Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"It is impossible for the will to attain to the sweetness and bliss of the divine union otherwise than in detachment, in refusing to the desire every pleasure in the things of heaven and earth." -

"The worth of love does not consist in high feelings, but in detachment, in patience under all trials for the sake of God whom we love." -

"To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness." -

"Knowledge is all-knowing, understanding, forgiving; it takes up no position, sets no store by form. It has compassion with the abyss - it is the abyss. So we reject it, firmly, and henceforward our concern shall be with beauty only. And by beauty we mean simplicity, largeness, and renewed severity of discipline; we mean a return to detachment and to form." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"Detachment of doctrine from devotion, detachment of reason from reverence, of scrutiny from the sense of the ineffable reduces God as a challenge to a logical hypothesis… God is relevant only when overwhelmingly urgent." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"As the lotus lives in water detached, as the duck floats without drenching, so does one cross the ocean of life. If one’s mind is attuned to the word, one lives with detachment, enshrines the Lord in his mind, and sees the unperceivable and unfathomable." - Guru Nanak

"Detachment is not a denial of life but a denial of death; not a disintegration but the condition of wholeness; not a refusal to love but the determination to love truly, deeply, fully." - Gerald Vann

"When a man feels the pangs of loneliness, he is able to create. As soon as he reaches detachment, he ceases to create, for he loves no more. Every creation originates in love." - Lu Xun, or Lu Hsün, pen name of Zhou Shuren

"Detachment, the foundation of all mystic techniques, may be compressed into the formula: I will not to will." - Arthur Koestler

"One does not have to induce the divine Grace to flow, only to refrain from obstructing. There are two kinds of obstruction which prevent this and make the path long and arduous. They are distraction and attachment. Therefore, their opposites have to be cultivated; that is concentration and detachment." - Arthur W Osborn

"Our task is that of right living which requires detachment and unconcern for anything except the diligent performance of the tasks for which we are equipped. This is the path of peace." - Arthur W Osborn

"Perhaps the simplest expression of true detachment is to say that the power of love dissolves self-centerdness and brings the wisdom to act effectively in all situations." - Arthur W Osborn

"We are able to laugh when we achieve detachment, if only for a moment." - May Sarton, pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton

"If tragedy is an experience of hyperinvolvement, comedy is an experience of underinvolvement, of detachment." - Susan Sontag

"Communing with God is communing with our own hearts, our own best selves, not with something foreign and accidental. Saints and devotees have gone into the wilderness to find God; of course they took God with them, and the silence and detachment enabled them to hear the still, small voice of their own souls, as one hears the ticking of his own watch in the stillness of the night" - John Burroughs

"Love consists not in feeling great things but in having great detachment and in suffering for the Beloved." - John Yepes “Saint John of the Cross”

"Learn to detach...Don't cling to things, because everything is impermanent... But detachment doesn't mean you don't let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate fully. That's how you are able to leave it... Take any emotion--love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I'm going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions--if you don't allow yourself to go all the way through them--you can never get to being detached, you're too busy being afraid. You're afraid of the pain, you're afraid of the grief. You're afraid of the vulnerability that love entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, 'All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment." - Mitch Albom, fully Mitchell David "Mitch" Albom

"To-day we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery (the media) that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of the monstrous drama. The will-to-power operating under a pure democratic disguise has finished off its masterpiece so well that the object's sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thorough-going enslavement that has ever existed. " - Oswald Spengler, fully Oswald Manuel Arnold Gottfried Spengler

"Practice and detachment are the means to still the consciousness." - Patañjali NULL

"Our evangelizing zeal must spring from true holiness of life, and, as the Second Vatican Council suggests, preaching must in its turn make the preacher grow in holiness, which is nourished by prayer… The world which, paradoxically, despite innumerable signs of the denial of God, is nevertheless searching for Him in unexpected ways and painfully experiencing the need of Him- the world is calling for evangelizers to speak to it of a God whom the evangelists themselves should know and be familiar with as if they could see the invisible. The world calls for and expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self-sacrifice. Without this mark of holiness, our word will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man. It risks being vain and sterile." - Pope Paul VI, born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini NULL

"Moral good consists in the control of the passions and the restruction of the inordinate appetites. The result for the soul is tranquility, peace, repose, and moral virtue. The soul cannot control the passion without forgetting and withdrawing from the sources of these emotions. Disturbances never arise in a soul unless through the apprehensions of the memory. The soul must go to God by not comprehending rather than by comprehending and it must exchange the mutable and comprehensible for the Immutable and Incomprehensible." - Saint John of the Cross, born Juan de Yepes Álvarez NULL

"Let the mouth also fast from disgraceful speeches and railings. For what does it profit if we abstain from fish and fowl and yet bite and devour our brothers and sisters? The evil speaker eats the flesh of his brother and bites the body of his neighbor." - John Chrysostom, fully Saint John Chrysostom

"There is nothing that comes closer to true humility than the intelligence. It is impossible to feel pride in one's intelligence at the moment when one really and truly exercises it." - Simone Weil

"Concentrate on the love that is in you, that is in us all." - Thomas Merton

"The important thing about protest is not so much the short-range possibility of changing the direction of policies, but the longer range aim of helping everyone gain an entirely new attitude toward war. Far from doing this, much current protest simply reinforces the old positions by driving the adversary back into the familiar and secure mythology of force. Hence the strong “patriotic” reaction against protests in the United States. How can one protest against war without implicitly and indirectly contributing to the war mentality?" - Thomas Merton

"What I heard was but the melody of children at play, nothing but that, and so limpid was the air that within this vapor of blended voices, majestic and minute, remote and magically near, frank and divinely enigmatic—one could hear now and then, as if released, an almost articulate spurt of vivid laughter, or the crack of a bat, or the clatter of a toy wagon, but it was all really too far for the eye to distinguish any movement in the lightly etched streets. I stood listening to that musical vibration from my lofty slope, to those flashes of separate cries with a kind of demure murmur for background, and then I knew that the hopelessly poignant thing was not Lolita’s absence from my side, but the absence of her voice from that concord." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"Never let other people tell you who you are." - Vernon Howard, fully Vernon Linwood Howard

"For happy and congenial marital life, the husband and wife must have faith, understanding and trust in each other. The wife should always be respectful towards her husband. The husband also should be caring and loving towards his wife so that the bond between them becomes stronger day by day and both of them enjoy a happy and satisfied married life." - Atharva Veda, or Atharvaveda

"We always have urged people: Don't take LSD unless you are very well prepared, unless you are specifically prepared to go out of your mind. Don't take it unless you have someone that's very experienced with you to guide you through it. And don't take it unless you are ready to have your perspective on yourself and your life radically changed, because you're gonna be a different person, and you should be ready to face this possibility." - Timothy Leary, fully Timothy Francis Leary

"The real reason for not committing suicide is because you always know how swell life gets again after the hell is over." - Ernest Hemingway, fully Ernest Miller Hemingway

"As the Greeks sensibly believed, should you get to know yourself, you will have penetrated as much of the human mystery as anyone need ever know." - Gore Vidal, fully Eugene Luther Gore Vidal