and Jo, Lord of the North Sea from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 17, “Autumn Floods,”  Yesterday, we looked at perspective and its effect on perception. Today, we focus on the differences of various points of view, concluding with the companions of righteousness and usurpers…

The Lord of the River said, “Whether they are external to things or internal, I do not understand how we come to have these distinctions of noble and mean or of great and small.”

Jo of the North Sea said, “From the point of view of the Way, things have no nobility or meanness. From the point of view of things themselves, each regards itself as noble and other things as mean. From the point of view of common opinion, nobility and meanness are not determined by the individual himself.

“From the point of view of differences, if we regard a thing as big because there is a certain bigness to it, then among all the ten thousand things there are none that are not big. If we regard a thing as small because there is a certain smallness to it, then among the ten thousand things there are none that are not small. If we know that heaven and earth are tiny grains and the tip of a hair is a range of mountains, then we have perceived the law of difference…

Jo goes on to describe the point of views of function, preference, and noble and mean. Then he comes to this…

“A beam or pillar can be used to batter down a city wall, but it is no good for stopping up a little hole – this refers to a difference in function. Thoroughbreds like Ch’i-chi and Hua-liu could gallop a thousand li in one day, but when it came to catching rats they were no match for the wildcat or the weasel – this refers to a difference in skill. The horned owl catches fleas at night and can spot the tip of a hair, but when daylight comes, no matter how wide it opens its eyes, it cannot see a mound or a hill – this refers to a difference in nature. Now do you say, that you are going to make Right your master and do away with Wrong, or make Order your master and do away with Disorder? If you do, then you have not understood the principle of heaven and earth or the nature of the ten thousand things. This is like saying that you are going to make Heaven your master and do away with Earth, or make Yin your master and do away with Yang. Obviously it is impossible. If men persist in talking this way without stop, they must be either fools or deceivers!

“Emperors and kings have different ways of ceding their thrones; the Three Dynasties had different rules of succession. Those who went against the times and flouted custom were called usurpers; those who went with the times and followed custom were called companions of righteousness. Be quiet, be quiet, O Lord of the River! How could you understand anything about the gateway of nobility and meanness or the house of great and small?”

“Well then,” said the Lord of the River, “what should I do and what should I not do? How am I to know in the end what to accept and what to reject, what to abide by and what to discard?”

The Lord of the River just asked the key question for all of us: “What should I do?…” We will have Jo’s answer tomorrow. TO BE CONTINUED.


“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is again from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 17, “Autumn Floods,” as we continue the conversation between the Lord of the River. Yesterday, we looked at Wisdom. Today we will look at perspective and its effect on perception. Like Schopenhauer, the early Daoists were well aware of the limits our perspectives have on reality.

The Lord of the River said, “Men who debate such matters these days all claim that the minutest thing has no form and the largest thing cannot be encompassed. Is this a true statement?”

Jo of the North Sea said, “If from the standpoint of the minute we look at what is large, we cannot see to the end. If from the standpoint of what is large we look at what is minute, we cannot distinguish it clearly. The minute is the smallest of the small, the gigantic is the largest of the large, and it is therefore convenient to distinguish between them. But this is merely a matter of circumstance. Before we can speak of coarse or fine, however, there must be some form. If a thing has no form, then numbers cannot express its dimensions, and if it cannot be encompassed, then numbers cannot express its size. We can use words to talk about the coarseness of things and we can use our minds to visualize the fineness of things. But what words cannot describe and the mind cannot succeed in visualizing – this has nothing to do with coarseness or fineness.

“Therefore the Great Man in his actions will not harm others, but he makes no show of benevolence or charity. He will not move for the sake of profit, but he does not despise the porter at the gate. He will not wrangle for goods or wealth, but he makes no show of refusing or relinquishing them. He will not enlist the help of others in his work, but he makes no show of being self-supporting, and he does not despise the greedy and base. His actions differ from those of the mob, but he makes no show of uniqueness or eccentricity. He is content to stay behind with the crowd, but he does not despise those who run forward to flatter and fawn. All the titles and stipends of the age are not enough to stir him to exertion; all its penalties and censures are not enough to make him feel shame. He knows that no line can be drawn between right and wrong, no border can be fixed between great and small. I have heard it said, `The Man of the Way wins no fame, the highest virtue8 wins no gain, the Great Man has no self.’ To the most perfect degree, he goes along with what has been allotted to him.”

Tomorrow we will continue with Chapter 17 and the view perspective has on our perception but not only from a dimensional view but from moral and emotional views. TO BE CONTINUED…



“Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”-  Hermann Hesse

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is again from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 17, “Autumn Floods,” as we continue the conversation between the Lord of the River. Yesterday, we looked at the Daoist view of pride. Today we look at wisdom as Hermann Hesse noted: one can neither communicate nor teach it. But Jo, the Lord of the North Sea will attempt to do just that. Jo begins…

“Compare the area within the four seas with all that is between heaven and earth – is it not like one little anthill in a vast marsh? Compare the Middle Kingdom with the area within the four seas – is it not like one tiny grain in a great storehouse? When we refer to the things of creation, we speak of them as numbering ten thousand – and man is only one of them. We talk of the Nine Provinces where men are most numerous, and yet of the whole area where grain and foods are grown and where boats and carts pass back and forth, man occupies only one fraction. Compared to the ten thousand things, is he not like one little hair on the body of a horse? What the Five Emperors passed along, what the Three Kings fought over, what the benevolent man grieves about, what the responsible man labors over – all is no more than this! Po Yi gained a reputation by giving it up; Confucius passed himself off as learned because he talked about it. But in priding themselves in this way, were they not like you a moment ago priding yourself on your flood waters?”

“Well then,” said the Lord of the River, “if I recognize the hugeness of heaven and earth and the smallness of the tip of a hair, will that do?”

“No indeed!” said Jo of the North Sea. “There is no end to the weighing of things, no stop to time, no constancy to the division of lots, no fixed rule to beginning and end. Therefore great wisdom observes both far and near, and for that reason recognizes small without considering it paltry, recognizes large without considering it unwieldy, for it knows that there is no end to the weighing of things. It has a clear understanding of past and present, and for that reason it spends a long time without finding it tedious, a short time without fretting at its shortness, for it knows that time has no stop. It perceives the nature of fullness and emptiness, and for that reason it does not delight if it acquires something nor worry if it loses it, for it knows that there is no constancy to the division of lots. It comprehends the Level Road, and for that reason it does not rejoice in life nor look on death as a calamity, for it knows that no fixed rule can be assigned to beginning and end.

“Calculate what man knows and it cannot compare to what he does not know. Calculate the time he is alive and it cannot compare to the time before he was born. Yet man takes something so small and tries to exhaust the dimensions of something so large! Hence he is muddled and confused and can never get anywhere. Looking at it this way, how do we know that the tip of a hair can be singled out as the measure of the smallest thing possible? Or how do we know that heaven and earth can fully encompass the dimensions of the largest thing possible?”

What is Jo doing here to teach and communicate “wisdom?” He is simply removing labels and the adjectives (descriptive words) associated with them. Thus, one might say that widom is not looking at objects through the lense of labels and other descriptive terms associated with that object but simply observing it without any qualifieers. Knowledge, on the other hand, or the process of learning is finding as many descriptive terms and comparisons about a praticular object as possible.

Tomorrow we continue to look at the conversation between Jo, Lord of the North Sea and the Lord of the River with the focus on perspectives. TO BE CONTINUED.



“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” – C. S. Lewis

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Zhuangzi,” Chapter 17. This is from a sectioon of the text believed to have been written by his close disciples. In any case, it is a wonderful story that expands upon C.S. Lewis’ quote

“THE TIME OF THE AUTUMN FLOODS came and the hundred streams poured into the Yellow River. Its racing current swelled to such proportions that, looking from bank to bank or island to island, it was impossible to distinguish a horse from a cow. Then the Lord of the River was beside himself with joy, believing that all the beauty in the world belonged to him alone. Following the current, he journeyed east until at last he reached the North Sea. Looking east, he could see no end to the water.

The Lord of the River began to wag his head and roll his eyes. Peering far off in the direction of Jo (Lord of the North Sea), he sighed and said, “The common saying has it, `He has heard the Way a mere hundred times but he thinks he’s better than anyone else.’ It applies to me. In the past, I heard men belittling the learning of Confucius and making light of the righteousness of Po Yi, though I never believed them. Now, however, I have seen your unfathomable vastness. If I hadn’t come to your gate, I would have been in danger. I would forever have been laughed at by the masters of the Great Method!”

Jo of the North Sea said, “You can’t discuss the ocean with a well frog – he’s limited by the space he lives in. You can’t discuss ice with a summer insect – he’s bound to a single season. You can’t discuss the Way with a cramped scholar – he’s shackled by his doctrines. Now you have come out beyond your banks and borders and have seen the great sea – so you realize your own pettiness. From now on it will be possible to talk to you about the Great Principle.

“Of all the waters of the world, none is as great as the sea. Ten thousand streams flow into it – I have never heard of a time when they stopped – and yet it is never full. The water leaks away at Wei-lu – I have never heard of a time when it didn’t – and yet the sea is never empty. Spring or autumn, it never changes. Flood or drought, it takes no notice. It is so much greater than the streams of the Yangtze or the Yellow River that it is impossible to measure the difference. But I have never for this reason prided myself on it. I take my place with heaven and earth and receive breath from the yin and yang. I sit here between heaven and earth as a little stone or a little tree sits on a huge mountain. Since I can see my own smallness, what reason would I have to pride myself?…

Some important Daoist lessons follow in the conversation between the Lord of the River and Jo, the Lord of the North Sea. So, we will take a look at them tomorrow. TO BE CONTINUED…



“The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.” – Fulton J. Sheen

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the Zhuangzi, Chapter 3. In his quote, Bishop Sheen back in his day when he refers to “a silent acquiescence to evil.” and “The Tragedy of our time…” could have very well been referring to McCarthyism. No doubt in this day and age, he would have been referring to Trumpism and the silence of the majority of Republican politicians in Congress. Zhuangzi’s view of acquiescence meant being in accord with the time and willing to accept the natural course and sequence of events. Where Bishop Sheen is chastising an acquiescence to evil, Zhuangzi is favoring an acquiescence to Nature and the natural course of events. 

“When Lao Tan6 died, Chin Shih went to mourn for him; but after giving three cries, he left the room.

“Weren’t you a friend of the Master?” asked Lao Tzu’s disciples.


“And you think it’s all right to mourn him this way?”

“Yes,” said Chin Shih. “At first I took him for a real man, but now I know he wasn’t. A little while ago, when I went in to mourn, I found old men weeping for him as though they were weeping for a son, and young men weeping for him as though they were weeping for a mother. To have gathered a group like that, he must have done something to make them talk about him, though he didn’t ask them to talk, or make them weep for him, though he didn’t ask them to weep. This(to cry thus at one’s death) is to hide from Heaven (evade the natural principles of Nature – life and death), turn your back on the true state of affairs, and forget what you were born with (one’s inner nature, the source from which you received life). In the old days, this was called the crime of hiding from Heaven (or evading the retrbution of Heaven). Your master happened to come because it was his time, and he happened to leave because things follow along. If you are content (acquiescence) with the time and willing to follow along (to accept the natural course and sequence of things), then grief and joy have no Way to enter in. In the old days, this was called being freed from the bonds of God (the Cords of Heaven).

“Though the grease burns out of the torch, the fire passes on, and no one knows where it ends.”



“When you plant seeds in the garden, you don’t dig them up every day to see if they have sprouted yet. You simply water them and clear away the weeds; you know that the seeds will grow in time. Similarly, just do your daily practice and cultivate a kind heart. Abandon impatience and instead be content creating the causes for goodness; the results will come when they’re ready.” – Thubten Chodron

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “Liezi,” by Lieh-tzu:

“Let your eyes see what they see, not what others want you to see. Let your ears hear what they naturally hear, not what others want you to hear. Let your mouth speak your mind freely and not be constrained by other people’s approval or disapproval. Let your mind think what it wants to think and not let other people’s demands dictate your thoughts. If your senses and your mind are not allowed to do what they want to do naturally, you are denying them their rights. When you cannot think, sense, feel, or act freely, then your body and mind are injured. Break these oppressions, and you will cultivate life.” ― Liezi, Lieh-tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living

Today we contrast the Daoist view of cultivation as presented by Lie-tzu with the Tibetan Buddhist view of Thubten Chodron. Unlike Chodron and the Buddhist view of cultivation which centers on cultivating a kind heart and creating the causes for goodness, Lie-tzu’s idea of cultivating life can be summed up in one Chinese term “Ziran.” It means “self so; so of its own; so of itself” and thus “naturally; natural; spontaneously; freely; in the course of events; of course.” In other words by living according to Nature. Although Chodron’s metaphor of a garden is a nice premise for how to be a good Buddhist, it has little to do with cultivating life. The human act of cultivating a garden and pulling out weeds runs counter to what Nature does. Lie-tzu, on the other hand, is recommending that we follow our natural instincts, not our human instincts, which grow out of ‘conditioning.’ The Tibetan Buddhist view teaches us conditioning, humanistic conditioning, like that of Confucius, which promotes kindness and benevolence, but is nonetheless conditioning. Every Daoist from Laozi to Zhuangzi to Lie-tzu has refuted this Confucian practice and instead have urged us to follow are natural instincts, which emerge naturally from our true inner nature.



“The role played by time at the beginning of the universe is, I believe, the final key to removing the need for a Grand Designer, and revealing how the universe created itself. … Time itself must come to a stop. You can’t get to a time before the big bang, because there was no time before the big bang. We have finally found something that does not have a cause because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me this means there is no possibility of a creator because there is no time for a creator to have existed. Since time itself began at the moment of the Big Bang, it was an event that could not have been caused or created by anyone or anything. … So when people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the Big Bang, so there is no time for God to make the universe in. It’s like asking for directions to the edge of the Earth. The Earth is a sphere. It does not have an edge, so looking for it is a futile exercise.”
Stephen W. Hawking

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the Zhuangzi, Chapter 6, The Great Supreme…

“The Way (Tao) has its reality and its signs but is without action or form. You can hand it down but you cannot receive it; you can get it but you cannot see it. It is its own source, its own root. Before Heaven and earth existed it was there, firm from ancient times. It gave spirituality to the spirits and to God; it gave birth to Heaven and to earth. It exists beyond the highest point, and yet you cannot call it lofty; it exists beneath the limit of the six directions, and yet you cannot call it deep. It was born before Heaven and earth, and yet you cannot say it has been there for long; it is earlier than the earliest time, and yet you cannot call it old.”

Interestingly, Zhuangzi both agrees and disagrees with Hawking. In one sense, he agrees that time did not exist before Creation (the Big Bang). As Zhuangzi says: “It (Tao) was born before Heaven and earth, and yet you cannot say it has been there for long; it is earlier than the earliest time, and yet you cannot call it old.” However, he would disagree that the Universe did not have a source: “…it gave birth to Heaven and to Earth.” While Hawking cannot accept the existence of any source prior to the Big Bang, Zhuangzi states that the Way (Tao) “is its owen source, its own root.” However, unlike most Creationists, he does not accept that the Tao is in any way similar to a personal God. In fact, he believes just the opposite. “It (Tao) gave spirituality to the spirits and to God…” Furthermore, he would disagree that the Tao has any reality or human-likeness similar to the God of the Old Testament. “The Way (Tao) has its reality and its signs but is without action or form” Therefore, you cannot receive it because it is intangible, and you cannot see it because it is invisible, nor, can it be measured: “It exists beyond the highest point, and yet you cannot call it lofty; it exists beneath the limit of the six directions, and yet you cannot call it deep.”


“Epic things start with small humble steps. Pay respect to your beginnings. And if you’re just starting out, know that it’s OK to be sucky. To be small. To be messy and chaotic. Just make sure to never ever stop dreaming.” – Vishen Lakhiani

ODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is from the “I Ching,” (Book of Changes), Hexagram #3, Difficulty at the Beginning, which we compare with Vishen Lakhiani’s quote at the top. You may not know the name Vishen Lakhiani, but you certainly know the fade and have probably cursed it out more than a few times as his Mindvalley ads incessantly interrupt our free YouTube videos. I cannot tell you much about Lakhiani or his courses, except what I have read. But I can tell you the attitude he expresses in the quote above compares very favorably with Hexagram #3 as translated and explained by Richard Wilhelm with an English translation by Cary Baynes…


DIFFICULTY AT THE BEGINNING works supreme success,
Furthering through perseverance.
Nothing should be undertaken.
It furthers one to appoint helpers.

Times of growth are beset with difficulties. They resemble a first birth. But these difficulties arise from the very profusion of all that is struggling to attain form . Everything is in motion: therefore if one perseveres there is a prospect of great success, in spite of the existing danger. When it is a man’s fate to undertake such new beginnings, everything is still unformed, dark. Hence he must hold back, because any premature move might bring disaster. Likewise, it is very important not to remain alone; in order to overcome the chaos he needs helpers. This is not to say, however, that he himself should look on passively at what is happening. He must lend his hand and participate with inspiration and guidance.

If we were to substitute Wilhelm’s “supreme success” in the Statement for Lakhiani’s “Epic things,” and “perseverance” for “never ever stop dreaming,” Lakhiani’s quote would fit Hexagram #3’s opening Statement like a glove.” But let us leave Mindeevalley an Lakhiani and move onto Hexagram#3’s wonderful Image and Wilhelm’s equally wonderful explanation…

Clouds and thunder:

Thus the superior man
Brings order out of confusion.

Clouds and thunder are represented by definite decorative lines; this means that in the chaos of difficulty at the beginning, order is already implicit. So too the superior man has to arrange and organize the inchoate profusion of such times of beginning, just as one sorts out silk threads from a knotted tangle and binds them into skeins. In order to find one’s place in the infinity of being, one must be able both to separate and to unite.



“Misfortune is never mournful to the soul that accepts it; for such do always see that every cloud is an angel’s face. Every man deems that he has precisely the trials and temptations which are the hardest of all others for him to bear; but they are so, simply because they are the very ones he most needs.” – Lydia M. Child

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE is actually from Zhuangzi (Chuang-tzu) by way of Liezi who summarizes one of Zhuangzi’s stories about misfortune and acceptance…

“Chuang-tzu once told a story about two persons who both lost a sheep. One person got very depressed and lost himself in drinking, sex, and gambling to try to forget this misfortune. The other person decided that this would be an excellent chance for him to study the classics and quietly observe the subtleties of nature. Both men experience the same misfortune, but one man lost himself because he was too attached to the experience of loss, while the other found himself because he was able to let go of gain and loss.”
― Liezi, Lieh-tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living

We should be able to see that the point Zhuangzi made and the explicit quote from Lydia Child are the same. Both are teaching us that being able to let go and accepting the misfortune or loss will help us grow and improve our lives. No less of an authority than William James has a brief quote that address this same point: “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.”

But I guess #45 has missed the point entirely.

FYI: I placed Lydia Child at the top because she was a remarkable early 19th century activist but not a well-known figure in modern times. She was an activist long before activism was popular. Her journals and manuals reached popularity during the 1820’s through the 1850’s. She was an activist for abolition, women’s rights, and Native American rights and staunchly against American expansionism, especially the plundering of Native American tribes and their lands.



“Over-sentimentality, over-softness, in fact washiness and mushiness are the great dangers of this age and of this people. Unless we keep the barbarian virtues, gaining the civilized ones will be of little avail.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble, and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power.” – Theodore Roosevelt

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE: Today we have two Theodore Roosevelt quotes on the aspect of softness that go to the heart of the American pioneer spirit, in which inner strength and toughness are valued over softness. Contrast the following two Laozi quotes from the Dao De Ching with the two from Roosevelt

from Chapter 43
“The softest substance of the world
Goes through the hardest.
That-which-is-without-form penetrates that-which-has-no-crevice;
Through this I know the benefit of taking no action.
The teaching without words
And the benefit of taking no action
Are without compare in the universe.”
– translated by Lin Yutang

from Chapter 76
“When man is born, he is tender and weak;
At death, he is hard and stiff.
When the things and plants are alive, they are soft
and supple;
When they are dead, they are brittle and dry.
Therefore hardness and stiffness are the companions of death,
And softness and gentleness are the companions of life.

“Therefore when an army is headstrong, it will lose in a battle.
When a tree is hard, it will be cut down.
The big and strong belong underneath.
The gentle and weak belong at the top”
translated by Lin Yutang

Laozi is definitely an advocate of softness, although he may be somewhat inclined to agree with Roosevelt’s second quote to backup the softness with strength underneath it. In another chapter Laozi urges that we should “be aware of the male but stick to the female.” And, even in this quote from Chapter 76, Laozi doesn’t eliminate strength altogether but states that it belongs underneath, not out in front.


“You’ll seldom experience regret for anything that you’ve done. It is what you haven’t done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it.” – Wayne Dyer

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the “Dao De Ching,” Chapter 13 by Laozi…

“Favor and disgrace would seem equally to be feared;
Honor and great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions of the same kind.
What is meant by speaking thus of favor and disgrace?
Disgrace is being in a low position after the enjoyment of favor.
The getting that favor leads to the apprehension of losing it, and the losing it leads to the fear of still greater calamity.
This is what is meant by saying that favor and disgrace would seem equally to be feared.
And what is meant by saying that honor and great calamity are to be similarly regarded as personal conditions?
What makes me liable to great calamity is my having the body which I call myself;
If I had not the body, what great calamity could come to me?
Therefore he who would administer the kingdom, honoring it as he honors his own person, may be employed to govern it,
And he who would administer it with the love which he bears to his own person may be entrusted with it.”
– Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 13

Laozi would probably agree with the last part of Dyer’s advice but urge a little more caution than the ‘Do it! Seize the moment’ attitude, which is bound to negate the first part of Dyer’s advice – “You’ll seldom experience regret for anything that you’ve done..” If one is always seizing each moment, one could probably experience a good amount of calamity and thus much regret.

Instead, I believe Laozi would be more inclined to agree with Oliver Goldsmith, an 18th century Irish novelist (The Vicar of Wakefield), a playwright (She Stoops to Conquer) and poet (The Deserted Village), especially when it comes to calamity
“A great source of calamity lies in regret and anticipation; therefore a person is wise who thinks of the present alone, regardless of the past or future.” – Oliver Goldsmith

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” ―Henry David Thoreau

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” ―Stephen Covey

(Two quotes from two American authors about growth and development. Both ideas are complete opposites, like Yin and Yang. Which one is the correct way?) Hint…

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the “I Ching, Book of Changes,” Hexagram 53, Chien / Development (Gradual Progress) by way of the Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes translation.

The development must be allowed to take its proper course. Hasty action would not be wise. This is also true, finally, of any effort to exert influence on others, for here too the essential factor is a correct way of development through cultivation of one’s own personality. No influence such as that exerted by agitators has a lasting effect. Within the personality too, development must follow the same course if lasting results are to be achieved. Gentleness that is adaptable, but at the same time penetrating, is the outer form that should proceed from inner calm. The very gradualness of the development makes it necessary to have perseverance, for perseverance alone prevents slow progress from dwindling to nothing.

On the mountain, a tree:

The image of DEVELOPMENT.

Thus the superior man abides in dignity and virtue,
In order to improve the mores.

As you can see by the IMAGE, Hexagram 53 would agree with Stephen Covey’s concept of personal growth and development.

The tree on the mountain is visible from afar, and its development influences the landscape of the entire region. It does not shoot up like a swamp plant; its growth proceeds gradually. Thus also the work of influencing people can be only gradual. No sudden influence or awakening is of lasting effect. Progress must be quite gradual, and in order to obtain such progress in public opinion and in the mores of the people, it is necessary for the personality to acquire influence and weight. This comes about through careful and constant work on one’s own moral development.



“The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thick-sighted: thence proceeds mawkishness.” – John Keats


TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from Liezi, but first a quote from the Bard, who really lays into youth, giving them an undeserved bad rap,,,

“I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.” – William Shakespeare

And now a quote from Liezi who would seem to agree with Keats’ idea of “mawkishness,” a false and overly active display of sentiment.

“In youth, our blood rises and becomes volatile. Desire, worry, and anxiety increase. External circumstances now direct the rise and fall of emotions. Will and intention become constrained by social conventions. Competition, conflict, and scheming are the norm in interactions with people. The approval and disapproval of others become important, and the honest and sincere expression of thoughts and feelings is lost.”
Liezi, Lieh-tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living



“Beneficence is a duty. He who frequently practices it, and sees his benevolent intentions realized, at length comes really to love him to whom he has done good. When, therefore, it is said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” it is not meant, thou shalt love him first and do him good in consequence of that love, but, thou shalt do good to thy neighbor; and this thy beneficence will engender in thee that love to mankind which is the fulness and consummation of the inclination to do good.” – Immanuel Kant

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from Zhuangzi and Laozi…

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher and one of the important thinkers in the West during the Enlightenment. In his quote, one can see the difference between Western, Christian thought and the classic Daoism of Laozi and Zhuangzi. However, not so with Confucianism. As we can see from the following quote from Mencius, an important follower of Confucius, he would agree with Kant and disagree with the two leading Daoist philosophers…

“Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence” – Mencius

Let us look first at some excerpts from Zhuangzi’s Chapter 8 since his explanation will make Laozi’s Verse 38 quite clear.

“He who holds to True Rightness does not lose the original form of his inborn nature…I wonder, then, if benevolence and righteousness are part of man’s true form?

“Everyone in the world risks his life for something. If he risks it for benevolence and righteousness, then custom names him a gentleman; if he risks it for goods and wealth, then custom names him a petty man. The risking is the same, and yet we have a gentleman here, a petty man there. In destroying their lives and blighting their inborn nature, Robber Chih and Po Yi were two of a kind. How then can we pick out the gentleman from the petty man in such a case?

“He who applies his nature to benevolence and righteousness may go as far with it…but I would not call him an expert…My definition of expertness has nothing to do with benevolence or righteousness ; it means following the true form of your inborn nature, that is all. When I speak of good hearing, I do not mean listening to others; I mean simply listening to yourself. When I speak of good eyesight, I do not mean looking at others; I mean simply looking at yourself. He who does not look at himself but looks at others, who does not get hold of himself but gets hold of others, is getting what other men have got and failing to get what he himself has got. He finds joy in what brings joy to other men, but finds no joy in what would bring joy to himself. And if he finds joy in what brings joy to other men, but finds no joy in what would bring joy to himself, then whether he is a Robber Chih or a Po Yi he is equally deluded and perverse. I have a sense of shame before the Way and its Virtue, and for that reason I do not venture to raise myself up in deeds of benevolence and righteousness, or to lower myself in deluded and perverse practices.”
– Translated by Burton Watson

And now I believe we can understand Laozi’s Verse 38 a little better…

“The highest good is not to seek to do good,
but to allow yourself to become it.
The ordinary person seeks to do good things,
and finds that they can not do them continually.

The Master does not force virtue on others,
thus she is able to accomplish her task.
The ordinary person who uses force,
will find that they accomplish nothing.

The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.

The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and use force.

When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
The law is the husk of faith,
and trust is the beginning of chaos.

Our basic understandings are not from the Tao
because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding.
The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk.
She dwells in the Tao,
and not with the things that hide it.
This is how she increases in wisdom.”
– Translated by J. H. McDonald, 1996, Chapter 38

In Kant’s Western thought and in Confucian thought, we see that benevolence and righteousness are products of the mind, a “duty,” based on critical egoic thought that this pleases God and insures a positive transition to the next Life. But with the classic Daoists, our inner nature, our Virtue, which is a product of the heart, supercedes any mental ideas of benevolence and righteousness.


“Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.” – Plato

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the “Dao De Ching” by Laozi, who is in complete agreement with Plato, or maybe it’s the other way around…

“It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full.
If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.
When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe.
When wealth and honors lead to arrogance, this brings its evil on itself.
When the work is done, and one’s name is becoming distinguished,
To withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven.”
– Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 9

What is unique about the Plato quote is the fact that, even though he was Greek, he maintained an identical concept of the reciprocating movement of the two polar forces, namely in Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang. Besides Plato, there is any number of ancient Greek and Roman philosphers who have come to realize this same reciprocating process of ‘too much of a good thing is dangerous’…

“Everything in excess is opposed to nature.” – Hippocrates

“The body oppressed by excesses bears down the mind, and depresses to the earth any portion of the divine spirit we had been endowed with.” – Horace

“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero


“This withdrawal from the day’s turmoil into creative silence is not a luxury, a fad, or a futility. It is a necessity, because it tries to provide the conditions wherein we are able to yield ourselves to intuitive leadings, promptings, warnings, teachings, and counsels and also to the inspiring peace of the soul. It dissolves mental tensions and heals negative emotions.” – Paul Brunton

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the “I Ching” (Book of Changes), Hexagram #33, “Dun,” Withdrawal, as translated by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes…

Upper Trigram: CH’IEN THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN (The Light)
Lower Trigram: KêN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN (The Dark)

The power of the dark is ascending. The light retreats to security, so that the dark cannot encroach upon it. This retreat is a matter not of man’s will but of natural law. Therefore in this case withdrawal is proper; it is the correct way to behave in order not to exhaust one’s forces. In the calendar this hexagram is linked with the sixth month (July-August), in which the forces of winter are already showing their influence.


RETREAT. Success.
In what is small, perseverance furthers.

Conditions are such that the hostile forces, favored by the time, are advancing. In this case retreat is the right course, and it is not to be confused with flight. Flight means saving oneself under any circumstances, whereas retreat is a sign of strength. We must be careful not to miss the right moment while we are in full possession of power and position. Then we shall be able to interpret the signs of the time before it is too late and to prepare for provisional retreat instead of being drawn into a desperate life-and-death struggle. Thus we do not simply abandon the field to the opponent; we make it difficult for him to advance by showing perseverance in single acts of resistance. In this way we prepare, while retreating, for the counter-movement. Understanding the laws of a constructive retreat of this sort is not easy. The meaning that lies hidden in such a time is important.


Mountain under heaven: the image of RETREAT.

Thus the superior man keeps the inferior man at a distance, Not angrily but with reserve.

The mountain rises up under heaven, but owing to its nature it finally comes to a stop. Heaven on the other hand retreats upward before it into the distance and remains out of reach. This symbolizes the behavior of the superior man toward a climbing inferior; he retreats into his own thoughts as the inferior man comes forward. He does not hate him, for hatred is a form of subjective involvement by which we are bound to the hated object. The superior man shows strength (heaven) in that he brings the inferior man to a standstill (mountain) by his dignified reserve.”

Paul Brunton, regarded as the author who introduced Hinduism and Ramana Maharshi to the West, is looking at withdrawal in a purely spiritual sense. The “I Ching,” on the other hand, being a book of divination as well as a spiritual text, presents “withdrawal” in a very practical way that can be applied to any number of situations: military, financial, social, psychological as well as spiritual.

Two important points: first, retreat does not mean flight. Flight is a sign of desperation, weakness. But retreat is a sign of strength. It is the right course of action and is done with full awareness. Secondly, we are advised not to hate our adversary, whether a person or a situation.

You can see this in the way Donald Trump has acted before, during and after the presidential election toward President-elect Biden. He campaigned and continues to do so even in abject defeat with intense hatred toward Biden and former President Obama. So, let us continue to learn from the mistakes of others.

“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.” – Gautama Buddha
TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the Zhuangzi Sections 12 through 18, in which Zhuangzi is very explicit about his idea of distinctions and differences…
“The Way has never known boundaries; speech has no constancy. But because of [the recognition of a] “this,” there came to be boundaries. Let me tell you what the boundaries are.
13 “There is left, there is right, there are theories, there are debates, there are divisions, there are discriminations, there are emulations, and there are contentions. These are called the Eight Virtues. 14, As to what is beyond the Six Realms, 15, the sage admits its existence but does not theorize. As to what is within the Six Realms, he theorizes but does not debate. In the case of the Spring and Autumn, 16, the record of the former kings of past ages, the sage debates but does not discriminate. So [I say] those who divide fail to divide; those who discriminate fail to discriminate. What does this mean, you ask? The sage embraces things. Ordinary men discriminate among them and parade their discriminations before others. So I say, those who discriminate fail to see.
“The Great Way is not named; Great Discriminations are not spoken; Great Benevolence is not benevolent; Great Modesty is not humble; Great Daring does not attack. If the Way is made clear, it is not the Way. If discriminations are put into words, they do not suffice. If benevolence has a constant object, it cannot be universal.
17, If modesty is fastidious, it cannot be trusted. If daring attacks, it cannot be complete. These five are all round, but they tend toward the square.
18,”Therefore understanding that rests in what it does not understand is the finest. Who can understand discriminations that are not spoken, the Way that is not a way? If he can understand this, he may be called the Reservoir of Heaven.”
And then Zhuangzi’s most famous story of all, the Butterfly Dream, he points out that the depth of our distinctions are tied intrinsically within our subconscious to our personal identity…
“Once Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuang Zhou. Suddenly he woke up, and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn’t know if he were Zhuang Zhou who had dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuang Zhou. Between Zhuang Zhou and a butterfly, there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.” 

And what is it that transforms things? No, it is not our perspective but our subconscious identity, an identity that was conditioned into us by our parents, teachers, religious beliefs and so forth. It is not our real identity but a false one that has grown into our very personna, our ego, which has suppressed and hides our true identity.


11/26/2020 (Thanksgiving Day)

“We Thank Thee”
By: Ralph Waldo Emerson

“For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee.
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.”

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from Lieh-tzu (Book of Master Lie): A Taoist Guide to Practical Living by Liezi…

“Some people think they can find satisfaction in good food, fine clothes, lively music, and sexual pleasure. However, when they have all these things, they are not satisfied. They realize happiness is not simply having their material needs met. Thus, society has set up a system of rewards that go beyond material goods. These include titles, social recognition, status, and political power, all wrapped up in a package called self-fulfillment. Attracted by these prizes and goaded on by social pressure, people spend their short lives tiring body and mind to chase after these goals. Perhaps this gives them the feeling that they have achieved something in their lives, but in reality they have sacrificed a lot in life. They can no longer see, hear, act, feel, or think from their hearts. Everything they do is dictated by whether it can get them social gains. In the end, they’ve spent their lives following other people’s demands and never lived a life of their own. How different is this from the life of a slave or a prisoner?”― Liezi, Lieh-tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living


and from Dao De Ching by Laozi, Chapter 44 translated by Lin Yutang…

“Fame or one’s own self, which does one love more?
One’s own self or material goods, which has more worth?
Loss (of self) or possession (of goods), which is the greater evil?

Therefore: he who loves most spends most,
He who hoards much loses much.
The contented man meets no disgrace;
Who know when to stop runs into no danger –
He can long endure.”

While most classic Daoist texts do not explicitly express gratitude or thankfulness, it is implied within complimentary virtues such as satisfaction and contentment, which is what we have here.

Master Lie’s text (Lei-Tzu) illustrates what happens when a person is not contented or satisfied with what they have. Laozi’s verse, on the other hand, takes it a step further and uses the phrase “the contented man.” 

Furthermore, in the first stanza, he shows how our very own life is the most valuable possession we have – our most precious treasure – so much more valuable than any material goods we could ever possess. Although he doesn’t explicitly express it, he implies we should be grateful that we have such a great treasure. 

When you think about it, can one ever be contented and not be grateful for what one possesses? Can one be grateful yet not contented for all one has?

Thanks you, my friends, for being my friends, and have a most Happy and Joyful Thanksgiving despite current conditions.  Most of all take care of your most valuable treasure, and stay safe. Wear a mask and adhere to social distanceing. 



“I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed.”
Dalai Lama

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the Dao De Ching by Laozi, Chapter 7…

“The universe is everlasting.
The reason the universe is everlasting
Is that it does not live for Self.
Therefore, it can long endure.
Therefore, the Sage puts himself last,
And finds himself in the foremost place;
Regards his body as accidental,
And his body is thereby preserved.
Is it not because he does not live for Self,
That his Self is realized?”
– Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 7

If we compare the Dalai Lama’s quote with Chapter 7 of the Dao De Ching, we see both the microcosm and the macrocosm of selflessness. The Dalai Lama is showing how the cultivation of selflessness and altruism in the microcosm of Man brings about true happiness. Laozi, on the other hand, points to the unselfish macrocosm of Heaven and Earth (the Universe) in bringing about everlasting endurance and then compares it to the microcosm of the Sage who puts himself last and is realized because he does not live for the self. 

Every day the sun shares its light and warmth with the earth and her myriad of beings and asks nothing in return. The clouds share their rain and the rivers and streams their water, and earth uses both to grow the food that sustains us. Let that selflessness of the macrocosm guide us in the microcosms of our daily lives.


“A duplicitous country with a duplicitous leadership is going to give us more duplicity. And that duplicity is going to lead us off an abyss. That’s going to happen.” – Matt Shea

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the Zhuangzi, Chapter 2, Leveling Things, Sections 3 & 4…

3. “Once a man receives this fixed bodily form, he holds on to it, waiting for the end. Sometimes clashing with things, sometimes bending before them, he runs his course like a galloping steed, and nothing can stop him. Is he not pathetic? Sweating and laboring to the end of his days and never seeing his accomplishment, utterly exhausting himself and never knowing where to look for rest – can you help pitying him? I’m not dead yet! he says, but what good is that? His body decays, his mind follows it – can you deny that this is a great sorrow? Man’s life has always been a muddle like this. How could I be the only muddled one, and other men not muddled?”

Muddled! This is a perfect description of Rudy Giuliani over the last few years of the Trump presidency, but especially over the last few weeks prior to and after the presidential election, which Trump lost. He looks like a man whose “body decays, his mind follows…” And his appearances in court and at press conferences over the last two weeks definitely fit Zhuangzi’s words like a glove: “Sweating and laboring to the end of his days and never seeing his accomplishment, utterly exhausting himself and never knowing where to look for rest – can you help pitying him?”

4. “If a man follows the mind given him and makes it his teacher, then who can be without a teacher? Why must you comprehend the process of change and form your mind on that basis before you can have a teacher? Even an idiot has his teacher. But to fail to abide by this mind and still insist upon your rights and wrongs – this is like saying that you set off for Yueh today and got there yesterday. This is to claim that what doesn’t exist exists. If you claim that what doesn’t exist exists, then even the holy sage Yu couldn’t understand you, much less a person like me!”

Doesn’t this excerpt sound exactly like Donald Trump, a man that follows the mind given him and makes it his teacher…” and allows it to be his only teacher, unwilling to listen to the advice of advisers and those with much more experience and knowledge. “Why must you comprehend the process of change and form your mind on that basis before you can have a teacher? Even an idiot has his teacher. But to fail to abide by this mind and still insist upon your rights and wrongs – this is like saying that you set off for Yueh today and got there yesterday.” Yep, that’s Trump alright!

Furthermore, for what other reason than he is following his mind, which he has made his teacher, that he has decided to lie again and again every day of his presidency. This is especially true of the days running up to the 2020 election and the days after it “to claim that what doesn’t exist exists (Widespread voting fraud). If you claim that what doesn’t exist exists, then even the holy sage Yu couldn’t understand you, much less a person like me!”

Over and over again we have heard this lie in numerous sound bites and tweets. There are many outside Trump’s loyal base, much like me, who just do not understand him or what he hopes to accomplish.


“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.” – Corita Kent

TODAY’S DAOIST DAILY NOTE comes from the Zhuangzi, Chapter 2, Leveling Things, Section 2…

“Great understanding is broad and unhurried; little understanding is cramped and busy. Great words are clear and limpid;3 little words are shrill and quarrelsome. In sleep, men’s spirits go visiting; in waking hours, their bodies hustle. With everything they meet they become entangled. Day after day they use their minds in strife, sometimes grandiose, sometimes sly, sometimes petty. Their little fears are mean and trembly; their great fears are stunned and overwhelming. They bound off like an arrow or a crossbow pellet, certain that they are the arbiters of right and wrong. They cling to their position as though they had sworn before the gods, sure that they are holding on to victory. They fade like fall and winter – such is the way they dwindle day by day. They drown in what they do – you cannot make them turn back. They grow dark, as though sealed with seals – such are the excesses of their old age. And when their minds draw near to death, nothing can restore them to the light.”

But as we see from TODAY’S QUOTE by Corita Kent, bright,  beautiful, and colorful flowers grow out of dark places, and thus each moment, no matter how dark must be lived and experienced for our lives to expand and become joyful and give joy to others.


“Power is the ability to do good things for others.” – Brooke Astor



“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” – Rumi



“If you want to meet someone who can fix any situation you don’t like, who can bring you happiness in spite of what other people say or believe, look in a mirror, then say this magic word: ‘Hello.'” ~ Richard Bach



“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” – Robert Louis Stevenson


“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” – Henry David Thoreau



“I have found life an enjoyable, enchanting, active, and sometime terrifying experience, and I’ve enjoyed it completely. A lament in one ear, maybe, but always a song in the other.” – Sean O’Casey



Plants grow most in the darkest hours preceding dawn; so do human souls. Nature always pays for a brave fight. Sometimes she pays in strengthened moral muscle, sometimes in deepened spiritual insight, sometimes in a broadening, mellowing, sweetening of the fibres of character,—but she always pays.” – William George Jordan



“Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.” – Horace



“Sit all together in meditation. Become peacefully calm and quiet, without motion, without stillness, without birth, without destruction, without coming or going, with no judgments of right or wrong, neither staying nor going. This, then, is the Great Way.” – Huineng



“The words that enlighten the soul are more precious than jewels.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan


“When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.” – John Ruskin



“I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.” – Arthur Rimbaud



“It is not what you think should be, but what is, that is interesting. When you have the expectation that something should be such and such a way, you will never learn what your nature wants.” – Charlotte Selver



“After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked—as I am surprisingly often—why I bother to get up in the mornings.” – Richard Dawkins


“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” – Nhat Hanh


“Be The Peace You Wish To See In The World!” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


“For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.” – Albert Camus



“I had so long been troubled by official hat and robe
That I am glad to be an exile here in this wild southland.
I am a neighbour now of planters and reapers.
I am a guest of the mountains and woods.
I plough in the morning, turning dewy grasses,
And at evening tie my fisher-boat, breaking the quiet stream.
Back and forth I go, scarcely meeting anyone,
And sing a long poem and gaze at the blue sky.”
– Liu Zongyuan (773-819) “Dwelling By a Stream”



“Gone is the guest from the Chamber of Rank,
And petals, confused in my little garden,
Zigzagging down my crooked path,
Escort like dancers the setting sun.
Oh, how can I bear to sweep them away?
To a sad-eyed watcher they never return.
Heart’s fragrance is spent with the ending of spring
And nothing left but a tear-stained robe.
– “Li Shangyin “Falling Petals”



“On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – H. L. Mencken


“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt


“When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” – Thomas Sowell


“The most dangerous error is failure to recognize our own tendency to error.” – B. H. Liddell Hart


“The moon, grown full now over the sea,
Brightening the whole of heaven,
Brings to separated hearts
The long thoughtfulness of night….
It is no darker tough I blow out my candle.
It is no warmer though I put on my coat.
So I leave my message with the moon
And turn to my bed, hoping for dreams.”
Zhang Jiuling (张九龄, 675-740 AD)
“Looking At The Moon And Thinking Of One Far Away” 



“Who lies for you will lie against you.” – John Locke



“Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.” – Lise Meitner



“There is a close relationship between a house full of possessions and a heart full of desires, between a cluttered closet and a crowded schedule, between having no place to put possessions and having no priorities for our life. These are precious clues. They remind us to slow down, to live in the present, to reduce the desires that drain our vitality, to clarify priorities so we can give our time and attention to what matters most. Tragically, in the press of modern life, we have managed to get backwards one of life’s most vital truths: people are to be loved; things are to be used.” – Eknath Easwaran



“If you knew yourself for even one moment,
if you could just glimpse
your most beautiful face,
maybe you wouldn’t slumber so deeply
in that house of clay.

Why not move into your house of joy
and shine into every crevice!
For you are the secret
and always have been.

Didn’t you know?”

Rumi, “Move Into Your House of Joy”



The Swing of Consciousness – Kabir
BETWEEN THE pillars of spirit and matter
the mind has put up a swing.

There swings the bound soul and all the worlds
with not even the slightest rest.

The sun and moon also swing,
and there is no end to it.

The soul swings through millions of births
like the endless circling of the sun and moon.

Billions of ages have passed
with no sigh of relief.

The earth and sky swing,
Wind and water swing,
Taking a body, God Himself swings.

Kabir, the servant of God,
has seen it all.”



“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.” – Gene Roddenberry



“Homo sapiens, the only creature endowed with reason, is also the only creature to pin its existence on things unreasonable.” – Henri Bergson



“There, what form or shape is there to describe? What second, what “other,” is there to see?
In the beginning, there is no Aum, or Veda. Who can trace His birth?
There, no sky exists, no moon or Sun; no father’s seed, no air, fire, water, or earth.
Who can name Him, or know His will? Who can say from whence He comes?
Remembering the Void, the simple One, a light burst forth [within me]; I offer myself to that Existence who is non-existence.” – Kabir



“In Each Moment
Oh, teach me in each moment
of every Now to know that

You are the Here in all my
wandering and the Yes in
all my wondering and the Love
in nothing less than everything.”
~ Meister Eckhart



“They say to find Chrysanthemum River,
go trace the waters of Green Creek,
follow ten thousand mountain turns
and a course of almost a hundred miles
splashing and crashing over riprap.
Deep calm color under the pines,
water chestnut and floating-heart ripple,
reeds reflect in limpid pools.
My heart remains plain and calm
and it’s as pure as the river.
I only ask to stay on this flat rock
lingering with my fishing pole”
– Wang Wei “Green Creek”



Last Day to Register to Vote in L.A. County. If you’re not registered yet, use this link…


“Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect.” – Jonathan Swift


“I will never know how you see red and you will never know how I see it. But this separation of consciousness is recognized only after a failure of communication, and our first movement is to believe in an undivided being between us.” – Maurice Merleau-Ponty



“Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon then from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins the journey of awakening. Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of the crowd, and by choosing knowledge over veils of ignorance.” – Henri Bergson




“Imagination is a tree. It has the integrative virtues of a tree. It is root and boughs. It lives between earth and sky. It lives in the earth and the wind. The imagined tree imperceptibly becomes a cosmological tree, the tree which epitomises a universe, which makes a universe.” – Gaston Bachelard



Year’s end, the flowers now rest
The season of the fleeting Fire Star
On the Frontier, the mighty frost is early and
Autumn’s colorful clouds have crossed the River
Dreams circle the city’s walls
In autumn my heart flies homeward
My thoughts returning south, like the Fen River
Everyday, all day long” – Li Bai




“All water is forgettable when you’ve seen the vast blue sea
No clouds so wondrous as those at Mt. Wushan
Idly, I pass by some flowers without looking back
Partly to study Tao, partly to think of you” – Yuan Zhen



“Summoning up the courage to take action is always the same regardless of how seemingly big or small the challenge. What may look like a small act of courage is courage nonetheless. The important thing is to be willing to take a step forward.” – Nichiren


“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” – Tecumseh


“When a rainbow appears vividly in the sky, you can see its beautiful colors, yet you could not wear as clothing or put it on as an ornament. It arises through the conjunction of various factors, but there is nothing about it that can be grasped. Likewise, thoughts that arise in the mind have no tangible existence or intrinsic solidity. There is no logical reason why thoughts, which have no substance, should have so much power over you, nor is there any reason why you should become their slave.” – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche



“I wish we could be trees deep in the mountains,
touching, twining limb around limb.” –Po Chu-I


“The washing of dishes does seem to me the most absurd and unsatisfactory business that I ever undertook. If, when once washed, they would remain clean for ever and ever (which they ought in all reason to do, considering how much trouble it is), there would be less occasion to grumble; but no sooner is it done, than it requires to be done again. On the whole, I have come to the resolution not to use more than one dish at each meal.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne



“I walked a single path to where you lived,
and found a footprint in the moss.
White mists surround a quiet island.
The idle gate is overgrown with spring grass.
After the rain, the pines are a deeper green.
Following the mountain, I reach the water source.
Creek flowers for a meditative mind:
facing them, I have no need for words.”
“Searching Nanxi for the Reclusive Changshan Taoist,”
Liu Changqing (710?–789)



“A complete life may be one ending in so full an identification with the oneself that there is no self left to die.
Bernard Berenson


“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.” – Tecumseh



“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” – Max Planck



“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton



“At Stone Gate there is snow, no trace of travel.
Pine Valley’s mists, so full of fragrances.
To the crumbs of our meal in the court, cold birds come down.
A tattered robe hangs on the tree, the old monk’s dead.”
– Wei Ying-wu, “On Mount Lang-ya”



“Freedom of speech is always under attack by Fascist mentality, which exists in all parts of the world, unfortunately.” – Lawrence Ferlinghetti


(My ole friend, Willy, had a quote befitting the first Presidential Debate, 2020…)
“The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.” – William Shakespeare


“When a man begins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of our institutions.” – Calvin Coolidge



“Treason is a strong word, but not too strong to characterize the situation in which the Senate is the eager, resourceful, and indefatigable agent of interests as hostile to the American people as any invading army could be.” –David Graham Phillips

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


“Danger arises when a man feels secure in his position. Destruction threatens when a man seeks to preserve his worldly estate. Confusion develops when a man has put everything in order. Therefore the superior man does not forget danger in his security, not ruin when he is well established, nor confusion when his affairs are in order. In this way he gains personal safety and is able to protect the empire.” Confucius, Commentary on the Fifth Place in Hexagram 12, P’i, Stagnation, I-Ching


“Alone, for love of hidden herbs, which flourish by the stream.
Above, the yellow oriole sings deep among the trees.
Spring’s flood tides, and rain, together, to this evening come.
No man at the ferry: a boat drifts there, on its own.”
– Wei Ying-wu, “The West River at Chu-chou”


“Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come… Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed, to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder.” – Wangari Maathai


“The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.” – Alden Nowlan


“I discovered for myself and by myself that there is no self to realize — that’s the realization I am talking about. It comes as a shattering blow. It hits you like a thunderbolt. You have invested everything in one basket, self-realization, and, in the end, suddenly you discover that there is no self to discover, no self to realize — and you say to yourself “What the hell have I been doing all my life?!” That blasts you.” – U.G. Krishnamurti



“We shall awaken from our dullness and rise vigorously toward justice. If we fall in love with creation deeper and deeper, we will respond to its endangerment with passion.” – Hildegard of Bingen

(03/15/1933 – 09/18/2020)


In case Trump asks again…
“Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.” – William Butler Yeats
(U.S. Marine gravesites at Belleau Woods, France)

09/12/2020 -TODAY’S QUOTE: “When we look at a child, we see that sense of fullness, of intrinsic aliveness, of joy in being, is not the result of something else. There is value in just being oneself, it is not because of something one does or doesn’t do. It is there in the beginning, when we are children, but slowly it gets lost.” – A. H. Almaas


“Thus the Hexagram counsels turning away from the confusion of external things, turning back to one’s inner light. There in the depths of the soul, one sees the Divine, the One…To know this One means to know oneself in relation to the cosmic forces. For this One is the ascending force of life in nature and in man.” – Commentary on Hexagram 24, Fu, Return, translation by Richard Wilhelm and Cary Baynes


“No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure.” – James K. Polk


“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.” – William Blake


“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan


“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers


“Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star.” – e. e. cummings


“What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you.” – Anthony de Mello, “Awareness: Conversations with the Masters”, p.71


“The greatest threat to America is not foreign terrorists, its domestic morons.” John Fugelsang


“A true noun, an isolated thing, does not exit in nature. Things are only the terminal points, or rather the meeting points of actions, cross sections cut through actions, snapshots. Neither can a pure verb, an abstract motion, be possible in nature. The eye sees noun and verb as one, things in motion, motion in things.” – Ernest Fenollosa


“Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.” – Okakura Kakuzo


“All the best have something in common, a regard for reality, an agreement to its primacy over the imagination. Even the richest, most surprising and wild imagination is not as rich, wild and surprising as reality. The task of the poet is to pick singular threads from this dense, colorful fabric.” – Wislawa Szymborska


“To combat death you don’t need much of a life, just one that isn’t yet finished.” – Herta Muller


“Knowledge is not gained, it is there all the time. It is the “veils” which have to be dissolved in the mind.” – Idries Shah


“We are not separate. Our sense of separateness is superficial and exist only in the physical dimension. In our human element, we are not separate; we’re very much connected. Every other human being is just as precious as we are, and worthy of as much respect and love and consideration. This understanding needs to manifest in our conduct in each moment. This is the part of the Work that will transform you.” – A. H. Almaas


“The Tao is infinite, eternal. Why is it eternal? It was never born; thus it can never die. Why is it infinite? It has no desires for itself; thus it is present for all beings. The Master stays behind; that is why she is ahead. She is detached from all things; that is why she is one with them. Because she has let go of herself, she is perfectly fulfilled.” – Laozi


“As regards the quietude of the sage, he is not quiet because quietness is said to be good. He is quiet because the multitude of things cannot disturb his quietude. When water is still, one’s beard and eyelashes are reflected in it. A skilled carpenter uses it in a level to obtain a measurement. If still water is so clear, how much more are the mental faculties! The mind of the sage is the mirror of heaven and earth in which all things are reflected.” – Zhuangzi


“So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the [slave] trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would: I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.” – William Wilberforce


“The idea that each of us can be directly spiritual is radical. Most religions are based not on teaching adherents to be directly spiritual, but in persuading them to trust in the intercession of ministers or priests. The problem with this approach is that we cannot gain access to spirituality except through the medium of a fallible human being. If we want to see Tao, we need only open our eyes and trust what we see.” – Ming-Dao Deng, “Everyday Dao: Living with Balance and Harmony”


“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between a causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality.” – Alan Watts


“These are burning times. And they call for Burning Women. Women embodied in their passion. Woman feeling in their bodies. Creative women. Courageous women. Women who have learned to run on a different power source to the world which is falling into flames around her. She has already disentangled herself from the wreckage of the patriarchal culture, so she will not be dazed, confused and disorientated by the systemic changes happening around her. Centered within herself, receptive to the Earth beyond her, she knows how to cultivate from the ashes, she knows how to find the embers to fuel the new fire.” – Lucy H. Pearce, Burning Women

<> on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC.


“It’s time for us, we the people, to come together. And make no mistake, united we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America. We’ll choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.” – Joe Biden


“We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.”— Hildegard of Bingen


“I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life.” – Hildegard of Bingen


“At our most elemental, we are not a chemical reaction, but an energetic charge. Human beings and all living things are a coalescence of energy in a field of energy connected to every other thing in the world. This pulsating energy field is the central engine of our being and our consciousness, the alpha and the omega of our existence.” – Lynne McTaggart


“When we form heart-centered beliefs within our bodies, in the language of physics we’re creating the electrical and magnetic expression of them as waves of energy, which aren’t confined to our hearts or limited by the physical barrier of our skin and bones. So clearly we’re speaking to the world around us in each moment of every day through a language that has no words: the belief-waves of our hearts.” – Gregg Braden


“We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies, tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments, and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.” – Albert Einstein


“The Psalm tells us that ‘weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ “There’s no question about that. The night feels endless right now — exhausting, heartbreaking, impossible to endure. When the words, ‘I can’t breathe,’ echo in our national conscience. When the brunt of every crisis — of illness, violence, injustice, economic hardship — falls once more hardest on Black shoulders. The night is long, but joy cometh in the morning, and it’s up to us to make sure it does. That’s our charge: deliver America a new dawn.” – Joe Biden


“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere They’re in each other all along.” – Rumi


“I found that I could not climb my way up to God in a blaze of doing and performing. Rather, I had to descend into the depths of myself and find God there in the darkness of troubled waters.” – Sue Monk Kidd


“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” – Carl Jung


“What’s important for my daughter to know is that… if you are fortunate to have opportunity, it is your duty to make sure other people have those opportunities as well.” –Kamala Harris

“There is a lot of work to be done to make sure our leaders reflect the people they are supposed to represent. The more diverse a group of decision makers is, the more informed the decision will be. Until we achieve full representation, we all should understand we are falling short of the ideals of our country.” – Kamala Harris


“My loving children, my children who were created with God’s beauty, my wise children, whatever difficulty you may have, do not ever leave His charge. Just as the prophets of God kept their faith firm and were tolerant in spite of the problems they had, no matter what difficulties you may experience, be tolerant, be forbearant and embrace all living things as your own life.” – Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen


“We are free when we are not the slave of our impulses, but rather their master. Taking inward distance, we thus become the authors of our own dramas rather than characters in them.” – Huston Smith


“It may be that when we no longer know… which way to go we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” – Wendell Berry


“The action of Heaven is strong and dynamic.
Thus the noble one makes himself strong and untiring.”
Yijing, Image of Hexagram 1, Heaven, Ch’ien


“Before my bed the bright moon’s glow,
seems like frost on the ground.
I raise my head and gaze at the bright moon,
I lower my head and think of my hometown.”
– Li Bai (Tang Dynasty) “Quiet Night Thought”

chuáng床qián前 míngyuè明月 guāng光,
yí疑shì是 dìshang地上 shuāng霜。
jǔ举tóu头 wàng望 míngyuè明月,
dītóu低头 sī思 gùxiāng故乡。


“Who will free me from hurry, flurry, the feeling of a crowd pushing behind me, of being hustled and crushed? How can I regain even for a minute the feeling of ample leisure I had during my early, my creative years? Then I seldom felt fussed, or hurried. There was time for work, for play, for love, the confidence that if a task was not done at the appointed time, I easily could fit it into another hour. I used to take leisure for granted, as I did time itself.” – Bernard Berenson


“It remained for the twentieth century to discover that locked within the atom is the energy of the sun itself. For this energy to be released, however, the atom must be bombarded from without. So too, locked in every human being is a store of love that partakes of the divine-the imago dei-image of God, it is sometimes called. And it too can be activated only through bombardment, in its case love’s bombardment” – Huston Smith


“In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike.” – Paulo Coelho


“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.” – Wangari Maathai


“When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is something like: “Don’t think, don’t politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think!” – Slavoj Žižek


“A child is a child in any country, whatever the politics. Let’s get down to basics. That’s what a child forces you to do. Nothing else much matters, there is no complicated diplomacy, when a child is starving. It’s simple. And we’d better do something about it. For our sakes, too. That is, if we want to continue to call ourselves human.” – Audrey Hepburn


“Our struggle is a struggle to redeem the soul of America. It’s not a struggle that lasts for a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or a few years. It is the struggle of a lifetime, more than one lifetime.- John Lewis (1940 – 2020)


“When a child is starving, a family may not be able to think about long-term sustainability or damage to ecosystems that support endangered species.” – Helene D. Gayle


“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.” – Benjamin Harrison


“I guess I so desperately want to see us put this planet right. It’s so horrifying to me that a fifth of us are starving every night, and that forty thousand children die every single day.” – Ann Druyan


“By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility. We can let fear rule our lives or we can become childlike with curiosity, pushing our boundaries, leaping out of our comfort zones, and accepting what life puts before us.” – Alan Watts


“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness’s of other people. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung


“As a breathing being, you are part of organic life on earth interconnected with everything that exists.” – Dennis Lewis, “Breathe into Being,” p. 66


“Every man should view himself as equally balanced: half good and half evil. Likewise, he should see the entire world as half good and half evil…. With a single good deed he will tip the scales for himself, and for the entire world, to the side of good” – Maimonides


“It’s my belief that history is a wheel. ‘Inconstancy is my very essence,’? says the wheel. Rise up on my spokes if you like but don’t complain when you’re cast back down into the depths. Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it’s also our hope. The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away.” – Boethius


“If the truth were to be known, everyone would be wearing a scarlet letter of one form or another.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne


“From childhood on I have had the dream of life lived as a sacrament… the dream implied taking life ritually as something holy.” – Bernard Berenson


“Every social system is more or less against nature, and at every moment nature is at work to reclaim her rights.” Paul Valery


“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” – Plutarch


“Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.” – Alexander Hamilton


“Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge.” – Paulo Coelho


“We each decide whether to make ourselves learned or ignorant, compassionate or cruel, generous or miserly. No one forces us. No one decides for us, no one drags us along one path or the other. We are responsible for what we are.” – Maimonides


“Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.” – Boethius


“Happiness is not found in things you possess, but in what you have the courage to release.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne


“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.” – Rudolf Steiner


“That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.” – Paulo Coelho


“A thousand hills, but no birds in flight,
Ten thousand paths, with no person’s tracks.
A lonely boat, a straw-hatted old man,
Fishing alone in the cold river snow.”

– Liu Zongyuan


“No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne


“It was a morning in early summer. A silver haze shimmered and trembled over the lime trees. The air was laden with their fragrance. The temperature was like a caress. I remember – I need not recall – that I climbed up a tree stump and felt suddenly immersed in Itness. I did not call it by that name. I had no need for words. It and I were one.” – Bernard Berenson


“The blindness that opens the eye is not the one that darkens vision. Tears and not sight are the essence of the eye.” – Jacques Derrida


“The fundamental problem of political philosophy is still precisely the one that Spinoza saw so clearly (and that Wilhelm Reich rediscovered): Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?” – Gilles Deleuze


“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” – William Faulkner


“The real treasure, that which we all seek, is never very far; there is no real need to seek it in a distant place, for it lies buried within our own hearts. And yet, there is this strange and persistent fact that it is only after a journey in a distant region, in a new land, that the way to that treasure becomes clear.” – Heinrich Zimmer


“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, born on July 4, 1804


“We now should be able to see cosmos and individual joined in a relationship. We should see that macrocosm and microcosm are, as it were, only far-flung parts of one unified energy center.” – Richard Wilhelm


“I slumbered spring’s morning and missed the dawn from everywhere, I heard the cry of birds. That night the sound of wind and rain came. Who knows how many petals had fallen?” – Meng Haoran


“Walking on willow tree roads by a river dappled with peach blossoms, I look for spring light, but am everywhere lost. Birds fly up and scatter floating catkins. A ponderous wave of flowers sags the branches.” – Wang Wei

“It makes me happy to encounter goodness, love of work, humane intelligence, and people no matter at what kind of job, be it ever so humble, or ever so exalted, who do it well and con amore.” – Bernard Berenson


“Whoever will be free must make himself free. Freedom is no fairy gift to fall into a man’s lap. What is freedom? To have the will to be responsible for one’s self.” – Max Stirner

Photo by Matthew Chattle/Shutterstock


“The only life I know is a life of making. Acting based on ideas that come from a trusted source. Making things according to a vision. Shaping oneself to be one’s most vital. That is the life of making.” – Deng, Ming-Dao


“Genius is the capacity for productive reaction against one’s training.”Bernard Berenson


“The State calls its own violence, law; but that of the individual, crime.” – Max Stirner


“A complete life may be one ending in so full an identification with the oneself that there is no self left to die.” – Bernard Berenson, “Sketch For A Self Portrait”, p.15


“ALL things in Nature work silently. They come into being and possess nothing. They fulfil their functions and make no claim.” – Laozi


“A tree uses what comes its way to nurture itself. By sinking its roots deeply into the earth, by accepting the rain that flows towards it, by reaching out to the sun, the tree perfects its character and becomes great. … Absorb, absorb, absorb. That is the secret of the tree.” – Deng, Ming-Dao


“So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” – Hermann Hesse


“It is almost impossible to overestimate the value of true humility and its power in the spiritual life. For the beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness and the consummation of humility is the perfection of all joy. Humility contains in itself the answer to all the great problems of the life of the soul. It is the only key to faith, with which the spiritual life begins: for faith and humility are inseparable. In perfect humility all selfishness disappears and your soul no longer lives for itself or in itself for God: and it is lost and submerged in Him and transformed into Him.” – Thomas Merton


“Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.” – Eckhart Tolle


“In time, the arrogant personality becomes brittle and heavy. The tides of each day bring change; the closed person fights the waves. The current ebbs and flows and moves with its rhythm; closed personx throw their limbs against the current. They do not look at the tide; they think only of what they want, even if they are swamped and confused. The humble person accepts whatever change sends, improvising and creating accordingly.” – Deng Ming Dao, The Living I Ching, from Commentary on Hexagram 15, Fu, Humility


“A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.” – Hermann Hesse


“True humility-the basis of the Christian system-is the low but deep and firm foundation of all virtues.” – Edmund Burke


“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” – Martin Luther


“Those who are humble will gradually  discover other advantages. They will not hisetate to go beyond themselves. With nothing to prove, they are willing to explore new situations. True, they might make mistakes. They may even suffer embarrassment. But the humble person acknowledges and accepts that. The immodest make mistakes too – but being without shame, they try to hide their errors and deny their fallibility. That worsens their mistakes and increases their isolation.” – Deng Ming Dao, The Living I Ching, from Commentary on Hexagram 15, Fu, Humility


“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.” – Hermann Hesse


“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” – Saint Augustine


“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.” – Rabindranath Tagore


“Remaining humble even when you are under great duress, staying self-possessed in the face of insults, and refusing to bully others with your position and power are all examples of humility from the vantage of great strength.” – Deng Ming Dao, The Living I Ching, from Commentary on Hexagram 15, Fu, Humility


“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.” – Hermann Hesse


“Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of self.” – T. S. Eliot


“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” – Robert Louis Stevenson


“Humility is akin to compassion – at least in the sense that true compassion means extending one’s energy and talents on behalf of others. One cannot be merciful from a position of weakness.” – Deng Ming Dao, The Living I Ching, from Commentary on Hexagram 15, Fu, Humility.”


“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.” – Hermann Hesse


“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” – John Wooden


“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our ” – Kalil Gibran 


“Arrogance and anger are often the choices we try first because they seem to take less effort. True, they are not effectiave, but they seem easier. By contrast, even after we renounce our arrogance, we will fince that being humble is not easy. True humility is a choice we make each time tere is a confrontation and unless a person is supremely comfortable, self-assured, and safe, he or she cannot be humble.” – Deng Ming Dao, The Living I Ching, from Commentary on Hexagram 15, Fu, Humility.


“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” – Hermann Hesse


“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – C. S. Lewis


“A tree is a wonderful living organism which gives shelter, food, warmth and protection to all living things. It even gives shade to those who wield an axe to cut it down” – Gautama Buddha


“Like it or not, humility exists only in the wake of arrogance. Few people know humility for itself or opt for it right away. Most of us have fallen into arrogance and egotism and have failed. We come to humility after having thoroughly testing the alternative.” – Deng Ming Dao, “The Living I Ching,” from Commentary on Hexagram 15, Fu, Humility.


“Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.” – Hermann Hesse


“Humility is the core virtue of the Changes (I Ching, Book of Changes). It is a virtue that is valuable for its own sake, and it is a virtue with great usefulness as well. The modest make fewer mistakes because they are not undone by arrogance, and their lack of dogma is no impediment to change.” –  Deng Ming Dao, The Living I Ching, from Commentary on Hexagram 15, Fu, Humility.


“Outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonders; we see that the miraculous is not extraordinary, but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread.” – Wendell Berry


“Prayer is the best answer to all of the trials that face us, because without prayer, even if we succeed in accomplishing some great goal in the eyes of men, we have failed in our sacred responsibilities, and thus we have failed in what is truly important.” – Thomas Yellowtail, Crow Medicine Man


“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.” – Hermann Hesse


A Song Unsung

“A song without lyrics.
A melody without sound.
Arising from within,
Heard from without.
No instruments played,
No voices lilting,
A Song of the Spirit
Sung on the Wind.
Erupting from caverns,
Bursting through fissures,
It chills the body
and warms the Soul.
Emptying the full,
Filling the empty,
Rising it descends,
Descending it rises.
From wence it came
and whither it goes?
Whose song it is
no one knows.
A mystery unsolved
A song unsung,
it gives rise to itself
from a place unknown.
If by chance, you should
catch its Air,
Stay with it, my friend,
or you’ll end in despair.”


“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” – Hermann Hesse


“What is clear is that the earth is mandating that the human community assume a responsibility never assigned to any previous generation…Our task at this critical moment is to awaken the energies needed to create the new world and to evoke a universal communion of all parts of life.” – Thomas Berry


“Intelligence is an extremely subtle concept. It’s a kind of understanding that flourishes if it’s combined with a good memory, but exists anyway even in the absence of good memory. It’s the ability to draw consequences from causes, to make correct inferences, to foresee what might be the result, to work out logical problems, to be reasonable, rational, to have the ability to understand the solution from perhaps insufficient information. You know when a person is intelligent, but you can be easily fooled if you are not yourself intelligent.” – Isaac Asimov


“What is Zen? Simple, simple, so simple. Infinite gratitude toward all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility to all things future.” – Huston Smith


“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” – Wendell Berry


“Spiritual realization is theoretically the easiest thing and in practice the most difficult thing there is. It is the easiest because it is enough to think of God. It is the most difficult because human nature is forgetfulness of God.” – Frithjof Schuon


“The Universe story is the quintessence of reality. We perceive the story. We put it in our language, the birds put it in theirs, and the trees put it in theirs. We can read the story of the Universe in the trees. Everything tells the story of the Universe. The winds tell the story, literally, not just imaginatively. The story has its imprint everywhere, and that is why it is so important to know the story. If you do not know the story, in a sense you do not know yourself; you do not know anything.” – Thomas Berry


“Once, when a religionist denounced me in unmeasured terms, I sent him a card saying, “I am sure you believe that I will go to hell when I die, and that once there I will suffer all the pains and tortures the sadistic ingenuity of your deity can devise and that this torture will continue forever. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you have to call me bad names in addition?” – Isaac Asimov


“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.” – Anton Chekhov


“We all carry it within us: supreme strength, the fullness of wisdom, unquenchable joy. It is never thwarted, and cannot be destroyed.” – Huston Smith


“Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind’s
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.”
– Wendell Berry


“…Blessed be the heart who finds its way to the eternal summer. – where grateful happiness is found through understanding that whatever your situation is, it could always be worse, but isn’t… and the thought that things could always be better and the bitter unhappiness this creates is discarded!” – Frithjof Schuon


“The universe must be experienced as the Great Self. Each is fulfilled in the other: the Great Self is fulfilled in the individual self, the individual self is fulfilled in the Great Self. Alienation is overcome as soon as we experience this surge of energy from the source that has brought the universe through the centuries. New fields of energy become available to support the human venture. These new energies find expression and support in celebration. For in the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration. It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself.”-Thomas Berry


“Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you-and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.” – Isaac Asimov


“If human life is to survive on this planet, the old dualistic worldview, with people on one side and the environment on the other, must yield to a new vision that connects us with everything else and leads us to care for and take responsibility for it.” – Huston Smith


“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” – Wendell Berry


“Ungrateful are those on this earthly road, Who do complain that life is made of tears, That happiness on earth one cannot find, That we are made of sorrows and of fears.” – Frithjof Schuon


“The time has come to lower our voices, to cease imposing our mechanistic patterns on the biological processes of the earth, to resist the impulse to control, to command, to force, to oppress, and to begin quite humbly to follow the guidance of the larger community on which all life depends.” – Thomas Berry


“The manifestation of Truth is a mystery of Love, just as, conversely, the content of Love is a mystery of Truth.” – Frithjof Schuon


“I discovered, to my amazement, that all through history there had been resistance … and bitter, exaggerated, last-stitch resistance … to every significant technological change that had taken place on earth. Usually the resistance came from those groups who stood to lose influence, status, money…as a result of the change. Although they never advanced this as their reason for resisting it. It was always the good of humanity that rested upon their hearts.” Isaac Asimov


“The human venture depends absolutely on this quality of awe and reverence and joy in the Earth and all that lives and grows upon the Earth. As soon as we isolate ourselves from these currents of life and from the profound mood that these engender within us, then our basic life-satisfactions are diminished. None of our machine-made products, none of our computer-based achievements can evoke that total commitment to life.” – Thomas Berry


“He always pictured himself a libertarian, which to my way of thinking means “I want the liberty to grow rich and you can have the liberty to starve”. It’s easy to believe that no one should depend on society for help when you yourself happen not to need such help.” – Isaac Asimov


“Wildness we might consider as the root of the authentic spontaneities of any being. It is that wellspring of creativity whence comes the instinctive activities that enable all living beings to obtain their food, to find shelter, to bring forth their young: to sing and dance and fly through the air and swim through the depths of the sea. This is the same inner tendency that evokes the insight of the poet, the skill of the artist and the power of the shaman.” – Thomas Berry


“Isn’t it sad that you can tell people that the ozone layer is being depleted, the forests are being cut down, the deserts are advancing steadily, that the greenhouse effect will raise the sea level 200 feet, that overpopulation is choking us, that pollution is killing us, that nuclear war may destroy us – and they yawn and settle back for a comfortable nap. But tell them that the Martians are landing, and they scream and run.” – Isaac Asimov


“What is clear is that the earth is mandating that the human community assume a responsibility never assigned to any previous generation…Our task at this critical moment is to awaken the energies needed to create the new world and to evoke a universal communion of all parts of life.” – Thomas Berry


“I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.” – Isaac Asimov


“Our fulfillment is not in our isolated human grandeur, but in our intimacy with the larger earth community, for this is also the larger dimension of our being.” – Thomas Berry


“Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.” – Isaac Asimov


(What is clear about what Nature is mandating in regard to the coronavirus?)

“What is clear is that the earth is mandating that the human community assume a responsibility never assigned to any previous generation…Our task at this critical moment is to awaken the energies needed to create the new world and to evoke a universal communion of all parts of life.” – Thomas Berry


“The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.” – Isaac Asimov


“We need to move: from a spirituality of alienation from the natural world to a spirituality of intimacy with the natural world from a spirituality of the divine as revealed in words to a spirituality of the divine as revealed in the visible world about us.” – Thomas Berry


“We can break the mountains apart; we can drain the rivers and flood the valleys. We can turn the most luxuriant forests into throw-away paper products. We can tear apart the great grass cover of the western plains and pour toxic chemicals into the soil and pesticides onto the fields until the soil is dead and blows away in the wind. We can pollute the air with acids, the rivers with sewage, the seas with oil – all this in a kind of intoxication with our power for devastation at an order of magnitude beyond all reckoning.” – Thomas Berry


“If I am right, then (religious fundamentalists) will not go to Heaven, because there is no Heaven. If they are right, then they will not go to Heaven, because they are hypocrites.” – Isaac Asimov


“If the outer world is diminished in its grandeur, then the emotional, imaginative, intellectual, and spiritual life of the human is diminished or extinguished. Without the soaring birds, the great forests, the sounds and coloration of the insects, the free-flowing streams, the flowering fields, the sight of clouds by day and the stars at night, we become impoverished in all that makes us human.” – Thomas Berry


“Increasingly, our leaders must deal with dangers that threaten the entire world, where an understanding of those dangers and the possible solutions depends on a good grasp of science. The ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, questions of diet and heredity. All require scientific literacy. Can Americans choose the proper leaders and support the proper programs if they themselves are scientifically illiterate? The whole premise of democracy is that it is safe to leave important questions to the court of public opinion – but is it safe to leave them to the court of public ignorance?” – Isaac Asimov


“What does the Earth Desire? I will put it in just a few short sentences… To be admired in her loveliness, To be tasted in her delicious fruits, To be listened to in her teaching, To be endured in the severity of her discipline, To be cared for as a maternal source from whence we come, a destiny to which we return. It’s very simple.” – Thomas Berry


“It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.” – Isaac Asimov


“We must now understand that our own well-being can be achieved only through the well-being of the entire natural world around us.” – Thomas Berry


“There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.” – Isaac Asimov


“In reality, there is a single integral community of the Earth that includes all its component members whether human or other than human. In this community every being has its own role to fulfill, its own dignity, its own inner spontaneity. Every being has its own voice. Every being declares itself to the entire universe. Every being enters into communion with other beings…
In every phase of our imaginative, aesthetic, and emotional lives we are profoundly dependent on this larger context of the surrounding world.” – Thomas Berry


“Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.” – Isaac Asimov


“We lose our souls if we lose the experience of the forest, the butterflies, the song of the birds, if we can’t see the stars at night.” – Thomas Berry


“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” – Isaac Asimov


“The divine communicates to us primarily through the language of the natural world. Not to hear the natural world is not to hear the divine.” – Thomas Berry


“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” – Isaac Asimov


“The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be exploited. Everything has its own voice. Thunder and lightening and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees, ~~ all these have voices, and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related.” – Thomas Berry


“Such is human psychology that if we don’t express our joy, we soon cease to feel it.” – Lin Yutang


“When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent.” – Isaac Asimov


“The human being is that space in which the comprehensive compassion that pervades the universe from the very beginning now begins to surface –within consciousness. (As compared with the natural displays of compassion by other creatures that is not necessarily ‘within consciousness. ‘) That’s the only difference. We didn’t create compassion, but it’s flowing through us-or it could. The phase change that we’re in seems, to me, to depend upon that comprehensive compassion unfurling in the human species.” – Brian Swimme


“It’s strange. You never start out life with the intention of becoming a bankrupt or an alcoholic or a cheat and a thief. Or a liar.” – Raymond Carver


“Above all we must realize that each of us makes a difference with our life. Each of us impacts the world around us every single day. We have a choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place – or not to bother” – Jane Goodall

(In this time of adversity, will you make a difference?)


(In this time of adversity, remember this thought…)

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” – Haruki Murakami


“You may be capable of great things, But life consists of small things.” – Ming-Dao Deng


“The wind comes creeping, it calls to me to come go exploring. It sings of the things that are to be found under the leaves. It whispers the dreams of the tall fir trees. It does pipe the gentle song the forest sings on gray days. I hear all the voices calling me. I listen. But I cannot go.” – Opal Whiteley


“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” – Lin Yutang


“It is such a comfort to nestle up to Michael Angelo Sanzio Raphael when one is in trouble. He is such a grand tree. He has an understanding soul. After I talked with him and listened unto his voice, I slipped down out of his arms.” – Opal Whiteley


“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” – Lin Yutang


“And this I have learned, grown-ups do not know the language of shadows.” – Opal Whiteley


“When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set.” – Lin Yutang


“A collection of errors does not make a truth: quality cannot stem from quantity – a value is not a weight. The reasons of the majority cannot be taken as good reasons.” – Alain de Benoist


“All of Chinese thinking – Confucianism, Taoism, as well as Buddhism – contains the idea that in the course of life, man will shape harmoniously those psychic and physical predispositions that he received as capital assets by unifying them and giving them form from within a center.” – Richard Wilhelm


“And all the times I was picking up potatoes, I did have conversations with them. Too, I did have thinks of all their growing days there in the ground, and all the things they did hear. Earth-voices are glad voices, and earth-songs come up from the ground through the plants; and in their flowering, and in the days before these days are come, they do tell the earth-songs to the wind … I have thinks these potatoes growing here did have knowings of star-songs.” – Opal Whiteley


“The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.” – Ming-Dao Deng


“The real treasure, that which we all seek, is never very far; there is no real need to seek it in a distant place, for it lies buried within our own hearts. And yet, there is this strange and persistent fact that it is only after a journey in a distant region, in a new land, that the way to that treasure becomes clear.” – Heinrich Zimmer


“There is a saying in China that the nature of man is found there, in the center, where emotions are not yet manifest. In this center is the potentiality of everything to come.” – Richard Wilhelm

While this is a special time during the coronavirus outbreak to look after ourselves and our families, it is especially important not to forget those in need and provide them with whatever support you can, either with financial or personal assistance.


“Happiness pursued eludes, happiness given returns.” – John Templeton


“To triumph fully, evil needs two victories, not one. The first victory happens when an evil deed is perpetrated; the second victory, when evil is returned. After the first victory, evil would die if the second victory did not infuse it with new life.” – Miroslav Volf


“To be whole is to be part;
true voyage is return.”
Ursula K. Le Guin


“If we look at the world with a deluded body and mind, we will think that our self is permanent. But if we practice correctly and return to our true self, we will realize that nothing is permanent.” Dogen


“Of course, he who has put forth his total strength in fit actions, has the richest return of wisdom.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


He who, conscious of being strong, is content to be weak, he shall be the paragon of mankind. Being the paragon of mankind, Virtue will never desert him. He returns to the state of a little child


“As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.” – Leo Tolstoy


“Stop talking, stop thinking, and there is nothing you will not understand. Return to the root and you will find Meaning.” – Sengcan


“The transcendent and the numinous can be accessible to the most materialistic of scientists, without positing the supernatural. At the same time, there is no reason to mistrust the same experiences in believers simply because they posit a supernatural source. The question is not, “Does God exist?” It’s irrelevant. The question is whether believers and nonbelievers can rejoice in the same experiences and not denigrate the other’s explanation as to the origins of very powerful human responses.” Norman Cota


“For Thomas Traherne (c. 1636-1674), one of the sanest men who ever lived, to see the world with the eyes of innocence, and to see it pervaded by a numinous glory, is to see things as they truly are, and to recognize creation as the mirror of God’s infinite beauty.” – David Bentley


“Both education and religion need to ground themselves within the story of the universe as we now understand this story through empirical knowledge. Within this functional cosmology, we can overcome our alienation and begin the renewal of life on a sustainable basis. This story is a numinous revelatory story that could evoke the vision and the energy required to bring not only ourselves but the entire planet into a new order of magnificence.” – Thomas Berry


“Human language has a vocabulary suited to our daily needs and functions: the shape of any human language maps approximately to the needs and activities of our mundane lives. But few would deny that there is another dimension of human existence which transcends the mundane: call it the soul, the spirit: it is that part of the human frame which sees the shimmer of the numinous.” – Julian Burnside


“If our shallow, self-critical culture sometimes seems to lack a sense of the numinous or spiritual it’s only in the same way a fish lacks a sense of the ocean.” – Grant Morrison


Every now and then we enter the presence of the numinous and deduce for an instant how we’re formed, in what detail the force that infuses every petal might specifically run through us, wishing only to lure us into our full potential.
Mary Karr


“We are talking only to ourselves. We are not talking to the rivers, we are not listening to the wind and stars. We have broken the great conversation. By breaking that conversation we have shattered the universe. All the disasters that are happening now are a consequence of that spiritual ‘autism.'” – Thomas Berry


“Every being has its own interior, its self, its mystery, its numinous aspect. To deprive any being of this sacred quality is to disrupt the total order of the universe. Reverence will be total or it will not be at all. The universe does not come to us in pieces any more than a human individual stands before us with some part of his/her being.” – Thomas Berry


“A tree is a self: it is ‘unseen shaping’ more than it is leaves or bark, roots or cellulose or fruit … What this means is that we must address trees as we must address all things, confronting them in the awareness that we are in the presence of numinous mystery.” – Brian Swimme


“The years… when I pursued the inner images were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything was then.” – Carl Jung


“That Krishna himself was a historical figure is indeed quite indubitable.” – Rudolf Otto


“The main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neuroses but rather with the approach to the numinous. But the fact that the approach to the numinous is the real therapy, and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experience you are released from the curse of pathology. Even the very disease takes on a numinous character.” – Carl Jung


“The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its “profane,” non-religious mood of everyday experience…It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may be developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of – whom or what? In the presence of that which is a Mystery inexpressible and above all creatures” – Rudolf Otto, from DasHeilige, which appeared in English as “The Idea of the Holy.


“If one enslaves his capacity for thought and deliberation just so he can seek ways to put things to use and if he disregards the need to make his person secure (intenify, elevate his virtue) just so he can sacrifice himself to achievement and fine reputation, then the more the spurious arises, the more principles will be lost, and the finer his reputation grows, the more obvious his entanglements will become.” – Wang Bi, from Part II, Commentary on the I Ching



“If one returns to the root of things, he would find quiescence there and discover all the world’s principles available to him” – Wang Bi, from Part II, Commentary on the I Ching.


“I sit at my window gazing
The world passes by, nods to me
And is gone.”
Tagore, a poem entitled “Change” 


“Down below the broad, roaring waves of the sea break against the deep foundation of the rock. But high above the mountain, the sea, and the peaks of rock the eternal ornamentation blooms silently from the dark depths of the universe.” – Rudolf Otto


“As his criminal actions have built walls around a prisoner, so your forgetfulness and refusal to let light in keep your soul from traveling.”
Bahauddin, from “Fumes” 2:75 of “The Drowned Book: Ecstatic and Earthy Reflections of the Father of Rumi”


“Look carefully around you and recognize
the luminosity of souls. Sit beside those
who draw you to that.
Rumi, from a work entitled “Joy at Sudden Disappointment”


“If you weep because the sun has gone out
Your tears may blind you to the stars.
Tagore, a poem entitled “Resurrection”


“Having nothing produces provisions.
Ask a difficult question,
and the marvelous answer appears.”
Rumi, from a work entitled “Joy at Sudden Disappointment”


“Clean clothes and expensive accessories will not cover a blackened core. The smoldering sends out smoke through the crevices. You brush the fumes away, but they keep coming.” – Bahauddin, from “Fumes” 2:74 of “The Drowned Book: Ecstatic and Earthy Reflections of the Father of Rumi”


“Let life be as beautiful as summer flowers
And death as beautiful as autumn leaves”
Tagore, poem entitled “Beauty”


“Every part of you has a secret language.
Your hands and your feet say what you’ve done.
And every need brings in what’s needed.
Pain bears its cure like a child.”
Rumi, from a poem entitled “Joy at Sudden Disappointment”


“When I think of ages past
That have floated down the stream
Of life and love and death,
I feel how free it makes us
to pass away”
– Tagore, poem entitled “Understanding”


“What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people’s faces as unfinished as their minds.” – Eric Hoffer


“Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.” – Eric Hoffer


“Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us.” – Eric Hoffer


“Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many.” – Eric Hoffer


“The frustrated follow a leader less because of their faith that he is leading them to a promised land than because of their immediate feeling that he is leading them away from their unwanted selves. Surrender to a leader is not a means to an end but a fulfillment. Whither they are led is of secondary importance.” – Eric Hoffer


“All mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth nor certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ.” – Eric Hoffer


“Retribution often means that we eventually do to ourselves what we have done unto others.” – Eric Hoffer


“When watching men of power in action it must be always kept in mind that, whether they know it or not, their main purpose is the elimination or neutralization of the independent individual- the independent voter, consumer, worker, owner, thinker- and that every device they employ aims at turning men into a manipulable animated instrument which is Aristotle’s definition of a slave.” – Eric Hoffer

This is what slaves in America look like today


“No matter how noble the objectives of a government, if it blurs decency and kindness, cheapens human life, and breeds ill will and suspicion; it is an evil government.” – Eric Hoffer

(Photo by Chris Kleponis – Pool/Getty Images)


“Someone who cannot stop his outer flow of words will soon be unable to communicate with other human beings at all.” –Thomas Metzinger


“At 19, I basically held the position that if you were intellectually honest and really wanted to get in touch with political reality then you had to smell tear-gas.” – Thomas Metzinger


“The conscious experience of being a subject arises when a single organism learns to enslave itself.” – Thomas Metzinger


“Most liars can fool most people most of the time.” – Paul Ekman


“Lying is a deliberate choice to mislead a target without giving any notification of the intent to do so. There are two major forms of lying: concealment, leaving out true information; and falsification, or presenting false information as if it were true.” – Pul Ekman


The One and what I said about it make two, and two and the original One make three. If we go on this way, then even the cleverest mathematician can’t tell where we will end, much less the ordinary man….” – Chuangzi

More of Chuangzi, Laozi and the I Ching, in the Commentary for January, 2020 just posted in the Commentaries page.


“Foolish, selfish people are always thinking of themselves and the result is always negative. Wise persons think of others, helping them as much as they can, and the result is happiness. Love and compassion are beneficial both for you and others. Through your kindness to others, your mind and heart will open to peace.” – Dalai Lama


“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”- Dalai Lama


“Follow the three R’s: – Respect for self. – Respect for others. – Responsibility for all your actions.” – Dalai Lama


“To be kind, honest and have positive thoughts; to forgive those who harm us and treat everyone as a friend; to help those who are suffering and never to consider ourselves superior to anyone else: even if this advice seems rather simplistic, make the effort of seeing whether by following it you can find greater happiness.” – Dalai Lama



“Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.”

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”

“I’ve pretty much done all I can here and, you know, God will carry me the rest of the way, so I’m pretty comfortable with that.”

– Kobe Bryant


Kobe and Gianna




Daily Prayer that’s Perfect for Trump…
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” – Dalai Lama


“When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.” – Dalai Lama


“The American Constitution is a written instrument full and complete in itself. No Court in America, no Congress, no President, can add a single word thereto, or take a single word threreto. It is a great national enactment done by the people, and can only be altered, amended, or added to by the people.” – Frederick Douglass


“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” – John Adams


“A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government.” – Alexander Hamilton


“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” – Abraham Lincoln


“Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate among their dupes, but which no democracy can afford among its citizens.” – William Beveridge


“Every dictator is a mystic, and every mystic is a potential dictator. A mystic craves obedience from men, not their agreement. He wants them to surrender their consciousness to his assertions, his edicts, his wishes, his whims – as his consciousness is surrendered to theirs. He wants to deal with men by means of faith and force – he finds no satisfaction in their consent if he must earn it by means of facts and reason.” Ayn Rand


“Dictators can always consolidate their tyranny by an appeal to patriotism.” – Aldous Huxley

Tom Stiglich /


“A dictator must fool all the people all the time and there’s only one way to do that, he must also fool himself.” – W. Somerset Maugham


“Who says I am not under the special protection of God?” Adolf Hitler

“I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord’s work.” – Adolf Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936

Trump Shares Claim He is ‘Heaven Sent’


“Every dictator is an enemy of freedom, an opponent of law. – Demosthenes



“Although we have no actual written communications from the world of emptiness, we have some hints or suggestions about what is going on in that world, and that is, you might say, enlightenment. When you see plum blossoms or hear the sound of a small stone hitting bamboo, that is a letter from the world of emptiness.” – Shunryu Suzuki


I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently likely to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory. My chief difficulty was in constructing the carbon filament… Every quarter of the globe was ransacked by my agents, and all sorts of the queerest materials used, until finally the shred of bamboo, now utilized by us, was settled upon.” – Thomas A. Edison


“Once a century, all of a certain kind of bamboo flower on the same day. Whether they are in Malaysia or in a greenhouse in Minnesota makes no difference, nor does the age or size of the plant. They flower. Some current of an inner language passes between them, through space and separation, in ways we cannot explain in our language. They are all, somehow, one plant, each with a share of communal knowledge.” – Linda Hogan


“Heat lingers
As days are still long;
Early mornings are cool
While autumn is still young.
Dew on the lotus
Scatters pure perfume;
Wind on the bamboos
Gives off a gentle tinkling.
I am idle and lonely,
Lying down all day,
Sick and decayed;
No one asks for me;
Thin dusk before my gates,
Cassia blossoms inch deep.”
Bai Juyi


“The Japanese are virtuosos. They make just the little accent that makes all the difference. So much there is so beautiful – just a shop window display is a work of art. Just the way they make all kinds of things out of bamboo that are so ingenious. Just the way this little bamboo drain or latch is so beautiful. The masonry around the streams to hold the bank are beautiful – and not all one kind and not just cement.” – Jane Jacobs


“You can learn from an ordinary bamboo leaf what ought to happen. It bends lower and lower under the weight of snow. Suddenly the snow slips to the ground without the leaf having stirred. Stay like that at the point of highest tension until the shot falls from you. So, indeed, it is: when the tension is fulfilled, the shot must fall, it must fall from the archer like snow from a bamboo leaf, before he even thinks it.” – Eugen Herrigel, Author of Zen and the Art of Archery


“Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountins are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.” – Okakura Kakuzo, author  of Teaof The Book


“Study the teachings of the pine tree, the bamboo, and the plum blossom. The pine is evergreen, firmly rooted, and venerable. The bamboo is strong, resilient, unbreakable. The plum blossom is hardy, fragrant, and elegant.” – Morihei Ueshiba


God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.” – Ramakrishna


“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” – Jodi Picoult


“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee



“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.” Ping Fu


“For nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.” – Charles Dickens


“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”- Rainer Maria Rilke