Quote of the Day: Your Greatest Treasures

 

Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

When it comes to practical guidance, Lao Tzu gets to the heart of things. If we take this premise—simplicity, patience, and compassion are our greatest treasures—one could argue about whether they are the “greatest”; yet they are full of wisdom.

When we keep things simple, we don’t tangle ourselves in our life dramas, over-complicate differences, and we invite equanimity and G-d into our lives. Patience, with ourselves and others, allows us to live at peace with the patterns of our lives, understanding that there are some things that must be allowed to play out. We learn when we must wait on others and that some outcomes cannot be forced.

Compassion towards others in a world filled with anger and violence may motivate us only to be compassionate with those we like or who support our ideas; everyone else is left out. It’s helpful to remember that even those we don’t necessarily care about may deserve our compassion. In particular, as a person who can be unforgiving of myself, offering compassion to myself when I am forgetful, self-centered, or make a mistake is a daily goal.

How do you see these jewels of wisdom in your own life?

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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There are 26 comments.

  1. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: Compassion towards others in a world filled with anger and violence may motivate us only to be compassionate with those we like or who support our ideas; everyone else is left out.

    I have to admit I can be compassionate towards those with whom I disagree, but not when they’re actively trying to destroy the things I believe in.

    If they’re down, I’ll help them up.

    If they’re up but fighting me, I’ll fight back.

    If they’re up and not fighting me, I’ll go have a beer with ’em . . .

     

    • #1
    • July 30, 2019, at 6:50 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher

    But not Bobby De Niro, for he is a mope. He can pick himself up, dust himself off, and buy his own beer.

    • #2
    • July 30, 2019, at 6:57 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Compassion towards others in a world filled with anger and violence may motivate us only to be compassionate with those we like or who support our ideas; everyone else is left out.

    I have to admit I can be compassionate towards those with whom I disagree, but not when they’re actively trying to destroy the things I believe in.

    If they’re down, I’ll help them up.

    If they’re up but fighting me, I’ll fight back.

    If they’re up and not fighting me, I’ll go have a beer with ’em . . .

     

    I do know how you feel, @stad. But, for example, I have a friend on the Left, a dear friend, who I truly believe is uneducated and misguided on political issues. I can’t speak politics with her, but I do feel compassion for her living in untruths. I don’t feel compelled to hate her.

    • #3
    • July 30, 2019, at 6:57 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. JennaStocker Member

    “understanding that there are some things that must be allowed to play out; we learn when we must wait on others and that some outcomes cannot be forced.”

    Often my most difficult challenges stem from wanting or trying to control the uncontrollable-and being frustrated I cannot accomplish this no matter how hard I try. This is a good reminder that it’s okay to let those things beyond my control to play out. It will save me plenty of sleepless nights. Thanks for this post!

    • #4
    • July 30, 2019, at 8:34 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Compassion towards others in a world filled with anger and violence may motivate us only to be compassionate with those we like or who support our ideas; everyone else is left out.

    I have to admit I can be compassionate towards those with whom I disagree, but not when they’re actively trying to destroy the things I believe in.

    If they’re down, I’ll help them up.

    If they’re up but fighting me, I’ll fight back.

    If they’re up and not fighting me, I’ll go have a beer with ’em . . .

     

    I do know how you feel, @stad. But, for example, I have a friend on the Left, a dear friend, who I truly believe is uneducated and misguided on political issues. I can’t speak politics with her, but I do feel compassion for her living in untruths. I don’t feel compelled to hate her.

    I never said “hate”. We can fight the left without hating them. Think of it as professional (giggle) wrestling. They pound each other in the ring, call each other names, question the martital status of an opponent’s parents, then go out and have beers together.

    I’ve seen it! In college, I lived down the street from the WRAL TV studios. They used to have live pro “wrasslin'” every Saturday. It wasn’t unusual to go to the convenience store up the street (next to the studio), and see the wrestlers outside the store drinking sodas, chatting with fans and each other, and signing autographs.

    However, there are leftists who bring hate into the mix, and the Democrats are becoming more and more hateful with each election. Losing only accelerates the shift . . .

    • #5
    • July 30, 2019, at 8:39 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    I have compassion at least

    • #6
    • July 30, 2019, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    These are my treasures

    • #7
    • July 30, 2019, at 8:55 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    JennaStocker (View Comment):
    Often my most difficult challenges stem from wanting or trying to control the uncontrollable-and being frustrated I cannot accomplish this no matter how hard I try. This is a good reminder that it’s okay to let those things beyond my control to play out. It will save me plenty of sleepless nights. Thanks for this post!

    Most of these aren’t easy either, @jennastocker! We all need reminders now and then. Thanks.

    • #8
    • July 30, 2019, at 9:47 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    These are my treasures

    The very best kind, @bryangstephens!

    • #9
    • July 30, 2019, at 9:49 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Yabbut, Lao Tzu doesn’t offer any proofs, or even evidence, to back up his axioms. Gimme Nyāya and Aristotle, any day. I need syllogisms, dang it!

    Also, didn’t Lao Tzu preach unquestioned fealty to one’s ruler, and for rulers to keep their people in a state of ignorance?

    ;-)

    • #10
    • July 30, 2019, at 10:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Yabbut, Lao Tzu doesn’t offer any proofs, or even evidence, to back up his axioms. Gimme Nyāya and Aristotle, any day. I need syllogisms, dang it!

    Also, didn’t Lao Tzu preach unquestioned fealty to one’s ruler, and for rulers to keep their people in a state of ignorance?

    Oh picky, picky, picky, Mis! I don’t know about the rulers; I’m not a student of his. I could see the fealty part (since respect and obedience are big in Taoism, but I’m not sure about the state of ignorance. Sheesh.

    • #11
    • July 30, 2019, at 10:46 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Yabbut, Lao Tzu doesn’t offer any proofs, or even evidence, to back up his axioms. Gimme Nyāya and Aristotle, any day. I need syllogisms, dang it!

    Also, didn’t Lao Tzu preach unquestioned fealty to one’s ruler, and for rulers to keep their people in a state of ignorance?

    Oh picky, picky, picky, Mis! I don’t know about the rulers; I’m not a student of his. I could see the fealty part (since respect and obedience are big in Taoism, but I’m not sure about the state of ignorance. Sheesh.

    • #12
    • July 30, 2019, at 10:51 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Yabbut, Lao Tzu doesn’t offer any proofs, or even evidence, to back up his axioms. Gimme Nyāya and Aristotle, any day. I need syllogisms, dang it!

    Also, didn’t Lao Tzu preach unquestioned fealty to one’s ruler, and for rulers to keep their people in a state of ignorance?

    Oh picky, picky, picky, Mis! I don’t know about the rulers; I’m not a student of his. I could see the fealty part (since respect and obedience are big in Taoism, but I’m not sure about the state of ignorance. Sheesh.

    That’s why we love you, Mis!

    • #13
    • July 30, 2019, at 10:54 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Old Bathos Member

    I was never able to live the Tao because there is no clear role for sarcasm.

    One of the saints I admired most as a kid was St. Lawrence. While being tortured to death tied to a spit over a fire, he was asked if he had anything to say. He said something like “Yeah, tell the guy with the handle I think I’m done on this side.” Whereupon there must have be angelic rimshots heard in heaven. 

    He had been arrested because some Roman tax collector was convinced the early church was hiding wealth from him. So Lawrence said come back tomorrow and I will show you the wealth of the Church. The tax man returned to find the sick, lame and poorest people in the precinct sitting on blankets in a courtyard and Lawrence said “behold the riches of the church!” (angelic rimshot) and instant arrest. If stand-up comedians, class clowns and those who defy authority with humor have a patron saint, it’s this guy.

    How would a devotee of Lao Tzu have handled those situations?

     

    • #14
    • July 30, 2019, at 10:56 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  15. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I was never able to live the Tao because there is no clear role for sarcasm.

    One of the saints I admired most as a kid was St. Lawrence. While being tortured to death tied to a spit over a fire, he was asked if he had anything to say. He said something like “Yeah, tell the guy with the handle I think I’m done on this side.” Whereupon there must have be angelic rimshots heard in heaven.

    He had been arrested because some Roman tax collector was convinced the early church was hiding wealth from him. So Lawrence said come back tomorrow and I will show you the wealth of the Church. The tax man returned to find the sick, lame and poorest people in the precinct sitting on blankets in a courtyard and Lawrence said “behold the riches of the church!” (angelic rimshot) and instant arrest. If stand-up comedians, class clowns and those who defy authority with humor have a patron saint, it’s this guy.

    How would a devotee of Lao Tzu have handled those situations?

     

    With extreme deference to Caesar. The “third treasure” of Taoism is humility (literally “not daring to act as first under the heavens”). Standing up to one of Caesar’s officials would violate this principle.

    There’s a reason Genghis Khan put a Taoist in charge of religious affairs in Mongol-controlled China. They played well with tyrants.

    • #15
    • July 30, 2019, at 11:22 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. Percival Thatcher

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I was never able to live the Tao because there is no clear role for sarcasm.

    One of the saints I admired most as a kid was St. Lawrence. While being tortured to death tied to a spit over a fire, he was asked if he had anything to say. He said something like “Yeah, tell the guy with the handle I think I’m done on this side.” Whereupon there must have be angelic rimshots heard in heaven.

    He had been arrested because some Roman tax collector was convinced the early church was hiding wealth from him. So Lawrence said come back tomorrow and I will show you the wealth of the Church. The tax man returned to find the sick, lame and poorest people in the precinct sitting on blankets in a courtyard and Lawrence said “behold the riches of the church!” (angelic rimshot) and instant arrest. If stand-up comedians, class clowns and those who defy authority with humor have a patron saint, it’s this guy.

    How would a devotee of Lao Tzu have handled those situations?

     

    With extreme deference to Caesar. The “third treasure” of Taoism is humility (literally “not daring to act as first under the heavens”). Standing up to one of Caesar’s officials would violate this principle.

    There’s a reason Genghis Khan put a Taoist in charge of religious affairs in Mongol-controlled China. They played well with tyrants.

    Well, if you ask a fool question, you can expect a fool answer.

    • #16
    • July 30, 2019, at 11:32 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I was never able to live the Tao because there is no clear role for sarcasm.

    One of the saints I admired most as a kid was St. Lawrence. While being tortured to death tied to a spit over a fire, he was asked if he had anything to say. He said something like “Yeah, tell the guy with the handle I think I’m done on this side.” Whereupon there must have be angelic rimshots heard in heaven.

    He had been arrested because some Roman tax collector was convinced the early church was hiding wealth from him. So Lawrence said come back tomorrow and I will show you the wealth of the Church. The tax man returned to find the sick, lame and poorest people in the precinct sitting on blankets in a courtyard and Lawrence said “behold the riches of the church!” (angelic rimshot) and instant arrest. If stand-up comedians, class clowns and those who defy authority with humor have a patron saint, it’s this guy.

    How would a devotee of Lao Tzu have handled those situations?

     

    I doubt that he had your sense of humor!!! Thanks for a great comment, @oldbathos.

    • #17
    • July 30, 2019, at 12:13 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Vectorman Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: Compassionate toward yourself,
    you reconcile all beings in the world.
    ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

    This third item has merit, but I wonder if it was mistranslated. We can “be our own worst enemy,” and criticize ourselves relentlessly of course. But the word “being” encompasses all living things, so how do we reconcile the predator to the prey?


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many dates open on the August Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #18
    • July 30, 2019, at 1:37 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    In one sense, there are those dualities. In another sense, we are all human beings. This was also a Buddhist idea, one I struggled with. It calls all of us to recognize we are all part of the human race, not separate. It is a paradox. 

    • #19
    • July 30, 2019, at 3:25 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. WilliamDean Coolidge

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Yabbut, Lao Tzu doesn’t offer any proofs, or even evidence, to back up his axioms. Gimme Nyāya and Aristotle, any day. I need syllogisms, dang it!

    Also, didn’t Lao Tzu preach unquestioned fealty to one’s ruler, and for rulers to keep their people in a state of ignorance?

    Lao Tzu understood that when the state is operating properly, the people need not be bothered with the details of its inner workings.

     

    But really I have found that the Chinese translates so awkwardly into English you really need to read more than one or two translations to best understand what is being said. It’s surprising how much textual variance you’ll find between them.

    • #20
    • July 30, 2019, at 10:02 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Vectorman Thatcher

    WilliamDean (View Comment):
    But really I have found that the Chinese translates so awkwardly into English you really need to read more than one or two translations to best understand what is being said. It’s surprising how much textual variance you’ll find between them.

    From what I’ve heard, the southern dialect Cantonese differs greatly from the Northern Mandarin, maybe including regional phrases. If someone driving to an event, they’d say “I’ll carry you there” in the South instead of “I’ll pick you up.”

    If Lao Tsu actually existed, his writings would be over 2,000 years old. And:

    According to Taoism, all human beings are naturally good but are corrupted by law and an incorrect belief in how they are supposed to behave in society.

    That sounds familiar…

    • #21
    • July 31, 2019, at 4:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Yabbut, Lao Tzu doesn’t offer any proofs, or even evidence, to back up his axioms. Gimme Nyāya and Aristotle, any day. I need syllogisms, dang it!

    Also, didn’t Lao Tzu preach unquestioned fealty to one’s ruler, and for rulers to keep their people in a state of ignorance?

    Oh picky, picky, picky, Mis! I don’t know about the rulers; I’m not a student of his. I could see the fealty part (since respect and obedience are big in Taoism, but I’m not sure about the state of ignorance. Sheesh.

    It reminds me of that ultimate argument-ender every parent eventually falls back on:

    “Because I said so!”

    • #22
    • July 31, 2019, at 6:03 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. C. U. Douglas Thatcher

    This quote is one of the reasons I enjoy the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu. There is simplicity and depth, and many times I see it helps me reflect on my studies as a Christian. I’ve kept a copy, lost it, bought a replacement, and then found the old copy and haven’t gotten rid of either. Only religious or philosophical text I have more copies of is the Bible. When I read this it brought to mind the Sermon on the Mount:

    Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either.30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

    32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

    The last part is wonderful, too:

    Compassionate toward yourself,
    you reconcile all beings in the world.

    I am my own worst critic. I’ve stated before I struggle with feelings of failure and inadequacy. But dwelling on those has done more damage in how I relate to others, enough that it frustrates my lovely wife immensely when these feeling surface again.

    • #23
    • July 31, 2019, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    C. U. Douglas (View Comment):

    This quote is one of the reasons I enjoy the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu. There is simplicity and depth, and many times I see it helps me reflect on my studies as a Christian. I’ve kept a copy, lost it, bought a replacement, and then found the old copy and haven’t gotten rid of either. Only religious or philosophical text I have more copies of is the Bible. When I read this it brought to mind the Sermon on the Mount:

    Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either.30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

    32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

    The last part is wonderful, too:

    Compassionate toward yourself,
    you reconcile all beings in the world.

    I am my own worst critic. I’ve stated before I struggle with feelings of failure and inadequacy. But dwelling on those has done more damage in how I relate to others, enough that it frustrates my lovely wife immensely when these feeling surface again.

    I’m so glad you could see a relationship between your Christian faith and Taoism. The Asians have their helpful wisdom, and I found that much about Zen Buddhism complemented my Judaism. And I know about being tough on one’s self. My friends sometimes remind me that I should look at myself honestly rather than so critically. I think they’re right. Thanks, @cudouglas.

    • #24
    • July 31, 2019, at 9:47 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Yabbut, Lao Tzu doesn’t offer any proofs, or even evidence, to back up his axioms. Gimme Nyāya and Aristotle, any day. I need syllogisms, dang it!

    Also, didn’t Lao Tzu preach unquestioned fealty to one’s ruler, and for rulers to keep their people in a state of ignorance?

    Oh picky, picky, picky, Mis! I don’t know about the rulers; I’m not a student of his. I could see the fealty part (since respect and obedience are big in Taoism, but I’m not sure about the state of ignorance. Sheesh.

    It reminds me of that ultimate argument-ender every parent eventually falls back on:

    “Because I said so!”

    • #25
    • July 31, 2019, at 9:49 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. WilliamDean Coolidge

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    WilliamDean (View Comment):
    But really I have found that the Chinese translates so awkwardly into English you really need to read more than one or two translations to best understand what is being said. It’s surprising how much textual variance you’ll find between them.

    From what I’ve heard, the southern dialect Cantonese differs greatly from the Northern Mandarin, maybe including regional phrases. If someone driving to an event, they’d say “I’ll carry you there” in the South instead of “I’ll pick you up.”

    If Lao Tsu actually existed, his writings would be over 2,000 years old. And:

    The Tao Te Ching was written between 200 and 400 years prior to Canton’s first incorporation into greater China during the Qin dynasty. I think most of the translation issues are more due to:

    1. The very different structure of the language.
    2. The number of ideas and concepts for which there are no well defined English conversions, requiring, or giving leeway to, a great deal of interpretation by the translator
    3. Partially connected to #2, the highly idiomatic nature of the language. Being 3000+ years old, the language has had time to stew and evolve and has become quite baroque, full of idioms and colloquialisms that are second nature to a natural born speaker, but completely inscrutable to someone encountering one for the first time not being familiar with the origins of the saying.
    • #26
    • October 4, 2019, at 10:31 PM PDT
    • 1 like