exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
Editor's Favorite Quotations
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I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if, at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside me.
the open-eyed, unpretentious mind of God
John Amos Comenius (1657): The education that I propose includes all that is proper for a man and it is one in which all men who are born into this world should share ... Our first wish is that all men be educated fully to full humanity, not any one individual, not a few, nor even many, but all men together and singly, young and old, rich and poor, of high and lowly birth, men and women - in a word, all those whose fate it is to be born human beings, so that at last the whole of the human race become educated, men of all ages, all conditions, both sexes, and all nations.
Blaise Pascal: All of humanity’s problems stem from an inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
Plotinus: "Beauty is the translucence, through material phenomena, of the eternal splendor of the One.”
Ram Dass: “What you meet in another being is the projection of your own level of evolution.”
Charles Dickens: “I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul.”
the most important concept on the Word Gems site
At the time of this writing, the Word Gems site conceals 794 documents; if printed, 10,000 or, maybe, 20,000 pages might ensue. Clearly, I’ve said more than I know.
I no longer feel the need to add anything to this corpus of information. Especially, with this final chapter of the book, I ask myself: if required to choose one most important concept from the many gold-nuggets I’ve been privileged to see, what would it be?
It’s is the “mind the gap” principle - introduced in the “Surrender and Acceptance” page, and further discussed in the “Zen” article, along with the “Just Sitting” writing.
“Mind the gap” means that one perceives the great existential separation between “true self” and “false self.” It allows one to say, “I am here, the real me, reveling in a quietude of peace, and over there, across the divide, is the emotional chaos which, for so long, has been masquerading as my essential self but, in fact, is an imposter.”
I feel there is no more important precept that one might possess to prepare one’s spirit for life in the next dimensions. Why is this? It is so because “mind the gap” means that you’ve not only accessed, but have crossed over the threshold into, the domain of the sacred soul.
In this celestial realm of certainty, wherein one is linked to Universal Consciousness, all mysteries will yet bow the neck and bend the knee to one’s investigations. In time, the hidden regularities of the universe will disgorge themselves as you come to understand more and more and more… and not even some of those on the other side for thousands of years, who have not yet perceived the efficacy of “mind the gap,” will be able to stand against you.
Editor’s note: Some may ask, shouldn’t love have something to do with a “most important concept”? And I would say, yes, of course, as mystics, poets, and saints instruct of its highest expression of the human spirit. However, unless we access the “true self,” we will never experience authentic love, but only its ersatz counterpart, mere egoic wanting and needing. When we do find ourselves in this way, true love, a perception of oneness, automatically and naturally rises to the surface of consciousness. It was there all the time, in the silent reaches of the soul, inaccessible however, due to “static on the line” from the “false self.”
See this page for further discussion.
Lao-Tzu: Retire silently, and to win, if at all, through yielding and patience; passivity has its victories more often than action… Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?
Franchezzo, A Wanderer In The Spirit Lands: "I have seen one of a pair of lovers, whom some misunderstanding had parted, and between whom death had placed a last insurmountable barrier, [go to] the Beloved One left behind, and seek, by all means in his power, to convey to her the true state of things, that their hearts had been true, whatever might have appeared to the contrary!"
John Wesley: Give me your hand. I do not mean you to be of my opinion; you need not. I do not expect it or desire it; neither do I mean I will be of your opinion. I cannot; it does not depend on my choice. I can no more think than I can say or hear as I will. Keep your opinion and I mine, as steadily as ever. Only give me your hand. I do not mean embrace my modes of worship or I embrace yours. I have no desire to dispute with you one moment. Let all matters - of belief - stand aside, let them never come inside. If thine heart is as my heart, if thou love God and all mankind I ask no more. Give me thine hand. "I believe," someone has said, "in the beloved community and in the spirit which makes it beloved and in the communion of all who, in will and deed, are its members." I see no such ideal community as yet, but my rule in life is: Act so as to hasten its coming.
John Curtis Gowan: "When Michelangelo did the Sistine Chapel, he painted both the major and minor prophets. They can be told apart because, though there are cherubim at the ears of all, only the major prophets are listening. Here, exactly stated, is the difference between genius and talent."
Ernest Hemingway, acceptance speech, 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature (excerpt):
"Things may not be immediately discernible in what a man writes, and, in this, sometimes he is fortunate; but, eventually, they are quite clear, and by these and the degree of alchemy that he possesses, he will endure or be forgotten. Writing, at its best, is a lonely life…[the writer] grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and [then] often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone, and, if he is a good enough writer, he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day."
D. Ivan Young: “Your relationship may be ‘breaking up,’ but you won't be ‘breaking down.’ If anything, you’re correcting a mistake that was hurting four people: you and the person you’re with, not to mention the two people who you [both] were destined to meet.”
Rainer Maria Rilke: “It is part of the nature of every definitive love that sooner or later it can reach the beloved only in infinity.”
Ernest Fitzgerald: It is not by accident that the happiest people are those who make a conscious effort to live useful lives. Their happiness, of course, is not a shallow exhilaration where life is one continuous intoxicating party. Rather, their happiness is a deep sense of inner peace that comes when they believe their lives have meaning and that they are making a difference for good in the world.
Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has.
Theodore H. White: To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can have.
Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature.
Michael Faraday, the great English chemist and physicist
Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning: recounting an Auschwitz experience: "We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road running through the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles... But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look... for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth - that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world may still know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved... I resumed talk with my loved one: I asked her questions, and she answered; she questioned me in return, and I answered."
In 1787, a young Englishman, William Wilberforce, became aware of the atrocities of the African slave trade. So moved was he that, against all odds, against powerful political and economic interests, often working alone, he began to wage war on this barbarity. Very slowly, by inches, as prosecuting attorney for the truth, he would turn public opinion against the great inhumanism. Finally, after 46 years of crusade, during which he was constantly attacked, threatened, and vilified by the privileged "deep state," Parliament, reflecting the will of the people, set as law The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 which abolished slavery throughout the British Empire. See Wilberforce’s inspiring story in the motion picture, Amazing Grace, and read more on the "Economics" page.
Elizabeth’s Barrett's letter to Robert Browning, February 24, 1846: "I am living for you now. And before I knew you, what was I and where? What was the world to me … and the meaning of life?"
Abd ER-Rahman III of Spain (960): I have now reigned about 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot. They amount to fourteen.
Do not believe on the strength of traditions, even if they have been held in honor for many generations and in many places; do not believe anything because many people speak of it; do not believe on the strength of sages of old times; do not believe that which you yourselves have imagined, thinking that a god has inspired you. Believe nothing which depends only on the authority of your masters and priests. After investigation, believe that which you have yourselves tested and found to be for your good and that of others.
(attributed to) The Buddha, The Kalama Sutra
John Ruskin: Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.
Kama Sutra: If men and women act according to each other's liking, their love for each other will not be lessened, even in one hundred years.
Susana Wesley: Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.
Epictetus: Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Therefore, give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. Remain steadfast... and one day you will build something that endures, something worthy of your potential.
the moment of becoming a sane, really free, human being
“I'm simply saying that there is a way to be sane. I'm saying that you can get rid of all this insanity created by the past in you. Just by being a simple witness of your thought processes. It is simply sitting silently, witnessing the thoughts, passing before you. Just witnessing, not interfering not even judging, because the moment you judge you have lost the pure witness. The moment you say ‘this is good, this is bad,’ you have already jumped onto the thought process. It takes a little time to create a gap between the witness and the mind. Once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise, that you are not the mind, that you are the witness, a watcher. And this process of watching is the very alchemy of real religion. Because as you become more and more deeply rooted in witnessing, thoughts start disappearing. You are, but the mind is utterly empty. That’s the moment of enlightenment. That is the moment that you become for the first time an unconditioned, sane, really free human being.”
Osho, Indian mystic, (1931-1990)
one's personal sense of 'I Am,' on a deeper level, merges with the great 'I Am'
“If I penetrate the depths of my own existence, to the indefinable ‘I Am,’ that is, myself, at its deepest roots, then through the deep center I pass into the infinite ‘I Am,’ which is the very Name of the Almighty."
“It [higher consciousness] starts not from the thinking and self-aware subject but from Being. . . . Underlying the subjective experience of the individual self, there is an immediate experience of Being. This is totally different from an experience of self-consciousness. . . . It has in it none of the split and alienation that occurs when the subject becomes aware of itself as a quasi-object. The consciousness of Being . . . is an immediate experience that goes beyond reflexive awareness. It is not ‘consciousness of’ but pure consciousness, in which the subject as such ‘disappears’.”
Thomas Merton, monk and priest, (1915-1968)
Augustine: Every disorder of the soul is its own punishment.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Look not mournfully to the past ... it comes not again; wisely improve the present - it is thine; go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear; and with a manly heart.
Will & Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History: The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.
William Wordsworth: The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.
Warren Buffett: Confronted with a challenge to distill the secret of sound investment ... we venture the motto, Margin of Safety. Forty-two years after reading that [phrase of Benjamin Graham], I still think those are the right three words.
Where is the voice to answer mine back?
“A hand for each hand was the plan for the world, why don’t my fingers reach? Millions of grains of sand in the world, why such a lonely beach? Where is the voice to answer mine back? Where are two shoes that click to my clack? I’m all alone in the world!” Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol, 1962
Silver Birch, testimony from the OtherSide: There is a great power in the universe... it is so real that it transcends all other forces ... that love is deathless because it is part of the Great Spirit , the creative spirit of all life, part of the power which has fashioned life; it is indeed the very breath and the very essence of life. And wherever love exists, sooner or later those who are united by its willing bonds will find one another again [implying, the two had been temporarily "lost"] despite all the handicaps and obstacles and impediments that may be in the way... there is the love, the undeniable love, between man and woman who are complementary to one another; that is, they are two in form, but one in purpose -- they harmonise, they are, indeed, as your poet has expressed it, 'Two hearts that beat as one.' Now, where that love has found itself, there is never any separation. Those whom the natural law has joined by love can never be sundered in your world or in mine. Where there is that love - and here I am afraid I am going to be controversial - it is always reciprocated... the real love, that only comes once to each man or woman, whether on earth or in the world of spirit, is always reciprocal... the two halves instinctively, because they are two halves, must recognise one another. That does not happen in your world always because your vision, regarding things of the spirit, is often blind... Physical things [unfortunate circumstances in this world of suffering] could stop it [temporarily] ... but real love is so magnetic, is so overwhelming in its attraction, that it must find itself and claim itself, when once you have got rid of the imperfections of the earth which were the deterrents to recognition.
"I'm sorry I left you, Lois."
Native American prayer: Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made, and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. I seek strength not to be greater than my brother but to fight my greatest enemy: myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. So when life fades as a fading sunset my spirit may come to you without shame.
Kicking Bird, Dances With Wolves: Of all the trails in this life, there is one that matters most: it is the trail of a true human being.
Bruce Lee: Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend... When the opponent expands, I contract, when he contracts, I expand, and when there is an opportunity, I do not hit, it hits all by itself... [Success is] not being tense, but ready... not being set, but flexible, liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement. It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.
JFK, Thirteen Days: There is something immoral about denying your own judgment.
William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony: It was answered that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be enterprised and overcome with answerable [corresponding] courages. It was granted that the dangers were great, but not desperate, and the difficulties were many, but not invincible, ... and all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne or overcome ... [But] their condition was not ordinary. Their ends were good and honorable, their calling lawful and urgent, and therefore they might expect the blessing of God in their proceeding; yea, though they should lose their lives in this action, yet they might have comfort in the same, and their endeavors would be honorable.
Winston Churchill: To those who mused of surrender in the face of the feared coming invasion, he castigated: "Let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood." He forbade all peace dealings with the Nazis.
12 Angry Men: What kind of a man are you? You have sat here and voted “guilty” with everyone else because there are some baseball tickets burning a hole in your pocket ... If you want to vote “not guilty” then do it because you are convinced the man is “not guilty” - not because you have had enough! And if you think he is guilty then vote that way! Or don’t you have the guts to do what you think is right?
Carl Sandburg: Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes.
Paul Johnson: "When we are dealing with concepts like freedom and equality, it is essential to use words accurately and in good faith... beware of those who seek to win an argument at the expense of the language. For the fact that they do is proof positive that their argument is false, and proof presumptive that they know it is. A man who deliberately inflicts violence on the language will almost certainly inflict violence on human beings if he acquires the power. Those who treasure the meaning of words will treasure truth, and those who bend words to their purposes are very likely in pursuit of anti-social ones.
George Orwell, 1984: If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say ... it never happened ... [then] where did that knowledge exist?... if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed - if all records told the same lie - then the lie passed into history and became truth. Who controls the past, ran the Party slogan, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past... Reality control, they called it ... This day-to-day falsification of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf: The German people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led ... The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one ... All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it ... Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.
George Orwell, Animal Farm: We pigs ... are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples... All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
Alfred Kazan: If you can’t explain what you’re doing in simple English, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Sanaya Roman: What you love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do.
Marceline Valmore: To gain in strength and elevation of mind, day by day ... there is something in all this which may yet sanctify life.
Ludwig von Mises: It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action.....taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless... Government is in the last resort the employer of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
Albert Schweitzer: Civilization can only revive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind independent of the one prevalent among the crowd and in opposition to it. A new public opinion must be created privately and unobtrusively. The existing one is maintained by the press, by propaganda, by organization, and by financial influences which are at its disposal. The unnatural way of spreading ideas must be opposed by the natural one, which goes from man to man and relies solely on the truth of the thoughts and the hearer's receptiveness of new truth.
Carl Jung: It is important to have a secret, a premonition of things unknown. It fills life with something impersonal, a numinosum. A man who has never experienced that has missed something important. He must sense that he lives in a world which in some respects is mysterious; that things happen and can be experienced which remain inexplicable; that not everything which happens can be anticipated. The unexpected and the incredible belong in this world. Only then is life whole. For me the world has from the beginning been infinite and ungraspable.
Abraham Lincoln: A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting and when you are gone, attend to those things which you think are important. You may adopt all the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on him. He will assume control of your cities, states and nations. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities, and corporations. All your books are going to be judged, praised or condemned by him. The fate of humanity is in his hands.
Aristotle: When asked how much the educated were superior to the uneducated, he responded: As much as the living are to the dead.
John Steinbeck, Of Mice And Men: Lennie said, "Tell how it's gonna be" ... "We gonna get a little place," George began. He reached in his side pocket and brought out Carlson's Luger. "Go on," said Lennie. "How's it gonna be. We gonna get a little place." "We'll have a cow," said George. "An' we'll have maybe a pig an' chickens ... an' down the flat we'll have a ... little piece of alfalfa" "For the rabbits," Lennie shouted. "For the rabbits," George repeated. "And I get to tend the rabbits." An' you get to tend the rabbits." Lennie giggled with happiness... "Gonna do it soon." "Me an' you." ... "Ever'body gonna be nice to you..."
Major Dick Winters, June 6, 1944, D-Day: That night I took time to thank God for seeing me through the Day of Days; and I prayed that I would make it through 'D+1'; and if somehow I managed to get home again I promised God and myself that I would find a quiet piece of land someplace and spend the rest of my life in peace.
Masanobu Fukuoka: Life on a small farm might seem primitive, but by living such a life we become able to discover the Great Path. I believe that one who deeply respects his neighborhood and everyday world in which he lives will be shown the greatest of all worlds.
Albert Schweitzer: Reverence for life affords me my fundamental principle of morality; namely that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life, and that to destroy, to harm, or to hinder life is evil.
John Stuart Mill: The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
Paul the apostle: It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. Galatians 5:19 - 21, The Message translation
Denis Diderot: There is only one step from fanaticism to barbarism.
Hannah Arendt: The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.
Judgment At Nuremberg: Ernst Janning: "Judge Haywood... Those people, those millions of people... I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it, You must believe it!” Judge Dan Haywood: "Herr Janning, it 'came to that' the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent."
Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Stanford Prison Experiment: Dehumanization is one of the central processes in the transformation of ordinary, normal people into indifferent or even wanton perpetrators of evil. Dehumanization is like a cortical cataract that clouds one's thinking and fosters the perception that other people are less than human. It makes some people come to see others as enemies deserving of torment, torture and annihilation.
Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale: Sure, this robe of mine doth change my disposition.
A Course In Miracles: All things are lessons God would have me learn.
Carl Jung, BBC interview, 1959: We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself ... We know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche should be studied because we are the origin of all coming evil.
Mother Teresa: It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.
Theodore Roosevelt: Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, of character. It is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent.
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacity to think... What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to egoism and passivity. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture... In 1984 ... people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.
Niccolo Machiavelli: It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free.
David Hume: It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Slavery has so frightful an aspect to men accustomed to freedom that it must steal in upon them by degrees and must disguise itself in a thousand shapes in order to be received.
William Channing: The great end in religious instruction, is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own; not to make them see with our eyes, but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own; not to give them a definite amount of knowledge, but to inspire a fervent love of truth; not to form an outward regularity, but to touch inward springs; not to bind them by ineradicable prejudices to our particular sect or peculiar notions, but to prepare them for impartial, conscientious judging of whatever subjects may be offered to their decision; not to burden memory, but to quicken and strengthen the power of thought.
Marcus Tullius Cicero: A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.
C.S. Lewis: We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.
Winston Churchill: If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be even a worse fate. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
Barney Fife: Selfish giraffes! lookin' out for number-one! runnin' around! gettin' strict by lightnin'! Now, dogs, they take care of their own.
Abraham Lincoln (paraphrased): Asking, around the table, all of his cabinet ministers for their opinion on a matter, and receiving a unanimous negative response, in the face of his own steadfast purpose: "Well, gentlemen, it seems that the 'ayes' have it."
Mark Twain: The cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
Richard Feynman, physicist: A paradox is not a conflict with reality. It is a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality should be like.
John Dewey: Intelligence is not something possessed once for all. It is in constant process of forming, and its retention requires constant alertness in observing consequences, an open-minded will to learn and courage in re-adjustment.
Soren Kierkegaard: There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
Cicero: They who say that we should love our fellow citizens but not foreigners, destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind, and thus benevolence and justice would perish for ever... Let us not listen to those who think that we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is more praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive.
Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience: I think we should be men first, and subjects afterwards. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.
F.F. Bruce: "... bearing in mind T. R. Glover's comment on a Roman Emperor's condemnation of the Apostle to the Gentiles - that the day was to come when men would call their dogs Nero and their sons Paul."
Paul the apostle: Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Galatians 6.4-5, The Message
Abigail Adams: I am more and more convinced that Man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or a few is ever grasping, and like the grave cries give, give. The great fish swallow up the small, and he who is most strenuous for the Rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the prerogatives of Government. You tell me of degrees of perfection to which Humane Nature is capable of arriving, and I believe it, but at the same time lament that our admiration should arise from the scarcity of the instances.
Aeschylus: He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget, falls, drop by drop, upon the heart; and, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us, by the awful grace of God.
Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling: So the duckling sat in a corner, feeling very low spirited, till the sunshine and the fresh air came into the room through the open door, and then he began to feel such a great longing for a swim on the water, that he could not help telling the hen. "What an absurd idea," said the hen. "You have nothing else to do, therefore you have foolish fancies. If you could purr or lay eggs, they would pass away." "But it is so delightful to swim about on the water," said the duckling, "and so refreshing to feel it close over your head, while you dive down to the bottom." "Delightful, indeed!" said the hen, "why you must be crazy! Ask the cat, he is the cleverest animal I know, ask him how he would like to swim about on the water... Believe me, I speak only for your own good. I may tell you unpleasant truths, but that is a proof of my friendship. I advise you, therefore, to lay eggs, and learn to purr as quickly as possible." "I believe I must go out into the world again," said the duckling. "Yes, do," said the hen.
Elizabeth Fry, testimony from the Other Side: Here no one glories in being a leader, whereas in your world you do get this sort of glorification of the individual. The first thing a person must learn here, if they are to progress, is to lose this idea of self-importance. Those who are really progressed on This Side never, never give that impression - because it is not even in their nature to appear, or want to appear, important.
Anais Nin: We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
Daniel Boorstin: Artists and writers, I believe, have a special role, creating new questions for which they offer experimental answers. We are tested, enriched, and fulfilled by the varieties of experience. And as the years pass there are increasing advantages to being a questioner. Answers can trouble us by their inconsistency, but there is no such problem with questions. I am not obliged to hang on to earlier questions, and there can be no discord - only growth - between then and now. Learning, I have found, is a way of becoming inconsistent with my past self. I believe in vocation, a calling for reasons we do not understand to do whatever we discover we can do... I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.
T.S. Eliot: Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
Daniel Patrick Moynihan: Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own set of facts.
Albert Einstein: Reality is merely an illusion; albeit, a very persistent one.
Woodrow Wilson: You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.
Nietzsche: Even a thought, even a possibility, can shatter us and transform us.
Albert Einstein: It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.
Silver Birch: The plan of life is very simple. You come from spirit, incarnating into matter to obtain the experiences you need to enable you to come to our world equipped for the tasks and the joys that await you. The equipment is obtained in your world. That is where you learn the lessons that prepare you for the life after school. If you do not learn the lessons, then you are not educated, not ready for what comes next.
Leslie Weatherhead: Think of F.W.H. Myers saying, through a reputable medium like Geraldine Cummins, "If only I could tell you what [the AfterLife is] like; I just haven't the words to tell you how marvelous it is; the sense of beauty, the sense of freedom, the sense of love..."
Buddha: You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere; you yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
Charles Williams: Love you? I am you.
Lord Byron: Long, long shall I rue thee, Too deeply to tell... In silence I grieve, That thy heart could forget, Thy spirit deceive. If I should meet thee After long years, How should I greet thee? - With silence and tears.
Lord Byron: She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach... I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
Rod Stewart, You're in My Heart, The Final Acclaim: You're in my heart, you're in my soul, You'll be my breath should I grow old, You are my lover, you're my best friend,You're in my soul. My love for you is immeasurable, My respect for you immense; You're ageless, timeless, lace and fineness, You're beauty and elegance. You're a rhapsody, a comedy, You're a symphony and a play, You're every love song ever written, But, honey, what do you see in me?
Mark Twain, Adam's Diary: After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables: There is a book of Revelation in everyone's life [a time of awareness] ... [Anne speaking to Gilbert] I just want you!
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield: 'And, oh, Agnes, even out of thy true eyes, in that same time, the spirit of my child-wife looked upon me, saying it was well; and winning me, through thee, to tenderest recollections of the Blossom that had withered in its bloom!’ ‘I am so blest, Trotwood, my heart is so overcharged, but there is one thing I must say’ - ‘I am afraid to speculate on what it is. Tell me, my dear’ - 'I have loved you all my life!'
Thornton Wilder, Our Town: George: "Emily." Emily: "Y-yes, George." George: "Emily, if I do improve and make a big change ... would you be ... I mean, could you be..." Emily: "I ... I am now; I always have been."
Tennyson: All precious things discovered late To those that seek them issue forth, For Love in sequel works with Fate, And draws the veil from hidden worth.
William Butler Yeats: But O that I were young again And held her in my arms!
William Butler Yeats: Women, I tell you this in all honesty: Never trust any young man who has never written a love poem - no matter how bad it might have been. Trust me in this!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning: I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.
Kahlil Gibran: It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations.
Jim Croce, These Dreams: "...and sometimes at night I think I hear you callin' my name."
William S. Gilbert: Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest: Love, hopeless love, my ardent soul encumbers: Love, nightmare-like, lies heavy on my chest, And weaves itself into my midnight slumbers!
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet: "...with him, All deaths I could endure. Without him, live no life."
Stand by Me, the movie, the final words: "I never had another friend like the one that I had when I was 12 - does anyone?"
Karen Carpenter, Hurting Each Other: All my life I could love only you, All your life you could love only me.
Jim Croce, Time In A Bottle: I've looked around enough to know that you're the one I want to go through time with.
Dr. Mortimer Adler: Many persons first realize their own essence and worth in loving and being loved by another person. Cynics and pundits call such personal knowledge in erotic love 'idealization' or 'over-valuation' of the love object. But perhaps what they call 'idealization' is simply realization of what exists potentially in the beloved person and is first actualized in love.
Jane Austen, Pride And Prejudice, the movie: Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet: You have bewitched me, body and soul.
Jane Austen, Persuasion: Captain Wentworth, a note to Anne Elliot: I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.
John Merrick, The Elephant Man: I am not an animal! I am not an animal! I am a human being!
Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol: And the wild regrets and the bloody sweats, None knew so well as I: For he who lives more lives than one, More deaths than one must die.
George Steiner: We know that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach or Schubert, and [then] go to his day's work at Auschwitz in the morning.
Shakespeare, Hamlet: What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!
Rudyard Kipling's, If:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream --
and not make dreams your master,
If you can think --
and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-- which is more-- you'll be a Man, my son!
Dr. James Martineau, The Uncertainties of Life: A world without a contingency or an agony could have no hero and no saint, and enable no son of man to discover that he was a son of God. But for the suspended plot that is folded in every life, history is a dead chronicle of what was known before as well as after; art sinks to the photograph of a moment, that hints at nothing else; and poetry breaks the chords and throws the lyre away. There is no Epic of the Certainties!
Abigail Adams, July 1784: Travelling by carriage to London, the future First Lady witnessed a robbery, the 20-year-old perpetrator captured: "...and we saw the poor wretch gastly and horible, brought along on foot, his horse rode by a person who took him." Put-off by the dark spirit of the attending British mob, Abigail's merciful heart responded: "Tho every robber may deserve Death yet to exult over the wretched is what our Country is not accustomed to. Long may it be free of such villainies and long may it preserve a commisiration for the wretched."
Leo Tolstoy: All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Samuel Goodrich: How many hopes and fears, how many ardent wishes and anxious apprehensions, are twisted together in the threads that connect the parent with the child.
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: If you have lived with unconditional love early in life, things can get very bad later in life, and you will still be able to cope with it. If you have experienced unconditional love once, it will last for your whole life-time. It does not have to be from your father or mother who may not be capable of giving it because they themselves have never received it.
Paul the apostle: Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe - some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them - then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong. Romans 14, The Message translation
Edgar Yipsel Harburg: Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.
President Kennedy, his "Secret Societies" speech, April 27, 1961: We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far out weigh the dangers which are sited to justify them. Even today there is little value in opposing the threat of an enclosed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today there is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation, if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment... For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that rely primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence. On infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.
George Sand: One is happy as a result of one's own efforts, once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness -- simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self-denial to a point, love of work, and, above all, a clear conscience. Happiness is no vague dream, of that I now feel certain. By the proper use of experience and thought one can draw much from oneself, by determination and patience one can even restore one's health ... so let us live life as it is, and not be ungrateful.
William James: There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man's lack of faith in his true Self.
M. Scott Peck: The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual - for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War: Those who excel in war first cultivate their own humanity... Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated.
Kenneth Clark, Civilisation: Clark points out that, during the Dark Ages, artists tended to depict humankind in very obscure terms; such tendency reflected a general hopelessness and low self-esteem that people of that age had of themselves. But, 200 years after the death of Charlemagne, the art of the times now reflects a growing self-awareness and new self-respect for Man; he no longer depicts himself in art as a pitiful, featureless figure. "Man is no longer Imago Hominis, the [mere stylized] image of man, but a [vital] human being, with humanity's impulses and fears; also humanity's moral sense and belief in the authority of a higher power." This new respect and self-awareness served as prelude to an explosion of creative achievement after AD 1000.
Henrik Ibsen: What's a man's first duty? The answer is brief: to be himself... The man whom God wills to stay in the struggle of life, He first individualizes... The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.
Mark Twain: Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let man label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country - hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.
Martha Graham: There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
Helen Keller: I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.
Walt Whitman: Re-examine all you have been told ... dismiss whatever insults your own soul.
Paul Johnson: Again and again, an enlightened and strong-willed individual has pushed against the prevailing trends and the prevailing wisdom to perform an act of courage that has changed history.
Peter F. Drucker: The individual is the central, rarest, most precious capital resource of our society.
Mortimer J. Adler: It cannot be too often repeated that philosophy is everybody's business. To be a human being is to be endowed with the proclivity to philosophize. To some degree we all engage in philosophical thought in the course of our daily lives. Acknowledging this is not enough. It is also necessary to understand why this is so and what philosophy's business is. The answer, in a word, is IDEAS. In two words, it is GREAT IDEAS - the IDEAS basic and indispensable to understanding ourselves, our society, and the world in which we live.
Archibald McLeish, Ars Poetica: A poem should not mean, but be.
Leslie Weatherhead: One does not so much want to learn what Browning's private opinions were. One wants to know what Browning saw in his hours of poetic vision, and one wants to see through his eyes. We should therefore be guarded in speaking of the value of the work of the poet, just as we should speak guardedly of the value of a sunset... the poet is a teacher in one sense ... but he is not the pedagogue... he exists not to inculcate ideas as a teacher, but to reveal reality... It is because of this different way of arriving at truth, we think, that the poet has so often led the way in expressing ideas which are among the most profound [and] cherished by mankind. On the wings of vision the poet soars to a pinnacle of truth.
There is a pain — so utter —
It swallows Being up —
Then covers the Abyss with Trance —
So Memory can step
Around — across — upon it —
As one within a Swoon —
Goes steady — where an open eye —
Would drop Him — Bone by Bone.
Heloise to Peter Abelard: You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how in one wretched stroke that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you... I was powerless to oppose you in anything, I found strength at your command to destroy myself. I did more, strange to say - my love rose to such heights of madness that it robbed itself of what it most desired, beyond hope of recovery, when immediately at your bidding I changed my clothing, along with my mind, in order to prove you the possessor of my body and my will alike. Never, God knows, did I seek anything in you, except yourself; I wanted only you, nothing of yours... I looked for no marriage bond, no marriage portion, and it was not my own pleasures and wishes I sought to gratify, as you well know, but yours. The name of wife may seem more sacred or more worthy [to some] - but sweeter to me will always be the word lover; or, if you will permit me, that of concubine or whore! ... I carried out everything for your sake and continue up to the present moment in complete obedience to you. It was not any sense of vocation which brought me as a young girl to accept the austerities of the cloister, but your bidding alone, and if I deserve no gratitude from you, you may judge for yourself how my labors are in vain. I can expect no reward for this from God, for it is certain that I have done nothing as yet for love of him. When you hurried towards God I followed you; indeed, I went first to take the veil - perhaps you were thinking how Lot's wife turned back when you made me put on the religious habit and take my vows before you gave yourself to God. Your lack of trust in me over this one thing, I confess, overwhelmed me with grief and shame. I would have had no hesitation, God knows, in following you, or going ahead, at your bidding, to Hell itself. My heart was not in me, but with you, and now, even more, if it is not with you it is nowhere; truly, without you it cannot exist. See that it fares well with you, I beg, as it will if it finds you kind, if you give grace in return for grace, small for great, words for deeds. Would that your love were less sure of me, beloved, so that you would be more concerned on my behalf! But as it is, the more I have made you feel secure in me, the more I have to bear with your neglect... I will finish a long letter with a brief ending: farewell, my Only Love.
Walter Benton: A star breaks, arcs down the night ... Therefore I wish: see my lips move, making your name. It is so still, so still. I am sure that you must hear me.
Walter Benton: Tonight I think of you with great tenderness. My dear ... O My Lost! I sweep aside the rubble of our years to see you clear of their shadow.
Walter Benton: We tresspassed, field to field ... you ... glad of my arms each time a fence ... challenged us ... I ... always held you longer than it took to help you over.
Albert Einstein: It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
Rev. Endicott Peabody, headmaster, Groton: Quoted by his former student, FDR, in his last inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1945: "Things in life will not always run smoothly. Sometimes we will be rising toward the heights - then all will seem to reverse itself and start downward. The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward; that a line drawn through the middle of the peaks and valleys of the centuries always has an upward trend."
Howard Whitman, Success Is Within You: Success has the intrinsic character of a batting average... a successful life will have its days or even years of failure. It will certainly have its moments of utter washout. These are not blights upon such a life but merely the inevitable failings which bear testimony to the fact that success isn't easy.
Dorothea Brande, Wake Up and Live!: Most of us disguise our failure in public... most successfully from ourselves... the most obvious intention is to beguile the world into believing that we are living up to our fullest capacity... there will be a core of unhappiness in our lives which will be more and more difficult to ignore as the years pass... these victims present a dreadful spectacle... insane misers, stuffing a senseless accumulation of trash, odds and ends of sensations, experiences, fads and enthusiasms, synthetic emotions, into the priceless coffer of their one irreplaceable lifetime. Whatever the ostensible purpose may be, it is plain that one motive is at work in all these cases: the intention, often unconscious, to fill life so full of secondary activities or substitute activities that there will be no time in which to perform the best work of which one is capable. The intention, in short, is to fail.
Buddha: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Buddha: “The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. In the moment that you reject all desire for external help, you become free.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter: Hester, chiding her dispirited lover: Exchange this false life of thine for a true one. Be, if thy spirit summon thee to such a mission, the teacher and apostle of the red men. Or, as is more thy nature, be a scholar and a sage among the wisest and the most renowned of the cultivated world. Preach! Write! Act! Do anything, save to lie down and die! Give up this name of Arthur Dimmesdale, and make thyself another, and a high one!
Robert Goddard: Just remember - when you think all is lost, the future remains.
W. Somerset Maugham: To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all of the miseries of life.
Thomas Carlyle: All that a university or final highest school can do for us, is still but what the first school began doing - teach us to read. We learn to read in various languages, in various sciences; we learn the alphabet and letters of all manners of books. But the place where we are to get knowledge, even theoretic knowledge, is the books themselves. It depends on what we read, after all manners of professors have done their best for us. The true university of these days is a collection of books.
Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh: I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.
Arthur C. Clarke: A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.
Winston Churchill: You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police.Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! - of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.
Arthur Findlay, The Rock of Truth: Next best to finding the truth is to search for it, and to do so all should question and reason, as these are the guide posts scattered on the winding road that leads to truth. Truth loves discussion, and the doubting questioning mind of the investigator which creates intelligence, candour, honesty, sympathy and charity for all. Truth is the enemy of ignorance, prejudice, egotism, bigotry and hypocrisy. The one lives by day, the others by night. Let us each, therefore, be a torch-bearer of the truth and always strive for light, more light. Editor's note: We shall never possess the last particle of truth - there is too much, the field of enquiry, too vast, infinite; and not even eternity will be sufficient for us to learn everything. Therefore, we must ever acknowledge that our perception of the truth is, and will always be, incomplete. There is no "finding the truth" in any absolute sense, but only the sacred quest to "search for it."
Albert Einstein: Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
Thomas Jefferson: I have sworn upon the altar of Almighty God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
Werner Karl Heisenberg: Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.
Henry David Thoreau: The universe is wider than our views of it.
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Abigail Adams, 1777: John Adams wrote to his wife, urging upon the invading British troops, "Contempt, Derision, Hatred and Abhorence"; moreover, for his part, he favored a national motto, "Conquer or die." Abigail, while not naive regarding the war's harsh necessities, responded by focusing on Christian duty: "Let them reproach us ever so much for our kindness and tenderness to those who have fallen into our Hands, I hope it will never provoke us to retaliate their cruelties; let us put it as much as possible out of their power to injure us, but let us keep in mind the precepts of him who hath commanded us to Love our Enemies; and to exercise towards them acts of Humanity, Benevolence and Kindness, even when they despitefully use us." Editor's note: As I read the words of Abigail Adams, forged, so often, within the context of all manner of human suffering, I clearly sense that I am in the presence of an advanced human spirit. Always clear-eyed and pragmatic, she believed that we must remove an enemy's "power to injure us," but, in so doing, we must never partake of and reflect their dark spirit of hatred.
Abraham Lincoln (attributed): You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by destroying the rich.
John Miller, 1771, Of the Origin and Distinction of Ranks: Miller, a student of Adam Smith, moral philosopher and author of Wealth of Nations, explains the moral foundations of free trade and a capitalistic market economy; how economic servitude and fawning dependence create a stultifying view toward personal freedoms and the dignity of man in general. "In this situation, persons of low rank have no opportunity of acquiring [wealth] or of raising themselves to superior stations and remain for ages in a state of dependence. They naturally contract such dispositions and habits as are suited to their circumstances. They acquire a sacred veneration for the person of their master and are taught to pay an unbounded submission to his authority. They are proud of that servile obedience by which they seem to exalt his dignity and consider it as their duty to sacrifice their lives and their possessions in order to promote his interest, and even his capricious humour... The farther a nation advances in [free, open markets, open opportunities for all] ... the lower-people in general thereby become more independent of their circumstances... They begin to exert those sentiments of liberty which are natural to the mind of man and which necessity alone is able to subdue. In proportion as they have less need of the favour and patronage of the great, they're at less pains to procure it. That vanity which was formerly discovered in magnifying the power of a chief is now equally displayed in a sullen indifference or in a contemptuous and insolent behaviour to persons of a superior rank and station." Editor's note: It should be noted that this was written during a period called "The Scottish Enlightenment," a time not only of expanding free markets and growing wealth of the Scottish middle-class, but, also in direct consequence, an explosion of intellectual Scottish achievement that became the envy of England and Europe!
Ben Graham: In the short run, the market is a voting machine; but in the long run it is a weighing machine.
Peter Lynch: What makes stocks valuable in the long run isn't ‘the market.’ It's the profitability of the shares in the companies you own. As corporate profits increase, corporations become more valuable, and sooner or later, their shares will sell for a higher price... Ultimately, to be an investor in stocks, you have to believe that American business has a decent future, as well as business worldwide, and that corporations will continue to increase their profits. If you are as convinced of this as I am, then you'll never panic in a correction.
F. Scott Fitzgerald: In the ... dark night of the soul, it is always three o'clock in the morning.
George Harrison, While My Guitar Gently Weeps: I don't know how someone controlled you, They bought and sold you, too.
Rilke: Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek for the answers that cannot be given, for you wouldn't be able to live with them. And the point is to live everything, live the questions now, and perhaps without knowing it, you will live along, some day, into the answers.
George Spenser Brown: To arrive at the simplest truth, as Newton knew and practiced, requires years of contemplation. Not activity. Not reasoning. Not calculating. Not busy behaviour of any kind. Not reading. Not talking. Not making an effort. Not thinking. Simply bearing in mind what it is one needs to know.
Eckhart Tolle: "Here is the paradox: life’s greatest mystery – death – seems to be its opposite and very denial. However, anyone who reads Deepak Chopra’s penetrating and insightful investigation into this great mystery with an open mind will come to realize that the opposite of death is birth, not life. Life, which in essence is consciousness, is eternal and has no opposite. There is no death, only the metamorphosis of life-forms, consciousness appearing as this or that. This is the liberating truth [which Deepak’s book, Life After Death: The Burden Of Proof] continuously points to."
F. Scott Fitzgerald: To have something to say [as a writer is most important and] is a question of sleepless nights and worry and endless ratiocination of subject - of endless trying to dig out the essential truth, the essential justice. As a first premise you have to develop a conscience and if on top of that you have talent so much the better. But if you have talent without the conscience, you are just one of many thousands of journalists.
John Steinbeck: The only way to write a good short story, we were told, is to write a good short story. Only after it is written can it be taken apart to see how it was done... The basic rule given us was simple and heartbreaking. A story to be effective had to convey something from the writer to the reader, and the power of its offering was the measure of its excellence. Outside of that, there were no rules... It seemed unfair. I could read a fine story and could even know how it was done. Why could I not then do it myself? Well, I couldn't, and maybe it's because no two stories dare be alike. Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances. If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader.
John Steinbeck: A child may ask, 'What is the world's story about?' And a grown man or woman may wonder, 'What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we're at it, what's the story about?' I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial [actress, Perils Of Pauline] of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught - in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill? ... And in our time, when a man dies - if he has had wealth and influence and power and all the vestments that arouse envy, and after the living take stock of the dead man's property and his eminence and works and monuments - the question is still there: Was his life good or was it evil? - which is another way of putting Croesus's question. Envies are gone, and the measuring stick is: 'Was he loved or was he hated? Is his death felt as a loss or does a kind of joy come from it?'... In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world. We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.
Maxwell Anderson, playwright: The story ... must be a conflict, and specifically, a conflict between the forces of good and evil within a single person.
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready is he to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: “There is a fundamental difference between the appeal of a mass movement and the appeal of a practical organization. The practical organization offers opportunities for self-advancement, [but]… a mass movement … appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self.”
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: “A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.”
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: “People who see their lives as irremediably spoiled cannot find a worth-while purpose in self-advancement… They look on self-interest as on something tainted and evil; something unclean and unlucky. Anything undertaken under the auspices of the self seems to them foredoomed… Their innermost craving is for a new – a rebirth – or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose and worth by an identification with a holy cause."
"It is not so much what you will find when you come to this side of life as what you will bring with you... Sleep is the best definition of death I know anything about - just going to sleep unafraid to awake in a new and beautiful room, and to be satisfied... [On Earth] you are the apprentice to your own soul. Here you are the promoted individual... Bring all of your soul treasures - you will need them, your culture, your love of art, of music - all this you will use... Every want shall be satisfied. Material possessions you will not need... We are undisguised, for on our foreheads is the insignia of whatever we have gained in culture, love for humanity, charity, selflessness, energy and force, ambitions for the sake of others - all this is here waiting for us when we are given ... our Price, our Wage, whatever we have earned during our years of apprenticeship." Frederic W. H. Myers, Vanishing Night, transmitted to Juliet S. Goodenow, 1923