Consider and act with reference to the true ends of existence. This world is but the vestibule of an immortal life. Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.
Life is not the creature of circumstance. Indeed, in the whole universe of everything that is, life alone, life by its very nature, is the antagonist of circumstance... If there is any one thing that is utterly clear about the nature of life, it is that it was meant to master circumstance. The spirit conquers all things when the spirit wills it, and no excuse remains when we fail to live as we wish.
Ultimately there can be no freedom for self unless it is vouchsafed for others; there can be no security where there is fear, and democratic society presupposes confidence and candor in the relations of men with one another and eager collaboration for the larger ends of life instead of the pursuit of petty, selfish or vainglorious aims.
Mortifications have their reward in a state of consciousness that corresponds, on a lower level, to spiritual beatitude. The artist - and the philosopher and the man of science are also artists - knows the bliss of aesthetic contemplation, discovery and non-attached possession. The goods of the intellect, the emotions and the imagination are real goods; but they are not the final good, and when we treat them as ends in themselves, we fall into idolatry. Mortification of will, desire and action is not enough; there must also be mortification in the fields of knowing, thinking feeling and fancying.
Wonder, connected with principle of rational curiosity, is the source of all knowledge and discovery, and it is a principle even of piety; but wonder which ends in wonder, and is satisfied with wonder, is the quality of an idiot.
Since man is endowed with intelligence and determines his own ends, it is up to him to put himself in tune with the ends necessarily demanded by his nature. This means that there is, by very virtue of human nature, an order or a disposition which human reason can discover and according to which the human will must act in order to attune itself to the necessary ends of the human being. The unwritten law, or natural law, is nothing more than that.
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.
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.
Yet it may be asked how a man can be at once free and forced to conform to wills which are not his own. How can the opposing minority be both free and subject to laws to which they have not consented? I answer that the question is badly formulated. The citizen consents to all the laws, even to those that are passed against his will, and even to those which punish him when he dares to break any one of them. The constant will of all the members of the state is the general will; it is through it that they are citizens and are free.
Self-expression can be wrong as well as right... When self-expression is identified with irrational surrender to lower instincts, it ends by making the person a slave to those passions. Self-denial is not a renunciation of freedom; it is rather the taming of what is savage and base in our nature for what is higher and better. It is a release from imprisonment by our lusts and passions.