A hodgepodge of wisdom
(page 2)


Personal comments are placed in parentheses.

Noteworthy words that call for definition are highlighted in green.

Exceptional points are highlight in red.


From "Mysticism" (1911) by Evelyn Underhill
A solid, scholarly introduction, sometimes considered a classic. The main drawback seems that Underhill appears never to have reached the actual state of mystical awareness herself.

  • All mystics, say Saint-Martin, speak the same language and come from the same country.
  • Reports of mystical experiences are curiously consistent, whoever they happen to or where.
  • "Beauty is merely the Spiritual making itself known sensuously."
    -- Hegel
  • In such moods of heightened consciousness, each blade of grass seems fierce with meaning. (I can attest to this.)
  • While the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram, a chart, a table, a list -- impersonal and unattainable -- the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive.
  • Some mystics have perceived it as "the beating of the heart of God." (I wouldn't go that far, but it does pulsate.)
  • "The intellect by itself moves nothing."
    -- Aristotle
  • Those who "feel to think" are likely to possess a richer, more real, if less orderly, experience than those who "think to feel."
  • "By love he may be gotten and holden, but by thought or understanding, never."
    -- from The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous English monk in the late 1300s
  • It's a movement of the heart, with intellectual subtlety.
  • It seemed to the mystic Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) that he could look into the principles and deepest foundations of things.
  • Immanuel Kant once realized he could better engage in philosophical thought while gazing steadily at a neighboring church steeple.
  • Many mystics have suffered from poor physical health.
  • The great teacher, poet, artist, inventor, never aims deliberately at his effects. He obtains them he knows not how.
  • "I have noticed that when one paints one should think of nothing. Everything then comes better."
    -- Raphael, speaking to Leonardo da Vinci
  • "The best and noblest way in which one may come into this life is by keeping silence and letting God work and speak."
    -- Meister Eckhart
  • The mystical vision is by turns granted and then withdrawn.
  • The whole personality then absorbs or enters into communion with certain rhythms or harmonies existent in the universe, which the receiving apparatus of other selves cannot pick up.
  • St. Theresa declared that in writing her books she was powerless to set down anything but that which her Master put into her mind.
  • "I have written the poems from immediate dictation, twelve or sometimes twenty or thirty lines at a time, without premeditation and even against my will. The time it has taken in writing was thus rendered nonexistent."
    -- William Blake, speaking of Milton and Jerusalem
  • One of the supreme qualities of a great painting is its "life-enhancing power."
  • Beethoven heard the very voice of this Reality, and little of it escaped when he translated it for our ears.
  • For St. Francis of Assisi, it was a heavenly melody, intolerably sweet. (On the money.)
  • The close connection between rhythm and heightened states of consciousness is as yet little understood.
  • A strong rhythmic sense is a key element of many if not all mystical writings.
  • "The writing of this book (of her own revelations) was seen, heard and experienced in every limb."
    -- Mechthild of Magdeburg (1212-1282)
  • True mysticism is never self-seeking.
  • Mystics generally report a vision of Goodness, Truth and Beauty which is one. It has an astonishing combination of splendor and simplicity.
  • "Nor can man exist but by brotherhood."
    -- William Blake, from Jerusalem
  • "My love is my weight."
    -- St. Augustine
  • The appeal of mysticism will not be to the clever brain but the desirous heart.
  • During a mystical experience, there is a sense that one is a partner in the business of creation, assisting the Cosmic Plan.
  • When it comes to sharing the essence of their experiences, some mystics feel they are passing on information meant to be kept under wraps.
  • Pious effeminacy is not required to enter the mystical realm. It may even be a detriment.
  • "The instant you say 'I can and I will,' the entire powers of the universe are to be set in motion."
    -- Elizabeth Towne, Joy Philosophy, 1903
  • A mystical experience can adjust the machinery of a person's cinematograph to the registering of new intervals in the stream of things that passed it before unnoticed.
  • The experience, usually abrupt and well-marked, is accompanied by intense feelings of joy and exultation.
  • "The soul enamored of My Truth," said God to St. Catherine of Siena, "never ceases to serve the whole world in general."
  • "He who knows about this will know what I say."
    -- Plotinus
  • St. Catherine of Genoa "knew in an instant that which words cannot express."
  • After a mystical experience, one is like a vase from which a precious ointment has been removed, but the aroma long remains. According to St. Augustine, this "fragrance" remains forever with those who have tasted it.
  • The God one sees is not the one of scholars and philosophers.
  • "The woods were vocal with heavenly music."
  • One person described the experience as "waves of fire succeeding one another for more than two hours."
  • A large number of mystics describe the experience as a gift.
  • The person realizes they are now capable of living on higher planes of reality. They are likely to begin giving up petty desires, seeing themselves more as part of a universal reality or consciousness. They start to shed parts of their life which don't reflect this new reality. The begin to reflect a "sweet sanity", a more balanced outlook on life and its purposes, a better distribution of energies. They are escaping the tyranny of selfhood.
  • "Love, and do what you like."
    -- St. Augustine
  • A person gains a deep intuitional knowledge of the "secret plan."
  • Blake thought it his duty to share this knowledge, to help "cleanse the doors of perception," and as a result some thought him mad.
  • Mystics never feel any doubt about the validity of this experience. Their certainty is "invulnerable."
  • St. Victor: "My mind is full of gladness . . . . My intellect is illuminated . . . my desires have become kindly and gentle."
  • Another describes the experience as "goodness unimagined."
  • Mystics are essentially realists, not dreamers.
  • Some have described the experience as their "friend." (As did I, not realizing others had done the same.)
  • It takes, as a rule, an enhanced mental lucidity, revealing a beauty and reality never before suspected.
  • Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) says he looked "into the deepest foundations of things." He adds, "In one quarter hour, I saw and knew more than if I had been many years together at a university."
  • It addresses itself to the whole being, not just the intellect. Regardless, the person becomes "drunk with intellectual vision."
  • Beauty is simply reality seen with the eyes of love.
  • As a man is, so he sees.
  • Platonic ideals, which have annoyed metaphysicians for centuries, suddenly become explicable. The pure, "inviolate rose," for example, can only be seen not with the mind-directed senses but with the eyes of love.
  • This type of illumination is achieved by living in a certain space and attitude. It is not gained by accumulation of knowledge.
  • The test for the validity of a mystical experience is this: over the long haul, does it enhance the quality of a person's life?
  • St. Bridget of Sweden said that the whole substance of her fifth book were given to her "in a flash."
  • Self-expression, once it is divorced from the critical action of the surface intelligence, always tends to assume a dithyrambic (fired with intense feeling) form. It eludes language yet can be communicated by rhythm.
  • The experience is "pure apprehension." It is "more clear than the sun."
  • It can be described, as it were, as a "love letter received by an ardent soul." It plays "the most sweet melody."
  • Regarding the literary work of the great mystics, their creative power is largely dissociated from the control of the will and the surface intelligence.
  • On his deathbed, William Blake stated that the credit for his works belonged not to himself, but to his "celestial friends."
  • When St. Teresa wrote like this, she was "filled with astonishment." She wrote with incredible speed, never stopping to erase or correct. When she wrote, others said her face shone with an unearthly splendor.
  • A mystical experience is the establishment of a certain harmony between the created self and that Reality whose invitation it has heard.
  • Unless they be backed by discipline, these sudden and isolated flashes of inspiration will not long avail for the production of great works.
  • The education that tradition has ever prescribed for the mystic consists in the gradual development of an extraordinary faculty of concentration, of focus, of contemplation. Our ingrowing concentration is balanced by a great outgoing sense of expansion.
  • Let your soul be in your eyes. You'll develop a strange and deepening quietness, a slowing down of our feverish mental time. You'll shift into that blank abiding place where busy, clever reason cannot come.
  • The best end of traditional education is merely the perfection of knowledge -- and a delightful complacency in it.
  • "Think not before what thou shall do after."
  • Leave off doing, that you may be. Leave off analysis, that you may know.
  • Personality is not lost; only its hard edge is gone. The part of our intellect that likes to over-categorize things is silenced.
  • If the easel is unsteady, the artist is unable to create a portrait true to its subject.
  • The soul is now more ready to respond to what's asked of it from above and beyond.
  • The high levels which are seen are dark to the intellect but radiant to the heart.
  • The experience is an exercise in love in which "thought into song is turned." It is less observed than it is participated in.
  • He asked, "Where have I been?" and was answered, "In the upper school of the Holy Spirit . . . . Even your physical nature has been transfigured."
    -- Rulman Merswin (1310-1382), Book of the Nine Rocks
  • Plotinus (205-270 AD), a mystic and much more, was as celebrated for his practical kindness and robust common sense as for his transcendent intuitions of the One.
  • If we examine ourselves inwardly we'll see we still have much self-will that gets in the way of higher states of awareness and purpose. It is said of the blessed that they are stripped of their personal initiative.
  • St. Teresa found that her order of Mount Carmel was hopelessly corrupt. In abject poverty, she founded new houses for nuns, to the accompaniment of an almost universal mockery. Mysteriously, as she proceeded, novices of the spiritual life appeared and clustered around her.
  • A mystic is called to return to his life and "incarnate the Eternal in time." He is at once patient yet efficacious. He often displays a delicate playfulness while those around him are "serious." He is free from the taint of solemnity and self-importance. The music of the spheres is all about him, though it may sound frivolous to worldly ears.
  • The 14th century -- a golden age of mystical literature -- was as much the classic moment for the spiritual history of our race as the 13th was for the history of Gothic, or the 15th for that of Italian art.
  • Dante forced human language to express one of the most sublime visions of the Absolute that has ever been crystallized into words.
  • One of the greatest mystics the world has ever known was John Ruysbroeck (1293-1381).

"The more I practice the luckier I get."
-- Arnold Palmer


"Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy."
-- John Dewey

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."
- Aldous Huxley


From “The Worldwide Laws of Life” (1997) by John Marks Templeton
The author is apparently a businessman who eagerly slapped down his occasionally sparkling pearls of wisdom into 500 rambling pages.
  • The world operates on spiritual principles that aren't shaped by opinion or whim. They are impartial, and apply everywhere. They work without prejudice or bias. These laws are self-enforcing and are not dependent on human authority. (Excellent start.)
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson: Great men are they who see that the spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world.
  • Gandhi: A coward is incapable of exhibiting love. It is the prerogative of the brave.
  • Anais Nin: What I cannot love, I overlook. Is that real friendship?
  • It isn't enough to merely verbalize words. You have to feel what you're saying.
  • "He drew a circle that shut me out --
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flaunt.
    But love and I had the wit to win;
    We drew a circle and took him in.
    -- Edwin Markham, Outwitted (American poet, 1852-1940)
  • Thomas Edison had this sign hanging in his study: "It is remarkable to what lengths people will go to avoid thought."
  • George Washington Carver: Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.
  • Samuel Johnson (1709-84): Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation. You do not find it among gross people.
  • Moorish proverb: He who is afraid of a thing gives it power over him.
  • Hatred and loathing are forms of fear.
  • From the Dhamapada, a collection of ancient Buddhist poems: If a man speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows him as a wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the cart.
  • Pythagoras: Wisdom, thoroughly learned, will never be forgotten.
  • Have you ever observed that there are people who seem to have modified their egos, those who desire to give rather than get? In a sense, they have become "unselfed." This opens the door to communication with God.
  • Abraham Lincoln: I will study and get ready and someday my chance will come.
  • The Tao Te Ching can be translated as "how things work."
  • Old African proverb: He who forgives ends the quarrel.
  • Goethe: Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute . . . what you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Only engage, and then the mind grows heated. Begin it, and the work will be completed.
  • Beethoven: From the glow of enthusiasm I let the melody escape. I pursue it. Breathless, I catch up with it. It flies again, it disappears, it plunges into the chaos of diverse emotions. I catch it again, I seize it, I embrace it with delight . . . . I multiply it by modulations and at the last, I triumph in the first theme. There is the whole symphony. (Modulate: to alter the pitch or the stress of word or phrase to convey a certain meaning more precisely. In music, this can be accomplished by changing keys.)
  • True prosperity does not come by getting more but by giving more.
  • Helen Keller: Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambitions inspired, and success achieved.
  • Fear is the basis for many of the mistakes we make. It exists in our lower physical consciousness.
  • Where your attention goes, your energy flows.
  • Thoughts held in mind will reproduce in the outer world after their own kind.
  • If you reflect love, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, people will seek you out.
  • Aristotle: The intellect by itself moves nothing.
  • St. Francis: Great heroes are humble.
  • Christ: It is not I but the Father within that does the works.
  • From the First Imam of the Sh'ia branch of Islam: Hide the good you do, and make known the good done to you.
  • Thomas Merton: A humble man can do great things with an uncommon perfection because he is no longer concerned about accidentals, like his own interests and his own reputation, and therefore, he is no longer needing to waste his efforts in defending them.
  • Meher Baba (Indian spiritual leader, 1894-1969): Love and coercion can never go together.
  • Our imagination has been called "the cutting scissors of the mind."
  • Sri Chinmoy (Indian spiritual teacher, born 1931): An unaspiring person believes according to what he achieves. An aspiring person achieves according to what he believes.
  • Some ancient Greeks surrounded prospective mothers with elegant statues, beautiful pictures and lush scenery so that the unborn child would receive the positive vibes from the mind-pictures of the mother.
  • Simone Weil: Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life.
  • Muhammad Ali: A man who has no imagination has no wings.
  • Norman Vincent Peale: Prayer is always answered in one of three ways: Yes, no, or wait awhile.
  • Charles Fillmore (1854-1948): The Law of Attraction -- the law that all conditions and circumstances in affairs and body are attracted to us in accord with the thoughts we hold steadily in consciousness.
  • Twi proverb (West Africa): Ingratitude is sooner or later fatal to its author.
  • Marie Edgeworth: No man ever distinguished himself who could not bear to be laughed at.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964): It is a fundamental rule of life that if the approach is good, the response is good.
  • Chairman Mao: You can't solve a problem? Well, get down and investigate the present facts and the problem's past history. When you have investigated the problem thoroughly, you will know how to solve it.
  • That which you take away from any man, the world will take away from you.
  • Seneca: Eyes will not see when the heart wishes them to be blind.
  • "To willful men, the injuries they procure must be their own schoolmasters."
    -- William Shakespeare, King Lear
  • Act as though you are strongest where you have been weakest.
  • John Tyndall (Irish scientist, 1820-93): The brightest flashes in the world of thought are incomplete until they have been proven to have their counterparts in the world of fact.
  • Einstein: Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
  • Bertrand Russell: Every time I talk to a savant (learned person), I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I'm convinced of the opposite.
  • Old Irish saying: If you see a job that needs doing, that means it's yours to do.
  • Charles Schwab: I have yet to find a man, whatever his situation in life, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he ever would under a spirit of criticism.
  • Goethe: A teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single good action, for one single good poem, accomplishes more than he who fills our memory with rows on rows of natural objects, classified with name and form.
  • Talmud: He who hath compassion upon others receives compassion from heaven.
  • Nehru: Success often comes to those who dare and act. It seldom goes to the timid who are ever afraid of the consequences.
  • Japanese proverb: One kind word can warm three winter months.
  • Emmet Fox (Irish writer, 1886-1951): You can never solve a problem on the same level as the problem.
  • Dr. Irving Oyle: The universe is not opposed to our best interest.
  • Thomas Edison: If you are doing anything the way you did 20 years ago, there is a better way.
  • Emerson: The ancestor to every action is a thought.
  • Dalai Lama: It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for yourself and others.
  • Emerson: Make yourself necessary to the world, and mankind will give you bread.
  • Viktor Frankl: It did not really matter what we expected of life, but rather what life expected of us. (Man's Search for Meaning)
  • From the Buddhist Dhamapada (The Way of the Doctrine): Good people shine from afar, like the peaks of the Himalayas.
  • Gandhi: Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement.
  • Confucius: He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.
  • Rabindranath Tagore (Indian poet, winner of Nobel Peace Prize, 1861-1941): Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.
  • Hsun-Tze (post-Confucian era): If there is no dull and determined effort, there will be no brilliant achievement.
  • Muhammad: No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
  • Marcus Aurelius: No longer talk at all about the kind of man a good man ought to be, but be such.
  • Helen Keller, when asked "Do you close your eyes when you go to sleep?": I never stayed awake to see.
  • Chinese proverb: If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape 100 days of sorrow.
  • T.S. Eliot: At the still point, there the dance is . . . Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
  • Abraham Lincoln was considered a poor and bumbling speaker.
  • Henry Ford: One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to begin again.
  • Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915, author of A Message to Garcia): The line between failure and success is so fine, that we are often on the line and do not know it. (Eliot's still point?)
  • G.K. Chesterton: Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all.
  • Emmet Fox: Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead.
  • St. John Chrysostom (4th century): An insult is either sustained or destroyed not by the disposition of those who insult, but by the disposition of those who hear it.
  • Emerson: Criticism should not be querulous and wasting, all knife and root pulling, but guiding, instructive, inspiring.
  • Bhagavad Gita: Hell has three gates: lust, anger, and greed.
  • Talmud: Worry saps a man's strength. (It certainly saps our focus.)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
  • Abraham Lincoln: Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find a way. (Things get accomplished by those in touch with a sense of purpose.)
  • Leo Tolstoy: Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
  • Oriental proverb: All sunshine makes a desert.
  • Egyptian proverb: For the benefit of the flowers, we water the thorns too.
  • God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • Hildegard of Bingen: When one's thoughts are neither frivolous nor flippant, neither stiff-necked nor stupid, but rather are harmonious, they habitually render physical calm and deep insight.
  • William James: In the dim background of our mind, we know what we ought to be doing, but somehow we cannot start. Every moment we expect the spell to break, but it continues, pulse after pulse, and we float with it.
  • Longfellow: Do not delay. The golden moments fly.
  • Edmund Burke: Our patience will achieve more than our force.
  • Friedrich von Hugel (1852-1925): How greatly we add to our crosses by being cross with them.
  • Publilius Syrus: Valor grows by daring, fear by holding back.
  • Florence Nightingale: I think one's feelings waste themselves in words. They ought all be distilled into actions which bring results.
  • Buckminster Fuller: I consider it essential to pay all my bills in the swiftest manner possible.
  • Einstein: Real human progress depends not so much on inventive ingenuity as on conscience.
  • William James: The greatest use of human life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas made a poor impression on his fellow students, who nicknamed him "the dumb ox."
  • Jean de la Fontaine (1621-95): Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.
  • Thomas Edison: If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves.
  • Mother Theresa: Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier.
  • Anais Nin: Where people fail is that they wish to elect (stagnate in) a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
  • Anwar Sadat: My contemplation of life and human nature in that secluded place (prison) taught me that he who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never, therefore, make any progress.
  • George Herbert (1593-1633): He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.
  • Jonas Salk, when asked who owned the patent to the polio vaccine: The people -- could you patent the sun?
  • Dreamers never see the limiting mirages of so-called fact. Their vision pierces the walls of time.
    -- Rebecca Clark, Breakthrough (1977)
  • Henry Ward Beecher: Where a man has a strong and large benevolence (sense of purpose), he will always be busy, and pleasantly so.
  • Thomas Edison: I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.
  • Marilyn Ferguson (author of The Aquarian Conspiracy): The difference between transformation by accident and transformation by a system is the difference between lightening and a lamp. Both illuminate, but one is dangerous and unreliable while the other is directed, available.
  • It's the law: give first, then receive. Not vice-versa.
  • Thomas a Kempis: Be grateful for the smallest thing, and you will be worthy to receive something grander.
  • Mother Theresa: I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Love is the talisman (good-luck charm) of human weal (well-being) and woe -- the open-sesame to every soul.

From the “Tao Te Ching”, translated by Stephen Hodge (2002)

  • To translate 'tao' as "the way" is probably inaccurate. Let's use a loose term: "guiding principle."
  • For Confucius, the most important virtue was one of benevolence or kindness, as this is one of the defining characteristics of heaven itself. Confucius also introduced another virtue -- li -- usually translated as "propriety", though it has the wider connotation of morality. (Morality in the sense of acting appropriately to the needs of the space in front of us.)
  • When we achieve a state of integration with the natural guiding principle, not relying upon selective deeming (thinking too much), our minds become free of bias. We can now perceive what is needed through the clarity of intuitive discernment and then act spontaneously in accordance with that vision.
  • A Tao that is constant does not deem (think too much / rely too much upon belief / be overly opinionated), yet there is no lack of deeming. (It doesn't resist deeming if and when it arises.)
  • Rare are those in the world who can comprehend wordless instruction. Those who have understanding don't have learning, and vice versa.
  • Wise instructors are dressed in rough clothing. They speak without artifice.
  • Because the Tao never esteems itself to be great, it is able to accomplish greatness.
  • Like the ocean, great leaders make themselves lowly so they can accommodate all people.
  • When we have a dim awareness that life is not the way it should be, that's when the Tao is making itself felt in the deep recesses of our being.
  • When your being is in harmony with the natural tao, you act as a magnet that attracts people to you without the need for assertive behavior.
  • The word used in ancient Chinese for the 'self' literally meant the whole body -- not just the physical body but one's whole being, including the mind.
  • Great directness seems bent, great advances seem like setbacks, great skill seems clumsy.
  • The goodness of activity lies in its timeliness. (What works right now may not have worked five minutes ago, nor can we delay at the moment that action -- or even refraining from action -- needs to be taken. Theodore Roosevelt said pretty much the same thing in one of his famous quotes: "Nine-tenths of wisdom consists in being wise in time." Said General George S. Patton: "A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.")
  • What is firmly established cannot be uprooted.
  • Since the wise do not contend with anybody, there is nobody who can contend with them.
  • The natural Tao displays great economy of action. It never does anything more or less than what is required for the moment.

From “Everyday Grace” (2002) by Marianne Williamson

  • I (the author) have always had a sense that something is missing in this world -- that at the very least there is something important we're not discussing. I believe that hunger for a "lost dimension" of experience is a natural yearning in all of us, and it doesn't go away just because we ignore it.
  • We have a power in us, but not of us.
  • Only love has the power to alter the subtler vibrations of human energy, for love transforms events on the level of consciousness, and consciousness is the level of true cause. (Similar to one of the main points from Thich Nhat Hanh as he talks about mindfulness.) The world outside us is a world of effects, so to merely change things within that world is to ultimately change nothing.
  • Every problem reflects an unforgiveness.
  • The role of the mystic is to find the love, and reveal the love, that lies latent in every circumstance.
  • Does the mortal mind deserve the adoration it receives, and the Mind of God such weak allegiance?
  • According to the ancient Egyptians, the purpose of our lives is to preserve order in the cosmos. (Shades of Buckminster Fuller as he describes mankind's anti-entropic function.)
  • People around us, once we have shown more faith in them, show up for us more powerfully than we had thought them capable.
  • When we choose not to be an angel, the angels in our midst depart. People will tend to be to us what we have decided to be to them. (This doesn't quite seem to tell the whole story. What about people who have deliberately chosen a dark path?)
  • That which is love cannot withhold love.
  • The miracle worker remembers a part of someone that they themselves have forgotten.
  • When someone has forgotten their love, they fall asleep to who they are.
  • People telepathically register your real thoughts, regardless of whether you're consciously aware of them or not.
  • Gandhi stressed that in all our doings, the end is inherent within the means. How we do something is just as important as what we're trying to do. Ultimately, whatever we accomplish will be determined by how we do it. Integrity, faith and compassion determines the outcome of a situation more powerfully than the mortal mind admits.
  • We can safely place our lives in the hands of God. Yet the ego stands guard, afraid we'll break free of our self-destructive patterns.
  • The mind of someone who regularly prays and meditates is literally a different one.
  • We don't need to push life so much as we need to experience it more elegantly, to be motivated more by inspiration than by ambition.
  • The tenor of your being, rather than your doing, is what establishes the pathways of energy than run through our life experience.
  • He cannot take from us what we will not release to Him.
    -- A Course in Miracles
  • We try to understand someone in order to decide whether or not they're worthy of our love, but until we love them we cannot understand them.
    -- A Course in Miracles
  • Do I prefer to be right or to be happy?
    -- A Course in Miracles
  • The Holy Spirit will respond fully to your slightest invitation.
    -- A Course in Miracles
  • We can be either host to God or hostage to the ego.
    -- A Course in Miracles
  • The Holy Spirit has sometimes been called "The Comforter."
  • God will outwit our self-hatred.
    --A Course in Miracles
  • To place a situation in the hands of God is to place our thinking there. We are asking that the possibilities of the present, not the mistakes of the past, guide our perceptions of each other and ourselves.
  • A relationship is reborn whenever we see someone as they are right now and don't hold them to who they were. Focusing on the present, not the past, is essential to the experience of grace.
  • Relationships represent assignments made by Divine Intelligence, bringing together those who represent the greatest opportunities for learning from each other. In every relationship, there's an endless stream of potential healing, both for the people joined in the original encounter and for countless others they will each meet in turn. In A Course in Miracles, they are referred to as "laboratories of the Holy Spirit." (Shades of Edgar Cayce.)
  • Anger does nothing more than deplete our personal power.
  • "Only amateurs stay mad."
    -- Jacqueline Kennedy
  • "Whoever is saner at the time" can call upon the Holy Spirit to enter a relationship.
    -- A Course in Miracles
  • It has been said that when the Buddha arrives again, he will arrive not as a person but as a community.
  • "Phase lock" is a scientific phenomenon in which individual oscillating rhythms fall into a deep pattern of energetic resonance. Science says it doesn't always happen, of course, but significantly, it is always trying to happen.

From "The Power of Positive Thinking" (1952) by Norman Vincent Peale
An established classic that still holds up.
  • This book teaches a "hard, disciplinary way of life." (Disciplinary in the sense I like most.)
  • How can one make a sale if he drives up to a person's place of business thinking he's not going to make it?
  • "Attitudes are more important than facts."
    -- psychiatrist Karl Menninger
  • The mind always tries to complete what it pictures.
  • "Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves."
    -- Thomas Carlisle
  • The deeper sounds of God are to be found in the essence of silence.
  • Thomas Edison had a habit of coming into his house from the laboratory after many hours and lying down on his old couch. He'd fall into a deep sleep for three to five hours. Then he'd become instantly wide awake, completely refreshed, eager to return to work.
  • "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small." (Longfellow) The mills of most of us grind very rapidly, so they grind poorly.
  • If you drop a prayer into the subconscious at the moment of its greatest relaxation, the prayer has a powerful effect.
  • Dr. Frank Laubach, author of Prayer, the Mightiest Power in the World, says he often changed the entire atmosphere of a car or bus full of people by the process of "swishing love and prayers all around the place."
  • "Where love is, God is."
    -- Leo Tolstoy
  • From a university rowing coach: "To win this or any race, row slowly." Rapid rowing tends to break the stroke, and when the stroke is broken it is with the greatest difficulty that a crew recovers the rhythm necessary to win. Meanwhile other crews pass the disorganized group.
  • William James: "Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that insures the successful outcome of your venture." A sustained expectation of the best sets in motion forces which cause it to materialize. In sports, a negative attitude can freeze up muscles and throw off your timing.
  • Nothing can stand in the way of a person who throws his entire self at a situation. Results do not yield themselves to the person who refuses to give of himself for the desired results.
  • Most athletes, to some degree or other, are "holdouts." They always keep something in reserve and don't invest themselves 100% in competition. Throw your heart into a situation and the body will follow.
  • What you expect is what you really want.
  • Thomas Jefferson: "Always take hold of things by the smooth handle." Go at a situation by the route that will encounter the least resistance.
  • The word 'worry' is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning "to choke." Not infrequently, worry is a major factor in cases of arthritis.
  • "We fear not only in our minds but in our hearts, brains and viscera, that whatever the cause of fear or worry, the effect can always be noted in the cells, tissues and organs of the body."
    -- surgeon George Crile
  • The greatest minds have the best ability to be simple.
  • An outburst of anger can increase one's blood pressure by up to 60 points, almost instantaneously.
  • Chronic victims of pains and aches in the muscles and joints may be suffering from nursing a smoldering grudge against someone close to them. These people are usually totally unaware they bear a chronic resentment.
    -- Dr. Edward Weiss, Temple Medical School
  • "A man is what he thinks about all day long."
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The power of positive visualization is one of the greatest laws in the universe.
  • Look upon these thoughts and goals as already having been achieved. When you elevate your thoughts into the area of visualized attainment you look down upon your problems rather than from below up at them. Thus you get a much more encouraging view of them. Never approach a problem from below.
  • If it is God's will and is worthwhile, not selfishly sought after but for human good, it is at that moment given you.
  • God cannot give you anything greater than you are equipped by faith to receive. "According to your faith, be it unto you." (Matthew 9:29)
  • Branch Rickey, the baseball executive responsible for bringing Jackie Robinson into the majors, would bench any player he found guilty of "over-pressing." On the contrary, success in the major leagues requires a flow of easy power through every action. The muscles must be flexible. Try to kill the ball and you will slice it or miss it altogether, and this applies equally true in golf.
  • It isn't the length of relaxation time that produces power, it's the quality of the experience.
  • William James: "One of the deepest drives of human nature is the desire to be appreciated."

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."
-- Voltaire


"The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it."
-- Lou Holtz


"Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts."
-- Talleyrand


From "The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking" (1959) by Norman Vincent Peale
  • A positive thinker does not refuse to recognize the negative, he refuses to dwell on it.
  • When we do wrong to others, we punish ourselves with failures in other areas of life.
  • In sales, when you stop dominating a situation you give the customer a chance to say 'yes' much sooner than before.
  • Unselfish giving makes real receiving possible.
  • Only a few racehorses really try to win. Says Eddie Arcaro, famous jockey: "Seventy percent of them don’t want to win."
  • We seldom give ourselves the extra push that penetrates below the first layer of fatigue to where vast untapped power lies. The secret is in putting your whole mind into it. Regarding your situation, are you tackling it well, or just well enough to get by? You have to let go of that last 5% of yourself. Believe that God built extra strength into you that you haven't been using.
  • In the performing arts, project an attitude of love to your audience and see what happens.
  • Many of us listen to words, but not to the harsher language of behavior and therefore are blundering in our human relations.
  • Most of us talk too much when people come to us with a problem. We try to give advice whereas more often the thing that is needed is silence and the ability to transmit to the other person the sense of patient, understanding love.
  • Dr. Henry Link, a psychologist, would never see a patient who was in a state of depression without making them walk briskly around the block ten times. "This will exercise the motor centers of the brain, and the blood will flow away from the emotional-activity center. When you come back, you will be much more rational and receptive to positive thoughts."
  • To receive the good things in life, you must first give. Hoarding blocks the flow.
  • "Bacteria and other microorganisms find it easier to infect people who worry and fret."
    -- Dr. Leo Rangell, clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA
  • Most fear is an unreal bluffing of the imagination.
  • Profound prayer is not easy or superficial. It is like drilling for deep water.
  • In prayer, we receive what we think, not necessarily say.
  • The practice of quietness is an important ritual in Japan. It is sometimes called ryomi. In English the word can be translated as "the taste of coolness" or "a refreshing."
  • Every problem has a soft spot from which it can be approached.
  • Difficulties are stimulators of growth. Says the Russian proverb: "The hammer shatters glass but forges steel."
  • Consciously tense your whole body. Notice how much energy this takes up.
  • St. Paul: "This one thing I do." (Philippians 3:13)
  • "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not thyself." (Psalm 37:7)
  • Choose a goal, picture yourself accomplishing it, then plan backward until you know exactly where and when you must start.
  • "If you get angry you will quickly get old."
    -- Balinese proverb
  • The words 'meditate' and 'medicate' are virtually identical in root meaning.
  • The word 'health' comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'wholth,' which is also the root of the word 'wholeness' and 'holy.' Holiness means to be a whole person, not a disorganized one, more than it means to be pious.
  • Plato: "So neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul."
  • In marriage, the average time needed for two people to adjust to each other is six years.
  • One of the great mistakes of formal education is that it does not value intuitive knowledge.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
-- Einstein


"But it still moves, just the same."
-- Galileo, muttering under his breath, after he just recanted his statement that the earth moves in space. (According to Buckminster Fuller, his accusers probably knew Galileo was telling the truth.)


A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds 'bout to religion.
-- Sir Francis Bacon


From "Wisdom of the Ages" (1998) by Wayne Dyer
  • Many of the profound teachers throughout time were considered troublemakers.
  • "To give no trust is to get no trust." -- Lao Tzu
  • "Infinite patience produces immediate results."
    -- A Course in Miracles
  • When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds . . . Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive.
    -- Patanjali (1st to 3rd century BC)
  • "Go some distance away, because the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen."
    -- Leonardo da Vinci
  • "The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."
    -- Michelangelo
  • The original Greek meaning of the word "enthusiasm" is "a god within."
  • It's the silence between the notes that makes the music.
  • "I haven't failed. Today I know 25,000 ways not to make a battery."
    -- Thomas Edison
  • The chemical composition of tears of joy differs dramatically from the composition of tears of sadness. Says Deepak Chopra: "Happy thoughts make happy molecules."
  • Voltaire: "In laughter there is always a kind of joyousness that is incompatible with contempt or indignation."
  • "Time spent laughing is time spent with the gods."
    -- ancient Oriental proverb
  • William James: "There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking." We think not in words but in mental images.
  • It is alright, if not mature, to hold in mind the dichotomy that we are in charge and aren't in charge at the same time.
  • Bhagavad Gita: "While the unwise work for the fruits of their actions, the wise offer all the results of their action to Me." (Do what must be done, and let the universe take care of the details.)
  • "If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too . . .
    If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim . .
    -- Rudyard Kipling, If
  • Characteristics of highly functional people, of "self-actualizers":
    - Appreciation for beauty
    - Sense of purpose
    - Resistance to enculturation
    - High enthusiasm
    - Inner directedness
    - Welcoming the unknown
    - Detachment from outcome
    - Not dependent on other people's opinion
    - Little need to exert control over others
  • Highly functioning people have an uncanny ability to shut out the past and future. They look you in the eye and you know you have their full attention.
  • "Once you label me, you negate me."
    -- Soren Kierkegaard
  • It was said of Buddha and Jesus Christ that just their presence in a village, and nothing more, would raise the consciousness of those around them.
  • Chinese proverb: The sage does not talk. The talented ones talk, and the stupid ones argue.
  • Mother Theresa: There should be less talk. A preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone's house. That says enough.

"Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication."
-- Leonardo da Vinci


"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer


From "Bio-Spirituality" (1985) by Peter Campbell and Edwin McMahon
The authors are priests from Colorado.
  • Have you ever noticed how thinking remains outside that which is thought?
  • Stress siphons away our capacity for accurate judgment.
  • Carl Rogers once noted that the most accurate scientific instrument available on this planet is the human organism functioning non-defensively in the presence of a problem.
  • Let's aim for a delicate balance between purposeful striving and letting go of the reins. No matter how hard you paddle, a canoe can't change the flow of a river.
  • For centuries, various spiritual traditions have identified a blocking experience of the mind as the central issue in spiritual growth.
  • Letting go of the reins is more like being carried. It is a different psychological stance, a different physical feeling. Your center somehow changes; it becomes less precise and broad in scope. All of a sudden it includes more. You feel and respond out of something bigger than your ability to control. You begin not so much as to solve problems but rather to gain a new perspective. There is a difference between solutions we think out in our minds versus gifted resolutions.
  • Ego is that part of our experience that always tries to be in control.
  • The tolerance for and restoration of inner process is the vehicle for transformation.
  • Kairos is a Greek word that can possibly be translated as a "thickening" of time -- those moments when we are more here now. It does not refer to linear time as such.
  • "Behold, now is the acceptable time (kairos)."
    -- 2 Corinthians 6:2
  • Specialization is effectively a control system that can maximize individual and species survival, but at the cost of sacrificing more open-ended awareness. Specialization chokes off adaptability.
  • Likewise, success often limits flexibility. Attitudes and approaches harden.
  • The Bible speaks of metanoia -- conversion -- a return to the way. To do otherwise is to live in a state of sin.
  • The simplest way to get out of the mind is to get into the body.

Buddhism compares the untrained mind to a chattering monkey, jumping from one thought to the next.


"Punctuality is the politeness of kings."
-- Louis XVII


"The roots of education are bitter, but the fruits are sweet." -- Aristotle


"All great truths begin as blasphemies."
- George Bernard Shaw


From "The Vein of Gold" (1996) by Julia Cameron
I couldn't find one single original thought in this supposed guide to jogging one's creative impulses. However, the quotes are good.
  • "We are so captivated by and entangled in our subjective consciousness that we have forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions."
    -- Carl Jung
  • "Only a mediocre writer is always at his best."
    -- W. Somerset Maugham
  • "Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."
    -- Sigmund Freud
  • "Solvitur ambulando. (It is solved by walking.)"
    -- St. Augustine
  • "We do not learn by experience, but by our capacity for experience."
    -- Buddha
  • "Be compassionate, as your Creator is compassionate."
    -- Jesus
  • "We are healed of our suffering only by experiencing it to the full."
    -- Marcel Proust
  • "Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about."
    -- W.H. Auden
  • "As a rule, it was the pleasure-haters who became unjust."
    -- W.H. Auden
  • "Music has the capacity to touch the innermost reaches of the soul, and music gives flight to the imagination."-- Plato
  • The man that hath no music in himself,
    Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
    Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
    The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
    And his affections dark as Erebus.
    Let no such man be trusted."
    -- Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
  • "No man, however civilized, can listen very long to African drumming, or Indian chanting, or Welsh hymn singing and retain intact his critical and self-conscious personality."
    -- Aldous Huxley
  • "Lovers and men of intellect cannot mix."
    -- Rumi
  • "If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time insight into and understanding of many things."
    -- Vincent van Gogh
  • "It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity."
    -- Publilius Syrus (first century BC)
  • "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and learn to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answer, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke
  • "I realized that my music had gotten stuck because I was trying to prove something. Too much ego in it. I hadn't stepped out of the way."
    -- W.A. Mathieu, The Listening Book
  • "Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does."
    -- Epictetus
  • "We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough."
    -- Helen Keller
  • "Make haste slowly."
    -- Augustus Caesar
  • "Motion is the significance of life, and the law of motion is rhythm."
    -- Hazrat Inayat Khan
  • "The quieter you become, the more you can hear."
    -- Baba Ram Dass
  • "Though shalt decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways."
    -- Job 22:28
  • "The beginnings of things are weak and tender. We must therefore be clear-sighted in beginnings."
    -- Montaigne
  • "All higher-self communication begins in the heart."
    -- Sanaya Roman (channeler of Orin)
  • "The sage is one who has first discovered what is common in our hearts."
    -- Mencius
  • "Loneliness is the way by which destiny endeavors to lead man to himself."
    -- Hermann Hesse
  • "Too much agreement kills a chat."
    -- Eldridge Cleaver
  • "When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate."
    -- Carl Jung
  • "No more words. Hear only the voice within."
    -- Rumi
  • "There are unknown forces within nature; when we give ourselves totally to her, without reserve, she leads them to us; she shows us those forms which our watching eyes do not see, which our intelligence does not understand or suspect."
    -- Auguste Rodin
  • "The Creator is Author of all arts that are truly arts."
    -- John the Scot
  • "Matter is transparent and malleable in relation to spirit."
    -- Teilhard de Chardin
  • "Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature."
    -- St. Augustine
  • "The Holy Spirit is our harpist, and all strings which are touched in love must sound."
    -- Mechtild of Magdeburg (German mystic, 1207-1282)
  • "What sort of God would it be who only pushed from without?"
    -- Goethe
  • For nothing worth proving can be proven
    Nor yet disproven; wherefore thou be wise
    Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt
    -- Tennyson
  • "I saw the music!"
    -- David Tame (writer/musicologist)
  • God, guard me from those thoughts
    Men think in the mind alone.
    He that sings a lasting song
    Thinks in the marrow-bone.
    -- William Butler Yeats

"Long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: the less people know and understand about them, the more positively they attempt to argue concerning them, while on the other hand to know and understand a multitude of things renders men cautious in passing judgment upon anything new."
-- Galileo


"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
-- Galileo


"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


From "50 Spiritual Classics" (2005) by Tom Butler-Bowdon
While still informative, especially as a guide toward further reading, this one doesn't pack quite the punch of the author's earlier works, 50 Self-Help Classics and 50 Success Classics. (Both books are looked at on the previous page.)
  • At some point in their lives, many spiritual leaders through history reached a similar moment of realization: that fulfillment lies not in incremental improvement of one's self but rather a total transformation of personal identity.
  • While for some people enlightenment is certainly a goal, if not a holy grail, the greater truth is that spiritual awareness points one back to the mundane matters of simple everyday life. In addition, greater awareness of God often boils down to stripping away our layers of misperception.
  • According to William James, religion can be described as the belief (or subtle awareness) that there is an unseen order in life, in the universe, and our supreme good lies in harmonious adjustment to this order.
  • "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
    -- Proverbs 19:21
  • Self-knowledge is the discovery of what God intends us to be.
  • Paradoxically, it is through losing our "small self," or ego, that our greatest personal power is attained.
  • "Seek truth in meditation, not in moldy books. To find the moon, look to the sky, not the pond."
    -- Persian proverb
  • Muhammad Asad (1900-1992) was born Leopold Weiss in Poland. At an early age he expressed discomfort with the notion of Jews being the "chosen people," a belief he felt was exclusionary. He also took issue with the second-class status accorded to Arabs in Palestine. Asad perceptively noticed that materialism is often the enemy of a sense of community, a sense of connectedness that can extend throughout a neighborhood, town, region, or even a nation. In contrast to the individualism that was prized in Europe, he felt Islam bestowed more of a community consciousness upon its followers.
  • St. Augustine (354-430), complains in his Confessions that elegant speech and writing skills are deemed more important than moral teaching (or the development of character, a mindset that still holds today). He felt particularly disturbed by one episode from his youth, when he and his friends shook down pears from a tree and ran off with them -- not because they were hungry but just for fun. For Augustine, it was an early example of living a life without conscience. He believed it required humility to truly understand the Bible. As an adult he became a teacher of rhetoric, but eventually grew disgusted with its emphasis on style over content. Eventually he felt that his great learning and intelligence did not lead him any closer to real truth, nor did his sensual lifestyle.
  • Richard Maurice Burke (1837-1901) was a Canadian psychiatrist. During a visit to England, he received a "flash of awareness" that the universe is not dead matter but fully alive, that all things work toward an eventual good, and that the basic principle of the universe is love. With such an experience or awareness at the forefront of one's consciousness, fear and doubt begin to fade away. He began to study characteristics of those who had also achieved such illumination, finding that many of them enjoyed solitude and demonstrated little interest in money. People such as this also recognize others who have experienced similar heights, although they may find it difficult to put a finger on the situation. (Just as we experience a hard-to-describe "double take" when we meet up with another person whose soul is highly developed.)
  • Fritjof Capra wrote the influential Tao of Physics in 1976. He relayed some of the findings of quantum physics and the work of Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr. For instance, what we perceive as solids are structures composed of mostly empty space, with particles in a state of frenzied vibration. Particles are not really objects, but are rather the observable indications of reactions and interconnections. Physical objects are simply "transient manifestations of the underlying Void." (It may follow that when we cling to material things, we're attaching ourselves to something that's transient to begin with.) Further, Heisenberg's famous principle states that our method of examining something often determines the conclusion: "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." (I still struggle with this concept, some 25 years after first hearing about it.) Said the Upanishads: "When the mind is disturbed, the multiplicity of things is produced, but when the mind is quieted, the multiplicity of things disappears." It follows that when we begin to perceive differently, the world literally changes right before our eyes. (Some sources describe miracles less as "inexplicable events" and more as changes of one's perception and outlook on the matter.)
  • In Journey to Ixtlan (1972), Carlos Castaneda comes to grip with the fact that death ever lurks -- too many of us believe we have "plenty of time" to sort matters out. He realizes that this belief -- that life can be confronted at some later time -- has turned him into a timid half-man.
  • Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun who wrote The Places that Scare You in 2001. She says some of us never realize we can get more relief from fully experiencing our discomforts as opposed to trying to eliminate them immediately. We always want to "take the edge off the moment," which keeps us in the cycle of dissatisfaction called samsara. She also writes that to make our love stronger, we need to work the muscles of the heart. (I've also heard intention described as a muscle that must be woken up and exercised.)
  • From the Taoist Book of Chuang Tzu (4th century AD): "Do not be full of schemes." (I believes this statement applies whether we use 'scheme' in the sense of simple 'plan' or the additional connotation of craftiness.) People attuned to the Tao can often appear detached -- (perhaps they're looking at the big picture and how it interrelates, rather than the immediate goal. Perhaps they're also subtly aware of how this current lifetime is a continuation of past ones and a preparation for future ones, so they're less fixated on an immediate gland slam.) "Actionless action" is when our behavior proceeds in accordance with the Tao, not in pursuit of our agenda. The effective person doesn't pretend to be their own source of light for the world; they act as a channel of light. This requires humility, of being "empty and plain" rather than chasing fulfillment. (Humble: reflective, deferential, not overly assertive, unpretentious, personal pride held in check. We are not talking about being a timid churchmouse here.)
  • "For this is your duty, to act well the part that is given to you. But to select the part, that belongs to someone else."
    -- Epictetus (55-135 AD)
  • "Love nothing but that which comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?"
    -- Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD)
    (This kind of makes life easier, to handle well what's in front of us.)
  • Mahatma Gandhi discovered the principle of satyagraha, whose action is based on a detached stubbornness that gains strength from the quality of its principles.
  • Ghazzali (1058-1111), of northern Iran, recalled the claim of Sufi mystics that higher states of consciousness made reasoning worthless (or at least put it in perspective). He was known in Europe as Algazel. It is knowledge of the heart that provides a true awareness of why we're here on earth. He said that when we're ruled by our passions, it's as if we "hand over an angel to the power of a dog."
  • "When love beckons you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep."
    -- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
  • "Love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course."
    -- Gibran
    (Love also helps us choose our words, if we put the intention of pure love at the forefront.)
  • Gurdjieff (1877-1949), wrote that an evolved person always displays a certain detachment, more at ease with themselves even in difficult circumstances. He felt the modern European mind had become dominated by thinking at the expense of instinct and feeling.
  • "Success -- for the glory of God or for your own, for the peace of mankind or for your own? Upon the answer to this question depends the result of your actions."
    -- former U.N. secretary general Dag Hammarskjold
    (A helpful guidepost for those of us who believe that success in itself may be a bad thing.)
  • Hammarskjold believed that living according to a deeply felt purpose enables us to live fully in the present. He also wrote, "How dead a man can be behind a façade of great ability, loyalty -- and ambition! Bless your uneasiness as a sign that there is still life in you." He also observed that the ego doesn't like commitment or opening itself up to vulnerability, but only by doing so can we make real progress in both the spiritual and professional realms.
  • Aldous Huxley believed that creativity and imagination were not products of the mind. They were more the result of a lifting of a veil that allows us to see beyond the self. Huxley died on the same day as C.S. Lewis and John F. Kennedy.
  • "The potentialities of development in human souls are unfathomable. So many who seemed irretrievably hardened have in point of fact been softened, converted, regenerated, in ways that amazed the subjects even more than they surprised the spectators."
    -- William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902, and discussed later on this page)
  • James stated that religion need not be a worship of a God. It can simply be a belief in an unseen order, to which our task is to harmoniously adjust ourselves.
  • Carl Jung wrote that modern people are too objective, our spiritual horizons too narrow. Our lives are lived almost entirely on the plane of the conscious, rational mind. Were we to close the gap between our ego and unconscious minds, Jung believed we would return to full mental health. Jung also wrote of the concept of synchronicity -- apparent coincidences that transcend the boundaries of normal probability.
  • Krishnamurti (1895-1985) taught that the mind cannot solve problems when it is preoccupied with them. By shutting off our mind, elegant solutions can appear. "You can be creative only when there is abandonment -- which means, really, when there is no sense of compulsion."
  • The word kabbalah means "receiving." It teaches that the actions of everyday life either promote or impede our awareness of divinity.
  • In The Way of the Peaceful Warrior (1980), Dan Millman points out how most of us think we are our thoughts. We defend these thoughts as if they're treasures, even if they don't work. Happiness that results from the satisfaction of cravings is the happiness of a fool.
  • In The Journey of Souls (1994), Michael Newton describes what a soul experiences between human lifetimes. He points out that the people we consider important to us in life have most likely been close to us in other lives, hence the feeling we sometimes get of having known a person before, even when we've just met. In our lives, the strength of human emotion can easily overwhelm the quiet urgings of the soul, or conscience. (Just as Ghazzali said, above. We're seeing a recurring point: That if we settle down our bodies and our egos, we can tap into this inner message, this truer reality.) Though untold millions of people have searched for "the meaning of life," Newton states on high authority that the purpose of life is "self-actualization of the soul identity." (This is a fundamental tenet of Edgar Cayce as well. It could also be said that the purpose of our multitude of lifetimes on earth is to determine whether our spiritual orientation is one that reaches out toward others or is focused on self-gain.)
  • Whatever you are doing, writes Thich Nhat Hanh, should be the most important thing for you at that moment. You shouldn't be trying to get it over with. (I've noticed that when I stop trying to get a ho-hum moment or event "over with" and start getting into it, even if by sheer willpower alone, I can sometimes create a "magic space" where things start to hum.) Be fully aware of what the moment needs, and give your attention to the person in front of you. Don't be thinking about some abstraction or what you will do afterwards.
  • In Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World (1997), John O'Donohue writes that the soul is reserved and will reveal its wisdom and provide direction only if we are quiet enough to let it speak. "Your soul has more refined antennae than your mind or ego." He says that taking risks is the path toward true growth of the soul. The ego prefers the status quo and a false sense of permanency.
  • In 1974's classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig points out that if we're angry or unmotivated (low intention), we won't succeed in tuning a machine or finding the solution to a problem.
  • From The Four Agreements (1997) by Miguel Ruiz: What we say is generative. That is, we can use our words to create anger or jealousy, or use them to heal.
  • "Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum."
    -- from A Course in Miracles (1976)
  • "Seekers there are in plenty, but they are almost all seekers of personal advantage. I can find so very few Seekers after Truth."
    -- Saadi of Shiraz, Sufi master (1184 to ~1287)
  • According to Zen master Shunryu Suzuki (1905-71), our actions are normally not generated from the peace of the present moment. They are distorted by desire or ambition, and therefore create more disorder. Everyone thinks the forms are the reality, but they're merely the reflection of what creates them. He points out that 99% of our thinking is about ourselves and our problems.
  • An exemplary scientist and engineer, Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) began having mystical visions in his mid-50s, and he eventually started to write down his experiences of higher realms. He wrote that what we intend is the most fundamental determinant of who we are. He also wrote that there are people who seek the good and the true for the benefit of others, and there are some who seek for themselves under the guise of the good and the true. The former are willing to act for the good of the whole without dwelling on personal gain. He also wrote, from first-hand experience, that heaven is a realm where resources are shared (in contrast to earth, where resources tend to be cornered by force and then doled out at great financial gain to a miniscule few).
  • The mystic saint Teresa of Avila (1515-82) told her readers "not to think much but to love much."
  • "There are many in the world dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love."
    -- Mother Teresa
  • Mother Teresa believed that what people hunger for most is for someone to look them in the eye and extend a warm hand.
  • "When your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly."
    -- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (1999)
    (He appears to be saying that when we stop depending on circumstances to make us happy and start working with the cards that are dealt to us, the hand starts to improve.)
  • Tolle also talks about the fundamental dislike we have toward the present moment. He describes the thinking mind as "an almost continuous low level of unease, discontent, boredom, or nervousness -- a kind of background static." He asks, what is regretfulness: isn't it a lamentation that we weren't more fully present in a situation, more fully "there" in a relationship or opportunity that's now lost?
  • "Ego is constantly attempting to acquire and apply the teachings of spirituality for its own benefit."
    -- Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (1973)
  • Trungpa writes that most of us are little more than bundles of self-protectiveness. Only when we realize this do we stand a chance of breaking out. In its attempt at self-preservation, our ego solidifies itself into a worry/anxiety machine, and we think this is reality. The ego wants us to believe nothing exists outside these parameters. The ego even controls our attempts to lose the ego. When we accept this conundrum, we can let it and ourselves be and look at life as it is without so many mental structures -- beliefs, theories, fantasies -- built up over it.
  • Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations With God, 1995) would sometimes write down private thoughts and eventually reached a point where his pen seemed to take on a life of its own, the voice of God himself if we're so inclined to accept the possibility. Says "God" in one passage, "Go ahead and act on all that you know. But notice that you've all been doing that since time began. And look at the shape the world is in." At another point, his "pen" wrote: "For most of your life you've lived as the effect of your experiences. Now, you're invited to be the cause of them." Also, "You choose constantly the lesser thought, the smaller ideas, the tiniest concept of yourself and your power, to say nothing of Me and Mine." It is one of God's laws that if we truly seek, we find. However, if prayer is based on asking for something we lack, the lack tends to continue. We get what we create as already existing -- we are co-creators with God, not beggars. The way to manifest things is to give thanks that they already exist, whether yet in material form or not. When choosing to have something, God tells Walsch, the Master (the advanced human being) "knows in advance that the deed has been done."
  • In The Purpose Driven Life (2002), Rev. Rick Warren asks readers to loosen their tight grip on life's steering wheel and to let God have a hand. We expand into something greater and look back on our former lives wondering why we wasted so much time. Warren notes that most of us toy with merely improving our lives, when what is available is transformation.
  • Simone Weil, Waiting for God (1951): In a moment of breakthrough, an epiphany if you will, Weil saw that if our heart is really set on it, we don't have to be a genius to find the truth.
  • "Softer than the flower, where kindness is concerned; stronger than the thunder, where principles are at stake."
    -- Vedic description of a "person of God"
  • Says Bhaduri Mahasaya, called the Levitating Saint (20th century): The real renunciants in life are the worldly people. They've given up communion with God in preference for illusory things.
  • Matter is simply concentrated energy.
  • "He is a fool that cannot conceal his wisdom."
    -- Ben Franklin
  • "Every decision you make either moves you toward your personality, or toward your soul."
    -- Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul (1990)
  • Adds Zukav, "When a personality is in full balance, you cannot see where it ends and the soul begins." He notes that the original meaning of the word 'psychology' is "soul knowledge."
  • At the end of the book, the author also lists "50 More Spiritual Classics," including Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill (1911). This book is now sitting on the shelf, awaiting a synopsis on this site.

From "The Mystic Heart" (1999) by Wayne Teasdale
Teasdale is a Catholic monk with a doctorate in theology and 10% of a book in him.
  • Mysticism rearranges energy from within. It promotes a sense of sufficiency and security in who we are now, at this moment. On the other hand, the vices of domination, greed, cruelty and violence stem from a perception of insufficiency and insecurity.
  • Not merely to know or read about it but to actually experience it is the mark of the true mystic.
    -- Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism (1911), described as a classic text in the field
  • Mysticism transcends concepts, it does not perceive events in succession, nor does it consider individual objects as separate from others. (I experienced what we may term as events overlapping; they weren't simultaneous, yet they seemed to wrap around each other. So, contrary to the author's statement, I did experience a degree of succession, like opening a wooden Russian matryoshka doll from the inside out, each new doll revealing a new degree of complexity and awe.)
  • Mystical awareness is sapiential: it deals with the realm of wisdom rather than mere knowledge. (It shows how the parts interrelate.) It grants a precious understanding of ultimate reality, of life itself. (I emphasize the author's word 'grant', because I do feel it is a gift rather than something merely earned.)
  • Some saints and mystics through the ages exhibited the capacity to read hearts, to discern motives, and to gauge a person's spiritual progress.
  • The state is sometimes spoken of as infused contemplation, especially in the Christian tradition.
  • Mystical awareness confers an absolute certitude upon the person experiencing it. Every tradition makes the point that this certitude is undeniable and eternal. One cannot doubt the reality of the experience while in the midst of it. (This is true, without a doubt. It is no illusion, delusion, or mental concoction.)
  • "As the river surrenders itself to the ocean, what is inside Me moves inside you."
    -- Kabir, Indian mystic, 1440-1518
  • "I find myself in the Void, but the Void is totally saturated with Love."
    -- Bede Griffiths, English Benedictine monk, 1906-1993
  • Buddhism is "spiritual, mental auto-eroticism" (mental masturbation).
    -- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later to become Pope Benedict), during an interview with the French weekly L'Express in 1997
    (So much for the prospects of an open mind leading the Vatican.)
  • As Spinoza suggested, the highest kind of knowing unites love and knowledge.
  • "The sage does not accumulate (for himself). The more he expends for others, the more does he possess of his own; the more he gives to others, the more does he have himself."
    -- Tao Te Ching
  • "All mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me. I am part or a particle of God."
    -- Emerson
    (Awareness seemed to flow in successively larger waves, just like on a beach, except that each new wave encircled the previous.)
  • "If your heart were pure then all of nature would be to you a Book of Divine Wisdom."
    -- St. Francis of Assisi
  • "The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical."
    -- Einstein
  • The author writes, "This world is a launching pad!" (Take the hint and don't rush out to find this thing.)
  • "God communicates himself more to the soul more advanced in love, that is, more conformed to his will."
    -- St. John of the Cross
  • (I'm getting that mystical awareness may actually be a visitation from what Christians call the Holy Spirit -- a concept that has mystified me since youth.)
  • Various traditions and persons speak of a "void," a "poverty," a mode of "inaction" which leaves one open to the "spirit" and thus a potential instrument for unusual creativity. We see this concept described by the Sufis, early Tao masters and Zen Buddhists, Rhenish mystics (who included Meister Eckhart), early Franciscans, and St. John of the Cross.
  • "If the doors of perception were cleansed, then everything would appear as it actually is, infinite."
    -- William Blake
    (As the story goes, this is where the rock group The Doors took their name.)

From "The Direct Path" (2000) by Andrew Harvey
A sad excuse for a book on mysticism.
  • You wander from room to room
    Hunting for the diamond necklace
    That is already around your neck!
    -- Rumi
  • Since intelligence only incites you to pride and vanity
    Become a fool, so your heart stays pure.
    Not a fool who wastes his life in playing the idiot
    But a fool who is lost and astounded in Him
    -- Rumi

"Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions."
-- Edgar Cayce


From "Patches of Godlight" (2001) by Jan Karon
This author of fiction has collected the "favorite quotes of Father Tim," one of the characters in her "Mitford Years" series.
  • "Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are 'patches of godlight' in the woods of experience."
    -- C.S. Lewis (a writer of substance who gets trashed by that bombastic blowhard of a literary critic known as Harold Bloom, so we know that Lewis is onto something significant.)
  • He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
    -- Proverbs 11:25
  • One man with beliefs is equal to a thousand with only interests.
    -- John Stuart Mill (I'd substitute the word 'convictions' for beliefs.)
  • As is our confidence, so is our capacity.
    -- William Hazlitt, 1778-1830
  • I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
    -- Helen Keller
  • It is as absurd to pretend that one cannot love the same woman always, as to pretend that a good artist needs several violins to execute a piece of music.
    -- Honore' de Balzac, 1799-1850
  • A good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude.
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875-1926
    (Let's change 'solitude' to: solitary inner spaces that require a high degree of safety to allow themselves any degree of expression. Rilke, by the way, is a poet for the ages.)
  • Talents are best nurtured in solitude. Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.
    -- Goethe
  • Because it is sure of its beauty, the rose makes terrible demands upon us.
    -- Alain Meilland, American rose breeder
  • In many ways doth the full heart reveal
    The presence of the love it would conceal.
    -- Coleridge
  • When you leave this earth you can take nothing you have received . . . but only what you have given.
    -- St. Francis of Assisi
  • Many things I have tried to grasp, and have lost. That which I have placed in God's hands I still have.
    -- Martin Luther
  • Do you watch for the work of God that is to be done in this situation?
    -- Rev. John Yates, Falls Church, Virginia
  • Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way . . . . If you have become bitter and sour, it is because when God gave you a blessing you clutched it for yourself . . . . If you are always taking blessings to yourself and never learn to pour out anything unto the Lord, other people do not get their horizons enlarged through you.
    -- Oswald Chambers, Scottish writer and speaker, 1874-1917
  • Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of good looks.
    -- Charles Dickens
  • A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.
    -- Mark Twain
  • No disguise can long conceal love where it exists, or long feign it where it is lacking.
    -- La Rochefoucauld, 1613-1680
  • He has half the deed done who has made a beginning.
    -- Horace, 65-8 BC
  • Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
    -- Proverbs 16:3
  • To follow Jesus means going beyond the limits of our own comfort and safety. It means receiving our lives as gifts instead of guarding them as possessions.
    -- Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, Piedmont College, Georgia
  • It is very beautiful over there.
    -- last words of Thomas Edison
  • Love must be as much a light as it is a flame.
    -- Thoreau
  • This isn't bad. Tell everyone this really isn't bad at all . . . it's beautiful out there!
    -- last words of Stephen Foster
  • The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.
    -- Moliere
  • Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.
    -- Michelangelo
  • Those who wish to succeed must ask the right preliminary questions.
    -- Aristotle, Metaphysics
  • You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "You're right! I never would've thought of that!"
    -- Dave Barry
  • The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
    -- Lord Macaulay, 1800-59
  • The best men are often molded out of faults.
    --Shakespeare
  • Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
    -- Helen Keller
  • A man who cannot find tranquility within himself will search for it in vain elsewhere.
    -- La Rochefoucauld, 1613-1680
  • Grace is indeed needed to turn a man into a saint, and he who doubts it doesn't not know what a saint or a man is.
    -- Pascal, 1623-62
  • A man of quality is never threatened by a woman of equality.
    -- Jill Briscoe, British writer & Bible teacher
  • Quietude, which some men cannot abide in because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk.
    -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-92
  • The worst thing that can happen to a man who gambles is to win.
    -- Spurgeon
  • Be great in little things.
    -- Francis Xavier, Jesuit priest, 1506-52
  • By words the mind is winged.
    -- Aristophanes
  • A something in your eyes, and voice, you possess in a degree more persuasive than any woman I ever saw, read, or heard of . . . that bewitching sort of nameless excellence.
    -- Laurence Sterne to Eliza Draper, 1762
  • If two people who love each other let a single instant wedge itself between them, it grows -- it becomes a month, a year, a century; it becomes too late.
    -- Jean Giraudoux, French dramatist, 1882-1944
  • A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
    -- Francis Bacon, 1561-1626
  • Man is what he believes.
    -- Anton Chekhov
  • "My son, ill-gotten gains do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, but He will thrust aside the craving of the wicked. Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, and the soul of the diligent is made fat. Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it. A man can do nothing better than find satisfaction in his work."
    -- King Solomon, ~1000 BC
  • When you carry out acts of kindness, you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, "Yes, this is how I ought to feel."
    -- Rabbi Harold Kushner
    (Adds the author: It is crucial that we allow others to show kindness to us.)
  • To be happy at home is the end of all labor.
    -- Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784
    (To be truly happy at home is one of the greatest blessings I'm aware of.)
  • The future is purchased at the price of vision in the present.
    -- Samuel Johnson
  • The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest.
    -- Einstein
  • We are perpetually being told that what is wanted is a strong man who will do things. What is really wanted is a strong man who will undo things; and that will be the real test of strength.
    -- G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936
  • I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.
    -- Florence Nightingale
  • I find myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy; the most profitable explanation is that I was made for another world.
    -- C.S. Lewis
  • Live deep instead of fast.
    -- Henry Seidel Canby, American editor and social critic, 1878-1961
  • None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.
    -- Thoreau
  • The enemies of the truth are always awfully nice.
    -- Christopher Morley, 1890-1957
  • Those who are quick to promise are generally slow to perform. They promise mountains and perform molehills.
    -- Spurgeon, 1834-1892
  • To know that which before us lies in daily life is the prime wisdom.
    -- Milton
  • The wise does at once what the fool does at last.
    -- Gracian, 1601-58
  • One man with courage makes a majority.
    -- Andrew Jackson
  • You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
    -- Emerson
  • Why don't you get a haircut? You look like a chrysanthemum.
    -- P.G. Wodehouse, 1881-1975
  • Preach the gospel all the time. If necessary, use words.
    -- St. Francis
  • A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world; everyone you meet is your mirror.
    -- Ken Keyes Jr., 1921-90
  • The devil will let a preacher prepare a sermon if it will keep him from preparing himself.
    -- Rev. Dr. Vance Havner, 1901-86
  • The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.
    -- Longfellow
  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
    -- Churchill
  • Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
    -- Emerson
  • The heights by great men reached and kept
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    But they, while their companions slept,
    Were toiling upward in the night.
    -- Longfellow
  • Where courage is not, no other virtue can survive except by accident.
    -- Samuel Johnson
  • Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
    -- Theodore Roosevelt
  • Poets have been mysteriously quiet on the subject of cheese.
    -- G.K. Chesterton
  • Amor vincit omnia. (Love conquers all.)
    -- Chaucer
  • He speaketh not;
    And yet there lies
    A conversation
    In his eyes.
    -- Longfellow
  • When two go together, one of them at least looks forward to see what is best; a man by himself, though he be careful, still has less mind in him than two, and his wits have less weight.
    -- Homer
  • Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person: having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them out. Just as they are -- chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
    -- George Eliot, 1819-80
  • Friendship doubles our joys and halves our grief.
    -- Dolly Madison
  • A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
    -- Proverbs 17:22
  • Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well-tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.
    -- George Washington
  • Any woodsman can tell you that in a broken and sundered nest, one can hardly expect to find more than a precious few whole eggs. So it is with the family.
    -- Thomas Jefferson
  • Mercy has converted more souls than zeal, or eloquence, or learning, or all of them together.
    -- Soren Kierkegaard

From "The Quotable Lover" (2003) compiled by Nancy Butler
A bargain-rack book of quotations, more than a few well-chosen, from a writer of historical fiction.
  • The first symptom of love in a young man is timidity; in a girl, boldness.
    -- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
  • The intellect is always fooled by the heart.
    -- La Rochefoucauld (1613-80)
  • Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law.
    -- Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, 524 AD
  • One word frees us from all the weight and pain of life: that word is love.
    -- Sophocles (496-406 BC)
  • A loving heart is the truest wisdom.
    -- Charles Dickens
  • Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage.
    -- Lao Tzu (570-490 BC)
  • Like everyone who is not in love, he thought one chose the person to be loved after endless deliberations and on the basis of particular qualities or advantages.
    -- Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
  • At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.
    -- Plato
  • If men knew all that women think, they'd be twenty times more daring.
    -- Alphonse Karr (1808-90)
  • I've been on more laps than a napkin.
    -- Mae West
  • When a man's in love, he at once makes a pedestal of the Ten Commandments and stands on top of them with his arms akimbo (hands on hips, elbows pointing outward). When a woman's in love she doesn't care two straws for Thou Shalt and Thou Shalt Not.
    -- W. Somerset Maugham, Lady Frederick, 1907
  • I'm suggesting we call sex something else, and it should include everything from kissing to sitting close together.
    -- Shere Hite (noted researcher on sexuality)
  • The omnipresent process of sex, as it is woven into the whole texture of our man's or woman's body, is the pattern of all the process of our life.
    -- noted sexual researcher Havelock Ellis, The New Spirit, 1890
  • The gate of the subtle and profound female
    Is the root of Heaven and Earth.
    It is continuous, and seems to be always existing.
    Use it and you will never wear it out.
    -- Tao Te Ching (550 BC)
  • Absence is to love what wind is to fire: it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great.
    -- Comte de Bussy-Rabutin, Histoire Amoureuse des Gaules, 1665
  • We desire nothing so much as what we ought not to have.
    -- Publilius Syrus, Maxims, ~42 BC
  • There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice.
    -- Mark Twain
  • A husband is what's left of a lover after the nerve has been extracted.
    -- Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922
  • Husbands are like fires. They go out if left unattended.
    -- Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • Men are horribly tedious when they are good husbands, and abominably conceited when they are not.
    -- Oscar Wilde
  • When there is marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.
    -- Benjamin Franklin
  • By all means marry. If you get a good wife you will become happy, and if you get a bad one you will become a philosopher.
    -- Socrates (469-399 BC)
  • Love, in the form in which it exists in society, is nothing but the exchange of two fantasies and the superficial contact of two bodies.
    -- Sebastien-Roch-Nicolas Chamfort (1741-94)
  • In expressing love, we belong among the undeveloped countries.
    -- Saul Bellow (1915-2005)
  • Man forgives woman anything, save the wit to outwit him.
    -- Minna Antrim (1861-1950)
  • Women are never disarmed by compliments; men always are.
    -- Oscar Wilde
  • The only thing worse than a man you can't control is a man you can.
    -- Margo Kaufman (1953-2000)
  • Women want mediocre men, and men are working hard to become as mediocre as possible.
    -- Margaret Mead
  • A woman has got to love a bad man once or twice in her life, to be thankful for a good one.
    -- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling, 1938
  • The first duty of love is to listen.
    -- Paul Tillich (1886-1965)
  • Love, love, love -- all the wretched cant (empty words) of it, masking egotism, lust, masochism, fantasy under a mythology of sentimental postures, a welter (chaotic mishmash) of self-induced miseries and joys, blinding and masking the essential personalities in the frozen gestures of courtship, in the kissing and the dating and the desire, the compliments and the quarrels which vivify its barrenness.
    -- Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch (castrated, emasculated), 1970
    (Throughout history, eunuchs have been placed in charge of harems.)
  • In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.
    -- Nora Ephron
  • He promised me earrings, but only pierced by ears.
    -- Arab saying
  • "Goodness, what beautiful diamonds."
    "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie."
    -- Mae West
  • The big question in life is the unhappiness one has caused. The most ingenious rationalizations will not help the man who has broken the heart he loved.
    -- Benjamin Constant, Adolphie, 1816
    (If there's one aspect of life in which most of us choose to remain unconscious, it's in the anguish and pain we cause others.)
  • Love sickness needs a love cure.
    -- Chinese proverb
  • Jealousy is not a barometer by which depth of love can be read. It merely records the degree of the lover's insecurity.
    -- Margaret Mead
  • The quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love.
    -- Terence, Andria (~166 BC)
  • If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
    -- Mother Teresa
  • The way to love anything is to realize it might be lost.
    -- G.K. Chesterton
  • In a separation it is the one who is not really in love who says the more tender things.
    -- Marcel Proust
  • A man never knows how to say goodbye; a woman never knows when to say it.
    -- Helen Rowland, Reflections of a Bachelor Girl, 1903
  • We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never so helplessly unhappy as when we have lost our love object or its love.
    -- Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
  • Immature love says: "I love you because I need you." Mature love says: "I need you because I love you."
    -- Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, 1956
  • We fluctuate long between love and hatred before we can arrive at tranquility.
    -- Heloise, in her first letter to Abelard, (~1122)
  • Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;
    Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
    -- Shakespeare
  • The Duke returned from the wars today and did pleasure me in his top-boots.
    -- Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744)

From "5/5/2000" (1982) by Richard Noone
The author predicted a global catastrophe for May 5, 2000 that, needless to say, never happened. However, some of his research is highly provocative.
  • Egyptian civilization was not a "development." It was a legacy (hand-me-down from a higher, unknown culture).
    -- John Anthony West, Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt
  • Every aspect of Egyptian knowledge seems to have been complete at the very beginning. The sciences, artistic and architectural techniques and the hieroglyphic system show virtually no signs of a "development." Indeed, many of the achievements of the earliest dynasties were never surpassed, or even equaled, later on. This astonishing fact is readily admitted by orthodox Egyptologists, but the magnitude of the mystery it poses is skillfully understated, while its many implications go unmentioned.
  • (We assume that culture and society improve with time, but notice our relatively recent regression from the genius of the Beatles to the regressive nonsense of Tom Petty, Bob Seger, and Little-Johnny-Beadie-Eyed-Redneck-Cougar-Mellonhead -- while inspired talent like New Order, Depeche Mode and The Cure were for all intents and purposes banned from airplay -- to the low-talent "performance art" that passes today for hip-hop.)
  • Man is always capable of choosing whether he wishes to aspire toward spirituality or toward materialism. To aspire toward spirituality, we listen to an inner urging that demands we elevate ourselves. We may die at any time, but we retain in our deep memory the lessons that brought us to the particular plateau of advancement along the path we have made. This makes it easer for us to choose the proper circumstances of life to incarnate into the next time around.
  • "The so-called learned men of our days are the first to oppose new ideas and the bearers of these."
    -- Dr. Augustus LePlongeon, scholar of ancient Latin American civilizations, ~1875
  • "Laws are like cobwebs that entangle the weak, but are broken by the strong."
    -- Solon
  • All genius is self-appointed. Geniuses just live doing something they want to accomplish while they are here. . . . In almost every case that we can trace, anyone that tried to bring the truth to man has been crucified or killed in some cruel or barbarous human ritual. . . . Only about one out of every hundred people is really interested in what makes them tick, what is involved in life, the purpose of it all, and in really growing and building on their character. . . . By practicing kindness, patience, tolerance, forbearance (not being heavy-handed and overbearing), and charity in your everyday life, you grow. By your example you set off a multitude of self-sustaining series of events. This is the message in all of the esoteric teaching in all of the great religions. . . . Such a person never tries to force his beliefs off on anybody, never tries to make waves, he or she just lives life in such a way that other people say, "I’d like to be like that."
    -- Tom Valentine, author of Psychic Surgery, 1973
  • "The formulation of a problem is often more important than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science."
    -- Einstein and Infeld, The Evolution of Physics, 1938
  • A week before the Wright Brothers lifted off at Kitty Hawk, the New York Times lampooned the idea of air travel.
  • "Any general system of conveying passengers -- at a velocity exceeding 10 miles per hour, or thereabouts -- is extremely improbable."
    -- Thomas Tredgold, spokesman for the British Railroad Commission, 1835
  • "Mr. President, the bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert on explosives."
    -- Vannever Bush, former head of the Carnegie Institute, speaking to President Truman in 1945
  • In 1883, the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano excited sea waves enough to break the anchor chains of ships moored in the port of Valparaiso, Chile.
  • In the past, it has taken approximately 100 years for a new discovery to make its way from the laboratory into general public usage.
  • "All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration."
    -- Machiavelli

From "The Varieties of Religious Experience" (1902) by William James
A book of monumental reputation from one of the leading philosophers America has ever produced. I'm sure I could have found value plowing through this entire dense work, but for now I'm sticking to the chapter on mystical experiences.
  • Mystical states are never merely one-time affairs soon forgotten. Some memory of their content always remains, as well as a profound sense of their importance. (Similarly, we carry vague memories in us from previous lifetimes. These memories -- our "operating systems" that underlie the content of our lives -- prevent us from beating to the same drum as most other people.)
  • "Like glimpses of forgotten dreams . . . such as no language may declare."
    -- Tennyson, The Two Voices
  • Mystical states are sudden invasions of a vaguely reminiscent consciousness.
  • Individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and this is not a confused state but the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words. I am ashamed of my feeble description. . . . There is no delusion in this matter. It is no nebulous ecstasy but a state of transcendent wonder, associated with an absolute clearness of mind.
    -- from the memoirs of Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • Most of the episodes that James studied occurred outdoors.
  • "When they came, I was living the fullest, strongest, sanest, deepest life. I was not seeking them."
    -- from My Quest for God, J. Trevor, 1897
  • These states are not an expansion of our existing self-consciousness. They are the "superaddition" of a function distinct from any possessed by the average man. One gets a glimpse into the order of the cosmos. The experience places us into a new plane of existence, almost a member of a new species. There is a quickening of the moral sense which is fully as striking, and more important than, the enhanced intellectual power.
    -- Canadian psychiatrist R.M. Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness, 1901
  • Bucke continues: I found myself wrapped in a flame-colored cloud. At first I thought it was a fire from the nearby city, then I realized it was within myself. I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but on the contrary, is a living Presence. I saw that all things work together for the good of each and all. I saw that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love, and that the happiness of each and all is in the long run absolutely certain. (During one of my episodes I was concerned about the well-being of one particular individual. The awareness that was granted to me said that this person would be just fine.) Bucke continues: This view has remained with me in the 25 years since it happened, even during my deepest moments of depression.
  • Just as mind is higher than unconsciousness, there is a higher state of mind beyond reasoning and ego. There is no feeling of I, and yet the mind works -- desireless, free from restlessness.
    -- Vivekananda, Raja Yoga, 1896
  • According to the Vedantists, this super-conscious state must pass the test of purity -- its fruits must be good for life. The practitioner eventually becomes a solid personality, hard to influence by others.
  • Al-Ghazzali was a Persian philosopher who flourished in the 11th century, gaining a reputation as one of the greatest theologians of the Moslem faith. He described mystical awareness as a state that "no study can grasp."
  • In the Christian church, the basis of mysticism lies in "orison," another word for meditation, or the methodical elevation of the soul towards God. (I see it defined as "prayer," stemming from the word 'oration'.)
  • James describes St. Teresa of Avila as "the expert of experts" when it comes to describing mystical states. She writes that the truth remains so strongly impressed on the individual that, even though many years should pass without the mystical condition returning, the person can never forget "the favor" he or she has received, nor doubt its reality.
  • St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, is said to have shed "abundant tears" while recalling insights from his mystical episodes.
  • "I was come up to the state of Adam in which he was before the fall."
    -- one George Fox
  • The "deliciousness" of these states seem to lie beyond anything known in normal consciousness.
  • St. John of the Cross called these moments "intoxicating consolations."
  • Wrote St. Teresa: "What empire is comparable to that of a soul who, from this sublime summit to which God has raised her, sees all the things of earth beneath her feet, and is captivated by none of them? How ashamed she is of her former attachments!" (I experienced no such shame.) "She groans at having ever been sensitive to points of honor. . . . (I get a chuckle at the prizes and awards our culture throws at individuals whose work is, bottom line, irrelevant.) With what friendship we would all treat each other if our interest in honor (prestige/position/status/clout) and in money could but disappear from earth!"
  • "It is a penetration, a profound modification of my nature, a new manner of my being."
    -- anonymous
  • "Only when I become as nothing can God enter in."
    -- anonymous
  • Mystical utterances contain an eternal unanimity that ought to make critics stop and think.
  • What we see with is not our reason, but something "prior to and superior to our reason."
    -- Plotinus
  • Music may be superior to language in communicating mystical truths, and many mystical scriptures are indeed little more than musical compositions.
  • "God's service is perfect freedom."
    -- one John Nelson, imprisoned for preaching Methodism
  • Mystical feelings include the sense of personal enlargement, union with God and nature, and emancipation from daily worries and trivialities.
  • "The existence of mystical states absolutely overthrows the pretension of non-mystical ones to be the sole and ultimate dictators of what we may believe."

"All I ask is equal freedom. When it is denied, as it always is, I take it anyhow."
-- H.L. Mencken


"Every compulsion is put upon writers to become safe, polite, obedient, and sterile. In protest, I declined election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters some years ago, and now I must decline the Pulitzer Prize."
-- Sinclair Lewis


"One Galileo in two thousand years is enough."
-- Pope Pius XII


From "The Essential Mystics" (1996) by Andrew Harvey
When I spotted this book I hoped to find passages from various people throughout history recalling their insights from mystical experiences. The book provides this to a small extent, but it deals more with penetrating passages from the standard sources of spiritual literature. Even among the more noteworthy mystics that the author does quote, the chosen selections don't seem to reveal their keenest insights.
  • "If the heart is not pure, the Great Spirit cannot be seen."
    -- Black Elk (1863-1950)
  • "I could see and hear in a totally different way . . . . light also shone out from me, imperceptible to human beings, but visible to all the spirits of earth and sky and sea, and these now came to me and became my helping spirits."
    -- an Eskimo shaman
  • Those who speak the truth are those whom the deity will help.
    -- from the African Ifa Oracle
  • Taoism is said to have originated with Lao Tzu, whose name is sometimes translated as "old boy" or "old child." (Why don't they go for the obvious translation: "Old Soul"?) Lao Tzu spoke of the "Way of Authentic Human Life," which includes a sense of reverence for the mystery of life. (During my mystical experiences I felt an overpowering sense of reverence for all that exists.)
  • Taoism speaks of the space known as tzu jan where we are free of the need to accumulate possessions or power, and we're content to be this way.
  • From the Tao Te Ching:
    Continuous, on the brink of existence,
    to put it into practice, don't try to force it. . . .
    Loving the people, governing the nation,
    Can you be uncontrived? . . . .
    Knowing the constant gives perspective;
    this perspective is impartial. . . .
    Eliminate shrewdness, abandon knowledge. . . .
    True sayings seem paradoxical.
  • Into deep darkness fall those who follow action. Into deeper darkness fall those who follow knowledge.
    -- from the Isa Upanishad
  • Those who have mastered the senses and passions
    Act not, but are acted through by the Lord. . . .
    They lead a simple, self-reliant life. . . .
    If you will not heed me
    In your self-will, nothing will avail you.
    -- from the Bhagavad Gita
    (This final line, in my opinion, is the essence of the story of Adam & Eve.)
  • And this is how I honor Shiva and Shakti --
    By removing all separation and
    Becoming one with them.
    -- Jnaneshwar (1275-1296)
  • All hankering after personal profit, of self-regarding desire, must be extirpated from your nature. There must be no demand for fruit and no seeking of rewards. The only fruit for you is the pleasure of fulfilling the Divine Mother's work. To have her present guidance, concentrate and put everything into her hands. You'll be guided toward the thing that must be done, and how to do it. There can be no more happy condition than this connection; it pulls you away from a life of stress and suffering. You must have no attachment to the work or the result; you cannot lay down conditions. Aspire, with purity of heart, to allow these forces to work through you. You'll find that disturbing and distorting aspects of your life will progressively fall away from your nature. When you place yourself entirely into Her hands, then your knowledge, will, and actions will become sure, simple, inspired, spontaneous, and flawless.
    -- Aurobindo (1872-1950) (classics scholar / mystical philosopher)
  • "Fill your mind with compassion!"
    -- Buddha
  • "Hatreds do not ever cease in this world by hating, but by not hating; this is an eternal truth."
    -- Buddha
  • Those whose senses are tranquil, like a horse well-controlled by a charioteer, who are free from pride and have no compulsions, are the envy of even the gods.
    -- Buddha (Jesus used a similar analogy of the "well-trained horse" when he spoke "Blessed are the meek".)
  • The experience of Nirvana removes the craving for further becoming, as well as the craving for the cessation of becoming.
    -- from the Questions of King Milanda (or Milinda), 1st century BC
  • To attend to the moment is to attend to eternity
    To attend to the part is to attend to the whole. . . .
    Check the words against experience.
    . . . Relinquish power, embrace Reality,
    and do what must be done.
    -- from the Pirke Avot (a collection of rabbinical sayings from ancient times, compiled in the third century)
    [This is how an individual can have the greatest impact on the well-being of all: by attending to his/her present duty, at this very moment, completely and with integrity.]
  • When a man unites with his wife in holiness, the divine presence is between them.
    -- from the Iggeret ha-Qodesh, an anonymous 13th century tract in the tradition of Jewish mysticism
  • "Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself!"
    -- Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD)
  • But if any man come to the gates of poetry without the madness of the Muses, persuaded that skill alone will make him a good poet, then shall he and his works . . . be brought to nought. . . . This sort of madness is a gift of the gods, fraught with the highest bliss. Our proof (discussion of this) will prevail with the wise, though not with the learned.
    -- Plato, Phaedrus
  • When a soul sees anything of its kin, or any trace of that kinship, it thrills with an immediate delight. It is reminded of the sense of its own nature.
    -- Plotinus (204-270)
    [Souls who have been together in previous lifetimes do tend to recognize each other when they meet again. Or else they recognize that each is originally from the same far-off planet or world, and they're thrilled to meet someone who "speaks their own language" for a change.]
  • For me, nothing is early or nothing is late, if it is timely for the Universe.
    -- Marcus Aurelius (You can't force a rose to bloom.)
  • A helpful translation of the word "Islam" could be this: the peace that comes when one's entire being and life are surrendered to God.
  • Mohammed never claimed to be anything more than God's messenger.
  • And among the signs of God
    is having created for you
    mates from yourselves
    that you may feel at home with them.
    -- from the Koran (probably discussing the dynamics of kindred souls)
  • "Oh my servants, each of you is lost except the one I guide; so ask me, and I shall guide you."
    -- Mohammed, speaking the words of God
  • "All illnesses spring from the scavenging for delicacies. . . .
    All disappointments spring from your hunting for satisfactions."
    -- Rumi (considered by some to be the greatest mystical poet ever)
  • "You cannot serve God and Mammon (at the same time)."
    -- Matthew 6:24
    (Mammon: material wealth or possessions, especially as having a debasing influence.)
    [I don't read this as Matthew laying down a moral edict; more powerfully, I see him as simply stating a fundamental law of the universe.]
  • "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except when you abide in Me."
    -- John 15:4-5
  • "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."
    -- Job 5:13 (A person's cleverness will be their own undoing.)
  • "Love is difficult, because loving is not enough;
    be love."
    -- Angelus Silesius (1624-1677)
  • "In the human heart the Kingdom of God can be contained."
    -- Motovilov (a disciple of the Russian saint Seraphim of Sarov, about 1831)
  • "The Lord lives among pots and pans."
    -- St. Teresa of Avila (1515-82)

"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
-- Harper Lee


"Yes, madam, I am drunk. But in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly."
-- Winston Churchill


"You can have power over people as long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power."
-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


From some sayings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi teacher from India (1882-1927). Sufi is the mystical branch of the Muslim religion.
I found these sayings both intriguing and highly enlightened, and you can find more of them here.
  • The "yes" or "no" of a reserved person has more weight and influence than a hundred words of a talkative one.
  • All things in their beginning must be guarded from the sweeping winds of destruction, as the young plant must first be nurtured in a glasshouse.
  • As water is the cleansing and purifying element in the physical world, so love performs the same service on the higher planes.
  • If a desire is not fulfilled it means that the person did not know how to desire; failure is caused by indistinctness of motive.
  • Self-confidence is the true meaning of faith, and in faith is the secret of the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of every desire.
  • All surrender to beauty willingly -- and to power unwillingly
  • Without modesty beauty is dead, for modesty is the spirit of beauty.
  • Love is the net in which hearts are caught like fish.
  • You must never joke with a fool; if you throw a flower at him, he will throw back a stone.

"I learned that the people who have the cards are usually the ones who talk the least and the softest; those who are bluffing tend to talk loudly and give themselves away."
-- Richard Nixon


"Never let a man imagine that he can pursue a good end by evil means, without sinning against his own soul. The evil effect on himself is certain."
-- Robert Southey (1774-1843)


"He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king."
-- St. Augustine


From "The Portable Curmudgeon" (1992), compiled by Jon Winokur
What an enjoyable diversion from everyday life -- a non-pretentious collection of cynical and wise quotes. This book gives us the green light to add a new feature to this website: definitions of potent, less-than-everyday words. These will be highlighted in green. Words are powerful tools, and I picture good ones lined up just like a handyman has an array of tools hung up on a pegboard in his basement.
  • Curmudgeon: Once used as the description for a crusty, ill-tempered, churlish (rough around the edges) old man, the word is now used to describe, at least as far as this book is concerned, anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity (a boldness that flies in the face of convention) to say so. It also describes anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner.
  • This book is proudly dedicated "To Nobody"
  • "It is a fine thing to face machine guns for immortality and a medal, but isn't it a fine thing, too, to face calumny (slanderous remarks that are deliberately inaccurate -- as the Bible says, "thou must not bear false witness"), injustice and loneliness for the truth which makes men free?"
    -- H.L. Mencken
  • Irascible : easily angered
  • Misanthropy : a pervading distrust of other people
  • Maudlin (adjective): overly sentimental. (As in, "He displayed an almost maudlin concern for the welfare of animals." -- Aldous Huxley. The word is an alteration of (Mary) Magdalene, who was frequently depicted as a tearful penitent.)
  • Curmudgeons can't manage the suspension of belief necessary for feigned cheerfulness.
  • "I was once thrown out of a mental hospital for depressing the other patients."
    -- Oscar Levant (first-tier composer/arranger for film and theatre, 1906-1972)
  • The believer is happy, the doubter is wise.
    -- Hungarian proverb
  • So far as I can remember, there's not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • We may eventually come to realize that chastity is no more a virtue than malnutrition.
    -- Alex Comfort
  • If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian.
    -- Mark Twain
  • The last Christian died on the cross.
    -- Nietzsche
  • I admire the serene assurance of those who have religious faith. It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.
    -- Mark Twain
  • On the topic of women in college: "If all those sweet young things were laid end to end, I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised."
    -- Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
  • A prating (chatterbox) barber once asked Achelaus how he would like to be trimmed. Achelaus answered, "In silence."
    -- Plutarch (46-120 AD)
  • God heals, and the doctor takes the fee.
    -- Benjamin Franklin
  • The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.
    -- Voltaire
  • We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing.
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • England has 42 religions -- and only two sauces.
    -- Voltaire.
  • Regarding Sigmund Freud: "I think he's crude, I think he's medieval, and I don't want an elderly gentleman from Vienna with an umbrella inflicting his dreams upon me."
    -- Vladimir Nabokov
  • When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in confederacy against him.
    -- Jonathan Swift
  • Beware of the man whose God is in the skies.
    -- George Bernard Shaw
  • I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.
    -- G.K. Chesterton
  • Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
    -- George Orwell
  • We use ideas merely to justify our evil, and speech merely to conceal our ideas.
    -- Voltaire
  • A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.
    -- Robert Frost
  • The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.
    -- George Bernard Shaw
  • For certain people, after fifty, litigation takes the place of sex.
    -- Gore Vidal
  • My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov
  • The duration of passion is proportionate with the original resistance of the woman.
    -- Balzac
  • Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.
    -- Goethe
  • Virtue has never been as respectable as money.
    -- Mark Twain
  • Go into the street and give one man a lecture on morality and another a shilling, and see which will respect you the most.
    -- Samuel Johnson
  • Definition of obscenity: That which happens to shock some elderly and ignorant magistrate.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.
    -- Ambrose Bierce (author, 1842-1914)
  • Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • Those who lack the courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.
    -- Albert Camus
  • In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.
    -- Charles de Gaulle
  • A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
    -- William James
  • Principles have no real force except when one is well fed.
    -- Mark Twain
  • Regarding psychoanalysis: Let the credulous (gullible) and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov
  • I just want to make one brief statement about psychoanalysis: "Fuck Dr. Freud."
    -- Oscar Levant
  • There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the imulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness.
    -- H.L. Mencken
  • When asked if she had attended a recent high-profile social event such as the philharmonic, the standard reply of writer Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was, "I've been too fuckin' busy -- and vice versa."
  • When Parker's husband, screenwriter Alan Campbell, died in 1963, a female friend was nearby when the body was being removed from the house. The friend asked if there was anything she can do. Replied Parker, "Get me a new husband." The friend apparently responded, "Why that's the most callous, disgusting remark I've ever heard." Mrs. Parker turned to her and said quietly, "Okay then, run down to the corner and get me a ham and cheese on rye and tell them to hold the mayo."
  • Regarding Ronald Reagan: "A triumph of the embalmer's art."
    -- Gore Vidal
  • I'm a born-again atheist.
    -- Gore Vidal
  • Any preoccupation with ideas of what is right and wrong in conduct shows an arrested intellectual development.
    -- Oscar Wilde
  • He who despises himself esteems himself as a self-despiser.
    -- Nietzsche
  • Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious (destructive) as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly.
    -- Andre Gide (French author, 1869-1951)
  • Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless.
    -- B.F. Skinner
  • Most people would die sooner than think. In fact, they do so.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
    -- George Bernard Shaw
  • He hasn't a single redeeming vice.
    -- Oscar Wilde
  • Virtue is insufficient temptation.
    -- George Bernard Shaw
  • Also from Skinner, from another source: To cement a new friendship, especially between foreigners or persons of a different social world, a spark with which both were secretly charged must fly from person to person, and cut across the accidents of place and time.
  • He gets on best with women who knows how to get on without them.
    -- Ambrose Bierce
  • Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill-paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • Raconteur: One who tells stories and anecdotes with skill and wit.

"Do not turn back when you are just at the goal."
-- Publilius Syrus, Maxims, ~42 BC


From "Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience" (1991), by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
This is a fairly hefty work, clocking in at some 660 pages. Fortunately, most of the citations call for little more than a quick glance. Better yet, the citations that do call for a slower reading contain some choice morsels of valuable information. This work will expand the discussion on mystical states, whose value lies in giving the Average Joe unfettered access into the nature of reality.
  • According to A Course in Miracles, a miracle is a shift in perception that removes our blocks to experiencing the presence of love. The opposite of love is not hate, it is fear.
  • During altered (heightened) states of consciousness, such as those induced during yoga and meditation, we can better access material from our subconscious. These states (alpha and higher) can also be induced during sex. Zen characterizes these higher states as those of knowing rather than thinking. (The est Training discussed this space of natural knowing, where you know that you know, without doubt.)
  • The mystic St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) viewed the mystical experience as a free gift from God.
  • In meditation experiments using biofeedback with college students in England, C. Maxwell Cade discovered a hierarchy of states of consciousness, each with physiological correlations. State Four is comparable to traditional meditation and the "relaxation response." State Five and beyond are mystical levels. At these stages, Cades' subjects sounded like mystics in their speech. Some wept with joy; others, who had no demonstrable artistic talent, produced beautiful drawings and ecstatic poetry. Cade found that during mystical states, subjects experience new patterns of neural activity that affect both hemispheres of the brain, as well as both parts of the limbic system and brain stem.
  • In biofeedback, induced imagery helps a patient sort through unfinished business and blockages.
  • The great Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) believed that each and every cell has a consciousness of its own. A person who has purity of heart and enduring love for others will always find new resources to tap from the depths of their soul.
  • Scholars have found Carl Jung's understanding of symbols of the collective unconscious compatible with symbols in the writing of the great Spanish mystics John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Another renowned person whose writings were similar to these two Spanish saints was the English poet John Donne (1572-1631).
  • Creative visualization seems to be most effective when practiced in a relaxed or altered state of consciousness, such as daily prayer or meditation.
  • The famous American psychic Jeane Dixon believed her powers were a gift from God. Accordingly, she did not charge a fee, deriving her income instead from books and newspaper columns.
  • Meister Eckhart (about 1260-1327) is considered the most important German mystic of medieval times. He was born Johannes Eckhart, and "Meister" simply means "master." His influences include Plotinus. The Zen Buddhist scholar D.T. Suzuki has compared Eckhart to Zen masters, and the theologian Rudolph Otto compares him to the great Indian mystic and philosopher Sankara (788-820), who considered the individual and universal souls as fundamentally identical. According to Eckhart, one must awaken to "Absolute Seeing," in which all things are appreciated simply for their "beingness" and not projected upon with our thoughts. He emphasized the need to become one with whatever occurs at the moment. He said that the state of detachment, of being empty, is to be full of God. Similarly, to be overly attached to things is to be empty of God. John of the Cross and Teresa de Avila talked of the "quietness of the soul," as did the Italian mystic Catherine of Siena.
  • According to the psychical researcher Frederic Myers, "the evidence for ecstasy (mystical levels of awareness) is stronger than the evidence for any other religious belief." (Human Personality and Its Survival in Bodily Death, 1903).
  • The state of ecstasy feels timeless. One may believe the state endures a long time, though it usually lasts less than 30 minutes. Some have lasted several days. (My longest lasted a couple hours, with a few more hours of residual effect, such as waking up from a sleep, and it dominated my thoughts for the next few days.)
  • Preceding Meister Eckhart in Germany was St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). She criticized organized religions for lacking care and compassion. She celebrated human sexuality as the beautiful, spiritual union of two human beings, not just a means of procreation. Inspired by her spiritual visions, she prescribed numerous herbal and dietary remedies. She also considered music to be the ultimate celebration of God, a better medium than words for the expression of wisdom.
  • The great psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961) feared greatly for the future of mankind. He said that our salvation depended on becoming more conscious.
  • Krishnamurti (1895-1986) was one of the most influential spiritual teachers of the 20th century. He says it is "thought" -- analyzing rather than observing and experiencing -- that produces the sensation of "me-ness", of separation from "you." For awareness to rise above thought, the mind must be silent and still. One way to achieve this is to accept "what is".
  • Gopi Krishna (1903-1984) was a spiritual adept from India. After a profound kundalini experience in 1937, he was able to hear an "inner cadence." In the literature of kundalini, that is called "the unstruck melody." He considered kundalini "the most jealously guarded secret in history," the guardian of human evolution. Gopi also believed kundalini is the driving force behind genius and inspiration.
  • Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was one of the most important Catholic writers of the 20th century. He irritated many Catholics with his study of the parallels between Western and Eastern traditions, especially Zen Buddhism.
  • Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) was a German at the forefront of developing therapeutic uses of hypnotism. His name is the source of the word "mesmerism." His successes in France led to the "inevitable animosity" of the Medical Academy. Until that point, King Louis XVI was a supporter of Mesmer, but agreed under pressure to set up two commissions to investigate him. (Are we seeing that the medical establishment is one of the unnamed "powers behind the throne," even today?)
  • The eminent psychologist William James identified four general characteristics of mystical experiences:
    Ineffability: They produce fine nuances of meaning and awareness that are difficult to convey in their import and grandeur. (These nuances keep unfolding in symmetrical waves, like ripples on a pond, each wave building upon and clarifying the previous.)
    Noetic quality: They are states of illumination beyond the grasp of the ordinary intellect. (They are an intellectual feast of the highest order, I should add, like taking a curious kid to the epistemological candy store and giving him a carte blanche.)
    Transience: They are relatively short.
    Passivity: The individual feels swept up and held by a superior power. (On this point I cannot yet concur. I do feel as if a mesmerizing space swept down and engulfed me, though I didn't experience yielding any personal control.)
  • Typically, mystical experiences occur when the individual is alone and in a relaxed state of mind. (I was alone, but certainly not relaxed. In fact, I was a bit "dazed and confused" that day, to borrow a term from Led Zeppelin. The previous night I stuck my neck out in a social situation and got rebuffed, but the mystical experience that ensued gave me this suspicion: by sticking my neck out, I was fulfilling a pre-birth agreement to help someone else through a very difficult space. The mystical state was the "gift from God" needed to carry the agreement through to the end.)
  • Freud generally dismissed mystical experiences as delusion (I'm getting that Freud was an entity operating in the service-to-self orientation -- in other words, a parasite.) On the other hand, Jung and Maslow (service-to-other orientation, from what I've read of them so far) validated mysticals. In general, mystical episodes are world affirming, life affirming.
  • In describing the nature of peak experiences, Maslow said the individual feels at one with the world and pleased with what he or she sees. They believe they've seen the ultimate truth, the essence of all things. He described "peakies", as I like to call them, as self-validating, self-justifying moments with their own intrinsic value. They are never negative, unpleasant or evil. They are disoriented in time and space (shall we say our everyday awareness of time and space is what's disoriented?), and they are accompanied by a loss of fear, anxiety, doubts, and inhibitions.
  • Pythagoras (sixth century BC) believed in the healing power of music. He even composed "musical medicine."
  • Jane Roberts (1929-1984) was a channel for an entity who called himself Seth. His central message was that human beings create their own reality through thoughts, actions and beliefs. In effect, we are co-creators of the Universe.
  • One realm that has been chronicled to help induce higher states of awareness is sports. The attainment of this state of being requires a stillness of mind, relaxation, and a letting go that frees the performer from the anxiety of performing and winning, allowing him or her to be in the moment. What often follows is a superior performance that appears effortless, encased in a timeless episode of space, in which the performer allows the mind and body to do what they've been trained to do. Many describe this moment as trance-like. Overanalyzing the performance leads to a paralysis that causes inferior results.
  • Recent studies have found a certain timelessness to the writings of St. Theresa of Avila (1515-1582), the Spanish mystic and nun. Her spirituality contained strong feminist elements, and she once said to her followers, "I will give you a living book."
  • During successful transcendental meditation, the boundaries between subject and object begin to blur, if not disappear.
  • As we know, the Universal Life Force has been called many names, including prana, ki, qui, and mana. The Greek physician Galen (129-199 AD) called it pneuma. Hippocrates called it the vis medicatrix naturae (the healing power of nature). The ancient wise man of mythical proportion, Hermes, referred to it as telesma. Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) used the term orgone. He said it was a biological energy that was blue in color.
  • The Urantia Book, published in 1955, contains 2100 pages of material that is possibly channeled from non-human entities. It says our central challenge as humans is to make a balanced and sane turn to God in our lives. In describing some of the negative aspects of our world, it mentions politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without restraint, knowledge without character, and power without conscience.
  • From 1919 to 1936, several entities channeled through Betty and Stewart White of Michigan. Wishing to remain anonymous (possibly so we don't overanalyze them), these entities called themselves "the Invisibles." They discussed how the mind, using thought and attention, magnetizes things, people and circumstances. To grow spiritually, one must embrace and absorb all of life's experiences, and the Invisibles bemoaned the lack of spirituality in our world. For establishing communion with spirit and God, prayer and relaxation are important. However, one must reach up toward God and spirit, rather than expect them to descend to you. The channelings were published in 1937's The Betty Book.

"Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty."
-- Simone Weil (1909-1943)


"The skillful artist will not alter his measures for the sake of a stupid workman."
-- Mencius (371-289 BC)


From "The Story of Philosophy" (1998) by Bryan Magee
  • Nearly always, the best practitioners in any given field are interested in its philosophy.
  • It was said of Aristotle that he thought like a wise man but spoke as a common one, thus his ideas were more easily understood.
  • "Words are but the images of matter," said Francis Bacon (1521-1626). "To fall in love with them is to fall in love with a picture."
  • A Frenchman who was influenced by Locke was Voltaire (1694-1778). He furthered Locke's ideas that the confidence we have in our own beliefs needs to relate to the evidence that exists in their support. So many established beliefs in the religious and social life of that time were supported by little more substantial than the authority of church and state that they began to collapse when subjected to rational inquiry.
  • Rousseau (1712-1778) made a breakthrough in that he was the first Western philosopher to insist that our judgments should be based on the requirements of feeling, rather than pure reason. He advocated fundamental changes in education to free the individual from the psychological shackles of civilization. His central point was that education should not aim, as it did in his day, to repress and discipline a child's natural tendencies, but on the contrary, to encourage their expression and development. The main vehicle of instruction should not be verbal instruction, still less books, but practice and example, in other words direct experience of people and things. The natural environment for this to take place is the family, not school, and its natural incentives are sympathy and love, not rules and punishments. He put these ideas forth in his book Emile, and it is probable that this book had more influence on educational developments in Europe than has had any other.
  • A German, Schopenhauer (1788-1860), said rationality is not the basis of ethics; the basis is compassion. (Possibly echoing Rousseau's emphasis on feeling.) Schopenhauer became the first major European writer to bring an awareness of the serious intellectual content of Eastern religions to his readers. Sigmund Freud admitted that Schopenhauer was a major influence on his thought, and Carl Jung referenced him as well.
  • Eastern religions grappled with this materialist/idealist problem as well. They tend to produce a picture of total reality as divided into two realms -- of unequal significance. There is the world as presented to our senses, the world of experience. However, "behind" this there is another world that is not directly accessible to us because the sensory world is screening it off from us. (A claim of many mystics, whose experience is one of direct apprehension of reality, to such a degree that there's no room for doubt.)
  • Both Schopenhauer and Kant also believed that permanent reality, "real" reality, lies somehow behind the world of appearances, but is inaccessible to us. (At least through the methods we've been using so far.)
  • Hegel (1770-1831) wrote that every complex situation contains within itself conflicting elements, and these are destabilizing. One of his key ideas that has influenced thought ever since is that reality is a historical process, rather than a snapshot-event or a fixed-state of affairs that we uncover through experiment and discovery. So, he puts more emphasis on studying the ever-changing framework in which reality is held, for what stands for reality today may be different tomorrow. (Less important to learn facts, which can be easily laid irrelevant.)
  • The existentialist train of thought, particularly in the early to mid 20th century, held that we must make choices without any certainty as to their outcomes. As Kierkegaard said, "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards."
  • "Only daring speculation can lead us further, and not accumulation of facts."
    -- Einstein
  • The latter 20th century reflected a view of looking forward, imagining, as a greater source of truth than is looking backward and merely "understanding the body of so-called facts." This can possibly be traced to Nietzsche's exhortation for us to dare, to assert ourselves in a productive way.

"Popularity? It is glory's small change."
-- Victor Hugo


"An empty stomach is not a good political adviser."
-- Albert Einstein


"The real disturbers of the peace are those who, in a free state, seek to curtail the liberty of judgement which they are unable to tyrannize over."
-- Spinoza


From "Thick Face, Black Heart" (1992), by Chin-Ning Chu
The author attempts to take some of the wisdom of ancient China and apply it to matters of personal success today. Her end-result is not especially insightful, and at times it gets annoyingly superficial.
  • In 1911, Lee Zhong Wu first published his Thick Black Theory in China. Machiavellian in nature, its distribution has been suppressed.
  • "Thick Face" is the ability to adopt whatever demeanor a situation calls for, without regard for what other people think of you. "Black Heart" is the ability to carry it through into action. Those modes of being may be perceived at times as ruthless, but they are not necessarily evil.
  • "When his duty is to face danger and he flees, it is cowardice."
    -- Mahatma Gandhi
  • Einstein noted that a great person is aware of his greatness long before anyone else is.
  • The fear of success is more powerful than the fear of failure. Most people don't even know that they're afraid most of the time.
  • If you never experience any fear, it is probably because you're living life too safely, beneath your capacity, avoiding challenges.
  • The energy of fear can lead us to a state of exhilaration, or intense concentration, or love.
  • "I am an old man and have a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."
    -- Mark Twain
  • Most of us have little sense of "what is my duty at this moment?" By tapping into this space, we are watering the plant of life. This comes close to explaining the Hindu concept of dharma, which means in part "to nourish." This sense of duty helps put one's fear in perspective.
  • When one is destined for great accomplishments in life, the preparation can be extensive. Others may think you're falling behind the pack.
  • "Sacrifice" is the act of performing one's work without regard to self-gain. Said St. Francis of Assisi: "When you win, you lose."
  • "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
    -- Albert Einstein
  • "Whenever I walk among two other people, it does not matter their social status and accomplishments. At least one of them will be able to teach me knowledge I don't possess."
    -- Confucius
  • "Whatever state of mind you're in, ignore it. Think only of cutting."
    -- Miyamoto Mushashi, Japanese sword master, 16th century
  • When your breathing is short and shallow, your mind is more restless.
  • The author believes that orgasm is a way of tapping into Divine Energy.

From "Critical Path" (1981), by Buckminster Fuller
A pillar of twentieth century thought, from one of the greatest minds the world has ever produced.
  • All humanity is in peril if each of us don't tell the truth.
  • Tune your intuition so it guides your mind in effective directions.
  • The question posed to each of us is this: "What do I see that needs to be done that no one else is attending to? What do I need to learn to be effective in attending to it in a highly efficient manner that's inoffensive to others?"
  • Only our higher mind (the Self) can apprehend, abide by, and be led by the truth.
  • If your initiatives are earnest, you will find the world responding to them.
  • We affect the Universe by every act and thought we articulate or even consider.
  • Aggression is a secondary behavior of humans. When we get what we need and are not overwhelmed, we are spontaneously benevolent.
  • We are effective in the Universe when we work on behalf of others, not just for ourselves. The more people we affect, the more effective we become.
  • Don't show half-finished work.
  • As money-oriented creatures, humans do much of nature's work inadvertently, just as bees pollinate plants as a side-effect of buzzing around.
  • Ideas are easy to come by. However, reduction to practice is an arduous but inspirationally rewarding matter. You know your idea is solid when it is spontaneously adopted by others.
  • You have to decide if your life is about making money or about making sense. The two are mutually exclusive.
  • In archery, the farther back you draw the longbow, the farther ahead you can shoot.
  • Science progresses most rapidly in peacetime, not in times of war.
  • All those who have attained high scholarly capability assure us that the only real education is self-education. The intimate manuscript records of all the great self-educated individuals show that they discern intuitively when and what it is they want to learn.
  • Ask yourself, "What was it I was thinking about before I was told I had to 'earn a living'?" With complete freedom of choice, much of humanity will begin to discover that it loves to work at tasks of its own choosing. It loves to discipline itself to demonstrate its competence to others.
  • What you want for yourself may never by gratified. What you want for everybody is usually reasonable.
  • For a plan to work, you need a dramatically tangible objective.
  • If you offer to humanity what it truly needs and wants, the economic support will materialize, usually in unpredictable ways, and usually at the last minute.
  • If what you design isn't so "right" that others adopt it, it's either off-base or not quite ready yet. There won't be any shortcuts.

From "The Purpose Driven Life" (2002), by Rick Warren
One of the leading books in the spiritual/inspirational category over the last couple of years.
  • Being successful and fulfilling your life's purpose are not at all the same issue.
  • Fear is a self-imposed prison we must move against.
  • Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.
  • A pretentious, showy life is an empty one. A plain and simple life is a full one.
    -- Proverbs 13:7
  • You weren't put on earth to be remembered. You were put here to prepare for eternity. (Or as I like to say, to move the space forward.)
  • Do you spend your talents for your own benefit or for God's purposes?
  • "There are two kinds of people: those who say to God thy will be done, and those to whom God says, All right, have it your way."
    -- C.S. Lewis
  • When you see the big picture (the eternity of life), your values change. You place a higher premium on relationships and character than fame and wealth.
  • God continually tests people's character, and words to this effect appear in the Bible over 200 times.
  • God does not test people beyond their power to remain firm. There is always a way through. (1 Corinthians 10:13) (I have to interject that the challenges He provides sure tax our limits, patience and creativity.)
  • Jesus often referred to life as a trust we're endowed with.
  • If it is offered to God in spirit and truth, it is an act of worship. Said Martin Luther, "A dairymaid can milk cows to the glory of God."
  • Obedience unlocks understanding. "Give yourselves to God . . . Surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes." (Romans 6:13)
  • Love casts out all fear.
  • The desire to have complete control is the cause of so much of the stress in our lives.
  • "The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become."
    -- C.S. Lewis
  • "The greatness of a man's power is in the measure of his surrender."
    -- William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army
  • Surrendering your life is not a foolish emotional impulse. It's a rational, intelligent act, the most responsible thing you can do with your life. (I remember in a comparative religion class being told that the word Islam means "I submit.")
  • What your family wants and needs most out of you is not your gifts but your focused attention. True love concentrates so intently on another that you forget yourself for the moment.
  • Fellowship is a place of grace where mistakes aren't rubbed in but rubbed out.
  • We can't retaliate and forge a resolution at the same time. We have to choose which outcome we prefer. When we focus on reconciliation (and communication), the problem loses significance. Reconciliation means you bury the hatchet, not necessarily the issue.
  • Most people have no one in their lives who loves them enough to tell them the truth. Said King Solomon, "An honest answer is a sign of true friendship."
  • "In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery." (Proverbs 28:23)
  • The cliché is true: People don't care what we know until they know that we care.
  • "Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and tensions disappear when gossip stops."
    -- King Solomon
  • The Holy Spirit releases its power only at the moment you take a step of faith. (Did you ever notice that sometimes you commit to a course of action or an outcome so resolutely that it's a done deal at the moment of making the commitment?)
  • Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out . . . . Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:2)
  • "Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts."
    -- Proverbs 4:23
  • If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate. Worry is focused thinking on something negative. Meditation is focused thinking on something neutral, positive, or God's word. Meditation is mentioned many times in the Bible, and God promises benefits to those who reflect on His Word throughout the day.
  • We must become "Doers of the Word." (James 1:22) (See Jose Silva's discussion of the alpha mind-state, below.)
  • Shortcuts are often temptations. When you allow a tomato to ripen too quickly, it loses its flavor, like most tomatoes in supermarkets that are picked green and then gassed into red prematurely.
  • God is never in a hurry, but he's always on time. (We'll pick up this line of thought with Buckminster Fuller.)
  • Said Christ, "Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live." This point is repeated five times in the gospels.
  • "As the face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person." (Proverbs 27:19)
  • When you are serving from your heart, the first tell-tale sign is enthusiasm.
  • Whatever you can't talk about is already out of control in your life.
  • Spiritual gifts and natural abilities are always confirmed by others. Look and see what other people have confirmed in you. Also, what are you doing when you lose track of time?
  • "Whosoever wants to be great must become a servant." (Mark 10:43)
  • Christ called himself a servant, and a servant's heart reveals the degree of your maturity. Real servants maintain a low profile. Only secure people can serve. They find status symbols unnecessary.
  • At some point in your life you must decide whether you want to impress people or influence them for the better.
  • "The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it."
    -- William James
  • Said Christ, "A man's heart determines his speech."

"It's strange that men should take up crime when there are so many legal ways to be dishonest."
-- Al Capone


"If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye, and say, 'I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.' "
-- Ann Landers


From "The One Thing You Need to Know" (2005), by Marcus Buckingham
Subtitled ". . . About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success." Buckingham tries to distill the essence of business leadership into a single principle or two. The result is an unfocused book you don't really need to know about.
  • Research shows that in happy marriages the husband tends to credit his wife with positive qualities she doesn't even excel at -- he's blind in a sense.
  • The author has never met an employee who is confused and productive at the same time.
  • If you don't know what the goal is, how can you distinguish a shortcut from a distraction?
  • On a visceral level, good managers can't stand the sight of someone staggering along at a mediocre level of performance -- unless they really don't care for that person.
  • Fake caring is worse than no caring at all.
  • A good manager looks at an employee and builds self-assurance, not self-awareness.
  • An old maxim in psychology says if you know someone's fear then you understand their need.
  • A leader loses his grip, his ability to lead, when he loses touch with empathy for the group.
  • One of the most practical ways to show respect for someone is to demonstrate that you respect their time -- you don't keep them waiting.
  • The best leaders discipline themselves to take time out of their working lives to think.
  • The only thing worse than not understanding why something failed is not understanding why something succeeded. If that's the case, you'll be harder-pressed to repeat the success.
  • Peter Drucker, the renowned writer on business management, once said "Something special must leave the room when you leave the room."

"Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold."
-- Romans 12:2


"Truth uttered before its time is always dangerous."
-- Mencius (371-289 BC)


From "The Power of Now" (1999), by Eckhart Tolle.
As far as the category of self-improvement goes, this is one of the finer books to appear in the last several years.
  • Don't read with the mind only.
  • One aspect of enlightenment is that it's the end to our dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking.
  • It's not so much that we use the mind incorrectly. It uses us.
  • The moment we start watching our mind, a higher level of consciousness has been activated. (Other people call this witnessing or observing.)
  • When we enter those moments that can be termed "no mind" (when that little chatterbox in our head is silent) we raise the vibrational frequency of the energy field that gives life to our body.
  • There is one certain criteria by which you can gauge your success in stilling your mind: by the amount of peace you experience within.
  • Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness.
  • A survey among America's most eminent mathematicians, including Einstein, showed that 'thinking' played only a subordinate part in the brief decisive phase of the creative act itself.
  • The mind always seeks to deny the now and escape from it. It perceives the timeless Now as threatening.
  • When we identify with our mind instead of our Being, we become "a branch cut off from the vine," as Christ put it.
  • The mystical branch of Islam is known as Sufi. Rumi, the Sufi poet, wrote "Past and future veil God from our sight."
  • Make it your practice to withdraw from past and future whenever they are not needed.
  • The moment you realize you aren't present, you are present.
  • If we become excessively focused on the goal, the Now is no longer honored (as with F.M. Alexander's "end-gaining"). See if you can give more attention to the immediate doing than to the result you want to achieve. The fruit will come of its own accord. In the Bhagavad Gita, this non-attachment to the fruit of action is called Karma Yoga and is described as the path of "consecrated action." (This may also be the true interpretation of the Christian concept of "sacrifice." I'm also reminded of the old story of the man painting a mural in an obscure corner of a medieval cathedral. Someone asked the man why he put so much effort into a work of art that few people would ever see, to which he replied, "God will see it.")
  • By accessing the power of Now, we become present enough to dissolve the past.
  • Focusing on the future perpetuates our denial of the Now.
  • For most of us, the normal state is a continuous level of unease, discontent, boredom, or nervousness -- a kind of background static we're barely aware of.
  • Carl Jung once had a conversation with an American Indian chief. The chief remarked that white people have tense faces, staring eyes, and a cruel demeanor. He said, "They are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We don't know what they want. We think they are mad."
  • Anything unconscious dissolves when you shine the light of consciousness upon it.
  • Conscious presence is the transformative agent that dissolves the charges of the past. Don't seek to merely understand the past -- that's far less effective. (Said Werner Erhard, "In life, understanding is the booby prize.")
  • In one parable, Christ spoke of the five careless (unconscious) women who don't have enough oil (consciousness) to keep their lamps burning (staying in the present moment). As a result, they miss the bridegroom (the Now) and don't get to the wedding feast (enlightenment). They stand in contrast to the five wise women who do have enough oil.
  • Because we live in such a mind-dominated culture, most modern art, architecture, music and literature are devoid of beauty, of inner essence, with very few exceptions. The reason is that people who create these things cannot -- even for a moment -- free themselves from the mind. (Nor can most people who read, hear or see them.) They are never in touch with that place within where true creativity and beauty arise. Left to itself, the mind creates only monstrosities.
  • As long as your mind takes up all your attention, you are cut off from Being. When this happens, and it happens continuously for most people, you are not in your body. The mind absorbs all your consciousness. You cannot stop thinking. Compulsive thinking has become a collective disease.
  • One of the most essential tasks on our spiritual journey is to reclaim consciousness from the exclusive domain of the mind. This will free vast amounts of awareness that has until now been trapped in useless and compulsive thinking.
  • Even Buddha did not attain enlightenment until he gave up his fasting and other forms of body denial. We need to embrace the body, not deny it.
  • The more consciousness you direct into the inner body, the higher its vibrational frequency becomes. Then we tend to attract new circumstances that reflect this higher frequency.
  • Just as the sun is infinitely brighter than a candle, there is infinitely more intelligence in Being than in the mind. As long as we are in conscious contact with our inner body, we're like trees that are deeply rooted in the earth. As in Christ's often-misunderstood parable of the two men who build a house, the one who digs a deep foundation is the one whose home is not swept away by floods.
  • The more consciousness you bring into the body, the stronger the immune system becomes. Most illnesses creep in when you aren't present.
  • When listening to another person, don't just listen with your mind. Listen with your whole body, your entire being. Most people don't know how to listen because the major part of the attention is taken up by thinking. Give the other person the space to simply be. It is the most precious gift you can give. (This last line sounds like a cliché from a Hallmark card, but it's the utter truth. Getting what someone else is saying has transformative power.)
  • Chi is the bridge between our physical body and the Higher Intelligence.
  • Most humans are completely unconscious of inner space and stillness.
  • (As you read this book, curious and subtle-yet-powerful events can happen to you.)
  • You get there by realizing you are there already.
  • The greatest catalyst for change in a relationship is complete acceptance of your partner as he or she is. Most relationships are not rooted in Being, so they become dominated by problems and conflict. The energy-form that lies behind hostility and attack finds the presence of love absolutely intolerable.
  • If you react to all your partner's unconsciousness, you become unconscious yourself.
  • Mind-energy is hard and rigid. Being-energy is soft and yielding -- and infinitely more powerful. Generally speaking, women are closer to this latter energy than are men.
  • You dissolve discord, heal pain, dispel unconsciousness -- without doing anything -- simply by being and holding that frequency of intense presence.
  • The most essential kind of knowledge, the kind we're talking about here, the kind that facilitates true learning, is not yet widely accessible.
  • Whenever you notice that some form of negativity has arisen within you, look on it not as a failure. It's a helpful signal that's telling you "Wake up. Get out of your mind. Be present." (Get out of your head.)
  • Present-moment awareness creates a gap not only in the stream of mind but also in the past-future continuum. Nothing truly new and creative can come into this world except through that gap, that clear space of infinite possibility.

"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not."
-- H.L. Mencken


From "The Silva Mind Control Method" (1977), by Jose Silva
The author made a big splash in the 1970s with his Mind Control seminars.
  • From his earlier work in electronics, Silva realized that the most efficient circuits are the ones with the least resistance, or impedance.
  • When using hypnosis on his children, he noticed that the brain was more energetic (vigorous/effective) when it was less active. When calmed, the brain could receive and store more information.
  • When meditating, look upward with the eyes, behind the eyelids at about a 20-degree angle. For reasons not fully understood, this position alone will help the brain produce the higher Alpha state, as opposed to our "normal" Beta. It takes at least seven weeks of practice to move beyond the Alpha state into Theta. Becoming irritated or tense will pop you right out of alpha.
  • It's said the mind is a drunken monkey, bobbing and weaving its way through life. It's surprising how little control we have over it.
  • Move beyond passive meditation and train the mind for dynamic results -- which it may have been designed for.
  • You must expect positive events to take place. This is a subtle law.
  • When you are working dynamically in Alpha you are in touch with a higher intelligence.
  • Notice something the next time you see a classic depiction of a yogi during meditation. You'll see that his thumb is touching three of his fingers. This is an ancient technique to invoke higher states of awareness with almost instant results.
  • It is possible to deliberately create dreams with the intention of getting insights into specific problems. (Elias Howe created the first sewing machine in this way.) Sleep creates favorable conditions for receiving information from the Higher Intelligence, which the author says is not synonymous with God. (Freud said the dream state promotes conditions favorable for telepathy.)
  • In the Alpha and Theta states, our words have tremendously increased power.
  • Two basic principles of mind control are: 1) The mind can only think of one thing at a time. 2) When we concentrate on a thought, it becomes true because our bodies transform it into action.
  • "When the will and the imagination are in conflict, it is always the imagination that wins."
    -- Emile Coue
  • Instead of dwelling on a bad habit, focus on the benefits attached to giving it up. This will make it easier for the bad habit to fade away. Firmly resolving to give up a bad habit may attach yourself more tightly to it, just as resolving to fall asleep can keep you awake.
  • Dr. O. Carl Simonton was a prominent cancer physician in the 1970s. In an address in Boston in 1974, he pointed out the single biggest emotional factor identified by investigators: Six to 18 months prior to the onset of the disease, most all the victims experienced a significant loss in their lives. It's not just the loss that mattered, but the way the patient reacted to the loss. Among cancer patients, the loss included a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, which in turn drove down one's resistance, allowing the malignancy to develop.
  • Marital intimacy stems from deep understanding and acceptance. It is the best foundation for a marriage.
  • We can actually project our awareness to where the desired information is.
  • Our psychic sensing apparatus does not deal in language and logic but in symbols and imagery.
  • "I have, since my childhood, been attended by a semi-divine being whose voice from time to time dissuades me from some undertaking, but never directs me what I am to do."
    -- Socrates, as quoted by Plato
  • "Up to now, the voice has never been wrong."
    -- Socrates, as quoted by Xenophon
  • Works of art are the products of trained imaginations.
  • Our minds are not confined to our heads. They reach out.
  • The psychic energy that people send out is strongest when their survival is at stake.
  • It takes practice to "become as little children." That is, living more in the Alpha state.
  • The slowest learners often turn out to be the ones more adept at tuning into Higher Intelligence.
  • Go more with your hunches and rely less on "reasoning things out."
  • Many of life's opportunities hang in a precarious balance. One little push and you can tip the balance your way.
  • In deep meditation you are acutely receptive to what you say to yourself.
  • By visualizing -- with conviction -- in Alpha and Theta you are causing things to be. Time is altered at this level, so substitute "I am" for "I will become." (As Erhard would put it, you are creating context, which determines content.) Visualize the results you want as already being achieved.
  • "What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe you shall receive them and you will receive them."
    -- Mark 11:24
  • The creative imagination is far more powerful than trying to reason your way to a solution.
  • It is fully possible to maintain everyday (Beta) activities, including speech and thinking, in the Alpha state. This can be a deliberate undertaking to provide for more equal distribution of function between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. It helps balance an otherwise unequal preoccupation with left-hemisphere function when attempting to solve problems.

From "The Book of Meditation" (2001), by Chris Jarmey.
The author's philosophizing gets annoying at times, and he could have easily condensed his material. But as usual, if we pluck out the strong points some valuable information sneaks through.
  • When we are not meditating, we spend a surprising amount of time daydreaming about future possibilities or past events.
  • Because the body and mind are programmed to seek balance, prolonged highs (from drugs, alcohol, excess sugar, etc.) lead to deeper lows. Ultimately, we exhaust our hormonal system, which meditation can help strengthen.
  • Meditation promotes mindfulness, which develops equanimity, the opposite of succumbing to distractions. (It means "evenness of mind under stress." Another synonym is "sangfroid," from the French for "cold blood," meaning "self-possession under strain.") In bodywork, you'll feel much better in the hands of someone displaying equanimity or sangfroid.
  • A method of insight-meditation known as vipassana originated in Burma, emerging from the Theravada Buddhist tradition. As a core practice, it emphasizes mindfulness of bodily sensation. The method begins with a period of anapana (focused breathing) to stabilize the mind, followed by resting the mind upon any sensation that arises in the body. One technique to facilitate this process is to scan the body from head to feet in a specific sequence. (When performing massage, it's beneficial to ask the client to place all their awareness in each spot as it's being worked on.)
  • Our mind, if not "encouraged," much prefers to daydream and fantasize.
  • Avoid deceit at any level.
  • The Yoga Sutras were written by Patanjali between 300 and 200 BC. He describes the stage of dharana, which means concentration or complete attention (I believe he meant being fully present to the moment). The mind exhibits its greatest power when focused on a single point rather than when scattered. Beyond dharana exists a state where the limitations of "I" and "mine" begin to evaporate.
  • If we focus, for instance, upon a spiritual symbol, this image will help lift our consciousness to a higher vibration rather than excite the lower, grasping nature of the mind.
  • If you meditate regularly, you'll become more poised, have brighter eyes, exude greater calmness and become more tolerant.
  • In Sanskrit, the word "mantra" literally means "that which protects and purifies the mind."
  • According to yogic theories, sound is the substratum of the cosmos. One way to tune into this realm is through experiencing sound. All sound vibrations have a corresponding color vibration.
  • Our head and torso is mostly hollow, so we can actually resonate like a musical instrument. We're composed mostly of water, which is an excellent conductor of sound. It follows that vocalizing appropriate sounds can help generate the flow of kundalini.
  • The sushumna nadi (central line of energy) begins at the muladhara (root) chakra, specifically located at the second vertebra of the coccyx. It is said to be fiery red, and it proceeds upwards through the spine to the top of the head.
  • To facilitate the flow of kundalini, it's essential to have an erect and vertical spine. (I disagree slightly. It needs merely be loose and unblocked.) Qi flows much more easily through joints that move freely and have space within them than through those that are stiff and contracted.
  • Taoist meditation, and most Tibetan Buddhist meditation, is characterized by proactive use of the mind, meaning that the power of visualization and imagery is strongly developed.
  • The "essence" that we acquire before birth is stored in the kidneys.
  • Taoism also speaks of a middle channel/nadi/meridian (called a mai), located just in front of the spine. It can be visualized and experienced, and some practitioners have described it as a sky-blue light. Apparently it emanates from the lower tan den (two or three finger-lengths below the navel), and extends upward to a point just above the head as well as downward to the perineum.
  • When you want to center your thoughts, emotions and postural balance, you focus your mind in the lower tan den (main tan den).
  • The tip of the coccyx (tailbone) is one of the three main gates that must be open to enable the free flow of ki. (In his book Massage for Pain Relief, Peijian Shen presses a point, between the buttocks, located between the tip of the coccyx and the anus. He suggests holding this point -- the changqiang -- for three minutes. He terms this point DU1, and it's effective for opening the Du channel (Governing Vessel) that runs from here through the top of the head. It seems to correlate with the shushumna nadi mentioned above.) These gates are particularly resistant, and your mind will want to wander when you come to them. The other two spots are: the space between the second and third lumbar vertebra (remember that L4 lines up with the upper crest of the pelvis); the center indentation along the occipital ridge (the medulla oblongata, as discussed by Mildred Carter in Body Reflexology).
  • When relaxing or meditating (or exercising), you initially establish deep rhythmic breathing. Next you can incorporate a lift and relaxation of the perineum, specifically a point known as huiyin (the first point along the Conception Vessel). As you breathe out, pull the huiyin up (gently). When you expand your belly during inhalation, gently encourage the huiyin to descend and open. In the beginning this is difficult, and you may find yourself raising and lowering the anus instead. This is normal, even effective. But after some practice, you'll begin to feel some movement at the huiyin, although accompanied by some movement in the anus. Eventually you'll improve your focus, moving the huiyin with minimal movement of the anus. (Similar to Kegel exercises, if I'm correct, and both types of exercises will increase the elasticity of the pelvic floor, the lack of which can deaden the experience of sexuality.)

"Tell me what you brag about and I'll tell you what you lack."
-- Spanish proverb


From "Zen: Its History and Teachings" (2004), by Osho.
Osho (1931-1990) has been described as a mystic, as well as a proponent of Zen thought. This bargain-rack book collects excerpts from some of Osho's oral presentations over the years.
  • The truth cannot be conveyed, but the thirst can be given. No teaching worth the name can give the key through words.
  • Our physical ears work fine, but we need to develop our spiritual ears.
  • When you start thinking, listening stops.
  • Neither love nor hate; simply look at the reality of the situation or person. Said the zen master Sosan, who lived in the 7th century, "When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised."
  • Truth abhors opinion. If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinion either for or against.
  • Once one achieves enlightenment, he must come back to the ordinary world of ordinary events and ordinary people. Only then can he share what he knows.
  • Fools laugh at others. Wisdom laughs at itself.
  • If you don't use ordinary life as a method toward meditation, your meditation is bound to become something of an escape.
  • A true swordsman does not function out of his mind. The mind takes too much time. It thinks, it calculates. One has to function out of no-mind, one has to simply function. Most of us know only one way to function: we think first, then act. In swordsmanship, you act first and then you think. Thinking is no longer primary.
  • The most important things cannot be said. The moment they are, they become a lie (a concept, a belief). Belief is an easy shortcut.
  • Think of a child playing with a toy lion and the enchantment he can create for himself. But if suddenly he were to face up with a real lion, he might be paralyzed with fear, unable to move. Now, substitute the child for an adult, and replace the lion with beliefs, concepts, philosophies and theologies. When the real thing comes along -- the truth -- the adults play possum and don't know how to act. They were never interested in the real truth in the first place; they just asked questions as a springboard to yet more empty questions.
  • Language lags behind the truth, so drop your primary emphasis on words. Only silence can keep pace with the truth, because silence has no weight to carry.
  • Religion is "radical," churches are not. The word "radical" means "belonging to the roots."
  • If humanity ever wakes up, there would be no need for priests and politicians. Their survival depends on you not becoming aware. You want to become religious without depending on religions.
  • We are born enlightened and slowly forced into endarkenment.
  • It is true that one can become transformed in an instant, but most educated people today only understand the way of gradualness. (Remember, the mind can only think of parts, of becoming. It's the Self that can get wholes.)
  • The effort to remember a thing makes your mind tense, and the more we try to remember, the more tense we become.
  • Young birds, though fully capable of flying, don't take the plunge until their parent gives them a nudge. The parent won't do this until the young bird is ready.
  • When one comes to a master, he's got so much garbage in his head that the master has to remove it gradually. To the disciple, this garbage is knowledge, his ornaments. To the master, it is chains.
  • The stopping of the mind is the release.
  • The function of the koan is to tire your mind to such a point that it gives up.
  • The foundation of the Zen approach is that all is as it should be. Nothing is missing. (This is the essence of a mystical experience.)
  • The word Zen comes from the Sanskrit word dhyana, which does mean "meditation," though much more. "Meditation" gives the impression that the mind is doing something -- concentrating, contemplating -- but the mind is still there. Dhyana means a state of no-mind, just silence -- a deep profound silence where all thoughts have disappeared. When there is no ripple in the lake of consciousness, it starts to function just like a mirror reflecting all that is -- without any distortion, interpretation, or prejudice.
  • When you take the jump, the first experience is that you're disappearing. The last experience is that you've become the whole. If you pay too much attention to the things that are disappearing, you may stop out of fear. The master helps you focus your mind on things that are happening, not on things that are disappearing. What is disappearing is not worth keeping. Keep looking at what is appearing out of nothingness. There is no end to this journey.
  • The only preparation for Zen is meditative awareness. You can't teach Zen in universities for the simple reason that students don't have this type of awareness.

"It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test."
-- football coach Lou Holtz


From "Edgar Cayce's Story of the Origin and Destiny of Man" (1985) by Lytle Robinson
Robinson digresses a bit much with his own viewpoints. However, some of Cayce's valuable insight does emerge.
  • That which we think, we gradually become. Thoughts are deeds.
  • There is always direction provided for those who seek the light. Our spiritual progress is determined by our will to do that which is good.
  • If we are to remember and accept our divine origin, our mind must be unified and harmonized.
  • The third eye is the pituitary gland.
  • Our purpose here on earth is to be a channel of blessing to someone else -- today . . . now.
  • The ancient Egyptian Temple of Sacrifice was a sort of hospital for both the physical and spiritual realms. Treatment included massage and deep meditation.
  • There is a connection between the spinal column, known to Egyptians as the "Silver Cord," and the knowledge of Universal Forces.
  • We are meant to be in the world yet not of the world.
  • Indian tribes that migrated northward as far as Oregon had a unique social structure: the heads of the family and the rulers were women.
  • The true test of leadership is whether a man chooses to serve those in high places or else serve mankind as a whole.
  • Man brings order out of chaos by virtue of his compliance with Divine Law.
  • "The church is not perfect. And if it were, it would be imperfect the moment you joined it."
    -- Billy Graham
  • "The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine."
    -- Sextus Empiricus (367-275 BC)
  • Each soul shall give an account of every idle word spoken.
  • It is not what one knows or what one professes to believe that matters in life. What counts is what we practice.

From "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu
The translation of this classic 2000-year-old text was written by Thomas Cleary.
  • The most difficult things in the world must be done while they are still easy.
  • The I Ching (Book of Changes) is the locus classicus (authoritative text) of the formula for sensitivity and responsiveness. (This site will look at the I Ching before long.)
  • Weapons are not the tools of the enlightened.
  • "A good craftsman leaves no traces."
    -- Taoist saying
  • The skilled leader infuses his people with energy. The unskilled leader drains them.
  • The wise win the battle before they fight. The ignorant fight to win.
  • Success lies as much in knowing what not to do, and when not to do it.
  • "Chasing game without a guide leads one into the bush."
    -- I Ching
  • Good warriors get others to come to them, and do not go to others.
  • If you are too adamant, action is unlucky, even if you are right.
  • Before the appropriate time to go into action has arrived, be steady and avoid giving in to impulse.
  • We are awakened as much by allegory (symbolic representation, as in literature or art) and imagery as by discourse and argument.
  • In the Taoist literature of higher psychology, the paradox of ambiguity has been honed into an exact science.
  • "If I bring up one corner, and those whom I am speaking to cannot bring back the other three, I don't talk to them anymore."
    -- Confucius
  • Popular books give up all their contents at once. The classics seem to grow wiser and more useful as we grow along with them.
  • Use his anger to throw your opponent into disarray. Use humility to make them haughty (showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy).
  • If they ply you with expensive gifts and sweet talk, they are up to something.
  • A surrounded army must be given a way out.
  • Even people who dislike each other, if in the same boat, will help each other out in trouble.

From "Zen: Images, Texts, and Teachings" (2000), by Miriam Levering and Lucien Stryk
I feel that the study of Zen can yield effective results in everyday life, though this particular book appears somewhat lacking.
  • Zen masters gravitate toward poems that reveal both wisdom and compassion.
  • An unawakened mind convinces us that we have to defend the self. The awakened mind is characterized by appropriate responses to situations.
  • "In talking to people, tell them three-quarters only. Never let them have the other part."
    -- Mumon (1183-1260)

From “The Prophet” (1923) by Kahlil Gibran
This little classic deserves one or two reads sometime in our lives.
  • What is it to work with love? It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. If you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half a man's hunger.
  • In much of your talking, thinking is half-murdered.
  • God listens not to your words -- save when He Himself utters them through your lips.
  • Oftentimes in denying yourself pleasure you do but store the desire in the recesses of your being.
  • He who defines his conduct by ethics imprisons his songbird in a cage.
  • What is word knowledge but a shadow of wordless knowledge?

From “Intimate Behaviour” (1971) by Desmond Morris
In 1967, Morris’s The Naked Ape caused a sensation that lasted for years. While less sensational, Intimate Behaviour offers our web site the observant perspective of a famed zoologist.
  • Morris approaches the topic as a zoologist trained in ethology -- the observation and analysis of animal behavior. His aim is to study not what humans say but what they actually do.
  • In the last three months of pregnancy, the baby is fully capable of hearing. If something loud occurs near the mother’s belly, the baby can jump. The mother’s heartbeat becomes imprinted as the major sound-signal of life.
  • The screams of a baby in birth, sweet music to the anxious parents, are in reality nothing short of the wild screams of blind panic as the baby is exposed to the sudden loss of intimate body contact.
  • Babies of course can be settled down with swaying and rocking movements. These simulate life in the womb. But babies can also be settled down by the recorded sound of a heartbeat.
  • If a baby is well fed, comfortable and in no pain, it may still cry -- simply to initiate intimate contact with the mother. Evolution has provided the baby with a warm signal to reward the mother -- its smile.
  • As a young child, the toddler begins to explore its environment. For reassurance, it can look back and see the smiling face of the mother. Her smile now replaces the embrace; it becomes the symbolic embrace.
  • Relationships built upon status-seeking rather than love have become too common in our society. The mated pairs are held together not by internal bonds of attachment but by the external pressures of social convention. This means that each person’s natural potential for falling in love still lies waiting inside their brains and can leap into action, without warning, to create a true bond somewhere outside their official one.
  • "Love at first sight” may exist, but not “trust at first sight.” This takes time.
  • Here's an analysis of many of today’s marriages: The wife’s lips are moving, but she is not overcome with emotion; she is busy calculating her alimony rating. The man at her side is not in love, he’s working out the impact his bride will have on his business colleagues. She’s hiring an investigator to find out where the husband is getting the additional 1.7 orgasms they should be having every week. He’s calculating how much alcohol he can consume before he can’t get it up anymore. All too often these are the “sweet mysteries of life” as found in modern urbania.
  • In terms of the behavior involved, falling in love looks very much like a return to infancy. As the child gradually pulls away from the parent, romantic love puts this process in reverse. Lovers walk hand-in-hand, as the child once did with its parents. Gentle caresses return to one’s life. For the first time since infancy, someone is allowed to touch their most private parts. As with toddlers, the words used in romantic love are less important than the tonal quality; sometimes even “baby talk” develops. A wave of shared security envelops the couple and the hurly-burly of the outside world has little meaning. The dreamy expression of a woman in love resembles the almost-blank face of a satisfied baby.
  • The return to intimacy, so beautiful to those who experience it, is often belittled by those who don't. The sayings tell it all: “Love’s a malady without a cure”; “The first sigh of love is the last of wisdom”; and “Love is blind.” Even in the scientific literature, the term “regressive behavior” takes on the flavor of an insult instead of an impartial, objective description of what’s taking place.
  • The ordinary healthy human finds prolonged isolation a severe punishment. We have a need to find understanding from others. And it’s not a question of being understood rationally or intellectually. We need to be understood emotionally. In this respect, a single intimate body contact will do more good than all the beautiful words in the dictionary.
  • A single, simple pat on the back has the potential of changing a person’s life -- or even a nation’s. The warm caress that was withheld at the vital moment when it was most needed can easily be the act -- or rather the non-act -- that finally destroys a relationship. Between two great rulers, the simple failure to return a smile can lead to war and destruction.
  • A warm enemy is better than a cold friend.
  • When it first swept across Europe in the early 1800s, the waltz was described as “the most degenerate dance that the last or present century can see.” What was so degenerate about it? The dance partners actually embraced as they moved.
  • Cigarettes: What we're dealing with here is an inanimate object being used as a substitute for a real intimacy with another human being. Cigarettes take the smoker back to the comfort of the mother's warm breast and nipple.
  • Dildos appear in ancient Babylonian sculptures dating from hundreds of years before Christ. In ancient Greece they were called olisbos, meaning "slippery bull."
  • If an infant monkey is reared without loving intimacies from its mother, it later treats its own offspring this way. During the first years of life, an infant requires total love, nothing less. It is not trying to get the best of you, it simply needs the best of you. (Doesn't this sound like a budding romantic relationship?)
  • If the early months of a baby's life are filled with love, it grows up with less inhibitions about exploring the world around it. Deep down, it knows there's a safe and secure base to return to. Infants of loving mother monkeys readily move off to play and test the environment. Offspring of less-attentive mothers act shy and nervous.
  • (In the early 20th century, "eminent" psychologist John B. Watson encouraged millions of American parents to raise their kids like little soldiers, as if love and attention would turn them into sissies.)
  • People who were fully loved as infants become better adjusted sexually as adults, better able to form powerful emotional bonds (or so claims the author). With strong bonds intact as an adult, they are able to approach new social situations "pre-bonded" (my term, and I admit, an unpolished one for the moment). They are less likely to demand out of a situation or interpersonal relationship only what they can get for themselves. They're less likely to misuse the exchange to fill a perceived lack within themselves. Morris calls these "inappropriate, bond-hungry demands," and I believe this displays keen insight on his part, though I practically had to rewrite the paragraph before I could extract the brilliance from his muddled writing.
  • Let's put the previous concept into practical terms: We're only too familiar with a guy who declares his love and wants to move in after he's known a woman for, oh, all of two weeks. Isn't it apparent this kind of dude is acting more out of need?
  • Education rewards those who can deal with facts, but not with people.
  • The human potential movement, especially the California variety (in which I'm well-grounded), reminds us that we don't have bodies; we are bodies. The essential feature of these courses is that adults are encouraged to play like children again. (Have we just touched upon a key to happiness in relationships, and with it a more fulfilling sexuality, namely the notion of play? Can one of the fundamental principles of a successful relationship lie in creating a safe space where your partner's inner child can emerge without fear of ridicule? I think we're onto something here.)
  • "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3) I'm sure we're all aware of the deep, satisfying fun of acting like a kid around a close friend or coworkers. And I've noticed something else: some people are so uptight, they turn into a little Tasmanian Devil the moment you start having childlike fun around them.
  • The "adjusted" adult achieves a dubious state of so-called maturity by burying childlike parts under layers of shame and ridicule.

"A smile is a curve that sets many things straight."
-- Salada tea bag


"Women's virtue is man's greatest invention."
-- Cornelia Otis Skinner, author and actress (1901-1979)


"The strength of a man's virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts."
-- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)


From "Words of Wisdom" (2004), by Mick Farren
I just love the pithy nature of quotations. They give a glimpse into the history of thought, which is often more interesting than the history found in standard textbooks.
  • Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade.
    -- Marcel Proust
  • The first duty of love is to listen.
    -- Paul Tillich (theologian)
  • The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.
    -- Blaise Pascal
  • I don't mind where people make love so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses.
    -- Mrs. Patrick Campbell (1865-1940)
  • Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.
    -- Timothy Leary
  • It's the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter.
    -- Marlene Dietrich
  • The critical period in matrimony is breakfast time.
    -- A.P. Herbert (author)
  • A simple enough pleasure, surely to have breakfast alone with one's husband, but how seldom married people in the midst of life achieve it.
    -- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • My toughest fight was with my first wife.
    -- Muhammad Ali
  • A father is only as happy as his saddest child.
    -- Quincy Jones
  • The first man to raise a fist is the man who has run out of ideas.
    -- H.G. Wells
  • The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun.
    -- Buckminster Fuller
  • Never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake.
    -- Napoleon
  • Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.
    -- Mahatma Gandhi
  • The way you react to adversity is the key to success.
    -- Tom Landry (former NFL coach)
  • Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
    -- Robert F. Kennedy
  • Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of virtue.
    -- Albert Einstein
  • When a man becomes preeminent he has to have enthusiasms.
    -- Al Capone
  • If it reads easy, that's because it's writ hard.
    -- Ernest Hemingway
  • Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them.
    -- Salvador Dali
  • I think it's the duty of a comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.
    -- George Carlin
  • I passionately hate the idea of being "with it." I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.
    -- Orson Welles
  • The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.
    -- Gloria Steinem
  • When a thing is funny, search it carefully for hidden truth.
    -- George Bernard Shaw
  • Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.
    -- Clarence Thomas
  • Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    -- Aristotle
  • Never teach a pig to sing. It wastes your energy and annoys the pig.
    -- Nikita Khrushchev
  • Talk low, talk slow, and don't say much.
    -- John Wayne
  • Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
    -- Albert Einstein
  • Distrust all those in whom the urge to punish is strong.
    -- Goethe
  • Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed.
    -- Bruce Springsteen
  • Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence. He is just using his memory.
    -- Leonardo da Vinci
  • Never believe anything until it's been officially denied.
    -- old newspaper maxim
  • Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.
    -- George Bernard Shaw
  • Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.
    -- Kahlil Gibran
  • According to the Times of London, the most popular computer password is . . . "password".
  • If you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.
    -- Nietzsche
  • If you give it your little finger, it will soon have your whole hand.
    -- Sigmund Freud
  • The basis of optimism is sheer terror.
    -- Oscar Wilde
  • The way to be a bore is to say everything.
    -- Voltaire
  • There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion we were born to be happy.
    -- Schopenhauer
  • Good taste pops up when imagination dies.
    -- Frank McCourt
  • Darkness will spread . . . darkness that can be felt.
    -- Exodus 10:21
  • To undertake is to achieve.
    -- Emily Dickinson
  • Often you just have to rely on your intuition.
    -- Bill Gates
  • The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by observing its prisoners.
    -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Exterminate all rational thought.
    -- William S. Burroughs
  • There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.
    -- Goethe
  • Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • It is no measure of health to be adjusted to a sick society.
    -- Krishnamurti (1895-1986)
  • The envy of others devours us most of all.
    -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you can see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
    -- Kurt Vonnegut
  • Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.
    -- Carl Jung
  • No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
    -- 1 Corinthians 2:91
  • Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.
    -- Abbie Hoffman
  • We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
    -- Jonathan Swift
  • He who doesn't dance can't reach god.
    -- Sufi saying
  • Whatever God's dream for man may be, it seems certain it cannot come true unless man cooperates.
    -- Stella Terrill Mann
  • Work is the refuge of those who have nothing better to do.
    -- Oscar Wilde
  • The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
    -- William James
  • To spend too much time in studies is sloth.
    -- Francis Bacon
  • It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around doing nothing, really doing nothing.
    -- Gertrude Stein
  • Once the game is over, the king and pawn go back in the same box.
    -- Italian proverb
  • There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.
    -- Marshall McLuhan
  • The tragedy of life is what happens inside a man while he lives.
    -- Albert Einstein
  • If you don't see a sucker at the table, you're it.
    -- Amarillo Slim (professional poker player)
  • The cynics are right, nine times out of ten.
    -- H.L. Mencken
  • You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
    -- Mahatma Gandhi
  • Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become one himself.
    -- Nietzsche
  • Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction.
    -- Jesus
  • Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
    -- Picasso
  • When you find yourself trapped in a cage with a tiger, you quickly learn which direction to stroke its fur.
    -- Chinese proverb
  • Beware the fury of a patient man.
    -- John Dryden
  • If you want to catch a fish, first learn to think like one.
    -- Maori saying

From "The Essential Confucius" (1992), by Thomas Cleary
Confucius lived from 551 to 479 BC.
  • The collection known as the Analects, or aphorisms of Confucius, is among the most influential books in history.
  • Confucius worked for the revitalization of culture in society as a means to tap human feelings and maintain the integrity and well-being of the people. He considered himself the heir of an older body of knowledge that developed over many centuries. His quotations appear below, unattributed, within quotation marks.
  • "Exemplary people understand matters of justice; small people understand matters of profit."
  • Confucius said to a pupil, "Do you think I have come to know many things by studying them?" The pupil said, "Yes, isn't that so?" Confucius said, "No. I penetrate them by their underlying unity."
  • "If you are exacting with yourself but forgiving to others, then you will put enmity at a distance."
  • "When I am with a group of people all day and the conversation never touches on matters of justice but inclines to the exercise of petty wit, I have a hard time."
  • "A person can spread the Way, but the Way is not to aggrandize a person."
  • A disciple asked Confucius how to work for a ruler. Confucius said, "Don't deceive him, even if you have to offend him."
  • A noble man of ancient times was made a judge, but was removed from office three times. Someone said to him, "Don't you think it's time for you to leave?" He replied, "If you serve people honestly, where can you go and not be ousted three times?"
  • "Cultivated people harmonize without imitating. Immature people imitate without harmonizing."
  • Good people cautiously practice introspection.
  • "Attack your own evils, not those of others; is this not purging evil?"
  • Good people are exceedingly deferential in conduct, exceedingly sad in mourning, exceedingly frugal in consumption.
  • "When the Way prevails in the world, appear in public life. When the Way does not prevail, disappear."
  • "A cultivated person does not promote people on account of what they say, nor ignore what is said because of who is saying it."
  • A commitment to better oneself implies dedication to the welfare of others.
  • In order to maintain a moral stand in a time and place marked by corruption, people need the psychological fortitude to endure ostracism and isolation.
  • The author considers the I Ching, or Book of Change, as a monument of intellectual history.
  • Like Taoism and Buddhism, Confucianism values practical application rather than mere theoretical philosophy.
  • Taoists and Chan Buddhists were particularly emphatic in declaring trivial pedantry (using knowledge to show off) a perversion of education. It gives the appearance of learning but avoids the reality.
  • As individuals, nature imbues us with a trust to work for the betterment of society as a whole.

From “Hildegard of Bingen” (2005) from the HarperCollins Spiritual Classics series
Apparently translated by a Catholic nun who keeps telling us what Hildegard (German mystic, 1098-1179) meant, though she has hardly a clue. Overall this volume is little more than a lost opportunity to convey vital doses of awareness.
  • Hildegard was apparently one of the first to describe the female orgasm, which she wrote was a "sense of heat in her brain" and "a sensual delight."
  • Immediately I (Hildegard) knew the meaning of the scriptures, the psalms, the gospels. (This is highly credible.)
  • Hildegard heard all kinds of music sung with marvelous voices.
  • Instead of lusting after the transitory, love the eternal.
  • Humans must not scrutinize God's secrets beyond what he wishes to show.
  • Words symbolize the body; jubilant music indicates the spirit.
  • Let the one who has ears sharp to hear inner meanings ardently love My reflection, pant after My words, and inscribe them in his soul and conscience.

From "Quotations for Public Speakers" (2001), by Robert Torricelli
Torricelli is a former senator from New Jersey.
  • As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
    -- Andrew Carnegie
  • Don't take the fence down, until you know why it was put up.
    -- Robert Frost
  • Who can protest and does not is an accomplice in the act.
    -- The Talmud
  • A book should serve as an axe to the ice inside us.
    -- Franz Kafka
  • He is the true enchanter whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart.
    -- Washington Irving
  • If you would have me weep, you must first of all feel grief yourself.
    -- Horace (65-8 BC)
  • You must treat a work of art like a great man: stand before it and wait patiently 'til it deigns to speak.
    -- Arthur Schopenhauer
  • If someone can enjoy marching to music in rank & file, I can feel only contempt for him; he has received his large brain by mistake, a spinal cord would have been enough.
    -- Einstein
  • Every great hitter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher.
    -- Ty Cobb
  • You can easily judge the character of people by how they treat those who can do nothing for them.
    -- anonymous
  • The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.
    -- Joe Paterno
  • The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.
    -- Dante
  • Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
    -- T.S. Eliot
  • Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.
    -- Henry Randall, biographer proposing an epitaph for Thomas Jefferson
  • It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.
    -- Edmund Hillary (first to ascend Mt. Everest)
  • Love your enemies, for they shall tell you all your faults.
    -- Benjamin Franklin
  • The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
    -- John F. Kennedy
  • We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • When evil men plot, good men must plan.
    -- Martin Luther King Jr.
  • How can they tell?
    -- Dorothy Parker, 1933, on being told that President Coolidge had died
  • If Karl, instead of writing a lot about capital, made a lot of capital, it would have been much better.
    -- Henrietta Marx (Karl's mother)
  • I am not a teacher but an awakener.
    -- Robert Frost
  • In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.
    -- Mark Twain
  • The most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child's spirit.
    -- Erik Erikson
  • A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car, but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.
    -- Theodore Roosevelt
  • Even in warfare, you shall not destroy the trees.
    -- Deuteronomy 20:19
  • Speaking to a country club that would not admit Jews: "Since my little son is only half-Jewish, would it be all right if he went into the pool only up to his waist?"
    -- Groucho Marx
  • A consistent man believes in destiny, a capricious man in chance.
    -- Benjamin Disraeli, 1826
  • Whatever limits us, we call Fate.
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
    -- Voltaire
  • Our word idiot comes from the Greek name for the man who took no share in public matters.
    -- Edith Hamilton
  • Your honesty influences others to be honest.
    -- George Washington
  • Liars, when they speak the truth, are not believed.
    -- Aristotle
  • Most writers regard truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.
    -- Mark Twain
  • Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important affairs.
    -- Einstein
  • Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
    -- T.S. Eliot
  • A single candle can light a thousand more without extinguishing itself.
    -- Hillel the Elder (1st century BC)
  • The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity.
    -- George Bernard Shaw
  • An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.
    -- Arthur Miller
  • Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.
    -- Cadet maxim at West Point military academy
  • Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.
    -- H.L. Mencken
  • Towering genius disdains a beaten path.
    -- Abraham Lincoln
  • Maturity of mind is the capacity to endure uncertainty.
    -- John Finley
  • The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue.
    -- Antisthenes (445-365 BC)
  • When a true genius appears in this world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
    -- Jonathan Swift
  • Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.
    -- Psalm 127:1
  • There has never been but one question in all civilization -- how to keep a few men from saying to many men: You work and earn bread and we will eat it.
    -- Abraham Lincoln
  • Their very silence is a loud cry.
    -- Cicero
  • Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.
    -- Lucifer, in Milton's Paradise Lost
  • If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
    -- 1 Corinthians 14:8
  • Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
    -- Mark Twain
  • No one loves the man whom he fears.
    -- Aristotle
  • Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
    -- Einstein
  • Present things are less than horrible imaginings.
    -- Shakespeare, Macbeth
  • I am a citizen not of Athens, nor of Greece, but of the whole world. The world is my parish.
    -- Socrates
  • Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I will move the world.
    -- Archimedes
  • If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.
    -- Seneca
  • Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.
    -- Thomas Edison
  • Conscience is God's presence in man.
    -- Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)
  • Don't wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day.
    -- Albert Camus
  • I fear that Christians who stand with only one leg upon the earth, also stand with only one leg in heaven.
    -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.
    -- Martin Luther
  • Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
    -- Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi
  • One test result is worth one thousand expert opinions.
    -- Wernher von Braun
  • Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.
    -- Einstein
  • We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.
    -- General Omar Bradley
  • When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.
    -- Einstein
  • The Wright Brothers flew right through the smokescreen of impossibility.
    -- Charles Franklin Kettering
  • A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
    -- Greek proverb
  • Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse.
    -- Adlai Stevenson
  • The thoughts of the best minds always become the last opinion of society.
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The best and most successful commanders of all grades are those who win the respect, confidence, and affection of their subordinates by justice and firmness, tempered by kindness. The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army.
    -- U.S. Army Manual
  • When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.
    -- African proverb
  • He who does not advance, retreats.
    -- Chinese proverb
  • From Abraham Lincoln, responding to advisors who complained about the drinking habits of General Grant: "You just tell me the brand of whiskey Grant drinks. I'd like to send a barrel of it to my other generals."
  • No wise man ever wished to be younger.
    -- Jonathan Swift
  • Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals.
    -- Samuel Ullman, Youth, 1922

From "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge" (1968), by Carlos Castaneda
This thing has probably sold in the millions, yet it will never convince me to explore the effects of mind-altering substances. Don Juan was a Mexican shaman who in the 1960s agreed to share his knowledge with Castaneda, a young postgraduate student from California.
  • One of the purposes of many cultures seems to be that of restricting the perceptual capacity of its members.
  • "For me, there is only the traveling on paths that have heart."
    -- Don Juan
  • There are no gifts. Whatever there is in this world to learn must be learned the hard way.
  • One can learn to feel with the eyes, when they're not looking right into things.
  • If one really wants to learn, they must become inflexible with themselves. (Here we go . . . back to discipline.)
  • There is nothing wrong with fear. It teaches you to see things in a different way.
  • We learn in spite of ourselves. That's the rule.
  • When we dwell upon ourselves too much it produces a terrible fatigue. The fatigue makes us blind and deaf to everything else.
  • Power becomes domineering if not fortified by a strong heart.
  • When someone begins to learn, they are never clear about their objectives. Their purpose is faulty, their intent vague. They hope for rewards that will never materialize, for they know nothing of the hardships of learning. They begin to learn slowly -- bit by bit at first, and then in big chunks. Learning is never what one expects. It must be free from personal ambition.
  • Power is the strongest of personal enemies. It makes one cruel and capricious (impulsive). Such a man has no control over himself.
  • When someone has a clear, unbending intent, feelings are no longer a hindrance, for one can now control them.
  • If a path does not have a heart, then you will know it, and you must choose another path. Too few people wonder about this. If you choose a path without a heart, it can turn against you and destroy you. A path without a heart is not enjoyable. On the other hand, a path with heart does not make you work at enjoying it.
  • Once you find a path with a heart, then you must travel its length.
  • The purpose of knowledge is to apply it in practical terms in everyday life. It is not couched in terms of morality (right and wrong), but in efficacy -- effective action.

From "Tao Te Ching" by Lao Tzu. Translation and commentary by Jonathan Star (2001)
The present form of this classic work is an amalgam of the combined wisdom and insights of many Chinese sages. It took form between the seventh and second centuries BC. It is said that Lao-tsu wrote the work in a single sitting. As always on this site, the question is, what vital bits of wisdom can we apply to everyday life today?
  • The doorway to the mysteries is cracked by opening one's heart.
  • Ancient Chinese is a conceptual language, whereas Western languages are perceptual. In other words, Chinese is based more on imagery than logic.
  • Good walking leaves no tracks.
  • The sage acts without action and teaches without talking. All things flourish around him.
  • When action is pure and selfless, everything settles into its own perfect place.
  • Keep your mind still.
  • One who moves in accordance with nature moves in harmony with the present moment, always knowing the truth of just what to do. (I take it that if we let go into the moment, the universe reveals to us the proper course of action, if we're so attuned.)
  • Fill a house with gold and jade, and no one can protect it.
  • Complete the task at hand.
  • The sage holds to what is deep, and not what lies on the surface.
  • Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.
  • The great ruler speaks little, yet his words are priceless. He works without self-interest, and leaves no trace. When all is finished, the people say, "It happened by itself."
  • Abandon holiness, discard cleverness, and the people will benefit a hundredfold.
  • Surrender brings perfection.
  • The still is master of the restless.
  • A knower of the Truth does what is called for -- then stops.
  • Things that gain a place by force will flourish for a time, but then fade away. Whatever is not in keeping with the Tao will come to an early end.
  • Even the finest warrior is defeated when he goes against natural law.
  • One who knows Tao never turns from life's calling.
  • The sage does not claim greatness over anything. He's not even aware of his own greatness.
  • Playing one's part in accordance with the universe is true humility.
  • As you plant, so you reap. (Sounds familiar!)
  • Silence is more beneficial than words. Rare indeed are those who are still.
  • The bliss of eternity can be found in everyday contentment.
  • All people are drawn to the sage, every eye and ear turned toward him.
  • The truth, once established, can never be uprooted.
  • When a village embodies Tao, it is protected.
  • A gentle heart is your strength.
  • Things that are forced grow for awhile but then wither away.
  • One who speaks does not know; one who knows does not speak. (Perhaps the most famous line of this work.)
  • Act with a pure heart and the people will be transformed.
  • The sage straightens but does not disrupt. He illumines but does not dazzle. He is here upon the earth to gently guide us back.
  • If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away, cast away his wickedness.
  • People on the verge of success often lose patience and fail in their undertakings. Be steady from the beginning to the end.
  • He who wishes to lead the people must walk as if behind them.
  • Love vanquishes all attackers; it is impregnable in defense.
  • The sage discards the view of his own self and chooses the view of the universe.
  • Bold action against others leads to death. Bold action in harmony with Tao leads to life.
  • The Tao of Heaven does not play favorites with people, though it always sides with one who has a pure heart.
  • Words born of the mind are not true. True words are not born of the mind. (Obviously he thought this point worth repeating, and I think it worth highlighting.)
  • Action consistent with the laws of nature and in harmony with the Tao (also known as dharma), does not require force. The universe lends its power to one who acts in harmony with its laws. Natural action brings fulfillment, forced action brings exhaustion.
  • Dharma is action consistent with the universal will. It is action free of "doer-ship" or ego.
  • God's grace is offered to everyone in equal proportion. It reveals itself in exact proportion to the openness of the one receiving it.
  • Words have the power to impose a conceptual lid upon reality.
  • "Until the mind loses itself in the inner Self, you cannot attain anything."
    -- Swami Muktananda, A Book for the Mind (1993)
  • If you can see your reflection so clearly in still water, how much more so with the stillness of one's mind?
    -- Chuang-Tsu, ancient Chinese sage

From "Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers" (2002) by Philip Stokes
  • Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) was a pre-eminent philosopher who rejected materialism, especially because it split the notions of purpose, value and meaning from scientific explanation. He believed materialism served mathematical purposes in earlier times, though the school of thought had now outlived its usefulness and had gotten out of control. Whitehead pointed out that a rejection of values -- under the pretext of producing pure, objective, value-free science -- is in itself an expression of a particular value system.
  • Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) claims to have proven that the conscious mind, or the self, is not "master of its own house," as all rationalist and Cartesian (followers of Rene Descartes) philosophies presuppose.
  • Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), synthesized Freudian psychology with mysticism, the first reputable attempt to bring Eastern philosophical principles into the arena of modern Western thought. As such, it represents a return to the mysticism found in the ancient Greek philosophers but which has been overlooked due to the emphasis placed on materialism and rationalism. (While 20th century philosophy seems overly obsessed with linguistics, I see more value in the reconciliation of Eastern and Western modes of thought. Eastern modes are less "rational" and linear, more accomodating of contradictions.)
  • Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is often considered the father of existentialism. "What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am do to, not what I am to know . . . . the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die." This is a theme that recurs throughout all existentialist thought.
  • The central theme of all existentialist philosophies is the claim that "existence precedes essence." By this, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) intended to convey the view that man first exists without purpose or definition, finds himself in the world and only then, as a reaction experience, defines the meaning of his life. This is the flip-side of the argument presented by Aristotle in his Ethics, that man is created to fulfill some purpose or goal, and that fulfillment of a life consists in striving towards that goal. In contrast, Sartre argues that since there is no God or designer to give man a purpose, it is up to the individual to choose the life they think best. In fact, a person is confronted with a choice at every turn. "The destiny of man is placed within himself." Cowards and heroes are not born, they are defined in action. What we are is what we do.

From "The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Quotations"
  • John Locke: I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.
  • Horace: Whatever advice you give, be brief.
  • Jose Ortega y Gasset: To live is to feel oneself lost.
  • "A soft answer turneth away wrath."
    -- Proverbs 15:1
  • Simone Weil: A work of art has an author and yet, when it is perfect, it has something which is anonymous about it.
  • Thoreau: The perception of beauty is a moral test.
  • Nietzsche: Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.
  • Cicero: The countenance is the portrait of the mind. The eyes are its informers.
  • Ecclesiastes 32-8: Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in few words.
  • Nietzsche: Talking much about oneself may be a way of hiding oneself.
  • Tennessee Williams: All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.
  • Francis Bacon: If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
  • Emerson: Don't say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.
  • Emerson: Character is that which can do without success.
  • 1 Corinthians 13-1: Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
  • Joseph Joubert: Children need models more than they need critics.
  • Lin Yutang: All women's dresses, in every age and country, are merely variations on the eternal struggle between the admitted desire to dress and the unadmitted desire to undress.
  • La Rochefoucauld: Confidence contributes more to conversation than wit.
  • John Dryden: None but the brave deserves the fair.
  • W.B. Yeats: The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
  • Nietzsche: Believe me, the secret of the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment of existence is to live dangerously!
  • Shakespeare, Measure for Measure: Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
  • Henry Adams: Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.
  • Buckminster Fuller: Now there is one outstanding important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it.
  • W.H. Auden: Good can imagine Evil, but Evil cannot imagine Good.
  • Mae West: Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before. (In Klondike Annie)
  • Gore Vidal: It is the spirit of the age to believe that any fact, no matter how suspect, is superior to any imaginative exercise, no matter how true.
  • Emerson: There is no strong performance without a little fanaticism in the performer.
  • Ovid: Whether they yield or refuse, it delights a woman to have been asked.
  • Louis Pasteur: Where observation is concerned, chance favors only the prepared mind.
  • George Orwell: Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.
  • Erica Jong: Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
  • Buckminster Fuller: God, to me, it seems, is a verb, not a noun, proper or improper.
  • William Blake: He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars. General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite and flatterer.
  • George Burns: Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country and busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.
  • Paul Goodman: Few great men could pass Personnel.
  • Cardinal Richelieu: Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him.
  • Miguel de Unamuno: To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.
  • Sigmund Freud: One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be "happy" is not included in the plan of "Creation" . . . We are so made that we can derive intense enjoyment only from a contrast and very little from a state of things.
  • Chaucer: There's no workman, whatsoever he be / That may both work well and hastily.
  • Lord Chesterfield: Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him.
  • Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet: Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
  • Victor Hugo: One can resist the invasion of armies. One cannot resist the invasion of ideas.
  • William James: An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of a revelation.
  • Ronald Reagan: Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources. (Quoted in Ronald Reagan's Reign of Error. What a flaming asshole!)
  • Havelock Ellis: Jealousy -- that dragon which slays love under the pretense of keeping it alive.
  • Joseph Conrad: Words, as is well known, are great foes of reality.
  • Phaedrus: You will soon break the bow if you keep it always stretched.
  • Nietzsche: Man's maturity -- to have regained the seriousness that he had as a child at play.
  • Marcus Aurelius: Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind, for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.
  • Francis Bacon: Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.
  • Cicero: Nothing is brought to perfection on its first invention.
  • Publilius Syrus: While we stop to think, we often miss our opportunity.
  • Havelock Ellis: The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.
  • Alfred North Whitehead: It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.
  • Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand: The original writer is not he who does not imitate others, but he who can be imitated by none.
  • Henry Ward Beecher: What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.
  • Carl Jung: A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them.
  • Thomas Edison: Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.
  • Arthur Schopenhauer: Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.
  • T.S. Eliot: Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
  • Samuel Johnson: No mind is much employed upon the present. Recollection and anticipation fill up almost all our moments.
  • Edwin Gibbon: All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance. (From The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)
  • Saki: In baiting a mousetrap with cheese, always leave room for the mouse. (1924)
  • Mark Twain: Put all your eggs in one basket and WATCH THAT BASKET.
  • Alexander Chase: Psychiatry's chief contribution to philosophy is the discovery that the toilet is the seat of the soul.
  • Blaise Pascal: The last function of reason is to recognize that there are an infinity of things that surpass it.
  • Rabindranath Tagore: A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.
  • Walter Lippmann: Unless the reformer can invent something which substitutes attractive virtues for attractive vices, he will fail.
  • Epictetus: Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish, but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life.
  • Sophocles: Heaven never helps the man who will not act.
  • H.G. Wells: Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
  • Woody Allen: Is sex dirty? Only if it's done right.
  • Henri Bergson: Sex appeal is the keynote of our whole civilization.
  • Julius & Augustus Hare: Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one's horse as he is leaping.
  • Yevgeny Yevtushenko: Only when the sense of pain of others begins, does man begin.
  • Emerson: If a man sits down to think, he is immediately asked if he has a headache.
  • John Locke: The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have.
  • Lord Chesterfield: Take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.
  • Thoreau: As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
  • Samuel Butler: Half the vices which the world condemns most loudly have seeds of good in them and require moderate use rather than total abstinence.
  • Longfellow: The world loves a spice of wickedness.
  • Milton: Who overcomes by force, hath overcome but half his foe.
  • Buckminster Fuller: Either war is obsolete or men are.
  • Alexander Pope: We may see the small value God has for riches by the people he gives them to.
  • Machiavelli: Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.
  • Terence: I know the disposition of women: When you will, they won't. When you won't, they set their hearts upon you of their own desire. (190-158 BC)
  • Logan Pearsall Smith: The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.
  • Robert Frost: No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.

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