Understanding

The experience of another is not valid for the understanding of reality. But the organized religions throughout the world are based on the experience of another and, therefore, are not liberating man but only binding him to a particular pattern that sets man against man. Each one of us has to start anew, afresh, for what we are, the world is. The world is not different from you and me. This little world of our problems, extended, becomes the world and the problems of the world.

We may say that we are immune from bondage in so far as we act with a distinct knowledge, but that we are the slaves of passion in so far as our perception are confused... In truth we will only that which pleases us: but unhappily what pleases us now is often a real evil, which would displease us if we had the eyes of understanding open.

Nothing being so beautiful to the eye as truth is to the mind; nothing so deformed and irreconcilable to the understanding as a lie.

Perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing, willing, and all the different actings of our own minds; which we being conscious of, and observing in ourselves, do from these receive into our understanding as do from these receive into our understanding as distinct ideas as we do from bodies affecting our senses. This source of ideas every man has wholly in himself; and though it be not sense, as having nothing to do with external objects, yet it is very like it, and might properly enough be called internal sense. But as I call the other sensation, so I call this reflection, the ideas it affords being such only as the mind gets by reflecting on its own operation within self... These two, I say, vis. external material things, as the objects of sensation, and the operations of our own minds within, as the objects of reflection, are to me the only originals from whence all our ideas take their beginnings.

Now I assert that the mind and the soul are kept together in close union and make up a single nature, but that the directing principle which we call mind and understanding, is the head so to speak and reigns paramount in the whole body.

Envy comes from foolishness and a lack of understanding. When you are envious of someone, you do not gain anything and o not cause a loss to the person you envy. The only person who loses out is you. There are some people whose foolishness is so strong that whenever they see someone else they know have some good fortune, they feel pain and suffering They are so pained by what others have they derive no pleasure from what they themselves possess.

Man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through is history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’ We enter human society, that is, with one or more imputed characters - roles into which we have been drafted - and we have to learn what they are in order to be able to understand how others respond to us and how our responses to them are a part to be construed... Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious strutters in their actions as in their words. Hence there is no way to give us an understanding of any society, including our own, except through the stock of stories which constitute its initial dramatic resource. Mythology, in its original sense, is at the heart of things. Vico was right and so was Joyce. And so too of course is that moral tradition fro heroic society to its medieval heirs according to which the telling of stories has a key part in educating us into the virtues.

There is not a vice which more effectually contracts and deadens the feelings, which more completely makes a man’s affections center in himself, and excludes all others from partaking in them, than the desire of accumulating possessions. When the desire has once gotten hold of the heart, it shuts out all other considerations, but such as may promote its views. In its zeal for the attainment of its end, it is not delicate in the choice of means. As it closes the heart, so also it clouds the understanding. It cannot discern between right and wrong; it takes evil for good, and good for evil; it calls darkness light, and light darkness. Beware, then, of the beginning of covetousness, for you know not where it will end.

He who attempts to act and do things for others and for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them only the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, and his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas.

The more one seeks ‘the good’ outside oneself as something to be acquired, the more one is faced with the necessity of discussing, studying, understanding, analysing the nature of good. the more, therfore, one becomes involved in abstractions and in the confusion of divergent opinions. The more ‘the good’ is objectively analysed, the more it is treated as something to be attained by special virtuous techniques, the less real it becomes.

To the acquisition of the rare quality of politeness, so much of the enlightened understanding is necessary that I cannot but consider every book in every science, which tends to make us wiser, and of course better men, as a treatise on a more enlarged system of politeness.

Lying is an ugly vice... Since mutual understanding is brought about solely by way of words, he who breaks his word betrays human society. It is the only instrument by means of which our wills and thoughts communicate, it is the interpreter of our soul. If it fails us, we have no more hold on each other, no more knowledge of each other. If it deceives us, it breaks up all our relations and dissolves all the bonds of our society.

Perhaps we scarcely notice that in every direction our natural understanding leads us to nothing. We come either to contradiction or to the unknown... We do not think of the growth of a seed in our world in the same way. We cannot imitate growth. Growth is from ‘inside’. Higher dimensions enter our world from inside, from the direction of the most minute.

By watching yourself in your daily life with alert interest, with the intention to understand rather than to judge, in full acceptance of whatever may emerge, because it is there, you encourage the deep to come to the surface and enrich your life and consciousness with its captive energies. This is the great work of awareness; it removes obstacles and releases energies by understanding the nature of life and mind. Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.

The goal of wisdom is laughter and play - not the kind that one sees in little children who do not yet have the faculty of reason, but the kind that is developed in those who have grown mature through both time and understanding. If someone has experienced the wisdom that can only be heard from oneself, learned from oneself, and created from oneself, he does not merely participate in laughter: he becomes laughter itself.

Of all vices to take heed of drunkenness; other vices are but fruits of disordered affections - this disorders, nay, banishes reason; other vices but impair the soul - this demolishes her two chief faculties, the understanding and the will; other vices make their own way - this makes way for all vices; he that is a drunkard is qualified for all vice.

The light of the understanding, humility kindleth and pride covereth.

If you wish to please people, you must begin by understanding them.

Understanding is a two-way street.

Virtue is only a conflict by which we get the mastery of our failings; that, by which every man proves his peculiar power of understanding the will and spirit of God, is only a silent working of the inner man.