Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham

Together wrote The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning

"All spiritual traditions agree that the core problem is insatiable desire."

"Because Release is a gift – a reality not earned, not merited, not attained in any way – there flows naturally from the experience of release, the experience of Gratitude. Gratitude can best be defined and understood as the only possible response to a gift, to something recognized as utterly, freely given. Gratitude is the vision – the way of seeing – that recognizes “gift.”"

"Boundaries… define us. By setting limits in a way that gives identity, telling us who we are and are not, they make it possible to fit, to belong, and so to feel – and be – good."

"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.”"

"In resentment there is no chance of release but only imprisonment in a painful past and the gradual stifling of all serenity, indeed, of all humanity."

"Happiness – the joy of living – comes in the experience of gratitude that flows forma vision of one’s life as a reality received, a gift given freely and spontaneously. Such a vision removes self from the center, thus healing self-centeredness by revealing the folly of the illusion of control."

"No one can find your meaning for you."

"Resentment is the refusal, out of fear, to cross the bridge of sadness and let ourselves back into the impermanent world of relationship."

"The core paradox that underlies spirituality is the haunting sense of incompleteness, of being somehow unfinished, that comes from the reality of living on this earth as part and yet also not-part of it. For to be human is to be incomplete, yet year for completion; it is to be uncertain, yet long for certainty; to be imperfect, yet long for perfection; to be broken, yet crave wholeness. All these yearnings remain necessarily unsatisfied, for perfection, completion, certainty, and wholeness are impossible precisely because we are imperfectly human – or better, because we are perfectly human, which is to say humanly imperfect."

"Stories reveal a spirituality that views life not as a problem to be solved, but as a mystery to be lived."

"The shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story."

"The essence of tolerance lies in its openness to difference."

"Truth, wisdom, goodness, beauty, the fragrance of a rose – all resemble spirituality in that they are intangible, ineffable realities."

"Therapy offers explanations; spirituality offers forgiveness."

"We are not ‘everything,’ but neither are we ‘nothing.’ Spirituality is discovered in that space between paradox’s extremes, for there we confront our helplessness and powerlessness, our woundedness. In seeking to understand our limitations, we seek not only an easing of our pain but an understanding of what it means to hurt and what it means to be healed. Spirituality begins with the acceptance that our fractured being, our imperfection, simply is: There is no one to ‘blame’ for our errors — neither ourselves nor anyone nor anything else. Spirituality helps us first to see, and then to understand, and eventually to accept the imperfection that lies at the very core of our human be-ing. "

"God comes through the wound': Our very imperfections—what religion labels our 'sins,' what therapy calls our 'sickness,' what philosophy terms our 'errors'—are precisely what bring us closer to the reality that no matter how hard we try to deny it, we are not the ones in control here. And this realization, inevitably and joyously, brings us closer to 'God'."