Albert Schweitzer


German Theologian, Musician, Missionary, Philosopher

Author Quotes

Truth has no special hour of its own. Its hour is now...always.

The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.

The view of Reverence for Life is ethical mysticism. It allows union with the Infinite to be realized [though] ethical action.

Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. This is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil.

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be truly happy will be those who have sought and found how to serve.

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

Let me give you a definition of ethics: It is good to maintain and further life; it is bad to damage and destroy life.

Two perceptions cast their shadow over my existence. One consists in my realization that the world is inexplicably mysterious and full of suffering; the other, in the fact that I have been born into a period of spiritual decadence in mankind.

My life is completely and unmistakably determined by the mysterious experience of God revealing Himself within me as ethical Will and desiring to take hold of my life.

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.

Do not be put off if you find that you have to wait and experiment. Be sure that you will have disappointments to endure. But do not be satisfied without some side line in which you may give yourself out as a man to men. There is one waiting for you if only you are willing to take it up in the right spirit.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

The highest proof of the Spirit is love. Love is the eternal thing which men can already on earth possess as it really is.

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 purpose of existence is that we human beings, all nations and the whole of humanity, should constantly progress toward perfection. If we do this, our finite spirit will be in harmony with the infinite.

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. Rather, we must bind ourselves to the task of sharing his experiences and try being of help to him.

The nature of the living Being without me I can understand only through the living Being which is within me.

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.

The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.

In the world He appears to me as the mysterious, marvelous creative Force; within me He reveals Himself as ethical Will. In the world He is impersonal Force; within me He reveals Himself as Personality. The God who is known through philosophy and the God whom I experience as ethical Will do not coincide. They are one; but how they are one I do not understand.

The spiritual and moral perfection of the individual… is the final end of civilization.

It is good to maintain and to encourage life; it is bad to destroy life or to obstruct it.

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German Theologian, Musician, Missionary, Philosopher