Leo: (July 23-August 22) You'll disprove an old adage this week when you use violence to solve the General Deg 5 polynomial equation.
At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote.
All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end. When we think to attach ourselves to any point and to fasten to it, it wavers and leaves us; and if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes for ever.
The company picnic will now be held inside the plant, there will be no food, and the activities will be work.
~Mr. Burns, The Simpsons
We have to live today by what truth we can get today, and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
Only that day dawns to which we are awake.
~Henry David Thoreau
Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.
When you look for me, you will see me instantly —you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve it through not dying.
A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick or the return of your absent friend, or some other quite external event raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. It can never be so. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
I love to go down to the schoolyard and watch all the little children jump up and down and run around yelling and screaming. They don't know I'm only using blanks.
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.
There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hand. I love a broad margin to my life.
~Henry David Thoreau
Probably the toughest time in anyone's life is when you have to murder a loved one because they're the devil.
Death is nothing to us, for that which is dissolved is without sensation; and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us.
Don't let school get in the way of your education.
You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle-aged woman: Stuff you pay good money for in later life.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falseness would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.
Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.
Competition of praise inclineth to a reverence of antiquity. For men contend with the living, not with the dead.
A shipwrecked sailor, buried on this coast, / Bids you set sail. / Full many a gallant bark, when we were lost / Weathered the gale.
Why should I live? Why should I do anything? Is there in life any purpose which the inevitable death that awaits me does not undo and destroy?
Most people would sooner die than think; in fact they do so.
Our limited perspective, our hopes and fears become our measure of life, and when circumstances don't fit our ideas, they become our difficulties.
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I'll never make that mistake again... Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that's the end of you.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
Cancer: (June 22–July 22) You will belatedly realize you've become part of the problem when you board a train that leaves Philadelphia at noon traveling 45 miles an hour.
I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which when you looked at it the right way did not become still more complicated.
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
Scorpio: (Oct. 24–Nov. 21) You will soon experience a mystical transformation into a higher form of pure, ultimate consciousness, but you still won't be a math person.
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
Everyone must have two pockets, so that he can reach into the one or the other, according to his needs. In his right pocket are to be the words: 'For my sake was the world created,' and in his left: 'I am dust and ashes.'
We have been told for years to bow down to 'the market.' We have placed our faith in the laws of supply and demand. What has been forgotten, or ignored, is that the market rewards only efficiency. Every other human value gets in its way.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
~Henry David Thoreau
I had that trapped feeling like some sort of poor insect that you've put inside a downturned glass, and it tries to climb up the sides, and it can't, and it can't, and it can't.
~Cornell Woolrich on realizing his own mortality as a youth
If you really want something in life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they're about to announce the lottery numbers.
~Homer Simpson, The Simpsons
I have also learned why people work so hard to succeed: It is because they envy the things their neighbors have. But it is useless. It is like chasing the wind... It is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.
Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed. You cannot, therefore, get away from envy by means of success alone, for there will always be in history or legend some person even more successful than you are.
Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
~from The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
We are continuously bombarded with information, appeals, deadlines, communications... We are continually being squeezed or projected into the future as our present moments are assaulted and consumed in the fires of endless urgency.
Today like every other day / We wake up empty and scared. / Don't open the door of your study / And begin reading. / Take down a musical instrument. / Let the beauty we love be what we do. / There are hundreds of ways to kneel / And kiss the earth.
With the departure from this strange world, he now has gone a little ahead of me. This is of no significance. For us believing physicists, the separation between past, present, and future has only the meaning of an illusion, albeit a tenacious one.
~Albert Einstein upon hearing of the death of his close friend Michelangelo Besso
Consume my heart away; sick with desire / And fastened to a dying animal / It knows not what it is...
~William Butler Yeats from 'Sailing to Byzantium'
What nature requires is obtainable, and within easy reach. It's for the superfluous we sweat.
The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap.
Old pond / frog jumps in— / splash!
Deep in the mountains, the great temple bell is struck. You hear it reverberating in the morning air, and all thoughts disappear from your mind. There is nothing that is you; there is nothing that is not you. There is only the sound of the bell, filling the whole universe.
The Master does his job / and then stops. / He understands that the universe / is forever out of control, / and that trying to dominate events / goes against the current of the Tao.
He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
~Henry David Thoreau
Dear Lord, the gods have been good to me and I am thankful. For the first time in my life everything is absolutely perfect the way it is. So here's the deal: you freeze everything as it is and I won't ask for anything more. If that is OK, please give me absolutely no sign. [pause] OK, deal. In gratitude, I present you this offering of cookies and milk. If you want me to eat them for you, please give me no sign. [pause] Thy will be done. [eats food].
~Bart Simpson, The Simpsons
All the greatest things we know have come to us from neurotics. It is they and they only who have founded religions and created great works of art. Never will the world be conscious of how much it owes to them, nor above all of what they have suffered in order to bestow their gifts on it.
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.
I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
~J. Robert Oppenheimer on the explosion of the first atomic bomb in New Mexico 16 July 1945
More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest; / Every year the green ivy grows longer. / No news of the affairs of men, / Only the occasional song of a woodcutter. / The sun shines and I mend my robe; / When the moon comes out I read Buddhist poems. / I have nothing to report, my friends. / If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after so many things.
~Ryokan (1758–1831), translated by John Stevens
Always looking away to the future. Never your mind on where you are, hm?, on what you are doing?
Such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves.
The human understanding is not composed of dry light, but is subject to influence from the will and the emotions, a fact that creates a fanciful knowledge; man prefers to believe what he wants to be true.
There are, it seems, two Muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, 'It is yet more difficult than you thought.'
In man this art of simulation reaches its peak: here deception, flattering, lying and cheating, talking behind the back, posing, living in borrowed splendor, being masked, the disguise of convention, acting a role before others and before oneself —in short, the constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could make its appearance among men.
There may be rhetoric about the socially constructed nature of Western science, but wherever it matters, there is no alternative. There are no specifically Hindu or Taoist designs for mobile phones, faxes or televisions. There are no satellites based on feminist alternatives to quantum theory. Even that great public sceptic about the value of science, Prince Charles, never flies a helicopter burning homeopathically diluted petrol, that is, water with only a memory of benzine molecules, maintained by a schedule derived from reading tea leaves, and navigated by a crystal ball.
The Angel that presided o'er my birth / Said, 'Little creature, formed of joy and mirth, / Go love without the help of any thing on earth.' // Love seeketh only Self to please, / To bind another to Its delight: / Joys in another's loss of ease, / And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite.
The human mind was designed by evolution to deal with foraging in small bands on the African savannah... faulting our minds for succumbing to games of chance is like complaining that our wrists are poorly designed for getting out of handcuffs.
Doubt is the vestibule which all must pass before they can enter the temple of wisdom. When we are in doubt and puzzle out the truth by our own exertions, we have gained something that will stay by us and will serve us again. But if to avoid the trouble of the search we avail ourselves of the superior information of a friend, such knowledge will not remain with us; we have not bought, but borrowed it.
~Charles Caleb Colton
Although the Warrior's life is dedicated to helping others, he realizes that he will never be able to completely share his experience with others. The fullness of his experience is his own, and he must live with his own truth. Yet he is more and more in love with the world. That combination of love affair and loneliness is what enables the Warrior to constantly reach out to help others. By renouncing his private world, the Warrior discovers a greater universe and a fuller and fuller broken heart.
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ...we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.
You can't make somebody understand something if their salary depends upon them not understanding it.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
If people just wanted to be happy, it wouldn't be so hard, but they want to be happier than others—and that is almost always difficult because we imagine others to be happier than they really are.
~Michel De Montaigne
I wish nothing else but to speak simply / please grant me this privelage / because we have burdened our song with so much music / that it is slowly sinking / and our art has become so ornate / that the makeup has corroded her face / and it is time to say our few simple words / because tomorrow our soul sails away
When the last living thing / has died on account of us, / how poetical it would be / if Earth could say, / in a voice floating up / perhaps / from the floor of the Grand Canyon, / 'It is done.' / People did not like it here.
About the gods I have no means of knowing either that they exist or that they do not exist or what they are to look at. Many things prevent my knowing. Among others, the fact that they are never seen.
There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good-willl to every thing, that hurts or pleases us.
What ails the truth is that it is mainly uncomfortable, and often dull. The human mind seeks something more amusing, and more caressing.
~H. L. Mencken
Two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort and one of them says, 'Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.' The other one says, 'I know, and such small portions.'
~Woody Allen, Annie Hall
All superstition is much the same, whether it be that of astrology, dreams, omens, retributive judgment, or the like, in all of which the deluded believers observe events which are fulfilled, but neglect and pass over their failure, though it be much more common.
~Francis Bacon, Novum Organum
If the human economy is to be fitted into the natural economy in such a way that both may thrive, the human economy must be built to proper scale. It is possible to talk at great length about the difference between proper and improper scale. It may be enough to say here that that difference is suggested by the difference between amplified and unamplified music in the countryside, or the difference between the sound of a motorboat and the sound of oarlocks. A proper human sound, we may say, is one that allows other sounds to be heard. A properly scaled human economy or technology allows a diversity of other creatures to thrive.
In fact we are not in possession of our faculties; we are possessed by them. We do not really think; we are thought.
~Robert Linssen, Living Zen
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.
~Francis Bacon, Essays, Of Studies
We would rather be ruined than changed, / We would rather die in our dread / Than climb the cross of the moment / And let our illusions die.
~W. H. Auden, The Age of Anxiety, line 407
Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.'
~Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater
The main thing a musician would like to do is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe.
~John Coltrane, liner notes to Crescent
Once upon a time a man whose ax was missing suspected his neighbor's son. The boy walked like a thief, looked like a thief, and spoke like a thief. But the man found his ax while digging in the valley, and the next time he saw his neighbor's son, the boy walked, looked and spoke like any other child.
Restrictions and inadequacies usually come from feeling burdened, as though we are carrying a heavy load. But if we develop the notion of space fully and properly, we begin to find that there is no burden, no load. That is a relief —not just a petty relief, but a larger version of mind altogether. We begin to realize that an extraordinary openness takes place in our lives
We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.
Americans find prosperity almost everywhere, but not happiness. For them desire for wellbeing has become a restless burning passion which increases with satisfaction. To start with emigration was a necessity for them: now it is a sort of gamble, and they enjoy the sensations as much as the profit.
~Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Most of these people in the nations of the United States are extremely eager in the pursuit of immediate material pleasures and are always discontented with the position they occupy. They think about nothing but ways of changing their lot and bettering it... An American will build a house in which to pass his old age and sell it before the roof is on. He will plant a garden and rent it just as the trees are coming into bear. He will take up a profession and leave it, settle in one place and soon go off elsewhere with his changing desire. Yet at the end of the year crammed with work he has little spare leisure. His restless curiosity goes with him traveling up and down the vast territories of the United States.
~Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America
They remembered a million useless things, a quarrel with a workmate, a hunt for a lost bicycle pump, but all the relevant facts were outside the range of their vision. They were like the ant, which can see small objects but not large ones.
~George Orwell, 1984
Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss or tranquility, nor is it attempting to become a better person. It is simply the creation of space in which we are able to expose and undo neurotic games, our self deception, our hidden hopes and fears.
As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
~Henry David Thoreau
The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, and let it spring from love born out of concern for all beings... As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.
~Siddhattha Gotama Buddha, c. 500 BCE
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest —a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
[Our] normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question —for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot furnish formulas, and they open a region though they fail to give a map. At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality.
These our actors, / As I foretold you, were all spirits, and / Are melted into air, into thin air, / And, like the baseless fabric of vision, / The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, / The solemn temples, the great globe itself, / Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve / And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, / Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with sleep.
~William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 4.1
What man most passionately wants is his living wholeness and his living unison, not his own isolate salvation of his 'soul'. Man wants his physical fulfillment first and foremost, since now, once and once only, he is in the flesh and potent. For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive. Whatever the unborn and the dead may know, they cannot know the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the flesh. The dead may look after the afterwards. But the magnificent here and now of life in the flesh is ours, and ours alone, and ours only for a time. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos. I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows that I am part of the human race, my soul is an organic part of the great human soul, as my spirit is part of my nation. In my own very self, I am part of my family. There is nothing of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters.
~D. H. Lawrence, Apocalypse
They all talked at once, their voices insistent and contradictory and impatient, making of unreality a possibility, then a probability, then an incontrovertible fact, as people will when their desires become words.
~William Faulkner, Sound and Fury
A mountain climber foolishly climbing alone slips off a precipice and finds himself dangling at the end of his safety rope, a thousand feet above a ravine. Unable to climb the rope or swing to a safe resting spot, he calls out in despair. 'Hallooo, hallooo! Can anybody help me?' To his astonishment, the clouds part, a beautiful light pours through them, and a mighty voice replies, 'Yes, my son, I can help you. Take your knife and cut the rope!' The climber takes out his knife, and then he stops, and thinks and thinks. Then he cries out: 'Can anybody else help me?'
~folklore, phrasing by Daniel Dennett in Breaking the Spell, 2006
[A friend of mine] was present at a high-powered ethics institute which had put on a forum in which representatives of the great religions held a panel debate. First the Buddhist talked of the ways to calm, the mastery of desire, the path of enlightenment, and the panellists all said 'Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great.' Then the Hindu talked of the cycles of suffering and birth and rebirth, the teachings of Krishna and the way to release, and they all said 'Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great.' And so on, until the Catholic priest talked of the message of Jesus Christ, the promise of salvation and the way to life eternal, and they all said 'Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great.' And he thumped the table and shouted: 'No! It’s not a question of it if works for me! It’s the true word of the living God, and if you don’t believe it you’re all damned to Hell!' And they all said: 'Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great.'
~Simon Blackburn in Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, 2001
The day finally dawns where the definitive moment of being here, right now, conclusively arrives; something irrevocable takes place and every thing and every body and every event is different, somehow, although the same physically; something immutable occurs and every thing and every body and every event is all-of-a-sudden undeniably actual, in and of itself, as a fact; something irreversible happens and an immaculate perfection and a pristine purity permeates every thing and every body and every event; something has changed forever, although it is as if nothing has happened, except that the entire world is a magical fairytale-like playground full of incredible gladness and a delight which is never-ending.
~Richard from the Actual Freedom Trust
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
~Theodore Roosevelt, 1910
Don’t wander, don’t wander, place mindfulness on guard; / Along the road of distraction, Mara lies in ambush. / Mara is the mind, clinging to like and dislike, / So look into the essence of this magic, free from dualistic fixation. / Realize that your mind is unfabricated primordial purity; / There is no Buddha elsewhere, look at your own face; / There is nothing else to search for, rest in your own place; / Non-meditation is spontaneous perfection so capture the royal seat.
~Vajra song of the First Tsoknyi Rinpoche, early 1800s
My body is like a phantom, like bubbles on a stream. My mind, looking into itself, is as formless as empty-space, yet somewhere within sounds are perceived. Who is hearing?
~Bassui Tokushō, circa 1350
Try to be mindful, and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha.
~Ajahn Chah, circa 1970
In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is — if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. That is all there is to it... It is true that one has to check a little to make sure that it is wrong, because whoever did the experiment may have reported incorrectly, or there may have been some feature in the experiment that was not noticed, some dirt or something; or the man who computed the consequences, even though it may have been the one who made the guesses, could have made some mistake in the analysis. These are obvious remarks, so when I say if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong, I mean after the experiment has been checked, the calculations have been checked, and the thing has been rubbed back and forth a few times to make sure that the consequences are logical consequences from the guess, and that in fact it disagrees with a very carefully checked experiment.
~Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law, 1965
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
~Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
I recommend almost dying to everybody. It's character building. You get a much clearer perspective of what's important and what isn't, the preciousness and beauty of life.
Illness is the most heeded of doctors. To goodness and wisdom we make only promises; pain we obey.
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles.
~Walt Whitman, Miracles, Leaves of Grass, 1900
I like to use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment and there are two bathrooms, then both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want to stay as long as you want for whatever you need. And everyone believes in freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang on the door, 'Aren’t you through yet?' and so on. In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one person matters.
~Isaac Asimov, interview with Bill Moyers, 1989
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
~Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies, 1927
Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.
~Siddhattha Gotama Buddha, Udana 1.10, c. 500 BCE
To God all things are fair and good and just, but people hold some things wrong and some right.
~Heraclitus, c. 500 BCE
Life is short, the craft long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult.
~Hippocrates, c. 400 BCE
The purpose of meditation is personal transformation. The you that goes in one side of the meditation experience is not the same you that comes out the other side. It changes your character by a process of sensitization, by making you deeply aware of your own thoughts, word, and deeds. Your arrogance evaporates and your antagonism dries up. Your mind becomes still and calm. And your life smoothes out. Thus meditation properly performed prepares you to meet the ups and down of existence. It reduces your tension, your fear, and your worry. Restlessness recedes and passion moderates. Things begin to fall into place and your life becomes a glide instead of a struggle. All of this happens through understanding.
~Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English, 1991
Creatures of a day, what is anyone? What are they not? We are but a dream of a shadow. Yet when there comes as a gift of heaven a gleam of sunshine, there rests upon the heart a radiant light and, aye, a gentle life.
~Pindar, 518–438 BCE
The thought 'Who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre, it will itself be burnt up in the end. Then, there will be Self-realization. When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them but should diligently inquire: 'To whom do they occur?' It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with alertness, 'To whom has this thought arisen?'' The answer that would emerge would be 'to me'. Thereupon if one inquires 'Who am I?'' the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will subside. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the power to stay in its source.
~Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?, 1902
The practice of meditation is not what is ordinarily meant by practice, in the sense of repetitious preparation for some future performance. It may seem odd and illogical to say that meditation, in the form of yoga, Dhyana, or Zazen, as used by Hindus and Buddhists, is a practice without purpose —in some future time— because it is the art of being completely centered in the here and now. Meditation is therefore the art of suspending verbal and symbolic thinking for a time, somewhat as a courteous audience will stop talking when a concert is about to begin. Simply sit down, close your eyes, and listen to all sounds that may be going on —without trying to name or identify them. Listen as you would listen to music. If you find that verbal thinking will not drop away, don’t attempt to stop it by force of will-power. Just keep your tongue relaxed, floating easily in the lower jaw, and listen to your thoughts as if they were birds chattering outside —mere noise in the skull— and they will eventually subside of themselves, as a turbulent and muddy pool will become calm and clear if left alone.
~Allan Watts, Way of Liberation, p. 91–95
The increasing desolation of nature, the exhaustion of resources, the uneasiness and disintegration of the human spirit, all have been brought about by humanity’s trying to accomplish something.
~Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution, 1978
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
~Lawrence Pearsall Jacks, Education through Recreation, 1932
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
~Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love, 1973
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
~Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community: Eight Essays
There is no greater mystery than this—that being the reality we seek to gain reality. We think that there is something hiding our reality and that it must be destroyed before the reality is gained. It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.
~Ramana Maharshi, 1879–1950
Know who you are, and all else will be known. Happiness is your real nature. You identify yourself with the body and mind, feel its limitations, and suffer. Realize your true Self in order to open the store of unalloyed happiness. That true Self is the reality, the supreme truth which is the Self of all the world you now see, the Self of all the selves, the one real, the supreme, eternal Self as distinct from the ego, or the bodily idea of the Self.
~Ramana Maharshi, 1879–1950
The problem we face today, in the United States and more broadly throughout the world’s industrial societies, is that all the institutions of industrial civilization presuppose limitless economic growth, but the conditions that provided the basis for continued economic growth simply aren’t there any more. The 300-year joyride of industrialism was made possible by vast and cheaply extractable reserves of highly concentrated fossil fuels and other natural resources, on the one hand, and a biosphere sufficiently undamaged that it could soak up the wastes of human industry without imposing burdens on the economy, on the other. We no longer have either of those requirements.
~John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report, 2015-06-03
All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
~Blaise Pascal, Pensées
We live on a hunk of rock and metal that circles a humdrum star that is one of 400 billion other stars that make up the Milky Way Galaxy which is one of billions of other galaxies which make up a universe which may be one of a very large number, perhaps an infinite number, of other universes. That is a perspective on human life and our culture that is well worth pondering.
The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe... I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my Country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.
People do not go to hell after death. The designers and builders of hell are human beings. The designs and buildings are almost completed. It is becoming difficult to add more hell.
The seduction of evil is precisely in that it involves us in trying to eliminate it. When your consciousness is open, any action you take in reference to evil has no more significance than digging a ditch to channel floodwaters away from a house.
Giving others the freedom to be stupid is one of the most important and hardest steps to take in spiritual progress. Conveniently the opportunity to take that step is all around us every day.
Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.
~Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
The other day I... uh, no, that wasn't me.
The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove.
We labour at our daily work more ardently and thoughtlessly than is necessary to sustain our life because it is even more necessary not to have leisure to stop and think. Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.
~Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations, 1874
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.
~E. B. White, 'Coon Tree', 1956-06-14
You know, I'm sick of following my dreams, man. I'm just going to ask where they're going and hook up with them later.
Wise men say, and not without reason, that whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who have been, and ever will be, animated by the same passions and thus they must necessarily have the same results.
~Niccoló Machiavelli, The Discourses, 1517
A bull contents himself with one meadow, and one forest is enough for a thousand elephants; but the little body of a man devours more than all other living creatures.
~Seneca, circa 64
Forests precede civilizations; deserts follow them.
~François-René de Chateaubriand, 1768–1848
If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations —then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation —well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
~Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 1928
Wealth and power have never been long permanent in any place... [T]hey travel over the face of the earth, something like a caravan of merchants. On their arrival, every thing is found green and fresh; while they remain all is bustle and abundance, and, when gone, all is left trampled down, barren, and bare.
~William Playfair, An Inquiry into the Permanent Causes of the Decline and Fall of Powerful and Wealthy Nations, 1807
It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order; this lukewarmness arising partly from the incredulity of mankind who does not truly believe in anything new until they actually have experience of it.
~Niccoló Machiavelli, The Prince, 1532
So what's causing the current epidemic of anxiety and depression? Maybe it's like the decline of Rome, so complex that even historians will argue about it. My too-simple answer is this: society is best viewed as a game, and ours is not designed to be fun for actual humans, only for large concentrations of money.
~Ran Prieur, blog entry 2018-07-07
You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.
~Sam Harris, Free Will, 2012
I could not become anything; neither good nor bad; neither a scoundrel nor an honest man; neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything, that only a fool can become something.
~Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground, 1864
I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books. I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. My story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious, as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams—like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves.
~Hermann Hesse, Demian, 1919
Years ago I gave up all aesthetic ambition. I don't write literature now but simply confessions, just as a drowning man or a man dying of poisoning no longer worries about the state of his hair or the modulation of his voice, but instead simply lets out a scream.
~Hermann Hesse, in a letter to the critic Heinrich Wiegand, 1926
Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
~Howard Thurman (1899–1981)
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
I have a sense that the world we see is the surface of some deeper world that we cannot see where there is something important happening. I guess it's just a mental gear shift to take this whole thing that you see as the real world and make it small and ask what is around it that you don't know about.
The unspeakable is the true domain of being. And then within that, there is a very small subset of those things which can actually be captured in language. Mostly it's all mystery.
~Terence McKenna (1946–2000)
It's clearly a crisis of two things: of consciousness and conditioning. These are the two things that the psychedelics attack. We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; But we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds. We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior. And, it's not easy.
~Terence McKenna (1946–2000), 'This World... and Its Double'
These grand and fatal movements toward death: the grandeur of the mass / Makes pity a fool, the tearing pity / For the atoms of the mass, the persons, the victims, makes it seem monstrous / To admire the tragic beauty they build. / It is beautiful as a river flowing or a slowly gathering / Glacier on a high mountain rock-face, / Bound to plow down a forest, or as frost in November, / The gold and flaming death-dance for leaves, / Or a girl in the night of her spent maidenhood, bleeding and kissing. / I would burn my right hand in a slow fire / To change the future ... I should do foolishly. The beauty of modern / Man is not in the persons but in the / Disastrous rhythm, the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the / Dream-led masses down the dark mountain.
~Robinson Jeffers (1887–1962)
Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
The energy crisis focuses concern on the scarcity of fodder for these [energy] slaves. I prefer to ask whether free men need them... A low-energy policy allows for a wide choice of life-styles and cultures. If, on the other hand, a society opts for high energy consumption, its social relations must be dictated by technocracy and will be equally degrading whether labeled capitalist or socialist.
~Ivan Illich, Energy and Equity, 1974
Canada, the most affluent of countries, operates on a depletion economy which leaves destruction in its wake. Your people are driven by a terrible sense of deficiency. When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.
~Alanis Obomsawin, 1972
To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To give of one's self; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - This is to have succeeded.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
~Max Ehrmann, 1927
I am dragged along by a strange new force. Desire and reason are pulling in different directions. I see the right way and approve it, but follow the wrong.
~Ovid (43 BCE–17 CE), Metamorphoses
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own eappetites, —in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, —in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption,—in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.
~Edmund Burke (1729–1797), Letter to a Member of the National Assembly
Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother, and even such a small creature as I finds an intimate place in their midst. Therefore that which fills the universe I regard as my body, and that which directs the universe I consider as my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions.
~Zhang Zai (1020–1077), Western Inscription
The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.
~Will Durant (1885–1981), The Lessons of History
Our imprudent liberation from moral restraint and social authority has made us into lonesome individuals who no longer know why they are living or what to believe or how to behave —and who therefore exist in a state of quiet despertation that leaves us exposed to every form of psychic contagion, from drug addiction to ideological zealotry. In short, the immoderate pursuit of liberation is causing civilization to founder. The problem lies with our notion of liberation, which is perverse. We have tried to escape from natural constraints and external limits by overpowering them and from social restraints and moral checks by discarding them. In other words, we have attemted to live lawlessly. This is a fundamentally mistaken strategy for achieving either individual happiness or collective well-being.
~William Ophuls, Plato's Revenge, Epilogue