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The Marrow of Life
A Candle in the Dark
The Doubt Will Set You Free
A Strife of Interests
The Forbidden Ground
Your Own Novel
One Fewer God
The Wall of Separation
What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, 'This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!' Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, 'Never have I heard anything more divine'?
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
If I had my life to live over I'd like to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual trouble, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones. You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
-Jean de La Bruyere
If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life...to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
-Henry David Thoreau
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
The way of awakening and freedom requires that we ask ourselves, with all of the earnestness, honesty, and humility at our command, just this one fundamental question: 'Am I willing to live this moment with as much attention and affection as possible, or am I going to do something else?'
Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question...Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
-don Juan Matus
"Then how do you change [the world]?"
"By being strong and true."
..."The best change you can make is to hold up a mirror so that people can look into it and change themselves. That's the only way a person can be changed."
"By looking inside yourself," Zia said. "Even if you have to look into a mirror that's outside yourself to do it."
"And you know," Maida added. "That mirror can be a story you hear, or just somebody else's eyes. Anything that reflects back so that you see yourself in it."
-Charles de Lint (Someplace To Be Flying)
I don't wish to be everything to everyone, but I would like to be something to someone.
That was the first thing I had to learn about her, and maybe the hardest I've ever learned about anything--that she is her own, and what she gives me is of her choosing, and the more precious because of it. Sometimes a butterfly will come to sit in your open palm, but if you close your hand, one way or the other, it--and its choice to be there--are gone.
-Barbara Hambly (Dragonsbane)
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard - of, must be possible in it. This is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most inexplicable.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
And let that day be lost to us on which we did not dance once! And let that wisdom be false to us that brought no laughter with it!
Precisely the least, the softest, lightest, a lizard's rustling, a breath, a flash, a moment - a little makes the way of the best happiness.
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.
When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us.
-Alexander Graham Bell
What another would have done as well as you, do not do it. What another would have said as well as you, do not say it, written as well as you, do not write it. Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself--and thus make yourself indispensable.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow - whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don't show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward.
The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.
Monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say: 'here are our monsters', without immediately turning the monsters into pets.
The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you.
A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit.
I am going to try speaking some reckless words,
and I want you to try to listen recklessly.
The bait is the means to get the fish where you want it, catch the fish and you forget the bait. The snare is the means to get the rabbit where you want it, catch the rabbit and forget the snare. Words are the means to get the idea where you want it, catch on to the idea and you forget about the words. Where shall I find a man who forgets about words, and have a word with him?
Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.
One must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star.
We have stopped believing in progress. What progress that is!
-Jorge Luis Borges
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge -- myth is more potent than history -- dreams are more powerful than facts -- hope always triumphs over experience -- laughter is the cure for grief -- love is stronger than death.
If we had a reliable way to label our toys good and bad, it would be easy to regulate technology wisely. But we can rarely see far enough ahead to know which road leads to damnation. Whoever concerns himself with big technology, either to push it forward or to stop it, is gambling in human lives.
The danger here is not technology. It is ignorance.
-Brian A. Williamson
We *are* technology.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
-Arthur C. Clarke
Men have become the tools of their tools.
-Henry David Thoreau
We're creating multiple personas. We're creating a thespian sense of personality where we see ourselves as works of art, and we see everything in our environment as a prop, as a set, as a stage, as a backdrop for filling ourselves in. We don't see ourselves as ever completed. We are in-formation.
There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.
Human beings *do* metamorphose. They change their identity constantly. However, each new identity thrives on the delusion that it was always in possession of the body it has just conquered.
-Orson Scott Card (Xenocide)
Soon it won't just be that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer--soon the rich will get healthier and smarter and longer-lived as well. And the poor will not be happy about that. What will become of this misery and frustration I leave to your imagination.
With billions of years, who knows what science might make possible? Why, it might even make it possible for an intelligence, or data patterns representing it, to survive a big crunch and exist again in the next cycle of creation. Such an entity might even have science sufficient to allow it to influence the parameters for the next cycle, creating a designer universe into which that entity itself will be reborn already armed with billions of years worth of knowledge and wisdom.
-Robert Sawyer (Calculating God)
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
-D. P. Barron
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find anything that agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
-Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha), 563-483 B.C.
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
-Phillip K. Dick
If you understand, things are as they are. If you do not understand, things are as they are.
If two things don't fit, but you believe both of them, thinking that somewhere, hidden, there must be a third thing that connects them, that's credulity.
Science is not the affirmation of a set of beliefs but a process of inquiry aimed at building a testable body of knowledge constantly open to rejection or confirmation. In science, knowledge is fluid and certainty fleeting. That is at the heart of its limitations. It is also its greatest strength.
A reality completely independent of the spirit that conceives it, sees it, or feels it, is an impossibility. A world so external as that, even if it existed, would be forever inaccessible to us.
Scientists and educators alike need to realize that the educated person is not the person who can answer the questions, but the person who can question the answers.
-Theodore Schick Jr.
The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.
-Robert Maynard Hutchins
It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
I am not a teacher but an awakener.
There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong. That's perfectly all right; they're the aperture to finding out what's right. Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' ('I found it!') but rather 'hmm....that's funny...'
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know.
I have seen several entirely sincere people who thought they were (permanent) Seekers after Truth. They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjusted judgment--until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth. That was the end of the search. The man spent the rest of his life hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather. If he was seeking after political Truth he found it in one or another of the hundred political gospels which govern men in the earth; if he was seeking after the Only True Religion he found it in one or another of the three thousand that are on the market. In any case, when he found the Truth he sought no further; but from that day forth, with his soldering-iron in one hand and his bludgeon in the other he tinkered its leaks and reasoned with objectors.
Today, I went to sleep under a plum tree. There, I dreamed I was a butterfly, flying so pleasently. Then, I fell asleep, and the dream ended. Now- I have to ask myself - am I Zhuang Zi who dreamed of a butterfly? Or am I that butterfly, dreaming I am Zhuang Zi?
The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best--and therefore never scrutinize or question.
-Stephan Jay Gould
In any organization there ought to be the possibility of discussion... fence sitting is an art, and it's difficult, and it's important to do, rather than to go headlong in one direction or the other. It's just better to have action, isn't it than to sit on the fence? Not if you're not sure which way to go, it isn't.
-Richard P. Feynman
Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found.
-Miguel de Unamuno
I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
'Truth' never set anyone free. It is only *doubt* which will bring mental emancipation.
It would be as useless to perceive how things 'actually look' as it would be to watch the random dots on untuned television screens.
We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question.
-Niels Henrik David Bohr
A monk asked the zen master Joshu "Has a dog Buddha-nature?" Joshu answered: "Mu."
-Zen koan [mu unasks a question]
Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. I have read and heard many attempts at a systematic account of it, from materialism and theosophy to the Christian system or that of Kant, and I have always felt that they were much too simple. I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy. That is the reason why I have no philosophy myself, and must be my excuse for dreaming.
-John Burden Sanderson Haldane
You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here... I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is a good as dead; his eyes are closed.
The Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao.
-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination - but the combination is locked up in the safe.
The essential new quality implied by the quantum theory is... that a system cannot be analyzed into parts. This leads to the radically new notion of unbroken wholeness of the entire universe. You cannot take it apart. For if you do, what you end up with is not contained within the original whole.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us 'Universe'; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we're so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and love is the supreme creative act.
We were implicit in the universe from the moment it began. We're the product of natural law. Every pondering creature in the deeps to the sky. We're the universe gazing back at itself. That's the mystery and the consolation. Every one of us is an eye of God.
-Robert Charles Wilson (The Harvest)
I have long since understood that Germans weren't different than Brits or Americans or anyone else, though their circumstances were different, but for those who still don't understand mass subservience to vile crimes induced by structural processes of great power and breadth, I have to admit that I mostly just want to shout: Look around, dammit!
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we all are his accomplices.
-Edward R. Murrow
Fifty one percent of a nation can establish a totalitarian regime, suppress minorities and still remain democratic.
-Erik von Kuehnelt Leddihn
The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on.
-Joseph Heller (Catch22)
War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other.
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and of the human frame,
A mechanized automoton.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they killed there would be no more war.
Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.
-Henry Steele Commager
To the fervent proponents of ruthless corporate capitalism I say: make a millionaire CEO live as a poor sweatshop worker in Indonesia for one month and then ask him about the merits of the world economic system.
POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
-Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
Government cannot exist without the tacit consent of the populace. This consent is maintained by keeping people in ignorance of their real power. Voting is not an expression of power, but an admission of powerlessness, since it cannot do otherwise than reaffirm the government's supposed legitimacy.
When we vote in an election, we are declaring, by our actions, our support for the process of some people ruling others by coercive means.
What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice.
-Ursula K. LeGuinn
Anarchism does not mean bloodshed; it does not mean robbery, arson, etc. These monstrosities are, on the contrary, the characteristic features of capitalism. Anarchism means peace and tranquility to all.
-August Spies, Haymarket anarchist
Anarchists are opposed to violence; everyone knows that. The main plank of anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations. It is life based on freedom of the individual, without the intervention of the gendarme.
Freedom and order are not incompatible.
I do not wish to remove from my prison to a prison a little larger. I wish to break all prisons.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Anarchism aims to strip labor of its deadening, dulling aspect, of its gloom and compulsion. It aims to make work an instrument of joy, of strength, of color, of real harmony, so that the poorest sort of a man should find in work both recreation and hope.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
It was play rather than work which enabled man to evolve his higher faculties -- everything we mean by the word 'culture'.
Liberty is the possibility of doubting, the possibility of making a mistake, the possibility of searching and experimenting, the possibility of saying No to any authority - literary, artistic, philosophic, religious, social, and even political.
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.
-Justice Louis D. Brandeis
You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.
The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.
I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public.
-President Teddy Roosevelt
Behold! Violets bloom within
The fence of the forbidden ground.
-Shida Yaba (haiku translation by Asataro Miyamori)
Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.
-Tenzin Gyatso, The XIVth Dalai Lama
I believe that at every level of society--familial, tribal, national and international--the key to a happier and more succesful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in an ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities. I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness. It is the practice of compassion.
Tenzin Gyatso, The XIVth Dalai Lama
People fare best when they look not to moral rules and principles, not to priests and churches, and not to creeds, but to the actual results of what they do.
A man's ethical behavior should be based effectively on sympathy, education and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he is good only because he is restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
To sit alone with my conscience will be judgment enough for me.
-Charles William Stubbs
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
If you can't change the world, change yourself.
There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.
If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
-Stephen F Roberts
It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, 'Some gardener must tend this plot.' The other disagrees, 'There is no gardener.' So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. 'But perhaps he is an invisible gardener.' So they set up a barbed-wire fence. They electrify it. They patrol with bloodhounds. But no shrieks ever suggest that some intruder has received a shock. No movements of the wire ever betray an invisible climber. The bloodhounds never give cry. Yet still the Believer is not convinced. 'But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible to electric shocks, a gardener who has no scent and makes no sound, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the garden which he loves.' At last the Sceptic despairs, 'But what remains of your original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?'
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
If I was a religious person, I would consider creationism nothing less than blasphemy. Do its adherents imagine that God is a cosmic hoaxer who has created that whole vast fossil record for the sole purpose of misleading mankind?
-Arthur C. Clarke
In the popular imagination, the Big Bang is a great explosion; at one time there was nothing, then matter erupted into previously empty space. However, the Big Bang is the beginning of spacetime itself, not an event in time.
What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.
The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.
-From the Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by Congress, signed by President John Adams
Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
-President Thomas Jefferson
I contemplate with sovereign reverence the act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
-President Thomas Jefferson, to the Danbury Baptist Association
The divorce between church and state ought to be absolute. It ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no church property anywhere, in any state, or in any nation, should be exempt from taxation, for if you exempt the church property of any church organization, to that extent you impose tax upon the whole community.
-President James Garfield
[T]he path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction.
-President George Washington, 1789, responding to clergy complaints that the Constitution lacked mention of Jesus Christ
Leave the matters of religion to the family altar, the church and the private schools, support entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separated.
-President Ulysses S. Grant, 1875 speech to Des Moines, Iowa
I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all --- Francis Bellamy (1855-1931)
-Original Pledge of Allegiance, 1892, before its Christian revision in 1954
When religion controls government, political liberty dies; and when government controls religion, religious liberty perishes.
-Senator Sam Ervin