Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"When the Kundalini rises to the Sahasrara and the mind goes into samadhi, the aspirant loses all consciousness of the outer world. He can no longer retain his physical body. If milk is poured into his mouth, it runs out again. In that state the life-breath lingers for twenty-one days and then passes out. Entering the 'black waters' of the ocean, the ship never comes back. But the Isvarakotis, such as the Incarnations of God, can come down from this state of samadhi. They can descend from this exalted state because they like to live in the company of devotees and enjoy the love of God. God retains in them the 'ego of Knowledge' or the 'ego of Devotion' so that they may teach men. Their minds move between the sixth and the seventh planes. They run a boat-race back and forth, as it were, between these two planes." - Ramakrishna, aka Ramakrishna Paramhamsa or Sri Ramakrishna, born Gadadhar Chattopadhyay NULL

"The nihilist makes one mistake: he does not realise that other people are also nihilists, and that the nihilism of other people is now an active historical factor. He has no consciousness of the possibility of transcendence. The fact is, however, that the present reign of survival, in which all the talk about progress expresses nothing so much as the fear that progress may be impossible, is itself a product of history, is itself the outcome of all the renunciations of humanity that have been made over the centuries. Indeed, the history of survival is the historical movement which will eventually undo history itself. For clear awareness of just how nightmarish life has become is on the point of fusing with a consciousness of the successive renunciations of the past, and thus too with the real desire to pick up the movement of transcendence everywhere in space and time where it has been prematurely interrupted." - Raoul Vaneigem

"Religion, declares the modern man, is consciousness of our highest social values. Nothing could be further from the truth. True religion is a profound uneasiness about our highest social values." - Reinhold Niebuhr, fully Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr

"The dimension of depth in the consciousness of religion creates the tension between what is and what ought to be. It bends the bow from which every arrow of moral action flies." - Reinhold Niebuhr, fully Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr

"Let us suppose, then, that we are dreaming, and that all these particulars--namely, the opening of the eyes, the motion of the head, the forth- putting of the hands--are merely illusions; and even that we really possess neither an entire body nor hands such as we see. Nevertheless it must be admitted at least that the objects which appear to us in sleep are, as it were, painted representations which could not have been formed unless in the likeness of realities; and, therefore, that those general objects, at all events, namely, eyes, a head, hands, and an entire body, are not simply imaginary, but really existent. For, in truth, painters themselves, even when they study to represent sirens and satyrs by forms the most fantastic and extraordinary, cannot bestow upon them natures absolutely new, but can only make a certain medley of the members of different animals; or if they chance to imagine something so novel that nothing at all similar has ever been seen before, and such as is, therefore, purely fictitious and absolutely false, it is at least certain that the colors of which this is composed are real. And on the same principle, although these general objects, viz. a body, eyes, a head, hands, and the like, be imaginary, we are nevertheless absolutely necessitated to admit the reality at least of some other objects still more simple and universal than these, of which, just as of certain real colors, all those images of things, whether true and real, or false and fantastic, that are found in our consciousness (cogitatio), are formed." - René Descartes

"Moralists and theologians place great weight upon the moment of conception, seeing it as the instant at which the soul comes into existence. If, like me, you are unmoved by such talk, you must still regard a particular instant, nine months before your birth, as the most decisive event in your personal fortunes. It is the moment at which your consciousness suddenly becomes trillions of times more forseeable than it was a split second before." - Richard Dawkins

"The evolution of the capacity to simulate seems to have culminated in subjective consciousness. Why this should have happened is, to me, the most profound mystery facing modern biology. There is no reason to suppose that electronic computers are conscious when they simulate, although we have to admit that in the future they may become so. Perhaps consciousness arises when the brain's simulation of the world becomes so complete that it must include a model of itself...Whatever the philosophical problems raised by consciousness, for the purpose of this story it can be thought of as the culmination of an evolutionary trend towards the emancipation of survival machines as executive decision-takers from their ultimate masters, the genes. Not only are brains in charge of the day-to-day running of survival machine affairs, they have also acquired the ability to predict the future and act accordingly. They even have the power to rebel against the dictates of their genes, for instance in refusing to have as many children as they are able to. But in this respect man is a very special case, as we shall see." - Richard Dawkins

"A poet once said 'The whole universe is in a glass of wine.' We will probably never know in what sense he meant that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imaginations adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the Earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secret of the universe's age, and the evolution of the stars. What strange array of chemicals are there in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalizations: all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts" - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"Before any eyes could see... year after year... thunderously pounding the shore as now. For whom, for what? ...on a dead planet with no life to entertain. Never at rest... tortured by energy... wasted prodigiously by the sun... poured into space. A mite makes the sea roar. Deep in the sea, all molecules repeat the patterns of another till complex new ones re formed. They make others like themselves... and a new dance starts. Growing in size and complexity... living things, masses of atoms, DNA, protein... dancing a pattern ever more intricate. Out of the cradle onto dry land... here it is standing... atoms with consciousness ...matter with curiosity. Stands at the sea... wonders at wondering... I... a universe of atoms... an atom in the universe." - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"The reason why the simpler sort are moved by authority is the consciousness of their own ignorance." - Richard Hooker

"The consciousness of doing that which we are reasonably persuaded we ought to do, is always a gratifying sensation to the considerate mind: it is a sensation by God" - Richard Mant

"Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails. Weakness, with acknowledgement of it, is the fittest seat and subject for God to perfect his strength in; for consciousness of our infirmities drives us out of ourselves to him in whom our strength lies." - Richard Sibbes (or Sibbs)

"Along with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment or illumination which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence " - Richard Maurice Bucke, often called Maurice Bucke

"Cosmic Consciousness ... is a higher form of consciousness than that possessed by the ordinary man. This last is called Self Consciousness and is that faculty upon which rests all of our life (both subjective and objective) which is not common to us and the higher animals, except that small part of it which is derived from the few individuals who have had the higher consciousness above named. To make the matter clear it must be understood that there are three forms or grades of consciousness. (1) Simple Consciousness, which is possessed by say the upper half of the animal kingdom. By means of this faculty a dog or a horse is just as conscious of the things about him as a man is; he is also conscious of his own limbs and body and he knows that these are a part of himself. (2) Over and above this Simple Consciousness, which is possessed by man as by animals, man has another which is called Self Consciousness. By virtue of this faculty man is not only conscious of trees, rocks, waters, his own limbs and body, but he becomes conscious of himself as a distinct entity apart from all the rest of the universe. It is as good as certain that no animal can realize himself in that way. ... The animal is, as it were, immersed in his consciousness as a fish in the sea, he cannot, even in imagination, get outside of it for one moment so as to realize it. ... Cosmic Consciousness is a third form which is as far above Self Consciousness as is that above Simple Consciousness. With this form, of course, both simple and self consciousness persist (as simple consciousness persists when self consciousness is acquired), but added to them is the new faculty ... The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is, as its name implies, a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe ... Along with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment or illumination which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence " - Richard Maurice Bucke, often called Maurice Bucke

"Our descendants will sooner or later reach, as a race, the condition of cosmic consciousness, just as, long ago, our ancestors passed from simple consciousness into self-consciousness." - Richard Maurice Bucke, often called Maurice Bucke

"There occurs an intellectual enlightenment or illumination which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence ... To this is added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of elevation, elation and joyousness ... With these come, what may be called, a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it already." - Richard Maurice Bucke, often called Maurice Bucke

"With these come, what may be called, a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it already." - Richard Maurice Bucke, often called Maurice Bucke

"Perhaps the word for the feeling I mean is serenity, a high acceptance, a recognition that Heracleitus's doctrine of eternal flow is a great truth, and while we may not, in ourselves, find the moment when the one element changes into the other, that moment will come and the consciousness of its inevitability may give us courage in adversity, and balance in good fortune." - Robertson Davies

"The walnut of my brain glows. I feel it irradiate the skull. I am aware of the consciousness I have, and I mourn the consciousness I do not have." - Robert Bly

"One of the principles of spiritual psychology is that "healing is the application of loving to the parts inside that hurt." If ever there was a way to transform a life of quiet desperation into a life of effective peaceful living, healing inner hurts surely ranks right up there. As you resolve issues, you stand up in who you truly are and find purpose and meaning in sharing your unique contribution. The more issues you resolve, the more you evolve spiritually, the more peaceful and caring you become, and the more you contribute to the evolution of consciousness of the human species. As we say at USM, "Every time one person resolves one issue, all of humanity evolves." Meaning is a natural and automatic by-product of a life filled with acts of love. If you want to live a life filled with meaning, start expressing from your essential loving nature. Start singing your song." - Ron and Mary Hulnick, formally H. Ronald Hulnick and

"The kinds of spiritual practices we can undertake are limitless. However, ultimately the form is less important than these factors: the commitment to practice, the ability to keep returning to the intention, the attitude one brings to the uncontrollable and the ability to transfer the benefits of the practice into how we live our lives, how we relate to ourselves and others, how free we become to embody the values and ideals we embrace in our minds, how we deal with temptations of all sorts. In other words we practice to live with the wisdom and compassion, which we already possess. We practice to actualize the pure soul, which God has planted with us." - Sheila Peltz Weinberg

"The truly mysterious ‘object’ is beyond our apprehension and comprehension, not only because our knowledge has certain irremovable limits, but because in it we come upon something inherently `wholly other’, whose kind and character are incommensurable with our own, and before which we therefore recoil in wonder that strikes us chill and numb." - Rudolf Otto

"Thus the Atlanteans could control what one calls the life force. As today one extracts the energy of heat from coal and transforms it into motive power for our means of locomotion, the Atlanteans knew how to put the germinal energy of organisms into the service of their technology. One can form an idea of this from the following. Think of a kernel of seed-grain. In this an energy lies dormant. This energy causes the stalk to sprout from the kernel. Nature can awaken this energy which reposes in the seed. Modern man cannot do it at will. He must bury the seed in the ground and leave the awakening to the forces of nature. The Atlantean could do something else. He knew how one can change the energy of a pile of grain into technical power, just as modern man can change the heat energy of a pile of coal into such power. Plants were cultivated in the Atlantean period not merely for use as foodstuffs but also in order to make the energies dormant in them available to commerce and industry. Just as we have mechanisms for transforming the energy dormant in coal into energy of motion in our locomotives, so the Atlanteans had mechanisms in which they — so to speak — burned plant seeds, and in which the life force was transformed into technically utilizable power. The vehicles of the Atlanteans, which floated a short distance above the ground travelled at a height lower than that of the mountain ranges of the Atlantean period, and they had steering mechanisms by the aid of which they could rise above these mountain ranges." - Rudolf Steiner, fully Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner

"We must eradicate from the soul all fear and terror of what comes towards Man, out of the future. We must acquire serenity in all feelings and sensations about the future. We must look forward with absolute equanimity to everything that may come. And we must think only that whatever comes is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom. It is part of what we must learn in this age, namely, to live out of pure trust, without any security in existence - trust in the ever-present help of the spiritual world. Truly, nothing else will do if our courage is not to fail us. And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves, every morning and every evening." - Rudolf Steiner, fully Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner

"`Confound Romance!' . . . And all unseen / Romance brought up the nine-fifteen." - Rudyard Kipling

"The truly pure of heart are those who despise the things of earth and seek the things of heaven, and who never cease to adore and behold the Lord God living and true with a pure heart and soul." - Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone NULL

"When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means." - Saint John of Kronstadt, fully John Il’ich Serguiev, aka Holy Father John of the Kronstadt NULL

"I would never want any prayer that would not make the virtues grow within me." - Saint Teresa of Ávila, aka Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada NULL

"In the midst of vice we are in virtue, and vice versa." - Samuel Butler

"Disease is a physical process that generally begins that equality which death completes." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The return of my birthday, if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Riches do not constitute any claim to distinction. It is only the vulgar who admire riches as riches." - Samuel Smiles

"We can see unmistakeably that there is an inner relationship between Zen and the warrior's life." - Shunryu Suzuki, also Daisetsu Teitaro or D.T. Suzuki or Suzuki-Roshi

"Consciousness is energy received and decoded by a structure. In human beings, the receiving-decoding structures are neuro-chemical." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Man found that he was faced with the acceptance of "spiritual" forces, that is to say such forces as cannot be comprehended by the senses, particularly not by sight, and yet having undoubted, even extremely strong, effects. If we may trust to language, it was the movement of the air that provided the image of spirituality, since the spirit borrows its name from the breath of wind (animus, spiritus, Hebrew: ruach = smoke). The idea of the soul was thus born as the spiritual principle in the individual ... Now the realm of spirits had opened for man, and he was ready to endow everything in nature with the soul he had discovered in himself." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"The unconscious is the true psychical reality; in its innermost nature it is as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is as incompletely presented by the data of consciousness as is the external world by the communications of our sense organs." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"However, wretch as he was, he was still living under the shield of British law, and I have no doubt, Inspector, that you will see that, though that shield may fail to guard, the sword of justice is still there to avenge." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"Take a stress pill and think things over-- HAL in 2001" - Stanley Kubrick

"The whole idea of god is absurd. If anything, '2001' shows that what some people call 'god' is simply an acceptable term for their ignorance. What they don't understand, they call 'god' -Stanley Kubrick, interview, 1963" - Stanley Kubrick

"All began in love, all seeks to return in love. Love is the law, the teacher of wisdom, and the great revealer of mysteries." - Starhawk, born Miriam Simos NULL

"In a culture where profit has become the true God, self-sacrifice can seem incomprehensible rather than noble." - Starhawk, born Miriam Simos NULL

"The test of a true myth is that each time you return to it, new insights and interpretations arise." - Starhawk, born Miriam Simos NULL

"Facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Gaskell... had to keep his stately soldiers upright and uniformly oriented... by crafting the brain and spinal cord from an arthropod digestive tube, while forming a completely new gut below. ...Gaskell thought that his move would rescue the theory of linear progress, with its necessary transition of arthropod into vertebrate, from the absurdities of the old inversion theory." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Since the universe must contain millions of appropriate planets, consciousness in some form - but not with the paired eyes and limbs, and the brain built of neurons in the only example we know - may evolve frequently. But if only one origin of life in a million ever leads to consciousness, then Martian bacteria most emphatically do not imply Little Green Men.)" - Stephan Jay Gould

"Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists -- whether through design or stupidity, I do not know -- as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. The punctuations occur at the level of species; directional trends (on the staircase model) are rife at the higher level of transitions within major groups… Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Place is a rich and complex reality and the more nature is apparent in place, the more distinct the influence." - Stephanie Mills

"The day that witnesses the conversion of our ministers into political and philosophical speculators or scientific lecturers, will witness the final decay of clerical weight and influence." -

"Forgiveness is not a condoning of the unskillful act which has caused injury, but a touching of the actor with mercy and loving kindness." - Stephen Levine