Great Throughts Treasury

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


"“Desiderata" Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy." - Max Ehrmann

"The only certainty is that we are here, in this moment, in this now. It’s up to us: to live fully, experiencing each moment, aware, alert and attentive. We are here, each one of us, to write our own story - and what fascinating stories we make!" - Madeleine L’Engle

"Man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through is history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’ We enter human society, that is, with one or more imputed characters - roles into which we have been drafted - and we have to learn what they are in order to be able to understand how others respond to us and how our responses to them are a part to be construed... Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious strutters in their actions as in their words. Hence there is no way to give us an understanding of any society, including our own, except through the stock of stories which constitute its initial dramatic resource. Mythology, in its original sense, is at the heart of things. Vico was right and so was Joyce. And so too of course is that moral tradition fro heroic society to its medieval heirs according to which the telling of stories has a key part in educating us into the virtues." - Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre

"Lessons of wisdom have never such power over us as when they are wrought in to the heart through the groundwork of a story which engages the passions." - Lawrence Sterne, alternatively Laurence Sterne

"I find all the world in the same story." - Henry Brooke

"Viewed ecologically, the human saga is a tragic success story." - William R. Catton, Jr.

"Understand your antagonist before you answer him... Discussion, even if story, often winnows truth from error - a good never to be expected in an uninquiring age." - William Ellery Channing

"It is our American habit if we find the foundations of our educational structure unsatisfactory to add another story or wing. We find it easier to add a new study or course or kind of school than to recognize existing conditions so as to meet the need." - John Dewey

"All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them." - Isak Dinesen, pen name of Baroness Karen Blixen

"All fact-collectors, who have no aim beyond their facts, are one-story men. Two-story men compare, reason, generalize, using the labors of the fact-collectors as well as their own. Three-story men idealize, imagine, predict: their best illumination comes from above, through the skylight." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"History is a story of growth, decay and change. If no provision, no allowance is made for change by peaceful means, it will come anyway - and with violence." - Herbert Hoover, fully Herbert Clark Hoover

"Myth is the software, the cultural DNA, the unconscious information, the meta-program that governs the way we see 'reality' and the way we behave. By providing a world picture and a set of stories that explains why things are as they are, [mythology] creates consensus, sanctifies the social order, and gives the individual an authorized map of the path of life. A myth creates the plotline that organizes the diverse experiences of a person or a community into a single story." - Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox

"We know that we are not limited by the accident of our birth or the timing of it, and we recognize the truth that we have always been around. We can reinhabit time and own our story as a species. We were present back there in the fireball and the rains that streamed down on this still molten planet, and in the primordial seas. We remember that in our mother’s womb, where we wear vestigial gills and tail and fins for hands. We remember that. That information is in us and there is a deep, deep kinship in us, beneath the outer layers of our neocortex or what we learned in school. There is a deep wisdom, a bondedness with our creation, and an ingenuity far beyond what we think we have. And when we expand our notions of what we are to include this story, we will have a wonderful time and we will survive." - Joanna Macy, fully Joanna Rogers Macy

"Life is this simple: We are living in a transparent world and God shines through in every moment. This is not just a fable or a nice story, it is living truth. If we remember God, abandon ourselves to God, and forget ourselves, we may see this truth: God manifests everywhere, in everything. We cannot be without God. It's impossible. It's simply impossible." - Thomas Merton

"Every story has three sides to it - yours, mine and the facts." - Foster Meharny Russell

"We do not have to hold on to our identity to survive... We see that no states of mind are solid; they only become solid when we weave them into a story. We discover that opening to the vast open space of awareness does not destroy us. We learn to trust in the unknown as a guide to what is most fresh and alive in the moment." - John Welwood

"Good work is never done in cold blood; heat is required to forge anything. Every great achievement is the story of a flaming heart." - Allan C Carlson

"When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in this life, most of which never happened." - Winston Churchill, fully Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

"A grand meta-narrative is a story of the development and purpose of human history in which we as individual can find a place and play a role. Four basic meta-narratives: (1) Platonic Christian is the idea of life as a journey to another unchanging realm. (2) Hegel’s view that history is the unfolding of the consciousness of God. (3) Marx’s notion of another revolution ushering in a new era. (4) Nietzsche’s idea that there is no “beyond” and that the only meaning comes through creative activities through which we shape a life for ourselves." - Stephen A. Erickson

"Every word of tongue is love telling a story to her own ears. Every thought in every mind, she whispers a secret to her own Self. Every vision in every eye, she knows her beauty to her own sight. Every smile on every face, she reveals her own joy for herself to enjoy. Love courses through everything, no, love is everything. How can you say, there is no love, when nothing but Love exists? All that you see has appeared because of Love. All shines from Love, all pulses from Love, all flows from Love - no, once again, all is Love." -

"We narratively represent our selves in part in order to answer certain questions of identity. It is useful to distinguish two different aims of self-representation that in the end are deeply intertwined. First, there is self-representation for the sake of self-understanding. This is the story we tell ourselves to understand ourselves for who we are. The ideal here is convergence between self-representation and an acceptable version of the story of our actual identity. Second, there is self-representation for public dissemination, whose aim is underwriting successful social interaction." - Owen Flanagan

"So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury and make sharper the contrast between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent. The reaction must come. The tower leans from its foundation, and every new story but hastens the final catastrophe." - Henry George

"If the goal of life is to do the very best one can do at each unfolding moment of existence, then, through spiritual work, one has already escaped the primary cause of suffering. In the stop-frame of the radical present, there is no life story to react to or edit. With this one-pointedness of mind, it soon becomes obvious that everything merely `is as it is’ without comment or adjectives. The illusion of `Now’ is replaced by the reality of `Always’." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"There is no liberation without prophets. The story of the exodus makes it quite clear that a people does not spontaneously struggle out of a state of wretched dependence." - Bakola wa Ilunga

"Experience is connected to myth. Being immersed in self-experience is living one’s own myth, one’s own life story… As our connectedness to living depends, we learn that experience is the teacher. And experience cannot be programmed. We are our own mythmakers, knowingly or unknowingly." - Stanley Keleman

"The shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story." - Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham

"Meaning is at the core of the creative process and of storytelling… When it is our own life story we are telling or a story from our lives, we become aware that we are not the victims of random and chaotic circumstances, that we, too, despite our grief or feelings of insignificance, are living meaningfully in a meaningful universe." - Deena Metzger

"Stories are the maps of the geography of a human life, showing us where to find the important things. Stories remind us what to look for when we are frightened or lost… To have someone know the story of how we came to be here, how we came to be this way… no single story is ever large enough to hold us. After we have told our story once, twice, or ten times… it ceases to be a practice of awakening; it becomes a performance. While it may elicit certain levels of sympathy and support, it does not move us along the path of healing, and it does not open our eyes. In fact, it closes our eyes to anything that does not fit into our story." - Wayne Muller

"Eventually all successful storytelling technologies become “transparent”: we lose consciousness of the medium and see neither print nor film but only the power of the story itself. If digital art reaches the same level of expressiveness as these older media, we will no longer concern ourselves with how we are receiving information. We will only think about what truth it has told us about our lives." - Janet H. Murray

"As much as 90 percent of what is communicated in a story is nonverbal." - Richard “Rick” Stone

"At the end of our lives, after we have passed on, all that is left of us is our story… our ticket to immortality. Telling personal stories is also a bequest, a deeply meaningful and intimate legacy." - Richard “Rick” Stone

"Don’t judge. Just hear what the person has to say. Thoughtfully consider its meaning for him. When you attend to another’s speech in this way, you may come to recognize the miracle of words. This is sacred listening. To such an ear, story, in all of its forms, is transformed into a melodious language. When the listener is this receptive, both he and the teller are elevated to a new realm of communication. This is the foundation of building trust and safety in any relationship." - Richard “Rick” Stone

"The narrative structure of story impresses understandable patterns of meaning on experience, no matter how discontinuous an event is with our core beliefs and current view of things. This shows up most vividly in the midst of personal crises." - Richard “Rick” Stone

"Stories have a meaning, which is not reducible to the sum of the meanings of the sentences that compose them. Can we compare the life of a person to a story or text?" - Garrett Thomson

"The use of creativity as an instrument for personal and social gain is by no means the whole story. In its deeper philosophical implications, creativity is a quest for meaning. It is an attempt to penetrate the mystery of the self, and perhaps the even greater mystery of Being." - Frank Barron

"Life is uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time." -

"The whole world is created from Mind. How we perceive it is the whole story. If we see everything from our ego-centered view, everything is too much to handle. Always we feel limited, unable to cope with situations. We feel small, helpless, and out of control. If we go beyond the egoistic view of the self as separate, then we can enjoy a more magnanimous, panoramic perspective that we call Limitless Mind (dai shin), infinite capacity and complete faith in things just the way they are. It all depends on how we choose to view life. Dropping the ego-centered self we discover the real self, which is none other than no fixed self, completely open to each moment of life." - Dennis Genpo Merzel, aka Genpo Merzel Roshi

"Man is eminently a storyteller. His search for a purpose, a cause, an ideal, a mission and the like is largely a search for a plot and a pattern in the development of his life story — a story that is basically without meaning or pattern." - Eric Hoffer

"A myth is, of course, not a fairy story. It is the presentation of facts belonging to one category in the idioms appropriate to another. To explode a myth is accordingly not to deny the facts but to re-allocate them." - Gilbert Ryle

"The truth [is] that there is only one terminal dignity - love. And the story of a love is not important - what is important is that one is capable of love. It is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted in eternity." - Helen Hayes

"The story of love is not important - what is important is that one is capable of love. It is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity." - Helen Hayes

"All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them." -

"The man who tells me an indelicate story, does me an injury." - James Thomas Fields

"Change the story and you change perception; change perception and you change the world." - Jean Houston

"Your story is always open to revision. To revise literally means to “see again.” Seeing your story from the vantage point of the soul can change your future for the better, no matter what the past may have been." - Joan Borysenko

"Patience is a most necessary quality for business: many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request." - Lord Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

"We are at a crossroads; I am at a crossroads; you are at a crossroads. We are in the midst of an age-old story, that of the forces of light versus the forces of darkness. Will we choose the path of fear, anger, and revenge, or will we choose the path of nonviolence and hope?" - Michael Toms

"Life is a Dream. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story, and the greatest good is little enough: for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams." - Pedro Calderón de la Barca, fully Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño

"Why are not more gems from our great authors scattered over the country? Great books are not in everybody's reach; and though it is better to know them thoroughly than to know them only here and there, yet it is good work to give a little to those who have neither time nor means to get more. Let every bookworm, when in any fragrant, scarce old tome he discovers a sentence, a story, an illustration, that does his heart good, hasten to give it." -

"The soul is more interested in particulars than in generalities. That is true of personal identity as well. Identifying with a group or a syndrome or a diagnosis is giving in to an abstraction. Soul provides a strong sense of individuality - personal destiny, special influences and background, and unique stories. In the face of overwhelming need for both emergency and chronic care, the mental health system labels people schizophrenics, alcoholics, and survivors so that it can bring some order to the chaos of life at home and on the street, but each person has a special story to tell, no matter how many common themes it contains." - Thomas Moore