Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mystery

"Life has neither material nor idealistic secrecy or mystery about it. Life is equal to itself only, hence perceiving its meaning is out of the question... The exaggeration of our mental abilities has given rise to what we perceive as “the problem” of discerning life’s purpose... If it is beyond our powers to disembowel love and beauty - we can only ravish them - it means that they are given to us not for cognition but for reflection. Similarly, the freedom of choice granted to man, a freedom denied the rest of the living species, is man’s task, a duty to exercise and fulfill, not merely an opportune option." - Andrei Bitov, fully Andrei Georgiyevich Bitov

"How many a knot of mystery and misunderstanding would be untied by one word spoken in simple and confiding truth of heart! How many a solitary place would be made glad if love were there, and how many a dark dwelling would be filled with light!" - Orville Dewey

"The Indians were religious from the first moments of life. From the moment of the mother’s recognition that she had conceived to the end of the child’s second year of life, which was the ordinary duration of lactation, it was supposed by us that the mother’s spiritual influence was supremely important. Her attitude and secret meditations must be such to instill into the receptive soul of the unborn child the love of the Great Mystery and a sense of connectedness with all creation. Silence and isolation are the rule of life for the expectant mother... Silence, love, reverence - this is the trinity of first lessons, and to these she later adds generosity, courage and chastity." - Charles Alexander Eastman, first named Ohiyesa

"Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off." -

"Life cannot be controlled. It is a mystery inviting us to participate, to risk, to trust fate, to accept the blank rune stone, the unknown. Surrender teaches us not so much to understand as to inhabit the mystery... Once we can accept the larger mystery of Life, we can consciously create within it." - Gloria D. Karpinski

"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." - Chief Luther Standing Bear

"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." -

"Religion without mystery ceases to be religion." - Henry Edward Manning

"Laughter, indeed, is God’s therapy... in order that we might understand that at the heart of our mortal existence there lies a mystery, at once unutterably beautiful and hilariously funny." - Madame de Motteville, Françoise Bertaut de Motteville

"Life is sufficiently miraculous already - only we do not notice it. If we catch a glimpse of its mystery, we border momentarily on new emotions and thoughts, but this comes from within, as a momentary, individual awakening of the spirit. Eckhart says that we are at fault as long as we see God in what is outside us... All the liberating inner truth and vision that we need, apart from outer truth and facts about things is... ‘native within us.’" - Maurice Nicoll

"Love’s overbrimming mystery joins death and life. It has filled my cup of pain with joy." -

"We know nothing important. In the essentials we are still as wholly a mystery to ourselves as Adam was to himself." -

"Then still a purpose enclosing all, and over and beneath all, ever since what might be call’d thought, or the budding of thought, fairly began in my youthful mind, I had had a desire to attempt some worthy record of that entire faith and acceptance to justify the ways of God to man... which is the foundation of moral America... to formulate a poem whose every thought or fact should directly or indirectly be or connive at an implicit belief in the wisdom, health, mystery, beauty of every process, every concrete object, every human or other existence, not only consider’d from the point of view of all, but of each. While I can not understand it or argue it out, I fully believe in a clue and purpose in Nature, entire and several; and that invisible spiritual results, just as real and definite as the visible, eventuate all concrete life and all materialism through Time." - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Mystery constitutes the essence of worship." -

"I encounter death not so much as a problem to be solved, nor a puzzle to be pieced together, but as a mystery to be experienced. Death, whatever its meaning and real nature, seems always to elude us. It is, always and finally, a mystery. And mystery refuses to be captured and be used. We do not capture it, but are captured by it. And being captured, we can be 'engaged' to death and allow it to reveal its depth and richness." - Mitsuo "Mits" Aoki

"Religion is a hunger for beauty and love and glory. It is wonder and the mystery and majesty, passion and ecstasy. It is emotion as well as mind, feeling as well as knowing, the subjective as well as the objective. It is the heart soaring to heights the head alone will never know; the apprehension of meanings science alone will never find; the awareness of values ethics alone will never reveal. It is the human spirit yearning for, and finding, something infinitely greater than itself which it calls God." - Waldemar Argow, fully Wendelin Waldemar Wieland Argow

"Anxiety is the poison of human life; the parent of many sins and of more miseries. In a world where everything is doubtful, and where we may be disappointed, and be blessed in disappointment, why this restless stir and commotion of mind? Can it alter the cause or unravel the mystery of human events?" - Hugh Blair

"Anxiety is the poison of human life. It is the parent of many sins, and of more miseries. In a world where everything is doubtful, where you may be disappointed, and be blessed in disappointment,—what means this restless stir and commotion of mind? Can your solicitude alter the cause or unravel the intricacy of human events? Can your curiosity pierce through the cloud which the Supreme Being hath made impenetrable to mortal eye? To provide against every important danger by the employment of the most promising means is the office of wisdom; but at this point wisdom stops." -

"The nearest approximation to an understanding of life is to feel it - to realize it to the full - to be a profound and inscrutable mystery." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"Inhabit the mystery." -

"As we age, the mystery of Time more and more dominates the mind. We live less in the present, which no longer has the solidity that it had in youth; less in the future, for the future every day narrows its span. The abiding things lie in the past." -

"To me there is something thrilling and exalting in the thought that we are drifting forward into a splendid mystery - into something that no mortal eye hath yet seen, and no intelligence has yet declared." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"Every generation is a secret society and has incommunicable enthusiasms, tastes, and interests which are a mystery both to its predecessors and to posterity." -

"There is no religion without mystery. God Himself is the great secret of Nature." - François-René de Chateaubriand, fully François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand

"The artist (in literature) appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition - and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain." - Joseph Conrad, born Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski

"Grand and manifold as were its phases, there is yet no difficulty in understanding the character of Washington. He was no Veiled Prophet. He never acted a part. Simple, natural, and unaffected, his life lies before us - a fair and open manuscript. He disdained the arts which wrap power in mystery in order to magnify it. He practiced the profound diplomacy of truthful speech - the consummate tact of direct attention. Looking ever to the All-Wise Disposer of events, he relied on that Providence which helps men by giving them high hearts and hopes to help themselves with the means which their Creator has put at their service. There was no infirmity in his conduct over which charity must fling its veil; no taint of selfishness from which purity averts her gaze; no dark recess of intrigue that must be lit up with colored panegyric; no subterranean passage to be trod in trembling, lest there be stirred the ghost of a buried crime." - John W. Daniel, fully John Warwick Daniel

"Mystery is but another name for our ignorance; if we were omniscient, all would be perfectly plain." - Tyron Edwards

"It was the experience of mystery - even if mixed with fear - that engendered religion." - Albert Einstein

"One may say ‘the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.’" - Albert Einstein

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity." - Albert Einstein

"Man is greater than a world, than systems of worlds; there is more mystery in the union of soul with the physical than in the creation of a universe." - Henry Giles

"Grieve not, because thou understandest not life's mystery; behind the veil is concealed many a delight." - Hafiz, pen name of Shams-ud-din Muhammad NULL

"Religion may begin with our love of God, but true science ends there. In the very process of demystifying the world, we discover a new mystery, recognizing and celebrating God in everything." - Arianna Huffington, born Arianna Stassinopoulos

"A divine power, mystery, delight, love - and a host of other unquantifiables - are personal realities proven only by themselves, by experience. Even scientific terms such as randomness hint at something ultimately unprovable by strictly scientific means. The phenomena encompass the discipline, not vice versa." - Stuart Litvak and A. Wayne Senzee

"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

"For every grain of sand is a mystery; so is every daisy in summer, and so is every snow-flake in winter. Both upwards and downwards, and all around us, science and speculation pass into mystery at last." - William Mountford

"Under the illusion of passing-time we can have no unity. To be is to have the permanent sense of something else... For integration, ideas that halt time are necessary, and these ideas must feed us continually... The mystery of time is in ourselves... The mystic ocean of existence is not to be crossed as something outside ourselves. It is in oneself... Every further stage of ourselves is within us, above us... Outside us is outer truth; within us, inner truth, and both make up All - the WORLD." - Maurice Nicoll

"Both the man of science and the man of art live always at the edge of mystery, surrounded by it. Both, as the measure of their creation, have always had to do with the harmonization of what is new and what is familiar, with the balance between novelty and synthesis, with the struggle to make partial order into total chaos... This cannot be an easy life." - Robert Oppenheimer, fully Julius Robert Oppenheimer

"Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion." - Thomas Paine

"Here is a mystery, the stupendous mystery of the Christian religion, the ineffable mystery of three persons in one God. We cannot define it. Every human attempt at definition involves it in deeper mystery. The arithmetic of heaven is beyond us. Yet this is no more mysterious and inexplicable than the trinity of our own nature; body, soul, and spirit; and no man has ever shown that it involved a contradiction or in any way conflicted with the testimony of our senses or with demonstrated truth; and we must accept it by the power of a simple faith, or rush into tritheism on the one hand or unitarianism on the other." - Frederick D. Power, fully Frederick Dunglison Power

"Love is a mystery which, when solved, evaporates. The same holds for music." - Theodore Roethke

"Bound only by birth and death, life is both the ultimate mystery and the process of solving it. Life is a dance, a leap into the unknown. After you jump and before you land, is God. God is ecstasy: that state of being when everything comes together, nothing is missing, and it’s all vibrating and electric. Life is an excuse for ecstasy." - Gabrielle Roth

"Not one of us knows what effect his life produces, and what he gives to others; that is hidden from us and must remain so, though we are often allowed to see some little fraction of it, so that we may not lose courage. The way in which power works is a mystery." - Albert Schweitzer

"Science has led us from knowledge to knowledge but also from mystery to mystery. Mystery alone can lead us on to true spirituality, to accept and be filled with the mystery of life in our existence." - Albert Schweitzer

"Truth lurks in the deep hiding and is wrapped in mystery." -

"Love is an endless mystery, for it has nothing else to explain it." -

"The object of education is to give man the unity of truth... I believe in a spiritual world - not as anything separate from this world - but as its innermost truth. With the breath we draw we must always feel this truth, that we are living in God. Born in this great world, full of the mystery of the infinite, we cannot accept our existence as a momentary outburst of chance drifting on the current of matter toward an eternal nowhere. We cannot look upon our lives as dreams of a dreamer who has no awakening in all time. We have a personality to which matter and force are unmeaning unless related to something infinitely personal, whose nature we have discovered, in some measure, in human love, in the greatness of the good, in the martyrdom of heroic souls, in the ineffable beauty of nature which can never be a mere physical fact nor anything but an expression of personality." -

"There is a point where in the mystery of existence contradictions meet; where movement is not all movement and stillness is not all stillness; where the idea and the form, the within and the without, are united; where infinite becomes finite, yet not losing its infinity. If this meeting is dissolved, then things become unreal." -

"A religion without mystery must be a religion without God. In dwelling on divine mysteries, keep thy heart humble, thy thoughts reverent, thy soul holy. Let not philosophy be ashamed to be confuted, nor logic to be confounded, nor reason to be surpassed. What thou canst not prove, approve; what thou canst not comprehend, believe; what thou canst believe, admire and love and obey. so shall thine ignorance be satisfied in thy faith, and thy doubt be swallowed up in thy reverence, and thy faith be as influential as sight. Put out thing own candle, and then shalt thou see clearly the sun of righteousness." - Jeremy Taylor