Albert Schweitzer


German Theologian, Musician, Missionary, Philosopher

Author Quotes

Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.

One thing I know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.

We will never comprehend why the infinite will, in order to realize its completion, requires the incomplete, or how evil can result in good. No forced attempt to reason out these events can give us peace of God. There is a different way, a way born from inward experience. We may not have been given the privilege of understanding how events are expressing the will of God. But one thing we do know, and on that knowledge all else depends – the will of God is directed only toward one thing: the spiritual.

Open your eyes and look for some man, or some work for the sake of men, which needs a little time, a little friendship, a little sympathy, a little sociability, a little human toil. Perhaps it is a lonely person, or an invalid - or some unfortunate inefficient, to whom you can be something. It may be an old man or it may be a child. Or some good work is in want of volunteers who will devote a free evening to it or will run on errands for it. Who can reckon up all the ways in which the priceless fund of impulse, man, is capable of exploitation! He is needed in every nook and corner. Therefore search and see if there is not some play where you may invest your humanity.

When our wills are united with the will of God, we never take all the goodness and beauty and people and things in life for granted, but we accept them again and again as a gift from him – given that we may serve him with still greater joy and thank him for it.

As the sun makes the ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing. One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing.

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.

Have you ever considered how dreadful it would be if our lives had no appointed end but went on forever? Can you imagine that as far as the eye can see into the future we should remain enmeshed in all the desires and troubles of this life and that all the ensuing envy, hatred and malice, our own and other people’s should continue to pile up undiminished? If you have ever considered how intolerable the burden of our life would be without the understood certainty that it has an appointed end, you know that death comes to all, even the most fortunate, not as an enemy but as a deliverance.

I must practice unlimited forgiveness because, if I did not, I should be wanting in veracity to myself, for it would be acting as if I myself were not guilty in the same way as the other has been guilty towards me.

Ideals are thoughts. So long as they exist merely as thoughts, the power latent in them remains ineffective.

In a human context, love means sharing an experience, showing compassion, and helping one another. But our love of God is akin to reverent love. God is infinite life. Thus the most elementary ethical principle, when understood by the heart, means that out of reverence for the unfathomable, infinite, and living Reality we call God, we must never consider ourselves strangers toward any human being.

A man does not have to be an angel in order to be saint.

A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellowman, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.

A new public opinion must be created privately and unobtrusively. The existing one is maintained by the Press, by propaganda, by organization, and by financial and other influences which are at its disposal. This unnatural way of spreading ideas must be opposed by the natural one, which goes from man to man and relies solely on the truth of the thoughts and the hearer’s receptiveness for new truth.

All living knowledge of God rests upon this foundation: that we experience Him in our lives as Will-to-Love.

All the kindness which a man puts out into the world works on the heart and thoughts of mankind.

As long as we look at our own existence as meaningless, there is no point whatevr in desiring to effect anything in the world.

Science has led us from knowledge to knowledge but also from mystery to mystery. Mystery alone can lead us on to true spirituality, to accept and be filled with the mystery of life in our existence.

The abdication of thought has been the decisive factor in the collapse of civilization.

The basic significance of all difficulty is that it reorients us from the external to the spiritual. the meaning and purpose of the world remain to a large extent inexplicable. but one thing is clear: the purpose of all events is spiritual.

The deeper we look into nature, the more we realize that it is full of life, and the more profoundly we know that all life is a secret and that we are united with all life that is in nature. Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship to the Universe.

The great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up. That is possible for him who never argues and strives with men and facts, but in all experiences retires upon himself, and looks for the ultimate cause of things in himself.

As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.

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German Theologian, Musician, Missionary, Philosopher