Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Old

"Death is as near to the young as to the old; here is all the difference: death stands behind the young man’s back, before the old man’s face." - Thomas Adams

"The purpose of this discipline is to bring man into the habit of applying the insight that has come to him as the result of the preceding disciplines. When one is rising, standing, walking, doing something, stopping, one should constantly concentrate one’s mind on the act and the doing of it, not on one’s relation to the act, or its character or value. One should think: there is walking, there is stopping, there is realizing; not, I am walking, I am doing this, it is a good thing, it is disagreeable, I am gaining merit, it is I who am realizing how wonderful it is. Thence come vagrant thoughts, feelings of elation or of failure and unhappiness. Instead of all this, one should simply practice concentration of the mind on the act itself, understanding it to be an expedient means for attaining tranquillity of mind, realization, insight and Wisdom; and one should follow the practice in faith, willingness and gladness. After long practice the bondage of old habits become weakened and disappears, and in its place appear confidence, satisfaction, awareness and tranquillity. What is the Way of Wisdom designed to accomplish? There are three classes of conditions that hinder one from advancing along the path to Enlightenment. First, there are the allurements arising from the senses, from external conditions and from the discriminating mind. Second, there are the internal conditions of the mind, its thoughts, desires and mood. All these the earlier practices (ethical and mortificatory) are designed to eliminate. In the third class of impediments are placed the individual’s instinctive and fundamental (and therefore most insidious and persistent) urges - the will to live and to enjoy, the will to cherish one’s personality, the will to propagate, which give rise to greed and lust, fear and anger, infatuation, pride and egotism. The practice of the Wisdom Paramita is designed to control and eliminate these fundamental and instinctive hindrances." - Aśvaghoṣa NULL

"We must learn that competence is better than extravagance, that worth is better than wealth, that the golden calf we have worshipped has no more brains than that one of old which the Hebrews worshipped. So beware of money and money’s worth as the supreme passion of the mind. Beware of the craving for enormous acquisition." -

"To be born is to suffer: to grow old is to suffer: to die is to suffer: to lose what is loved is to suffer: to be tied to what is not loved is to suffer: to endure what is distasteful is to suffer. In short, all the results of individuality, or separate self-hood, necessarily involve pain or suffering." - Subhadra Bhikshu, pen name for Friedrich Zimmermann

"Dissimulation in youth is the forerunner of perfidy in old age; its first appearance is the fatal omen of growing depravity and future shame. It degrades parts and learning obscures the luster of every accomplishment and sinks us into contempt. The path of falsehood is a perplexing maze. After the first departure from sincerity, it is not in our power to stop; one artifice unavoidably leads on to another, till, as the intricacy of the labyrinth increases, we are left entangled in our snare." - Hugh Blair

"To resist the frigidity of old age one must combine the body, the mind, and the heart. And to keep these in parallel vigor one must exercise, study and love." - Charles Victor de Bonstetten

"Even when we fancy we have grown wiser, it is only, it may be, that new prejudices have displaced old ones." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"We hope to grow old, and yet we fear old age; that is, we are willing to live, and afraid to die." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns how to be amused rather than shocked." - Pearl S. Buck, fully Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu

""Know thyself," said, the old philosophy. "Improve thyself," saith the new. Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we carry into the eternal progress beyond." -

"It is noticeable how intuitively in age we go back with strange fondness to all that is fresh in the earliest dawn of youth. If we never cared for little children before, we delight to see them roll in the grass over which we hobble on crutches. The grandsire turns wearily from his middle-aged, care-worn son, to listen with infant laugh to the prattle of an infant grandchild. It is the old who plant young trees; it is the old who are most saddened by the autumn, and feel most delight in the returning spring." -

"Young men think old men fools, and old men know young men to be so." - William Camden

"A human heart can never grow old if it takes a lively interest in the pairings of birds, the reproduction of flowers, and the changing tints of autumn leaves." -

"The search for static security - in the law and elsewhere - is misguided. The fact is security can only be achieved through constant change, through discarding old ideas that have outlived their usefulness and adapting others to current facts." -

"Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action." -

""A Farewell To Arms"; that is the great fallacy; the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful." - Ernest Hemingway, fully Ernest Miller Hemingway

"Patience is the guardian of faith, the preserver of peace, the cherisher of love, the teacher of humility; patience, governs the flesh, strengthens the spirit, sweetens the temper, stifles anger, extinguishes envy, subdues the hand, tramples upon temptation, endures persecutions, consummates martyrdom; patience produces unity in the church, loyalty in the state, harmony in families and societies; she comforts the poor and moderates the rich; she makes us humble in prosperity, cheerful in adversity, unmoved by calumny and reproach; she teaches us to forgive those who have injured us, and to be the first in asking forgiveness of those whom we have injured; she delights the faithful, and invites the unbelieving; she adorns the woman, and approves the man; is loved in a child, praised in a young man, admired in an old man; she is beautiful in either sex and every age." - George Horne

"We must always have old memories and young hopes." - Arsène Houssaye

"Parents, however old they and we may grow to be, serve among other things to shield us from a sense of our doom. As long as they are around, we can avoid the fact of our mortality; we can still be innocent children." - Jane Howard, fully Elizabeth Jane Howard

"The misery of a child is interesting to a mother, the misery of a young man is interesting to a young woman, the misery of an old man is interesting to nobody." - Victor Hugo

"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

"There is an everlasting struggle in every mind between the tendency to keep unchanged, and the tendency to renovate, its ideas. Our education is a ceaseless compromise between the conservative and the progressive factors... Most of us grow more and more enslaved to the stock conceptions with which we have once become familiar, and less and less capable of assimilating impressions in any but the old ways... Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way." - William James

"This spectacle of old age would be unendurable if we did not know that our psyche reaches into a region held captive neither by change in time nor by limitation of place. In that form of being our birth is a death and our death is a birth. The scales of the whole hang balanced." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"He who dies without being corrupted enjoys a good old age." -

"Often those who seek only license for their plundering, cry “liberty.” In the guise of this Old American ideal, men of vast economic domain would destroy what little liberty remains to those who toil. The liberty we seek is different. It is liberty fro common people - freedom from economic bondage, freedom from the oppressions of the vast bureaucracies of great corporations; freedom to regain again some human initiative, freedom that arises from economic security and human self-respect." - John L. Lewis, fully John Llewellyn Lewis

"Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the face, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-interest, fear, despair - these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust." - Watterson Lowe

"The old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; he can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him." - Chief Luther Standing Bear

"A man is never too old to learn." - Thomas Middleton

"Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind, than it does in the face, and souls are never, or very rarely seen, that in growing old do not smell sour and musty. Man moves all together, both towards his perfection and his decay." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Every period of life has its peculiar prejudice; whoever saw old age that did not applaud the past, and condemn the present times?" - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Old age puts more wrinkles in our minds than on our faces; and we never, or rarely, see a soul that in growing old does not come to smell sour and musty. Man grows and dwindles in his entirety." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"He invites a new injury who bears the old patiently." - Fynes Moryson

"Learning, if rightly applied, makes a young man thinking, attentive, industrious, confident and wary; and an old man cheerful and useful. It is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, an entertainment at all times; it cheers in solitude, and gives moderation and wisdom in all circumstances." - Thomas W. Palmer

"If you must be in a hurry, then let it be according to the old adage, and hasten slowly." - Saint Vincent de Paul

"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

"Observation, not old age, brings wisdom." - Publius Syrus

"They say there's nothing sadder than victory except defeat. The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened." -

"We usually fall asleep in our relationships... not because we are tired of love but so we can dream of new relationships. Life, however, is a work in progress, and love's challenge is not to see people as they once were but as they might be. People who grow old can also grow love." - Noah benShea

"The great highroad of human welfare lies along the old highway of steadfast well-doing; and they who are the most persistent, and the work in the truest spirit, will invariably be the most successful; success treads on the heels of every right effort." - Samuel Smiles

"It is the calling of great men, not so much to preach new truths, as to rescue from oblivion those old truths which it is our wisdom to remember and our weakness to forget." - Sydney Smith

"When a noble life has prepared old age, it is not the decline that it reveals, but the first days of immortality." -

"When we destroy an old prejudice we have need of a new virtue." -

"Solitary we must be in life's great hours of moral decisions; solitary in pain and sorrow; solitary in old age and in our going forth at death. Fortunate the man who has learned what to do in solitude and brought himself to see what companionship he may discover in it, what fortitude, what content." - William L. Sullivan

"If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, learning, etc., beginning from his youth, and so go to old age, what a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last!" - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"Have I met the hour patiently, without fear, at the portal? Now is my name called, of the lip of my love has spoken: Do I mistake you, O divine Signaler? is it after all some other soul that is hailed. My self is my answer: there’s that in my heart responds, meeting the call with equal voice, establishing forever the unspeakable bond! Bond that does not bind - bond that frees - bond that discovers and bestows. Look! I am flushed with inexhaustible possessions! The old measures vanish, I am expanded to infinite sweep... Before birth, seeing birth, after life seeing life!... This minute grown infinite, the far worlds spread before me, the endless drift of soul..." - Horace Traubel

"We can't reach old age by another man's road." - Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

"Regardless of where a person actually is physically, he is really where his thoughts are. A person constantly has a choice to think elevated and uplifting thoughts or negative, self-destructive thoughts. How old you feel is greatly dependent on your attitude about yourself. Elderly people can increase their vitality and vigor by considering themselves young." - Yitzchok Waldshein

"The greatest right in the world is the right to be wrong. If the Government or majorities think an individual is right, no one will interfere with him; but when agitators talk against the things considered holy, or when radicals criticise, or satirize the political gods, or question the justice of our laws and institutions, or pacifists talk against war, how the old inquisition awakens, and ostracism, the excommunication of the church, the prison, the wheel, the torture-chamber, the mob, are called to suppress the free expression of thought." - Harry Weinberger

"The wise men of old have sent most of their morality down to the stream of time in the light skiff of apothegm or epigram; and the proverbs of nations, which embody the common sense of nations, have the brisk concussion of the most sparkling wit." - Edwin Percy Whipple

"Life is precious to the old person. He is not interested merely in thoughts of yesterday’s good life and tomorrow’s path to the grave. He does not want his later years to be a sentence of solitary confinement in society. Nor does he want them to be a death watch." - David Allman