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Favorite Quotes

Quotes gathered from far and near, yet they seem to have much the same flavor. Enjoy!

 

Quote

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stairs

I took the lamp and, leaving the zone of everyday occupations and relationships where everything seems clear, I went down into my innermost self, to the deep abyss whence I feel dimly that my power of action emanates. But as I moved further and further away from the conventional certainties by which social life is superficially illuminated, I became aware that I was losing contact with myself. At each step of the descent a new person was disclosed within me of whose name I was no longer sure, and who no longer obeyed me. And when I had to stop my exploration because the path had faded from beneath my steps, I found a bottomless abyss at my feet, and out of it came--arising I know not from where--the current which I dare to call my life.
— Teilhard de Chardin, quoted in Inward Stillness by George Maloney

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Einstein

Albert Einstein

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
— Albert Einstein

It is almost a miracle that modern teaching methods have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiousity of inquiry; for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom. — Albert Einstein

It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom. — Albert Einstein

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What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.

— Christian monk Thomas Merton

The four "faults" of natural awareness

So close you can't see it.
So deep you can't fathom it.
So simple you can't believe it.
So good you can't accept it.

~These are "the four faults of natural awareness" from the Shangpa tradition, as translated into English by Ken McLeod in Arrow to the Heart; see also his commentary in Wake Up to Your Life, pages 399-402.

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seuss

On Thinking for Yourself

Accept my words only when you have examined them for yourselves; do not accept them simply because of the reverence you have for me. Those who only have faith in me and affection for me will not find the final freedom. But those who have faith in the truth and are determined on the path, they will find awakening.

— Shakyamuni Buddha, Majjhima Nikaya

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go.

— Dr. Seuss

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smiley face

Since everything is but an illusion, perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one might as well burst out laughing!
— Longchenpa

Or the longer version, different translation:

The Natural Freedom of the Mind

Since the One Mind -- pure from the beginningless beginning
and with no need to grasp things other than itself --
has nothing to do with an intermediary or with a fixed plan,
the individual mind might as well be happy.

Since awareness has no objective relationship of any kind,
no specific direction or focus,
the individual might as well love everyone.

Since vision and commitment to vision
have nothing to do with complacency or fear,
the individual might as well be joyous.

Since action and goals have nothing to do with success or failure,
hope and anxiety,
and it doesn't matter whether they are won or lost ,
the individual might as well feel content.

Since everything is an illusion --
with some more perfect than others --
with no relationship to good or bad ,
being or not-being ,
one might as well
laugh from beginning to end .

— Longchenpa, 1308-1363, Tibetan scholar, maste of the Nyingma tradition

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What we are looking for is what is looking. – Saint Francis of Assisi

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Love is... a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become world, to become world for himself for another's sake. It is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

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Flying

Compassion is the willingness to play in the field of dreams even though you are awake.
— Matthew Flickstein, "Swallowing the River Ganges"

If I don't manage to fly, someone else will. The spirit wants only that there be flying.
As to who happens to do it,
She has only a passing interest.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

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The one whose mind knows the clarity of perfect wisdom is never afraid or even anxious. Why? Because when being at one with the living power of wisdom, the mother of all the buddhas, that person has the strength to remain in a state of undivided contemplation even while ceaselessly and skillfully engaging in compassionate action. The wise one is enabled to act because of concentration on a single prayer: "May all beings never leave the path of enlightenment, which is their own true nature and is empty of separate self-existence."

— Prajnaparamita
From "The Pocket Buddha Reader," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000

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"The kingdom of heaven is within you." – Jesus Christ

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Buddha

The Buddha Shakyamuni

Focus,
not on the rudenesses of others,
not on what they've done
or left undone,
but on what you
have & haven't done
yourself.

— Dhammapada, 4, translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

The Four Reliances

Rely on the Teaching, not the Teacher;
Rely on the meaning, not the letter;
Rely on the definitive meaning, not the interpretable meaning;
Rely on wisdom, not on consciousness.

— Shakyamuni Buddha, Catuhpratisarana and the Samdhinirmocana Sutras

Interpretation by Maitreya in the Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras:

1. We must not rely on the person of the master, but on what he teaches.

2. Concerning the teaching: We must not rely on the beauty or the sweetness of the words, but on their meaning.

3. Regarding the meaning or meanings of a teaching: We must not rely on those that must be interpreted. Interpretation is necesssary in three cases: to explain an esoteric teaching, to give a teaching in a manner appropriate to the listener, and in the refutation of an exoteric teaching. We must therefore rely on the direct meaning that does not need to be interpreted.

4. Regarding the definitive meaning: We must not rely on a dualistic understanding but on nonconceptual wisdom, the realization of emptiness.

The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry

Don't believe in anything simply because you heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis, you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept and live up to it.

— Shakyamuni Buddha, The Kalama Sutra

On Religious Prejudice

Sakka asked the Buddha: "Do different religious teachers head for the same goal or practice the same disciplines or aspire to the same thing?"

"No, Sakka, they do not. And why? This world is made up of myriad different states of being, and people adhere to one or another of these states and become tenaciously possessive of them, saying, 'This alone is true, everything else is false.' It is like a territory that they believe is theirs. So all religious teachers do not teach the same goal or the same discipline, nor do they aspire to the same thing.

"But if you find truth in any religion or philosophy, then accept that truth without prejudice."

— Digha Nikaya
From "The Pocket Buddha Reader," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000.

On Adapting the Form of the Teaching to the Culture

The Buddha respected the guidelines of the religious and social culture of his time in India. He said, "Wherever my teaching goes, it must follow the guidelines of each country, adopting beneficial customs and putting these together with my vinaya rules of morality. Teach and share my message of love and compassion, truth and honesty to all beings in the name of egolessness and selflessness."
— Khenpo Rinpoches, Practice Guide to Accompany the Text "The Blessing Treasury: A Sadhana of the Buddha Shakyamuna"

On Dropping Thoughts of Harm Done by Others

If you keep thinking "That man has abused me," holding it as a much-cherished grievance, your anger will never be allayed. If you can put down that fury-inducing thought, your anger will lessen. Fury will never end fury, it will just ricochet on and on. Only putting it down will end such an abysmal state.
— Sunnata Vagga
From "The Pocket Buddha Reader," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2001

System of Teaching

Never think that I believe I should set out a "system of teaching" to help people understand the way. Never cherish such a thought. What I proclaim is the truth as I have discovered it and "a system of teaching" has no meaning because the truth can’t be cut up into pieces and arranged in a system.
— Diamond Sutra
From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000

Refuge in the Truth

You should be an island to yourself, a refuge to yourself, not dependent on any other but taking refuge in the truth and none other than the truth. And how do you become an island and a refuge to yourself? In this way. You see and contemplate your body as composed of all the forces of the universe. Ardently and mindfully you steer your body-self by restraining your discontent with the world about you. In the same way, observe and contemplate your feelings and use that same ardent restraint and self-possession against enslavement by greed or desire. By seeing attachment to your body and feelings as blocking the truth, you dwell in self-possession and ardent liberation from those ties. This is how you live as an island to yourself and a refuge to yourself. Whoever dwells in this contemplation, islanded by the truth and taking refuge in the truth--that one will come out of the darkness and into the light.
— Digha Nikaya

Walking the Talk

If he recites many teachings, but — heedless man — doesn't do what they say, like a cowherd counting the cattle of others, he has no share in the contemplative life.

- Dhammapada, 1, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.
— Arthur C. Clarke

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The Dalai Lama

"Religion does not mean just precepts, a temple, monastery, or other external signs, for these as well as hearing and thinking are subsidiary factors in taming the mind. When the mind becomes the practices, one is a practitioner of religion, and when the mind does not become the practices one is not."

– His Holiness the Dalai Lama from 'Deity Yoga'

If anything, my religion is kindness.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

– All the above are quotes from His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

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Sunshine

When one comes to the Essence of Being,
The shining Wisdom of Reality
Illumines all like the cloudless sky.

– Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa

Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy .
— Albert Einstein

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Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.

– Tibetan Book of the Dead

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The way of the Buddha is a living response to a living question. Yet whenever it has become institutionalized its vital response has become a well-formulated answer. The seemingly important task of preserving a particular set of answers often causes the very questions which gave rise to those answers to be forgotten. Then the lucid answers Buddhism provides are cut off from the stammering voice that asks the questions.

– Stephen Batchelor, The Faith to Doubt: Glimpses of Buddhist Uncertainty

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Sometime, somewhere you need to take something to be the truth. But if you cling to it too strongly, then even when the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will not open it.
– BUDDHA

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As Arun Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, writes in the preface to "God Without Religion": "The admission that no one really knows the true God behind all these images leads us to an understanding that human beings can only pursue the truth and not 'possess' it, as many religious zealots claim to do. Pursuit implies humility, acceptance, openness, and appreciation, while posession suggests arrogance, closed mindedness, and lack of appreciation. Herein lies the rub; if we persist in competing to possesthe truth instead of working in unity to pursue it, we are going to face untold grief -- and worse, violence."

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Every subatomic interaction consists of the annihilation of the original particles and the creation of new subatomic particles. The subatomic world is a continual dance of creation and annihilation, of mass changing into energy and energy changing into mass. Transient forms sparkle in and out of existence, creating a never-ending, forever newly created reality. – Gary Zukov

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Joseph Campbell – Follow your bliss

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

My general formula for my students is "Follow your bliss." Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it.

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of... being helped by hidden hands?
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word "Sat" means being. "Chit" means consciousness. "Ananda" means bliss or rapture. I thought, "I don't know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don't know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being." I think it worked.

— Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, pp. 113, 120

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The most valuable learning is not about memorizing facts and figures. It is not about higher grade point averages and accumulating degrees. It is about life itself, and its impact is on the heart.

— Rodney Smith, "Lessons From the Dying"

There is no amount of darkness that can extinguish the inner light. The important thing is not to spend our lives trying to control the environment around us. The task is to control the environment within us.

— Sister Joan Chittester – Christian nun, writer & speaker

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Martha Graham Quote