Apr 012005

“The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self.”

“Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

“Newton, forgive me.”

“The faster you go, the shorter you are.”

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d be a plumber.”

“Science without religion is lame. Religion without Science is blind.”

“My God is me. Whatever I regain is mine by right. This is the source of all my strength and pride.” – Adam

My life is a listening; His is a speaking. My salvation is to hear and respond. For this, my life must be silent. Hence, my silence is my salvation. Thomas Merton

“Even in the deserts of the secularized world, the human soul thirsts for God.” – Pope Benedict

“To have faith means to dare, to think the unthinkable, yet to act within the limits of the realistically possible; it is the paradoxical hope to expect the Messiah every day, yet not to lose heart when he has not come at the appointed hour.” Erich Fromm

“When people’s attention is no longer turned inwards, when they are no longer satisfied with their own inner religious lives, but turn to others and to things outside themselves, where the relation is intellectual, in search of that satisfaction, when nothing important ever happens to gather the threads of life together with the finality of a catastrophe: then instead we get talkativeness.” -Kierkegaard

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.” — CS Lewis

“The fruit of SILENCE is Prayer
The fruit of PRAYER is Faith
The fruit of FAITH is Love
The fruit of LOVE is Service
The fruit of SERVICE is Peace”
— Mother Teresa’s Business Card

To me, religion has brought at least the perception of something above morals, and therefore extremely terrifying; it has brought me not happiness, but the sense of something above happiness and therefore more terrifying than ordinary pain and misery; the very dark night and the desert. To me, the phrase “to be damned for the glory of God” is sense and not paradox; I had far rather walk, as I do, in daily terror of eternity, than feel that this was only a children’s game in which all the contestants would get equally worthless prizes in the end. … And I don’t know whether this is to be labeled “Classicism” or “Romanticism”; I only think that I have hold of the tip of the tail of something quite real, more real than morals, or than sweetness and light and culture. T.S. Eliot

The young man had found Religion. He said to himself: fear not, trust in God, and your fears will not come true. The old man too had found Religion. He said to himself: fear not, trust in God, and though all your fears come true, know they are nothing to be afraid of. — Unknown


“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one… Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” – CS Lewis

“All serious and upright human conduct, is hope in action.” – Pope Benedict

“We don’t love to be loved; we love to love”

“It is love that asks, that seeks, that knocks, that finds, and that is faithful to what it finds” – St Augustine

“The meaning of life is to love and be loved in return.” – Pope Benedict

“Love is the answer, but while you’re waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty interesting questions.” – Woody Allen

“Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which stand beyond it. It is merely feeble if it does not go so far as to realize that.” – Pascal

“empirical success is not a sufficient reason to assume that a theory is true – the same data permit different theories that explain them.” (think of Ptolemy, quantum physics – especially superposition and wave function)

“the virtues necessary for human flourishing are not a result of the top-down application of abstract ethical principles, but the development of good character in everyday life.” – Alasdair MacIntyre

“Happiness (Eudomainia) consists not in how one feels but how or what one is.” Aristotle

“To know what is truly so and to do what is truly good.” – Bernard Lonergan

“Mere knowledge is not enough. It should be followed by appropriate action.” Gandhi

“The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” — Leo Tolstoy

“Happiness is the light on the water and the water is cold and dark and deep.” William Maxwell

There are no answers, only choices: Existentialism

“Always do what you are afraid to do” — Emerson

“They succeed because they think they can” — Virgil

“Erratus ergo sum” – Augustine

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” unknown

You sanctify what you are grateful for – Anthony de Mello

“I have discovered that all our unhappiness comes from one thing: that we cannot bear to sit in our room, alone and silent.” Pascal

“…silence is the essence of inwardness, of the inner life.” Kierkegaard

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers. – William Wordsworth

The ambitious run day and night in pursuit of honors, constantly in anguish about the success of their plans, dreading the miscalculation that may wreck everything. Thus they are alienated from themselves, exhausting their real life in service of the shadow created by their insatiable hope. – Thomas Merton

“It is not enough to teach man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he – with his specialized knowledge – more closely resembles a well trained dog than a harmoniously developed person.” — Einstein

Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Every day, men and women, conversing, beholding and beholden. The scholar is he of all men whom this spectacle most engages. – Emerson

It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment. — Gauss, Letter to Bolyai, 1808

“Men sometimes speak as if the study of the classics would at length make way for more modern and practical studies; but the adventurous student will always study classics, in whatever language they may be written and however ancient they may be. For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man” – Thoreau

It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books. They impress us with the conviction, that one nature wrote and the same reads… There is some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies close to my own soul, that which I also had wellnigh thought and said. – Emerson

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” –Oscar Wilde

in Book 9 of The Republic, Plato has Socrates divide humanity into three classes: “lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.”

History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading. Colleges, in like manner, have their indispensable office, — to teach elements. But they can only highly serve us, when they aim not to drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are natures in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing. Gowns, and pecuniary foundations, though of towns of gold, can never countervail the least sentence or syllable of wit. Forget this, and our American colleges will recede in their public importance, whilst they grow richer every year. – Emerson

“Yes, I can see all the works of a great civilization; but why cannot I meet any civilized persons? I only encounter specialists, artists who know nothing of science, scientists who know nothing of art, philosophers who have no interest in God, priests who are unconcerned with politics, politicians who only know other politicians.” – WH Auden, describing what an ancient Athenian might say of our civilization

Reading makes a full Man, Meditation a profound Man, discourse a clear Man. -Ben Franklin

“There is no method but to be very intelligent.” T.S. Eliot

“Learning without thought is labor lost. Thought without learning is perilous.” – Confucius

And yet, there is just the delight of finding something out and teaching it to others.

language isn’t the manifestation of one mind; it’s the joint manifestation of millions.

“the machinery of conceptual semantics makes us permanently vulnerable to fallacies in reasoning.” – Steven Pinker

What is obscurity of expression if not obscurity of thought, and isn’t obscurity of thought a cover for confusion or, worse, deliberate obfuscation, which is always up to no good? Clarity of meaning is a virtue, the signature of intellectual honesty. And achieving it is devilishly hard work.
–Rebecca Newberry Goldstein

On verb and noun taxonomies and the paradoxes and challenges to meaning that language presents:

: And what do you see?
: I see nothing.
: What wonderful eyesight you have! Tell me, what does nothing look like?
-Alice In Wonderland

Truth and Wisdom

Applicants for wisdom do what I have done; inquire within. – Heraclitus

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, And the life of the candle will not be shortened.” Buddha

naivete can give way to learning, but cleverness has no obvious higher state.

“The most manifest sign of wisdom is continual cheerfulness.” – Montaigne

“It is not difficult to avoid death, gentlemen of the jury, it is much more difficult to avoid wickedness, for it runs faster than death. Slow and elderly as I am, I have been caught by the slower pursuer, whereas my accusers… have been caught by the quicker…” — Socrates, on trial for his life

In modern business it is not the crook who is to be feared most, it is the honest man who doesn’t know what he is doing. William Wordsworth

“Knowledge must be led by belief, not the other way round; and if we want to acquire it we had a right, even a duty, to believe.” William James

“That man is best who sees the truth himself, good too is he who listens to wise counsel. But who is neither wise himself nor willing to ponder wisdom is not worth a straw.” Hesiod

“If we wish to express in a single sentence the difference between ancient times and our own, we should doubtless have to say: ‘In ancient times only an individual here and there knew the truth; now all know it, but the inwardness of its appropriation stands in an inverse relationship to the extent of its dissemination.'” – Kierkegaard

“All that is true, by whomever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit.” St Ambrose

“The farther one enters into truth, the deeper it is.” Bankei Yotaku

“Every thought grasped by the mind becomes an obstacle to those who search.” — Gregory of Nyssa

“It profits a man more to lose an argument than to win one. For if he is correct, what has he gained? And if he is wrong, he is illusioned.”

“I found it as a child very strange that people devote their life to making money and I was very embarrassed when a man had to admit in my presence that he was a businessman.” Erich Fromm

“The old grey donkey stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest… and thought sadly to himself, “Why?” and sometimes he thought, “Wherefore?” and sometimes he thought, “Inasmuch as which?” and sometimes he didn’t quite know what he was thinking about.” — Eeyore

And yet it just won’t go away:
I feel it and cannot understand it;
cannot hold on to it;
nor yet forget it;
and if I grasp it wholly
I cannot measure it!

Our limited perspective, our hopes and fears become our measure of life, and when circumstances don’t fit our ideas, they become our difficulties.

The closer I get to the light, the more difficult it is to hide from my shadow. PT

By God, for a minute there it all made sense… PT


“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” “Every individual … intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.” “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” – Adam Smith

“What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.” Adam Smith

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
-Ben Franklin

“The most interesting thing about mathematics is that it is so interesting”

“Poets do not go mad, but mathematicians do. Creative artists very seldom… this danger lies in logic, not in imagination” — G.K. Chesterton

What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, i definitely overpaid for my carpet. –Woody Allen

And behold joy and gladness… let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die. Isaiah 22:13

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

[Freedom is] not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.

Libraries … will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them, cannot be enslaved. It is in the regions of ignorance that tyranny reigns.

A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

Your argument is sound, nothing but sound.

To find out a girl’s faults, praise her to her girl friends.

Eripuit Coelo fulmen, mox Sceptra Tyrannis.
He seized the lightning from Heaven and the scepter from the Tyrants. (regarding Ben Franklin)

Cicero’s acerbic commentary on philosophers who refuse to serve the public realm: “Impeded by the love of learning, they abandon those whom they ought to protect.” Even worse, he accuses them of arrogant self-indulgence: “They demand the same thing kings do: to need nothing, to obey nobody, to enjoy their liberty, which they define as doing what you like.”

“no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave”
-George W. Bush

“Origin of man now proved . . . he who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke”

“Professional philosophers are usually only scholastics,” Santayana observed in his classic essay “The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy,” describing them as “absorbed in defending some vested illusion or some eloquent idea. . . . They do not covet truth, but victory and the dispelling of their own doubts. What they defend is some system, that is, some view about the totality of things, of which men are actually ignorant. No system would ever have been framed if people had been simply interested in knowing what is true, whatever it may be.”

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” ~Anaïs Nin

virtuous persons act because they understand why they must; others act because they cannot help themselves

“Philosophy formulates the questions implied in human existence, and theology formulates the answers implied in divine self-manifestation under the guidance of the questions implied in human existence”
Paul Tillich

It is unlikely that many of us will be famous, or even remembered. But not less important than the brilliant few that lead a nation or a literature to fresh achievements, are the unknown many whose patient efforts keep the world from running backward; who guard and maintain the ancient values, even if they do not conquer new; whose inconspicuous triumph it is to pass on what they inherited from their fathers, unimpaired and undiminished, to their sons. Enough, for almost all of us, if we can hand on the torch, and not let it down; content to win the affection, if it may be, of a few who know us and to be forgotten when they in their turn have vanished. The destiny of mankind is not governed wholly by its “stars.”
F. L. Lucas, “The Value of Style”

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

“Our search for the ultimate meaning of our lives is not a matter of a particular intelligence, or some special effort, or even exceptional means. Rather, finding the ultimate truth is like discovering something beautiful along one’s path. One sees and recognizes it, if one is attentive. The issue then, is this attention.” Father Luigi Giussani

“There is no method but to be very intelligent.” T.S. Eliot

He who wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
Edmund Burke

No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
Edmund Burke

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.
Benjamin Franklin

“…But my life grew in ways that did not adhere to slogans.”

He who would act the angel acts the beast. Pascal

“Do you have the patience to wait ‘til your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving ‘til the right action arises by itself? The master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things.”
Tao Te Ching


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