A man without religion or spiritual vision is like a captain who finds himself in the midst of an uncharted sea, without compass, rudder and steering wheel. He never knows where he is, which way he is going and where he is going to land.
The meaning of life is experienced when we are in touch with our unique essence, sometimes called the divine spark within... It is both individual and universal. When we are fully aware of this unique inner radiance, we feel what it is to be utterly alive. We experience unconditional love. We sense complete safety because that spark also connects us to the universal divinity within all things.
The spirit of true religion breathes gentleness and affability; it gives a native, unaffected ease to the behavior; it is social, kind, cheerful; far removed from the cloudy and illiberal disposition which clouds the brow, sharpens the temper, and dejects the spirit.
I had the opportunity to deliver babies... In each of these numinous moments, I knew that life had meaning; each experience was accompanied by an upwelling of gratitude and humility. These moments, which can be called an experience of the self, or archetype of meaning, are akin to the act of finally seeing the Holy Grail after a long quest... It is through these moments of grace and gratitude that we acquire a sense of meaning and a desire to live a meaningful life. The personal challenge is now.
Young people imagine there is great value in fame. Those with life experience know that in truth publicity is extremely short-lived. The nature of the world is that every piece of news makes an impression for only a very short time. After those few minutes the impression is erased and quickly forgotten. It is as if it never was.
We walk, and our religion is shown (even in the dullest and most insensitive person) in how we walk. Or to put it more accurately, living in this world means choosing, choosing to walk, and the way we choose to walk is infallibly and perfectly expressed in the walk itself. Nothing can disguise it. The walk of an ordinary man and of an enlightened man are as different as that of a snake and a giraffe.
You who are so wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things. You will not therefore take it amiss if our ideas of the white man’s kind of education happens not to be the same as yours. We have had some experience with it. Several of our young people were brought up in your colleges. They were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger. They didn’t know how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy. They spoke our language imperfectly. They were therefore unfit to be hunters, warriors, or counselors; they were good for nothing. We are, however, not less obliged for your kind offer, though we decline accepting it. To show our gratefulness, if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care with their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.
The great duty of God’s children is to love one another. This duty on earth takes the name and form of the law of humanity. We are to recognize all men as brethren, no matter where born, or under what sky, or institution or religion they may live. Every man belongs to the race, and owes a duty to mankind... Men cannot, by combining themselves into narrower or larger societies, sever the sacred, blessed bond which joins them to their kind... The law of humanity must reign; over the assertion of all human rights.
A religion giving dark views of God, and infusing superstitious fear of innocent enjoyment, instead of aiding sober habits, will, by making men abject and sad, impair their moral force and prepare them for intemperance as a refuge from depression or despair.
A primary responsibility of educators is that they not only be aware of the general principle of the shaping of actual experience by environing conditions, but that they also recognize in the concrete what surroundings, physical and social, that exist so as to extract from them all that they have to contribute to building up experiences that are worthwhile.
We always live at the time we live and not at some other time, and only by extracting at each present time the full meaning of each present experience are we prepared for doing the same thing in the future. This is the only preparation which in the long run amounts to anything.
Men must beware of looking upon religion as an ideal to be yearned for, it should be an ideal to be applied.