Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"The essence of justice is mercy. Making a child suffer for wrong-doing is merciful to the child. There is no mercy in letting a child have its own will, plunging headlong to destruction wit the bits in its mouth. There is no mercy to society nor to the criminal if the wrong is not repressed and the right vindicated. We injure the culprit who comes up to take his proper doom at the bar of justice, if we do not make him feel that he has done a wrong thing. We may deliver his body from the prison, but not at the expense of justice nor to his own injury." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"You will be able to overcome desires without excessive difficulty when you become aware of their illusory nature. The pleasure of eating, for example, is really of very short duration. You feel the pleasure for only the short amount of time the food is in your mouth. As soon as you have swallowed the food, it is already forgotten... All physical pleasures are similar. Give the matter sufficient thought and you will realize that even the illusory good lasts only a short time. On the other hand, the negative consequences of physical pleasures can be severe and long lasting. A thinking person will definitely not want to place himself in a situation fraught with dangers for momentary pleasures. By habitually thinking about this truth, one will gradually be able to free himself from the prison of foolishly pursuing physical pleasures." - Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, also Moses Hayyim Luzzato, known by Hebrew acronym RaMCHal

"Dreams are excursions into the limbo of things, a semi-deliverance from the human prison." -

"The human spirit is in prison. Prison is what I call this world, the given world of necessity." -

"Fear builds prison walls around a man and bars him in with dreads, anxieties and timid doubts. Faith is the great liberator from prison walls. Fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages, fear sickens, faith heals; fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith sees beyond the horizon and rejoices in its God." - Lewis L. Dunnington

"The Bible is a window in this prison of hope, through which we look into eternity." - John Sullivan Dwight

"The deepest need of man, then, is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness." -

"[The man is free] who is self-reliant... who masters his passions; who fears neither poverty nor death nor prison; who resists his appetites [and] despises worldly ambition." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"How can man be intelligent, happy, or useful, without the culture and discipline of education? It is this that unlocks the prison-house of his mind, and releases the captive." - George Mogridge, aka "Old Humphrey"

"America has the longest prison sentences in the West, yet the only condition long sentences demonstrably cure is heterosexuality." - Bruce Jackson

"You cannot confine an idea behind prison bars... Ideas cannot be shut in nor shut out." - Nancy Gentile Ford

"The world is a prison for the faithful, but a Paradise for unbelievers." -

"You cannot put a rope around the neck of an idea; you cannot put an idea up against a barrack-square wall and riddle it with bullets; you cannot confine it in the strongest prison cell that your slaves could ever build." - Seán O'Casey

"[Regimentation] I fear you. As victors, you may become the bureaucracy: doling out to each his bit as in a poorhouse, assigning to each his task as in a prison. And you will exterminate the creator of new worlds, - the free human will, and stop up the purest well of human happiness - the power of the one to face thousands, to stand up to peoples and generations." -

"The soul is imprisoned in the body, and the Lord... built two windows in the wall of the prison... Unfortunately, the windows have curtains - eyelids; and a man whose soul is impure, feeling himself scrutinized, lets down the curtains and conceals the soul." -

"A human being is part of the whole called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self [ego]. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive." - Albert Einstein

"Perhaps some day, the modern man will learn that mystery is not the prison of the mind of man, it is his home." - Walter Farrell

"The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own false self, and enter by love into union with the Life Who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls." - Thomas Merton

"The only difference between men of great achievement and those who remain in mediocrity is that the great pay little attention to what has been done and what obstacles or apparent reasons may stand in the way of achievement but devote themselves to contemplating what can or ought to be done. Those who allow their mental and emotional natures to recoil, refusing to let this sense reach out into the undiscovered, destroy their own capabilities and this keeps them always in the prison house of limitation. But it should be noted that prison is only the recoil or reflex of their own nature. Genius is that which goes on through conditions and circumstances and keeps eternally in the process of expansion and extension of achieving power." - Baird T. Spalding

"Throw a few chairmen of the board in jail for polluting the air and water, and you’ll see pollution disappear quite rapidly… You would probably also probably see some pretty drastic prison reforms." - Pete Stark, fully Fortney H. "Pete" Stark, Jr.

"Heaven lies about us in our infancy! Shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing boy, but he beholds the light, and whence it flows, he sees it in his joy; the youth, who daily farther from the east must travel, still is Nature’s priest, and by the vision splendid is on his way attended; at length the man perceives it die away, and fade into the light of common day." - William Wordsworth

"Within yourself deliverance must be searched for, because each man makes his own prison." - Edwin Arnold, fully Sir Edwin Arnold

"The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness." -

"Prison walls cannot confine him who loves, for he belongs to an empire that is not of this world, being made not of material things but of the meaning of things; and thus he mocks at walls." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"The past is a prison for those who live in it." - Author Unknown NULL

"The worst prison would be a closed heart." - Author Unknown NULL

"From childhood upwards, everything is done to make the minds of men and women conventional and sterile. And if, by misadventure, some spark of imagination remains, its unfortunate possessor is considered unsound and dangerous, worthy only of contempt in time of peace and of prison or a traitor’s death in time of war." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"For all the practical purposes of life, truth might as well be in a prison as in the folio of a schoolman; and those who release her from her cow-webbed shelf and teach her to live with men have the merit of liberating, if not of discovering, her." - Charles Caleb Colton

"In your attempt to break down the boundaries of a personality you are building a new prison for yourself." - Dag Hammarskjöld

"The worst use you can make of a man is to put him in prison." - Edward Everett Hale

"The world is not a "prison house" but a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell god with the wrong blocks." - Edwin Arlington Robinson

"While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison I am not free." - Eugene V. Debs, fully Eugene Victor Debs

"Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene V. Debs, fully Eugene Victor Debs

"A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison." - Francis Bacon

"Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul." - Henry Van Dyke

"The worst prison is not of stone. It is of a throbbing heart, outraged by an infamous life." - Henry Ward Beecher

"The past is our cradle, not our prison, and there is danger as well as appeal in its glamour. The past is for inspiration, not imitation, for continuation, not repetition." - Israel Zangwill

"What beauty enters through the eye!... Through the window of the eye the soul regards the world's beauty. For the eye endureth the soul the prison of human form. Without the eye that prison were its torment." - Leonardo da Vinci, fully Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

"The supreme value is not the future but the present. The future is a deceitful time that always says to us, 'Not yet,' and thus denies us. The future is not the time of love: what person truly wants they want now. Whoever builds a house for future happiness builds a prison for the present." - Octavio Paz, born Octavio Paz Lozano

"The worst prison is a closed heart." - Plato NULL

"The prison is the world of sight." - Plato NULL

"A tender conscience is a stronger obligation than a prison." - Thomas Fuller

"Man is like an island, a circle within circles. Man is separated from these outer circles by his mind, his beliefs, and the limitations put upon him by a life away from the Earth. The circle of man, the island of self, is the place of logic, the ‘I,’ the ego, and the physical self. That is the island that man has chosen to live within today, and in doing so he has created a prison for himself. The walls of the island prison are thick, made up of doubts, logic and lack of belief. His isolation from his greater circles of self is suffocating and prevents him from seeing life clearly and purely. It is a world of ignorance where the flesh is the only reality, the only god... Beyond man’s island of ego, his prison, lies the world of the spirit-that-moves-in-all-things, the force that is found in all things. It is a world that communicates to all entities of Creation and touches the creator. It is a circle of life that houses all man’s instinct, his deepest memory, his power to control his body and mind, and a bridge that helps man transcend flesh. It is a world that expands man’s universe and helps him to fuse himself to the earth. Most of all, it is a world that brings man to his higher self and to spiritual rapture." - Tom Brown, Jr.

"Modern thought is the prison of the soul and stands between man and his spiritual mind. The logical mind cannot know absolute faith, nor can it know pure thought, for the logic feeds upon logic and does not accept things that cannot be known and proven by the flesh. Thus man has created a prison for himself and for his spirit, because he lacks belief and purity of thought. Faith needs no proof nor logic, yet man needs proof before he can have faith. Man then has created a cycle which cannot be broken, for where proof is needed, there can be no faith." - Tom Brown, Jr.

"The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness. " - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"You feel you are hedged in; you dream of escape; but beware of mirages. Do not run or fly away in order to get free: rather dig in the narrow place which has been given you; you will find God there and everything. God does not float on your horizon, he sleeps in your substance. Vanity runs, love digs. If you fly away from yourself, your prison will run with you and will close in because of the wind of your flight; if you go deep down into yourself it will disappear in paradise" - Gustave Thibon

"Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought! Why do you stay in prison When the door is so wide open?" - Rumi, fully Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi NULL