Great Throughts Treasury

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


"After the death of a close relative, thoughts of sorrow and pain frequently enter a person’s mind even after the mourning period. When such thoughts arise, one should try to strengthen oneself to accept the Almighty’s judgment. Every time you successfully conquer self-pitying thoughts, you elevate yourself." - Yechezkail Levenstein

"Real security... is to be found in its benevolent morality, in its exquisite adaption to the human heart, in the facility with which its scheme accommodates itself to the capacity of every human intellect, in the consolation which it bears to every house of mourning, in the light with which it brightens the great mystery of the grave." -

"What is the difference between mourning and sadness? Mourning takes hold of one’s heart, but not one’s mind, while sadness takes hold of the mind. Mourning leads to thinking, while sadness stops one’s thoughts. Mourning stems from the light in one’s soul, while sadness comes from the darkness of the soul. Mourning arouses one to life, while sadness brings to the opposite. The Torah obligates mourning when it is appropriate, while it forbids sadness and commands we serve the Almighty with joy." - Moshe Rosenstein, fully Moshe ben Chaim Rosenstein

"The physical loss is not sufficient for mourning. Purely on a physical level what would a person gain if he lived many more years? What is the ultimate gain in devouring hundreds more chickens and thousands more loaves of bread? What is the overall difference if the deceased left all this to others? The Torah obligates us to mourn to emphasize the loss of the true value of life; which is the spiritual elevation a person could have gained if he were still alive. The Almighty placed him on this earth for this purpose. The person’s death should remind the mourners to fill their lives with the spiritual growth that they are capable of." - Yechiel Michel Tukatinsky

"Mourning is in the heart, not in the clothes." - Honoré de Balzac

"The house of mourning teaches charity and wisdom." -

"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh, born Anne Spencer Morrow

"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh, born Anne Spencer Morrow

"Let mourning stop when one's grief is fully expressed." - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"Let me but live from year to year, with forward face and unreluctant soul; not hurrying to, nor turning from, the goal; not mourning for the things that disappear in the dim past, nor holding back in fear from what the future veils; but with a whole and happy heart, that pays its toll to Youth and Age, and travels with cheer. So let the way wind up the hill or down o’er rough and smooth, the journey will be joy: still seeking what I sought when but a boy, new friendship, high adventure, and a crown, my heart will keep the courage of the quest, and hope the road’s last turn will be the best." - Henry Van Dyke

"Who does not patiently subdue his mourning prolongs his grief." - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"Did someone say that there would be an end, An end, Oh, an end, to love and mourning? What has once been so interwoven cannot be raveled, nor the gift ungiven. Now the dead move through all of us still glowing.... We who find shelter in the warmth within, Listen, and feel new-cherished, new-forgiven, As the lost human voices speak through us and blend our complex love, Our mourning without end. " - May Sarton, pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton

"The Ten Mohist Doctrines [paraphrase] As their movement developed, the Mohists came to present themselves as offering a collection of ten key doctrines, divided into five pairs. The ten doctrines correspond to the titles of the ten triads, the ten sets of three essays that form the core of the Mozi. Although the essays in each triad differ in detail, the gist of each doctrine may be briefly summarized as follows. “Elevating the Worthy” and “Conforming Upward.” The purpose of government is to achieve a stable social, economic, and political order (zhi, pronounced “jr”) by promulgating a unified conception of morality (yi). This task of moral education is to be carried out by encouraging everyone to “conform upward” to the good example set by social and political superiors and by rewarding those who do so and punishing those who do not. Government is to be structured as a centralized, bureaucratic state led by a virtuous monarch and managed by a hierarchy of appointed officials. Appointments are to be made on the basis of competence and moral merit, without regard for candidates' social status or origins. “Inclusive Care” and “Rejecting Aggression.” To achieve social order and exemplify the key virtue of ren (humanity, goodwill), people must inclusively care for each other, having as much concern for others' lives, families, and communities as for their own, and in their relations with others seek to benefit them. Military aggression is wrong for the same reasons that theft, robbery, and murder are: it harms others in pursuit of selfish benefit, while ultimately failing to benefit Heaven, the spirits, or society as a whole. “Thrift in Utilization” and “Thrift in Funerals.” To benefit society and care for the welfare of the people, wasteful luxury and useless expenditures must be eliminated. Seeking always to bring wealth to the people and order to society, the ren (humane) person avoids wasting resources on extravagant funerals and prolonged mourning (which were the custom in ancient China). “Heaven's Intention” and “Elucidating Ghosts.” Heaven is the noblest, wisest moral agent, so its intention is a reliable, objective standard of what is morally right (yi) and must be respected. Heaven rewards those who obey its intention and punishes those who defy it, hence people should strive to be humane and do what is right. Social and moral order (zhi) can be advanced by encouraging belief in ghosts and spirits who reward the good and punish the wicked. “Rejecting Music” and “Rejecting Fatalism.” The humane (ren) person opposes the extravagant musical entertainment and other luxuries enjoyed by rulers and high officials, because these waste resources that could otherwise be used for feeding and clothing the common people. Fatalism is not ren, because by teaching that our lot in life is predestined and human effort is useless, it interferes with the pursuit of economic wealth, a large population, and social order (three primary goods that the humane person desires for society). Fatalism fails to meet a series of justificatory criteria and so must be rejected." - Mozi or Mo-tze, Mocius or Mo-tzu, original name Mo Di, aka Master Mo NULL

"A VALE OF TEARS - A vale there is, enwrapt with dreadful shades, Which thick of mourning pines shrouds from the sun, Where hanging cliffs yield short and dumpish glades, And snowy flood with broken streams doth run. Where eye-room is from rock to cloudy sky, From thence to dales with stony ruins strew'd, Then to the crushèd water's frothy fry, Which tumbleth from the tops where snow is thaw'd. Where ears of other sound can have no choice, But various blust'ring of the stubborn wind In trees, in caves, in straits with divers noise; Which now doth hiss, now howl, now roar by kind. Where waters wrestle with encount'ring stones, That break their streams, and turn them into foam, The hollow clouds full fraught with thund'ring groans, With hideous thumps discharge their pregnant womb. And in the horror of this fearful quire Consists the music of this doleful place; All pleasant birds from thence their tunes retire, Where none but heavy notes have any grace. Resort there is of none but pilgrim wights, That pass with trembling foot and panting heart; With terror cast in cold and shivering frights, They judge the place to terror framed by art. Yet nature's work it is, of art untouch'd, So strait indeed, so vast unto the eye, With such disorder'd order strangely couch'd, And with such pleasing horror low and high, That who it views must needs remain aghast, Much at the work, more at the Maker's might; And muse how nature such a plot could cast Where nothing seemeth wrong, yet nothing right. A place for mated mindes, an only bower Where everything do soothe a dumpish mood; Earth lies forlorn, the cloudy sky doth lower, The wind here weeps, here sighs, here cries aloud. The struggling flood between the marble groans, Then roaring beats upon the craggy sides; A little off, amidst the pebble stones, With bubbling streams and purling noise it glides. The pines thick set, high grown and ever green, Still clothe the place with sad and mourning veil; Here gaping cliff, there mossy plain is seen, Here hope doth spring, and there again doth quail. Huge massy stones that hang by tickle stays, Still threaten fall, and seem to hang in fear; Some wither'd trees, ashamed of their decays, Bereft of green are forced gray coats to wear. Here crystal springs crept out of secret vein, Straight find some envious hole that hides their grace; Here searèd tufts lament the want of rain, There thunder-wrack gives terror to the place. All pangs and heavy passions here may find A thousand motives suiting to their griefs, To feed the sorrows of their troubled mind, And chase away dame Pleasure's vain reliefs. To plaining thoughts this vale a rest may be, To which from worldly joys they may retire; Where sorrow springs from water, stone and tree; Where everything with mourners doth conspire. Sit here, my soul, main streams of tears afloat, Here all thy sinful foils alone recount; Of solemn tunes make thou the doleful note, That, by thy ditties, dolour may amount. When echo shall repeat thy painful cries, Think that the very stones thy sins bewray, And now accuse thee with their sad replies, As heaven and earth shall in the latter day. Let former faults be fuel of thy fire, For grief in limbeck of thy heart to still Thy pensive thoughts and dumps of thy desire, And vapour tears up to thy eyes at will. Let tears to tunes, and pains to plaints be press'd, And let this be the burden of thy song,— Come, deep remorse, possess my sinful breast; Delights, adieu! I harbour'd you too long. " - Robert Southwell, also Saint Robert Southwell

"We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"If pride turned some of the angels into demons, then humility can doubtless make angels out of demons. So take heart, all you sinners." - John Climacus, fully Saint John Climacus, aka John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites

"Repentance raises the fallen, mourning knocks at the gate of Heaven, and holy humility opens it." - John Climacus, fully Saint John Climacus, aka John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites

"In private prayer we have a far greater advantage as so the exercise of our own gifts and graces and parts that we have in public duties we are more passive, but in private duties we are more active. Now, the more our gifts and parts and graces are exercised, the more they are strengthened and increased. All acts strengthen habits. The more sin is acted, the more it is strengthened. And so it is with our gifts and graces; the more they are acted, the more they are strengthened." - Thomas Brooks

"What we call National-Socialism is the poisonous perversion of ideas which have a long history in German intellectual life." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"But all the clocks in the city began to whirr and chime: 'O let not Time deceive you, you cannot conquer Time." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"Cancer is a curious thing... Nobody knows what the cause is, though some pretend they do; it's like some hidden assassin, waiting to strike at you. Childless women get it, and men when they retire." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"And thus I clothe my naked villany with old odd ends, stol'n out of holy writ, and seem a saint when most I play the devil. The Tragedy of King Richard the Third (Gloucester at I, iii)" -

"As fresh as morning dew distill'd on flowers." -

"Shall we now contaminate our fingers with base bribes, and sell the mighty space of our large honors for so much trash as may be grasped thus? I had rather be a dog and bay the moon than such a Roman." -

"Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new." - Elizabeth Gilbert

"We are born with a body that experiences pain and comfort, a heart that suffers and feels joy, a mind that strives and is peaceful, a spirit that yearns for both solitude and communion with others, and a contract on earth that has a beginning and an end. Each one of us knows this, and yet, each one of us spends much of our time swimming against the current of life's reality. The spiritual path teaches us how to float on our backs, relaxed and aware, in the waters of reality. The Buddhists define spirituality as shamatha, or 'tranquil abiding.'" - Elizabeth Lesser

"When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out." - Erma Bombeck, fully Erma Louise Bombeck, born Erma Fiste

"And suddenly, like light in darkness, the real truth broke in upon me; the simple fact of Man, which I had forgotten, which had lain deep buried and out of sight; the idea of community, of unity." - Ernst Toller

"Don't give your opinions about Art and the Purpose of Life. They are of little interest and, anyway, you can't express them. Don't analyze yourself. Give the relevant facts and let your readers make their own judgments. Stick to your story. It is not the most important subject in history but it is one about which you are uniquely qualified to speak." - Evelyn Waugh, fully Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh