Highest Good Quotes

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The best thing a girl can be is a good wife and mother. It is a girl's highest calling. I hope I am ready.
Nancy E. Turner
I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.
Madeleine L'Engle
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.
Stephen R. Covey
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.
Albert Einstein (Living Philosophies)
We all are so deeply interconnected; we have no option but to love all. Be kind and do good for any one and that will be reflected. The ripples of the kind heart are the highest blessings of the Universe.
Amit Ray (Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style)
God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.
Jonathan Edwards (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733)
the highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!
Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek)
For what prevents us from saying that the happy life is to have a mind that is free, lofty, fearless and steadfast - a mind that is placed beyond the reach of fear, beyond the reach of desire, that counts virtue the only good, baseness the only evil, and all else but a worthless mass of things, which come and go without increasing or diminishing the highest good, and neither subtract any part from the happy life nor add any part to it? A man thus grounded must, whether he wills or not, necessarily be attended by constant cheerfulness and a joy that is deep and issues from deep within, since he finds delight in his own resources, and desires no joys greater than his inner joys.
Seneca (The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters)
All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe." It will work miracles in your life.
Louise L. Hay
Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
Robert A. Heinlein
Since God is the highest good, he would not allow any evil to exist in his works unless his omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.
Augustine of Hippo
If I am afraid to speak the truth lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, "You do not understand", or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
Amy Carmichael (If)
Faith is the courage to live your life as if everything that happens does so for your highest good and learning. Like it or not.
Dan Millman (Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior)
The greatness comes not when things go always good for you. But the greatness comes when you're really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you've been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.
Richard M. Nixon
Police business is a hell of a problem. It’s a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there’s nothing in it to attract the highest type of men. So we have to work with what we get...
Raymond Chandler (The Lady in the Lake)
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
Seneca (On the Shortness of Life)
What a lovely thing a rose is!" He walked past the couch to the open window and held up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural objects. "There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as religion," said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. "It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Naval Treaty)
Some people react physically to the magic of poetry, to the moments, that is, of authentic revelation, of the communication, the sharing, at its highest level...A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape and significance of the universe, helps to extend everyone's knowledge of himself and the world around him.
Dylan Thomas
The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best.
Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest)
There will be times in your life when things simply have to be replaced because they are tired, broken, worn out, harmful, outdated, or irrelevant. Take an inventory of the things that no longer serve your best and highest good so you can replace them with things which do.
Susan C. Young
...the goodness of God is the highest object of prayer and it reaches down to our lowest need.
Julian of Norwich (Revelations of Divine Love)
If you are unclear about what attitudes you adhere to, you will have a difficult time evaluation which ones are not serving your highest good.
Deborah Day
Sorrow, terror, anguish, despair itself are often the chosen expressions of an approximation to the highest good. Our sympathy in tragic fiction depends on this principle; tragedy delights by affording a shadow of the pleasure which exists in pain. This is the source also of the melancholy which is inseparable from the sweetest melody. The pleasure that is in sorrow is sweeter than the pleasure of pleasure itself.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays)
God doesn't work on our timetable. He has a plan that He will execute perfectly and for the highest, greatest good of all, and for His ultimate glory.
Charles R. Swindoll
A human soul devoid of longing was a soul deformed, deprived of its highest good, sick unto death.
Saul Bellow (Ravelstein)
The cultivation of the intellect is man's highest good and purest happiness
Aristotle
Freedom isn't the highest good. Power is. For without power, your freedom can be taken.
Brent Weeks (The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer, #2))
There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.
Henry Ford
We...believe that art is religious, because it is one of man's highest aspirations. There is no such thing as pagan art, only good and bad art.
Irving Stone (The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo)
If you spend any amount of time doing media analysis, it’s clear that the most frenzied moral panic surrounding young women’s sexuality comes from the mainstream media, which loves to report about how promiscuous girls are, whether they’re acting up on spring break, getting caught topless on camera, or catching all kinds of STIs. Unsurprisingly, these types of articles and stories generally fail to mention that women are attending college at the highest rates in history, and that we’re the majority of undergraduate and master’s students. Well-educated and socially engaged women just don’t make for good headlines, it seems.
Jessica Valenti (The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women)
We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.
Wendell Berry (The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural)
Ask him why there are hypocrites in the world.' 'Because it is hard to bear the happiness of others.' 'When are we happy?' 'When we desire nothing and realize that possession is only momentary, and so are forever playing.' 'What is regret?' 'To realize that one has spent one's life worrying about the future.' 'What is sorrow?' 'To long for the past.' 'What is the highest pleasure?' 'To hear a good story.
Vikram Chandra (Red Earth and Pouring Rain)
In all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these: 1. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor’d with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable. 2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman. 3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience. 4. Because thro’ more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclin’d to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes. 5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement. 6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy. 7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy. 8thly and Lastly They are so grateful!!
Benjamin Franklin
Isn't it grand, isn't it good, that language has only one word for everything we associate with love - from utter sanctity to the most fleshly lust? The result is perfect clarity in ambiguity, for love cannot be disembodied even in its most sanctified forms, nor is it without sanctity even at its most fleshly. Love is always simply itself, both as a subtle affirmation of life and as the highest passion; love is our sympathy with organic life.
Thomas Mann (The Magic Mountain)
If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love - You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.
C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)
If there is a God and future life, there is truth and good, and man's highest happiness consists in striving to attain them. We must live, we must love, and we must believe that we live not only today on this scrap of earth, but have lived and shall live
Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace)
The worst thing is not that the world is unfree, but that people have unlearned their liberty. The more indifferent people are to politics, to the interests of others, the more obsessed they become with their own faces. The individualism of our time. Not being able to fall asleep and not allowing oneself to move: the marital bed. If high culture is coming to an end, it is also the end of you and your paradoxical ideas, because paradox as such belongs to high culture and not to childish prattle. You remind me of the young men who supported the Nazis or communists not out of cowardice or out of opportunism but out of an excess of intelligence. For nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought… You are the brilliant ally of your own gravediggers. In the world of highways, a beautiful landscape means: an island of beauty connected by a long line with other islands of beauty. How to live in a world with which you disagree? How to live with people when you neither share their suffering nor their joys? When you know that you don’t belong among them?... our century refuses to acknowledge anyone’s right to disagree with the world…All that remains of such a place is the memory, the ideal of a cloister, the dream of a cloister… Humor can only exist when people are still capable of recognizing some border between the important and the unimportant. And nowadays this border has become unrecognizable. The majority of people lead their existence within a small idyllic circle bounded by their family, their home, and their work... They live in a secure realm somewhere between good and evil. They are sincerely horrified by the sight of a killer. And yet all you have to do is remove them from this peaceful circle and they, too, turn into murderers, without quite knowing how it happened. The longing for order is at the same time a longing for death, because life is an incessant disruption of order. Or to put it the other way around: the desire for order is a virtuous pretext, an excuse for virulent misanthropy. A long time a go a certain Cynic philosopher proudly paraded around Athens in a moth-eaten coat, hoping that everyone would admire his contempt for convention. When Socrates met him, he said: Through the hole in your coat I see your vanity. Your dirt, too, dear sir, is self-indulgent and your self-indulgence is dirty. You are always living below the level of true existence, you bitter weed, you anthropomorphized vat of vinegar! You’re full of acid, which bubbles inside you like an alchemist’s brew. Your highest wish is to be able to see all around you the same ugliness as you carry inside yourself. That’s the only way you can feel for a few moments some kind of peace between yourself and the world. That’s because the world, which is beautiful, seems horrible to you, torments you and excludes you. If the novel is successful, it must necessarily be wiser than its author. This is why many excellent French intellectuals write mediocre novels. They are always more intelligent than their books. By a certain age, coincidences lose their magic, no longer surprise, become run-of-the-mill. Any new possibility that existence acquires, even the least likely, transforms everything about existence.
Milan Kundera
There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion," said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. "It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #4))
What do I fear? Myself? There’s none else by. Richard loves Richard; that is, I and I. Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am. Then fly! What, from myself? Great reason why: Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself? Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? For any good That I myself have done unto myself? O, no! Alas, I rather hate myself For hateful deeds committed by myself. I am a villain. Yet I lie. I am not. Fool, of thyself speak well. Fool, do not flatter: My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, And every tongue brings in a several tale, And every tale condemns me for a villain. Perjury, perjury, in the highest degree; Murder, stern murder, in the direst degree; All several sins, all used in each degree, Throng to the bar, crying all, “Guilty! guilty!” I shall despair. There is no creature loves me, And if I die no soul will pity me. And wherefore should they, since that I myself Find in myself no pity to myself?
William Shakespeare (Richard III)
There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief - WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us. For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea - we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation. Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order. Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to. You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills. Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left. Trust is maintained when values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep clarity, discipline and consistency in balance, then trust starts to break down. All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.
Simon Sinek (Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action)
God knows; I won't be an Oxford don anyhow. I'll be a poet, a writer, a dramatist. Somehow or other I'll be famous, and if not famous, I'll be notorious. Or perhaps I'll lead the life of pleasure for a time and then—who knows?—rest and do nothing. What does Plato say is the highest end that man can attain here below? To sit down and contemplate the good. Perhaps that will be the end of me too.
Oscar Wilde (Lady Windermere's Fan)
After the hundreds of stories I’ve heard of atrocities around the globe, I know that if you’re a woman born in the United States, you’re one of the luckiest women in the world. Take your good fortune and lift your life to its highest calling. Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.
Oprah Winfrey (What I Know For Sure)
I felt deep within me that the highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!” - The Narrator.
Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek)
Love is unselfishly choosing for another's highest good.
C.S. Lewis
Their [philosophers] thinking is, in fact, far less a discovery than a re-recognizing, a remembering, a return and a home-coming to a far-off, ancient common-household of the soul, out of which those ideas formerly grew: philosophizing is so far a kind of atavism of the highest order.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil)
There is no energy more powerful than love. Love creates miracles, heals all wounds, and purifies all lower energies. You cannot give love away, for the more you give, the more you will receive in return. When you choose love you bring about the highest good for yourself and others. Offering love is always the right choice. With love you can transform or be transparent to people's emotions and thoughts, neutralize "negative" energy, and harmonize with all life in the universe. All energy in the universe responds positively to love.
Sanaya Roman (Soul Love: Awakening Your Heart Centers (Soul Life, #1))
Sometimes, girls, you have to hit your lowest low just before you hit your highest high. It makes you appreciate the good things so much more.
David Estes (The Moon Dwellers (The Dwellers, #1))
Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.
Simon Sinek (Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action)
I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty. I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master. I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living. I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs. I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order. I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man's word should be as good as his bond, that character—not wealth or power or position—is of supreme worth. I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free. I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual's highest fulfillment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will. I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.
John D. Rockefeller
The highest good is a mind that scorns the happenings of chance, and rejoices only in virtue.
Seneca (Epistles 1-65)
Life naturally reorganizes itself when we are true to ourselves and everything can fall into its right place. That's when "the highest good of all" naturally happens.
Maria Erving
Society, civilized society at least, is never very ready to believe anything to the detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating. It feels instinctively that manners are of more importance than morals, and, in its opinion, the highest respectability is of much less value than the possession of a good chef.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
God does not demand that every man attain to what is theoretically highest and best. It is better to be a good street sweeper than a bad writer, better to be a good bartender than a bad doctor, and the repentant thief who died with Jesus on Calvary was far more perfect than the holy ones who had Him nailed to the cross. And yet, abstractly speaking, what is more holy than the priesthood and less holy than the state of a criminal? The dying thief had, perhaps, disobeyed the will of God in many things: but in the most important event of his life he listened and obeyed. The Pharisees had kept the law to the letter and had spent their lives in the pursuit of a most scrupulous perfection. But they were so intent upon perfection as an abstraction that when God manifested His will and His perfection in a concrete and definite way they had no choice but to reject it.
Thomas Merton (No Man Is an Island)
Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a time when Jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter today? And who of Huitzilopochtli? In one year - and it is no more than five hundred years ago - 50,000 youths and maidens were slain in sacrifice to him. Today, if he is remembered at all, it is only by some vagrant savage in the depths of the Mexican forest. Huitzilopochtli, like many other gods, had no human father; his mother was a virtuous widow; he was born of an apparently innocent flirtation that she carried out with the sun. When he frowned, his father, the sun, stood still. When he roared with rage, earthquakes engulfed whole cities. When he thirsted he was watered with 10,000 gallons of human blood. But today Huitzilopochtli is as magnificently forgotten as Allen G. Thurman. Once the peer of Allah, Buddha and Wotan, he is now the peer of Richmond P. Hobson, Alton B. Parker, Adelina Patti, General Weyler and Tom Sharkey. Speaking of Huitzilopochtli recalls his brother Tezcatlipoca. Tezcatlipoca was almost as powerful; he consumed 25,000 virgins a year. Lead me to his tomb: I would weep, and hang a couronne des perles. But who knows where it is? Or where the grave of Quetzalcoatl is? Or Xiuhtecuhtli? Or Centeotl, that sweet one? Or Tlazolteotl, the goddess of love? Of Mictlan? Or Xipe? Or all the host of Tzitzimitl? Where are their bones? Where is the willow on which they hung their harps? In what forlorn and unheard-of Hell do they await their resurrection morn? Who enjoys their residuary estates? Or that of Dis, whom Caesar found to be the chief god of the Celts? Of that of Tarves, the bull? Or that of Moccos, the pig? Or that of Epona, the mare? Or that of Mullo, the celestial jackass? There was a time when the Irish revered all these gods, but today even the drunkest Irishman laughs at them. But they have company in oblivion: the Hell of dead gods is as crowded as the Presbyterian Hell for babies. Damona is there, and Esus, and Drunemeton, and Silvana, and Dervones, and Adsullata, and Deva, and Bellisima, and Uxellimus, and Borvo, and Grannos, and Mogons. All mighty gods in their day, worshipped by millions, full of demands and impositions, able to bind and loose - all gods of the first class. Men labored for generations to build vast temples to them - temples with stones as large as hay-wagons. The business of interpreting their whims occupied thousands of priests, bishops, archbishops. To doubt them was to die, usually at the stake. Armies took to the field to defend them against infidels; villages were burned, women and children butchered, cattle were driven off. Yet in the end they all withered and died, and today there is none so poor to do them reverence. What has become of Sutekh, once the high god of the whole Nile Valley? What has become of: Resheph Anath Ashtoreth El Nergal Nebo Ninib Melek Ahijah Isis Ptah Anubis Baal Astarte Hadad Addu Shalem Dagon Sharaab Yau Amon-Re Osiris Sebek Molech? All there were gods of the highest eminence. Many of them are mentioned with fear and trembling in the Old Testament. They ranked, five or six thousand years ago, with Yahweh Himself; the worst of them stood far higher than Thor. Yet they have all gone down the chute, and with them the following: Bilé Ler Arianrhod Morrigu Govannon Gunfled Sokk-mimi Nemetona Dagda Robigus Pluto Ops Meditrina Vesta You may think I spoof. That I invent the names. I do not. Ask the rector to lend you any good treatise on comparative religion: You will find them all listed. They were gods of the highest standing and dignity-gods of civilized peoples-worshiped and believed in by millions. All were omnipotent, omniscient and immortal. And all are dead.
H.L. Mencken (A Mencken Chrestomathy)
The core symbols we use for God represent what we take to be the highest good....These symbols or images shape our worldview, our ethical system, and our social practice--how we relate to one another. For instance, [Elizabeth A.] Johnson suggests that if a religion speaks about God as warrior, using militaristic language such as how "he crushes his enemies" and summoning people to become soldiers in God's army, then the people tend to become militaristic and aggressive. Likewise, if the key symbol of God is that of a male king (without any balancing feminine imagery), we become a culture that values and enthrones men and masculinity.
Sue Monk Kidd (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine)
Late modern society is principally concerned with purchasing things, in ever greater abundance and variety, and so has to strive to fabricate an ever greater number of desires to gratify, and to abolish as many limits and prohibitions upon desire as it can. Such a society is already implicitly atheist and so must slowly but relentlessly apply itself to the dissolution of transcendent values. It cannot allow ultimate goods to distract us from proximate goods. Our sacred writ is advertising, our piety is shopping, our highest devotion is private choice. God and the soul too often hinder the purely acquisitive longings upon which the market depends, and confront us with values that stand in stark rivalry to the only truly substantial value at the center of the social universe: the price tag.
David Bentley Hart (The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss)
To seek enlightenment, intellectual or spiritual; to do good; to love and be loved; to create and to teach: these are the highest purposes of humankind. If there is meaning in life, it lies here.
George Monbiot (How Did We Get into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature)
If I truly believe in Him, I'll trust Him to desire for me that which is for my highest good, and to have planned for its fulfillment.
Helen Roseveare (Quick-And-Easy Strip Quilting)
The universe will bring people whatever they want…Let the magic happen. It’s always there. Abundance and love are always there. Believe in the highest good. There is a higher essence to everything. The realm you’re in has a heaviness that mutes energy. You can penetrate through it, no matter how dark and heavy. Sometimes it has nothing to do with karma. Just don’t forget to keep it open. Don’t get too bogged down…Prosperity can happen at any time. I want to give you everything that you need.-Kuan Yin
Hope Bradford (Beneficial Law of Attraction: The Manifestation Teachings (Kuan Yin Law of Attraction Techniques Based on Oracle of Compassion: The Living Word of Kuan Yin))
In the Christian community thankfulness is just what it is anywhere else in the Christian life. Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)
Prayer that craves a particular commodity—anything less than all good, is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is theft and meanness. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (Self-Reliance and Other Essays)
Life is infinite energy coupled with limitless creative imagination. It is the invisible essence and substance of every visible form. Its nature is goodness, truth, wisdom and beauty, as well as energy and imagination. Our highest satisfaction comes from a sense of conscious union with this invisible Life. All human endeavor is an attempt to get back to first principles, to find such an inward wholeness that all sense of fear, doubt and uncertainty vanishes.
Ernest Shurtleff Holmes (The Art of Life)
Since the beginning of time, love has been the source of both the highest bliss and the heaviest burdens. At the heart of misery from the days of Adam until today, you will find the love of wrong things. And at the heart of joy, you will find the love of good things."And the greatest of all good things is God.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I am speaking now of the highest duty we owe our friends, the noblest, the most sacred--that of keeping their own nobleness, goodness, pure and incorrupt...If we let our friend become cold and selfish and exacting without remonstrance, we are no true lover, no true friend.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
The shadow of the highest evil intermingled with the light of the highest good. Maybe all lives are filled with this. Maybe it is always a choice between embracing the darkness of one or the saving grace of the other.
Lisa Wingate (The Sea Glass Sisters (Carolina Heirlooms #.5))
They seemed to have imagined that scientific progress could be allowed to go on indefinitely, regardless of everything else. Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest secondary and subordinate.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World)
O night, O sweetest time, though black of hue, with peace you force all the restless work to end; those who exalt you see and understand, and he is sound of mind who honours you. You cut the thread of tired thoughts, for so you offer calm in your moist shade; you send to this low sphere the dreams where we ascend up to the highest, where I long to go. Shadow of death that brings to quiet close all miseries that plague the heart and soul, for those in pain the last and best of cures; you heal the flesh of its infirmities, dry and our tears and shut away our toil, and free the good from wrath and fretting cares.
Michelangelo Buonarroti (Complete Poems and Selected Letters)
With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.
A.W. Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy)
Like a wise serpent shedding her skin, you are called to release whatever is no longer authentic or doesn’t serve your highest good. You are not the same person you were ten or even five years ago. Acknowledge your growth and movement.
Elizabeth Eiler
Natasha was happy as she had never been in her life. She was at that highest pitch of happiness, when one becomes completely good and kind, and disbelieves in the very possibility of evil, unhappiness, and sorrow.
Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace)
The ultimate good of the gospel is seeing and savoring the beauty and value of God. God’s wrath and our sin obstruct that vision and that pleasure. You can’t see and savor God as supremely satisfying while you are full of rebellion against Him and He is full of wrath against you. The removal of this wrath and this rebellion is what the gospel is for. The ultimate aim of the gospel is the display of God’s glory and the removal of every obstacle to our seeing it and savoring it as our highest treasure. “Behold Your God!” is the most gracious command and the best gift of the gospel. If we do not see Him and savor Him as our greatest fortune, we have not obeyed or believed the gospel.
John Piper (God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself)
[And there was the matter of Dick Turpin. It looked like the same car, except that forever afterwards it seemed able to do 250 miles on a gallon of petrol, ran so quietly that you practically had to put your mouth over the exhaust pipe to see if the engine was firing , and issued its voice-synthesized warnings in a series of exquisite and perfectly-phrased haikus, each one original and apt... Late frost burns the bloom Would a fool not let the belt Restrain the body? ...it would say. And, The cherry blossom Tumbles from the highest tree One needs more petrol]
Terry Pratchett (Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch)
Love is a mighty power, a great and complete good; Love alone lightens every burden, and makes the rough places smooth. It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders all bitterness sweet and acceptable. The love of Jesus is noble, and inspires us to great deeds; it moves us always to desire perfection. Love aspires to high things, and is held back by nothing base. Love longs to be free, a stranger to every worldly desire, lest its inner vision become dimmed, and lest worldly self-interest hinder it or ill-fortune cast it down. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; for love is born of God, and can rest only in God above all created things. Love flies, runs, leaps for joy; it is free and unrestrained. Love gives all for all, resting in One who is highest above all things, from whom every good flows and proceeds. Love does not regard the gifts, but turns to the Giver of all good gifts. Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds. Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil, attempts things beyond its strength; love sees nothing as impossible, for it feels able to achieve all things. Love therefore does great things; it is strange and effective; while he who lacks love faints and fails.
Thomas à Kempis (The Inner Life)
Love is the highest and best use of a life.
Sy Montgomery (How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals)
I think the highest forgiveness is to accept that creation is thoroughly tangled, with every possible quality given outlet for expression. People need to accept once and for all that there is only one life and each of us is free to shape it through the choices we make. Seeking can’t get anyone out of the tangle because everything is tangled up…it’s much easier to keep up the fight between good and evil, holy and profane, us and them. But as awareness grows, these opposites begin to calm down in their clashes, and something else emerges- a world you feel at home in.
Deepak Chopra (The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life)
When a nation which has long groaned under the intolerable yoke of a tyrant rises at last and throws off its chains, do you call that weakness? The man who, to rescue his house from the flames, finds his physical strength redoubled, so that he lifts burdens with ease which in the absence of excitement he could scarcely move; he who under the rage of an insult attacks and puts to flight half a score of his enemies,—are such persons to be called weak? My good friend, if resistance be strength, how can the highest degree of resistance be a weakness?
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (The Sorrows of Young Werther)
I was the dhampir daughter of the family patriarch, the little known stain on an otherwise immaculate record. Louis-Cesare, on the other hand, was vamp royalty. The only Child of Mircea’s younger, and far stranger, brother Radu, he was a first-level master--the highest and rarest vampire rank. A month ago, the prince and the pariah had crossed paths because we had one thing in common: we were very good at killing things. And Mircea’s bug-eyed crazy brother Vlad had needed killing if anyone ever had. The collaboration hadn’t exactly been stress free, but to my surprise, we eventually sorted things out and got the job done. By the end, I’d even started to think that it was kind of nice, having someone to watch my back for a change. Sometimes, I could be really stupid.
Karen Chance (Death's Mistress (Dorina Basarab, #2))
Once upon a time on Tralfamadore there were creatures who weren’t anything like machines. They weren’t dependable. They weren’t efficient. They weren’t predictable. They weren’t durable. And these poor creatures were obsessed by the idea that everything that existed had to have a purpose, and that some purposes were higher than others. These creatures spent most of their time trying to find out what their purpose was. And every time they found out what seemed to be a purpose of themselves, the purpose seemed so low that the creatures were filled with disgust and shame. And, rather than serve such a low purpose, the creatures would make a machine to serve it. This left the creatures free to serve higher purposes. But whenever they found a higher purpose, the purpose still wasn’t high enough. So machines were made to serve higher purposes, too. And the machines did everything so expertly that they were finally given the job of finding out what the highest purpose of the creatures could be. The machines reported in all honesty that the creatures couldn’t really be said to have any purpose at all. The creatures thereupon began slaying each other, because they hated purposeless things above all else. And they discovered that they weren’t even very good at slaying. So they turned that job over to the machines, too. And the machines finished up the job in less time than it takes to say, “Tralfamadore.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (The Sirens of Titan)
No government should be given too much power, or the people comprising that government will use the power in the worst ways possible; individual freedom, when used within the boundaries of morality, is the highest good. The Constitution was written as a living testimony to this view.
Andrew Breitbart (Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!)
Prayer that craves a particular commodity, -- anything less than all good, -- is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg. He will then see prayer in all action. The prayer of the farmer kneeling in his field to weed it, the prayer of the rower kneeling with the stroke of his oar, are true prayers heard throughout nature, though for cheap ends.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The highest branch of solitary amusement is reading; but even in the choice of books the fancy is first employed; for in reading, the heart is touched, till its feelings are examined by the understanding, and the ripening of reason regulate the imagination. This is the work of years, and the most important of all employments.
Mary Wollstonecraft (Original Stories From Real Life; with Conversations, Calculated To Regulate the Affections and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness)
There is a sacred calling on your life, and the question is: Will you spend your life flittering and fluttering about or take the time and really heed that call and create your own path to your highest good?...You cannot let other people define your life for you. You are the author of your own life...Real power is when you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing, the best it can be done. Authentic power. There's a surge, there's a kind of energy field that says, "I'm in my groove, I'm in my groove." And nobody has to tell you, "You go, girl," because you know you're already gone.
Oprah Winfrey
We become side-tracked if we make physical health our aim and imagine that because we are children of God we shall always be perfectly well.
Oswald Chambers (The Highest Good/The Shadow of an Agony)
I’m at the tipping point of a transformation that began months ago, an intentional decision put in motion. And it feels so fucking good. I’ve come to the full realization that my happiness, my life, falls squarely on my shoulders. No one’s gonna do it for it me. I’m the one who makes it or breaks it.  It’s a choice.  A choice that demands action in exchange for reward. Idleness and complacency lead to mediocrity. Sometimes action is really fucking hard fought, but that’s when the payoff’s the highest.  That’s when great things happen.  Not good things … but epic things. And I’ve fallen in love with epic.  It’s the only way to live.
Kim Holden (Gus (Bright Side, #2))
There is no greater moment in life than that when we discover the unique design which has shaped our lives from the moment of birth, save one: The instant we recognize destiny, accept it and then begin to create the rest of our own lives within it using the power of free will. When this threshold has been crossed, nothing can stop our inevitable journey into the highest good for ourselves and all around us. This is healing. This is actualization. This is integration. This is joy. And it is the birthright of every incarnated soul on this planet.
Jacob Nordby
Ignoring your death is like dying a slow death. Your life is speaking to you every day, all the time-and your job is to listen up and find the clues. Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you toward your highest good. Pay attention to what makes you feel energized, connected, stimulated-what gives you your juice. Do what you love, give it back in the form of SERVICE, and you will do more than succeed. You will TRIUMPH!
Oprah Winfrey (The Best of Oprah's What I Know For Sure)
There are two things which make it impossible to believe that this world is the successful work of an all-wise, all-good, and, at the same time, all-powerful Being; firstly, the misery which abounds in it everywhere; and secondly, the obvious imperfection of its highest product, man, who is a burlesque of what he should be.
Arthur Schopenhauer (Studies in Pessimism (Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer))
My dearest friend Abigail, These probably could be the last words I write to you and I may not live long enough to see your response but I truly have lived long enough to live forever in the hearts of my friends. I thought a lot about what I should write to you. I thought of giving you blessings and wishes for things of great value to happen to you in future; I thought of appreciating you for being the way you are; I thought to give sweet and lovely compliments for everything about you; I thought to write something in praise of your poems and prose; and I thought of extending my gratitude for being one of the very few sincerest friends I have ever had. But that is what all friends do and they only qualify to remain as a part of the bunch of our loosely connected memories and that's not what I can choose to be, I cannot choose to be lost somewhere in your memories. So I thought of something through which I hope you will remember me for a very long time. I decided to share some part of my story, of what led me here, the part we both have had in common. A past, which changed us and our perception of the world. A past, which shaped our future into an unknown yet exciting opportunity to revisit the lost thoughts and to break free from the libido of our lost dreams. A past, which questioned our whole past. My dear, when the moment of my past struck me, in its highest demonised form, I felt dead, like a dead-man walking in flesh without a soul, who had no reason to live any more. I no longer saw any meaning of life but then I saw no reason to die as well. I travelled to far away lands, running away from friends, family and everyone else and I confined myself to my thoughts, to my feelings and to myself. Hours, days, weeks and months passed and I waited for a moment of magic to happen, a turn of destiny, but nothing happened, nothing ever happens. I waited and I counted each moment of it, thinking about every moment of my life, the good and the bad ones. I then saw how powerful yet weak, bright yet dark, beautiful yet ugly, joyous yet grievous; is a one single moment. One moment makes the difference. Just a one moment. Such appears to be the extreme and undisputed power of a single moment. We live in a world of appearance, Abigail, where the reality lies beyond the appearances, and this is also only what appears to be such powerful when in actuality it is not. I realised that the power of the moment is not in the moment itself. The power, actually, is in us. Every single one of us has the power to make and shape our own moments. It is us who by feeling joyful, celebrate for a moment of success; and it is also us who by feeling saddened, cry and mourn over our losses. I, with all my heart and mind, now embrace this power which lies within us. I wish life offers you more time to make use of this power. Remember, we are our own griefs, my dear, we are our own happinesses and we are our own remedies. Take care! Love, Francis. Title: Letter to Abigail Scene: "Death-bed" Chapter: The Road To Awe
Huseyn Raza
A happy life is impossible, the highest thing that man can aspire to is a heroic life; such as a man lives, who is always fighting against unequal odds for the good of others; and wins in the end without any thanks. After the battle is over, he stands like the Prince in the re corvo of Gozzi, with dignity and nobility in his eyes, but turned to stone. His memory remains, and will be reverenced as a hero's; his will, that has been mortified all his life by toiling and struggling, by evil payment and ingratitude, is absorbed into Nirvana.
Arthur Schopenhauer
Our highest deeds come from helping the lowest people.
Matshona Dhliwayo
From the beginning, nothing has been more alien, repugnant, and hostile to woman than truth -- her great art is the lie, her highest concern is mere appearance of beauty.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil)
sometimes deeper mental clarity is preceded by great internal storms healing yourself can be messy seeing yourself through honesty can be jarring and tough; it can even temporarily cause imbalance in your life it is hard work to open yourself up to release your burdens like removing thorns from your body, it may hurt at first, but it is ultimately for your highest good the dark clouds of rainfall are necessary for new growth.
Yung Pueblo (Inward)
I believe that we must align our actions with our highest principles. No matter the outcome, we will not have failed if we act from our best intentions.” “The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Captain,” Chakotay said with equal certainty. “So is the road to peace,” Cambridge observed.
Kirsten Beyer (Children of the Storm (Star Trek: Voyager))
To write with taste, in the highest sense, is to write [...] so that no one commits suicide, no one despairs; to write [...] so that people understand, sympathize, see the universality of pain, and feel strengthened, if not directly encouraged to live on. If there is good to be said, the writer should say it. If there is bad to be said, he should say it in a way that reflects the truth that, though we see the evil, we choose to continue among the living. The true artist [...] gets his sense of worth and honor from his conviction that art is powerful--
John Gardner (The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers)
Oil the saw, sharpen axes, Learn the names of all the peaks you see and which is highest- there are hundreds- Learn by heart the drainages between Go find a shallow pool of snowmelt on a good day, bathe in the lukewarm water.
Gary Snyder
The novel as a form is usually seen to be moral if its readers consider freedom, individuality, democracy, privacy, social connection, tolerance and hope to be morally good, but it is not considered moral if the highest values of a society are adherence to rules and traditional mores, the maintenance of hierarchical relationships, and absolute ideas of right and wrong. Any society based on the latter will find novels inherently immoral and subversive.
Jane Smiley
The Pagans have made known all of this. They have discovered the art of healing the body, they have also made known the art of healing the soul; they have filled the earth with settled forms of government and with wisdom which is the highest good. Without Paganism the world would be empty and miserable.
Tim Freke (The Hermetica: The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs)
Now and then, in philosophers or artists, one finds a passionate and exaggerated worship of 'pure forms': no one should doubt that a person who so needs the surface must once have made an unfortunate grab underneath it. Perhaps these burnt children, the born artists who find their only joy in trying to falsify life's images (as if taking protracted revenge against it-), perhaps they may even belong to a hierarchy: we could tell the degree to which they are sick of life by how much they wish to see its image adulterated, diluted, transcendentalized, apotheosized- we could count the homines religiosi among the artists, as their highest class.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil)
I wonder if you sisters full understand the greatness of your gifts and talents and how all of you can achieve the "highest place of honor" in the Church and in the world. One of your unique, precious, and sublime gifts is your femininity, with its natural grace, goodness, and divinity. Femininity is not just lipstick, stylish hairdos, and trendy clothes. It is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your qualities of your capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength. It is manifest differently in each girl or woman, but each of you possesses it. Femininity is part of your inner beauty. One of your particular gifts is your feminine intuition. Do not limit yourselves. As you seek to know the will of our Heavenly Father in your life and become more spiritual, you will be far more attractive, even irresistible. You can use your smiling loveliness to bless those you love and all you meet, and spread great joy. Femininity is part of the God-given divinity within each of you. It is your incomparable power and influence to do good. You can, through your supernal gifts, bless the lives of children, women, and men. Be proud of your womanhood. Enhance it. Use it to serve others.
James E. Faust
..it sounded very good and very false at the same time, so that you had the feeling that even if was true, he was touching only on the very highest points and maybe embellishing those a little.
Bill Pronzini (The Vanished (Nameless Detective, #2))
You see, people in the depressive position are often stigmatised as ‘failures' or ‘losers'. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. If these people are in the depressive position, it is most probably because they have tried too hard or taken on too much, so hard and so much that they have made themselves ‘ill with depression'. In other words, if these people are in the depressive position, it is because their world was simply not good enough for them. They wanted more, they wanted better, and they wanted different, not just for themselves, but for all those around them. So if they are failures or losers, this is only because they set the bar far too high. They could have swept everything under the carpet and pretended, as many people do, that all is for the best in the best of possible worlds. But unlike many people, they had the honesty and the strength to admit that something was amiss, that something was not quite right. So rather than being failures or losers, they are just the opposite: they are ambitious, they are truthful, and they are courageous. And that is precisely why they got ‘ill'. To make them believe that they are suffering from some chemical imbalance in the brain and that their recovery depends solely or even mostly on popping pills is to do them a great disfavour: it is to deny them the precious opportunity not only to identify and address important life problems, but also to develop a deeper and more refined appreciation of themselves and of the world around them—and therefore to deny them the opportunity to fulfil their highest potential as human beings.
Neel Burton
A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the highest virtues of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.
Thomas Jefferson
In my contact with people I find that, as a rule, it is only the little, narrow people who live for themselves, who never read good books, who do not travel, who never open up their souls in a way to permit them to come into contact with other souls--with the great outside world. No man whose vision is bounded by colour can come into contact with what is highest and best in the world. In meeting men, in many places, I have found that the happiest people are those who do the most for others; the most miserable are those who do the least.
Booker T. Washington (Up from Slavery)
I am unique. I have mission. I have a calling. I will fulfill my highest potential and calling.
Lailah Gifty Akita
The highest beings of all are the ones who are willing to pay any personal cost for the good of those who need them.
Orson Scott Card
Be satisfied with your part. Do not bemoan your fate. In this life everyone has troubles which he thinks nobody else has. Never wish to be in the shoes of someone else who you think is better off than you are. It is best to wish for nothing, but to ask the Lord to give you what is for your highest good. You are a part of the Lord’s creation: He needs everybody to carry on this drama. Never compare yourself with anybody else. You are what you are. Nobody is like you. Nobody can act your part as you can. Similarly, you should not try to play somebody else’s part. What is important is to do the will of Him who sent you; that is what you want. While you do your part, think all the time that God is working through you
Paramahansa Yogananda
How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Ephesians 4, 14). Having a clear Faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching', looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires. However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an 'Adult' means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties. A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false, and deceit from truth.
Benedict XVI
There is something sad, dreamy, and in the highest degree poetic in a lonely grave ... You can hear its silence, and in this silence you sense the presence of the soul of the unknown person who lies under the cross. Is it good for this soul in the steppe? Does it languish
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
Religion is, as I say, something universal and something human, and something impossible to eradicate, nor would I want to eradicate it. I am a religious person, although I am not a believer. Religion is at its best when it is a long way from political power. The founder of the Christian religion -- or, the founders of the Christian religion, Jesus and St. Paul -- were both clear about this. "Blessed are the meek." "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." St. Paul is perfectly clear that the highest Christian virtue is charity, not patriotism, not martial valor, not exalting your class, your group, your race above others, but charity. That's the highest virtue. When religion remembers that and acts accordingly, it does good. But religion, at various points in human history, notably the history of western Europe and the history of some parts of the Middle East more recently, has acquired political power, and put its hands on the levers of social authority. It decides who shall live and who shall die. It decides how we shall dress, what we shall be allowed to read, whether we shall go to war, and so on. When religion acquires that power, it goes bad very rapidly.
Philip Pullman
There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral - immoral from the scientific point of view.' 'Why?' 'Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here ofr. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion - these are the two things that govern us. And yet [...] I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream - I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all maladies of medievalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal - to something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. [...] We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us. ... The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.
Oscar Wilde
We are custodians. We are stewards. Our actions are being watched by others around us. Someone is looking up to us as we take each breath. We can be just a grape or we can be the juice that offers simplicity, nourishment and refreshment. Extract and empty your goodness. Pass it into the hearts of the people looking up to you. It will multiply beyond your highest good.
Angie karan
I do not, in my private capacity, believe that a baby gets his best physical food by sucking his thumb; nor that a man gets his best moral food by sucking on his soul, and denying its dependence on God or other good things. I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton (A Short History Of England)
The highest good is like water, for the good of water is that it nourishes everything without striving. It occupies the place which all men think bad [i.e., the lowest level].17 [102d] It is thus that Tao in the world is like a river going down the valley to the ocean.18 [102e] The most gentle thing in the world overrides the most hard.19 [102g] How do coves and oceans become kings of a hundred rivers? Because they are good at keeping low— That is how they are kings of the hundred rivers.20 [102f] Nothing in the world is weaker than water, But it has no better in overcoming the hard.21 [101a]
Alan W. Watts (Tao: The Watercourse Way)
I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity.
Murray N. Rothbard (Conceived in Liberty (4 Volume Set))
In my contact with people I find that, as a rule, it is only the little, narrow people who live for themselves, who never read good books, who do not travel, who never open up their souls in a way to permit them to come into contact with other souls -- with the great outside world. No man whose vision is bounded by colour can come into contact with what is highest and best in the world. In meeting men, in many places, I have found that the happiest people are those who do the most for others; the most miserable are those who do the least. I have also found that few things, if any, are capable of making one so blind and narrow as race prejudice. I often say to our students, in the course of my talks to them on Sunday evenings in the chapel, that the longer I live and the more experience I have of the world, the more I am convinced that, after all, the one thing that is most worth living for -- and dying for, if need be -- is the opportunity of making some one else more happy and more useful.
Booker T. Washington
There are two kinds of geniuses: the 'ordinary' and the 'magicians'. An ordinary genius is a fellow whom you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what they've done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it. It is different with the magicians. Even after we understand what they have done it is completely dark. Richard Feynman is a magician of the highest calibre. -- Mark Kac
James Gleick
Come to the jacaranda tree at seven o'clock and you will hear something to your advantage. Destroy this note.' No signature, no clue to the identity. Just what sort of heroine do you think I am? Phryne asked the air. Only a Gothic novel protagonist would receive that and say, 'Goodness, let me just slip into a low-cut white nightie and put on the highest heeled shoes I can find,' and, pausing only to burn the note, slip out of the hotel by a back exit and go forth to meet her doom in the den of the monster - to be rescued in the nick of time by the strong-jawed hero (he of the Byronic profile and the muscles rippling beneath the torn shirt). 'Oh, my dear,' Phryne spoke aloud as if to the letter-writer. 'You don't know a lot about me, do you?
Kerry Greenwood (Death Before Wicket (Phryne Fisher, #10))
If you don't make a conscious effort to visualize, who you are and what you want to become in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape your journey by default. Your silence makes you reactive vs. proactive. God will bring people in your life that can take you on many different journeys that will bring about different outcomes to your life mission. However, if you are not proactive and define your dreams you will never know where “you” need to be and who needs to be with you to fulfill what God is asking you to do. Your life is your own. You must define your dreams, not live someone else’s vision of a good life. What is it that God is asking you to do with the talents and hobbies you enjoy? What were you blessed with a desire for? A good life is one spent in the service of helping others. Find a life partner that will help you reach God’s highest potential—service to humanity, service to his Kingdom, service to building others up. Also, begin any choice with the end in mind. This means to begin each day with a clear vision of your desired direction. It is not enough to live a passive life of religious devotion. God asked you to do more than worship. He has called you to serve, not to be a servant to other people’s dreams. You and only you know where your heart must travel. God brings you storms in life to wake you up. Don’t see it as his disappointment, but as his parental love for you. Life was not meant to stay the same. If someone truly loves you they will never take you away from God’s plan, they will only magnify it.
Shannon L. Alder
Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. It's smell and it's color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Naval Treaty)
Realization is dawning. Instead of playing the tyrant, therefore, you are paying attention. You are telling the truth, instead of manipulating the world. You are negotiating, instead of playing the martyr or the tyrant. You no longer have to be envious, because you no longer know that someone else truly has it better. You no longer have to be frustrated, because you have learned to aim low, and to be patient. You are discovering who you are, and what you want, and what you are willing to do. You are finding that the solutions to your particular problems have to be tailored to you, personally and precisely. You are less concerned with the actions of other people, because you have plenty to do yourself. Attend to the day, but aim at the highest good.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. (The Holy Quran, an-Nahl 16:91) This verse sets forth three gradations of doing good. The first is the doing of good in return for good. This is the lowest gradation and even an average person can easily acquire this gradation that he should do good to those who do good to him. The second gradation is a little more difficult than the first, and that is to take the initiative in doing good out of pure benevolence. This is the middle grade. Most people act benevolently towards the poor, but there is a hidden deficiency in benevolence, that the person exercising benevolence is conscious of it and desires gratitude or prayer in return for his benevolence. If on any occasion the other person should turn against him, he considers him ungrateful. On occasion he reminds him of his benevolence or puts some heavy burden upon him. The third grade of doing good is graciousness as between kindred. God Almighty directs that in this grade there should be no idea of benevolence or any desire for gratitude, but good should be done out of such eager sympathy as, for instance, a mother does good to her child. This is the highest grade of doing good which cannot be exceeded. But God Almighty has conditioned all these grades of doing good with their appropriate time and place. The verse cited above clearly indicates that if these virtues are not exercised in their proper places they would become vices.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Police business,” he said almost gently, “is a hell of a problem. It’s a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there’s nothing in it to attract the highest type of men. So we have to work with what we get—and we get things like this.
Raymond Chandler (The Lady in the Lake (Philip Marlowe, #4))
The will has no overall purpose, aims at no highest good, and can never be satisfied. Although it is our essence, it strikes us as an alien agency within, striving for life and procreation blindly, mediated only secondarily by consciousness. Instinctive sexuality is at our core, interfering constantly with the life of the intellect. To be an individual expression of this will is to lead a life of continual desire, deficiency, and suffering. Pleasure or satisfaction exists only relative to a felt lack; it is negative, merely the cessation of an episode of striving or suffering, and has no value of itself. Nothing we can achieve by conscious act of will alters the will to life within us. There is no free will. Human actions, as part of the natural order, are determined [....] As individual parts of the empirical world we are ineluctably pushed through life by a force inside us which is not of our choosing, which gives rise to needs and desires we can never fully satisfy, and is without ultimate purpose. Schopenhauer concludes that it would have been better not to exist—and that the world itself is something whose existence we should deplore rather than celebrate.
Christopher Janaway
The danger facing all of us--let me say it again, for one feels it tremendously--is not that we shall make an absolute failure of life, nor that we shall fall into outright viciousness, nor that we shall be terribly unhappy, nor that we shall feel that life has no meaning at all--not these things. The danger is that we may fail to perceive life's greatest meaning, fall short of its highest good, miss its deepest and most abiding happiness, be unable to render the most needed service, be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God--and be content to have it so--that is the danger. That some day we may wake up and find that always we have been busy with the husks and trappings of life--and have really missed life itself. For life without God, to one who has known the richness and joy of life with Him, is unthinkable, impossible. That is what one prays one's friends may be spared--satisfaction with a life that falls short of the best, that has in it no tingle and thrill which come from a friendship with the Father.
Phillips Brooks
The point I’m trying to make is that I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant, and all-around obnoxious arsehole that anyone could possibly have the misfortune to meet. I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful, and uncomprehending in the face of the happy. So if I didn’t understand I was being asked to be the best man, it is because I never expected to be anybody’s best friend, and certainly not the best friend of the bravest and kindest and wisest human being I have ever had the good fortune of knowing. John, I am a ridiculous man, redeemed only by the warmth and constancy of your friendship. But as I am apparently your best friend, I cannot congratulate you on your choice of companion. Actually, now I can. Mary, when I say you deserve this man, it is the highest compliment of which I am capable. John, you have endured war, and injury, and tragic loss — so sorry again about that last one. So know this: Today, you sit between the woman you have made your wife and the man you have saved. In short, the two people who love you most in all this world. And I know I speak for Mary as well when I say we will never let you down, and we have a lifetime ahead to prove that. Now, on to some funny stories about John...
Steven Moffat
This kindness, this stupid kindness, is what is most truly human in a human being. It is what sets man apart, the highest achievement of his soul. No, it says, life is not evil! This kindness is both senseless and wordless. It is instinctive, blind. When Christianity clothed it in the teachings of the Church Fathers, it began to fade; its kernel became a husk. It remains potent only while it is dumb and senseless, hidden in the living darkness of the human heart – before it becomes a tool or commodity in the hands of preachers, before its crude ore is forged into the gilt coins of holiness. It is as simple as life itself. Even the teachings of Jesus deprived it of its strength. But, as I lost faith in good, I began to lose faith even in kindness. It seemed as beautiful and powerless as dew. What use was it if it was not contagious? How can one make a power of it without losing it, without turning it into a husk as the Church did? Kindness is powerful only while it is powerless. If Man tries to give it power, it dims, fades away, loses itself, vanishes.
Vasily Grossman (Life and Fate)
When someone claims to be acting from the highest principles, for the good of others, there is no reason to assume that the person’s motives are genuine. People motivated to make things better usually aren’t concerned with changing other people—or, if they are, they take responsibility for making the same changes to themselves (and first).
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
A PRAYER   The supreme prayer of my heart is not to be learned, rich, famous, powerful, or “good,” but simply to be radiant. I desire to radiate health, cheerfulness, calm courage and good will. I wish to live without hate, whim, jealousy, envy, fear. I wish to be simple, honest, frank, natural, clean in mind and clean in body, unaffected—ready to say “I do not know,” if it be so, and to meet all men on an absolute equality—to face any obstacle and meet every difficulty unabashed and unafraid. I wish others to live their lives, too—up to their highest, fullest and best. To that end I pray that I may never meddle, interfere, dictate, give advice that is not wanted, or assist when my services are not needed. If I can help people, I’ll do it by giving them a chance to help themselves; and if I can uplift or inspire, let it be by example, inference, and suggestion, rather than by injunction and dictation.
Elbert Hubbard (A Message to Garcia: And Other Classic Success Writings)
I think, perhaps, we have very mistaken ideas about heaven -- what it is and what it holds for us. I don't think it can be so very different from life here as most people seem to think. I believe we'll just go on living, a good deal as we live here -- and be OURSELVES just the same -- only it will be easier to be good and to -- follow the highest. All the hindrances and perplexities will be taken away, and we shall see clearly.
L.M. Montgomery (Anne of the Island)
Of all the conceptions of pure bliss that people and poets have dreamed of, listening to the harmony of the spheres always seemed to me the highest and most intense. That is where my dearest and brightest dreams have ranged - to hear for the duration of a heartbeat the universe and the totality of life in its mysterious innate harmony. Alas, how is it that life can be so confusing and out of tune and false, how can there be lies, evil, envy and hate among people, when the shortest song and most simple piece of music preach that heaven is revealed in the purity, harmony and interplay of clearly sounded notes. And how can I upbraid people and grow angry when I myself, with all the good will in the world have been unable to make song and sweet music out of my life?
Hermann Hesse
God language can tie people into knots, of course. In part, that is because ‘God’ is not God's name. Referring to the highest power we can imagine, ‘God’ is our name for that which is greater than all and yet present in each. For some the highest imaginable power will be a petty and angry tribal baron ensconced high above the clouds on a golden throne, visiting punishment on all who don't believe in him. But for others, the highest power is love, goodness, justice, or the spirit of life itself. Each of us projects our limited experience on a cosmic screen in letters as big as our minds can fashion. For those whose vision is constricted (illiberal, narrow-minded people), this can have horrific consequences. But others respond to the munificence of creation with broad imagination and sympathy. Answering to the highest and best within and beyond themselves, they draw lessons and fathom meaning so redemptive that surely it touches the divine.
Forrest Church (The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theology)
It's your world, but I make my way in it. At fifteen, no, I couldn't stand up to you. The age of illusions, when we know nothing, we hope for everything; we're wandering in a mist ... And the half of the world that's never had any use for us, suddenly is besieging us. You need us, you adore us, you're suffering for us. You want everything--except to know what we think. You look deep in our eyes--and put your hand up our dress. You call us, "Pretty thing." That confuses us. The most beautiful woman, the highest ranked, lives half dazzled by constant attention, half stifled by obvious contempt. We think all we're good for is pleasing you--till one day, long acquaintance with you dispels the last mist. In a clear light, we suddenly see you as you are--and generally we start preferring ourselves. At thirty, I could finally say no--or really say yes. That's when you begin backing away from us. Now I'm full-grown. I pursue my happiness the same as any man.
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze Di Figaro): Vocal Score)
Had I life to live over, I see now where I could do more; but neighbour, believe me, my highest aspiration is to be a clean, thrifty housekeeper, a bountiful cook, a faithful wife, a sympathetic mother. That is life work for any woman, and to be a good woman is the greatest thing on earth. Never mind about the ladies; if you can honestly say of me, she is a good woman, you have paid me the highest possible tribute..... To be a good wife and mother is the end toward which I aspire. To hold the respect and love of my husband is the greatest object of my life.
Gene Stratton-Porter
Say to my friends, when they look upon me, dead, Weeping for me and mourning me in sorrow, ‘Do not believe that this corpse you see is myself, In the name of God, I tell you, it is not I, I am a spirit, and this is naught but flesh, It was my abode and my garment for a time. I am a treasure, by a talisman kept hid, Fashioned of dust, which served me as a shrine, I am a pearl, which has left it’s shell deserted, I am a bird, and this body was my cage, Whence I have now flown forth and it is left as a token, Praise to God, who hath now set me free, And prepared for me my place in the highest of the Heavens, Until today I was dead, though alive in your midst. Now I live in truth, with the grave – clothes discarded. Today I hold converse with the Saints above, With no veil between, I see God face to face. I look upon “Loh-i-Mahfuz” and there in I read, Whatever was and is, and all that is to be. Let my house fall in ruins, lay my cage in the ground, Cast away the talisman, it is a token no more, Lay aside my cloak, it was but my outer garment. Place them all in the grave, let them be forgotten, I have passed on my way and you are left behind, Your place of abode was no dwelling place for me. Think not that death is death, nay, it is life, A life that surpasses all we could dream of here, While in this world, here we are granted sleep, Death is but sleep, sleep that shall be prolonged Be not frightened when death draweth nigh, It is but the departure for this blessed home, Think of the mercy and love of your Lord, Give thanks for His Grace and come without fear. What I am now, even so shall you be, For I know that you are even as I am, The souls of all men come forth from God, The bodies of all are compounded alike, Good and evil, alike it was ours. I give you now a message of good cheer May God’s peace and joy forever more be yours.
Abu Hamid al-Ghazali
To love mankind for the sake of God-that has been the most nobel and far-fetched feeling yet achieved by human beings. The idea that without some sanctifying ulterior motive, a love of mankind is just one more brutish stupidity, that the predisposition to such a love must first find its weight, its refinement, its grain of salt and pinch of ambergris in another even higher predisposition-whoever first felt and 'witnessed' this, and however much his tongue may have stuttered in attempting to express such a delicate idea: may he remain forever venerable and holy in our sight as the man who as yet has flown the highest and erred the most beautifully!
Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil)
Pleasure, scarcely in one instance, is ever able to reach ecstasy and rapture; and in no one instance can it continue for any time at its highest pitch and altitude. The spirits evaporate, the nerves relax, the fabric is disordered, and the enjoyment quickly degenerates into fatigue and uneasiness. But pain often, good God, how often! rises to torture and agony; and the longer it continues, it becomes still more genuine agony and torture. Patience is exhausted, courage languishes, melancholy seizes us, and nothing terminates our misery but the removal of its cause, or another event, which is the sole cure of all evil, but which, from our natural folly, we regard with still greater horror and consternation.
David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion)
If a man works without any selfish motive in view, does he not gain anything? Yes, he gains the highest. Unselfishness is more paying, only people have not the patience to practice it. It is more paying from the point of view of health also. Love, truth, and unselfishness are not merely moral figures of speech, but they form our highest ideal, because in them lies such a manifestation of power. In the first place, a man who can work for five days, or even for five minutes, without any selfish motive whatever, without thinking of future, of heaven, of punishment, or anything of the kind, has in him the capacity to become a powerful moral giant. It is hard to do it, but in the heart of our hearts we know its value, and the good it brings. It is the greatest manifestation of power — this tremendous restraint; self-restraint is a manifestation of greater power than all outgoing action.
Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (9 volume set))
The world is not everything Ruth. Nor is the want of men’s good opinion and esteem the highest need which man has. Teach Leonard this. You would not wish his life to be one summer’s day. You dared not make it so, if you had the power. Teach him to bid a noble, Christian welcome to the trials which God sends—and this is one of them. Teach him not to look on a life of struggle, and perhaps of disappointment and incompleteness, as a sad and mournful end, but as the means permitted to the heroes and warriors in the army of Christ, by which to show their faithful following. Tell him of the hard and thorny path which was trodden once by the bleeding feet of One. Think of the Saviour’s life and cruel death, and of His divine faithfulness… We have all been cowards hitherto. God help us to be so no longer!
Elizabeth Gaskell
Ah, my dear friend, cheer up... After all, we have peace! And because there is peace, the occupiers can't behave so abominably anymore. All right, we're not free. But we are used to that, Mr. Kujawski. After all we were both born into slavery, and we will die in it. Oh yes, at first they'll exploit us ruthlessly. Fourteen hours of slave labor a day. A bowl of watery soup. Whippings, beatings... But that will pass with time. Because there is peace, they won't have a chance to get any new slaves. They'll have to take good care of those have already. Cheer up, dear Mr. Kujawski... [...] Arbeit macht frei, work makes man free, and it makes him especially so in the sunshine of European peace. We will lack only one thing. Only one! The right of dissent. The right to say out loud that we want a free and independent Poland, that we want to brush our teeth and go on holiday in our own way, conceive children and work our own way, think in our own way, live and die. This is the one thing you will find missing in the sunshine of European peace, which you, my friend, hold to be the highest good.
Andrzej Szczypiorski (The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman)
We have made money our god and called it the good life. We have trained our children to go for jobs hat bring the quickest corporate advancements at the highest financial levels. We have taught them careerism but not ministry and wonder why ministers are going out of fashion. We fear coddling the poor with food stamps while we call tax breaks for the rich business incentives. We make human community the responsibility of government institutions while homelessness, hunger, and drugs seep from the centers of our cities like poison from open sores for which we do not seek either the cause or the cure. We have created a bare and sterile world of strangers where exploitation is a necessary virtue. We have reduced life to the lowest of values so that the people who have much will not face the prospect of having less. Underlying all of it, we have made women the litter bearers of a society where disadvantage clings to the bottom of the institutional ladder and men funnel to the top, where men are privileged and women are conscripted for the comfort of the human race. We define women as essential to the development of the home but unnecessary to the development of society. We make them poor and render them powerless and shuttle them from man to man. We sell their bodies and question the value of their souls. We call them unique and say they have special natures, which we then ignore in their specialness. We decide that what is true of men is true of women and then say that women are not as smart as men, as strong as men, or as capable as men. We render half the human race invisible and call it natural. We tolerate war and massacre, mayhem and holocaust to right the wrongs that men say need righting and then tell women to bear up and accept their fate in silence when the crime is against them. What’s worse, we have applauded it all—the militarism, the profiteering, and the sexisms—in the name of patriotism, capitalism, and even religion. We consider it a social problem, not a spiritual one. We think it has something to do with modern society and fail to imagine that it may be something wrong with the modern soul. We treat it as a state of mind rather than a state of heart. Clearly, there is something we are failing to see.
Joan D. Chittister (Heart of Flesh: Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men)
There was a line from The Lady in the Lake I could have quoted him: “Police business is a hell of a problem. It’s a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there’s nothing in it to attract the highest type of men.” When Jake recognized that he had failed to live up to his responsibility to uphold that law, he had resigned. He had had the honor and the courage to step away. Not every man had that in him; I thought probably very few men did.
Josh Lanyon (The Dark Tide (The Adrien English Mysteries, #5))
...The happy Warrior... is he... who, doomed to go in company with pain, and fear, and bloodshed, miserable train turns his necessity to glorious gain; in face of these doth exercise a power which is our human nature's highest dower: controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves of their bad influence, and their good receives: by objects, which might force the soul to abate her feeling, rendered more compassionate; is placable— because occasions rise so often that demand such sacrifice; more skillful in self-knowledge, even more pure, as tempted more; more able to endure, as more exposed to suffering and distress; thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
William Wordsworth (Character of the Happy Warrior)
I was thinking, and realised how simple my goal has been— just to be me! I didn't want to be a good person and change the world; I just wanted to be me! Against all odds, I wanted to make sure that I turned out as myself and not into my family, my society, my religion... I wanted to make sure that I turned into me! But then after that first realisation, I made a second realisation; and that is, that becoming yourself against all odds is probably the highest attainment you could ever dream of or hope for! After all, the minute we are born, we are born into a world that isn't interested in making us who we are; but rather, is interested in making us who they think we are supposed to be! It is a most courageous act to become yourself, no matter what! And you can move mountains and change the world without trying to! As long as you fight for you!
C. JoyBell C.
Home is the true wife’s kingdom. There, first of all places, she must be strong and beautiful. She may touch life outside in many ways, if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors. But if any calls for her service must be declined, they should not be the duties of her home. These are hers, and no other one’s. Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle there. The best husband—the truest, the noblest, the gentlest, the richest-hearted—cannot make his home happy if his wife be not, in every reasonable sense, a helpmate to him. In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife. Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere. Her hands fashion its beauty. Her heart makes its love. And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine, that no woman who has been called to be a wife, and has listened to the call, should consider any price too great to pay, to be the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration of a home. Men with fine gifts think it worth while to live to paint a few great pictures which shall be looked at and admired for generations; or to write a few songs which shall sing themselves into the ears and hearts of men. But the woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies.
J.R. Miller
Are there so many fascinating, exciting things to do or so many challenges pressing down upon you that it is hard to keep focused on that which is essential? When things of the world crowd in, all too often the wrong things take highest priority. Then it is easy to forget the fundamental purpose of life. Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people. It is distraction. He would have good people fill life with 'good things' so there is no room for the essential ones. Have you unconsciously been caught in that trap?
Richard G. Scott
In the hierarchy of instincts, sex is considered to be the lowest, and the desire for the divine the highest. But here divinity is represented by the metaphor of sexual union – a hugely courageous way of looking at life. Such an image would be impossible in a culture where perspectives of the sacred evolved out of narrow ideas of morality, good and bad, right and wrong. This is only possible in a culture where an understanding of the sacred evolved out of consciousness. There is no distinction between the sacred and the profane in this symbol.
Sadhguru (Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga)
If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.” To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . . If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine yound intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an athiest to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them. If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing. (Speech was broadcast by ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey on April 3, 1965)
Paul Harvey
The desire to make art begins early. Among the very young this is encouraged (or at least indulged as harmless) but the push toward a 'serious' education soon exacts a heavy toll on dreams and fantasies....Yet for some the desire persists, and sooner or later must be addressed. And with good reason: your desire to make art -- beautiful or meaningful or emotive art -- is integral to your sense of who you are. Life and Art, once entwined, can quickly become inseparable; at age ninety Frank Lloyd Wright was still designing, Imogen Cunningham still photographing, Stravinsky still composing, Picasso still painting. But if making art gives substance to your sense of self, the corresponding fear is that you're not up to the task -- that you can't do it, or can't do it well, or can't do it again; or that you're not a real artist, or not a good artist, or have no talent, or have nothing to say. The line between the artist and his/her work is a fine one at best, and for the artist it feels (quite naturally) like there is no such line. Making art can feel dangerous and revealing. Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be. For many people, that alone is enough to prevent their ever getting started at all -- and for those who do, trouble isn't long in coming. Doubts, in fact, soon rise in swarms: "I am not an artist -- I am a phony. I have nothing worth saying. I'm not sure what I'm doing. Other people are better than I am. I'm only a [student/physicist/mother/whatever]. I've never had a real exhibit. No one understands my work. No one likes my work. I'm no good. Yet viewed objectively, these fears obviously have less to do with art than they do with the artist. And even less to do with the individual artworks. After all, in making art you bring your highest skills to bear upon the materials and ideas you most care about. Art is a high calling -- fears are coincidental. Coincidental, sneaky and disruptive, we might add, disguising themselves variously as laziness, resistance to deadlines, irritation with materials or surroundings, distraction over the achievements of others -- indeed anything that keeps you from giving your work your best shot. What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don't, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.
David Bayles (Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking)
The knowledge of secrets is a very enticing ship, a very tempting voyage, and one thinks that the highest attainment in life is to find out hidden truths, to seek out what is truth, to know what are all lies; to uncover, to discover and to rediscover, to dig up, to expose, to reveal... But secrets can go on forever, for an eternity! For as vast as the universe is, so are the secrets therein! And one can lose, because of that thought that in the secrets, everything is to be gained! But I can see, that all the knowledge of hidden things, all the knowledge in the universe, is not nearly as valuable and as worthy as the innocence of one's soul. And we are not directed unto good things through our ability to scavenge or to hunt or to decipher or to sail! Or to fly! But we are directed unto good things, through sovereign providence! He is more worthy- the innocent soul who has a simple faith in what he believes in- than the one who has found out all the dark secrets about what the other man has put his faith in! And it is far more profitable for a man to be healthy, to have a long, long life, loved ones that are blessed with these blessings all the same, much love and happiness and safety! It is far more profitable for a man to be able to remain innocent and have love and be healthy and to be able to watch his loved ones in good health and in good love, than for a man to uncover all the secrets of the universe! A single love, a single faith, a single trust, and one hope- these are far, far better things to aspire to have! And this– this is the biggest secret!
C. JoyBell C.
I'm very privileged. I've always had a very good life. But everything that I've gotten out of life was obtained through dedication and a tremendous desire to achieve my goals... a great desire for victory, meaning victory in life, not as a driver. To all of you who have experienced this or are searching now, let me say that whoever you may be in your life, whether you're at the highest or most modest level, you must show great strength and determination and do everything with love and a deep belief in God. One day, you'll achieve your aim and you'll be successful.
Ayrton Senna
In this martial world dominated by men, women had little place. The Church's teachings might underpin feudal morality, yet when it came to the practicalities of life, a ruthless pragmatism often came into play. Kings and noblemen married for political advantage, and women rarely had any say in how they or their wealth were to be disposed in marriage. Kings would sell off heiresses and rich widows to the highest bidder, for political or territorial advantage, and those who resisted were heavily fined. Young girls of good birth were strictly reared, often in convents, and married off at fourteen or even earlier to suit their parents' or overlord's purposes. The betrothal of infants was not uncommon, despite the church's disapproval. It was a father's duty to bestow his daughters in marriage; if he was dead, his overlord or the King himself would act for him. Personal choice was rarely and issue. Upon marriage, a girl's property and rights became invested in her husband, to whom she owed absolute obedience. Every husband had the right to enforce this duty in whichever way he thought fit--as Eleanor was to find out to her cost. Wife-beating was common, although the Church did at this time attempt to restrict the length of the rod that a husband might use.
Alison Weir (Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life (World Leaders Past & Present))
It is the noble races that have left behind them the concept 'barbarian' wherever they have gone; even their highest culture betrays a consciousness of it and even a pride in it (for example, when Pericles says to the Athenians in his famous funeral oration 'our boldness has gained access to every land and sea, everywhere raising imperishable monuments to its goodness and wickedness"). This 'boldness' of noble races, mad, absurd, and sudden in its expression, the incalculability, even incredibility of their undertakings—Pericles specially commends the rhathymia of the Athenians—their indifference to and contempt for security, body, life, comfort, their hair-raising cheerfulness and profound joy in all destruction, in all the voluptuousness of victory and cruelty—all this came together, in the minds of those who suffered from it, in the image of the 'barbarian,' the 'evil enemy,' perhaps as the 'Goths,' the 'Vandals.
Friedrich Nietzsche (On the Genealogy of Morals / Ecce Homo)
[339] Vita femina. To see the ultimate beauties in a work-all knowledge and good-will is not enough; it requires the rarest, good chance for the veil of clouds to move for once from the summits, and for the sun to shine on them. We must not only stand at precisely the right place to see this, our very soul itself must have pulled away the veil from its heights, and must be in need of an external expression and simile, so as to have a hold and remain master of itself. All these, however, are so rarely united at the same time that I am inclined to believe that the highest summit of all that is good, be it work, deed, man, or nature, has hitherto remained for most people, and even for the best, as something concealed and shrouded-that, however, which unveils itself to us, unveils itself to us but once. The Greeks indeed prayed: "Twice and thrice, everything beautiful!" Ah, they had their good reason to call on the Gods, for ungodly actuality does not furnish us with the beautiful at all, or only does so once! I mean to say that the world is overfull of beautiful things, but it is nevertheless poor, very poor, in beautiful moments, and in the unveiling of those beautiful things. But perhaps this is the greatest charm of life: it puts a gold- embroidered veil of lovely potentialities over itself, promising, resisting, modest, mocking, sympathetic, seductive. Yes, life is a woman!
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Gay Science)
The gift list is thinking upon His goodness – and this, this pleases Him most! And most profits my own soul and I am beginning, only beginning, to know it. If clinging to His goodness is the highest form of prayer, then this seeing His goodness with a pen, with a shutter, with a word of thanks, these really are the most sacred acts conceivable. The ones anyone can conceive, anywhere, in the midst of anything. Eucharisteo takes us into His love. Ann Voskamp, one thousand gifts, page 61
Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are)
Maeve, you wrote this to Tillie Olsen, who treasured it, and had it up on her studio wall. I copied it, and it’s now on the [bulletin] board over my desk.” The passage reads: I have been trying to think of the word to say to you that would never fail to lift you up when you are too tired or too sad [to] not be downcast. But I can think only of a reminder—you are all it has. You are all your work has. It has nobody else and never had anybody else. If you deny it hands and a voice, it will continue as it is, alive, but speechless and without hands. You know it has eyes and can see you, and you know how hopefully it watches you. But I am speaking of a soul that is timid but that longs to be known. When you are so sad that you “cannot work” there is always danger fear will enter in and begin withering around. A good way to remain on guard is to go to the window and watch the birds for an hour or two or three. It is very comforting to see their beaks opening and shutting. This is real friendship—the kind that takes another’s soul as seriously as one’s own. Aristotle considered it the highest order of love, philia, or “friendship love,” in which tending to somebody else’s welfare is central to our own flourishing.
Kate Bolick (Spinster)
Altruism holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only moral justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty. The political expression of altruism is collectivism or statism, which holds that man's life and work belong to the state - to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation - and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.
Ayn Rand (The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought)
Nearly all ancient peoples worshiped sex in some form and ritual, and not the lowest people but the highest expressed their worship most completely [...]. The sexual character and functions of primitive deities were held in high regard, not through any obscenity of mind, but through a passion for fertility in women and in the earth. Certain animals, like the bull and the snake, were worshiped as apparently possessing or symbolizing in a high degree the divine power of reproduction. The snake in the story of Eden is doubtless a phallic symbol, representing sex as the origin of evil, suggesting sexual awakening as the beginning of the knowledge of good and evil, and perhaps insinuating a certain proverbial connection between mental innocence and bliss.
Will Durant (Our Oriental Heritage (The Story of Civilization, #1))
The novel should tell the truth, as I see the truth, or as the novelist persuades me to see it. And one more demand: I expect the novelist to aspire to improve the world. ... As a novelist, I want to be more than one more dog barking at the other dogs barking at me. Not out of any foolish hope that one novelist, or all virtuous novelists in chorus, can make much of a difference for good, except in the long run, but out of the need to prevent the human world from relaxing into something worse. To maintain the tension between truth and falsity, beauty and ugliness, good and evil. ... I believe the highest duty of the serious novelist is, whatever the means or technique, to be a critic of his society, to hold society to its own ideals, or if these ideals are unworthy, to suggest better ideals.
Edward Abbey (Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast)
2. "HOW COULD anything originate out of its opposite? For example, truth out of error? or the Will to Truth out of the will to deception? or the generous deed out of selfishness? or the pure sun-bright vision of the wise man out of covetousness? Such genesis is impossible; whoever dreams of it is a fool, nay, worse than a fool; things of the highest value must have a different origin, an origin of THEIR own—in this transitory, seductive, illusory, paltry world, in this turmoil of delusion and cupidity, they cannot have their source. But rather in the lap of Being, in the intransitory, in the concealed God, in the 'Thing-in-itself— THERE must be their source, and nowhere else!"—
Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil)
All ancient philosophers, poets, and moralists agree that love is a striving, an aspiration of the “lower” toward the “higher,” the “unformed” toward the “formed,” ... “appearance” towards “essence,” “ignorance” towards “knowledge,” a “mean between fullness and privation,” as Plato says in the Symposium. ... The universe is a great chain of dynamic spiritual entities, of forms of being ranging from the “prima materia” up to man—a chain in which the lower always strives for and is attracted by the higher, which never turns back but aspires upward in its turn. This process continues up to the deity, which itself does not love, but represents the eternally unmoving and unifying goal of all these aspirations of love. Too little attention has been given to the peculiar relation between this idea of love and the principle of the “agon,” the ambitious contest for the goal, which dominated Greek life in all its aspects—from the Gymnasium and the games to dialectics and the political life of the Greek city states. Even the objects try to surpass each other in a race for victory, in a cosmic “agon” for the deity. Here the prize that will crown the victor is extreme: it is a participation in the essence, knowledge, and abundance of “being.” Love is only the dynamic principle, immanent in the universe, which sets in motion this great “agon” of all things for the deity. Let us compare this with the Christian conception. In that conception there takes place what might be called a reversal in the movement of love. The Christian view boldly denies the Greek axiom that love is an aspiration of the lower towards the higher. On the contrary, now the criterion of love is that the nobler stoops to the vulgar, the healthy to the sick, the rich to the poor, the handsome to the ugly, the good and saintly to the bad and common, the Messiah to the sinners and publicans. The Christian is not afraid, like the ancient, that he might lose something by doing so, that he might impair his own nobility. He acts in the peculiarly pious conviction that through this “condescension,” through this self-abasement and “self-renunciation” he gains the highest good and becomes equal to God. ... There is no longer any “highest good” independent of and beyond the act and movement of love! Love itself is the highest of all goods! The summum bonum is no longer the value of a thing, but of an act, the value of love itself as love—not for its results and achievements. ... Thus the picture has shifted immensely. This is no longer a band of men and things that surpass each other in striving up to the deity. It is a band in which every member looks back toward those who are further removed from God and comes to resemble the deity by helping and serving them.
Max Scheler
It breaks my heart. Better than your words, your eye tells me all your peril. You are not yet free, you still search for freedom. Your search has fatigued you and made you too wakeful. You long for the open heights, your soul thirsts for the stars. But your bad instincts too thirst for freedom. Your fierce dogs long for freedom; they bark for joy in their cellar when your spirit aspires to break open all prisons. To me you are still a prisoner who imagines freedom: ah, such prisoners of the soul become clever, but also deceitful and base. The free man of the spirit, too, must still purify himself. Much of the prison and rottenness still remain within him: his eye still has to become pure. Yes, I know your peril. But, by my love and hope I entreat you: do not reject your love and hope! You still feel yourself noble, and the others, too, who dislike you and cast evil glances at you, still feel you are noble. Learn that everyone finds the noble man an obstruction. The good, too, find the noble man an obstruction: and even when they call him a good man they do so in order to make away with him. The noble man wants to create new things and a new virtue. The good man wants the old things and that the old things shall be preserved. But that is not the danger for the noble man — that he may become a good man — but that he may become an impudent one, a derider, a destroyer. Alas, I have known noble men who lost their highest hope. And henceforth they slandered all high hopes. Henceforth they lived impudently in brief pleasures, and they had hardly an aim beyond the day. ‘Spirit is also sensual pleasure’ — thus they spoke. Then the wings of their spirit broke: now it creeps around and it makes dirty what it feeds on. Once they thought of becoming heroes: now they are sensualists. The hero is to them an affliction and a terror. But, by my love and hope I entreat you: do not reject the hero in your soul! Keep holy your highest hope! Thus spoke Zarathustra.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Your faith is your conscience, and your conscience is your faith. You cannot have faith without a conscience, but you can have a conscience without faith. Man was designed to be good with or without religion, yet the challenge for many is staying good. Some people claim to be religious but have no conscience, while some people without religion are very much aware of their conscience. Therefore, a religious label does not define your character or validate your worth. In the end, all men will be judged by the amount of truth in them and the weight of their hearts. The heavier the conscience, the heavier the truth. The lighter the heart, the higher it goes. The only spiritual currency one has in the afterlife is amassed in the form of light, in that, the amount you have depends on the weight of your words and deeds in the living. Conscience is everything. Conscience is what connects us to the truth and light of the highest power source of all. God. The cosmic heart of the universe.
Suzy Kassem
We’e all encountered those people who out of the corner of our eye, from across the street, at magic hour appear astoundingly attractive, even god or goddess like: the way they move, the way the light hits them, invokes reverence and all, the impression. And then we got a closer look. Damn it. Let down. Good from afar, but far from good. Some people will never be more attractive than in that first impression, from a distance, in that light, at that time, in that way we saw them, when our hopes became highest and our wish fullfillment was fully let it. They will never look better than in that initial fuzzy edge clingups, impressions. The white shot. Some relationships are better in a white shot. More impressive in the impressions. Like in-laws, best to only see an hour a day, like neighbors, its while we have walls and fences, like that long distance romance that fell apart when you moved in together, like that summer fling that only lasted through August, that friend that became a lover that you now miss as a friend, like ourselves when we are a fraud. They are better from a distance, with less frequency, with less intimacy. Sometimes we need more space, it’s romance, it’s imagination. Distance is the flirt in a wing, it is frivolous, its mysterious, a fantasy, a constant honeymoon because we can’t quite see it, we aren’t quite sure about it, we don’t quite know it. It’s a fuck, it’s detachment, it’s separate, it’s public, it’s carefree, it’s painless, it’s for rent. And we like it that way, because sometimes it is better with the lights dimmed.
Matthew McConaughey (Greenlights)
There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral—immoral from the scientific point of view." "Why?" "Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty hat one owes to one's self. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion—these are the two things that govern us. And yet, I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream—I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal—to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray (Collector's Edition): Including the Uncensored 13 Chapter Version & The Revised 20 Chapter Version)
Of all the laughs that strictly speaking are not laughs, but modes of ululation, only three I think need detain us, I mean the bitter, the hollow and the mirthless. They correspond to successive… how shall I say successive… suc… successive excoriations of the understanding, and the passage from the one to the other is the passage from the lesser to the greater, from the lower to the higher, from the outer to the inner, from the gross to the fine, from the matter to the form. The laugh that now is mirthless once was hollow, the laugh that once was hollow once was bitter. And the laugh that once was bitter? Eyewater, Mr. Watt, eyewater. But do not let us waste our time with that. . . . The bitter, the hollow and—Haw! Haw!— the mirthless. The bitter laugh laughs at that which is not good, it is the ethical laugh. The hollow laugh laughs at that which is not true, it is the intellectual laugh. Not good! Not true! Well well. But the mirthless laugh is the dianoetic laugh, down the snout—Haw!—so. It is the laugh of laughs, the risus purus, the laugh laughing at the laugh, the beholding, the saluting of the highest joke, in a word the laugh that laughs—silence please—at that which is unhappy”.
Samuel Beckett (Watt)
Ever since I was young I enjoyed solving puzzles and having the pleasure to see the bigger picture afterwards. But even after all that, I found that life could be the most challenging puzzle we have to face. It's one of those things that even if you have all the pieces and could see the whole picture, it still takes time and patience to solve it. At times, we feel more at ease not knowing the whole picture, not knowing the whole level of difficulty or number of pieces that we're missing, but just building up one piece at a time. The problem with this approach is that the only clues that we have for matching two pieces are the shape and a small glimpse of the image. We so often find comfort in building up the corners and the borders but very rarely do we adventure in the middle of the puzzle. We'd rather work little by little holding on to our safe border and only move towards the center when the pieces are still in touch with our borders or roots. On the other hand, you could be one of those people that just jumps in the middle and builds up on every piece you have in order to get small portions of the truth of the bigger picture every now and then. Not having your borders or corners in place might mean that you don't need to know your limits in order to realize that the puzzle will one day come to an end. Nevertheless, every piece is equally important and it gets handed to you at a time where you have at least some matching piece. That doesn't mean you should only focus on one point or piece and limit your possible connections. Spread out and you will find even more connections. The truth of the puzzle information comes in different shapes and colors but in the end it's all connected. Information might be divided, spread out in different areas, different people, different experiences. What's important to remember is that every piece is meant for you. You might throw it on the side now and use it later, but it will forever remain a part of your bigger picture. Work on your puzzle, with patience and care in moving forward and with a hopeful spirit that it will all work out in the end for your highest good!
Virgil Kalyana Mittata Iordache
To the accomplishment-oriented mother, what you achieve in life is paramount. Success depends on what you do, not who you are. She expects you to perform at the highest possible level. This mom is very proud of her children’s good grades, tournament wins, admission into the right college, and graduation with the pertinent degrees. She loves to brag about them too. But if you do not become what your accomplishment-oriented mother thinks you should, and accomplish what she thinks is important, she is deeply embarrassed, and may even respond with a rampage of fury and rage. A confusing dynamic is at play here. Often, while the daughter is trying to achieve a given goal, the mother is not supportive because it takes away from her and the time the daughter has to spend on her. Yet if the daughter achieves what she set out to do, the mother beams with pride at the awards banquet or performance. What a mixed message. The daughter learns not to expect much support unless she becomes a great hit, which sets her up for low self-esteem and an accomplishment-oriented lifestyle.
Karyl McBride (Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers)
Every time it starts to get cool, I mean in the middle of autim, I start gettin nutty ideas like I was thinkin about what was forein and diffrent, like for exsample how I'd like to turn into a swallow and get away and fly to countrys where it gets hot, or be an ant so's I could get deep into a cave and eat the stuff I stored away durin the summer or be a snake like what they got in the zoO, the ones they keep lockt up in glass cages thats heated so's they don't get stiff from the cold, which is what happens to poor human beans who cant buy no close cause the price is to high, and cant keep warm cause theys no keroseen, no coal, no wood, no fule oil and besides theys no loot, cause when you go around with bocoo bread you can go into any bar and get some sneaky pete that can be real warmin, even tho it aint good to overdo it cause if you overdos it it gets to be a bad habbit and bad habbits is bad for your body just like they is for youre selfrespeck, and when you start goin downhill cause your actin bad in everythin, they aint nobody or nothin can stop you from endin up a stinkin piece of human garbidge and they never gone give you a hand to haul you up outen the dirty muck you rollin around in, not even if you was a eaglE when you was young and could fly up and over the highest hills, but when you get old you like a highflyin bomber thats lost its moral engines and fall down outen the sky. I jes hope what I been writin down hear do somebody some good so he take a good look at how he livin and he dont be sorry when it too late and everythin is gone down the drain cause it his own fault. -- Caser Bruto, What I Would Like to Be If I Wasn't What I Am (Chapter: "A St. Bernard Dog")
Julio Cortázar (Hopscotch)
If you are interested in success, it’s easy to set your standards in terms of other people’s accomplishments and then let other people measure you by those standards. But the standards you set for yourself are always more important. They should be higher than the standards anyone else would set for you, because in the end you have to live with yourself, and judge yourself, and feel good about yourself. And the best way to do that is to live up to your highest potential. So set your standards high and keep them high, even if you think no one else is looking. Somebody out there will always notice, even if it’s just you.
John C. Maxwell (Talent Is Never Enough: Discover the Choices That Will Take You Beyond Your Talent)
To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet. We look for this security by fortifying and enclosing ourselves in innumerable ways. We want the protection of being “exclusive” and “special,” seeking to belong to the safest church, the best nation, the highest class, the right set, and the “nice” people. These defenses lead to divisions between us, and so to more insecurity demanding more defenses. Of course it is all done in the sincere belief that we are trying to do the right things and live in the best way; but this, too, is a contradiction. I can only think seriously of trying to live up to an ideal, to improve myself, if I am split in two pieces. There must be a good “I” who is going to improve the bad “me.” “I,” who has the best intentions, will go to work on wayward “me,” and the tussle between the two will very much stress the difference between them. Consequently “I” will feel more separate than ever, and so merely increase the lonely and cut-off feelings which make “me” behave so badly.
Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity)
We aren’t born with a ready-made conscience. As we pass through life, we hurt people and people hurt us, we act compassionately and others show compassion to us. If we pay attention, our moral sensitivity sharpens, and these experiences become a source of valuable ethical knowledge about what is good, what is right and who I really am. Humanism thus sees life as a gradual process of inner change, leading from ignorance to enlightenment by means of experiences. The highest aim of humanist life is to fully develop your knowledge through a large variety of intellectual, emotional and physical experiences. In the early nineteenth century, Wilhelm von Humboldt – one of the chief architects of the modern education system – said that the aim of existence is ‘a distillation of the widest possible experience of life into wisdom’. He also wrote that ‘there is only one summit in life – to have taken the measure in feeling of everything human’. This could well be the humanist motto.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
Konstantin Levin regarded his brother as a man of immense intellect and culture, as generous in the highest sense of the word, and possessed of a special faculty for working for the public good. But in the depths of his heart, the older he became, and the more intimately he knew his brother, the more and more frequently the thought struck him that this faculty of working for the public good, of which he felt himself utterly devoid, was possibly not so much a quality as a lack of something — not a lack of good, honest, noble desires and tastes, but a lack of vital force, of what is called heart, of that impulse which drives a man to choose someone out of the innumerable paths of life, and to care only for that one. The better he knew his brother, the more he noticed that Sergey Ivanovitch, and many other people who worked for the public welfare, were not led by an impulse of the heart to care for the public good, but reasoned from intellectual considerations that it was a right thing to take interest in public affairs, and consequently took interest in them. Levin was confirmed in this generalization by observing that his brother did not take questions affecting the public welfare or the question of the immortality of the soul a bit more to heart than he did chess problems, or the ingenious construction of a new machine.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
You are a special breed that has never been. You are the highest stratum of the society. You belong to a class that is beyond compare. You are full of superiority that gives especial worth which is meritoriously near the standard or model and eminently good of its kind. You are an expression of distinction, the perfection of superbness and effulgence of class. You are meant for the highest crown of success, created for affecting lives, configured for goodness, packaged to be set apart and set great store by, and ordained to be widely known and honored for greater achievement. You are a rare breed with divine and inherent ability to reign, rule, dominate and prosper in every way of life.
Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha (Overcoming the Challenges of Life)
He didn't disagree with me, but he seemed to feel that I have a perfection complex of some kind. Much talk from him, and quite intelligent, on the virtues of living the imperfect life, of accepting one's own and others' weaknesses. I agree with him, but only in theory. I'll champion indiscrimination till doomsday, on the grounds that it leads to health and a kind of very real, enviable happiness. Followed purely it's the way of the Tao, and undoubtedly the highest way. But for a discriminating man to achieve this, it would mean that he would have to dispossess himself of poetry, go beyond poetry. That is, he couldn't possibly learn or drive himself to like bad poetry in the abstract, let alone equate it with good poetry. He would have to drop poetry altogether. I said it would be no easy thing to do. Dr Sims said I was putting it too stringently – putting it, he said, as only a perfectionist would.
J.D. Salinger (Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction)
I was responding to earlier loving messages from my parents, hundreds of them, which said, “You are a beautiful and beloved individual. It is good to be you. We will love you no matter what you do, as long as you are you.” Without that security of my parents’ love reflected in my own self-love, I would have chosen the known instead of the unknown and continued to follow my parents’ preferred pattern at the extreme cost of my self’s basic uniqueness. Finally, it is only when one has taken the leap into the unknown of total selfhood, psychological independence and unique individuality that one is free to proceed along still higher paths of spiritual growth and free to manifest love in its greatest dimensions. As long as one marries, enters a career or has children to satisfy one’s parents or the expectations of anyone else, including society as a whole, the commitment by its very nature will be a shallow one. As long as one loves one’s children primarily because one is expected to behave in a loving manner toward them, then the parent will be insensitive to the more subtle needs of the children and unable to express love in the more subtle, yet often most important ways. The highest forms of love are inevitably totally free choices and not acts of conformity.
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth)
It is the custom on the stage: in all good, murderous melodramas: to present the tragic and the comic scenes, in as regular alternation, as the layers of red and white in a side of streaky, well-cured bacon. The hero sinks upon his straw bed, weighed down by fetters and misfortunes; and, in the next scene, his faithful but unconscious squire regales the audience with a comic song. We behold, with throbbing bosoms, the heroine in the grasp of a proud and ruthless baron: her virtue and her life alike in danger; drawing forth a dagger to preserve the one at the cost of the other; and, just as our expectations are wrought up to the highest pitch, a whistle is heard: and we are straightway transported to the great hall of the castle: where a grey-headed seneschal sings a funny chorus with a funnier body of vassals, who are free of all sorts of places from church vaults to palaces, and roam about in company, carolling perpetually. Such changes appear absurd; but they are not so unnatural as they would seem at first sight. The transitions in real life from well-spread boards to death-beds, and from mourning weeds to holiday garments, are not a whit less startling; only, there, we are busy actors, instead of passive lookers-on; which makes a vast difference. The actors in the mimic life of the theatre, are blind to violent transitions and abrupt impulses of passion or feeling, which, presented before the eyes of mere spectators, are at once condemned as outrageous and preposterous.
Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist)
We can very easily see how parents in other cultures simply repeat cultural norms to their children as if those cultural norms were objective truth. Japanese parents teach their children obedience and filial piety; Catholic parents teach their children to drink the blood of their god; Muslim parents teach their children that a man who married a six-year-old girl – and consummated that marriage when she was nine – is the paragon of moral virtue; Western parents teach their children that democracy is the highest ideal; North Korean parents teach their children that the dictator who rules their lives is a sort of secular deity who loves them. The list goes on and on. Virtually every parent in the world believes that she is teaching her child the truth, when she is merely inflicting what may be politely called cultural mythologies on her child. We lie to our children, all the while telling them that lying is wrong. We command our children to think for themselves, all the while repeating the most prejudicial absurdities as if they were objective facts. We tell our children to be good, but we have no idea what goodness really is. We tell our children that conformity is wrong (“If everyone jumped off the Empire State building, would you jump too?”) but at the same time we are complete slaves to the historical inertia of prior prejudices.
Stefan Molyneux (On Truth: The Tyranny of Illusion)
[Robert's eulogy at his brother, Ebon C. Ingersoll's grave. Even the great orator Robert Ingersoll was choked up with tears at the memory of his beloved brother] The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet, unselfish act is now a perfumed flower. Dear Friends: I am going to do that which the dead oft promised he would do for me. The loved and loving brother, husband, father, friend, died where manhood's morning almost touches noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the west. He had not passed on life's highway the stone that marks the highest point; but, being weary for a moment, he lay down by the wayside, and, using his burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down his eyelids still. While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he passed to silence and pathetic dust. Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For whether in mid sea or 'mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death. This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock; but in the sunshine he was vine and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls. He climbed the heights, and left all superstitions far below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning, of the grander day. He loved the beautiful, and was with color, form, and music touched to tears. He sided with the weak, the poor, and wronged, and lovingly gave alms. With loyal heart and with the purest hands he faithfully discharged all public trusts. He was a worshipper of liberty, a friend of the oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him quote these words: 'For Justice all place a temple, and all season, summer!' He believed that happiness was the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worship, humanity the only religion, and love the only priest. He added to the sum of human joy; and were every one to whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would sleep to-night beneath a wilderness of flowers. Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing. He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered with his latest breath, 'I am better now.' Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas, of fears and tears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead. And now, to you, who have been chosen, from among the many men he loved, to do the last sad office for the dead, we give his sacred dust. Speech cannot contain our love. There was, there is, no gentler, stronger, manlier man.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Some Mistakes of Moses)
Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess. And in this it is not likely that all are mistaken the conviction is rather to be held as testifying that the power of judging aright and of distinguishing truth from error, which is properly what is called good sense or reason, is by nature equal in all men; and that the diversity of our opinions, consequently, does not arise from some being endowed with a larger share of reason than others, but solely from this, that we conduct our thoughts along different ways, and do not fix our attention on the same objects. For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it. The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellences, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake it.
René Descartes (Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy)
Nonetheless, many people, and especially intellectuals, passionately loathe capitalism. As they see it, this ghastly mode of society’s economic organization has brought about nothing but mischief and misery. Men were once happy and prosperous in the good old days preceding the Industrial Revolution. Now under capitalism the immense majority are starving paupers ruthlessly exploited by rugged individualists. For these scoundrels nothing counts but their moneyed interests. They do not produce good and really useful things, but only what will yield the highest profits. They poison bodies with alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and souls and minds with tabloids, lascivious books and silly moving pictures. The “ideological superstructure” of capitalism is a literature of decay and degradation, the burlesque show and the art of striptease, the Hollywood pictures and the detective stories.
Ludwig von Mises (The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality)
Respected Teacher, My son will have to learn that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for ever scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know; but teach him, if you can, that a dollar earned is far more valuable than five found. Teach him to learn to lose and also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can. Teach him the secret of quite laughter. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to tick. Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books... but also give him quiet time to ponder over the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill. In school teach him it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if every one tells him they are wrong. Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough. Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when every one is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to all men but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through. Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness. Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders; but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob… and to stand and fight if he thinks he’s right. Treat him gently; but do not cuddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind. This is a big order; but see what you can do. He is such a fine little fellow, my son. (Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s Head Master)
Abraham Lincoln
The laws of nature are sublime, but there is a moral sublimity before which the highest intelligences must kneel and adore. The laws by which the winds blow, and the tides of the ocean, like a vast clepsydra, measure, with inimitable exactness, the hours of ever-flowing time; the laws by which the planets roll, and the sun vivifies and paints; the laws which preside over the subtle combinations of chemistry, and the amazing velocities of electricity; the laws of germination and production in the vegetable and animal worlds, — all these, radiant with eternal beauty as they are, and exalted above all the objects of sense, still wane and pale before the Moral Glories that apparel the universe in their celestial light. The heart can put on charms which no beauty of known things, nor imagination of the unknown, can aspire to emulate. Virtue shines in native colors, purer and brighter than pearl, or diamond, or prism, can reflect. Arabian gardens in their bloom can exhale no such sweetness as charity diffuses. Beneficence is godlike, and he who does most good to his fellow-man is the Master of Masters, and has learned the Art of Arts. Enrich and embellish the universe as you will, it is only a fit temple for the heart that loves truth with a supreme love. Inanimate vastness excites wonder; knowledge kindles admiration, but love enraptures the soul. Scientific truth is marvellous, but moral truth is divine; and whoever breathes its air and walks by its light, has found the lost paradise. For him, a new heaven and a new earth have already been created. His home is the sanctuary of God, the Holy of Holies.
Horace Mann (A Few Thoughts for a Young Man)
How to Survive Racism in an Organization that Claims to be Antiracist: 10. Ask why they want you. Get as much clarity as possible on what the organization has read about you, what they understand about you, what they assume are your gifts and strengths. What does the organization hope you will bring to the table? Do those answers align with your reasons for wanting to be at the table? 9. Define your terms. You and the organization may have different definitions of words like "justice", "diveristy", or "antiracism". Ask for definitions, examples, or success stories to give you a better idea of how the organization understands and embodies these words. Also ask about who is in charge and who is held accountable for these efforts. Then ask yourself if you can work within the structure. 8. Hold the organization to the highest vision they committed to for as long as you can. Be ready to move if the leaders aren't prepared to pursue their own stated vision. 7. Find your people. If you are going to push back against the system or push leadership forward, it's wise not to do so alone. Build or join an antiracist cohort within the organization. 6. Have mentors and counselors on standby. Don't just choose a really good friend or a parent when seeking advice. It's important to have on or two mentors who can give advice based on their personal knowledge of the organization and its leaders. You want someone who can help you navigate the particular politics of your organization. 5. Practice self-care. Remember that you are a whole person, not a mule to carry the racial sins of the organization. Fall in love, take your children to the park, don't miss doctors' visits, read for pleasure, dance with abandon, have lots of good sex, be gentle with yourself. 4. Find donors who will contribute to the cause. Who's willing to keep the class funded, the diversity positions going, the social justice center operating? It's important for the organization to know the members of your cohort aren't the only ones who care. Demonstrate that there are stakeholders, congregations members, and donors who want to see real change. 3. Know your rights. There are some racist things that are just mean, but others are against the law. Know the difference, and keep records of it all. 2. Speak. Of course, context matters. You must be strategic about when, how, to whom, and about which situations you decide to call out. But speak. Find your voice and use it. 1. Remember: You are a creative being who is capable of making change. But it is not your responsibility to transform an entire organization.
Austin Channing Brown (I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness)
In response to a plea in early 1941 from his colleague and friend, the writer Marietta Shaginyan, who was newly infatuated with the Piano Quintet and its creator, Mickhail Zoshchenko drafted for her a portrait of the Shostakovich he knew, a deeply complex individual: "It seemed to you that he is “frail, fragile, withdrawn, an infinitely direct, pure child.” That is so. But if it were only so, then great art (as with him) would never be obtained. He is exactly what you say he is, plus something else — he is hard, acid, extremely intelligent, strong perhaps, despotic and not altogether good-natured (although cerebrally good-natured). That is the combination in which he must be seen. And then it may be possible to understand his art to some degree. In him, there are great contradictions. In him, one quality obliterates the other. It is conflict in the highest degree. It is almost a catastrophe." Quoted in Laurel Fay: Shostakovich, a Life.
Dmitri Shostakovich
What art Thou then, my God? What, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord?or who is God save our God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong; stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never old; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet lacking nothing; supporting, filling, and overspreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having all things. Thou lovest, without passion; art jealous, without anxiety; repentest, yet grievest not; art angry, yet serene; changest Thy works, Thy purpose unchanged; receivest again what Thou findest, yet didst never lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet exacting usury. Thous receivest over and above, that Thou may owe; and who hath ought that is not Thine? Thou payest debts, owing nothing; remittest debts, losing nothing. And what have I now said, my God, my life, my holy joy? or what saith any man when he speaks of Thee? Yet woe to he who speaketh not, since mute are even the most eloquent.
Augustine of Hippo
You cannot win a war if you cannot talk honestly about the enemy Since the 9/11 attacks, political correctness and ideological prejudice—under both Republican and Democratic presidents—have distorted our analysis of the enemy, preventing us from drawing an effective plan to defeat the likes of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The Obama administration, blinded by its own preconceived ideas of why terrorism occurs, is influenced by malevolent actors who have an interest in censoring any talk of the religious aspects of the enemy’s ideology. At the highest level of the U.S. government, terrorism is deemed to be the result of poverty, unemployment, and lack of political enfranchisement. This fallacy must be jettisoned. We are not at war with Islam. The people most immanently in danger, in fact, are the nonviolent and non-extremist Muslims of the Middle East, such as our allies in Jordan and the modern Muslims of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. They are on the most important front of this war, and they understand just how much religion truly matters. We do a great disservice to those brave Muslims when we try to convince the world that the threat will disappear if enough people have good jobs and sound educations.
Sebastian Gorka (Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War)
And are we not worthy?” she asked, rolling the end of one ceramic chopstick back and forth between the thumb and index finger of her right hand. “Are our lives devoid of merit? Are we not generous to our friends, kind to strangers, skilled in our areas of expertise, reliable with rent, gentle with children, quick to phone an ambulance when we see a man hit by a car, thoughtful in word and deed? Do we not have worth enough? Are we not already perfect? Perfectly ourselves? Perfect in being who we are?” “I have no one to measure that quality against.” “Do you believe in God?” “No.” “Do you have eyes, judgement?” “And I see the world, but I have no one else’s eyes to measure my own vision against.” “Of course you do. You have the words of friends and strangers. You have discourse and reason. You have critical thought, which may be trained to the highest degree. In short, you do not need the world to tell you what to be. Especially if the world tells you that you are never good enough.
Claire North (The Sudden Appearance of Hope)
Your letter has drawn me from the solitude in which I had shut myself up for nearly nine months, and from which I found it hard to stir. You will not guess what I have been about. I will tell you for such things do not happen every day. I have been making a list of from two to three hundred radical words of the Russian language, and have had them translated into as many languages and jargons as I could find. Their number exceeds already the second hundred. Every day I took one of these words and wrote it out in all the languages which I could collect. This has taught me that Celtic is like the Ostiakian: that what means sky in one language means cloud, fog, vault, in others; that the word God in certain dialects means Good, the Highest, in others, sun or fire...I asked Professor Pallas to come to me, and after making an honest confession of my sin, we agreed to publish these collections, and thus make them useful to those who like to occupy themselves with the forsaken toys of others. - Letter from Catherine the Great, dated 9 May 1785, from Curious Versions of Modernity, D.l. Martin, MIT Press 2011
Catherine the Great
If God be for us, who can be against us?" - that does not mean that faith in God will bring us everything that we desire. What it does mean is that if we possess God, then we can meet with equanimity the loss of all besides. Has it never dawned upon us that God is valuable for His own sake, that just as personal communion is the highest thing that we know on earth, so personal communication with God is the sublimest height of all? If we value God for His own sake, then the loss of other things will draw us all the closer to Him; we shall then have recourse to Him in time of trouble as to the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. I do not mean that the Christian need expect always to be poor and sick and lonely and to seek his comfort only in a mystic experience with His God. This universe is God's world; its blessings are showered upon His creatures even now; and in His own good time, when the period of its groaning and travailing is over, He will fashion it as a habitation of glory. But what I do mean is that if here and now we have the one inestimable gift of God's presence and favour, then all the rest can wait till God's good time.
J. Gresham Machen (What is Faith?)
Why should you desire to compel others; why should you seek to have power— that evil, bitter, mocking thing, which has been from of old, as it is today, the sorrow and curse of the world—over your fellow-men and fellow-women? Why should you desire to take from any man or woman their own will and intelligence, their free choice, their own self-guidance, their inalienable rights over themselves; why should you desire to make of them mere tools and instruments for your own advantage and interest; why should you desire to compel them to serve and follow your opinions instead of their own; why should you deny in them the soul—that suffers so deeply from all constraint—and treat them as a sheet of blank paper upon which you may write your own will and desires, of whatever kind they may happen to be? Who gave you the right, from where do you pretend to have received it, to degrade other men and women from their own true rank as human beings, taking from them their will, their conscience, and intelligence—in a word, all the best and highest part of their nature—turning them into mere empty worthless shells, mere shadows of the true man and women, mere counters in the game you are mad enough to play, and just because you are more numerous or stronger than they, to treat them as if they belonged not to themselves, but to you? Can you believe that good will ever come by morally and spiritually degrading your fellow-men? What happy and safe and permanent form of society can you hope to build on this pitiful plan of subjecting others, or being yourselves subjected by them?
Auberon Herbert
But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these: 1. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor'd with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable. 2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman. 3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc'd may be attended with much Inconvenience. 4. Because thro' more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclin'd to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes. 5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding2 only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement. 6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy. 7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy. 8thly and Lastly They are so grateful!! Thus much for my Paradox. But still I advise you to marry directly; being sincerely Your affectionate Friend.
Benjamin Franklin
I say is someone in there?’ The voice is the young post-New formalist from Pittsburgh who affects Continental and wears an ascot that won’t stay tight, with that hesitant knocking of when you know perfectly well someone’s in there, the bathroom door composed of thirty-six that’s three times a lengthwise twelve recessed two-bevelled squares in a warped rectangle of steam-softened wood, not quite white, the bottom outside corner right here raw wood and mangled from hitting the cabinets’ bottom drawer’s wicked metal knob, through the door and offset ‘Red’ and glowering actors and calendar and very crowded scene and pubic spirals of pale blue smoke from the elephant-colored rubble of ash and little blackened chunks in the foil funnel’s cone, the smoke’s baby-blanket blue that’s sent her sliding down along the wall past knotted washcloth, towel rack, blood-flower wallpaper and intricately grimed electrical outlet, the light sharp bitter tint of a heated sky’s blue that’s left her uprightly fetal with chin on knees in yet another North American bathroom, deveiled, too pretty for words, maybe the Prettiest Girl Of All Time (Prettiest G.O.A.T.), knees to chest, slew-footed by the radiant chill of the claw-footed tub’s porcelain, Molly’s had somebody lacquer the tub in blue, lacquer, she’s holding the bottle, recalling vividly its slogan for the past generation was The Choice of a Nude Generation, when she was of back-pocket height and prettier by far than any of the peach-colored titans they’d gazed up at, his hand in her lap her hand in the box and rooting down past candy for the Prize, more fun way too much fun inside her veil on the counter above her, the stuff in the funnel exhausted though it’s still smoking thinly, its graph reaching its highest spiked prick, peak, the arrow’s best descent, so good she can’t stand it and reaches out for the cold tub’s rim’s cold edge to pull herself up as the white- party-noise reaches, for her, the sort of stereophonic precipice of volume to teeter on just before the speaker’s blow, people barely twitching and conversations strettoing against a ghastly old pre-Carter thing saying ‘We’ve Only Just Begun,’ Joelle’s limbs have been removed to a distance where their acknowledgement of her commands seems like magic, both clogs simply gone, nowhere in sight, and socks oddly wet, pulls her face up to face the unclean medicine-cabinet mirror, twin roses of flame still hanging in the glass’s corner, hair of the flame she’s eaten now trailing like the legs of wasps through the air of the glass she uses to locate the de-faced veil and what’s inside it, loading up the cone again, the ashes from the last load make the world's best filter: this is a fact. Breathes in and out like a savvy diver… –and is knelt vomiting over the lip of the cool blue tub, gouges on the tub’s lip revealing sandy white gritty stuff below the lacquer and porcelain, vomiting muddy juice and blue smoke and dots of mercuric red into the claw-footed trough, and can hear again and seems to see, against the fire of her closed lids’ blood, bladed vessels aloft in the night to monitor flow, searchlit helicopters, fat fingers of blue light from one sky, searching.
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest)
It is better to lose health like a spendthrift than to waste it like a miser. It is better to live and be done with it, than to die daily in the sick-room. By all means begin your folio; even if the doctor does not give you a year, even if he hesitates about a month, make one brave push and see what can be accomplished in a week. It is not only in finished undertakings that we ought to honour useful labour. A spirit goes out of the man who means execution, which outlives the most untimely ending. All who have meant good work with their whole hearts, have done good work, although they may die before they have the time to sign it. Every heart that has beat strong and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind. And even if death catch people, like an open pitfall, and in mid-career, laying out vast projects, and planning monstrous foundations, flushed with hope, and their mouths full of boastful language, they should be at once tripped up and silenced: is there not something brave and spirited in such a termination? and does not life go down with a better grace, foaming in full body over a precipice, than miserably straggling to an end in sandy deltas? When the Greeks made their fine saying that those whom the gods love die young, I cannot help believing they had this sort of death also in their eye. For surely, at whatever age it overtake the man, this is to die young. Death has not been suffered to take so much as an illusion from his heart. In the hot-fit of life, a-tiptoe on the highest point of being, he passes at a bound on to the other side. The noise of the mallet and chisel is scarcely quenched, the trumpets are hardly done blowing, when, trailing with him clouds of glory, this happy-starred, full-blooded spirit shoots into the spiritual land.
Robert Louis Stevenson (Æs Triplex and Other Essays)
It kind of freaked me out. Because I don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of thing yet.” Or maybe the problem was that I wasn’t prepared for how ready I was… “Ready for-?” He broke off, and then frowned as if it had all become clear. “Wait.” He dropped his arms from around my waist and took a step away from me. “You think I spent the night wit you?” “Didn’t you?” I blinked back at him. “There’s only the one bed. And…well, you were in it when I woke up.” Thunder boomed overhead. It wasn’t as loud as the violent cracks that had occurred in my dream. Although the rumbles were long enough-and intense enough-that the silverware on the table began to make an eerie tinkling sound. And my bird, who’d been calmly cleaning herself on the back of my chair, suddenly took off, seeing shelter on the highest bookshelf against the far wall. I realized I’d just insulted my host, and no joke was going to get me out of it this time. “For your information, Pierce,” John said, his tone almost disturbingly calm-but his eyes flashed the same shade as the stone around my neck, which had gone the color of the metal studs at his wrists-“I spent most of last night on the couch. Until one point early this morning, when I heard you call my name. You were crying in your sleep.” The salt water I’d tasted on my lips. Not due to rain from a violent hurricane, but from the tears I’d shed, watching him die in front of me. “Oh,” I said uncomfortably. “John, I’m so-“ It turned out he wasn’t finished. “I put my arms around you to try to comfort you, because I know what this place can be like, at least at first. It’s not exactly hell, but it’s the next closest place to it. You wouldn’t let go of me. You held on to me like you were drowning, and I was your only lifeline.” I swallowed, astonished at how close he’d come to describing my dream…except it had been the other way around. I’d been his lifeline; only he’d let go of me, sacrificing himself so that I could live. “Right,” I said. “Of course. I’m sorry.” I couldn’t believe how stupid I’d been, especially since my mother had always worried so much about my talking in my sleep. On the other hand, I had been upfront with him about my lack of experience when it came to men. “But this is good, see?” I reached out to take his hand. “I told you I could never hate you-“ He pulled his hand away, exactly like in my dream. Well, not exactly, because he wasn’t being sucked from my grasp by a giant ocean swell. Instead, he’d dropped my fingers because he was leaving to go sort the souls of the dead. “You will,” he assured me, bitterly. “You’re already regretting your decision to-what was it you called it? Oh, right-cohabitate with me.” “No,” I insisted. “I’m not. All I said was that I want to take things more slowly-“ That had nothing to do with him-it had to do with me and my fear of not being able to control myself when he was kissing me. It was too humiliating to admit that out loud, however.
Meg Cabot (Underworld (Abandon, #2))
Men have no right to complain that they are naturally feeble and short-lived, or that it is chance and not merit that decides their destiny. . . . What guides and controls human life is man's soul. . . . If men pursued good things with the same ardour with which they seek what is unedifying and unprofitable--often, indeed, actually dangerous and pernicious--they would control events instead of being controlled by them, and would rise to such heights of greatness and glory that their mortality would put on immortality. As man consists of body and soul, all our possessions and pursuits partake of the nature of one or the other. Thus personal beauty and great wealth, bodily strength, and all similar things, soon pass away; the noble achievements of the intellect are immortal like the soul itself. Physical advantages, and the material gifts of fortune, begin and end; all that comes into existence, perishes; all that grows, must one day decay. But the soul, incorruptible and eternal, is the ruler of mankind; it guides and controls everything, subject itself to no control. Wherefore we can but marvel the more at the unnatural conduct of those who abandon themselves to bodily pleasures and pass their time in riotous living and idleness, neglecting their intelligence--the best and noblest element in man's nature--and letting it become dull through lack of effort; and that, too, when the mind is capable of so many different accomplishments that can win the highest distinction.
Sallust
February 3 The Recognised Ban of Relationship We are made as the filth of the world. 1 Corinthians 4:13 These words are not an exaggeration. The reason they are not true of us who call ourselves ministers of the gospel is not that Paul forgot the exact truth in using them, but that we have too many discreet affinities to allow ourselves to be made refuse. “Filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” is not an evidence of sanctification, but of being “separated unto the gospel.” “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,” says Peter. If we do think it strange concerning the things we meet with, it is because we are craven-hearted. We have discreet affinities that keep us out of the mire—“I won’t stoop; I won’t bend.” You do not need to, you can be saved by the skin of your teeth if you like; you can refuse to let God count you as one separated unto the gospel. Or you may say—“I do not care if I am treated as the offscouring of the earth as long as the Gospel is proclaimed.” A servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to go to martyrdom for the reality of the gospel of God. When a merely moral man or woman comes in contact with baseness and immorality and treachery, the recoil is so desperately offensive to human goodness that the heart shuts up in despair. The marvel of the Redemptive Reality of God is that the worst and the vilest can never get to the bottom of His love. Paul did not say that God separated him to show what a wonderful man He could make of him, but “to reveal His son in me.
Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest)
Buddha is the only prophet who said, "I do not care to know your various theories about God. What is the use of discussing all the subtle doctrines about the soul? Do good and be good. And this will take you to freedom and to whatever truth there is." He was, in the conduct of his life, absolutely without personal motives; and what man worked more than he? Show me in history one character who has soared so high above all. The whole human race has produced but one such character, such high philosophy, such wide sympathy. This great philosopher, preaching the highest philosophy, yet had the deepest sympathy for the lowest of animals, and never put forth any claims for himself. He is the ideal Karma-Yogi, acting entirely without motive, and the history of humanity shows him to have been the greatest man ever born; beyond compare the greatest combination of heart and brain that ever existed, the greatest soul-power that has even been manifested. He is the first great reformer the world has seen. He was the first who dared to say, "Believe not because some old manuscripts are produced, believe not because it is your national belief, because you have been made to believe it from your childhood; but reason it all out, and after you have analysed it, then, if you find that it will do good to one and all, believe it, live up to it, and help others to live up to it." He works best who works without any motive, neither for money, nor for fame, nor for anything else; and when a man can do that, he will be a Buddha, and out of him will come the power to work in such a manner as will transform the world. This man represents the very highest ideal of Karma-Yoga.
Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (9 volume set))
The average person wastes his life. He has a great deal of energy but he wastes it. The life of an average person seems at the end utterly meaningless…without significance. When he looks back…what has he done? MIND The mind creates routine for its own safety and convenience. Tradition becomes our security. But when the mind is secure it is in decay. We all want to be famous people…and the moment we want to be something…we are no longer free. Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential…the what is. It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything new…and in that there’s joy. To awaken this capacity in oneself and in others is real education. SOCIETY It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Nature is busy creating absolutely unique individuals…whereas culture has invented a single mold to which we must conform. A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person because he conforms to a pattern. He repeats phrases and thinks in a groove. What happens to your heart and your mind when you are merely imitative, naturally they wither, do they not? The great enemy of mankind is superstition and belief which is the same thing. When you separate yourself by belief tradition by nationally it breeds violence. Despots are only the spokesmen for the attitude of domination and craving for power which is in the heart of almost everyone. Until the source is cleared there will be confusion and classes…hate and wars. A man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country to any religion to any political party. He is concerned with the understanding of mankind. FEAR You have religion. Yet the constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear. You can only be afraid of what you think you know. One is never afraid of the unknown…one is afraid of the known coming to an end. A man who is not afraid is not aggressive. A man who has no sense of fear of any kind is really a free and peaceful mind. You want to be loved because you do not love…but the moment you really love, it is finished. You are no longer inquiring whether someone loves you or not. MEDITATION The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence. In meditation you will discover the whisperings of your own prejudices…your own noises…the monkey mind. You have to be your own teacher…truth is a pathless land. The beauty of meditation is that you never know where you are…where you are going…what the end is. Down deep we all understand that it is truth that liberates…not your effort to be free. The idea of ourselves…our real selves…is your escape from the fact of what you really are. Here we are talking of something entirely different….not of self improvement…but the cessation of self. ADVICE Take a break with the past and see what happens. Release attachment to outcomes…inside you will feel good no matter what. Eventually you will find that you don’t mind what happens. That is the essence of inner freedom…it is timeless spiritual truth. If you can really understand the problem the answer will come out of it. The answer is not separate from the problem. Suffer and understand…for all of that is part of life. Understanding and detachment…this is the secret. DEATH There is hope in people…not in societies not in systems but only in you and me. The man who lives without conflict…who lives with beauty and love…is not frightened by death…because to love is to die.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (Think on These Things)
Suppose... that you acquit me... Suppose that, in view of this, you said to me 'Socrates, on this occasion we shall disregard Anytus and acquit you, but only on one condition, that you give up spending your time on this quest and stop philosophizing. If we catch you going on in the same way, you shall be put to death.' Well, supposing, as I said, that you should offer to acquit me on these terms, I should reply 'Gentlemen, I am your very grateful and devoted servant, but I owe a greater obedience to God than to you; and so long as I draw breath and have my faculties, I shall never stop practicing philosophy and exhorting you and elucidating the truth for everyone that I meet. I shall go on saying, in my usual way, "My very good friend, you are an Athenian and belong to a city which is the greatest and most famous in the world for its wisdom and strength. Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible, and similarly with reputation and honour, and give no attention or thought to truth and understanding and the perfection of your soul?" And if any of you disputes this and professes to care about these things, I shall not at once let him go or leave him; no, I shall question him and examine him and test him; and if it appears that in spite of his profession he has made no real progress towards goodness, I shall reprove him for neglecting what is of supreme importance, and giving his attention to trivialities. I shall do this to everyone that I meet, young or old, foreigner or fellow-citizen; but especially to you my fellow-citizens, inasmuch as you are closer to me in kinship. This, I do assure you, is what my God commands; and it is my belief that no greater good has ever befallen you in this city than my service to my God; for I spend all my time going about trying to persuade you, young and old, to make your first and chief concern not for your bodies nor for your possessions, but for the highest welfare of your souls, proclaiming as I go 'Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the State.' ...And so, gentlemen, I would say, 'You can please yourselves whether you listen to Anytus or not, and whether you acquit me or not; you know that I am not going to alter my conduct, not even if I have to die a hundred deaths.
Socrates (Apology, Crito and Phaedo of Socrates.)
We began before words, and we will end beyond them. It sometimes seems to me that our days are poisoned with too many words. Words said and not meant. Words said ‘and’ meant. Words divorced from feeling. Wounding words. Words that conceal. Words that reduce. Dead words. If only words were a kind of fluid that collects in the ears, if only they turned into the visible chemical equivalent of their true value, an acid, or something curative – then we might be more careful. Words do collect in us anyway. They collect in the blood, in the soul, and either transform or poison people’s lives. Bitter or thoughtless words poured into the ears of the young have blighted many lives in advance. We all know people whose unhappy lives twist on a set of words uttered to them on a certain unforgotten day at school, in childhood, or at university. We seem to think that words aren’t things. A bump on the head may pass away, but a cutting remark grows with the mind. But then it is possible that we know all too well the awesome power of words – which is why we use them with such deadly and accurate cruelty. We are all wounded inside one way or other. We all carry unhappiness within us for some reason or other. Which is why we need a little gentleness and healing from one another. Healing in words, and healing beyond words. Like gestures. Warm gestures. Like friendship, which will always be a mystery. Like a smile, which someone described as the shortest distance between two people. Yes, the highest things are beyond words. That is probably why all art aspires to the condition of wordlessness. When literature works on you, it does so in silence, in your dreams, in your wordless moments. Good words enter you and become moods, become the quiet fabric of your being. Like music, like painting, literature too wants to transcend its primary condition and become something higher. Art wants to move into silence, into the emotional and spiritual conditions of the world. Statues become melodies, melodies become yearnings, yearnings become actions. When things fall into words they usually descend. Words have an earthly gravity. But the best things in us are those that escape the gravity of our deaths. Art wants to pass into life, to lift it; art wants to enchant, to transform, to make life more meaningful or bearable in its own small and mysterious way. The greatest art was probably born from a profound and terrible silence – a silence out of which the greatest enigmas of our life cry: Why are we here? What is the point of it all? How can we know peace and live in joy? Why be born in order to die? Why this difficult one-way journey between the two mysteries? Out of the wonder and agony of being come these cries and questions and the endless stream of words with which to order human life and quieten the human heart in the midst of our living and our distress. The ages have been inundated with vast oceans of words. We have been virtually drowned in them. Words pour at us from every angle and corner. They have not brought understanding, or peace, or healing, or a sense of self-mastery, nor has the ocean of words given us the feeling that, at least in terms of tranquility, the human spirit is getting better. At best our cry for meaning, for serenity, is answered by a greater silence, the silence that makes us seek higher reconciliation. I think we need more of the wordless in our lives. We need more stillness, more of a sense of wonder, a feeling for the mystery of life. We need more love, more silence, more deep listening, more deep giving.
Ben Okri (Birds of Heaven)