Mystery Of Nature Quotes

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We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden: Or, Life in the Woods)
Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.
Max Planck (Where is Science Going?)
One thing I do know about intimacy is that there are certain natural laws which govern the sexual experience of two people, and that these laws cannot be budged any more than gravity can be negotiated with. To feel physically comfortable with someone else's body is not a decision you can make. It has very little to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not. When it isn't there (as I have learned in the past, with heartbreaking clarity) you can no more force it to exist than a surgeon can force a patient's body to accept a kidney from the wrong donor. My friend Annie says it all comes down to one simple question: "Do you want your belly pressed against this person's belly forever --or not?
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
He loved her because it was his nature to do so, but there were times when he could not endure her love for him. There were times when it became nothing but pure idiot mystery...
Flannery O'Connor (Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories)
I love science, and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awed by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and reinvigorate it.
Robert M. Sapolsky
I will be the first to admit that I am a pessimist by nature. It is, after all, the wisest way to be. We pessimists have everything to gain, whereas optimists have a fifty-fifty chance of being disappointed.
Tamar Myers (As the World Churns (Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery, #16))
The first step to the knowledge of the wonder and mystery of life is the recognition of the monstrous nature of the earthly human realm as well as its glory, the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed. Those who think they know how the universe could have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without death, are unfit for illumination.
Joseph Campbell
Colin did not laugh. Instead he thought, Tampons have strings? Why? Of all the major human mysteries - God, the nature of the universe, etc. - he knew the least about tampons. To Colin, tampons were a little bit like grizzly bears: he was aware of their existence, but he'd never seen on in the wild, and didn't really care to.
John Green (An Abundance of Katherines)
Be silent and listen: have you recognized your madness and do you admit it? Have you noticed that all your foundations are completely mired in madness? Do you not want to recognize your madness and welcome it in a friendly manner? You wanted to accept everything. So accept madness too. Let the light of your madness shine, and it will suddenly dawn on you. Madness is not to be despised and not to be feared, but instead you should give it life...If you want to find paths, you should also not spurn madness, since it makes up such a great part of your nature...Be glad that you can recognize it, for you will thus avoid becoming its victim. Madness is a special form of the spirit and clings to all teachings and philosophies, but even more to daily life, since life itself is full of craziness and at bottom utterly illogical. Man strives toward reason only so that he can make rules for himself. Life itself has no rules. That is its mystery and its unknown law. What you call knowledge is an attempt to impose something comprehensible on life.
C.G. Jung (The Red Book: A Reader's Edition)
Human nature is both predictable and mysterious; prone to great and sudden advances, yet still mired in despicable self-interest.
Neal Shusterman (Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1))
It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
Diane Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses)
Our age not only does not have a very sharp eye for the almost imperceptible intrusions of grace, it no longer has much feeling for the nature of the violences which precede and follow them.
Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)
Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.
Jim Rohn
Nothing is so dangerous to the progress of the human mind than to assume that our views of science are ultimate, that there are no mysteries in nature, that our triumphs are complete and that there are no new worlds to conquer.
Humphry Davy
There is no excuse for anyone to write fiction for public consumption unless he has been called to do so by the presence of a gift. It is the nature of fiction not to be good for much unless it is good in itself.
Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)
MIND, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavour to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.
Ambrose Bierce (The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary)
Few if any seemed to have grasped the Principle of Reality; new knowledge leads always to yet more awesome mysteries. Greater physiological knowledge of the brain makes the existence of the soul less possible yet more probable by the nature of the search.
Stephen King (The Gunslinger)
You'll lose." "What makes you so sure?" "You have no discipline. All you do is tear down shit down. My father is a bastard, but at least he builds things. You turn cities into smoking ruins and blunder about like some hyper child, smashing anything you see. And then you sit here and wonder, 'Why did all of my children turn out to be violet idiots? It's a mystery of nature,'.
Ilona Andrews (Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, #4))
It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankenstein)
There is a room in the Department of Mysteries, that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all. That power took you to save Sirius tonight. That power also saved you from possession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you.
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5))
We are the inheritors of a wonderful world, a beautiful world, full of life and mystery, goodness and pain. But likewise are we the children of an indifferent universe. We break our own hearts imposing our moral order on what is, by nature, a wide web of chaos.
Colin Meloy (Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles, #1))
Nature is a part of our humanity, and without some awareness and experience of that divine mystery man ceases to be man.
Henry Beston (The Outermost House)
He fell to the seat, she by his side. There were no more words. The stars were beginning to shine. How was it that the birds sing, that the snow melts, that the rose opens, that May blooms, that the dawns whitens behind the black trees on the shivering summit of the hills? One kiss, and that was all. Both trembled, and they looked at each other in the darkness with brilliant eyes. They felt neither the cool night, nor the cold stone, nor the damp ground, nor the wet grass; they looked at each other, and their hearts were full of thought. They had clasped hands, without knowing it. She did not ask him; did not even think where and how he had managed to get into the garden. It seemed so natural to her that he should be there. From time to time Marius’ knee touched Cosette’s. A touch that thrilled. At times, Cosette faltered out a word. Her soul trembled on her lips like a drop of dew on a flower. Gradually, they began to talk. Overflow succeeded to silence, which is fullness. The night was serene and glorious above their heads. These two beings, pure as spirits, told each other everything, their dreams, their frenzies, their ecstasies, their chimeras, their despondencies, how they had adored each other from afar, how they had longed for each other, their despair when they had ceased to see each other. They had confided to each other in an intimacy of the ideal, which already, nothing could have increased, all that was most hidden and most mysterious in themselves. They told each other, with a candid faith in their illusions, all that love, youth and the remnant of childhood that was theirs, brought to mind. These two hearts poured themselves out to each other, so that at the end of an hour, it was the young man who had the young girl’s soul and the young girl who had the soul of the young man. They interpenetrated, they enchanted, they dazzled each other. When they had finished, when they had told each other everything, she laid her head on his shoulder, and asked him: "What is your name?" My name is Marius," he said. "And yours?" My name is Cosette.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
I told myself: 'I am surrounded by unknown things.' I imagined man without ears, suspecting the existence of sound as we suspect so many hidden mysteries, man noting acoustic phenomena whose nature and provenance he cannot determine. And I grew afraid of everything around me – afraid of the air, afraid of the night. From the moment we can know almost nothing, and from the moment that everything is limitless, what remains? Does emptiness actually not exist? What does exist in this apparent emptiness?
Guy de Maupassant (Complete Works)
Every aspect of Nature reveals a deep mystery and touches our sense of wonder and awe. Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries.
Carl Sagan (Cosmos)
When the mystery of the connection goes, love goes. It's that simple. This suggests that it isn't love that is so important to us but the mystery itself. The love connection may be merely a device to put us in contact with the mystery, and we long for love to last so that the ecstacy of being near the mystery will last. It is contrary to the nature of mystery to stand still. Yet it's always there, somewhere, a world on the other side of the mirror (or the Camel pack), a promise in the next pair of eyes that smile at us. We glimpse it when we stand still. The romance of new love, the romance of solitude, the romance of objecthood, the romance of ancient pyramids and distant stars are means of making contact with the mystery. When it comes to perpetuating it, however, I got no advice. But I can and will remind you of two of the most important facts I know: 1. Everything is part of it. 2. It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
Tom Robbins (Still Life with Woodpecker)
Most species do their own evolving, making it up as they go along, which is the way Nature intended. And this is all very natural and organic and in tune with mysterious cycles of the cosmos, which believes that there's nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fiber and, in some cases, backbone.
Terry Pratchett (Reaper Man (Discworld, #11; Death, #2))
Symbols and emblems were everywhere. Buildings and pictures were designed to be read like books. Everything stood for something else; if you had the right dictionary, you could read Nature itself. It was hardly surprising to find philosophers using the symbolism of their time to interpret knowledge that came from a mysterious source.
Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1))
Of all the errands life seems to be running, of all the mysteries that enchant us, love is my favorite
Diane Ackerman (A Natural History of Love)
You are not limited to this body, to this mind, or to this reality—you are a limitless ocean of Consciousness, imbued with infinite potential. You are existence itself.
Joseph P. Kauffman (The Answer Is YOU: A Guide to Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Freedom)
I hope you haven't given up on the S.Q.'s of the world, Reynie. As you see, there are a great many sheep in wolves' clothing. If not for S.Q.'s good nature, we'd never have escaped.
Trenton Lee Stewart (The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #2))
I wish to confound all these people, to create a work of art of a supernatural realism and of a spiritualist naturalism. I wish to prove... that nothing is explained in the mysteries which surround us.
Joris-Karl Huysmans
Woman’s role in creation should be parallel to her role in life. I don’t mean the good earth. I mean the bad earth too, the demon, the instincts, the storms of nature. Tragedies, conflicts, mysteries are personal. Man fabricated a detachment which became fatal. Woman must not fabricate. She must descend into the real womb and expose its secrets and its labyrinths. She must describe it as the city of Fez, with its Arabian Nights gentleness, tranquility and mystery. She must describe the voracious moods, the desires, the worlds contained in each cell of it. For the womb has dreams. It is not as simple as the good earth. I believe at times that man created art out of fear of exploring woman. I believe woman stuttered about herself out of fear of what she had to say. She covered herself with taboos and veils. Man invented a woman to suit his needs. He disposed of her by identifying her with nature and then paraded his contemptuous domination of nature. But woman is not nature only. She is the mermaid with her fish-tail dipped in the unconscious.
Anaïs Nin
In a true you-and-I relationship, we are present mindfully, nonintrusively, the way we are present with things in nature.We do not tell a birch tree it should be more like an elm. We face it with no agenda, only an appreciation that becomes participation: 'I love looking at this birch' becomes 'I am this birch' and then 'I and this birch are opening to a mystery that transcends and holds us both.
David Richo (When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships)
We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.
Mahatma Gandhi
I feel with some passion that what we truly are is private, and almost infinitely complex, and ambiguous, and both external and internal, and double- or triple- or multiply natured, and largely mysterious even to ourselves; and furthermore that what we are is only part of us, because identity, unlike "identity", must include what we do. And I think that to find oneself and every aspect of this complexity reduced in the public mind to one property that apparently subsumes all the rest ("gay", "black", "Muslim", whatever) is to be the victim of a piece of extraordinary intellectual vulgarity.
Philip Pullman
...Human thought has no limit. At its risk and peril, it analyzes and dissects its own fascination. We could almost say that, by a sort of splendid reaction, it fascinates nature; the mysterious world surrounding us returns what it receives; it is likely that contemplators are contemplated.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.
A.W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine)
Why nature is mathematical is, again, a mystery.
Richard P. Feynman
The mermaid is an archetypal image that represents a woman who is at ease in the great waters of life, the waters of emotion and sexuality. She shows us how to embrace our instinctive sexuality and sensuality so that we can affirm the essence of our feminine nature, the wisdom of our bodies, and the playfulness of our spirits. She symbolizes our connection with our deepest instinctive feelings, our wild and untamed animal nature that exists below the surface of outward personalities. She is able to respond to her mysterious sexual impulses without abandoning her more human, conscious side. What happened to the girls who dreamed of being mermaids?
Anita Johnston (Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling)
There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.
Theodore Roosevelt
(Baudelaire) had descended to the bottom of the inexhaustible mine, had picked his way along abandoned or unexplored galleries, and had finally reached those districts of the soul where the monstrous vegetations of the sick mind flourish. There, near the breeding ground of intellectuals aberrations and disease of the mind - the mysterious tetanus, the burning fever of lust, the thyphoids and yellow fevers of crime – he had found, hatching in the dismal forcing-house of ennui, the frightening climacteric of thoughts and emotions.
Joris-Karl Huysmans (Against Nature (À Rebours))
There is nothing mysterious or natural about authority. It is formed, irradiated, disseminated; it is instrumental, it is persuasive; it has status, it establishes canons of taste and value; it is virtually indistinguishable from certain ideas it dignifies as true, and from traditions, perceptions, and judgments it forms, transmits, reproduces.
Edward W. Said (Orientalism)
Throughout his life, Albert Einstein would retain the intuition and the awe of a child. He never lost his sense of wonder at the magic of nature's phenomena-magnetic fields, gravity, inertia, acceleration, light beams-which grown-ups find so commonplace. He retained the ability to hold two thoughts in his mind simultaneously, to be puzzled when they conflicted, and to marvel when he could smell an underlying unity. "People like you and me never grow old," he wrote a friend later in life. "We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.
Walter Isaacson
from the poem Hum, Hum The resurrection of the morning. The mystery of the night. The hummingbird's wings. The excitement of thunder. The rainbow in the waterfall. Wild mustard, that rough blaze of the fields.
Mary Oliver (A Thousand Mornings)
I think of going to the Grave without having a Psychedelic Experience is like going to the Grave without ever having Sex. It means that you never Figured out what it is all about. The Mystery is in the Body and the way the Body Works itself into Nature.
Terence McKenna
The establishment of an authentic relationship with patients, by its very nature, demands that we forego the power of the triumvirate of magic, mystery, and authority.
Irvin D. Yalom (The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients)
There is eloquence in the tongueless wind, and a melody in the flowing brooks and the rustling of the reeds beside them, which by their inconceivable relation to something within the soul, awaken the spirits to a dance of breathless rapture, and bring tears of mysterious tenderness to the eyes, like the enthusiasm of patriotic success, or the voice of one beloved singing to you alone.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Anyone who realises what Love is, the dedication of the heart, so profound, so absorbing, so mysterious, so imperative, and always just in the noblest natures so strong, cannot fail to see how difficult, how tragic even, must often be the fate of those whose deepest feelings are destined from the earliest days to be a riddle and a stumbling-block, unexplained to themselves, passed over in silence by others.
Edward Carpenter (The Intermediate Sex: A Study Of Some Transitional Types Of Men And Women)
The woman who first gives life, light, and form to our shadowy conceptions of beauty, fills a void in our spiritual nature that has remained unknown to us till she appeared. Sympathies that lie too deep for words, too deep almost for thoughts, are touched, at such times, by other charms than those which the senses feel and which the resources of expression can realise. The mystery which underlies the beauty of women is never raised above the reach of all expression until it has claimed kindred with the deeper mystery in our own souls.
Wilkie Collins (The Woman in White)
...The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion; if you want to live in the paradise where happy mares and stallion live, open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colors, details and irony.
Orhan Pamuk (My Name Is Red)
The vast open sea at night is a song being written; a rhyme, a mysterious and gentle arpeggiated work of Beethoven. It's sung by the waves as they travel on the face of the ocean, and their lyrics are the rhythm of the pounding surf.
Giselle V. Steele (Rivers Never Fill The Sea)
Drama does not just walk into our lives. Either we create it, invite it, or associate with it.
Brandi L. Bates (Remains To Be Seen)
At the heart of nature’s mystery lies another mystery.
Ransom Riggs (Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #2))
There was after all no mystery in the end of love, no mystery but the mystery of love itself, which was large certainly but as real as grass, as natural and unaccountable as bloom and branch and their growth.
John Crowley (Little, Big)
I can't be easy. It's not my nature. But it's my nature to love you.
Iris Johansen (Eve (Eve Duncan, #12))
You settle for less, you get less.
Brandi L. Bates (Remains To Be Seen)
I was standing in our dining-room thinking of nothing in particular, when a cablegram was put into my hand. It said, 'Susy was peacefully released today.' It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live.
Mark Twain
Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air--moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh--felt as if it were being exhaled into one's face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing. Honeysuckle, swamp flowers, magnolia, and the mystery smell of the river scented the atmosphere, amplifying the intrusion of organic sleaze. It was aphrodisiac and repressive, soft and violent at the same time. In New Orleans, in the French Quarter, miles from the barking lungs of alligators, the air maintained this quality of breath, although here it acquired a tinge of metallic halitosis, due to fumes expelled by tourist buses, trucks delivering Dixie beer, and, on Decatur Street, a mass-transit motor coach named Desire.
Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)
Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now. Tiny crisp wedges of toast, and piping-hot, flaky scones. Sandwiches of unknown nature, mysteriously flavoured and quite delectable, and that very special gingerbread. Angel cake, that melted in the mouth, and his rather stodgier companion, bursting with peel and raisins. There was enough food there to keep a starving family for a week.
Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca)
True Love is when you are able to see yourself in another, when you recognize that there is no separation between you and any other Being in the Universe.
Joseph P. Kauffman (The Answer Is YOU: A Guide to Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Freedom)
Pythagoras said that the universal Creator had formed two things in His own image: The first was the cosmic system with its myriads of suns, moons, and planets; the second was man, in whose nature the entire universe existed in miniature.
Manly P. Hall (Melchizedek and the Mystery of Fire)
Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. We’re so used to evaluating everything (and everyone) by their usefulness that this thought will take a minute or two to begin to dawn on us. Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Which is to say, beauty is in and of itself a great and glorious good, something we need in large and daily doses.
Stasi Eldredge (Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul)
When I write to please everybody, it falls flat. When I write what I know, fearlessly, It won't please everybody, but it doesn't fall flat.
Ronald P. Chavez (Winds of Wildfire)
In presence of Nature's grand convulsions man is powerless.
Jules Verne (The Mysterious Island (Extraordinary Voyages, #12))
The green thumb is equable in the face of nature's uncertainties; he moves among her mysteries without feeling the need for control or explanations or once-and-for-all solutions. To garden well is to be happy amid the babble of the objective world, untroubled by its refusal to be reduced by our ideas of it, its indomitable rankness.
Michael Pollan (Second Nature: A Gardener's Education)
From the age of 6 I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75 I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign my self 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing.
Hokusai Katsushika
In your hands The dog, the donkey, surely they know They are alive. Who would argue otherwise? But now, after years of consideration, I am getting beyond that. What about the sunflowers? What about The tulips, and the pines? Listen, all you have to do is start and There’ll be no stopping. What about mountains? What about water Slipping over rocks? And speaking of stones, what about The little ones you can Hold in your hands, their heartbeats So secret, so hidden it may take years Before, finally, you hear them?
Mary Oliver (Swan: Poems and Prose Poems)
Talk of mysteries! — Think of our life in nature, — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, — rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! The solid earth! The actual world! The common sense! Contact! Contact! Who are we? Where are we?
Henry David Thoreau
We have been led to imagine all sorts of things infinitely more marvelous than the imagining of poets and dreamers of the past. It shows that the imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man. For instance, how much more remarkable it is for us all to be stuck-half of us upside down-by a mysterious attraction, to a spinning ball that has been swinging in space for billions of years, than to be carried on the back of an elephant supported on a tortoise swimming in a bottomless sea.
Richard P. Feynman (What Do You Care What Other People Think?)
I am a book. Sheaves pressed from the pulp of oaks and pines a natural sawdust made dingy from purses, dusty from shelves. Steamy and anxious, abused and misused, kissed and cried over, smeared, yellowed, and torn, loved, hated, scorned. I am a book. I am a book that remembers, days when I stood proud in good company When the children came, I leapt into their arms, when the women came, they cradled me against their soft breasts, when the men came, they held me like a lover, and I smelled the sweet smell of cigars and brandy as we sat together in leather chairs, next to pool tables, on porch swings, in rocking chairs, my words hanging in the air like bright gems, dangling, then forgotten, I crumbled, dust to dust. I am a tale of woe and secrets, a book brand-new, sprung from the loins of ancient fathers clothed in tweed, born of mothers in lands of heather and coal soot. A family too close to see the blood on its hands, too dear to suffering, to poison, to cold steel and revenge, deaf to the screams of mortal wounding, amused at decay and torment, a family bred in the dankest swamp of human desires. I am a tale of woe and secrets, I am a mystery. I am intrigue, anxiety, fear, I tangle in the night with madmen, spend my days cloaked in black, hiding from myself, from dark angels, from the evil that lurks within and the evil we cannot lurk without. I am words of adventure, of faraway places where no one knows my tongue, of curious cultures in small, back alleys, mean streets, the crumbling house in each of us. I am primordial fear, the great unknown, I am life everlasting. I touch you and you shiver, I blow in your ear and you follow me, down foggy lanes, into places you've never seen, to see things no one should see, to be someone you could only hope to be. I ride the winds of imagination on a black-and-white horse, to find the truth inside of me, to cure the ills inside of you, to take one passenger at a time over that tall mountain, across that lonely plain to a place you've never been where the world stops for just one minute and everything is right. I am a mystery. -Rides a Black and White Horse
Lise McClendon
Listen patiently, quietly and reverently to the lessons, one by one, which Mother Nature has to teach, shedding light on that which was before a mystery, so that all who will, may see and know.
Luther Burbank
It’s no great mystery. If no one will listen, it’s only natural to shout!
Irvin D. Yalom (When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession)
The Fibonacci Sequence turns out to be the key to understanding how nature designs... and is... a part of the same ubiquitous music of the spheres that builds harmony into atoms, molecules, crystals, shells, suns and galaxies and makes the Universe sing.
Guy Murchie (The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy)
We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us. We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world - to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it. And now, perhaps very close to too late, our great error has become clear. It is not only our own creativity - our own capacity for life - that is stifled by our arrogant assumption; the creation itself is stifled. We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it. (pg. 20, "A Native Hill")
Wendell Berry (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)
Throughout the shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure so terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet dight with such fearful fascination, as the vampire, who is himself neither ghost nor demon, but yet who partakes the dark natures and and possesses the mysterious and terrible qualities of both.
Montague Summers
I am grateful for the magic, mystery and majesty of nature – my loyal friend and companion – always there, welcoming and waiting for me to come; to be healed.
Tom North
There are frontiers where we are learning, and our desire for knowledge burns. They are in the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, at the origins of the cosmos, in the nature of time, in the phenomenon of black holes, and in the workings of our own thought processes. Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world. And it’s breathtaking.
Carlo Rovelli (Seven Brief Lessons on Physics)
Our world requires that decisions be sourced and footnoted, and if we say how we feel, we must also be prepared to elaborate on why we feel that way. I think that approach is a mistake, and if we are to learn to improve the quality of the decisions we make, we need to accept the mysterious nature of our snap judgements. We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that — sometimes — we’re better off that way.
Malcolm Gladwell (Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking)
Theirs is the mystery of continuous creation and all that providence implies: the uncertainty of vision, the horror of the fixed, the dissolution of the present, the intricacy of beauty, the pressure of fecundity, the elusiveness of the free, and the flawed nature of perfection.
Annie Dillard
You have a color of your own- Dark chocolate, You have a culture your own- Hip pop, You have a revival of your own- Harlem Renaissance, You are the spot on a ladybug that adds its beauty, You are the pupil of an eye, You are the vastness of space, You are the richness of soil, You are the sweetness of dark chocolate, You are the mystery in nature, Blessed Black chocolate, God has made You to rule the Land, that made You a slave.
Luffina Lourduraj
We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills and the winding streams with tangled growth, as 'wild'. Only to the white man was nature a 'wilderness' and only to him was the land 'infested' with 'wild' animals and 'savage' people. To us it was home. Earth was beautiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery." - Chief Standing River of the Lakota
Paul Goble (Dream Wolf)
Of the two powers, the two categories that take possession of us when we enter the world, space is by far the less mysterious. . . . Space is, after all, solid, monolithic. . . . Time, on the other hand, is a hostile element, truly treacherous, I would say even against human nature.
Stanisław Lem (Highcastle: A Remembrance)
In its complexity and sensuality, nature invites exploration, direct contact, and experience. But it also inspires a sense of awe, a glimpse of what is still "un-Googleable" . . . life's mystery and magnitude.
Kim John Payne (Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids)
My child, you have a flawed grasp of the nature of myth-making. I am a poet and storyteller, a creator of ballads and sagas. Pray do not confuse the exercise of the imagination with mere mendacity. I am a master of the mysteries of words, their meanings and music and mellifluous magic.
Frances Hardinge (Fly by Night)
Anthropocentric as [the gardener] may be, he recognizes that he is dependent for his health and survival on many other forms of life, so he is careful to take their interests into account in whatever he does. He is in fact a wilderness advocate of a certain kind. It is when he respects and nurtures the wilderness of his soil and his plants that his garden seems to flourish most. Wildness, he has found, resides not only out there, but right here: in his soil, in his plants, even in himself... But wildness is more a quality than a place, and though humans can't manufacture it, they can nourish and husband it... The gardener cultivates wildness, but he does so carefully and respectfully, in full recognition of its mystery.
Michael Pollan (Second Nature: A Gardener's Education)
If you ask me to tell you anything about the nature of what lies beyond the phaneron… my answer is “How should I know?”… I am not dismayed by ultimate mysteries… I can no more grasp what is behind such questions as my cat can understand what is behind the clatter I make while I type this paragraph.
Martin Gardner (The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener)
the natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. strangely enough it all works out in the end... it's a mystery.
Tom Stoppard
If you can accept the indescribable nature of your true identity, you unveil the mystery of life.
Akemi G. (Why We Are Born: Remembering Our Purpose through the Akashic Records)
Love is the key to the mystery. Love by its very nature is not selfish, but generous. It seeks not its own, but the good of others. The measure of love is not the pleasure it gives-that is the way the world judges it-but the joy and peace it can purchase for others.
Fulton J. Sheen
There's a large strain of irony in our human affairs... Interwoven with our affairs is this wonderful spirit of irony which prevents us from ever being utterly and irretrievably serious, from being unaware of the mysterious nature of our existence.
Malcolm Muggeridge (The End of Christendom)
To his eyes all seemed beautiful, but to me a tinge of melancholy lay upon the countryside, which bore so clearly the mark of the waning year, Yellow leaves carpeted the lanes and fluttered down upon us as we passed, The rattle of our wheels died away as we drove through drifts of rotting vegetation--sad gifts, as it seemed to me, for Nature to throw before the carriage of the returning heir of the Baskervilles.
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes, #5))
Beyond the fence the forest stood up spectrally in the moonlight, and through the dim stir, through the faint sounds of that lamentable courtyard, the silence of the land went home to one's very heart - its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life.
Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
December stillness, teach me through your trees That loom along the west, one with the land, The veiled evangel of your mysteries. While nightfall, sad and spacious, on the down Deepens, and dusk embues me where I stand, With grave diminishings of green and brown, Speak, roofless Nature, your instinctive words; And let me learn your secret from the sky, Following a flock of steadfast-journeying birds In lone remote migration beating by. December stillness, crossed by twilight roads, Teach me to travel far and bear my loads.
Siegfried Sassoon
What of men? I can't think of anything more banal. I have no doubt — no doubt whatsoever — that once it has obtained the means to do so, the species will wipe itself off the face of the earth. There is no mystery to it; it is our nature. Oh, one might delve into the particulars, but really, what can we say about the species that invented murder? What can we say?
Rick Yancey (The Isle of Blood (The Monstrumologist, #3))
Great revelations of nature, of course, never fail to impress in one way or another, and I was no stranger to moods of the kind. Mountains overawe and oceans terrify, while the mystery of great forests exercises a spell peculiarly its own. But all these, at one point or another, somewhere link on intimately with human life and human experience. They stir comprehensible, even if alarming, emotions. They tend on the whole to exalt.
Algernon Blackwood (The Willows)
What do we mean by "knowledge" or "understanding"? And how do billions of neurons achieve them? These are complete mysteries. Admittedly, cognitive neuroscientists are still very vague about the exact meaning of words like "understand," "think," and indeed the word "meaning" itself.
V.S. Ramachandran (The Tell-Tale Brain: Unlocking the Mystery of Human Nature)
The serious writer has always taken the flaw in human nature for his starting point, usually the flaw in an otherwise admirable character. Drama usually bases itself on the bedrock of original sin, whether the writer thinks in theological terms or not. Then, too, any character in a serious novel is supposed to carry a burden of meaning larger than himself. The novelist doesn't write about people in a vacuum; he writes about people in a world where something is obviously lacking, where there is the general mystery of incompleteness and the particular tragedy of our own times to be demonstrated, and the novelist tries to give you, within the form of the book, the total experience of human nature at any time. For this reason, the greatest dramas naturally involve the salvation or loss of the soul. Where there is no belief in the soul, there is very little drama.
Flannery O'Connor (The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor)
And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness, Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.
Joseph Glanvill
Doubt is the only force capable of disturbing the seed or impression; to avoid a miscarriage of so wonderful a child, walk in secrecy through the necessary interval of time that it will take the impression to become an expression. Tell no man of your spiritual romance. Lock your secret within you in joy, confident and happy that some day you will bear the son of your lover by expressing and possessing the nature of your impression. Then will you know the mystery of “God said, Let us make man in our image.
Neville Goddard (Your Faith is Your Fortune)
In her enthusiasms she had always looked for something tangible: she had always loved church for its flowers, music for its romantic words, literature for its power to stir the passions and she rebelled before the mysteries of faith just as she grew ever more restive under discipline, which was antipathetic to her nature.
Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary)
[On Chopin's Preludes:] "His genius was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds. His composition of that night was surely filled with raindrops, resounding clearly on the tiles of the Charterhouse, but it had been transformed in his imagination and in his song into tears falling upon his heart from the sky. ... The gift of Chopin is [the expression of] the deepest and fullest feelings and emotions that have ever existed. He made a single instrument speak a language of infinity. He could often sum up, in ten lines that a child could play, poems of a boundless exaltation, dramas of unequalled power.
George Sand (Story of My Life: The Autobiography of George Sand)
Sharing secrets is the way in which women tie themselves together, for it reveals complicity and trust. Holding secrets shows trustworthiness and a sort of quite defiance. It is a natural thing for a female to hold secrets within her breast until the time is ripe to release them. Does it not follow the way in which her body is formed? A woman is made with that dark and mysterious recess that can grow a child safely until the child is ready to come out onto the birthing bed. And like birthing, secrets present themselves in many ways. some slip easily into the world, others must be torn out, if the body is unwilling.
Kathleen Kent (The Heretic's Daughter)
All my moral and intellectual being is penetrated by an invincible conviction that whatever falls under the dominion of our senses must be in nature and, however exceptional, cannot differ in its essence from all the other effects of the visible and tangible world of which we are a self-conscious part. The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is—marvels and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state. No, I am too firm in my consciousness of the marvelous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural which (take it any way you like) is but a manufactured article, the fabrication of minds insensitive to the intimate delicacies of our relation to the dead and to the living, in their countless multitudes; a desecration of our tenderest memories; an outrage on our dignity.
Joseph Conrad (The Shadow-Line)
Isn't it great when you're a kid and the world is full of anonymous things? Everything is bright and mysterious until you know what it is called and then all the light goes out of it...Once we knew the name of it, how could we ever come to love it?...For things had true natures, and they hid behind false names, beneath the skin we gave them.
Colson Whitehead (Apex Hides the Hurt)
Nobody can imagine how nothing could turn into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else. It is really far more logical to start by saying ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth’ even if you only mean ‘In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.’ For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one. But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else
G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man)
The same God who loves us as we are also loves us to much to leave us as we are. Perhpas because we tend to hold to ideas about God that reflect our own suppositions and fears, more than God's self-revelation. We reduce God to our own dimensions, ascribing to him our own reactions and responses, especially our own petty and conditional kind of love, and so end up believing in a God cast in our own image and likeness. But the true God, the living God, is entirely "other":. Precisely from this radical otherness derives the inscrutable and transcendent nature of divine love-- for which our limited human love is but a distant metaphor. God's love is much more than our human love simply multiplied and expanded. God's love for us will ever be mystery; unfathomable, awesome, entirely beyond human expectation. Precisely because God's love is something "no eyes has seen, nor ear heard nor the heart of man conceived" (1 Cor 2:9), Mother Teresa meditated on it continuously, and encouraged us to do the same, to continue plumbing this mystery more deeply. To this end she invites us: "Try to deepen your understanding of these two words, 'Thirst of God.;
Joseph Langford
I believe that the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms on the grasslands of Africa gave us the model for all religions to follow. And when, after long centuries of slow forgetting, migration, and climatic change, the knowledge of the mystery was finally lost, we in our anguish traded partnership for dominance, traded harmony with nature for rape of nature, traded poetry for the sophistry of science. In short, we traded our birthright as partners in the drama of the living mind of the planet for the broken pot shards of history, warfare, neurosis, and-if we do not quickly awaken to our predicament-planetary catastrophe.
Terence McKenna (Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge)
There is enough mystery in human nature to keep the world stuck in a perpetual state of righteous speculation. Only the wise and compassionate will rise above it, with enough vision to see that inconsistency is a normal occurrence, during the spiritual battle of forgiveness and justice.
Shannon L. Alder
You are not you--you have no body, no blood, no bones, you are but a thought. I myself have no existence; I am but a dream--your dream, a creature of your imagination. In a moment you will have realized this, then you will banish me from your visions and I shall dissolve into the nothingness out of which you made me. I am perishing already, I am failing, I am passing away. In a little while you will be alone in shoreless space, to wander its limitless solitudes without friend or comrade forever—for you will remain a thought, the only existent thought, and by your nature inextinguishable, indestructible. But I, your poor servant, have revealed you to yourself and set you free. Dream other dreams, and better! Strange! that you should not have suspected years ago—centuries, ages, eons, ago!—for you have existed, companionless, through all the eternities. Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insane—like all dreams: a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell—mouths mercy and invented hell—mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him! You perceive, now, that these things are all impossible except in a dream. You perceive that they are pure and puerile insanities, the silly creations of an imagination that is not conscious of its freaks—in a word, that they are a dream, and you the maker of it. The dream-marks are all present; you should have recognized them earlier. "It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream—a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought—a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!
Mark Twain (The Mysterious Stranger)
Good human work honors God's work. Good work uses no thing without respect, both for what it is in itself and for its origin. It uses neither tool nor material that it does not respect and that it does not love. It honors nature as a great mystery and power, as an indispensable teacher, and as the inescapable judge of all work of human hands. It does not dissociate life and work, or pleasure and work, or love and work, or usefulness and beauty. To work without pleasure or affection, to make a product that is not both useful and beautiful, is to dishonor God, nature, the thing that is made, and whomever it is made for. This is blasphemy: to make shoddy work of the work of God. But such blasphemy is not possible when the entire Creation is understood as holy and when the works of God are understood as embodying and thus revealing His spirit. (pg. 312, Christianity and the Survival of Creation)
Wendell Berry (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)
War is thus divine in itself, since it is a law of the world. War is divine through its consequences of a supernatural nature which are as much general as particular. War is divine in the mysterious glory that surrounds it and in the no less inexplicable attraction that draws us to it. War is divine by the manner in which it breaks out.
Joseph de Maistre
as jolaha ka maram na jana, jinh jag ani pasarinhh tana; dharti akas dou gad khandaya, chand surya dou nari banaya; sahastra tar le purani puri, ajahu bine kathin hai duri; kahai kabir karm se jori, sut kusut bine bhal kori; No one could understand the secret of this weaver who, coming into existence, spread the warp as the world; He fixed the earth and the sky as the pillars, and he used the sun and the moon as two shuttles; He took thousands of stars and perfected the cloth; but even today he weaves, and the end is difficult to fathom. Kabir says that the weaver, getting good or bad yarn and connecting karmas with it, weaves beautifully.
Kabir (The Bijak of Kabir)
Freedom and wildness, that which we were born into, is a grand mystery and miracle that creates a openness reserved not for barring us in but for keeping us out of cages. It is our ability to find the truth that has been a survival tool for our species both individually and corporately.
Leviak B. Kelly (Religion: The Ultimate STD: Living a Spiritual Life without Dogmatics or Cultural Destruction)
Nature, who has played so many queer tricks upon us, making us so unequally of clay and diamonds, of rainbow and granite, and stuffed them into a case, often of the most incongruous, for the poet has a butcher’s face and the butcher a poet’s; nature, who delights in muddle and mystery, so that even now (the first of November, 1927) we know not why we go upstairs, or why we come down again, our most daily movements are like the passage of a ship on an unknown sea, and the sailors at the mast-head ask, pointing their glasses to the horizon: Is there land or is there none? to which, if we are prophets, we make answer “Yes”; if we are truthful we say “No”; nature, who has so much to answer for besides the perhaps unwieldy length of this sentence, has further complicated her task and added to our confusion by providing not only a perfect ragbag of odds and ends within us—a piece of a policeman’s trousers lying cheek by jowl with Queen Alexandra’s wedding veil—but has contrived that the whole assortment shall be lightly stitched together by a single thread. Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind. Instead of being a single, downright, bluff piece of work of which no man need feel ashamed, our commonest deeds are set about with a fluttering and flickering of wings, a rising and falling of lights.
Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
But it so happens that everything on this planet is, ultimately, irrational; there is not, and cannot be, any reason for the causal connexion of things, if only because our use of the word "reason" already implies the idea of causal connexion. But, even if we avoid this fundamental difficulty, Hume said that causal connexion was not merely unprovable, but unthinkable; and, in shallower waters still, one cannot assign a true reason why water should flow down hill, or sugar taste sweet in the mouth. Attempts to explain these simple matters always progress into a learned lucidity, and on further analysis retire to a remote stronghold where every thing is irrational and unthinkable. If you cut off a man's head, he dies. Why? Because it kills him. That is really the whole answer. Learned excursions into anatomy and physiology only beg the question; it does not explain why the heart is necessary to life to say that it is a vital organ. Yet that is exactly what is done, the trick that is played on every inquiring mind. Why cannot I see in the dark? Because light is necessary to sight. No confusion of that issue by talk of rods and cones, and optical centres, and foci, and lenses, and vibrations is very different to Edwin Arthwait's treatment of the long-suffering English language. Knowledge is really confined to experience. The laws of Nature are, as Kant said, the laws of our minds, and, as Huxley said, the generalization of observed facts. It is, therefore, no argument against ceremonial magic to say that it is "absurd" to try to raise a thunderstorm by beating a drum; it is not even fair to say that you have tried the experiment, found it would not work, and so perceived it to be "impossible." You might as well claim that, as you had taken paint and canvas, and not produced a Rembrandt, it was evident that the pictures attributed to his painting were really produced in quite a different way. You do not see why the skull of a parricide should help you to raise a dead man, as you do not see why the mercury in a thermometer should rise and fall, though you elaborately pretend that you do; and you could not raise a dead man by the aid of the skull of a parricide, just as you could not play the violin like Kreisler; though in the latter case you might modestly add that you thought you could learn. This is not the special pleading of a professed magician; it boils down to the advice not to judge subjects of which you are perfectly ignorant, and is to be found, stated in clearer and lovelier language, in the Essays of Thomas Henry Huxley.
Aleister Crowley
Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than with night. Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself. With lights and ever more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea; the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs? Be the answer what it will, to-day's civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night. Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd and evil as to know only artificial day.
Henry Beston (The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod)
My dear Prue, we are the inheritors of a wonderful world, a beautiful world, full of life and mystery, goodness and pain. But likewise are we children of an indifferent universe. We break our own hearts imposing our moral order on what is, by nature, a wide web of chaos. It is a hopeless task.
Colin Meloy (Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles, #1))
The pineal gland is a link between the consciousness of man and the invisible worlds of Nature. Whenever the arc of the pituitary body contacts this gland there are flashes of temporary clairvoyance, but the process of making these two work together consistently is one requiring not only years bur lives of consecration and special physiological and biological training. This third eye is the Cyclopean eye of the ancients, for it was an organ of conscious vision long before the physical eyes were formed, although vision was a sense of cognition rather than sight in those ancient days.
Manly P. Hall (Melchizedek and the Mystery of Fire)
He was right. I knew the score. He’d never pretended it was other than it was--whatever the hell that was. I’d never kidded myself there was any chance for us. Well, not often anyway. I guess my mistake had been in believing he was too smart and too honest not to eventually realize… Not his feelings for me--because I didn’t think what he felt for me was that significant--but his own true nature. How could he deny what he was? How could he choose to live such a profound and cancerous deception?
Josh Lanyon (The Hell You Say (The Adrien English Mysteries, #3))
Somewhere between poetry and science, somewhere between heaven and earth, clairaudience is born. Clairaudience is the sweetest mystery any human being could ever experience. Fortunately, it is the most contagious, too. Most, if not all, of my students walk away with some level of clairaudience after spending three hours in one of my workshops.
Amelia Kinkade (Straight from the Horse's Mouth: How to Talk to Animals and Get Answers)
The secret island had looked mysterious enough on the night they had seen it before - but now, swimming in the hot June haze, it seemed more enchanting than ever. As they drew near to it, and saw the willow trees that bent over the water-edge and heard the sharp call of moorhens that scuttled off, the children gazed in delight. Nothing but trees and birds and little wild animals. Oh, what a secret island, all for their very own, to live on and play on.
Enid Blyton (The Secret Island (Secret Series, #1))
With a bound, the sun of a molten fiery red cam above the horizon, and immediately thousands of little birds sang out for joy, and a soft chorus of mysterious, glad murmurs came forth from the earth; the low whispering wind left its hiding-place among the clefts and hollows of the hills, and wandered among the rustling herbs and trees, waking the flower-buds to the life of another day.
Elizabeth Gaskell (Ruth)
Reality is a very subjective affair. I can only define it as a kind of gradual accumulation of information; and as specialization. If we take a lily, for instance, or any other kind of natural object, a lily is more real to a naturalist than it is to an ordinary person. But it is still more real to a botanist. And yet another stage of reality is reached with that botanist who is a specialist in lilies. You can get nearer and nearer, so to speak, to reality; but you never get near enough because reality is an infinite succession of steps, levels of perception, false bottoms, and hence unquenchable, unattainable. You can know more and more about one thing but you can never know everything about one thing: it’s hopeless. So that we live surrounded by more or less ghostly objects— that machine, there, for instance. It’s a complete ghost to me— I don’t understand a thing about it and, well, it’s a mystery to me, as much of a mystery as it would be to Lord Byron.
Vladimir Nabokov
The world' is man's experience as it appears to, and is moulded by, his ego. It is that less abundant life, which is lived according to the dictates of the insulated self. It is nature denatured by the distorting spectacles of our appetites and revulsions. It is the finite divorced from the Eternal. It is multiplicity in isolation from its non-dual Ground. It is time apprehended as one damned thing after another. It is a system of verbal categories taking the place of the fathomlessly beautiful and mysterious particulars which constitute reality. It is a notion labelled 'God'. It is the Universe equated with the words of our utilitarian vocabulary.
Aldous Huxley (The Devils of Loudun)
What I had begun to discover is that, mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from normal experience, the grey drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not an immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair, owing to some evil trick played upon the sick brain by the inhabiting psyche, comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this cauldron, because there is no escape from the smothering confinement, it is natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion
William Styron (Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness)
The horror of profound depression, and the hopelessness that usually accompanies it, are hard to imagine for those who have not experienced them. Because the despair is private, it is resistant to clear and compelling description. Novelist William Styron, however, in recounting his struggle with suicidal depression, captures vividly the heavy, inescapable pain that can lead to suicide: What I had begun to discover is that, mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from normal experience, the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not an immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair, owing to some evil trick played upon the sick brain by the inhabiting psyche, comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this cauldron, because there is no escape from this smothering confinement, it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion. (105)
Kay Redfield Jamison (Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide)
No Temple made by mortal human hands can ever compare to the Temple made by the gods themselves. That building of wood and stone that houses us and that many believe conceals the great Secret Temple from prying eyes, somewhere in its heart of hearts, is but a decoy for the masses who need this simple concrete limited thing in their lives. The real Temple is the whole world, and there is nothing as divinely blessed as a blooming growing garden.
Vera Nazarian (Dreams of the Compass Rose)
Einstein’s remark on the limitlessness of human stupidity is made even more disturbing by the discovery that infinity comes in different sizes. Answering ‘How much stupider?’ or trying to measure the minimal idiocy bounded by an IQ test are mysteries which are themselves infinitely less alarming than simply attempting to tally the anti-savant population. One can count all the natural idiots (they’re the same as the even number of idiots – twice as many), but the number of real idiots continues forever: all the counting idiots (finger reckoners) plus all the fractional idiots (geniuses on a bad day) plus all the irrational idiots (they go on and on and on) add up to a world in which the approaching upper limit of our set of natural resources has its complement in the inexhaustible lower limit of our set of mental ones.
Bauvard (Some Inspiration for the Overenthusiastic)
From one point of view the Transcendent Other is nature correctly perceived to be alive and intelligent. From another it is the awesomely unfamiliar union of all the senses with memory of the past and anticipation of the future. The Transcendent Other is what one encounters on powerful hallucinogens. It is the crucible of the Mystery of our being, both as a species and as individuals. The Transcendent Other is Nature without her cheerfully reassuring mask of ordinary space, time, and causality.
Terence McKenna (Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge)
Women ought to be religious; faith was the natural fragrance of their minds. The more incredible the things they believed, the more lovely was the act of belief. To him the story of "Paradise Lost" was as mythical as the "Odyssey"; yet when his mother read it aloud to him, it was not only beautiful but true. A woman who didn't have holy thoughts about mysterious things far away would be prosaic and commonplace, like a man.
Willa Cather (One of Ours)
The Bible is full of evidence that God's attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a great cosmic cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us--loves us so much that we the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is "renewed in the morning" or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, "our inner nature is being renewed everyday". Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous details in Leviticus involving God in the minuitae of daily life might be revisioned as the very love of God.
Kathleen Norris (The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work)
In a society that is essentially designed to organize, direct, and gratify mass impulses, what is there to minister to the silent zones of man as an individual? Religion? Art? Nature? No, the church has turned religion into standardized public spectacle, and the museum has done the same for art. The Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls have been looked at so much that they've become effete, sucked empty by too many stupid eyes. What is there to minister to the silent zones of man as an individual? How about a cold chicken bone on a paper plate at midnight, how about a lurid lipstick lengthening or shortening at your command, how about a Styrofoam nest abandoned by a 'bird' you've never known, how about a pair of windshield wipers pursuing one another futilely while you drive home alone through a downpour, how about something beneath a seat touched by your shoe at the movies, how about worn pencils, cute forks, fat little radios, boxes of bow ties, and bubbles on the side of a bathtub? Yes, these are the things, these kite strings and olive oil cans and Valentine hearts stuffed with nougat, that form the bond between the autistic vision and the experiential world, it is to show these things in their true mysterious light that is the purpose of the moon.
Tom Robbins
It is easy enough to write and talk about God while remaining comfortable within the contemporary intellectual climate. Even people who would call themselves unbelievers often use the word gesturally, as a ready-made synonym for mystery. But if nature abhors a vacuum, Christ abhors a vagueness. If God is love, Christ is love for this one person, this one place, this one time-bound and time-ravaged self.
Christian Wiman (My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer)
76. David Hume – Treatise on Human Nature; Essays Moral and Political; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 77. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – On the Origin of Inequality; On the Political Economy; Emile – or, On Education, The Social Contract 78. Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy; A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy 79. Adam Smith – The Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations 80. Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason; Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; The Science of Right; Critique of Judgment; Perpetual Peace 81. Edward Gibbon – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Autobiography 82. James Boswell – Journal; Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D. 83. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier – Traité Élémentaire de Chimie (Elements of Chemistry) 84. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison – Federalist Papers 85. Jeremy Bentham – Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; Theory of Fictions 86. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Faust; Poetry and Truth 87. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier – Analytical Theory of Heat 88. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – Phenomenology of Spirit; Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History 89. William Wordsworth – Poems 90. Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Poems; Biographia Literaria 91. Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice; Emma 92. Carl von Clausewitz – On War 93. Stendhal – The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma; On Love 94. Lord Byron – Don Juan 95. Arthur Schopenhauer – Studies in Pessimism 96. Michael Faraday – Chemical History of a Candle; Experimental Researches in Electricity 97. Charles Lyell – Principles of Geology 98. Auguste Comte – The Positive Philosophy 99. Honoré de Balzac – Père Goriot; Eugenie Grandet 100. Ralph Waldo Emerson – Representative Men; Essays; Journal 101. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter 102. Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America 103. John Stuart Mill – A System of Logic; On Liberty; Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography 104. Charles Darwin – The Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography 105. Charles Dickens – Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Hard Times 106. Claude Bernard – Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine 107. Henry David Thoreau – Civil Disobedience; Walden 108. Karl Marx – Capital; Communist Manifesto 109. George Eliot – Adam Bede; Middlemarch 110. Herman Melville – Moby-Dick; Billy Budd 111. Fyodor Dostoevsky – Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov 112. Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary; Three Stories 113. Henrik Ibsen – Plays 114. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace; Anna Karenina; What is Art?; Twenty-Three Tales 115. Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger 116. William James – The Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; Essays in Radical Empiricism 117. Henry James – The American; The Ambassadors 118. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; The Genealogy of Morals;The Will to Power 119. Jules Henri Poincaré – Science and Hypothesis; Science and Method 120. Sigmund Freud – The Interpretation of Dreams; Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis 121. George Bernard Shaw – Plays and Prefaces
Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
Tears The first woman who ever wept was appalled at what stung her eyes and ran down her cheeks. Saltwater. Seawater. How was it possible? Hadn't she and the man spent many days moving upland to where the grass flourished, where the stream quenched their thirst with sweet water? How could she have carried these sea drops as if they were precious seeds; where could she have stowed them? She looked at the watchful gazelles and the heavy-lidded frogs; she looked at glass-eyed birds and nervous, black-eyed mice. None of them wept, not even the fish that dripped in her hands when she caught them. Not even the man. Only she carried the sea inside her body.
Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
Love? What is it? The most natural painkiller what there is.” You may become curious, though, about what happened to that painkiller should depression take hold and expose your love—whatever its object—as just one of the many intoxicants that muddled your consciousness of the human tragedy. You may also want to take a second look at whatever struck you as a person, place, or thing of “beauty,” a quality that lives only in the neurotransmitters of the beholder. (Aesthetics? What is it? A matter for those not depressed enough to care nothing about anything, that is, those who determine almost everything that is supposed to matter to us. Protest as you like, neither art nor an aesthetic view of life are distractions granted to everyone.) In depression, all that once seemed beautiful, or even startling and dreadful, is nothing to you. The image of a cloud-crossed moon is not in itself a purveyor of anything mysterious or mystical; it is only an ensemble of objects represented to us by our optical apparatus and perhaps processed as a memory.
Thomas Ligotti (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror)
School was more than academics; an education prepared you for the humdrum of real life: working with others, tempering one's personality to assimilate with the group but without losing your individual identity, understading the factors of logic, reasoning, and debate. For a person - vampire or human - to succeed in the world, unlocking the mysteries of the universe was insufficient. One would also need to grasp the mysteries of human nature.
Melissa de la Cruz (The Van Alen Legacy (Blue Bloods, #4))
I like to live always at the beginnings of life, not at their end. We all lose some of our faith under the oppression of mad leaders, insane history, pathologic cruelties of daily life. I am by nature always beginning and believing and so I find your company more fruitful than that of, say, Edmund Wilson, who asserts his opinions, beliefs, and knowledge as the ultimate verity. Older people fall into rigid patterns. Curiosity, risk, exploration are forgotten by them. You have not yet discovered that you have a lot to give, and that the more you give the more riches you will find in yourself. It amazed me that you felt that each time you write a story you gave away one of your dreams and you felt the poorer for it. But then you have not thought that this dream is planted in others, others begin to live it too, it is shared, it is the beginning of friendship and love. […] You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith.
Anaïs Nin
The mysteries of a universe made of drops of fire and clods of mud do not concern us in the least. The fate of humanity condemned ultimately to perish from cold is not worth troubling about. If you take it to heart it becomes an unendurable tragedy. If you believe in improvement you must weep, for the attained perfection must end in cold, darkness and silence. In a dispassionate view the ardour for reform, improvement for virtue, and knowledge, and even for beauty is only a vain sticking up for appearances as though one were anxious about the cut of one’s clothes in a community of blind men.
Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction)
History is ending because the dominator culture has led the human species into a blind alley, and as the inevitable chaostrophie approaches, people look for metaphors and answers. Every time a culture gets into trouble it casts itself back into the past looking for the last sane moment it ever knew. And the last sane moment we ever knew was on the plains of Africa 15,000 years ago rocked in the cradle of the Great Horned Mushroom Goddess before history, before standing armies, before slavery and property, before warfare and phonetic alphabets and monotheism, before, before, before. And this is where the future is taking us because the secret faith of the twentieth century is not modernism, the secret faith of the twentieth century is nostalgia for the archaic, nostalgia for the paleolithic, and that gives us body piercing, abstract expressionism, surrealism, jazz, rock-n-roll and catastrophe theory. The 20th century mind is nostalgic for the paradise that once existed on the mushroom dotted plains of Africa where the plant-human symbiosis occurred that pulled us out of the animal body and into the tool-using, culture-making, imagination-exploring creature that we are. And why does this matter? It matters because it shows that the way out is back and that the future is a forward escape into the past. This is what the psychedelic experience means. Its a doorway out of history and into the wiring under the board in eternity. And I tell you this because if the community understands what it is that holds it together the community will be better able to streamline itself for flight into hyperspace because what we need is a new myth, what we need is a new true story that tells us where we're going in the universe and that true story is that the ego is a product of pathology, and when psilocybin is regularly part of the human experience the ego is supressed and the supression of the ego means the defeat of the dominators, the materialists, the product peddlers. Psychedelics return us to the inner worth of the self, to the importance of the feeling of immediate experience - and nobody can sell that to you and nobody can buy it from you, so the dominator culture is not interested in the felt presence of immediate experience, but that's what holds the community together. And as we break out of the silly myths of science, and the infantile obsessions of the marketplace what we discover through the psychedelic experience is that in the body, IN THE BODY, there are Niagaras of beauty, alien beauty, alien dimensions that are part of the self, the richest part of life. I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about. The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature. What the Archaic Revival means is shamanism, ecstacy, orgiastic sexuality, and the defeat of the three enemies of the people. And the three enemies of the people are hegemony, monogamy and monotony! And if you get them on the run you have the dominators sweating folks, because that means your getting it all reconnected, and getting it all reconnected means putting aside the idea of separateness and self-definition through thing-fetish. Getting it all connected means tapping into the Gaian mind, and the Gaian mind is what we're calling the psychedelic experience. Its an experience of the living fact of the entelechy of the planet. And without that experience we wander in a desert of bogus ideologies. But with that experience the compass of the self can be set, and that's the idea; figuring out how to reset the compass of the self through community, through ecstatic dance, through psychedelics, sexuality, intelligence, INTELLIGENCE. This is what we have to have to make the forward escape into hyperspace.
Terence McKenna
As we have taken the circle as a symbol of reason and madness, we may very well take the cross as a symbol at once of mystery and health. Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out. For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature; but it is fixed for ever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller. But the cross, though it has at its head a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape. Because is has a paradox in its center it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travelers.
G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)
For centuries, as pope and emperor tore each other apart in their quarrels over power, the excluded went on living on the fringe, like lepers, of whom true lepers are only the illustration ordained by God to make us understand this wondrous parable, so that in saying 'lepers' we would understand 'outcast, poor, simple, excluded, uprooted from the countryside, humiliated in the cities.' But we did not understand; the mystery of leprosy has continued to haunt us because we have not recognized the nature of the sign.
Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose)
We are one knot in a great web of being, building out of the vast past and (with luck) continuing billions of years into the future, until the sun dies, the last of its energy reaches Earth, and our local light goes out. The most appropriate response to the world is to realize, with awe, the ferocious mystery of being alive in it. And act accordingly. The worst thing anyone should be able to say about their life is also the greatest thing anyone can say: 'I tried my best.
Carl Safina (The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World)
The secret Order of Melchizedek can never appear in the physical world while humanity is constituted according to its present plan. It is the supreme Mystery School, and a few have reached the point where they have blended their divine and human natures so perfectly that they are symbolically two-headed. The heart and mind must be brought into perfect equilibrium before true thinking or true spirituality can be attained. The highest function of the mind is reason; the highest function of the heart is intuition, a sensing process not necessitating the normal working of the mind.
Manly P. Hall (Melchizedek and the Mystery of Fire)
We live in the Age of the Higher Brain, the cerebral cortex that has grown enormously over the last few millennia, overshadowing the ancient, instinctive lower brain. The cortex is often called the new brain, yet the old brain held sway in humans for millions of years, as it does today in most living things. The old brain can’t conjure up ideas or read. But it does possess the power to feel and, above all, to be. It was the old brain that caused our forebears to sense the closeness of a mysterious presence everywhere in Nature.
Deepak Chopra (The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life)
My house completed, and tried and not found wanting by a first Cape Cod year, I went there to spend a fortnight in September. The fortnight ending, I lingered on, and as the year lengthened into autumn, the beauty and mystery of this earth and outer sea so possessed and held me that I could not go. The world to-day is sick to its thin blood for lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water welling from the earth, for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot. In my world of beach and dunes these elemental presences lived and had their being, and under their arch there moved an incomparable pageant of nature and the year.
Henry Beston (The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod)
The real mystery does not behave mysteriously or secretively; it speaks a secret language, it adumbrates itself by a variety of images which all indicate its true nature. I am not speaking of a secret personally guarded by someone, with a content known to its possessor, but of a mystery, a matter or circumstance which is “secret,” i.e., known only through vague hints but essentially unknown. The real nature of matter was unknown to the alchemist: he knew it only in hints. In seeking to explore it he projected the unconscious into the darkness of matter in order to illuminate it. In order to explain the mystery of matter he projected yet another mystery - his own psychic background -into what was to be explained: Obscurum per obscurius, ignotum per ignotius! This procedure was not, of course, intentional; it was an involuntary occurrence.
C.G. Jung (Psychology and Alchemy (Collected Works 12))
Cruelty is a mystery, and the waste of pain. But if we describe a world to compass these things, a world that is a long, brute game, then we bump against another mystery: the inrush of power and light…unless all ages and races of men have been deluded by the same mass hypnotist (who?), there seems to be such a thing as beauty, a grace wholly gratuitous…we don’t know what’s going on here. If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they ignite? We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.
Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
To man has been given the grief, often, of seeing his gods overthrown and his altars crumbling; but to the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to crouch at man's feet, this grief has never come. Unlike man, whose gods are of the unseen and overguessed, vapors and mists of fancy eluding the garmenture of reality, wandering wraiths of desired goodness and power, intangible outcroppings of self into the realm of spirit - unlike man, the wolf and the wild dog that have come into their fire find the gods in the living flesh, solid to the touch, occupying earth-space and requiring time for the accomplishment of their ends and their existence. No effort of faith is necessary to believe in such a god; no effort of will can possibly induce disbelief in such a god. There is no getting away from it. There it stands, on its two hindlegs, club in hand, immensely potential, passionate and wrathful and loving, god and mystery and power all wrapped up and around by flesh that bleeds when it is torn and that is good to eat like any flesh.
Jack London (White Fang)
In the Lakota/Sioux tradition, a person who is grieving is considered most wakan, most holy. There's a sense that when someone is struck by the sudden lightning of loss, he or she stands on the threshold of the spirit world. The prayers of those who grieve are considered especially strong, and it is proper to ask them for their help. You might recall what it's like to be with someone who has grieved deeply. The person has no layer of protection, nothing left to defend. The mystery is looking out through that person's eyes. For the time being, he or she has accepted the reality of loss and has stopped clinging to the past or grasping at the future. In the groundless openness of sorrow, there is a wholeness of presence and a deep natural wisdom.
Tara Brach (True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart)
It was the general opinion of ancient nations, that the divinity alone was adequate to the important office of giving laws to men... and modern nations, in the consecrations of kings, and in several superstitious chimeras of divine rights in princes and nobles, are nearly unanimous in preserving remnants of it... Is the jealousy of power, and the envy of superiority, so strong in all men, that no considerations of public or private utility are sufficient to engage their submission to rules for their own happiness? Or is the disposition to imposture so prevalent in men of experience, that their private views of ambition and avarice can be accomplished only by artifice? — … There is nothing in which mankind have been more unanimous; yet nothing can be inferred from it more than this, that the multitude have always been credulous, and the few artful. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or labouring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. As Copley painted Chatham, West, Wolf, and Trumbull, Warren and Montgomery; as Dwight, Barlow, Trumbull, and Humphries composed their verse, and Belknap and Ramzay history; as Godfrey invented his quadrant, and Rittenhouse his planetarium; as Boylston practised inoculation, and Franklin electricity; as Paine exposed the mistakes of Raynal, and Jefferson those of Buffon, so unphilosophically borrowed from the Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains those despicable dreams of de Pauw — neither the people, nor their conventions, committees, or sub-committees, considered legislation in any other light than ordinary arts and sciences, only as of more importance. Called without expectation, and compelled without previous inclination, though undoubtedly at the best period of time both for England and America, to erect suddenly new systems of laws for their future government, they adopted the method of a wise architect, in erecting a new palace for the residence of his sovereign. They determined to consult Vitruvius, Palladio, and all other writers of reputation in the art; to examine the most celebrated buildings, whether they remain entire or in ruins; compare these with the principles of writers; and enquire how far both the theories and models were founded in nature, or created by fancy: and, when this should be done, as far as their circumstances would allow, to adopt the advantages, and reject the inconveniences, of all. Unembarrassed by attachments to noble families, hereditary lines and successions, or any considerations of royal blood, even the pious mystery of holy oil had no more influence than that other of holy water: the people universally were too enlightened to be imposed on by artifice; and their leaders, or more properly followers, were men of too much honour to attempt it. Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind. [Preface to 'A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America', 1787]
John Adams (A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America: Akashic U.S. Presidents Series)
Real love isn't ambivalent. I'd swear that's a line from my favorite best-selling paperback novel, "In Love with the Night Mysterious", except I don't think you've ever read it. Well, you ought to, instead of spending the rest of your life, trying to get through "Democracy in America." It's about this white woman whose daddy owns a plantation in the Deep South, in the years before the Civil War. And her name is Margaret, and she's in love with her daddy's number-one slave, and his name is Thaddeus. And she's married, but her white slave-owner husband has AIDS: Antebellum Insufficiently-Developed Sex-organs. And so, there's a lot of hot stuff going down, when Margaret and Thaddeus can catch a spare torrid ten under the cotton-picking moon. And then of course the Yankees come, and they set the slaves free. And the slaves string up old daddy and so on, historical fiction. Somewhere in there I recall, Margaret and Thaddeus find the time to discuss the nature of love. Her face is reflecting the flames of the burning plantation, you know the way white people do, and his black face is dark in the night and she says to him, "Thaddeus, real love isn't ever ambivalent.
Tony Kushner (Millennium Approaches (Angels in America #1))
Idealism, though just in its premises, and often daring and honest in their application, is stultified by the exclusive intellectualism of its own methods: by its fatal trust in the squirrel-work of the industrious brain instead of the piercing vision of the desirous heart. It interests man, but does not involve him in its processes: does not catch him up to the new and more real life which it describes. Hence the thing that matters, the living thing, has somehow escaped it; and its observations bear the same relation to reality as the art of the anatomist does to the mystery of birth.
Evelyn Underhill (Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness)
I looked for any footmarks of course, but naturally, with all this rain, there wasn't a sign. Of course, if this were a detective story, there'd have been a convenient shower exactly an hour before the crime and a beautiful set of marks which could only have come there between two and three in the morning, but this being real life in a London November, you might as well expect footprints in Niagara. I searched the roofs right along—and came to the jolly conclusion that any person in any blessed flat in the blessed row might have done it.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey, #1))
For centuries poets, some poets, have tried to give a voice to the animals, and readers, some readers, have felt empathy and sorrow. If animals did have voices, and they could speak with the tongues of angels--at the very least with the tongues of angels--they would be unable to save themselves from us. What good would language do? Their mysterious otherness has not saved them, nor have their beautiful songs and coats and skins and shells and eyes. We discover the remarkable intelligence of the whale, the wolf, the elephant--it does not save them, nor does our awareness of the complexity of their lives. Their strength, their skills, their swiftness, the beauty of their flights. It matters not, it seems, whether they are large or small, proud or shy, docile or fierce, wild or domesticated, whether they nurse their young or brood patiently on eggs. If they eat meat, we decry their viciousness; if they eat grasses and seeds, we dismiss them as weak. There is not one of them, not even the songbird who cannot, who does not, conflict with man and his perceived needs and desires. St. Francis converted the wolf of Gubbio to reason, but he performed this miracle only once and as miracles go, it didn’t seem to capture the public’s fancy. Humans don’t want animals to reason with them. It would be a disturbing, unnerving, diminishing experience; it would bring about all manner of awkwardness and guilt.
Joy Williams (Ill Nature)
Poets represent love as sculptors design beauty, as musicians create melody; that is to say, endowed with an exquisite nervous organization, they gather up with discerning ardor the purest elements of life, the most beautiful lines of matter, and the most harmonious voices of nature. There lived, it is said, at Athens a great number of beautiful girls; Praxiteles drew them all one after another; then from these diverse types of beauty, each one of which had its defects, he formed a single faultless beauty and created Venus. The man who first created a musical instrument, and who gave to harmony its rules and its laws, had for a long time listened to the murmuring of reeds and the singing of birds. Thus the poets, who understand life, after knowing much of love, more or less transitory, after feeling that sublime exaltation which real passion can for the moment inspire, eliminating from human nature all that degrades it, created the mysterious names which through the ages fly from lip to lip: Daphnis and Chloe, Hero and Leander, Pyramus and Thisbe. To try to find in real life such love as this, eternal and absolute, is but to seek on public squares a woman such as Venus, or to expect nightingales to sing the symphonies of Beethoven.
Alfred de Musset (The Confession of a Child of the Century)
From the earliest days of man there has endured the conviction that there is an order of existence which is entirely strange to him. It does indeed seem that the strict order of the visible world is only a semblance, one providing certain gross materials which become the basis for subtle improvisations of invisible powers. Hence, it may appear to some that a leafless tree is not a tree but a signpost to another realm; that an old house is not a house but a thing possessing a will of its own; that the dead may throw off that heavy blanket of earth to walk in their sleep, and in ours. And these are merely a few of the infinite variations on the themes of the natural order as it is usually conceived. But is there really a strange world? Of course. Are there, then, two worlds? Not at all. There is only our own world and it alone is alien to us, intrinsically so by virtue of its lack of mysteries. If only it actually were deranged by invisible powers, if only it were susceptible to real strangeness, perhaps it would seem more like a home to us, and less like an empty room filled with the echoes of this dreadful improvising. To think that we might have found comfort in a world suited to our nature, only to end up in one so resoundingly strange!
Thomas Ligotti (The Nightmare Factory)
When confronted with a problem involving the use of the reasoning faculties, individuals of strong intellect keep their poise, and seek to reach a solution by obtaining facts bearing upon the question. Those of immature mentality, on the other hand, when similarly confronted, are overwhelmed. While the former may be qualified to solve the riddle of their own destiny, the latter must be led like a flock of sheep and taught in simple language. They depend almost entirely upon the ministrations of the shepherd. The Apostle Paul said that these little ones must be fed with milk, but that meat is the food of strong men. Thoughtlessness is almost synonymous with childishness, while thoughtfulness is symbolic of maturity. There are, however, but few mature minds in the world; and thus it was that the philosophic-religious doctrines of the pagans were divided to meet the needs of these two fundamental groups of human intellect--one philosophic, the other incapable of appreciating the deeper mysteries of life. To the discerning few were revealed the esoteric, or spiritual, teachings, while the unqualified many received only the literal, or exoteric, interpretations. In order to make simple the great truths of Nature and the abstract principles of natural law, the vital forces of the universe were personified, becoming the gods and goddesses of the ancient mythologies. While the ignorant multitudes brought their offerings to the altars of Priapus and Pan (deities representing the procreative energies), the wise recognized in these marble statues only symbolic concretions of great abstract truths. In all cities of the ancient
Manly P. Hall (The Secret Teachings of All Ages)
Those who don't love themselves as they are rarely love life as it is either. Most people have come to prefer certain of life's experiences and deny and reject others, unaware of the value of the hidden things that may come wrapped in plain or even ugly paper. In avoiding all pain and seeking comfort at all cost, we may be left without intimacy or compassion; in rejecting change and risk we often cheat ourselves of the quest; in denying our suffering we may never know our strength or our greatness. Or even that the love we have been given can be trusted. It is natural, even instinctive to prefer comfort to pain, the familiar to the unknown. But sometimes our instincts are not wise. Life usually offers us far more than our biases and preferences will allow us to have. Beyond comfort lie grace, mystery, and adventure. We may need to let go of our beliefs and ideas about life in order to have life.
Rachel Naomi Remen (Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal)
He read the veinings of a leaf, the pattern on a mushroom cap, and divined mysteries, relations, futures, possibilities: the magic of symbols, the foreshadowing of numbers and writing, the reduction of infinitudes and multiplicities to simplicity, to system, to concept. For all these ways of comprehending the world through the mind no doubt lay within him, nameless, unnamed, but not inconceivable, not beyond the bounds of presentiment, still in the germ, but essential to his nature, part of him, growing organically within him. And if we were to go still further back beyond this Rainmaker and his time which to us seems so early and primitive, if we were to go several thousand years further back into the past, wherever we found man we would still find - this is our firm belief - the mind of man, that mind which has no beginning and always has contained everything that it later produces.
Hermann Hesse (The Glass Bead Game)
Madeleine in her turn stared at him steadily, straight into his eyes, in a profound, strange way, as if seeking to read something there, as if seeking to discover there that hidden part of a human being which can never be fathomed but may perhaps be glimpsed for a fleeting instant, in those moments of unguardedness or surrender or inattention, that are like doors left ajar onto the mysterious depths of the spirit... they stood for a few seconds, each gazing into the other's eyes, each striving to reach the impenetrable secret of the other's heart, to probe each other's thoughts to the quick. They tried, in a mute and passionate questioning, to see the other's conscience in its essential truth: the intimate struggles of two beings who, living side by side, never really know one another, who suspect and sniff around and spy on one another, but cannot plumb the miry depths of one another's soul.
Guy de Maupassant (Bel-Ami)
How, in such an alien and inhuman world, can so powerless a creature as man preserve his aspirations untarnished? A strange mystery it is that nature, omnipotent but blind, in the revolutions of her secular hurryings through the abysses of space, has brought forth at last a child, subject still to her power, but gifted with sight, with knowledge of good and evil, with the capacity of judging all the works of his unthinking mother. In spite of death, the mark and seal of the parental control, man is yet free, during his brief years, to examine, to criticize, to know, and in imagination to create. To him alone, in the world with which he is aquainted, this freedom belongs; and in this lies his superiority to the resistless forces that control his outward life.
Bertrand Russell
In truth, the kingdom of heaven is within man far more completely than he realizes; and as heaven is in his own nature, so earth and hell are also in his constitution, for the superior worlds circumscribe and include the inferior, and earth and hell are included within the nature of heaven. As Pythagoras would say; "The superior and inferior worlds are included within the area of the Supreme Sphere." So all the kingdoms of earthly nature, the minerals, the planes, the animals, and his own human spirit are included within his physical body, and he himself is the appointed guardian spirit of the mineral kingdom and he is responsible co the creative hierarchs for the destiny of the scones and metals.
Manly P. Hall (Melchizedek and the Mystery of Fire)
A charge often levied against organic agriculture is that it is more philosophy than science. There's some truth to this indictment, if that it what it is, though why organic farmers should feel defensive about it is itself a mystery, a relic, perhaps, of our fetishism of science as the only credible tool with which to approach nature. ... The peasant rice farmer who introduces ducks and fish to his paddy may not understand all the symbiotic relationships he's put in play--that the ducks and fishes are feeding nitrogen to the rice and at the same time eating the pests. But the high yields of food from this ingenious polyculture are his to harvest even so.
Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals)
The mysterious manner in which this growing sense of unity commingles with a sense of utter goodness is worth noting. It arises by no effort of mine; rather does it come to me out of I know not where. Harmony appears gradually and flows through my whole being like music. An infinite tenderness takes possession of me, smoothing away the harsh cynicism which a reiterated experience of human ingratitude and human treachery has driven deeply into my temperament. I feel the fundamental benignity of Nature despite the apparent manifestation of ferocity. Like the sounds of every instrument in an orchestra that is in tune, all things and all people seem to drop into the sweet relationship that subsists within the Great Mother's own heart.
Paul Brunton (A Hermit in the Himalayas: The Journal of a Lonely Exile)
Here was intellectual life, he thought, and here was beauty, warm and wonderful as he had never dreamed it could be. He forgot himself and stared at her with hungry eyes. Here was something to live for, to win to, to fight for—ay, and die for. The books were true. There were such women in the world. She was one of them. She lent wings to his imagination, and great, luminous canvases spread themselves before him whereon loomed vague, gigantic figures of love and romance, and of heroic deeds for woman’s sake—for a pale woman, a flower of gold. And through the swaying, palpitant vision, as through a fairy mirage, he stared at the real woman, sitting there and talking of literature and art. He listened as well, but he stared, unconscious of the fixity of his gaze or of the fact that all that was essentially masculine in his nature was shining in his eyes. But she, who knew little of the world of men, being a woman, was keenly aware of his burning eyes. She had never had men look at her in such fashion, and it embarrassed her. She stumbled and halted in her utterance. The thread of argument slipped from her. He frightened her, and at the same time it was strangely pleasant to be so looked upon. Her training warned her of peril and of wrong, subtle, mysterious, luring; while her instincts rang clarion-voiced through her being, impelling her to hurdle caste and place and gain to this traveller from another world, to this uncouth young fellow with lacerated hands and a line of raw red caused by the unaccustomed linen at his throat, who, all too evidently, was soiled and tainted by ungracious existence. She was clean, and her cleanness revolted; but she was woman, and she was just beginning to learn the paradox of woman.
Jack London (Martin Eden)
Why Do People become Shadowhunters, by Magnus Bane This Codex thing is very silly. Downworlders talk about the Codex like it is some great secret full of esoteric knowledge, but really itès a Boy Scout manual. One thing that it mysteriously doesnèt address is why people become Shadowhunters. And you should know that people become Shadowhunters for many stupid reasons. So here is an addition to your copy. Greetings, aspiring young Shadowhunter-to-be- or possibly already technically a Shadowhunter. I canèt remember whether you drink from the Cup first or get the book first. Regardless, you have just been recruited by the Monster Police. You may be wondering, why? Why of all the mundanes out there was I selected and invited to this exclusive club made up largely, at least from a historical perspective, of murderous psychopaths? Possible Reasons Why 1. You possess a stout heart, strong will, and able body. 2. You possess a stout body, able will, and strong heart. 3. Local Shadowhunters are ironically punishing you by making you join them. 4. You were recruited by a local institute to join the Nephilim as an ironic punishment for your mistreatment of Downworlders. 5. Your home , village, or nation is under siege by demons. 6. You home, village, or nation is under siege by rogue Downworlders. 7. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. 8.You know too much, and should be recruited because the secrecy of the Shadow World has already been compromised for you. 9. You know too little; it would be helpful to the Shadowhunters if you knew more. 10. You know exactly the right amount, making you a natural recruit. 11. You possess a natural resistance to glamour magic and must be recruited to keep you quiet and provide you with some basic protection. 12. You have a compound last name already and have convinced someone important that yours is a Shadowhunter family and the Shadowhunteriness has just been weakened by generations of bad breeding. 13. You had a torrid affair with a member of the Nephilim council and now he's trying to cover his tracks. 14. Shadowhunters are concerned they are no longer haughty and condescending enough-have sought you out to add a much needed boost of haughty condescension. 15. You have been bitten by a radioactive Shadowhunter, giving you the proportional strength and speed of a Shadowhunter. 16. Large bearded man on flying motorcycle appeared to take you away to Shadowhunting school. 17. Your mom has been in hiding from your evil dad, and you found out you're a Shadowhunter only a few weeks ago. That's right. Seventeen reasons. Because that's how many I came up with. Now run off, little Shadowhunter, and learn how to murder things. And be nice to Downworlders.
Cassandra Clare (The Shadowhunter's Codex)
It is impossible to see how good work might be accomplished by people who think that our life in this world either signifies nothing or has only a negative significance. If, on the other hand, we believe that we are living souls, God's dust and God's breath, acting our parts among other creatures all made of the same dust and breath as ourselves; and if we understand that we are free, within the obvious limits of moral human life, to do evil or good to ourselves and to the other creatures - then all our acts have a supreme significance. If it is true that we are living souls and morally free, then all of us are artists. All of us are makers, within mortal terms and limits, of our lives, of one another's lives, of things we need and use... If we think of ourselves as living souls, immortal creatures, living in the midst of a Creation that is mostly mysterious, and if we see that everything we make or do cannot help but have an everlasting significance for ourselves, for others, and for the world, then we see why some religious teachers have understood work as a form of prayer... Work connects us both to Creation and to eternity. (pg. 316, Christianity and the Survival of Creation)
Wendell Berry (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)
Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his finity, - the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heavens artillery, - but the most tremendous, the most stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are as brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizes that his is a maggots life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear od death, of God, of the universe, comes over him, - the hope of the Resurrection and the life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence, - it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God. - The White Silence
Jack London
Zen has been called the "religion before religion," which is to say that anyone can practice, including those committed to another faith. And that phrase evokes that natural religion of our early childhood, when heaven and a splendorous earth were one. But soon the child's clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions and abstractions. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines, and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, at the bottom of each breath, there is a hollow place filled with longing. We become seekers without knowing that we seek, and at first, we long for something "greater" than ourselves, something apart and far away. It is not a return to childhood, for childhood is not a truly enlightened state. Yet to seek one's own true nature is "a way to lead you to your long lost home." To practice Zen means to realize one's existence moment after moment, rather than letting life unravel in regret of the past and daydreaming of the future. To "rest in the present" is a state of magical simplicity...out of the emptiness can come a true insight into our natural harmony all creation. To travel this path, one need not be a 'Zen Buddhist', which is only another idea to be discarded like 'enlightenment,' and like 'the Buddha' and like 'God.
Peter Matthiessen (Nine-Headed Dragon River: Zen Journals, 1969-1982)
We read the pagan sacred books with profit and delight. With myth and fable we are ever charmed, and find a pleasure in the endless repetition of the beautiful, poetic, and absurd. We find, in all these records of the past, philosophies and dreams, and efforts stained with tears, of great and tender souls who tried to pierce the mystery of life and death, to answer the eternal questions of the Whence and Whither, and vainly sought to make, with bits of shattered glass, a mirror that would, in very truth, reflect the face and form of Nature's perfect self. These myths were born of hopes, and fears, and tears, and smiles, and they were touched and colored by all there is of joy and grief between the rosy dawn of birth, and death's sad night. They clothed even the stars with passion, and gave to gods the faults and frailties of the sons of men. In them, the winds and waves were music, and all the lakes, and streams, and springs,—the mountains, woods and perfumed dells were haunted by a thousand fairy forms. They thrilled the veins of Spring with tremulous desire; made tawny Summer's billowed breast the throne and home of love; filled Autumns arms with sun-kissed grapes, and gathered sheaves; and pictured Winter as a weak old king who felt, like Lear upon his withered face, Cordelia's tears. These myths, though false, are beautiful, and have for many ages and in countless ways, enriched the heart and kindled thought. But if the world were taught that all these things are true and all inspired of God, and that eternal punishment will be the lot of him who dares deny or doubt, the sweetest myth of all the Fable World would lose its beauty, and become a scorned and hateful thing to every brave and thoughtful man.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Some Mistakes of Moses)
On the other hand, I am not a liberal. The notion that man is a rational creature who arrives at reasonable solutions to knotty problems is much in doubt as far as I’m concerned. Liberalism depends all too much on having an optimistic view of human nature. But the history of the 20th century has not exactly fortified that notion. Moreover, liberalism also depends too much upon reason rather than any appreciation of mystery. If you start to talk about God with the average good liberal, he looks at you as if you are more than a little off. In that sense, since I happen to be—I hate to use the word religious, there are so many heavy dull connotations, so many pious self-seeking aspects—but I do believe there is a Creator who is active in human affairs and is endangered. I also believe there is a Devil who is equally active in our existence (and is all too often successful). So, I can hardly be a liberal. God is bad enough for them, but talk about the devil, and the liberal’s mind is blown. He is consorting with a fellow who is irrational if not insane. That is the end of real conversation.
Norman Mailer
I receive remarkable letters. They are opened for me, unfolded, and spread out before my eyes in a daily ritual that gives the arrival of the mail the character of a hushed and holy ceremony. I carefully read each letter myself. Some of them are serious in tone, discussing the meaning of life, invoking the supremacy of the soul, the mystery of every existence. And by a curious reversal, the people who focus most closely on these fundamental questions tend to be people I had known only superficially. Their small talk has masked hidden depths. Had I been blind and deaf, or does it take the harsh light of disaster to show a person's true nature? Other letters simply relate the small events that punctuate the passage of time: roses picked at dusk, the laziness of a rainy Sunday, a child crying himself to sleep. Capturing the moment, these small slices of life, these small gusts of happiness, move me more deeply than all the rest. A couple of lines or eight pages, a Middle Eastern stamp or a suburban postmark... I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay.
Jean-Dominique Bauby (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
The theory of phlogiston was an inversion of the true nature of combustion. Removing phlogiston was in reality adding oxygen, while adding phlogiston was actually removing oxygen. The theory was a total misrepresentation of reality. Phlogiston did not even exist, and yet its existence was firmly believed and the theory adhered to rigidly for nearly one hundred years throughout the eighteenth century. ... As experimentation continued the properties of phlogiston became more bizarre and contradictory. But instead of questioning the existence of this mysterious substance it was made to serve more comprehensive purposes. ... For the skeptic or indeed to anyone prepared to step out of the circle of Darwinian belief, it is not hard to find inversions of common sense in modern evolutionary thought which are strikingly reminiscent of the mental gymnastics of the phlogiston chemists or the medieval astronomers. To the skeptic, the proposition that the genetic programmes of higher organisms, consisting of something close to a thousand million bits of information, equivalent to the sequence of letters in a small library of one thousand volumes, containing in encoded form countless thousands of intricate algorithms controlling, specifying and ordering the growth and development of billions and billions of cells into the form of a complex organism, were composed by a purely random process is simply an affront to reason. But to the Darwinist the idea is accepted without a ripple of doubt - the paradigm takes precedence!
Michael Denton (Evolution: A Theory In Crisis)
I was suddenly made aware of another world of beauty and mystery such as I had never imagined to exist, except in poetry. It was as though I had begun to see and smell and hear for the first time. The world appeared to me as Wordsworth describes with “the glory and freshness of a dream.” The sight of a wild rose growing on a hedge, the scent of lime-tree blossoms caught suddenly as I rode down a hill on a bicycle, came to me like visitations from another world. But it was not only my senses that were awakened. I experienced an overwhelming emotion in the presence of nature, especially at evening. It began to have a kind of sacramental character for me. I approached it with a sense of almost religious awe and , in a hush that comes before sunset, I felt again the presence of an almost unfathomable mystery. The song of the birds, the shape of the trees, the colors of the sunset, were so many signs of the presence, which seemed to be drawing me to itself.
Bede Griffiths
Daydream, which is to thought as the nebula is to the star, borders on sleep, and is concerned with it as its frontier. An atmosphere inhabited by living transparencies: there's a beginning of the unknown. But beyond it the Possible opens out, immense. Other beings, other facts, are there. No supernaturalism, only the occult continuation of infinite nature. . . . Sleep is in contact with the Possible, which we also call the improbable. The world of the night is a world. Night, as night, is a universe. . . . The dark things of the unknown world become neighbors of man, whether by true communication or by a visionary enlargement of the distances of the abyss . . . and the sleeper, not quite seeing, not quite unconscious, glimpses the strange animalities, weird vegetations, terrible or radiant pallors, ghosts, masks, figures, hydras, confusions, moonless moonlights, obscure unmakings of miracle, growths and vanishings within a murky depth, shapes floating in shadow, the whole mystery which we call Dreaming, and which is nothing other than the approach of an invisible reality. The dream is the aquarium of Night.
Victor Hugo
It was a cold still afternoon with a hard steely sky overhead, when he slipped out of the warm parlour into the open air. The country lay bare and entirely leafless around him, and he thought that he had never seen so far and intimately into the insides of things as on that winter day when Nature was deep in her annual slumber and seemed to have kicked the clothes off. Copses, dells, quarries and all hidden places, which had been mysterious mines for exploration in leafy summer, now exposed themselves and their secrets pathetically, and seemed to ask him to overlook their shabby poverty for a while, til they could riot in rich masquerade as before, and trick and entice him with the old deceptions. It was pitiful in a way, and yet cheering-even exhilarating. He was glad that he liked the country undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery. He had got down to the bare bones of it, and they were fine and strong and simple. He did not want the warm clover and the play of seeding grasses; the screens of quickset, the billowy drapery of beech and elm seemed best away; and with great cheerfulness of spirit he pushed on towards the Wild Wood, which lay before him low and threatening, like a black reef in some still southern sea.
Kenneth Grahame
I do not consider myself a religious person, because I don't adhere to a particular religion or faith or prescribed beliefs, as did my father, who was a Baptist minister. And I am not an atheist, one who thinks that belief in anything beyond the here and now and the rational is delusion. I love science, but I allow for mystery, things that can never be proven by a rational mind. I am a person who thinks about the nature of the spirit when I write. I think about what can't be known and only imagined. I often sense a spirit or force or meaning beyond myself. I leave it open as to what the spirit is, but I continue to make guesses -- that it could be the universal binding of the emotion of love, or a joyful quality of humanity, or a collective unconscious that turns out to be a unified conscience. The spirit could be all those worshiped by all the religions, even those that deny the validity of others. It could be that we all exist in all ten dimensions of a string-theory universe and are seeding memories in all of them and occupy them simultaneously as memory. Or we exist only as thought and out perception that it is a physical world is a delusion. The nature of spirit could also be my mother and my grandmother and that they really do serve as my muses as I fondly imagine them doing at times. Or maybe the nature of the spirit is a freer imagination. I've often thought that imagination was the conduit to compassion, and compassion is a true spiritual nature. Whatever the spirit might be, I am not basing what I do in this life on any expected reward or punishment in the hereafter or thereafter. It is enough that I feel blessed -- and by whom or what I don't know -- but I receive it with gratitude that I am a writer and my work is to imagine all the possibilities.
Amy Tan
I On the calm black water where the stars are sleeping White Ophelia floats like a great lily; Floats very slowly, lying in her long veils... - In the far-off woods you can hear them sound the mort. For more than a thousand years sad Ophelia Has passed, a white phantom, down the long black river. For more than a thousand years her sweet madness Has murmured its ballad to the evening breeze. The wind kisses her breasts and unfolds in a wreath Her great veils rising and falling with the waters; The shivering willows weep on her shoulder, The rushes lean over her wide, dreaming brow. The ruffled water-lilies are sighing around her; At times she rouses, in a slumbering alder, Some nest from which escapes a small rustle of wings; - A mysterious anthem falls from the golden stars. II O pale Ophelia! beautiful as snow! Yes child, you died, carried off by a river! - It was the winds descending from the great mountains of Norway That spoke to you in low voices of better freedom. It was a breath of wind, that, twisting your great hair, Brought strange rumors to your dreaming mind; It was your heart listening to the song of Nature In the groans of the tree and the sighs of the nights; It was the voice of mad seas, the great roar, That shattered your child's heart, too human and too soft; It was a handsome pale knight, a poor madman Who one April morning sate mute at your knees! Heaven! Love! Freedom! What a dream, oh poor crazed Girl! You melted to him as snow does to a fire; Your great visions strangled your words - And fearful Infinity terrified your blue eye! III - And the poet says that by starlight You come seeking, in the night, the flowers that you picked And that he has seen on the water, lying in her long veils White Ophelia floating, like a great lily.
Arthur Rimbaud (A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat)
There is nothing in which mankind have been more unanimous [founding nations upon superstition]; yet nothing can be inferred from it more than this, that the multitude have always been credulous, and the few artful. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history... [T]he detail of the formation of the American governments... may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven... it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses... Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind. [A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America, 1787]
John Adams (The Political Writings of John Adams)
There are six canons of conservative thought: 1) Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. A narrow rationality, what Coleridge called the Understanding, cannot of itself satisfy human needs. "Every Tory is a realist," says Keith Feiling: "he knows that there are great forces in heaven and earth that man's philosophy cannot plumb or fathom." True politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which ought to prevail in a community of souls. 2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems; conservatives resist what Robert Graves calls "Logicalism" in society. This prejudice has been called "the conservatism of enjoyment"--a sense that life is worth living, according to Walter Bagehot "the proper source of an animated Conservatism." 3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a "classless society." With reason, conservatives have been called "the party of order." If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum. Ultimate equality in the judgment of God, and equality before courts of law, are recognized by conservatives; but equality of condition, they think, means equality in servitude and boredom. 4) Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Economic levelling, they maintain, is not economic progress. 5) Faith in prescription and distrust of "sophisters, calculators, and economists" who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs. Custom, convention, and old prescription are checks both upon man's anarchic impulse and upon the innovator's lust for power. 6) Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress. Society must alter, for prudent change is the means of social preservation; but a statesman must take Providence into his calculations, and a statesman's chief virtue, according to Plato and Burke, is prudence.
Russell Kirk (The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot)
There is a most profound and beautiful question associated with the observed coupling constant, e - the amplitude for a real electron to emit or absorb a real photon. It is a simple number that has been experimentally determined to be close to 0.08542455. (My physicist friends won't recognize this number, because they like to remember it as the inverse of its square: about 137.03597 with about an uncertainty of about 2 in the last decimal place. It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it.) Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It's one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the "hand of God" wrote that number, and "we don't know how He pushed his pencil." We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don't know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!
Richard P. Feynman (QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter)
Drama usually bases itself on the bedrock of original sin, whether the writer thinks in theological terms or not. Then, too, any character in a serious novel is supposed to carry a burden of meaning larger than himself. The novelist doesn’t write about people in a vacuum; he writes about people in a world where something is obviously lacking, where there is the general mystery of incompleteness and the particular tragedy of our own times to be demonstrated, and the novelist tries to give you, within the form of the book, a total experience of human nature at any time. For this reason, the greatest dramas naturally involve the salvation or loss of the soul. Where there is no belief in the soul, there is very little drama. The Christian novelist is distinguished from his pagan colleagues by recognizing sin as sin. According to his heritage, he sees it not as a sickness or an accident of the environment, but as a responsible choice of offense against God which involves his eternal future. Either one is serious about salvation or one is not. And it is well to realize that the maximum amount of seriousness admits the maximum amount of comedy. Only if we are secure in our beliefs can we see the comical side of the universe. One reason a great deal of our contemporary fictions is humorless is because so many of these writers are relativists and have to be continually justifying the actions of their characters on a sliding scale of values.
Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)
What happened? It took Gibbon six volumes to describe the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, so I shan’t embark on that. But thinking about this almost incredible episode does tell one something about the nature of civilisation. It shows that however complex and solid it seems, it is actually quite fragile. It can be destroyed. 

What are its enemies?
 
Well, first of all fear — fear of war, fear of invasion, fear of plague and famine, that make it simply not worthwhile constructing things, or planting trees or even planning next year’s crops. And fear of the supernatural, which means that you daren’t question anything or change anything. The late antique world was full of meaningless rituals, mystery religions, that destroyed self-confidence. And then exhaustion, the feeling of hopelessness which can overtake people even with a high degree of material prosperity. 

There is a poem by the modern Greek poet, Cavafy, in which he imagines the people of an antique town like Alexandria waiting every day for the barbarians to come and sack the city. Finally the barbarians move off somewhere else and the city is saved; but the people are disappointed — it would have been better than nothing. Of course, civilisation requires a modicum of material prosperity—

What civilization needs:

confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws, and confidence in one’s own mental powers. The way in which the stones of the Pont du Gard are laid is not only a triumph of technical skill, but shows a vigorous belief in law and discipline. Vigour, energy, vitality: all the civilisations—or civilising epochs—have had a weight of energy behind them. People sometimes think that civilisation consists in fine sensibilities and good conversations and all that. These can be among the agreeable results of civilisation, but they are not what make a civilisation, and a society can have these amenities and yet be dead and rigid.
Kenneth Clark (Civilisation)
If sexual physiology provides the pattern for our experience of the world, what is woman's basic metaphor? It is mystery, the hidden. Karen Horney speaks of a girl's inability to see her genitals and a boy's ability to see his as the source of "the greater subjectivity of women as compared with the greater objectivity of men." To rephrase this with my different emphasis: men's delusional certitude that objectivity is possible is based on the visibility of their genitals. Second, this certitude is a defensive swerve from the anxiety-inducing invisibility of the womb. Women tend to be more realistic and less obsessional because of their toleration for ambiguity which they learn from their inability to learn about their own bodies. Women accept limited knowledge as their natural condition, a great human truth that a man may take a lifetime to reach. The female body’s unbearable hiddenness applies to all aspects men’s dealings with women. What does it look like in there? Did she have an orgasm? Is it really my child? Who was my real father? Mystery surrounds women’s sexuality. This mystery is the main reason for the imprisonment man has imposed on women. Only by confining his wife in a locked harem guarded by eunuchs could he be certain that her son was also his.
Camille Paglia (Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson)
Now in my eleven years of conventional life I had learned many things and one of them is what it means to be convicted of rape--I do not mean the man who did it, I mean the woman to whom it was done. Rape is one of the Christian mysteries, it creates a luminous and beautiful tableau in people's minds; and as I listened furtively to what nobody would allow me to hear straight out, I slowly came to understand that I was face to face with one of those feminine disasters, like pregnancy, like disease, like weakness; she was not only the victim of the act but in some strange way its perpetrator; somehow she had attracted the lightening that struck her out of a clear sky. A diabolical chance--which was not chance--had revealed her to all of us as she truly was, in her secret inadequacy, in that wretched guiltiness which she had kept hidden for seventeen years but which now finally manifested in front of everybody. Her secret guilt was this: She was Cunt. She had "lost" something. Now the other party to the incident had manifested his essential nature, too; he was Prick--but being Prick is not a bad thing. In fact, he had "gotten away with" something (possibly what she had "lost"). And there I was at eleven years of age: She was out late at night. She was in the wrong part of town. Her skirt was too short and that provoked him. She liked having her eye blacked and her head banged against the sidewalk. I understood this perfectly. (I reflected thus in my dream, in my state of being a pair of eyes in a small wooden box stuck forever on a grey, geometric plane--or so I thought.) I too had been guilty of what had been done to me, when I came home from the playground in tears because I had been beaten up by bigger children who were bullies. I was dirty. I was crying. I demanded comfort. I was being inconvenient. I did not disappear into thin air.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
I do not write every day. I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice. A small bowl of water sits on my desk, a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room--evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another. My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, the handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective that research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page by the scholarly work of art historians. When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery. I am completely inspired by the pursuit of knowledge through various references. I read newpapers voraciously. I love what newspapers say about contemporary culture. And then you go back to your own perceptions, your own words, and weigh them against all you have brought together. I am interested in the kaleidoscope of ideas, how you bring many strands of thought into a book and weave them together as one piece of coherent fabric, while at the same time trying to create beautiful language in the service of the story. This is the blood work of the writer. Writing is also about a life engaged. And so, for me, community work, working in the schools or with grassroots conservation organizations is another critical component of my life as a writer. I cannot separate the writing life from a spiritual life, from a life as a teacher or activist or my life intertwined with family and the responsibilities we carry within our own homes. Writing is daring to feel what nurtures and breaks our hearts. Bearing witness is its own form of advocacy. It is a dance with pain and beauty.
Terry Tempest Williams
We have gone sick by following a path of untrammelled rationalism, male dominance, attention to the visible surface of things, practicality, bottom-line-ism. We have gone very, very sick. And the body politic, like any body, when it feels itself to be sick, it begins to produce antibodies, or strategies for overcoming the condition of dis-ease. And the 20th century is an enormous effort at self-healing. Phenomena as diverse as surrealism, body piercing, psychedelic drug use, sexual permissiveness, jazz, experimental dance, rave culture, tattooing, the list is endless. What do all these things have in common? They represent various styles of rejection of linear values. The society is trying to cure itself by an archaic revival, by a reversion to archaic values. So when I see people manifesting sexual ambiguity, or scarifying themselves, or showing a lot of flesh, or dancing to syncopated music, or getting loaded, or violating ordinary canons of sexual behaviour, I applaud all of this; because it's an impulse to return to what is felt by the body -- what is authentic, what is archaic -- and when you tease apart these archaic impulses, at the very centre of all these impulses is the desire to return to a world of magical empowerment of feeling. And at the centre of that impulse is the shaman: stoned, intoxicated on plants, speaking with the spirit helpers, dancing in the moonlight, and vivifying and invoking a world of conscious, living mystery. That's what the world is. The world is not an unsolved problem for scientists or sociologists. The world is a living mystery: our birth, our death, our being in the moment -- these are mysteries. They are doorways opening on to unimaginable vistas of self-exploration, empowerment and hope for the human enterprise. And our culture has killed that, taken it away from us, made us consumers of shoddy products and shoddier ideals. We have to get away from that; and the way to get away from it is by a return to the authentic experience of the body -- and that means sexually empowering ourselves, and it means getting loaded, exploring the mind as a tool for personal and social transformation. The hour is late; the clock is ticking; we will be judged very harshly if we fumble the ball. We are the inheritors of millions and millions of years of successfully lived lives and successful adaptations to changing conditions in the natural world. Now the challenge passes to us, the living, that the yet-to-be-born may have a place to put their feet and a sky to walk under; and that's what the psychedelic experience is about, is caring for, empowering, and building a future that honours the past, honours the planet and honours the power of the human imagination. There is nothing as powerful, as capable of transforming itself and the planet, as the human imagination. Let's not sell it straight. Let's not whore ourselves to nitwit ideologies. Let's not give our control over to the least among us. Rather, you know, claim your place in the sun and go forward into the light. The tools are there; the path is known; you simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead, and get with the programme of a living world and a re-empowerment of the imagination. Thank you very, very much.
Terence McKenna (The Archaic Revival)
1. Myth: Without God, life has no meaning. There are 1.2 billion Chinese who have no predominant religion, and 1 billion people in India who are predominantly Hindu. And 65% of Japan's 127 million people claim to be non-believers. It is laughable to suggest that none of these billions of people are leading meaningful lives. 2. Myth: Prayer works. Studies have now shown that inter-cessionary prayer has no effect whatsoever of the health or well-being of the subject. 3. Myth: Atheists are immoral. There are hundreds of millions of non-believers on the planet living normal, decent, moral lives. They love their children, care about others, obey laws, and try to keep from doing harm to others just like everyone else. In fact, in predominantly non-believing countries such as in northern Europe, measures of societal health such as life expectancy at birth, adult literacy, per capita income, education, homicide, suicide, gender equality, and political coercion are better than they are in believing societies. 4. Myth: Belief in God is compatible with science. In the past, every supernatural or paranormal explanation of phenomena that humans believed turned out to be mistaken; science has always found a physical explanation that revealed that the supernatural view was a myth. Modern organisms evolved from lower life forms, they weren't created 6,000 years ago in the finished state. Fever is not caused by demon possession. Bad weather is not the wrath of angry gods. Miracle claims have turned out to be mistakes, frauds, or deceptions. We have every reason to conclude that science will continue to undermine the superstitious worldview of religion. 5. Myth: We have immortal souls that survive death. We have mountains of evidence that makes it clear that our consciousness, our beliefs, our desires, our thoughts all depend upon the proper functioning of our brains our nervous systems to exist. So when the brain dies, all of these things that we identify with the soul also cease to exist. Despite the fact that billions of people have lived and died on this planet, we do not have a single credible case of someone's soul, or consciousness, or personality continuing to exist despite the demise of their bodies. 6. Myth: If there is no God, everything is permitted. Consider the billions of people in China, India, and Japan above. If this claim was true, none of them would be decent moral people. So Ghandi, the Buddha, and Confucius, to name only a few were not moral people on this view. 7. Myth: Believing in God is not a cause of evil. The examples of cases where it was someone's belief in God that was the justification for their evils on humankind are too numerous to mention. 8. Myth: God explains the origins of the universe. All of the questions that allegedly plague non-God attempts to explain our origins still apply to the faux explanation of God. The suggestion that God created everything does not make it any clearer to us where it all came from, how he created it, why he created it, where it is all going. In fact, it raises even more difficult mysteries: how did God, operating outside the confines of space, time, and natural law 'create' or 'build' a universe that has physical laws? We have no precedent and maybe no hope of answering or understanding such a possibility. What does it mean to say that some disembodied, spiritual being who knows everything and has all power, 'loves' us, or has thoughts, or goals, or plans? 9. Myth: There's no harm in believing in God. Religious views inform voting, how they raise their children, what they think is moral and immoral, what laws and legislation they pass, who they are friends and enemies with, what companies they invest in, where they donate to charities, who they approve and disapprove of, who they are willing to kill or tolerate, what crimes they are willing to commit, and which wars they are willing to fight.
Matthew S. McCormick
Wonder acts upon a man like a shock, he is "moved" and "shaken", and in the dislocation that succeeds all that he had taken for granted as being natural or self-evident loses its compact solidity and obviousness; he is literally dislocated and no longer knows where he is. If this were only to involve the man of action in all of us, so that a man only lost his sense of certainty of everyday life, it would be relatively harmless; but the ground quakes beneath his feet in a far more dangerous sense, and it is his whole spiritual nature, his capacity to know, that is threatened. It is an extremely curious fact that this is the only aspect of wonder, or almost the only aspect, that comes to evidence in modern philosohpy, and the old view that wonder was the beginning of philosophy takes on a new meaning: doubt is the beginning of philosophy. . . . The innermost meaning of wonder is fulfilled in a deepened sense of mystery. It does not end in doubt, but is the awakening of the knowledge that being, qua being, is mysterious and inconceivable, and that it is a mystery in the full sense of the word: neither a dead end, nor a contradiction, nor even something impenetrable and dark. Rather, mystery means that a reality cannot be comprehended because its light is ever-flowing, unfathomable, and inexhaustible. And that is what the wonderer really experiences. . . . Since the very beginning philosophy has always been characterized by hope. Philosophy never claimed to be a superior form of knowledge but, on the contrary, a form of humility, and restrained, and conscious of this restraint and humility in relation to knowledge. The words philosopher and philosophy were coined, according to legend--and the legend is of great antiquity--by Pythagoras in explicit contrast to the words sophia and sophos: no man is wise, and no man "knows"; God alone is wise and all-knowing. At the very most a man might call himself a lover of wisdom and a seeker after knowledge--a philosopher. --from The Philosophical Act, Chapter III
Josef Pieper (Leisure, the basis of culture, and, The philosophical act!)
In 1817 the twenty-two-year-old poet John Keats wrote a letter to his brothers in which he explained his most recent thoughts on the creative process. The world around us, he wrote, is far more complex than we can possibly imagine. With our limited senses and consciousness, we only glimpse a small portion of reality. Furthermore, everything in the universe is in a state of constant flux. Simple words and thoughts cannot capture this flux or complexity. The only solution for an enlightened person is to let the mind absorb itself in what it experiences, without having to form a judgment on what it all means. The mind must be able to feel doubt and uncertainty for as long as possible. As it remains in this state and probes deeply into the mysteries of the universe, ideas will come that are more dimensional and real than if we had jumped to conclusions and formed judgments early on. To accomplish this, he wrote, we must be capable of negating our ego. We are by nature fearful and insecure creatures. We do not like what is unfamiliar or unknown. To compensate for this, we assert ourselves with opinions and ideas that make us seem strong and certain. Many of these opinions do not come from our own deep reflection, but are instead based on what other people think. Furthermore, once we hold these ideas, to admit they are wrong is to wound our ego and vanity. Truly creative people in all fields can temporarily suspend their ego and simply experience what they are seeing, without the need to assert a judgment, for as long as possible. They are more than ready to find their most cherished opinions contradicted by reality.
Robert Greene (Mastery)
As we have seen, prayer, celebration of the religious offices, alms, consoling the afflicted, the cultivation of a little piece of ground, fraternity, frugality, hospitality, self-sacrifice, confidence, study, and work, filled up each day of his life. Filled up is exactly the phrase; and in fact, the Bishop's day was full to the brim with good thoughts, good words, and good actions. Yet it was not complete if cold or rainy weather prevented him from passing an hour or two in the evening, when the two women had retired, in his garden before going to sleep. It seemed as though it were a sort of rite with him, to prepare himself for sleep by meditating in the presence of the great spectacle of the starry firmament. Sometimes late at night, if the two women were awake, they would hear him slowly walking the paths. He was out there alone with himself, composed, tranquil, adoring, comparing the serenity of his heart with the serenity of the skies, moved in the darkness by the visible splendors of the constellations, and the invisible splendor of God, opening his soul to the thoughts that fall from the Unknown. In such moments, offering up his heart at the hour when the flowers of night emit their perfume, lit like a lamp in the center of the starry night, expanding his soul in ecstasy in the midst of creation’s universal radiance, perhaps he could not have told what was happening in his own mind; he felt something depart from him, and something descend upon him; mysterious exchanges of the depths of the soul with the depths of the universe. He contemplated the grandeur, and the presence of God; the eternity of the future, that strange mystery; the eternity of the past, a stranger mystery; all the infinities hidden deep in every direction; and, without trying to comprehend the incomprehensible, he saw it. He did not study God; he was dazzled by Him. He reflected upon the magnificent union of atoms, which give visible forms to Nature, revealing forces by recognizing them, creating individualities in unity, proportions in extension, the innumerable in the infinite, and through light producing beauty. These unions are forming and dissolving continually; from which come life and death. He would sit on a wooden bench leaning against a decrepit trellis and look at the stars through the irregular outlines of his fruit trees. This quarter of an acre of ground, so sparingly planted, so cluttered with shed and ruins, was dear to him and satisfied him. What more was needed by this old man, who divided the leisure hours of his life, where he had so little leisure, between gardening in the day time, and contemplation at night? Was this narrow enclosure, with the sky for a background not space enough for him to adore God in his most beautiful, most sublime works? Indeed, is that not everything? What more do you need? A little garden to walk in, and immensity to reflect on. At his feet something to cultivate and gather; above his head something to study and meditate on; a few flowers on earth and all the stars in the sky.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
I tell you that man has no more tormenting care than to find someone to whom he can hand over as quickly as possible that gift of freedom with which the miserable creature is born. But he alone can take over the freedom of men who appeases their conscience. With bread you were given an indisputable banner: give man bread and he will bow down to you, for there is nothing more indisputable than bread. But if at the same time someone else takes over his conscience - oh, then he will even throw down your bread and follow him who has seduced his conscience. In this you were right. For the mystery of man's being is not only in living, but in what one lives for. Without a firm idea of what he lives for, man will not consent to live and will sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if there is bread all around him. That is so, but what came of it? Instead of taking over men's freedom, you increased it still more for them! Did you forget that peace and even death are dearer to man than free choice in the knowledge of good and evil? There is nothing more seductive for man than the freedom of his conscience, but there is nothing more tormenting either. And so, instead of a firm foundation for appeasing human conscience once and for all, you chose everything that was unusual, enigmatic, and indefinite, you chose everything that was beyond men's strength, and thereby acted as if you did not love them at all - and who did this? He who came to give his life for them! Instead of taking over men's freedom, you increased it and forever burdened the kingdom of the human soul with its torments. You desired the free love of man, that he should follow you freely. seduced and captivated by you. Instead of the firm ancient law, men had henceforth to decide for himself, with a free heart, what is good and what is evil, having only your image before him as a guide - but did it not occur to you that he would eventually reject and dispute even your image and your truth if he was oppressed by so terrible a burden as freedom of choice? They will finally cry out that the truth is not in you, for it was impossible to leave them in greater confusion and torment than you did, abandoning them to so many cares and insoluble problems. Thus you yourself laid the foundation for the destruction of your own kingdom, and do not blame anyone else for it.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Who is he?” Eleanor lowered her voice, the name rolling off her tongue like a dark secret. “Dante Berlin.” I laughed. “Dante? Like the Dante who wrote the Inferno? Did he pick that name just to cultivate his ‘dark and mysterious’ persona?” Eleanor shook her head in disapproval. “Just wait till you see him. You won’t be laughing then.” I rolled my eyes. “I bet his real name is something boring like Eugene or Dwayne.” I expected Eleanor to laugh or say something in return, but instead she gave me a concerned look. I ignored it. “He sounds like a snob to me. I bet he’s one of those guys who know they’re good-looking. He probably hasn’t even read the Inferno. It’s easy to pretend you’re smart when you don’t to anyone.” Eleanor still didn’t respond. “Shh . . .” she muttered under her breath. But before I could say “What?” I heard a cough behind me. Oh God, I thought to myself, and slowly turned around. “Hi,” he said with a half grin that seemed to be mocking me. And that’s how I met Dante Berlin. So how do you describe someone who leaves you speechless? He was beautiful. Not Monet beautiful or white sandy beach beautiful or even Grand Canyon beautiful. It was both more overwhelming and more delicate. Like gazing into the night sky and feeling incredibly small in comparison. Like holding a shell in your hand and wondering how nature was able to make something so complex yet to perfect: his eyes, dark and pensive; his messy brown hair tucked behind one ear; his arms, strong and lean beneath the cuffs of his collared shirt. I wanted to say something witty or charming, but all I could muster up was a timid “Hi.” He studied me with what looked like a mix of disgust and curiosity. “You must be Eugene,” I said. “I am.” He smiled, then leaned in and added, “I hope I can trust you to keep my true identity a secret. A name like Eugene could do real damage to my mysterious persona.” I blushed at the sound of my words coming from his lips. He didn’t seem anything like the person Eleanor had described. “And you are—” “Renee,” I interjected. “I was going to say, ‘in my seat,’ but Renee will do.” My face went red. “Oh, right. Sorry.” “Renee like the philosopher Rene Descartes? How esoteric of you. No wonder you think you know everything. You probably picked that name just to cultivate your overly analytical persona.” I glared at him. I knew he was just dishing back my own insults, but it still stung. “Well, it was nice meeting you,” I said curtly, and pushed past him before he could respond, waving a quick good-bye to Eleanor, who looked too stunned to move. I turned and walked to the last row, using all of my self-control to resist looking back.
Yvonne Woon (Dead Beautiful (Dead Beautiful, #1))
To him who in the love of Nature holds Communion with her visible forms, she speaks A various language; for his gayer hours She has a voice of gladness, and a smile And eloquence of beauty, and she glides Into his darker musings, with a mild And healing sympathy, that steals away Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit, and sad images Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;— Go forth, under the open sky, and list To Nature’s teachings, while from all around— Earth and her waters, and the depths of air— Comes a still voice— Yet a few days, and thee The all-beholding sun shall see no more In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground, Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears, Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again, And, lost each human trace, surrendering up Thine individual being, shalt thou go To mix for ever with the elements, To be a brother to the insensible rock And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould. Yet not to thine eternal resting-place Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings, The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good, Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods—rivers that move In majesty, and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and, poured round all, Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,— Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death, Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness, Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound, Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there: And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them down In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone. So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw In silence from the living, and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that breathe Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care Plod on, and each one as before will chase His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave Their mirth and their employments, and shall come And make their bed with thee. As the long train Of ages glide away, the sons of men, The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes In the full strength of years, matron and maid, The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man— Shall one by one be gathered to thy side, By those, who in their turn shall follow them. So live, that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan, which moves To that mysterious realm, where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
William Cullen Bryant (Thanatopsis)
The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research “childhood.” There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises “adolescence.” The feeling haunts people all their lives. Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again. Two difficulties with this latter scheme at once present themselves. First of all, we have only ever glimpsed, as if through half-closed lids, the picture on the lid of the jigsaw puzzle box. Second, no matter how diligent we have been about picking up pieces along the way, we will never have anywhere near enough of them to finish the job. The most we can hope to accomplish with our handful of salvaged bits—the bittersweet harvest of observation and experience—is to build a little world of our own. A scale model of that mysterious original, unbroken, half—remembered. Of course the worlds we build out of our store of fragments can be only approximations, partial and inaccurate. As representations of the vanished whole that haunts us, they must be accounted failures. And yet in that very failure, in their gaps and inaccuracies, they may yet be faithful maps, accurate scale models, of this beautiful and broken world. We call these scale models “works of art.
Michael Chabon (The Wes Anderson Collection)
The Native Americans, whose wisdom Thoreau admired, regarded the Earth itself as a sacred source of energy. To stretch out on it brought repose, to sit on the ground ensured greater wisdom in councils, to walk in contact with its gravity gave strength and endurance. The Earth was an inexhaustible well of strength: because it was the original Mother, the feeder, but also because it enclosed in its bosom all the dead ancestors. It was the element in which transmission took place. Thus, instead of stretching their hands skyward to implore the mercy of celestial divinities, American Indians preferred to walk barefoot on the Earth: The Lakota was a true Naturist – a lover of Nature. He loved the earth and all things of the earth, the attachment growing with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth. Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The birds that flew in the air came to rest on the earth and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing. That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; he can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him. Walking, by virtue of having the earth’s support, feeling its gravity, resting on it with every step, is very like a continuous breathing in of energy. But the earth’s force is not transmitted only in the manner of a radiation climbing through the legs. It is also through the coincidence of circulations: walking is movement, the heart beats more strongly, with a more ample beat, the blood circulates faster and more powerfully than when the body is at rest. And the earth’s rhythms draw that along, they echo and respond to each other. A last source of energy, after the heart and the Earth, is landscapes. They summon the walker and make him at home: the hills, the colours, the trees all confirm it. The charm of a twisting path among hills, the beauty of vine fields in autumn, like purple and gold scarves, the silvery glitter of olive leaves against a defining summer sky, the immensity of perfectly sliced glaciers … all these things support, transport and nourish us.
Frédéric Gros (A Philosophy of Walking)
[The Christian story] amounts to a refusal to affirm life. In the biblical tradition we have inherited, life is corrupt, and every natural impulse is sinful unless it has been circumcised or baptized. The serpent was the one who brought sin into the wold. And the woman was the one who handed the apple to man. This identification of the woman with sin, of the serpent with sin, and thus of life with sin, is the twist the has been given to the whole story in the biblical myth and doctrine of the Fall.... I don't know of it [the idea of woman as sinner...in other mythologies] elsewhere. The closest thing to it would be perhaps Pandora with Pandora's box, but that's not sin, that's just trouble. The idea in the biblical tradition of the all is that nature as we know it is corrupt, sex in itself is corrupt, and the female as the epitome of sex is a corrupter. Why was the knowledge of good and evil forbidden to Adam and Eve? Without that knowledge, we'd all be a bunch of babies still Eden, without any participation in life. Woman brings life into the world. Eve is the mother o this temporal wold. Formerly you had a dreamtime paradise there in the Garden of Eden – no time, no birth, no death – no life. The serpent, who dies and is resurrected, shedding its skin and renewing its life, is the lord of the central tree, where time and eternity come together. He is the primary god, actually, in the Garden of Eden. Yahweh, the one who walks there in the cool of the evening, is just a visitor. The Garden is the serpent's place. It is an old, old story. We have Sumerian seals from as early as 3500 B.C. showing the serpent and the tree and the goddess, with the goddess giving the fruit of life to a visiting male. The old mythology of he goddess is right there.... There is actually a historical explanation [of the change of this image of the serpent and the snake in Genesis] based on the coming of the Hebrews into Canaan. The principal divinity of the people of Canaan was the Goddess and associated with the Goddess is the serpent. This is the symbol of the mystery of life. The male-god-oriented groups rejected it. In other words, there is a historical rejection of the Mother Goddess implied in the story of the Garden of Eden. Moyers: It does seem that this story has done women a great disservice by casting Eve as responsible for the Fall. Why...? Campbell: They represent life. Man doesn't enter life except by woman, and so it is woman who brings us into this wold of pairs of opposites and suffering.... Male and female is one opposition. Another opposition is the human and God. Good and evil is a third opposition. The primary oppositions are the sexual and that between human beings and God. Then comes the idea of good and evil in the world. And so Adm and Eve have thrown themselves out of the Garden of Timeless Unity, you might say, just by that act of recognizing duality. To move out into the world, you have to act in terms of pairs of opposites.
Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth)