“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who was filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who has never lacked an appreciation of earths beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory was a benediction.”
“No matter how close two people are, an infinite distance separates them.”
“Sometimes you want to hang on to the past, but it’s enough to hear its echoes and try not to bottle them up…If you’re not careful, life repeats.”
“Try to floss at least twice a week. Try not to judge others (or, at least, recognize when you do), regret is a wasted emotion, everybody sees the same things but perceives them differently and if you like a girl but aren’t sure how she feels about you, imagine she can’t bear life without your kiss.”
“To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die.”
“Humans are unique in a world of energy in that they can project their energy consciously…I perceived everything to be somehow a part of me. As I sat on the peak of the mountain looking out at the landscape falling away from me in all directions, it felt exactly as if what I had always known as my physical body was only the head of a much larger body consisting of everything else I could see. I experienced the entire universe looking out on itself through my eyes.”
“Developing our sympathetic compassion is not only possible but the only reason for us to be here on earth.”
“Reading is a form of prayer, a guided meditation that briefly makes us believe we're someone else, disrupting the delusion that we're permanent and at the center of the universe. Suddenly (we're saved!) other people are real again, and we're fond of them.”
“The Jewish sages also tell us that God dances when His children defeat Him in argument, when they stand on their feet and use their minds. So questions like Anne's are worth asking. To ask them is a very fine kind of human behavior. If we keep demanding that God yield up His answers, perhaps some day we will understand them. And then we will be something more than clever apes, and we shall dance with God.”
“I do what I do without hope of reward or fear of punishment. I do not require Heaven or Hell to bribe or scare me into acting decently.”
“...[That] is my dilemma. Because if I was led by God to love God, step by step, as it seemed, if I accept that the beauty and the rapture were real and true, the rest of it was God’s will too, and that gentlemen is cause for bitterness. But if I am simply a deluded ape who took a lot of old folktales far too seriously, then I brought all this on myself and my companions and the whole business becomes farcical, doesn’t it. The problem with atheism, I find, under these circumstances...is that I have no one to despise but myself. If, however, I choose to believe that God is vicious, then at least I have the solace of hating God.”
"But people change," he said quietly.
"Precisely. People change. Cultures change. Empires rise and fall. Shit. Geology changes! Every ten years or so, George and I have faced the fact that we have changed and we've had to decide if it makes sense to create a new marriage between these two new people." She flopped back against her chair. "Which is why vows are such a tricky business. Because nothing stays the same forever. Okay. Okay! I'm figuring something out now." She sat up straight, eyes focused somewhere outside the room, and Jimmy realized that even Anne didn't have all the answers and that was either the most comforting thing he'd learned in a long time or the most discouraging. "Maybe because so few of us would be able to give up something so fundamental for something so abstract, we protect ourselves from the nobility of a priest's vows by jeering at him when he can't live up to them, always and forever." She shivered and slumped suddenly, "But, Jimmy! What unnatural words. Always and forever! Those aren't human words, Jim. Not even stones are always and forever.”
“Watching him with one eye, she wondered if men ever figured out that they were more appealing when they were pursuing their own work than when they were pursuing a woman.”
“There are times...when we are in the midst of life-moments of confrontation with birth or death, or moments of beauty when nature or love is fully revealed, or moments of terrible loneliness-times when a holy and awesome awareness comes upon us. It may come as deep inner stillness or as a rush of overflowing emotion. It may seem to come from beyond us, without any provocation, or from within us, evoked by music or by a sleeping child. If we open our hearts at such moments, creation reveals itself to us in all its unity and fullness. And when we return from such a moment of awareness, our hearts long to find some way to capture it in words forever, so that we can remain faithful to its higher truth....When my people search for a name to give to the truth we feel at those moments, we call it God, and when we capture that understanding in timeless poetry, we call it praying.”
“I honestly don't know if the world would be better or worse if we all held ourselves to the vows of our youth.”
“Rain falls on everyone, lightning strikes some. What cannot be changed is best forgotten. God made the world, and He saw that it was good. Not fair. Not happy. Not perfect. Good.”
“When the preponderance of human beings choose to act with justice and generosity and kindness, then learning and love and decency prevail. When the preponderance of human beings choose power, greed, and indifference to suffering, the world is filled with war, poverty, and cruelty.”
“When it comes down to it, I don't have much in the way of advice to offer you, but here it is: Read to children. Vote. And never buy anything from a man who's selling fear.”
“Love is a debt, she thought. When the bill comes, you pay in grief."
“Shall I tell you why young men love war? . . . In peace, there are a hundred questions with a thousand answers! In war, there is only one question with one right answer. . . . Going to war makes you a man. It is emotionally exciting and morally restful.”
“If anything could prove the existence of the soul, he thought, it was the utter emptiness of a corpse.”
“Wisdom begins when you discover the difference between "That doesn't
make sense" and "I don't understand.”
“For one who is awake,
Whose mind isn’t overflowing,
Whose heart isn’t afflicted
And who has abandoned both merit and demerit,
Fear does not exist.”
“Like a beautiful flow,
Brightly colored but lacking scent,
So are well-spoken words
Fruitless when not carried out.
A solid mass of rock
Is not moved by the wind,
So a sage is unmoved
By praise or blame.”
“Okay. As I make it out, there are four things the Takers do that are never done in the rest of the community, and these are all fundamental to their civilizational system. First, they exterminate their competitors, which is something that never happens in the wild. In the Wild, animals will defend their territories and their kills and they will invade their competitors’ territories and pre-empt their kills. Some species even include competitors among their prey, but they never hunt competitors down just to make them dead, the way ranchers and farmers do with coyotes and foxes and crows. What they hunt, they eat.”
“This was the turning point. The world had been made for man, but he was unable to take possession of it until this problem was cracked. And he finally cracked it about ten thousand years ago, back there is in the Fertile Crescent. This was a very big moment – the biggest in human history up to this point. Man was at least free of all those restrains that…the limitations of hunting-gathering life had kept man in check for three million years. With agriculture, those limitations vanished, and his rise was meteoric. Settlement gave rise to division of labor. Division of labor gave rise to technology. With the rise of technology came trade and commerce. With trade and commerce came mathematics and literacy and science, and all the rest. The whole thing was under way at last, and the rest, as they say, is history. And that’s the middle of the story.”
“Hard depends on easy,
Long is tested by short,
High is determined by low,
Sound is harmonized by voice,
After is followed by before.”
“Recognize beauty and ugliness is born.
Recognize good and evil is born.
Don’t glorify heroes,
And people will not contend.
Don’t treasure rare objects,
And no one will steal.
Don’t display what people desire,
And their hearts will not be disturbed.”
“The Master said, Do not be overly wary of deception; do not suspect others of bad faith. But he who is first to perceive the true situation is the wise one.”
“The Master said, If it’s someone you ought to speak to and you fail to speak, you waste a person. If it’s someone you ought not to speak to and you speak, you waste words. The wise man doesn’t waste people and doesn’t waste words either.”
“Two lefts don’t make a right…but three do.”
For all the men and women of words who have inspired me.