It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds; and these invaluable communication are within the reach of all.
The attempted transformation of the Indian by the white man and the chaos that has resulted are but the fruits of the white man’s disobedience of a fundamental and spiritual law. “Civilization” has been thrust upon me since the days of reservations, and it has not added one whit to my sense of justice, to my reverence for the rights of life, to my love of truth, honesty, and generosity, or to my faith in Wakan Tanka, God of the Lakotas. For after all the great religions have been preached and expounded, or have been revealed by brilliant scholars, or have been written in fine books and embellished in fine language with finer covers, man - all man - is still confronted with the Great Mystery.
Everything was possessed of personality, only different from us in form. Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth. We learned to do what only the student of nature ever learns, and that was to feel beauty... Observation was certain to have its rewards. Interest, wonder, admiration grew, and the fact was appreciated that life was more than mere human manifestation; it was expressed in a multitude of forms. This appreciation enriched Lakota existence. Life was vivid and pulsating; nothing was casual and commonplace. The Indian lived - lived in every sense of the word - from his first to his last breath.
Admiration | Appreciation | Beauty | Blessings | Books | Character | Earth | Existence | Knowledge | Life | Life | Nature | Nothing | Observation | Personality | Sense | Wonder | World | Appreciation |
Books are no substitute for living, but they can add immeasurably to its richness. When life is absorbing, books can enhance our sense of its significance. When life is difficult, they can give us momentary release from trouble or a new insight into our problems, or provide the hours of refreshment we need.
This is man: a writer of books, a putter-down of words, a painter of pictures, a maker of ten thousand philosophies. He grows passionate over ideas, he hurls scorn and mockery at another's work, he finds the one way, the true way, for himself, and calls all others false--yet in the billion books upon the shelves there is not one that can tell him how to draw a single fleeting breath in peace and comfort. He makes histories of the universe, he directs the destiny of the nations, but he does not know his own history, and he cannot direct his own destiny with dignity or wisdom for ten consecutive minutes.
You are the greatest investment. The more you store in that mind of yours, the more you enrich your experience, the more people you meet, the more books you read, and the more places you visit, the greater is that investment in all that you are. Everything that you add to your peace of mind, and to your outlook upon life, is added capital that no one but yourself can dissipate.
In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern. New books revive and redecorate old ideas; old books suggest and invigorate new ideas.
How willingly I would as a poet exchange some of this lumbering, ponderous, helpless knowledge of books for some experience of life and man. But all this grumbling is a vile thing.
It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds, and these invaluable means of communication are in the reach of all. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.
Bad books are like intoxicating drinks; they furnish neither nourishment, nor medicine. Both improperly excite; the one the mind; the other by body. The desire for each increases by being fed. Both ruin; one the intellect; the other the health; and together, the soul. The safeguard against each is the same - total abstinence from all that intoxicates either body or mind.