Category Archives: great quotes

Ask the Question


“Peace is not important; absence of suffering is important.”

“The meditating mind stays with the awareness, not with the experience.”

“Mindfulness only happens now, not in the future.”

“Many yogis tell me that meditation is difficult. What they are actually saying is that they cannot get what they want.”

“When meditation is difficult, craving is the problem.”

“If we know nature, we can use nature. The mind is also nature.”

“Awakening is equated by the Buddha with understanding. Understanding comes somatically, affectively and cognitively.”

“Craving always wants the result. Wisdom pays attention to the causes.”

“You will get attached to whatever you do again and again without awareness and wisdom. This is the nature of delusion.”

“When you do any investigation, you must always remember that the mind is doing its own work. If you identify with this process, it becomes very complicated.”

“When awareness is weak, the mind cannot learn.”

“Just ask the question, don’t look for the answer. The answer will come as soon as the mind has gathered enough data.”

All quotes by Sayadaw U Tejaniya

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What would you begin if you knew?


“You can’t test courage cautiously.”

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

“Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?”

“The painter, in other words, does not fit the paints to the world. He most certainly does not fit the world to himself. He fits himself to the paint. The self is the servant who bears the paintbox and its inherited contents.”

“How can people think that artists seek a name? There is no such thing as an artist – only the world, lit or unlit, as the world allows.”

All quotes by Annie Dillard

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The Essence Behind Things


“A new culture can only grow up in the soil of a purged humanity.”

“The modern city hardly knows a pure darkness or true silence anymore, nor does it know the effect of a single small light or that of a lonely distant shout.”

“You can deny, if you like, nearly all abstractions: justice, beauty, truth, goodness, mind, God. You can deny seriousness, but not play.”

“Play is a uniquely adaptive act, not subordinate to some other adaptive act, but with a special function of its own in human experience.”

“If a serious statement is defined as one that may be made in terms of waking life, poetry will never rise to the level of seriousness. It lies beyond seriousness, on that more primitive and original level where the child, the animal, the savage, and the seer belong, in the region of dream, enchantment, ecstasy, laughter. To understand poetry we must be capable of donning the child’s soul like a magic cloak and of forsaking man’s wisdom for the child’s.”

“Every age yearns for a more beautiful world. The deeper the desperation and the depression about the confusing present, the more intense that yearning.”

“History is the interpretation of the significance that the past has for us.”

“Educators are aware that they can reach the youth only by making use of gang spirit and guiding it, not by working against it.”

“Culture must have its ultimate aim in the metaphysical or it will cease to be culture.”

“The second fundamental feature of culture is that all culture has an element of striving.”

“Revolution as an ideal concept always preserves the essential content of the original thought: sudden and lasting betterment.”

“Most thoughtful Americans of today seem to have forgotten how strongly their own and immediate predecessors, Emerson, Hawthorne and Whitman, were still preoccupied with the essence behind things.”

All quotes by Johan Huizinga

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The Cloudless Sky


“My religion is not deceiving myself.”

“Accustomed, as I’ve been, to contemplating both nirvana and samsara as inherent in myself, I have forgotten to think of hope and fear.”

“In the monastery of your heart, you have a temple where all Buddhas unite.”

“All meditation must begin with arousing deep compassion. Whatever one does must emerge from an attitude of love and benefitting others.”

“My religion is to live and die without regret.”

“When one has lost interest in this world, his faith and longing for the Dharma is confirmed.”

“Deep in the wild mountains, is a strange marketplace, where you can trade the hassle and noise of everyday life, for eternal Light.”

“In the gap between thoughts nonconceptual wisdom shines continuously.”

“When one comes to the essence of being, The shining wisdom of reality Illumines all like the cloudless sky.”

All quotes by Milarepa

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Different Kind of Person


“How do we examine ourselves in a Socratic manner? “The unexamined life is not worth living,” Plato says in line 38a of The Apology. How do you examine yourself? What happens when you interrogate yourself? What happens when you begin calling into question your tacit assumptions and unarticulated presuppositions and begin then to become a different kind of person? You know, Plato says philosophy’s a meditation on and a preparation for death. By death what he means is not an event, but a death in life because there’s no rebirth, there’s no change, there’s no transformation without death, and therefore the question becomes: How do you learn how to die? Of course Montaigne talks about that in his famous essay “To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die.” You can’t talk about truth without talking about learning how to die because it’s precisely by learning how to die, examining yourself and transforming your old self into a better self, that you actually live more intensely and critically and abundantly. So that the connection between learning how to die and changing, being transformed, turning your world upside down, inverting your world the way in which that famous play by Ludwig Tieck, The World Turned Upside Down highlights so that you actually are in a different kind of zone, you have a new self. That’s why love is so inseparable from any talk about truth and death, because we know that love is fundamentally a death of an old self that was isolated and the emergence of a new self now entangled with another self, the self that you fall in love with.”

Quote by Cornel West

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A Daily Practice


“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”

“People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”

“The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.”

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”

“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”

“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?”

“We fear that this moment will end, that we won’t get what we need, that we will lose what we love, or that we will not be safe. Often, our biggest fear is the knowledge that one day our bodies will cease functioning. So even when we are surrounded by all the conditions for happiness, our joy is not complete.”

“Fearlessness is not only possible, it is the ultimate joy. When you touch nonfear, you are free.”

“True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected.”

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”

“Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice.”

All quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh


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Free of Language


“But then a foreboding thought cast a shadow over the rest, blunt and unadorned, and it was simply this: that for most of my life I had been emulating the thoughts and actions of other people. That so much I had done or said had been a mirror of what was said and done around me. And that if i continued in this manner, whatever glimmers of brilliant life still burned in me would soon go out. When i was very young it had been otherwise, but I could hardly recall that time, it was buried so far below. I was only certain that a period had existed in which i looked at the things of the world without needing to subordinate them to order. I simply saw, with whatever originality I was born with, the whole of things, without needing to give them a human translation. I would never again be able to see like that, I knew that, and yet, lying there, it seemed to me that I’d failed to fulfill the promise of that vision I once had, before i began to slowly learn to look at everything the way others looked, and to copy the things they said and did, and to shape my life after theirs, as if no other range of being had occurred to me.”

“Narrative cannot sustain formlessness any more than light can sustain darkness – it is the antithesis of formlessness, and so it can never truly communicate it. Chaos is the one truth that narrative must always betray, for in the creation of its delicate structures that reveal many truths about life, the portion of truth that has to do with incoherence and disorder must be obscured. More and more, it had felt to me that in the things I wrote, the degree of artifice was greater than the degree of truth, that the cost of administering form to what was essentially formless was akin to the cost of breaking the spirit of an animal that is otherwise too dangerous to live with.”

“That evening I went to a dance class held in an old yellow school whose window frames were painted sky blue. I love to dance, but by the time I came to understand that I ought to have tried to become a dancer instead of a writer, it was too late. More and more it seems to me that dancing is where my true happiness lies, and that when I write, what I am really trying to do is dance, and because it is impossible, because dancing is free of language, I am never satisfied with writing. To write is, in a sense, to seek to understand, and so it is always something that happens after the fact, is always a process of sifting through the past, and the results of this, if one is lucky, are permanent marks on a page. But to dance is to make oneself available (for pleasure, for an explosion, for stillness); it only ever takes place in the present —- the moment after it happens, dance has already vanished. Dance constantly disappears,”

All quotes by Nicole Krauss

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Welcome to Here

rob bell

“Are you breathing? Are you here? Did you just take a breath? Are you about to take another? Do you have a habit of regularly doing this? Gift. Gift. Gift. Whatever else has happened in your life — failure, pain, heartache, abuse, loss — the first thing that can be said about you is that you have received a gift.”

“Boredom, cynicism, and despair are spiritual diseases because they disconnect us from the most primal truth about ourselves – that we are here. All three distance us from, and deaden us to, the questions that the blinking line asks. How are you going to respond to this life you have been given? What are you going to do with it? What are you going to make here?”

“No one has ever done this before. No one has ever been you before. This exact interrelated web of people and events and places and memories and desire and love that is your life hasn’t ever existed in the history of the Universe. Welcome to a truly unique phenomenon. Welcome to your life. I want you to be here. Welcome to here.”

“Whenever you create anything, you take a risk. And that includes your life. It may work out, it may not. It may be well received, it may not be. . . . It’s always a risk to take action. It might not work, it might blow up in your face, you might lose money, you might fail. No one may get it. But that’s not the only risk. There’s another risk: the risk of not trying it. ”

“Can your story be retold? Can all of the various things that have happened to you and the things you have done you’d prefer to never think about again and the embarrassing parts and the painful parts — can all of it be retold in such a way that the worst parts become the most powerful, poignant parts? And if that is possible for your story, is it possible for the history of the world? Can everything eventually be retold in such a way that the worst parts—wars and disease and oppression and on and on—are included and somehow brought to a unity?”

“It’s not about getting rid of desire. It’s about giving ourselves to bigger and better and more powerful desires. What are you channeling your energies into? If they don’t go into a few, select, disciplined pursuits that you are passionate about and are willing to give your life to, then they’ll dissipate into all sorts of urges and cravings that won’t even begin to bring joy that the “one thing” could.”

“At any moment in the day, you can only do one thing at a time. And the more intentional you are about knowing what your 1 is, the more present you will be.”

“Great artists know that it isn’t just about what you add; sometimes the most important work is knowing what to take away. Removing clutter, excess, all the superfluous elements — and finding out in the process what’s been in there the whole time.”

All quotes by Rob Bell


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