Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Past

"It is not I that belong to the past, but the past that belongs to me." -

"Youth is a cause of hope for three reasons... And these three reasons may be gathered from the three conditions of the good which is the object of hope - namely, that it is future, arduous and possible... For youth has much of the future before it, and little of the past; and therefore since memory is of the past, and hope of the future, it has little to remember and lives very much in hope. Again, youths, on account of the heat of their nature, are full of spirit, so that their heart expands, and it is owing to the heart being expanded that one tends to that which is arduous; therefore youths are spirited and hopeful. Likewise they who have not suffered defeat, nor had experience of obstacles to their efforts, are prone to count a thing possible to them. Therefore youths, through inexperience of obstacles and of their own shortcomings, easily count a thing possible, and consequently are of good hope." -

"Perhaps the most important lesson the world has learned in the past fifty years is that it is not true that "human nature is unchangeable."" - Bruce Bliven

"Since God hath always an eternal and present state, His knowledge, surpassing time’s notions, remaineth in the simplicity of His presence and, comprehending the infinite of what is past and to come, considereth all things as though they were in the act of being accomplished." - Boethius, fully Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius NULL

"In the past few decades American institutions have struggled with the temptations of politics. Professions and academic disciplines that once possessed a life and structure of their own have steadily succumbed, in some cases almost entirely, to the belief that nothing matters beyond politically desirable results, however achieved." - Robert Bork, fully Robert Heron Bork

"We can pay our debt to the past by putting the future in debt to ourselves." - John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir

"He who seeks repentance for the past, should woo the angel virtue for the future." -

"History is the depository of great actions, the witness of what is past, the example and instructor of the present, and monitor to the future." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"It is children only who enjoy the present; their elders either live on the memory of the past or the hope of the future." -

"The golden age is not in the past, but in the future: not in the origin of human experience, but in its consummate flower: not opening in Eden, but out from Gethsemane." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"We live in the present, we dream of the future, but we learn eternal truths from the past." - Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, born Soong Mei-ling or May-ling

"By reading a man does, as it we, antedate his life, and make himself contemporary with past ages." - Jeremy Collier

"The very nearest approach to domestic happiness on earth is in the cultivation on both sides of absolute unselfishness. Never both be angry at once. Never talk at one another, either alone or in company. Never speak loud to one another unless the house is on fire. Let each; one strive to yield oftenest to the wishes of the other. Let self-denial be the daily aim and practice of each. Never find fault unless it is perfectly certain that a fault has been committed, and always speak lovingly. Never taunt with a past mistake. Neglect the whole world besides rather than one another. Never allow a request to be repeated. Never make a remark at the expense of each other, it is a meanness. Never part for a day without loving words to think of during absence. Never meet without a loving welcome. Never let the sun go down upon any anger or grievance. Never let any fault you have committed go by until you have frankly confessed it and asked forgiveness. Never forget the happy hours of early love. Never sigh over what might have been, but make the best of what is. Never forget that marriage is ordained of God, and that His blessing alone can make it what it should ever be. Never be contented till you know you are both walking in the narrow way. Never let your hopes stop short of the eternal home." - Edward Watke, Jr.

"Those who believe in the theory of rebirth would say that we are here because of our past actions. It can also be said that the essence of life is the search for happiness and the fulfillment of one’s desires. All living beings strive to sustain their lives so that they might achieve happiness. As to why the self, wishing for happiness, came into being, Buddhism answers: This self has existed from beginningless time. It has no end but for it to ultimately achieve full enlightenment." -

"The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealized past." - Robertson Davies

"The past is only memories; the future is but illusory hopes; focus on the present; for that is where your life really is; and it consists only of tests." - Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler

"Right actions for the future are the best explanations or apologies for wrong ones in the past; the best evidence of regret for them that we can offer, or the world receive." - Tyron Edwards

"Some of the best lessons we ever learn we learn from our mistakes and failures. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future." - Tyron Edwards

"The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"Regrets over the past should chasten the future." -

"The great scientific discoveries of the past hundred years have been as child's play compared with the titanic forces that will be released when man applies himself to the understanding and mastery of his own nature." - Melvin James Evans

"The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots." -

"Pride is a deeply rooted ailment of the soul. The penalty is misery; the remedy lies in the sincere, life-long cultivation of humility, which means self-evaluation and a proper perspective toward past, present and future." - Robert Gordis

"The past lives in us, not we in the past." -

"The memory of past favors, is like a rainbow, bright, vivid, and beautiful, but it soon fades away. The memory of injuries is engraved on the heart, and remains forever." - Thomas Haliburton, fully Thomas Chandler Haliburton, pseudonym "Sam Slick"

"We accept the verdict of the past until the need for change cries out loudly enough to force upon us a choice between the comforts of further inertia and the irksomeness of action." -

"They [trees] hang on from a past no theory can recover. They will survive us. The air makes their music. Otherwise, they live in savage silence, though mites and nematodes and spiders teem at their roots, and though the energy with which they feed on the sun and are able to draw water sometimes hundred of feet up their trunks and into their twigs and branches calls for a deafening volume of sound." - John Hay, fully John Milton Hay

"Every man is his own ancestor, and every man his own heir. He devises his own future, and he inherits his own past." - Frederick Henry Hedge

"The men of the past had convictions, while we moderns have only opinions." - Heinrich Heine

"Life begins each morning... Each night of life is a wall between to-day and the past. Each morning is the open door to a new world - new vistas, new aims, new tryings." - Leigh Mitchell Hodges

"Custom is the great guide of human life. It is that principle alone which renders our experience useful to us, and makes us expect, for the future, a similar train of events with those which have appeared I the past. Without the influence of custom, we should be entirely ignorant of every matter of fact beyond what is immediately present to the memory and senses. We should never know how to adjust means to ends, or to employ our natural powers in the production of any effect. There would be an end at once of all action, as well as of the chief part of speculation." - David Hume

"It would add much to human happiness, if an art could be taught of forgetting all of which the remembrance is at once useless and afflictive... that the mind might perform its functions without encumbrance, and the past might no longer encroach upon the present." -

"Life, to be worthy of a rational being, must be always in progression; we must always purpose to do more or better than in time past." -

"Every person alive today derives much benefit from comforts and pleasures that in the past were not available. All of the latest inventions and findings of technology serve us to a remarkable degree. For all this we should be full of appreciation and gratitude." - Yosef Zev Leipowitz

"When a person is born, he finds the world in a certain organized fashion. As he grows up, he tries to adjust himself to the assumptions that are accepted in the world. He views each event that occurs with the same perspective as the other people of his generation. These perspectives originated in the past and have been handed down from parents to children. These assumptions are taken for granted to such an extent that most people react to the accepted perspective of the world as if they were laws of the universe that cannot be changed. They are accepted as reality and are not challenged. Only a small minority of people obtain the necessary wisdom to look at the world with complete objectivity. They take a critical look at teach and every thing and try to understand everything as it really is instead of accepting the general prevalent outlook. Those who try to investigate the origin of every perspective will perceive everything in a much different light than is commonly accepted." - Yeruchem Levovitz, aka The Mashgiach

"Moaning over what cannot be helped is a confession of futility and fear, of emotional stagnation - in fact, of selfishness and cowardice. The best way to "snap out of it" is to stop thinking about yourself, and start thinking about other people. You can lighten your own load by doing something for someone else. By the simple device of doing an outward, unselfish act today, you can make the past recede. The present and future will again take on their true challenge and perspective." - Frederick Loomis, fully Sir Frederick Oscar Warren Loomis

"Pride looks back upon its past deeds, and calculating with nicety what it has done, it commits itself to rest; whereas humility looks to that which is before, and discovering how much ground remains to be trodden, it is active and vigilant. Having gained one height, pride looks down with complacency on that which is beneath it; humility looks up to a higher and yet higher elevation. The one keeps us on this earth, which is congenial to its nature; the other directs our eye, and tends to lift us up to heaven." - James McCosh

"The rationalist’s dilemma: either the free act is possible, or it is not - either the event originates in me or is imposed on me from outside, does not apply to our relations with the world and with our past. Our freedom does not destroy our situation, but gears itself to it: as long as we are alive, our situation is open, which implies both that it calls up specially favoured modes of resolution, and also that it is powerless to bring one into being by itself." - Maurice Merleau-Ponty

"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

"The time-man in us does not know now. He is always preparing something in the future, or busy with what happened in the past... All decisions that belong to the life in time, to success, to business, comfort, are about ‘tomorrow’. All decisions about the right thing to do, about how to act, are about tomorrow. It is only what is done in now that counts, and this is a decision always about oneself and with oneself, even though its effect may touch other people’s lives ‘tomorrow’. Now is spiritual... Spiritual values have nothing to do with time." - Maurice Nicoll

"By analyzing your worries, you will become aware that all worry is useless. Worries fall into two categories: worrying about the past and worrying about the future. As regards to the past, worry will not change the situation. You are compounding your suffering or loss by your present worrying. If you are worrying about something that might happen in the future, do what you can to protect yourself and prevent a loss. If there is nothing you can do, all your worrying will make no difference. So why waste your present moments worrying?" - Rabbi Eliezer ben Isaac Papo, aka "ha-Kosesh" or "The Saint"

"Our reverence for the past is just in proportion to our ignorance of it." - Theodore Parker

"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... 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... One in all, All in One - if only this is realized, no more worry about not being perfect. When the mind and each believing mind and Mind, this is where words fail, for it is not of the past, present or future." - Jianzhi Sengcan, Third Patriarch of Zen, Third Patriarch of Ch'an

"Self-pity deprives us of the beauty of the past; fear deprives us of the beauty of the future; and jealousy deprives us of the beauty of the moment." - Shantananda Saraswathi, fully Swami Shantananda Saraswathi, born Chandrashekar

"When no new thoughts fill the mind - when no horizons beckon - when life is in the past, not in the future - you are on the way to uselessness." - Frederick K. Stamm

"The drama in our time is a great man fallen, who has reached the last degree of his degradation, and at the same time continues to pride himself on his past of which nothing now remains." -

"As it is never too soon to be good, so it is never too late to amend; I will, therefore, neither neglect the time present, nor despair of the time past. If I had been sooner good, I might perhaps have been better; if I am longer bad, I shall I am sure, be worse." - Arthur Warwick

"No repentance on earth can undo the past." - Brooke Foss Westcott

"When you make a mistake, don't look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind, and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. the future is yet in your power." - Hugh Lawson White

"When looking back at your past suffering, feel joy. They have already benefited you by atoning for your misdeeds and at present you no longer feel pain from those past misfortunes." - Avraham Yellin