Has anyone at the end of the nineteenth century a distinct conception of what poets of strong ages call inspiration? If not, I will describe it. If one had the slightest residue of superstition left in one, one would hardly be able to set aside the idea that one is merely incarnation, merely mouthpiece, merely medium of overwhelming forces. The concept of revelation , in the sense that something suddenly, with unspeakable certainty and subtlety, becomes visible, audible, something that shakes and overturns one to the depths, simply describes the fact. One hears, one does not seek; one takes, one does not ask who gives; a thought flashes up like lightning, with necessity, unfalteringly formed - I have never had any choice... Everything is in the highest degree involuntary but takes place as in a tempest of a feeling of freedom, of absoluteness, of power, of divinity... The involuntary nature of image, of metaphor is the most remarkable thing of all; one no longer has any idea what is image, what metaphor, everything presents itself as the readiest, the truest, the simplest means of expression.
In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain.
There greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depends upon the future. We let go the preseNt, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance - and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty.
To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.
There is no greater unreasonableness in the world than in the designs of ambition; for it makes the present certainly miserable, unsatisfactory, troublesome, and discontented, for the uncertain acquisition of an honor which nothing can secure; and, besides a thousand possibilities of miscarrying, it relies upon no greater certainty than our life; and when we are dead all the world sees who was the fool.
Here is the test of wisdom, wisdom is not finally tested in schools, wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not having it, wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof, applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content, is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things.
To be free is . . . the interior certainty that every person is responsible for humanity, and not just before it.
When you abandon the expectation that certainty is possible, you open yourself to the proliferation of possibilities, to the proliferation of alternative visions of the “best” that are available, and you reconcile yourself to the realization that this process is without end. You can never get it exactly right. Every answer, every act is but provisional.
The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel people to unfold their powers.
Reflect frequently on death and impermanence. If you are conscious of the certainty of death, it will not be difficult for you to avoid evil and it will not be difficult for you to practice virtue.
Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good… Either we have hope or we don't; it is a dimension of the soul, and it's not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons… Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather and ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
Hope is an orientation of spirit, an orientation of the heart. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
The only certainty is that nothing is certain.
Human happiness does not consist in satisfying one’s personal wishes but in the certainty of being needed, in having the visions of goals still unattained.
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.
Doubt is to certainty as neurosis is to psychosis. The neurotic is in doubt and has fears about persons and things; the psychotic has convictions and makes claims about them. In short, the neurotic has problems, the psychotic has solutions.
Knowledge of reality has never the certainty of complete evidence… Every knowledge of reality by the human mind has the character of higher or lower probability.
There is an element of venture or risk in every statement of the truth. Yet we can take this risk in the certainty that this is the only way in which truth can reveal itself to finite and historical beings.
The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.
Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better, whereas enslavement is a certainty of the worst.