Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Contemplation

"The greatest of all pleasures consists in the contemplation of truth." -

"Contemplation is necessary to generate an object, but action must propagate it." - Owen Feltham

"Life was not given for indolent contemplation and study of self, nor for brooding over emotions of piety: actions and actions only determine the worth." - Immanual Hermann Fichte

"Let us unite contemplation with action. In the harmony of the two, lies the perfection of character. They are not contradictory and incompatible, but mutually helpful to each other." - Alexander L. R. Foote

"Our souls must become expanded by the contemplation of Nature’s grandeur, before we can fully comprehend the greatness of man." - Heinrich Heine

"What is called affluence - the consequence of the type of rapid economic development which occurred from about the middle of the nineteenth century - is in a real sense an abundance not just of serious problems which machines cannot solve, but of hopeless poverty: the physical insecurity, personal unhappiness, the intensified morality, the sense of being dwarfed by vast and uncontrollable physical, mechanical and corporate structures, the hatred and contempt of other peoples, the lack of opportunity for contemplation, the loss of community life." - Charles Richard Hensman

"Adoration is an activity of the loving, but still separate individuality. Contemplation is the state of union with the divine Ground of all being. The highest prayer is the most passive. Inevitably; for the less there is of self, the more there is of God." - 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

"Happiness is not found in self-contemplation, it is perceived only when it is reflected from another." -

"The contemplation of the Divine Being, and the exercise of virtue, are in their nature so far from excluding all gladness of heart, that they are perpetual sources of it. In a word, the true spirit of religion cheers as well as composes the soul. It banishes, indeed, all levity of behavior, all vicious and dissolute mirth, but in exchange fills the mind with a perpetual serenity, uninterrupted cheerfulness, and an habitual inclination to please others as well as to be pleased in itself." -

"The whole secret of remaining young in spite of years, and even of gray hairs, is to cherish enthusiasm in oneself, by poetry, by contemplation, by charity, - that is, in fewer words, the maintenance of harmony in the soul. When everything is in its right place within us, we ourselves are in its right place within us, we ourselves are in equilibrium with the whole work of God. Deep and grave enthusiasm for the eternal beauty and the eternal order, reason touched with emotion and a serene tenderness of heart - these surely are the foundations of wisdom." -

"The mind wishes for what it has missed, and occupies itself with retrospective contemplation." -

"Few people even scratch the surface, much less exhaust the contemplation of their own experience." -

"Art itself is essentially ethical; because every true work of art must have a beauty and grandeur cannot be comprehended by the beholder except through the moral sentiment. The eye is only a witness; it is not a judge. The mind judges what the eye reports to it; therefore, whatever elevates the moral sentiment to the contemplation of beauty and grandeur is in itself ethical." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"The act of contemplation then creates the thing contemplated." - Isaac D'Israeli

"Contemplation is to knowledge, what digestion is to food - the way to get life out of it." - Tyron Edwards

"Not alone to know, but to act according to thy knowledge, is thy destination, proclaims the voice of thy inmost soul. Not for indolent contemplation and study of thyself, nor for brooding over emotions of piety - no, for action was existence given thee; thy actions, and thy actions alone, determine thy worth." -

"Self knowledge is best learned, not by contemplation, but action. Strive to do your duty and you will soon discover of what stuff you are made." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"The study of the properties of numbers, Plato tells us, habituate the mind to the contemplation of pure truth, and raises us above the material universe. He would have his disciples apply themselves to this study, not that they may be able to buy or sell, not that they may qualify themselves to be shopkeepers or traveling merchants, but that they may learn to withdraw their minds from the ever-shifting spectacle of this visible and tangible world, and fix them on the immutable essences of things." -

"This divination of the spiritual in the things of sense, and which expresses itself I the things of sense, is precisely what we call Poetry. Metaphysics too pursues a spiritual prey, but in a very different formal object. Whereas metaphysics stands in the line of knowledge and of the contemplation of truth, poetry stands in the line of making and of the delight procured by beauty. The difference is an all-important one, and one that it would be harmful to disregard. Metaphysics snatches at the spiritual in an idea, by the most abstract intellection; poetry reaches it in the flesh, by the very point of the sense sharpened through intelligence... Metaphysics gives chase to essences and definitions, poetry to any flash of existence glittering by the way, and any reflection of an invisible order. Metaphysics isolates mystery in order to know it; poetry, thanks to the balances it constructs, handles and utilizes mystery as an unknown force." - Jacques Maritain

"A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law." - John Marshall

"A true philosopher makes death his common practice, while he lives, and every day by contemplation strives to separate the soul, far as he can, from off the body." - Samuel Joseph May

"Humor is the contemplation of the finite from the point of view of the infinite." - Christian Morgenstern

"The contemplation of night should lead to elevating rather than to depressing ideas. Who can fix his mind on transitory and earthly things, in presence of those glittering myriads of worlds; and who can dread death or solitude in the midst of this brillings, animated universe, composed of countless suns and worlds, all full of light and life and motion?" -

"We may naturally believe that it is not the singular prosperity of the few, but the greater well-being of all that is most pleasing in the sight of the Creator and Preserver of men. What appears to me to be man’s decline, is His eye, advancement; what afflicts me is acceptable to Him. A state of equality is perhaps less elevated, but it is more just: and its justice constitutes its greatness and its beauty. I would strive, then, to raise myself to this point of the divine contemplation and thence to view and judge the concerns of men." - Alexis de Tocqueville, fully Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville

"The bed of death brings every human being to his pure individuality, to the intense contemplation of that deepest and most solemn of all relations - the relation between the creature and his Creator." - Daniel Webster

"Action limits us; whereas I the state of contemplation we are endlessly expansive." - Henri Frédéric Amiel

"Great becomes the fruit, great the advantage of earnest contemplation, when it is set round with upright conduct. Great becomes the fruit, great the advantage of intellect when it is set round with earnest contemplation." -

"All true prayer is worship – the ascription of worth to the Eternal. Without adoration, thanksgiving may become a miserliness, petition a selfish clamor, intercession a currying of special favors for our friends, and even contemplation may turn into a refined indulgence." - George Arthur Buttrick

"The danger of the cult of technological progress lies in its tendency to restrict and confine mankind within the adoring contemplation of his own creative power." - Jean Daniélou

"To glorify God is to be engaged in a concrete spirituality that refuses to draw marked distinctions between sacred and secular, contemplation and deed, theology and ethics." - John Douglas Hall

"The tragedy of our time is “the treason of the clerks,” that is, the failure of our best minds to give themselves to contemplation of truth, and their undue preoccupation with immediate problems to the neglect of the deeper problems." - Bernard Leeming

"“Liturgy” turns into “contemplation” as soon as our prayer ceases to be a search for God and turns into a celebration, by interior experience, of the fact that we have found Him." - Thomas Merton

"Christian contemplation is not something esoteric and dangerous. It is simply the experience of god that is given to a soul purified by humility and faith." - Thomas Merton

"Contemplation is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life... It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source." - Thomas Merton

"When we dispute over dogmas we are divided. But when we take to the religious life of prayer and contemplation, we are brought together. The deeper the prayers, the more is the individual lost in the apprehension of the Supreme." - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

"The contemplation of the pious is the immediate consciousness of the universal existence of all finite things, in and through the Infinite, and of all temporal things in and through the Eternal." - Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher

"Indeed, the chief natural way whereby we can climb up to the understanding of the Deity is by a contemplation of our own souls." - John Smith

"A vision is to be esteemed the more noble the more intellectual it is, the more it is stripped of all image and approaches the state of pure contemplation." - Henry Suso

"The higher part of contemplation, as it may be had here, hangeth all wholly in this darkness and in this cloud of unknowing; with a loving stirring and a blind beholding unto the naked being of God Himself only." - Cloud of Unknowing, full title The Cloud of Unknowing NULL

"Having criticized the idea that God gives life meaning by assigning a purpose to us collectively or to each one of us individually, this does not mean that God is irrelevant to the meaning of life. It does not exclude the idea that part of the meaning of life consists in the contemplation or worship of the divine…" - Garrett Thomson

"Traditionally, the relation between the divine and the human is that the divine confers meaning on our finite and otherwise petty lives. The idea… is that the divine has qualities that are meaningful because of our possible response to them. In other words, rather than starting from the divine and understanding the meaning of our lives in terms of that, we should start from meaningful activities, such as contemplation and worship, that constitute an appropriate response to the divine, and from this, try to make sense of the divine." - Garrett Thomson

"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live." -

"Prayer should be understood, not as a mere mechanical recitation of formulas, but as a mystical elevation, an absorption of consciousness in the contemplation of a principle both permeating and transcending our world." - Alexis Carrel

"Happiness... must be some form of contemplation. But, being a man, one will also need external prosperity; for our nature is not self-sufficient for the purpose of contemplation, but our body also must be healthy and must have food and other attention. Still, we must not think that the man who is to be happy will need many things or great things... for self-sufficiency and action do not involve excess, and we do noble acts without ruling earth and sea." - Aristotle NULL

"The ultimate value of life depends on awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival." - Aristotle NULL

"The joy of all mysteries is the certainty which comes from their contemplation, that there are many doors yet for the soul to open on her upward and inward way." -

"The joy of all mysteries is the certainty which comes from their contemplation, that there are many doors yet for the soul to open on her upward and inward way." - A.C. Benson, fully Arthur Christopher “A.C.” Benson

"Is it really too much to ask and hope for a religion whose content is perennial but not archaic, which provides ethical guidance, teaches the lost art of contemplation, and restores contact with the supernatural without requiring reason to abdicate?" - Arthur Koestler

"By reading, we enjoy the dead; by conversation, the living; and by contemplation, ourselves. Reading enriches the memory, conversation polishes the wit; and contemplation improves the judgment. Of these, reading is the most important, as it furnishes both the others." - Charles Caleb Colton