There is no greater illusion than fear,
no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself,
no greater misfortune than having an enemy.

Whoever can see through all fear
will always be safe.

-- Lao-Tsu, Tao Te Ching


One of the first things to learn if you want to be a contemplative is to mind your own business. Nothing is more suspicious, in a man who seems holy, than an impatient desire to reform other men.
-- Thomas Merton, "New Seeds of Contemplation"


Douglas Steere remarks very perceptively that there is a pervasive form of contempory violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
-- Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander"


The tactic of nonviolence is a tactic of love that seeks the salvation and redemption of the opponent, not his castigation, humiliation, and defeat. A pretended nonviolence that seeks to defeat and humiliate the adversary by spiritual instead of physical attack is little more than a confession of weakness.
-- Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander"


We who claim to love peace and justice must always be careful that we do not use our righteousness to provoke the violent, and in this way bring about the conflict for which we, too, like other men, are hungering in secret, and with suppressed barbarity.
-- Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander"


It is both dangerous and easy to hate man as he is because he is not "what he ought to be." If we do not first respect what he *is* we will never suffer him to become what he ought to be: in our impatience we do away with him altogether.
-- Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander"


"The more you complain the longer God lets you live."

"This government must lose no time or effort to keep the nation from being drawn into the war. In my candid judgement, we shall succeed in these efforts."
-- President Frankin D. Roosevelt, September 29, 1939


All music jars when the soul's out of tune. -- Miguel de Cervantes

You are permitted in time of great danger to walk with the devil until you have crossed the bridge. -- Bulgarian proverb

A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us. -- Franz Kafka

What is dignity without honesty? -- Cicero

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
-- Helen Keller


No man can justly censure or condemn another, because indeed no man truly knows another.
-- Sir Thomas Brown


True freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!
-- James Russell Lowell


Clever people seem not to feel the natural pleasure of bewilderments, and are always answering questions when the chief relish of life is to go on asking them.
-- Frank Moore Colby


As I watched the seagulls, I thought, "That's the road to take; find the absolute rhythm and follow it with absolute trust."
-- Nikos Kazantzakis


'Religious distress is at the same time the expression of the real distress and also the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of the spiritless condition. It is the opium of the people.'
-- Karl Marx


Humanity has in the course of time had to endure from the hands of science two great outrages upon its naive self-love. The first was when it realized that our earth was not the center of the universe, but only a speck in a world-system of a magnitude hardly conceivable... The second was when biological research robbed man of his particular privilege of having been specially created, and relegated him to a descent from the animal world.
-- Sigmund Freud


"Until hard evidence is obtained and corroborated, the American people should not be frightened into believing that babies are being bred and eaten, that 50,000 missing children are being murdered in human sacrifices, or that satanists are taking over America's day care centers... An unjustified crusade against those perceived as satanists could result in wasted resources, unwarranted damage to reputations, and disruption of civil liberties." -- Kenneth Lanning, head of the FBI's special unit in charge of investigating claims about satanic-cult crimes, in a report of his findings, June, 1989

"God not only plays dice, He sometimes throws the dice where they cannot be seen."
-- S. Hawking


"The genius of you Americans is that you never make any clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves that leave us scratching our heads wondering if we might possibly have missed something."
-- Gamel Abdel Nasser


"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." -- Thomas Jefferson, to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association in 1802

"The condition upon which God has given liberty to man is eternal vigilance."
-- John Philpot Curran


"People these days are reluctant to read the canonical texts, but they love fiction. Not all fiction, mind you, for they are sick of exemplary themes and far prefer the obscene and fantastic. How low contemporary morals have sunk! Anyone concerned about public morality will want to retrieve the situation."
-- Li Yu, in "The Carnal Prayer Mat" c. 1657 A.D.


In Germany, they first came for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a 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 homosexuals, and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a homosexual.
Then they came for the catholics, and I didn't speak up
because I was a protestant.
Then they came for me --
but by that time there was no one left to speak up.


-- Pastor Martin Neimoller


"Free at last, free at last, Great God Almighty, I am free at last."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.


"The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false."
-- Saint Thomas Aquinas


In science, right conduct consists of evaluating evidence honestly and according to the canons of scientific reasoning. To misrepresent the evidence and the criteria of judgement is not merely to provide misinformation; it is to set an example of dishonesty. Telling lies to naive and trusting young persons is bad. Doing so for the purpose of proselytizing is worse.
-- biologist Michael T. Ghiselin


"We find that the sexual instinct, when disappointed and unappeased, frequently seeks and finds a substitute in religion."
-- Baron Richard Von Krafft-Ebing


Resolved, that the 67th General Convention affirm the glorious ability of God to create in any manner, whether men understand it or not, and in this affirmation reject the limited insight and rigid dogmatism of the "Creationist" movement...
-- from a 1982 resolution of the Episcopal Church


"The effort of using machines to mimic the human mind has always struck me as rather silly. I would rather use them to mimic something better."
--Edsger Dijkstra


"Last night I watched the news and the end of the broadcast showed numerous changes favorable for the people (e.g., Rumania, Berlin Wall, etc.). My fiancee and I turned to each other and said ``No images from the US.''"
-- Mike Shaff (shaff@elements.rpal.com)


"The answers to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle: they're on TV!"
-- Homer Simpson, "The Simpsons"


"We fight for men and women whose poetry is not yet written."
-- Robert Gould Shaw, abolitionist


"Well, Darkness has a hunger that's insatiable,
And Lightness has a call that's hard to hear."
-- Indigo Girls


"Football combines the worst elements of America: Mass violence punctuated by committee meetings."

"God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr


This passage was written by a London reporter on the eve of the England-West Germany Soccer World Cup final of 1966... "If, on the morrow, the Germans defeat us at our national sport, be not dismayed. For twice in this century, we've defeated them at theirs."
-- From the San Jose Mercury News, 7 July 1990


"No matter what temptation there is after an accident to be economical with the truth when rationalising it with hindsight, please remember it would be unforgivable if, by not revealing the facts or the complete truth, a similar incident became an unavoidable accident."
-- Captain Colin Seaman, British Aerospace's head of safety


"We need a new cosmology. New Gods. New Sacraments. Another drink."
-- Patti Smith


Collins's Law:
	If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything.

Corollaries ("Rabinovitch's Rules of Sane Dialogue"):
	1. Everybody who matters is stupid now and then.
	2. If I'm being stupid, that's my problem.
	3. If my being stupid makes you stupid, that's your problem.
	4. If you think you're never stupid, boy are you stupid!


"Theater, art, literature, cinema... must be cleansed of all manifestations of our rotting world..."
-- Adolf Hitler


It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.
-- Henry David Thoreau, "Where I Live"


I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing sacred about myself or about any human being, that we were all machines, doomed to collide and collide and collide. For want of anything better to do, we became fans of collisions . . .
-- Kurt Vonnegut, "Breakfast of Champions"


"There are two kinds of people in the world; those who say to God, 'Thy will be done', and those to whom God says, 'Go ahead, then, have it your way'."
-- C. S. Lewis


"I got the drop because I was so mean, while somehow appearing so kind."
-- Brian Eno


They say in India that a man who is liberated in this world has to cultivate a few mild bad habits in order to stay in the body, because if he were absolutely perfect he would disappear from manifestation. So the yogi, the great yogi, occasionally smokes a cigarette or has a bad temper occasionally, something that keeps him human, and that little thing is very important.
-- Alan Watts


"Unless the cause of peace based on law gathers behind it the force and zeal of a religion, it hardly can hope to succeed......There must be added that deep power of emotion which is a basic ingredient of religion. It is to be hoped that not only the churches but the schools, the colleges, and the leading organs of opinion will aquit themselves well of their unique responsibility in this regard."
-- Albert Einstein


Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God Himself.
-- Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish philosopher and writer


The story is told of Picasso that a stranger in a railway carriage accosted him with the challenge, "Why don't you paint things as they really are." Picasso demurred, saying that he did not quite understand what the gentleman meant, and the stranger then produced from his wallet a photograph of his wife. "I mean," he said, "like that. That's how she _is_." Picasso coughed hesitantly and said, "She is rather small, isn't she. And somewhat flat?"
-- Gregory and Mary Catherine Bateson, "Angels Fear"


In Boston Harbor, the captain of the British freighter Port Halifax orders a side of beef delivered to the German freighter Pauline Friederich, which had been trapped in neutral harbor by the onset of war. The ship's larder had run bare the previous Sunday. The man who brought the British crew the news of the Germans' plight pointed out, "But they're Germans!", to which Edward W.R. Young, the ship's exec responded, "Well, what the hell of it? They're humans, aren't they. Send it over."
-- New York Times, 9-27-39


There is only one group which would ever call for the banning of 'The Diary of Anne Frank', and I don't care what they happen to be calling themselves these days.
-- Alan Moore


"To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell."
-- Thomas Merton


Time rushes toward us with its hospital tray of infinitely varied narcotics, even while it is preparing us for its inevitably fatal operation.
-- Tennessee Williams, Foreword, "The Rose Tattoo"


"I think if the devil doesn't exist, then man has created him. He has created him in his own image and likeness."
"Just as man created God, then?" observed Alyosha.
-- Fyodor Dostoevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov.


The imagination enlarges little objects so as to fill our souls with a fantastic estimate; and, with rash insolence, it belittles the great to its own measure, as when talking of God.
-- Pascal


Over the last few decades we have been inundated by a torrent of words. Wherever we go we are surrounded by words: words softly whispered, loudly proclaimed, or angrily screamed; words spoken, recited, or sung; words on records, in books, on walls, or in the sky; words in many sounds, many colors, or many forms; words to be heard, read, seen, or glanced at; words which flicker off and on, move slowly, dance, jump, or wiggle. Words, words, words! They form the floor, the walls, and the ceiling of our existence. Recently I was driving through Los Angeles, and suddenly I had the strange sensation of driving through a huge dictionary. Wherever I looked there were words trying to take my eyes from the road. They said, "Use me, take me, buy me, drink me, smell me, touch me, kiss me, sleep with me." In such a world who can maintain respect for words?
-- Henri Nouwen, "The Way of the Heart"


"What you do with your own Communists is your own business. They are Trotskyists anyway. If you must, shoot them, and if you can't handle them, I'll help you."
-- Josef Stalin, as reported by NY Times correspondent Otto Tolischus, when asked during the Baltic negotiations what to do with Communists imprisoned in those countries.

"Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God"
-- Lenny Bruce


"One of your readers asked what could be the name of the present big war since the name "World War" has already been used for the last one. It appears to me that so far the present war is naming itself by merely cribbing the old name and omitting the 'ell."
-- J.M. Elliott, Capt., USN, Ret., in Newsweek, early 1940


"Discovering the Church is apt to be a slow procedure but it can take place if you have a free mind and no vested interest in disbelief..."
-- Flannery O'Connor


For it is often necessary to walk backwards, as a man on the wrong road goes back to a signpost to find the right road. The modern man is more like a traveller who has forgotten the name of his destination, and has to go back whence he came, even to find out where he is going.
-- G. K. Chesterton


"For religion all men are equal, as all pennies are equal, because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the king."
-- G. K. Chesterton


...but there is another very important characteristic about the cult of a book. It has marked the cult of very much better books, such as the Bible and the Roman law. Taken by itself, it always tends to inequality, even if its ideal was equality. It tends to inequality because the very act of reading may be more or less rare as a faculty, to say nothing of a taste. Since some read books more than others, some will read that book more than others. The book being the test, those who have read the book will always bully those who have not. And the book-readers, being bourgeois, will always refuse to read the things that are not to be read in books, the things that are to be read in birds and beasts, and crops and weather, and the very face of the world. The book-reader or bourgeois will always despise the peasant; but the bourgeois will never be so arrogant as when he calls himself the proletarian. Then he will be prouder than ever; for it is an even longer word.
-- G. K. Chesterton, in 1920


In so far as people think they can see the "limits of human understanding", they think of course that they can see beyond these.
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein


"All knowledge, we feel, must be built up upon our instinctive beliefs; and if these are rejected, nothing is left."
-- Bertrand Russell, 1912


"Real spirituality has to come to terms with accident, with chance, with the great mystery that things happen and there may not be any direct cause for them."
-- Starhawk


And the wind shall say: 'Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls'.

-- Eliot


...if we do bring ourselves to admit that the dominant description of reality is too narrow, we may run slavishly after other spiritual traditions, eager to acquire experiences of nonordinary consciousness as if they were Gucci bags or Cuisinarts, commodities we can use to bolster our status. We become spiritual colonists, mining the Third World for its resources of symbols and shamans, giving nothing back, in a way that cheapens both the traditions we seek to understand and our own spiritual quests.
-- Starhawk, "Truth or Dare"


Looking forward into an empty year strikes one with a certain awe, because one finds therein no recognition. The years behind have a friendly aspect, and they are warmed by the fires we have kindled, and all their echoes are the echoes of our own voices.
-- Alexander Smith


Wherefore could I not pronounce 'Amen'? I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen' stuck in my throat.
-- Macbeth


The emotional quality of what we moderns call our thought produces an extreme violence of conviction combined with extreme incoherence in our arguments.
--Jacques Ellul


Love itself is not an act of will, but sometimes I need the force of my volition to break with my habitual responses and pass along the love already here.
-- Hugh Prather


If this life be not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will. But it *feels* like a real fight.
-- William James


Home Page Interests Quotes Links Misc