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 more important to listen to questions than to answer them. To listen with full intent, with full openness, with a genuine desire to understand not the question only, but the question behind the question, and to be at one with the questioner - this is an engagement very difficult." - William B. J. Martin

"For the current of our spiritual life creeds, rituals and channels that may thwart or help, according to their fixity or openness. When a symbol or spiritual idea becomes rigidly elaborate in its construction, it supplants the idea which it should support." -

"Sectarianism is a perverse form of worldliness in the disguise of religion; it breeds a narrowness of heart in a greater measure than the cult of the world based upon material interest can ever do. For undisguised pursuit of self has its safety in openness, like filth exposed to the sun and air. But the self-magnification with its consequent lessening of God that goes on unchecked under the cover of sectarianism loses its chance of salvation because it defiles the very source of purity." -

"We can trade our small-minded struggle for security for a much vaster vision, one of the fearlessness, openness, and genuine heroism." -

"Nowness closes no doors. It involves an openness which throws away fears and expectations. It opens itself to risks, to new learning, experiences and interpretations." - David A. Brandon

"The most distinctive mark of a cultured mind is the ability to take another's point of view; to put one's self in another's place, and see life and its problems from a point of view different from one's own. To be willing to test a new idea; to be able to live on the edge of difference in all matters intellectually; to examine without heat the burning question of the day; to have imaginative sympathy, openness and flexibility of mind, steadiness and poise of feeling, cool calmness of judgment, is to have culture." - A. H. R. Fairchild, fully Arthur Henry Rolph Fairchild

"The first step on the road to success is good character. The second is openness to new perspectives. The third is ensuring that daily action is shaped by higher aims, with the knowledge that you always reap what you sow." - Tom Butler-Bowdon

"Just as life is defined as biological change and death as its lack, so meaning in life is characterized by the application of stable patterns to changing circumstances and the replacing of old patterns of understanding with new and exploratory ones. Meaning is found in the losing of it, the searching after it, and in the finding of it again. The meaning in your life is in flux and is to be found in the flux (the flow) of meaning, which is therefore itself a source of meaning in your life. All this does require, however, the developing of a tolerance for ambiguity, of a willingness to accept the inevitability of change and the precariousness of your present vision, and of an openness to the unending richness of your experience of the world in its manifold variety and diversity." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"All are searching for a goal, but for the seeker, the openness to grow and change is a precondition for the successful discovery." - Os Guiness

"The essence of tolerance lies in its openness to difference." - Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham

"It always seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second." -

"All instruction, all criticism, every reduction in choice, every manifestation of hierarchy, every act of secrecy subtly lowers people’s self-belief. Coaching, trust, openness, respect, authentic praise, freedom of choice and, of course, success raise it." - John Whitmore, fully Sir John Whitmore

"What makes the United States special in the history of nations is our commitment to the rule of law and our carefully constructed system of checks and balances. Our national distrust of concentrated power and our devotion to openness and democracy are what have led us as a people to consistently choose good over evil in our collective aspirations." - Al Gore, Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr.,

"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

"By their openness, people dedicated to the truth live in the open, and through the exercise of their courage to live in the open, they become free from fear." - M. Scott Peck, fully Morgan Scott Peck

"Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything." - Rainer Maria Rilke, full name René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke

"Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness; he has a life purpose. Labor is life. From the heart of the worker rises the celestial force, breathed into him by Almighty God, awakening him to all nobleness, to all knowledge. Has thou valued patience, courage, openness to light, or readiness to own thy mistakes. In wrestling with the dim, brute powers of Fact, thou wilt continually learn. For every noble work, the possibilities are diffused through immensity - undiscoverable, except to Faith." - Thomas Carlyle

"Let thy carriage be friendly, but not foolishly free; an unwary openness causeth contempt, but a little reservedness, respect; and handsome courtesy, kindness." - Thomas Fuller

"Sincerity is an openness of heart; we find it in very few people; what we usually see is only" -

"The beginner's humility and openness lead to exploration. Exploration leads to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step." - Julia Cameron

"The brain's calculations do not require our conscious effort, only our attention and our openness to let the information through. Although the brain absorbs universes of information, little is admitted into normal consciousness." - Marilyn Ferguson

"More socialism means more democracy, openness and collectivism in everyday life." - Mikhail Gorbachev, fully Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

"Those who hope that we shall move away from the socialist path will be greatly disappointed. Every part of our program of perestroika … is fully based on the principle of more socialism and more democracy. ... I would like to be clearly understood ... we, the Soviet people, are for socialism. ... We want more socialism and, therefore, more democracy. ... More socialism means more democracy, openness and collectivism in everyday life. … We will proceed toward better socialism rather than away from it. We are saying this honestly, without trying to fool our own people or the world. Any hopes that we will begin to build a different, non-socialist society and go over to the other camp are unrealistic and futile. Those in the West who expect us to give up socialism will be disappointed. ... It’s my conviction that the human race has entered a stage where we are all dependent on each other. No other country or nation should be regarded in total separation from another, let alone pitted against another. That’s what our communist vocabulary calls internationalism and it means promoting universal human values." - Mikhail Gorbachev, fully Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

"You can think of the groundlessness and openness of insecurity as a chance that we're given over and over to choose a fresh alternative. Things happen to us all the time that open up the space. This spaciousness, this wide–open, unbiased, unprejudiced space is inexpressible and fundamentally good and sound. It's like the sky… You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather." - Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown

"My daughter’s direct, spontaneous, and affectionate nature released me from many of the protective mechanisms I had developed, above all the fear that my love might be exploited. With her I had no need to protect myself. At last I could love, trust, and be tender without any apprehensions about my openness being misused for corrective educational purposes – as was the case with my mother – or my feelings being hurt. As I did not have the good fortune of enjoying an open and warmhearted relationship with my mother, this new opportunity for communication – for all its tragic aspects and the restrictions it brought with it – was more of a blessing than anything else… The spontaneity with which my daughter expressed her childlike, innocent, affectionate nature at whatever age she happened to be, and her sensitivity to insincerity and disingenuousness in whatever form, gave my life new dimensions and new objectives." - Alice Miller, née Rostovski

"Without purity of heart, not only can one not “see” God, but it is equally impossible to have any idea of what is involved in doing so. Without the silence of the intellect and the will, without the silence of the senses, without the openness of what some call “the third eye” (spoken of not only by Tibetans but also by the disciples of Richard of Saint Victor), it is not possible to approach the sphere in which the word God can have a meaning. According to Richard of Saint Victor, there exist three eyes: the occulus carnis, the occulus rationis, and the occulus fidei (the eye of the body, the eye of reason, and the eye of faith). The “third eye” is the organ of the faculty that distinguishes us from other living beings by giving us access to a reality that transcends, without denying, that which captures the intelligence and the senses." - Raimon Panikkar, fully Raimon Panikkar-Alemany

"The Perfect Way knows no difficulties, Except that it refuses to make preferences. Only when freed from hate and love Does it reveal itself fully and without disguise. A tenth of an inch's difference, And heaven and earth are set apart. If you wish to see it before your own eyes, Have no fixed thoughts either for or against it. To set up what you like against what you dislike - This is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of the Way is not understood, Peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose... Pursue not the outer entanglements, Dwell not in the inner void; Be serene in the oneness of things, And dualism vanishes of itself. When you strive to gain quiescence by stopping motion, The quiescence so gained is ever in motion. So long as you tarry in such dualism, How can you realize oneness? And when oneness is not thoroughly grasped, Loss is sustained in two ways: The denying of external reality is the assertion of it, And the assertion of Emptiness (the Absolute) is the denying of it... Transformations going on in the empty world that confronts us Appear to be real because of Ignorance. Do not strive to seek after the True, Only cease to cherish opinions. The two exist because of the One; But hot not even to this One. When a mind is not disturbed, The ten thousand things offer no offense... If an eye never falls asleep, All dreams will cease of themselves; If the Mind retains its absoluteness, The ten thousand things are of one substance. When the deep mystery of Suchness is fathomed, All of a sudden we forget the external entanglements; When the ten thousand things are viewed in their oneness, We return to the origin and remain where we have always been... One in all, All in One - If only this is realized, No more worry about not being perfect! When Mind and each believing mind are not divided, And undivided are each believing mind and Mind, This is where words fail, For it is not of the past, present or future." - Sen T’Sen, aka Seng T'San, Jianzhi Sengcan, Kanchi Sosan, Third Chinese Patriarch of Zen

"I used to say that politics was the second-oldest profession. I have come to know that it bears a gross similarity to the first." - Ronald Reagan, fully Ronald Wilson Reagan

"For the greater part of human activity is designed to make permanent those experiences and joys which are only loveable because they are changing." - Shunryu Suzuki, also Daisetsu Teitaro or D.T. Suzuki or Suzuki-Roshi

"Nothing matches the holiness and fascination of accurate and intricate detail." - Stephan Jay Gould

"The saddest part about being human is not paying attention. Presence is the gift of life." - Stephen Levine

"The culture industry not so much adapts to the reactions of its customers as it counterfeits them." - Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

"Once the question of grace and free will is reduced to a juridical matter, once witnesses line up with plaintiff or defendant and the jurors strive to determine who is entitled to what, we are inevitably tempted to act as if everything that was given to free will was taken from grace and everything conceded to grace was withdrawn from our own liberty. On both sides of the debate, whether one is arguing for grace or whether one is a defender of nature, it seems that everyone is more or less obsessed with this great illusion of ownership and possession. What is strictly mine? How much can God demand of me - how much can I demand of Him? Even if I come up with the answer that nothing is strictly mine at all, I have still falsified the perspective by asking a foolish question in the first place. How much is mine? Should such a question ever be asked? Should such a division ever be made at all? To ask such a question makes it almost impossible for me to grasp the paradox which is the only possible answer: That everything is mine precisely because everything is His. If it were not His, it could never be mine. If it could not be mine, He would not even want it for Himself. And all that is His is His very self. All that He gives me becomes, in some way, my own self. What, then is mine? He is mine. And what is His? I am His." - Thomas Merton

"The deep secrecy of my own being is often hidden from me by my own estimate of what I am. My idea of what I am is falsified by my admiration for what I do. And my illusions about myself are bred by contagion from the illusions of other men. We all seek to imitate one another’s imagined greatness." - Thomas Merton

"This then is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; to cultivate an intellectual freedom from the images of created things in order to receive the secret contact of God in obscure love; to love all men as myself." - Thomas Merton

"Happiness requires something to do, something to love and something to hope for. - Swahili Proverb" -

"To me many of my colleagues at Time, basically kind and intensely well-meaning people, seemed to me as charming and as removed from reality as fish in a fish bowl. To me they seemed to know little about the forces that were shaping the history of our time. To me they seemed like little children, knowing and clever little children, but knowing and clever chiefly about trifling things while they were extremely resistant to finding out about anything else." - Whittaker Chambers, born Jay Vivian Chambers, aka Jay David Whittaker Chambers

"When we were young kids growing up in America, we were told to eat our Vegetables at dinner and not leave them. Mothers said, think of the starving children in India and finish the dinner. And now I tell my children: Finish your homework. Think of the children in India Who would make you starve, if you don't.'?" - Thomas L. Friedman, fully Thomas Lauren Friedman

"Do not mistake me. Our interest just now is in the life of complete obedience to God, not in amazing revelations of His glory graciously granted only to some. Yet the amazing experiences of the mystics leave a permanent residue, a God-subdued, a God-possessed will. States of consciousness are fluctuating. The vision fades. But holy and listening and alert obedience remains, as the core and kernel of a God-intoxicated life, as the abiding pattern of sober, workaday living. And some are led into the state of complete obedience by this well-nigh passive route, wherein God alone seems to be the actor and we seem to be wholly acted upon. And our wills are melted and dissolved and made pliant, being firmly fixed in Him, and He wills in us. But in contrast to this passive route to complete obedience most people must follow what Jean-Nicholas Grou calls the active way, wherein we must struggle and, like Jacob of old, wrestle with the angel until the morning dawns, the active way wherein the will must be subjected bit by bit, piecemeal and progressively, to the divine Will." - Thomas R. Kelly, fully Thomas Raymond Kelly

"It does pay to be honest. It pays in rewarding relationships. It pays in unblocked energy. It pays in passion. To stand tall in who you are, unafraid to reveal what you want and need, kind enough to tell the truth, and brave enough to bear the consequences, is a telling sign of spiritual development." - Elizabeth Lesser

"After all, Kierkegaard was hardly a disinterested scientist. He gave his psychological description because he had a glimpse of freedom for man. He was a theorist of the open personality, of human possibility. In this pursuit, present-day psychiatry lags far behind him. Kierkegaard had no easy idea of what "health" is. But he knew what it was not: it was not normal adjustment—anything but that, as he has taken such excruciating analytical pains to show us. To be a "normal cultural man" is, for Kierkegaard, to be sick—whether one knows it or not: "there is such a thing as fictitious health."38 Nietzsche later put the same thought: "Are there perhaps —a question for psychiatrists—neuroses of health?" But Kierkegaard not only posed the question, he also answered it. If health is not "cultural normality," then it must refer to something else, must point beyond man's usual situation, his habitual ideas. Mental health, in a word, is not typical, but ideal-typical. It is something far beyond man, something to be achieved, striven for, something that leads man beyond himself. The "healthy" person, the true individual, the self-realized soul, the "real" man, is the one who has transcended himself." - Ernest Becker

"Poor men do penance for rich men's sins." -