Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Perfection

"Perfection does not exist. To understand it is the triumph of human intelligence; to desire to possess it is the most dangerous kind of madness." -

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." - Michelangelo, aka Michaelangelo Buonarroti, fully Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni NULL

"Happiness is no other than soundness and perfection of mind." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"The perfection of moral character consists in this, in passing every day as the last, and in being neither violently excited nor torpid nor playing the hypocrite." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"To live each day as though one's last, never flustered, never apathetic, never attitudinizing - here is the perfection of character." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"The best perfection of a religious man is to do common things in a perfect manner. A constant fidelity in small things is a great and heroic virtue." -

"Those who, from the desire of our perfection, have the keenest eye for our faults generally compensate for it by taking a higher view of our merits than we deserve." -

"Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life; cunning is a kind of instinct, that only looks after our immediate interests and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understanding; cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Not in the knowledge of things without, but in the perfection of the soul within, lies the empire of man aspiring to be more than man." -

"The only perfection I know of is a hearty love of god, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself. Charity is the only virtue which rightly unites us to God and man. Such union is our final aim and end, and all the rest is mere delusion." - Jean-Pierre Camus de Pontcarré

"There is no one in the world who cannot arrive without difficulty at the most eminent perfection by fulfilling with love obscure and common duties." -

"The meaning of life is to become inseparably one with God the transcendental Bliss and God the universal Peace. The meaning of life is to achieve unconditional self-giving and a self-giving will... complete faith in oneself and a birthless and deathless faith in God. Life is love... Life needs a dream and a goal... Transcendence is the glorious beginning of human perfection... Who am I? I am my life’s unfinished God-manifestation." - Sri Chinmoy, born Chinmoy Kumar Ghose

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." - Salvador Dalí, fully Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech

"Philosophers have very justly remarked that the only solid instruction is that which the pupil brings from his own depths; that the true instruction is not that which transmits notions wholly formed, but that which renders him capable of forming for himself good opinions. That which they have said in regard to the intellectual faculties applies equally to the moral faculties. There is for the soul a spontaneous culture, on which depends all the real progress in perfection." - Joseph Marie, baron de Gérando, born Joseph Marie Degérando, also Joseph-Marie de Gérando

"To arrive at perfection, a man should have very sincere friends, or inveterate enemies; because he would be made sensible of his good or ill conduct either by the censures of the one or the admonitions of the others." - Diogenes Laërtius, aka "Diogenes the Cynic"

"Perfection is immutable. But for things imperfect, change is the way to perfect them. It gets the name of willfulness when it will not admit of a lawful change to the better. Therefore constancy without knowledge cannot be always good. In things ill it is not virtue, but an absolute vice." - Owen Feltham

"Let us unite contemplation with action. In the harmony of the two, lies the perfection of character. They are not contradictory and incompatible, but mutually helpful to each other." - Alexander L. R. Foote

"Charity that is both the means and the end, the only way by which we can reach that perfection which is, after all, but Charity itself... Just as the soul is the life of the body, so charity is the life of the soul." - Bishop of Geneva NULL

"The chimerical pursuit of perfection is always linked to some important deficiency, frequently the inability to love." - Bernard Grasset

"Any person who thinks rationally will not feel discouraged in the area of personal growth and obtaining wisdom. He realizes that perfection is impossible and not required of him. Constant improvement is what is required and everyone has the ability to improve." - Avraham Grodzinski

"Why you are born and why you are living depend entirely on what you are getting out of this world and what you are giving to it. I cannot prove that this is a balance of mathematical perfection, but my own observation of life leads me to the conclusion that there is a very real relationship, both quantitatively and qualitatively, between what you contribute and what you get out of this world." - Oscar Hammerstein II, fully Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hamerstein II

"The secret of all success is to know how to deny yourself. Prove that you can control yourself, and you are an educated man; and without this all other education is good for nothing... To you self-denial may only mean weariness, restraint, ennui; but it means, also, love, perfection, sanctification." - Roswell Dwight Hitchcock

"Consumption, celebrity and the quest for perfection in this world are all subject to the law of diminishing returns: each successive acquisition and achievement will mean less than the one before. Diminishing returns are finally leading to diminished expectations about the promise of finding happiness without caring for our souls. Perhaps we are now ready to reject the hucksters of materialisms that have lured us down so many dead ends, and start again on the road that will lead us back to God." - Arianna Huffington, born Arianna Stassinopoulos

"The conscience of every man recognizes courage as the foundation of manliness, and manliness as the perfection of human character." - Thomas Hughes

"Among the other excellencies of man, this is one, that he can form the image of perfection much beyond what he has experience of in himself, and is not limited in his conception of wisdom and virtue." - David Hume

"The Godhead is impassable; for where there is perfection and unity, there can be no suffering. The capacity to suffer arises where there is imperfection, disunity and separation from an embracing totality; and the capacity is actualized to the extent that imperfection, disunity and separateness are accompanied by an urge towards the intensification of these creaturely conditions. For the individual who achieves unity within his own organism and union with the divine Ground, there is an end of suffering. The goal of creation is the return of all sentient beings out of separateness and that infatuating urge-to-separateness which results in suffering, through unitive knowledge, into the wholeness of eternal Reality." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Just so far as we are pleased at finding faults, are we displeased at finding perfection." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"We might get to know the beauty of the universe in each soul, if we could unfold all that is enfolded in it and that is perceptibly developed only through time. But as each distinct perception of the soul includes an infinite number of confused perceptions, which involve the whole universe, the soul itself knows the things of which it has perception, only in so far as it has distinct and heightened [or unveiled] perceptions of them; and it has perfection in proportion to its distinct perceptions. Each soul knows the infinite, knows all, but confusedly." -

"It is not the truth which a man possesses, or believes he possesses, but the earnest effort which he puts forth to reach the truth, which constitutes the worth of a man. For it is not by the possession, by the search after truth that he enlarges his power, wherein alone consists his ever-increasing perfection. Possession makes one content, indolent, proud." - Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

"The highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness; so the care of ourselves that we mistake not imaginary for real happiness, is the necessary foundation of our liberty." - John Locke

"To love truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues." - John Locke

"An ardent love and admiration of virtue seems to imply the existence of something opposite to it, and it seems highly probably that the same beauty of form and substance, the same perfection of character could not be generated without the impressions of disapprobation which arise from the spectacle of moral evil." - Thomas Malthus, fully Thomas Robert Malthus

"Work is the true elixir of life. The busiest man is the happiest man. Excellence in any art or profession is attained only by hard and persistent work. Never believe that you are perfect. When a man imagines, even after years of striving, that he has attained perfection, his decline begins." - Theodore Martin, fully Sir Theodore Martin

"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

"It is an absolute perfection to know how to get the very most out of one's individuality." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"The beginning of greatness is to be little, the increase of greatness is to be less, and the perfection of greatness is to be nothing." -

"The purpose of serving God... is to promote man's perfection." - Norzi NULL

"The perfection of virtue is from... long art and management, self-control." - Lord Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury

"Immortality is the greatness of our being; the scene for attaining the fullness and perfection of our existence." - Charles Simmons

"In all exact knowledge the mind knows itself under the form of eternity; that is to say;, in ever such act it is eternal and knows itself as eternal. This eternity is not a persistence in time after the dissolution of the body, no more than pre-existence in time, for it is not commensurable with time at all. And there is associated with it a state or quality of perfection called the intellectual love of God." -

"Reality and perfection are synonymous." -

"We know that everything that exists, considered in itself and without relation to anything else, involves perfection, which extends, in each thing, as far as the thing's essence does. For essence is nothing other than perfection." -

"Simplicity, without which no human performance can arrive at perfection." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"I entreat you not to be turned by the call of vulgar strength, of stupendous size, by the spirit of storage, by the multiplication of millions, without meaning and without end. Cherish the ideal of perfection, and to that, relate all your work and all your movements. Though you love the material things of earth, they will not hurt you and you will bring heaven to earth and soul into things." -

"Man’s freedom is never in being saved troubles, but it is the freedom to take trouble for his own good, to make the trouble an element in his joy... that in pain is symbolised the infinite possibility of perfection, the eternal unfolding of joy." -

"The potentiality of perfection outweighs actual contradictions... Existence in itself is here to prove that it cannot be an evil." -

"There are men whose idea of life is tactic, who long for its continuation after death only because of their wish for permanence and not perfection; they love to imagine that the things to which they are accustomed will persist for ever. They completely identify themselves in their minds with their fixed surroundings and with whatever they have gathered, and to have to leave these is death for them. They forget that the true meaning of living is outliving, it is ever growing out of itself." -

"To understand anything is to find in it something which is our own, and it is the discovery of ourselves outside us which makes us glad. This relation of understanding is partial, but the relation of love is complete. In love the sense of difference is obliterated and the human soul fulfills its purpose in perfection, transcending the limits of itself and reaching across the threshold of the infinite." -

"Want of love is a degree of callousness; for love is the perfection of consciousness. We do not love because we do not comprehend, or rather we do not comprehend because we do not love. For love is the ultimate meaning of everything around us. It is not a mere sentiment; it is truth; it is the joy that is at the root of all creation." -

"Solitude is a good school, but the world is the best theater; the institution is best there, but the practice here; the wilderness hath the advantage of discipline, and society opportunities of perfection." - Jeremy Taylor