Quotations of Guan Yin-tzu




The sky and all things beneath it are swirling in a whirling whirlpool, people and their deeds intertwined and mixed; everything is in a perpetual whirl and interpenetration - it seems to be there, but it has already disappeared.



To speak of it is to blow on a reflection, to think of it is to cut a speck of dust. That which cannot be made and divided is called Heaven, destiny, spirit, the original, all together, the Tao.



Sages care for the sublime and forget the inferior. The crowd cares for the lowly and forgets the sublime. Only the perfect sages are equal in permeating both the sublime and the inferior.



Words are like the murmuring of a spring; actions are like the flight of birds; teaching is like trying to grasp a reflection; learning is like thinking in a dream. Knowing this, before you have time to breathe, you will be at one with the Tao.



If a fish does not want to be like all fish, it is thrown on the shore and dies. If a tiger wants to leave the pack, he goes to town and gets caged. The wise ones are no different from ordinary people, and so others cannot capture them.



My Tao is like being in a dark place. Staying in the light, one cannot see anything in the dark. Staying in the darkness, however, you will see everything that is in the light.



If a fish doesn't want to be like other fish, he will be washed ashore and die. If a tiger wants to leave the pack, he goes to town and gets caged. The wise are no different from ordinary people, and so others cannot capture them.



The wise one does not distinguish between being in the Tao and being away from it. In the fact that the Tao is not there is the key to what the Tao is. In the fact that the wise one does not hold on to the Tao is the guarantee that he will not lose the Tao.



Outside the presence of the Tao one cannot speak, but that which cannot be narrated is the Tao.



That which floats is a boat. But what makes it possible to float is water, not a boat. Reflection is the mind. But that by which one can meditate is the will, not the mind.



Do not judge perfect sages by their deeds, for the Tao is wordless. Don't judge perfect sages by their capabilities, for the Tao is in inactivity. Do not judge perfect sages by their appearance - for the Tao has no appearance.



There are those who are humbled by life and death, and because of that have risen above them. Isn't that a great sorrow! Are they not like ghosts created by the art of magic? They are called "evil yao."



I look upon life and death as the hand of a horse or the wings of a buffalo. At the very core of the world, there is no presence of being, much less its absence. Here are water and fire: intending to harm them, no one can either burn them or drown them.


He who knows how to shoot teaches others the art of archery, but does not teach how to become an archer I. He who knows shipbuilding teaches shipbuilding, but does not teach how to become a strongman Ao. He who knows how to possess his heart teaches how to possess the heart, but does not teach how to become a perfect sage.



My Tao is like a sword. Turning the sword against others will benefit yourself. Grasping the sword with your hands, you hurt yourself.


The potter can create a thousand pots, but no pot can create the potter or harm him. The Tao can create ten thousand things, but no single thing can either create the Tao or destroy it.



The wise one knows that consciousness is one, things are one, the Tao is one, and they all combine into one. He does not measure the changeless by the changeless and does not impinge on the changeless by the changeless.



Archery, playing the qin or playing checkers-all these arts cannot be comprehended in an instant. Only the Tao has no forms or rules, and it can be comprehended in an instant.



One spark can burn ten thousand things, but when things disappear, where does the fire stay? In an instant the Tao can turn ten thousand things into nothingness, but when things disappear, where does the Tao abide?



To remove the things that fill the world, the vessel that holds them must be emptied. All that is and is not there is here, not there. The wise does not eliminate the world, but eliminates the knowledge of it.



Follow the forms of things around you. Be as fluid as water, as calm as a mirror, as responsive as an echo, and as still as silence. Do not seek to be ahead of others, but follow them steadfastly.



The wise man does not differ from others in the way he speaks, thinks, and acts. But in that he never speaks, acts, or thinks, he is different from others.



Clouds float and birds circle in the emptiness of the sky. Because of the emptiness, transformations can take place without end. This is the Tao of the wise.



Know how to discern the seeds of life and live forever. Know how to forget the seeds of life and leave life behind. This is what the Tao is.



Without striving toward the coming or dwelling after the going, one can live one life with the source of Heaven and Earth, in which there is neither past nor present.



If you know that consciousness is not a thing, then you know that things are not things. If you know that things are not things, then you know that Tao is not a thing. Then you will not bow down before great accomplishments or marvel at profound speeches.



The wise man is united with the heavenly in himself. He does not seek the Tao and is not attached to things. In all ways is the same way. Not following the Tao is the Tao. To follow it is to submit to things.



If thoughts of success and failure creep into the mind, the demons of the mind will take over. If lust creeps into the mind, the demons of debauchery will take over. If anxiety has crept into the mind, the demons of despair will possess it. If promiscuity has crept into the mind, the demons of obsession will possess it. If dreams of delicious food crept into the mind, the demons of gluttony would possess it.



Clay dolls come in men and women, expensive or cheap. They are made of earth and, when broken, will go back into the earth. Such is the man.



The eye that looks into itself sees nothing. The ear, listening to itself, hears nothing. The mind that listens to itself realizes nothing.



Worthy people see what is hidden, but cannot trust change. The wise man trusts change in order to abide in the unchanging.



The essence of events is in the events themselves, and the words have meaning. The essence of the Tao is not in the Tao, so words about it are meaningless.



He who reaches the pinnacle of wisdom knows that wisdom will never encompass the whole world. Therefore, he prefers simplicity. He who reaches the pinnacles of eloquence knows that eloquence will never reveal the essence of all things. That is why he speaks unvarnished. He who has reached the pinnacles of courage knows that courage will never conquer all people. That is why he is modest.



Ordinary people are attached to that which is outward. Worthy people are committed to what is inside. The wise one knows that both are not true.



Ordinary people see what is proThose who gaze at the tip of a hair will not notice how big the world is. He who sees the big, will not see the small. He who listens to the rustles will not hear the thunder rumbling. He who listens to thunder will not hear silence. He who seeks the near will not notice the far. The wise one does not look at anything and therefore sees everything. He listens to nothing. he listens to nothing and therefore he hears everything.



Guan Yin-tzu

Quotations of Guan Yin-tzu