Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Consciousness

"One of the great arts in living is to learn the art of accurately appraising values. Everything that we think, that we earn, that we have given to us, that in any way touches our consciousness, has its own value. These values are apt to change with the mood, with time, or because of circumstances. We cannot safely tie to any material value. The values of all material possessions change continually, sometimes over night. The real values are those that stay by you, give you happiness and enrich you. They are the human values." - George Matthew Adams

"A man's true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate of himself and everything else, on frequent self-examinations, and a steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right, without troubling himself about what others may think or say, or whether they do or do not that which he thinks and says and does." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"[Paraphrase] Self consciousness, while glorious for what is has done, is at the same time baneful, because it precludes man from entering the Cosmic Conscious life, which leads to the infinite - which alone can explain God." - Honoré de Balzac

"Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness. A peasant has not capacity for having equal happiness with a philosopher." - James Boswell

"Excessive sensibility is only another name for morbid self-consciousness." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"When a person who was self conscious only, enters into cosmic consciousness - he knows without learning certain things... that the universe is not a dead machine but a living presence... that in its essence and tendency it is infinitely good... that individual existence is continuous beyond what is called death." - Richard Maurice Bucke, often called Maurice Bucke

"Satipatthana Sutta - The Foundation of Mindfulness Translated from Pali: A monk lives contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness, and grief; he lives contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating consciousness in consciousness, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief." - Satipatthana Sutra NULL

"Our task is to discover the primordial, absolutely unconditioned first principle of all human knowledge... It is intended to express that Act which does not and cannot appear among the empirical states of our consciousness, but rather is at the basis of all consciousness and alone makes it possible." - J. G. Fichte, fully Johann Gottlieb Fichte

"A return from the over-estimation of the property of consciousness is the indispensable preliminary to any genuine insight into the course of psychic events... The unconscious must be accepted as the general basis of the psychic life. The unconscious is the larger circle which includes the smaller circle of the conscious; everything conscious has a preliminary unconscious stage, whereas the unconscious can stop at this stage, and yet claim to be considered a full psychic function." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"The unconscious is the true psychic reality; in its inner nature it is just as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is just as imperfectly communicated to us by the data of consciousness as is the external world by the reports of our sense-organs." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"We maintain... that the individual consciousness is an integral part of that which is essential and permanent in the living being, that it pre-exists and survives all successive organizations." - Gustave Geley

"One of the almost numberless advantages of goodness is, that it blinds its possessor to many of those faults in others which could not fail to be detected by the morally defective. A consciousness of unworthiness renders people extremely quick-sighted in discerning the vices of their neighbors; as person scan easily discover in others the symptoms of those diseases beneath which they themselves have suffered." - Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington, born Margaret Power

"Moral courage is a virtue of higher cast and nobler origin than physical. It springs from a consciousness of virtue and renders a man, in the pursuit or defense of right, superior to the fear of reproach, opposition in contempt." - Samuel Griswold Goodrich, better known by pseudonymn Peter Parley

"Tears, except as a private demonstration, are an ill-disguised expression of self-consciousness and vanity, which is inadmissible in good society." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"A dimension is missing from ourselves and our culture which is reflected in our inability to reconcile the competing demands of our inner and outer lives. As a result, most of us make use of a very small portion of our possible consciousness and of our soul’s resources... The destiny of mankind depends on something as personal and intimate as the way each one of us chooses to live, think and behave." - Arianna Huffington, born Arianna Stassinopoulos

"I found death to be a simple shift in consciousness. It was painless, instantaneous and nothing to be feared. In fact, it felt more natural not to breath than to breathe. It was wonderful not to 'wear' a body. I had complete mobility, perfect memory and knowledge. I was free! I found no fear in dying. The fear came for me when I realized that I was still alive, and I didn't 'stay dead'.You don't lose your cravings or addictions in dying, but I found that you do lose your ability to satisfy them. The opportunities that existed before are no more. Whatever are your attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, ideas, feelings, expectations or apprehensions...that's what you'll wear and that's what you'll be. They become your body and your world. No more games. No more secrets. No more cover-up. You become what you really are! We are in a condition of our own creation. When we die we reap our own harvest." - Phyllis Huffman

"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." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"If there is freedom... there is a spiritual Reality, which it is the final end and purpose of consciousness to know; then all life is in the nature of an intelligence test, and the higher the level of awareness and the greater the potentialities of the creature, the more searchingly difficult will be the questions asked." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"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." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"The relationship between moral action and spiritual knowledge is circular, as it were, and reciprocal. Selfless behavior makes possible an accession of knowledge, and the accession of knowledge makes possible the performance of further and more genuinely selfless actions, which in their turn enhance the agent’s capacity for knowing... A man undertakes right action (which includes, of course, right consciousness and right meditation), and this enables him to catch a glimpse of the Self that underlies his separate individuality. Having seen his own self as the Self, he becomes selfless (and therefore acts selflessly) and in virtue of selflessness he is to be conceived as unconditioned." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Many people are willing to rearrange the outer things in their lives, but few are willing to rearrange the priorities of their inner worlds. If your consciousness doesn’t change, you will continually re-create the same old circumstances." - Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla

"Consciousness... does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as “chain” or “train” do not describe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it flows. A “river” or a “stream” is the metaphor by which it is most naturally described." - William James

"Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger. Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed." - William James

"The mind is at every stage a theater of simultaneous possibilities. Consciousness consists in the comparison of these with each other, the selection of some, and the suppression of the rest by the reinforcing and inhibiting agency of attention. The highest and most elaborated mental products are filtered from the data chosen by the faculty next beneath, out of the mass offered by the faculty below that, which mass in turn was sifted from a still larger amount of yet simpler material, and so on." - William James

"The reflection that strikes the heart is not that the evils before us are real evils but that they are evils to which we ourselves may be exposed... The delight of tragedy proceeds from our consciousness of fiction; if we thought murders and treasons real, they would please no more." -

"There is an aliveness in people who are living life and not merely observing or intellectualizing it... During the time of catastrophic change, each individual has the opportunity to feel fully alive and resource-filled-awake far beyond the daily soporific states of consciousness in which most of us reside. Living on an edge heightens the human awareness. It does not dull it." - W. Brugh Joy, fully William Brugh Joy

"I have often seen individuals who simply outgrow a problem which had destroyed others. This ‘outgrowing’, revealed itself on further experience to be the raising of the level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through the widening of his view, the insoluble problem, lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out in contrast to a new and strong life-tendency. It was not repressed and made unconscious, but merely appeared in a different light, and so became different itself. What, on a lower level, had led the wildest conflicts and emotions full of panic, viewed from the higher level of the personality, now seemed like a storm in the valley seen from a high mountain top. This does not mean that the thunderstorm is robbed of its reality; it means that instead of being in it, one is now above it." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"The psyche is not of today. Its ancestry goes back many millions of years. Individual consciousness is only the flower and fruit of a season, sprung from the perennial root beneath the earth." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"There is no coming to consciousness without pain." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"Our culture needs a great deal more than a changed lifestyle. In the Western mind, thought-structures and the relationship between consciousness and matter are badly out of balance, so that our world has become wholly pervaded by a materialism that is threatening to squash us to death. We are in a state of materialistic hypertrophy, and our eventual self-destruction would in fact be no more than the logical consequence of our attitudes." - Holger Kalweit

"Structures that were hitherto believed to be objective and beginning to dissolve - that “inside” and “outside,” “I” and “you” are so interrelated that they cannot be disentangled and there is no way of measuring the objective “external” world, because all we are measuring are our own yardsticks so that our measurements are no more than observations of our own consciousness." - Holger Kalweit

"Self-knowledge is the primary step in conscious evolutionary change. When people confront and integrate their individual fears and limitations, they facilitate the confrontation and integration of our racial, national, and planetary fears. Lasting social change is only possible when individual consciousness has first been changed." - Gloria D. Karpinski

"All relationship is based on the image that you have built around another and the other has built about you... What is relationship? If the image has come to an end, which is the content of consciousness that makes up your consciousness, when the various images you have about yourself, about everything, come to an end, then what is the relationship between you and her? Then is there an observer observing apart from the thing it has observed? Or is it a total movement of love in relationship? Are you getting it? So love is a movement in relationship in which the observer is not." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"The fundamental experience which objective experience itself presumes is the fundamental experience of the Other... Moral consciousness is not an experience of values, but access to exterior Being: exterior being par excellence is the Other." - Emmanuel Lévinas , originally Emanuelis Lévinas

"We must consider what person stands for; - which, I think, is a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness which is inseparable from thinking, and, as it seems to me, essential to it: it being impossible for any one to perceive without perceiving that he does perceive. When we see, hear, smell, taste, feel, meditate, or will anything, we know that we do so. Thus it is always as to our present sensations and perceptions: and by this every one is to himself that which he calls self." - John Locke

"Our concepts of the empirical world are fundamentally controlled by the character of our perceptual experience and by the introspective access we enjoy to our own minds. Thus our concepts of consciousness are constrained by the specific form of our own consciousness, so that we cannot form concepts for quite alien forms of consciousness possessed by other actual and possible creatures. Similarly, our concepts of the body, including the brain, are constrained by the way we perceive these physical objects; we have, in particular, to conceive of them as spatial entities essentially similar to other physical objects in space... But now these two forms of conceptual closure operate to prevent us from arriving at concepts for the property or relation that intelligibly links consciousness to the brain. For, first, we cannot grasp other forms of consciousness, and so we cannot grasp the theory that explains these other forms: that theory must be general, but we must always be parochial in our conception of consciousness. It is as if we were trying for a general theory of light but only could grasp the visible part of the spectrum. And, second, it is precisely the perceptually controlled conception of the brain that we have which is so hopeless in making consciousness an intelligible result of brain activity. No property we can ascribe to the brain on the basis of how it strikes us perceptually, however inferential the ascription, can be the crucible from which subjective consciousness emerges fully formed. That is why the feeling is so strong in us that there has to be something magical about the mind-brain relation." - Colin McGinn

"What is then liberty? To be born is at once to be born in the world and to the world. The world is already constituted, but never completely. Under the first rapport, we are solicited, under the second we are open to an infinity of possibilities. But this analysis is still abstract, because we exist under these two relations at once. There is therefore never determinism and never absolute choice; I am never a thing and never naked consciousness." - Maurice Merleau-Ponty

"Consciousness is sometimes compared with light. An increase of consciousness is likened to an increase of light. But we shall see eventually than an increase of consciousness does not mean only that we see with greater clearness what was formally obscure. The quality is changed. For the moment, the man who experiences it himself is changed. It is not merely the quantity of consciousness that is altered, but its very nature." - Maurice Nicoll

"Speaking generally, punishment hardens and numbs, it produces concentration, it sharpens the consciousness of alienation, it strengthens the power of resistance." -

"The human being inventing signs is at the same time the human being who becomes ever more keenly conscious of himself. It was only as a social animal that man acquired self-consciousness." -

"By watching yourself in your daily life with alert interest, with the intention to understand rather than to judge, in full acceptance of whatever may emerge, because it is there, you encourage the deep to come to the surface and enrich your life and consciousness with its captive energies. This is the great work of awareness; it removes obstacles and releases energies by understanding the nature of life and mind. Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence." - Nisargadatta Maharaj, fully Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, born Maruti Shivrampant Kambli

"There is nothing a man can less afford to leave at home than his conscience or his good habits; for it is not to be denied that travel is, in its immediate circumstances, unfavorable to habits of self-discipline, regulation of thought, sobriety of conduct, and dignity of character. Indeed, one of the great lessons of travel is the discovery how much our virtues owe to the support of constant occupation, to the influence of public opinion, and to the force of habit; a discovery very dangerous, if it proceed from an actual yielding to temptations resisted at home, and not from a consciousness of increased power put forth in withstanding them." - Richardson Pack or Packe

"Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. People grow old only by deserting their ideals and outgrowing the consciousness of youth. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. You are as old as your doubt; your fear; your despair. The way to keep young is to keep your faith young. Keep your self-confidence young. Keep your hope young." - Luella F. Phelan

"It is sound, I think, to find the primal source of Love in a tendency of the Soul towards pure beauty, in a recognition, in a kinship, in an unreasoned consciousness of friendly relation." - Plotinus NULL

"Art is an indecent exposure of the consciousness... Art is not and never has been subordinate to moral values. Moral values are social values. aesthetic values are human values." -

"Remorse is the consciousness of doing wrong with no sense of love; penitence the same consciousness with the feeling of sorrow and tenderness added." -

"The hatred of the wicked is only roused the more from the impossibility of finding any just grounds on which it rest; and the very consciousness of their own injustice is only a grievance the more against him who is the object of it." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"The savage lives within himself, while social man lives constantly outside himself, and only knows how to live in the opinion of others, so that he seems to receive the consciousness of his own existence merely from the judgment of others concerning him." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Wherever there is lost the consciousness that every man is an object of concern for us just because he is a man, civilization and morals are shaken, and the advance to fully developed inhumanity is only a question of time." - Albert Schweitzer