Moral philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good and evil in the conversation and society of mankind. God and evil are names that signify our appetites and aversions, which in different tempers, customs and doctrines of men are different.
In civilized life... it has at last become possible for large numbers of people to pass from the cradle to the grave without ever having had a pang of genuine fear. Man of us need an attack of mental disease to teach us the meaning of the word. Hence the possibility of so much blindly optimistic philosophy and religion.
Rites and vain repetitions have a legitimate place in religion as aids to recollectedness, reminders of truth momentarily forgotten in the turmoil of worldly distractions. When spoken or performed as a kind of magic, their use is either completely useless or else (and this is worse) it may have ego-enhancing results, which do not in any way contribute to the attainment of man’s final end.
God may be worshipped and contemplated in any of his aspects. But to persist in worshipping only one aspect to the exclusion of all the rest is to run into grave spiritual peril... The best that can be said for ritualistic legalism is that it improves conduct. It does little, however, to alter character and nothing of itself to modify consciousness... The complete transformation of consciousness, which is “enlightenment,” “deliverance,” “salvation,” comes only when God is thought of as the perennial Philosophy affirms Him to be - immanent as well as transcendent, supra-personal as well as personal - and when religious practices are adapted to this conception.
It’s quite true what philosophy says, that life must be understood backwards. But one then forgets the other principle, that it must be lived forwards. A principle which, the more one thinks it through, precisely leads to the conclusion that life in time can never properly be understood, just because no moment can acquire the complete stillness needed to orient oneself backwards.
Both the saint and the scientist must possess the same qualities in order to attain their ideals. But these qualities are selfless devotion, a meticulous love of truth, infinite patience, thoroughness, and a depth of mind which does not resent criticism. Without these qualities neither of the two can reach his goal. It is my firm belief that the goal which both science and religion reach by different routes is one and the same.
The things a man believes most profoundly are rarely on the surface of his mind or tongue. Newly acquired notions - decisions based on expediency, the fashionable ideas of the moment - are right on top of the pile, ready to be displayed in bright after-dinner conversation. But the ideas that make up a man's philosophy of life are somewhere way down below.
We are not asking our children to do their own best but to be the best. Education is in danger of becoming a religion based on fear; its doctrine is to compete. The majority of our children are being led to believe that they are doomed to failure in a world which has room only for those at the top.