Giving

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

[The] great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.

Moderate effort over a long time is important, no matter what you are trying to do. One brings failure upon oneself by working extremely hard at the beginning, attempting to do too much, and then giving up after a short time.

Be very careful never to show your own bias to anyone who is giving you information, or passing it on to you. Once he sees that you have a particular inclination he will instinctively tend to tell you what he thinks will suit you, and enhance your opinion of him.

Friendship, affection is not acquired by giving presents. Friendship, affection comes about by two people sharing a significant moment, by having an experience in common.

Service... Giving what you don't have to give. Giving when you don't need to give. Giving because you want to give.

One cannot have pleasure without giving it.

Giving about two [hours], every day, to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes a strong mind.

Forgiveness is not explanation… Explanations have to do with exploring causes, with digging down into the past in an effort to exert whatever control is still possible over the past. Forgiveness, on the other hand, has to do with letting go of the past – giving up the claim to control the past and refusing to be controlled by it. But forgiving is not the same thing as forgetting. “Letting go” of the past is not some kind of erasure; forgiveness is not an attempt to obliterate the past or wipe the slate clean… because the past is important, there can be no “unconditional forgiveness.”

There is no other way of guarding one’s self against flattery than by letting men understand that they will not offend you by speaking the truth; but when everyone can tell you the truth, you lose their respect. A prudent prince must therefore take a third course, by choosing for his council wise men, and giving these alone full liberty to speak the truth to him, but only of those things that he asks and of nothing else; but he must ask them about everything and hear their opinion, and afterwards deliberate by himself in his own way.

If you want joy and happiness, serve others with what you cherish most… Life expands or shrinks in proportion to the act of giving.

There’s a moral asymmetry that takes hold of us teachers rather too commonly – we think of ourselves as offering service to others, giving them our best, and forget what’s in it for ourselves, the service that we’re receiving from our students.

The number of different objects in the world is infinite, while the qualities they possess are limited. These qualities are therefore like the letters of the alphabet which can make up an indefinite number of words. If we present the children with objects exhibiting each of these qualities separately [and “classified in an orderly way”], this is like giving them an alphabet for their explorations, a key to the doors of knowledge.

People who know they will die live very carefully. Not careful as in fearful; careful as in full of care. Every word, every act, every relationship holds the possibility of giving birth to something filled with great care. And that thing need not be showy or dramatic, for the most potent spiritual acts are often acts of breathtaking simplicity: a simple prayer, a sip of wine and a piece of bread, a single breath in meditation, a sprinkling of water on the forehead, an exchange of rings, a kind word, a hand on the cheek, a blessing.

Learning is the best of all wealth; it is easy to carry, thieves cannot steal it, and tyrants cannot seize it; neither fire nor water can destroy it; and far from decreasing, it increases by giving.

To be happy is easy enough if we give ourselves , forgive others, and live with thanksgiving. No self-centered person, no ungrateful soul can ever be happy, much less make anyone else happy. Life is giving, not getting.

There is basically one problem in life: congestion. There is basically one solution: circulation. Systemic giving is, therefore, a powerful practice that blesses every phase of our lives, as it keeps us attuned to the wealth of the universe.

I’m learning the difference between humor and comedy, between the laugh that lasts forever and the one that evaporates as soon as it hits the air. Humor is giving, and comedy is taking away. Humor is companionable, comedy cold. Humor is character, comedy personality.

Generosity’s aim is twofold: we give freely to others, and we give freely to ourselves. Without both aspects, the experience is incomplete. If we give a gift freely, without attachment to a certain result or expectation of what will come back to us, that exchange celebrates freedom both within ourselves as the giver and the receiver… In a moment of pure giving, we really become one.

The one possible way of giving meaning to [man’s] existence is that of raising his natural relation to the world to a spiritual one.