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 purpose of meditation practice is not enlightenment; it is to pay attention even at un-extraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each even of ordinary life." - Peter Matthiessen

"No man is lonely while eating spaghetti - it requires so much attention." - Christopher Morley, fully Christopher Darlington Morley

"If we start with the visible, then in order to explain it we must pass into its parts. If we seek to explain man by his organs, his organs by the cells composing them, the atoms by electrons, we lose sight of the man as a whole. Under the microscope the man himself completely disappears... The idea behind organised matter is overlooked. That which is manifest in time and space engages its attention, and so it cannot help looking for causal origin in the smaller constituent parts of any organism - and also in preceding time, i.e. in the past." - Maurice Nicoll

"The common course of things is in favor of happiness. Happiness is the rule, misery the exception. Were the order reversed, our attention would be called to examples of health and competency, instead of disease and want." - Babe Paley, fully Barbara Cushing "Babe" Mortimer Paley

"The Lord’s Prayer, for a succession of solemn thoughts, for fixing the attention upon a few great points, for suitableness to every condition, for sufficiency, for conciseness without obscurity, for the weight and real importance of its petition, is without an equal or a rival." - William Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

"Process is more important than product. We must learn to pay more attention to the "how" instead of the "what" we are doing." - Paul Pearsall

"If there be anything that can be called genius, it consists chiefly in ability to give that attention to a subject which keeps it steadily in the mind, till we have surveyed it accurately on all sides." - Paul Reichmann

"Let a man begin in earnest with “ ought,” and he will end, by God’s grace, if he persevere, with “I will.” Let him force himself to abound in all small offices of kindliness, attention, affectionateness, and all these for God’s sake. By and by he will feel them become the habit of the soul." -

"To give great attention to details is one mark of the genius - to putter with trifles is not." - Charles B. Rogers

"This is the end I aim at: to acquire knowledge of the union of mind with the whole of nature... To do this it is necessary first to understand as much of nature as suffices for acquiring such knowledge, and second to form a society of the kind which permits as many as possible to acquire such knowledge. Third, attention must be paid to moral philosophy... Fourthly, because health is no small means to achieving this end, the whole of medicine must be worked out. And fifthly... because it is possible to gain more free time and convenience in life, mechanics is in no way to be despised." -

"The happiness of life may be greatly increased by small courtesies in which there is no parade, whose voice is too still to tease, and which manifest themselves by tender and affectionate looks, and little acts of attention." - Lawrence Sterne, alternatively Laurence Sterne

"One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings." -

"In times when the passions are beginning to take charge of the conduct of human affairs, one should pay less attention to what men of experience and common sense are thinking than to what is preoccupying the imagination of dreamers." - Alexis de Tocqueville, fully Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville

"We are here to give praise... to pay attention." -

"What I seem to be is just a certain quality of my attention to my Self." - Vedas, The Vedas NULL

"Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer." - Simone Weil

"Curiosity is as much the parent of attention as attention is of memory; therefore the first business of a teacher - first not only in point of time, but of importance - should be to excite not merely a general curiosity on the subject of the study, but a particular curiosity on particular points in that subject. To teach one who has no curiosity to learn is to sow a field without ploughing it." - Richard Whately

"Nothing comes harder than original thought. Even the most gifted scientist spends only a tiny fraction of his waking hours doing it, probably less than one tenth of one percent. the rest of the time his mind hugs the coast of the known, reworking old information, adding lesser data, giving reluctant attention to the ideas of others (what use can I make of them?), warming lazily to the memory of successful experiments, and looking for a problem - always looking for a problem, something that can be accomplished, that will lead somewhere, anywhere." - E. O. Wilson, fully Edward Osborne "E.O." Wilson

"We can listen to the voice of the Earth as she shakes and sings her song expressing her tiredness. She is calling us to attention, to be alert, to recognize that now is the time to transform selfish thought and action to compassionate caretaking. Do we want a world of peace and harmony? Are we willing to make that peace within ourselves? Will we call it forth? It is your choice. Your thought and action make a difference." - Dhyani Ywahoo

"Purpose is about developing relationships. Purpose is about bringing attention and intention into the present moment, moving ahead with new ideas, giving and receiving support, volunteering, mentoring, listening to the imagination and intuition, communicating, taking action based on inner direction and hints from the external, being adaptable, taking responsibility and ending the victim stance forever surrendering to the divine will and working with the lessons developing fluidity, tolerance, compassion, and the ability to love." - Carol Adrienne

"I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction." - Saul Bellow

"Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm… an arrest of attention in the mist of distraction." - Saul Bellow

"I feel that art has something to do with achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction." - Saul Bellow

"Leaders are people who focus attention on a vision. They know what they want and are very results-oriented. It’s their intense focus on worthwhile outcomes that draws others to them and to their cause." - Warren Bennis, fully Warren Gamaliel Bennis

"Ultimately, what we invest our lives in reveals where our heart is. The man who says he loves his family but never spends time with them because he is obsessed with his work has greater love for his work than his family… The things to which we apportion most of our time, thought, and attention reveal where our treasure in life is truly found. If God is not foremost in our lives, if he is not our greatest treasure, he does not have our heart." - Joe Boot

"The possibilities of our future are actually determined by collective choices in the present. The evidence simply states that the choice of many people, focused in a specific manner, has a direct and measurable effect on our quality of life. Quantum physics suggests that by redirecting our focus – where we place our attention – we bring a new course of events into focus while at the same time releasing an existing course of events that may no longer serve us." - Gregg Braden

"Genuine beginnings begin within us, even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities." - William Bridges, fully Sir William Throsby Bridges

"All propaganda messages tend to occur in three stages: the stage of drawing attention and arousing interest, the stage of emotional stimulation, and the stage of showing how tension thus created can be relieved (i.e., by accepting the speaker’s advice)." - J. A. C. Brown, fully James Alexander Campbell Brown

"The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction." -

"The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction." - Rachel Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson

"The greatest gift that you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention." - Anthony J. D'Angelo

"The present moment is never intolerable. It is always what is coming in five minutes or five days that makes people despair. The Law of Life is to live in the present, and this applies to both time and place. Keep your attention to the present moment, and in the place where your body is now." - Emmet Fox

"When you give your attention to anything, you are building that thing into your consciousness, for good or evil. When you are faced with some negative condition in your own life, the scientific way to handle it is to withdraw your attention form it by building the opposite into your subconscious, and when you have done this the undesirable thing falls away like an overripe fruit... Don’t tear away people’s crutches (or your own). When they are no longer needed they will fall away. Dissolve the need." - Emmet Fox

"I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business." - Benjamin Franklin

"It is not attention that the child is seeking but love." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Don’t pay attention to the critics – don’t even ignore them!" - Samuel Goldwyn

"One of the most underestimated of all political resources is personal attention." - Doris Kearns Goodwin, born Doris Helen Kearns

"Does your calculus of success include the bottom line of death, or are you mortgaging your future for the immediate and the short term? Have you been tranquilized by the trivial, or does your sense of life grow from a close attention to reality and time?" - Os Guiness

"The act of praying centers attention on the higher emotion, unifies the spirit, crystallizes emotions, clarifies the judgments, releases latent powers, reinforces confidence that what needs to be done can be done." - Georgia Harkness

"Routine breeds attention." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The advocate can make no greater mistake than to ignore or attempt to conceal the weak points in his case. The most effective strategy is at an early stage of the argument to invite attention to your weakest point before the court has discovered it, then to meet it with the best answers at your disposal, to deal with all the remaining points with equal candor and to end with as powerful a presentation of your strongest point as you are capable of making." -

"The historical Jesus has a different category of sins from that of the Old Testament or of Paul or of ecclesiastical writers after him. The sins which occupied the attention of Jesus were hypocrisy, wordliness, intolerance, and selfishness. The sins which occupy the principal attention of the Church… are impurity, murder, the drinking of alcohol, swearing, the neglect of the Church’s services and ordinances." - Robert Keable

"At particular epochs of their life, [children] reveal an intense and extraordinary interest in certain objects and exercises, which one might look for in vain at a later age… Such attention is not the results of mere curiosity; it is more like a burning passion. A keen emotion first rises from the depths of the unconscious, and sets in motion a marvelous creative activity in contact with the outside world, thus building up consciousness." - Maria Montessori

"If you want to find out how well you are living up to your spiritual values and higher principles, pay close attention to how you behave in the middle of an argument or a tense moment involving someone you live with, work with, or are in love with." - Mordecai Finley

"Gratefulness arises naturally from this fertile balance of honoring both our sorrow and our joy. We name our sorrows so that we can bring care and attention to our wounds, so that we may heal. And at the same time we give thanks for the innumerable gifts and blessings bestowed upon us daily, lest we forget how rich we are." - Wayne Muller

"Rather than attend to those things we love, we give the bulk of our attention instead to things that bring us harm." - Wayne Muller

"We become what we love. When we do what we love, again and again, our life comes to hold the fragrance of that thing… What we love galvanizes our attention. It frames our lives… What we choose to love is very important, for what we love leads our eyes, ears, and hearts on a pilgrimage that shapes the texture of our lives." - Wayne Muller

"Religion floods our darkness with a divine light… Religion brings into the focus of attention the two supreme values - God and the human soul." - John A. O’Brien

"Precisely what we need are good theories to focus our attention, a good set of ideals to guide our action, and good visions of the future to mobilize our energies." - Paul H. Ray

"A distracted people, busy with the fierce competitions of modern life, must be addressed while they are paying attention, which is usually at the moment of some great national or international event." - James Barrett Reston, nicknamed "Scotty"