It is when we detect our own weaknesses that we come to pity or despise mankind. The human nature from which we then turn away is the human nature we have discovered in the depths of our own being. The evil is so well screened, the secret so universally kept, that in this case each individual is the dupe of all: however severely we may profess to judge other men, at bottom we think them better than ourselves. On this happy illusion much of our social life is grounded.
Courage enlarges, cowardice diminishes resources. In desperate straits the fears of the timid aggravate the dangers that imperil the brave. For cowards the road of desertion should be left open. They will carry over to the enemy nothing but their fears. The poltroon, like the scabbard, is an encumbrance when once the sword is drawn.
Race prejudice is not only a shadow over the colored - it is a shadow over all of us, and the shadow is darkest over those who feel it least and allow its evil effects to go on.
Piety and selfless deeds elevate the inhabitants of this earth to exalted spiritual estates... self-serving acts reduce them to the realms beneath, of sorrow and pain, rebirths among birds and vermin, or out of the wombs of pigs and beasts of the wild, or among trees. Action is a function of character, which in turn is controlled by custom. This is the whole substance of the secret. This knowledge is the ferry across the ocean of hell to beatitude. For all the animate and inanimate objects in this world... are transitory, like dream. The gods on high, the mute trees and stones, are but apparitions in the fantasy. Good and evil attaching to a person are perishable as bubbles. In the cycles of time they alternate. The wise are attached to neither.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of he who draws the carriage.
Benevolence is not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. It is a business with men as they are, and with human life as drawn by the rough hand of experience. It is a duty which you must perform at the call of principle; though there be no voice of eloquence to give splendor to your exertions, and no music of poetry to lead your willing footsteps through the bowers of enchantment. It is not the impulse of high and ecstatic emotion. It is an exertion of principle. :You must go to the poor man’s cottage, though no verdure flourish around it, the gentleness of its murmurs. If you look for the romantic simplicity of fiction you will be disappointed; but it is your duty to persevere in spite of every discouragement. Benevolence is not merely a feeling but a principle; not a dream of rapture for the fancy to indulge in, but a business for the hand to execute.
Good-breeding is benevolence in trifles, or the preference of others to ourselves in the daily occurrences of life.
In reality a major part of pleasure in obtaining things is overcoming the obstructions that stood in our way. Once we realize this, we will be able to decrease our desire for those things that are spiritually or physically harmful just by examining them objectively and seeing that we are not missing so much. At the same time, we can gain more pleasure from spiritual accomplishments by focusing on how much we are missing in this area and can feel the sense of accomplishment in overcoming the necessary difficulties.