24 December 2008

The Clinging Creatures - Richard Bach


Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth. But one creature said at last, "I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom."


The other creatures laughed and said, "Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!"


But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks. Yet, in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.


And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, "See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!" And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more Messiah than you. The river's delight is to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.


But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, making legends of a Savior.



From "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"


19 December 2008

If I Had My Life to Live Over (Three Versions)


Nadine Stair (85 years old)

If I had my life to live over, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I'm one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.


Don Herold (1889-1966)

Of course, you can't unfry an egg, but there is no law against thinking about it.

If I had my life to live over, I would try to make more mistakes. I would relax. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I know of very few things that I would take seriously. I would be less hygienic. I would go more places. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less bran.

I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary troubles. You see, I have been one of those fellows who live prudently and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I have had my moments. But if I had it to do over again, I would have more of them - a lot more. I never go anywhere without a thermometer, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had it to do over, I would travel lighter.

It may be too late to unteach an old dog old tricks, but perhaps a word from the unwise may be of benefit to a coming generation. It may help them to fall into some of the pitfalls I have avoided.

If I had my life to live over, I would pay less attention to people who teach tension. In a world of specialization we naturally have a superabundance of individuals who cry at us to be serious about their individual specialty. They tell us we must learn Latin or History; otherwise we will be disgraced and ruined and flunked and failed. After a dozen or so of these protagonists have worked on a young mind, they are apt to leave it in hard knots for life. I wish they had sold me Latin and History as a lark.

I would seek out more teachers who inspire relaxation and fun. I had a few of them, fortunately, and I figure it was they who kept me from going entirely to the dogs. From them I learned how to gather what few scraggly daisies I have gathered along life's cindery pathway.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted a little earlier in the spring and stay that way a little later in the fall. I would play hooky more. I would shoot more paper wads at my teachers. I would have more dogs. I would keep later hours. I'd have more sweethearts. I would fish more. I would go to more circuses. I would go to more dances. I would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I would be carefree as long as I could, or at least until I got some care- instead of having my cares in advance.

More errors are made solemnly than in fun. The rubs of family life come in moments of intense seriousness rather that in moments of light-heartedness. If nations - to magnify my point - declared international carnivals instead of international war, how much better that would be!

G.K. Chesterton once said, "A characteristic of the great saints is their power of levity. Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly. One 'settles down' into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man falls into a 'brown study'; he reaches up at a blue sky."

In a world in which practically everybody else seems to be consecrated to the gravity of the situation, I would rise to glorify the levity of the situation. For I agree with Will Durant that "gaiety is wiser than wisdom."

I doubt, however, that I'll do much damage with my creed. The opposition is too strong. There are too many serious people trying to get everybody else to be too darned serious.


Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ...

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.


18 December 2008

The Beasts - Walt Whitman

I THINK I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

Walt Whitman
Song of Myself
Leaves of Grass




15 December 2008

Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai


The Way of the Samurai is found in death. Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai.


Yamamoto Tsunetomo


29 November 2008

The Difference between Heaven and Hell


A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like." The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table.

In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting round the table were thin and sickly.

They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.

The Lord said, "You have seen Hell."

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water.

The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, "I don't understand." "It is simple" said the Lord, "it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves."

Anon


23 November 2008

Albert Schweitzer


A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.

Therefore search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.

You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others - something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.

Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

A man does not have to be an angel in order to be saint.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

Truth has not special time of its own. Its hour is now -- always and indeed then most truly when it seems unsuitable to actual circumstances.

An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight. . . The truly wise person is colorblind.

Big nations are like chickens. They like to make big noises, but very often it is no more than squabbling.

Man is a clever animal who behaves like an imbecile.

The spirit of the age is filled with the disdain for thinking.

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.

You don't live in a world all alone. Your brothers are here too.

Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now -- always.

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

Buddha's Lists


Four Noble Truths

• Existence is painful

• Unhappiness is caused by selfish craving

• Deliverance from pain is found through non-attachment

• Eightfold Path


Eightfold Path

• Right views

• Right intention

• Right speech

• Right action

• Right livelihood

• Right effort

• Right mindfulness

• Right concentration

Practice wisdom, morality and meditation


The Five Hindrances

• Sensuality

• Ill-will

• Lethargy

• Worry

• Indecision


Seven Factors of Enlightenment

• Mindfulness

• Investigation of existence

• Persevering effort

• Enkindle rapture

• Maintain calm

• Concentration on right values and things

• Equanimity; good grace toward what life has in store


Ten Contemplations

• Impermanence

• Absence of a permanent self or soul

• Profane nature of physical world

• Danger or disadvantage

• Abandonment

• Detachment

• Cessation

• Distaste for external world

• Impermanence of component things

• Mindfulness of in-breathing and out-breathing

20 November 2008

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

• Share everything.
• Play fair.
• Don't hit people.
• Put things back where you found them.
• Clean up your own mess.
• Don't take things that aren't yours.
• Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
• Wash your hands before you eat.
• Flush.
• Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
• Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
• Take a nap every afternoon.
• When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
• Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
• Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
• And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Robert Fulghum
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


17 November 2008

The True Believer - Eric Hoffer


“All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and singlehearted allegiance.” (Preface)

Hoffer defines a “true believer” as “the man of fanatical faith who is ready to sacrifice his life for a holy cause.” Leaders of the mass movement “must know how to kindle and fan an extravagant hope”—for Islamic fanatics, death is the key to instant heaven. “If they join the movement as full converts they are reborn to a new life in its close-knit collective body, or if attracted as sympathizers they find elements of pride, confidence and purpose….” (p. 13)

The true believer is “without wonder and hesitation.” “An active mass movement rejects the present and centers its interest on the future.” (p. 82) The mass movement hates independence and individualism. The focus is on “obedience” and “one mindedness.” “Uniformity” must be developed. (p. 101) Members must be “deindividualized” and “incorporated” into the mass movement. “When we lose our individual independence in the incorporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom—freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse.” (p. 100)

Violence is essential to fanatical mass movements. “Violence breeds fanaticism….and fanaticism begets violence.” Regarding Islam: “Islam imposed its faith by force, yet the coerced Muslims displayed a devotion to the new faith more ardent than that of the first Arabs engaged in the movement.” (p. 107)

Members of the fanatic group are taught to have a common hatred, a single foe, a devil. “The ideal devil is a foreigner….Hitler—the foremost authority on devils—found it easy to brand the German Jews as foreigners.” (pp. 92-93) Hatred becomes a habit. (p. 146) Interestingly, Hoffer points out that “The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners….Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.” (p. 96)

From a review by Dr. Mark Skousen at MSkousen.com


16 November 2008

George Orwell


Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.

Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is possible that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never had much temptation to be human beings.

Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words: it is war minus the shooting.

Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.

For a creative writer possession of the truth is less important than emotional sincerity.

Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.

An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.

Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.

At age 50, every man has the face he deserves.

On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good and not quite all the time.

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.

Liberal: a power worshipper without power.

Political language - and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists - is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.

Animal Farm: The Seven Commandments


The Seven Commandments (Original)

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

The Seven Commandments (Amended)

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
7. All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

George Orwell
Animal Farm


Gandhi's Seven Deadly Sins


1. Wealth without Work
2. Pleasure without Conscience
3. Science without Humanity
4. Knowledge without Character
5. Politics without Principle
6. Commerce without Morality
7. Worship without Sacrifice


Ecclesiastes 3, Verses 1 to 8


To every thing there is a season, and a time
 to every purpose under the heaven:


A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time 
to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is
 planted;


A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to 
break down, and a time to build up;


A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time 
to mourn, and a time to dance;


A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather 
stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time 
to refrain from embracing;


A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to 
keep, and a time to cast away;


A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to
 keep silence, and a time to speak;


A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of
 war, and a time of peace.


09 November 2008

Desiderata


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 vexations 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 not this 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 Ehrman


Aldous Huxley


After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.

At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas.

Experience teaches only the teachable.

Facts do not cease to exist just because they are ignored.

Maybe this world is another planet's hell.

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

That all men are equal is a proposition which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent.

The author of the Iliad is either Homer or, if not Homer, somebody else of the same name.

There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.

Death … It’s the only thing we haven’t succeeded in completely vulgarizing.

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.

I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.

If you look up 'Intelligence' in the new volumes of the Encyclopeadia Britannica, you'll find it classified under the following three heads: Intelligence, Human; Intelligence, Animal; Intelligence, Military. My stepfather's a perfect specimen of Intelligence, Millitary.

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.

If the Prince of Peace should come to earth, one of the first things he would do would be to put psychiatrists in their place.

People are much too solemn about things - I'm all for sticking pins into episcopal behinds.

A country which proposes to make use of modern war as an instrument of policy must possess a highly centralized, all-powerful executive, hence the absurdity of talking about the defense of democracy by force of arms. A democracy which makes or effectively prepares for modern scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic.

To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.

Chastity: the most unnatural of the sexual perversions.

The only completely consistent people are the dead.

To us, the moment 8:17 A.M. means something - something very important, if it happens to be the starting time of our daily train. To our ancestors, such an odd eccentric instant was without significance - did not even exist. In inventing the locomotive, Watt and Stevenson were part inventors of time.

Folly is often more cruel in the consequences than malice can be in the intent.

From their experience or from the recorded experience of others (history), men learn only what their passions and their metaphysical prejudices allow them to learn.

Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.

All that happens means something; nothing you do is ever insignificant.

When truth is nothing but the truth, its unnatural, it's an abstraction that resembles nothing in the real world. In nature there are always so many other irrelevant things mixed up with the essential truth.

The silent bear no witness against themselves.

There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self. So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other people. That comes afterwards, when you have worked on your own corner.

Words form the thread on which we string our experiences.

Voltaire


...the safest course is to do nothing against one's conscience. With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death.

A witty saying proves nothing.


All sects are different, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God.


Anything too stupid to be said is sung.


Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.


Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.


Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.


Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do.


God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.


I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it.


If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.


Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes.


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


It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.


Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers.


Love truth, and pardon error.


Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly.


Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference.


Prejudice is opinion without judgment.


Regimen is superior to medicine.


The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.


The multitude of books is making us ignorant.


The way to become boring is to say everything.


There is a wide difference between speaking to deceive, and being silent to be impenetrable.


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.


To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.


Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.


You despise books; you whose lives are absorbed in the vanities of ambition, the pursuit of pleasure or indolence; but remember that all the known world, excepting only savage nations, is governed by books.


The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.


This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.


The man who leaves money to charity in his will is only giving away what no longer belongs to him.


When we hear news we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.


I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.


The public is a ferocious beast -- one must either chain it up or flee from it.


Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.


Common sense is not so common.


God created sex. Priests created marriage.


Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.


Since the whole affair had become one of religion, the vanquished were of course exterminated.


This is no time to make new enemies.


May God defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies.


The art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of the citizens to give to the other.


This poem will never reach its destination.


Once the people begin to reason, all is lost.


It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue.


A clergyman is one who feels himself called upon to live without working at the expense of the rascals who work to live.


When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.


Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills.


I was never ruined but twice: once when I lost a lawsuit, and once when I won one.


Canada: A few acres of snow.


England has forty-two religions and only two sauces.


There is an astonishing imagination, even in the science of mathematics... We repeat, there was far more imagination in the head of Archimedes than in that of Homer.


If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.


He is a hard man who is only just, and a sad one who is only wise.


Life resembles the banquet of Damocles; the sword is ever suspended.


Verses which do not teach men new and moving truths do not deserve to be read.


I believe that there never was a creator of a philosophical system who did not confess at the end of his life that he had wasted his time. It must be admitted that the inventors of the mechanical arts have been much more useful to men that the inventors of syllogisms. He who imagined a ship towers considerably above him who imagined innate ideas.


The history of human opinion is scarcely anything more than the history of human errors.


Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination.


We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.


It is far better to be silent than merely to increase the quantity of bad books.


The superfluous is very necessary.


It is amusing that a virtue is made of the vice of chastity; and it's a pretty odd sort of chastity at that, which leads men straight into the sin of Onan, and girls to the waning of their color.


It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge.


Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies.

(On his deathbed in response to a priest asking that he renounce Satan)

True greatness consists in the use of a powerful understanding to enlighten oneself and others.


As long as there are fools and rascals, there will be religions.


If we can't find something pleasant, we will at least find something new.


It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.


I have lost the half of myself – a soul for which mine was made.



Henry David Thoreau


Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.

Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.

Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see.

In what concerns you much, do not think that you have companions: know that you are alone in the world.

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.

I stand in awe of my body.

Men are born to succeed, not fail.

Men have become the tools of their tools.

My friend is one... who take me for what I am.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.

Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!

That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.

The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is in prison.

What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?

What people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can.

[Water is] the only drink for a wise man.

Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

It is never too late to give up our prejudices.

He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul's estate.

Man is the artificer of his own happiness.

There is no remedy for love but to love more.

I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.

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.

It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.

The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.

Things do not change; we change.

Goodness is the only investment that never fails.

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.

The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.

In wildness is the preservation of the world.

Go Confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

All good things are wild, and free.

It is pleasant to have been to a place the way a river went.

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish fill the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.

What men call good fellowship is commonly but the virtue of pigs in a litter which lie close together to keep each other warm.

I derive no pleasure from talking with a young woman simply because she has regular features.

As if there were safety in stupidity alone.

Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Voting for the right is doing nothing for it.

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board.

Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize the infinite extent of our relations.

Men have become the tools of their tools.

However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do want society.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he imaged, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.

Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now.

It is characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.

There is more religion in men's science, than there is science in their religion.

To regret deeply is to live afresh.

Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.

Good poetry seems too simple and natural a thing that when we meet it we wonder that all men are not always poets. Poetry is nothing but healthy speech.

To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, not even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.

The way by which you may get money almost without exception leads downward.

A simple and independent mind does not toil at the bidding of any prince.

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are the richest.

We are armed with language adequate to describe each leaf of the filed, but not to describe human character.

Must be out-of-doors enough to get experience of wholesome reality, as a ballast to thought and sentiment. Health requires this relaxation, this aimless life

One may discover a new side to his most intimate friend when for the first time he hears him speak in public. He will be stranger to him as he is more familiar to the audience. The longest intimacy could not foretell how he would behave then

We must have infinite faith in each other. If we have not, we must never let it leak out that we have not.

We do not learn by inference and deduction and the application of mathematics to philosophy, but by direct intercourse and sympathy.

Most are engaged in business the greater part of their lives, because the soul abhors a vacuum and they have not discovered any continuous employment for man's nobler faculties.

As for the pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs.

Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.

All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy.

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.

We falsely attribute to men a determined character - putting together all their yesterdays - and averaging them - we presume we know them. Pity the man who has character to support - it is worse than a large family - he is the silent poor indeed.

The man for whom law exists - the man of forms, the Conservative, is a tame man.

It takes two to speak the truth--one to speak and the other to hear.

Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

It is never too late to give up your prejudices.

I have learned this at least by my experiment: if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

I have lived some thirty years on this planet and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors.

In solitude especially do we begin to appreciate the advantage of living with someone who can think.

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, more elastic, more starry, more immortal--that is your success.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.

I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.

A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend.

I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion.

I'd rather sit alone on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

Many go fishing without knowing it is fish they are after.

Be not simply good - be good for something.

In the long run, you hit only what you aim at: Therefore aim high.

In dreams we see ourselves naked and acting our real characters, even more clearly than we see others awake.

Petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of reality.

Heroes are often the most ordinary of men.

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it but as I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.

Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.

Most people dread finding out when they come to die that they have never really lived.