Sometimes I find myself thinking, rather wistfully, about Lao Tzu's famous dictum: 'Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish.' All around me I see something very different, let us say - a number of angry dwarfs trying to grill a whale.

— William Carlos Williams

Eye-opening Tzu quotations

No one asks you to throw Mozart out of the window.

Keep Mozart. Cherish him. Keep Moses too, and Buddha and Lao Tzu and Christ. Keep them in your heart. But make room for the others, the coming ones, the ones who are already scratching on the window-panes.

If you care too much about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner. Lao Tzu

I have to create a circle of reading for myself: Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Pascal, The New Testament. This is also necessary for all people.

It's impossible to talk without labels.

"Dog" is a label, but that doesn't mean it's meaningless, nor does it mean there's no difference in a Shih Tzu and a Doberman.

The founders of the great world religions, Gautama Buddha, Jesus, Lao-Tzu, Mohammed, all seem to have striven for a worldwide brotherhood of man; but none of them could develop institutions which would include the enemy, the unbeliever.

The mind always wants to choose. The mind lives through choice. If you don't choose the mind drops. This is the way of Lao Tzu. How to drop the mind? - don't choose! That's why he never prescribes any meditation, because then there is no need for any meditation.

[The Master] doesn't glitter like a jewel... [but is] as rugged and common as a stone.

Paraphrased: When Chuang Tzu was about to die, his disciples began planning a splendid funeral. However some disciples expressed concern that given a particular arrangement, birds and kites would eat his remains. Chuang Tzu replied, "Well, above ground I shall be eaten by crows and kites, below it by ants and worms. What do you have against birds?

The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-Tzu's dictum: "Those who know, do not say; Those who say, do not know." When the master entered, they asked him what the words meant. Said the master, "Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?" All of them indicated that they knew. Then he said, "Put it into words." All of them were silent.

The Chinese general Sun Tzu said that all war was based on deception. Oscar Wilde said the same thing of romance.

Chi Wen Tzu always thought three times before taking action. Twice would have been quite enough.

[...]you don’t have to be Sun freakin Tzu to know that real fighting isn’t about killing or even hurting the other guy, it’s about scaring him enough to call it a day.

Not only are we going to shift in our own lives - away from always trying to identify ourselves on the basis of what we have, what we do, and who we are better than, and so on - but shift into more reaching out, more service, more kindness, more living the virtues that Lao Tzu spoke about twenty-five hundred years ago.

Lao Tzu says: "Accept yourself. Non-acceptance is the root of all the trouble." None of us accept ourselves. The more a person doesn't accept himself, the greater a mahatma he looks to others to be. We are our greatest enemy. If we had our way, we would cut ourselves to pieces in order to remove what was unacceptable.

Ho Chi Minh rarely wrote about Sun Tzu, but when he did mention the ancient Chinese military strategist, he was always laudatory, and he sometimes cited his ideas as a model for the Vietnamese revolutionary movement to follow.

Some of the first human beings in whom the new consciousness emerged fully became the great teachers of humanity, such as Buddha, Lao Tzu, or Jesus, although their teachings were greatly misunderstood, especially when they turned into organized religion. They were the first manifestations of the flowering of human consciousness.

Taoism is the way of water. The most frequent element or symbol refered to in Lao Tzu's wrtings is the symbol of water.

Confucius is like the Torah, rules to follow.

And Lao-Tzu is even more conservative, saying that if you do nothing you won't break any rules. You have to let tradition fall sometime, you have to take action, you have to eat bacon.

But the transformation of consciousness undertaken in Taoism and Zen is more like the correction of faulty perception or the curing of a disease. It is not an acquisitive process of learning more and more facts or greater and greater skills, but rather an unlearning of wrong habits and opinions. As Lao-tzu said, "The scholar gains every day, but the Taoist loses every day.

Once I dreamed I was a butterfly, and now I no longer know whether I am Chuang Tzu, who dreamed I was a butterfly, or whether I am a butterfly dreaming that I am Chuang Tzu.

I was inspired to spend an entire year - my 65th year - reading, researching, and meditating on Lao-tzu's messages, practicing them and ultimately writing down these insights as I felt Lao-tzu wanted us to know them.

What is the Tao Te Ching? Five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, a God-realized being named Lao-tzu in ancient China dictated 81 verses which are regarded by many as the ultimate commentary on the nature of existence.

The Army was always big on Clausewitz, the Prussian;

the Navy on Alfred Thayer Mahan, the American; and the Air Force on Giulio Douhet, the Italian. But the Marine Corps has always been more Eastern-oriented. I am much more comfortable with Sun-tzu and his approach to warfare.

Chuang Tzu and Heidegger both emphasise the virtue of 'spontaneity' - a sort of mindful responsiveness to things as they are. It's this notion, I suspect, that is the best bet for helping to make some sense of talk about harmony or unity with nature.

My 'heroes' are those - like Chuang Tzu and Heidegger - who recognize that the world of experience is a human world, but recognize too that there is a 'way' or a 'source' to which our lives are answerable.

There is no reason at all to think that creatures with very different purposes and concerns would arrive at the scientific image, and no reason at all to accuse such creatures of getting the world wrong - a point that both Chuang Tzu and Nietzsche make when comparing human and animal perspectives.

Today [ Sun Tzu] ideas are not widely applied, at least among Islamic dissidents, whose profligate use of indiscriminate terrorism appears to limit the appeal of their ideas rather than to "win hearts and minds," as the Vietminh and the National Liberation Front did in Vietnam so many decades ago.

Many of the ideas of Sun Tzu and Mao Zedong came naturally to the young Ho Chi Minh, who would probably have applied the same strategy even had he not been aware of them.

The influence of Sun Tzu on other North Vietnamese military strategists is harder to answer. Certainly many of the key leaders in Hanoi were aware of Sun Tzu and made use of his ideas - Vo Nguyen Giap applied many of these ideas in seeking out weak elements in the enemy's defenses, as did Truong Chinh, whose famous treatise, The Resistance Will Win (1947), cited the ideas of Mao Zedong as a model for the North Vietnamese to follow.

Sun Tzu's ideas as expressed above had a profound effect on Ho Chi Minh, who sought to defeat both the French and the Americans without recourse to violence - or at least to conventional battle tactics.

There were various aspects of Sun Tzu's approach that appealed to Ho Chi Minh: a) to learn to understand both the enemy and yourself, to seek out his weaknesses and your own strengths, and act accordingly, b) to make ample use of subterfuge and stratagem in order to defeat or disarm your adversary, and c) to use outright violence only when absolutely necessary in the belief that political struggle was more effective than military struggle.

For me, Sun Tzu's statement that military force is based upon deception is an extraordinary statement.

I am very interested in and that is what Sun Tzu in his ancient Chinese text calls The Art of War.

Chaung Tzu was one of the most natural men the world has seen.

He has not given any discipline, he has not given any doctrine, he has not given any catechism. He has simply explained one thing: that if you can be natural and ordinary, just like the birds and trees, you will blossom, you will have your wings open in the vast sky.