Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future, and impossible to live in the past. Nothing is as far away as one minute ago." - Jim Bishop, fully James Alonzo "Jim" Bishop

"From the patristic period to the present, the Church has affirmed that misuse of the world’s resources or appropriation of them by a minority of the world’s population betrays the gift of creation since “whatever belongs to God belongs to all.”" - Bishops' Pastoral Letter "Economic Justice For All" NULL

"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

"The way that we attune to our possible outcomes is through our viewpoint of life. From this perspective, every life-threatening condition of each body is already healed, peace is already present, and every child, woman, and man of our world is already fed. Now we are invited to choose the quality of thought, feeling, and emotion that allows us to “bend” the waves of time and bring these conditions into the focus of the present." - Gregg Braden

"To change the conditions that allow war, oppression, and mass suffering, we must change the thinking that has allowed the conditions to be present.”" - Gregg Braden

"Life can only take place in the present moment. If we lose the present moment, we lose life." -

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly." -

"The history of life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings. To a large extent, the physical form and the habits of the earth’s vegetation and its animal life have been molded by the environment. Considering the whole span of earthly time, the opposite effect, in which life actually modifies its surroundings, has been relatively slight. Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species – acquired significant power to alter nature of his world." - Rachel Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson

"Just as life is defined as biological change and death as its lack, so meaning in life is characterized by the application of stable patterns to changing circumstances and the replacing of old patterns of understanding with new and exploratory ones. Meaning is found in the losing of it, the searching after it, and in the finding of it again. The meaning in your life is in flux and is to be found in the flux (the flow) of meaning, which is therefore itself a source of meaning in your life. All this does require, however, the developing of a tolerance for ambiguity, of a willingness to accept the inevitability of change and the precariousness of your present vision, and of an openness to the unending richness of your experience of the world in its manifold variety and diversity." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"We are fully responsible for who it is that we become. In the final analysis, there is no one else to blame. It is totally our own doing. We are always already free to remake our present and future by disencumbering ourselves of unwanted and unhelpful aspects of our past history. Freedom, choice, and responsibility are the ethical watchwords of existentialism." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"What is between one person and another is emptiness, nothingness, a space or field in which we can meet, talk, love, hate, hurt, nurture, encourage, and otherwise engage in ethically significant activity with one another. The between is the place wherein we are able to interact with one another, and it is a field of possibility, an opportunity as much as an emptiness to fill. Leaving the notion of emptiness to one side for the present, the betweenness of men and women works itself out in the way called “ethics,” which occasions and is the description of the consensual rules and structures of social existence." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"Man in the present state of society appears to me to be ore corrupted by his reason than his passions." - Nicolas Chamfort,fully Sébastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort, also spelled Nicholas

"Civilization is an active deposit which is formed by the combustion of the Present with the Past." -

"The best and the deepest moral training is that which one gets by having to enter into proper relationships with others… Present educational systems, so far as they destroy or neglect this unity, render it difficult or impossible to get any genuine, regular moral training." - John Dewey

"Theologians have always recognized that passions may overwhelm the person suddenly and completely to the pint where freedom of choice does not exist and responsibility is not present." - J. Dominian

"The greatest task before civilization at present is to make machines what they ought to be, the slaves, instead of the masters of men." - Havelock Ellis, fully Henry Havelock Ellis

"A passionate translation of the Sh’ma: Sh’ma: listen, or wake up. Yisroel: you who seek to understand and connect with God. Adonai: the Eternal One who has been present since the beginning of time and who expresses love and wisdom by entering our hearts and our world as Eloheynu: our God. Adonai Ekhad: this Eternal energy is the unity within and between all things." - Leonard Felder

"The process of forgiveness allows you to turn your heart toward healing, release, and compassion instead of using your energy for revenge or punishment. Forgiveness allows you to build something positive in the present while still making sure not to repeat what happened in the past." - Leonard Felder

"The key to achieving everlasting happiness involves an enlightened four-prong approach: (1) understanding and loving others; (2) being virtuous and serving others; (3) living life fully and in the present; and (4) adopting an indomitable spirit of thankfulness." - Gary W. Fanchuk

"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today." - Henry Ford

"Death is a great adventure, but none need go unconvinced that there is an issue to it. The man of faith may face it as Columbus faced his first voyage from the shores of Spain. What lies across the sea he cannot tell; but his special expectations all may be mistaken; but his insight into the clear meanings of present facts may persuade him beyond doubt that the sea has another shore." -

"The art of life is to live in the present moment, and to make that moment as perfect as we can by the realization that we are the instruments and expression of God Himself." - Emmet Fox

"The only way to get rid of your problem is to change your belief, or reverse the false process of thought. Fear is always present when there is in harmony, and an affirmation will not in itself destroy fear. You must refuse to be intimidated by the seeming danger, whatever it is, and put your reliance on the Love of God. Then fear will begin to go." - Emmet Fox

"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

"You can only live in the present… only act in the present… only experience in the present. What you call the future, things that you may be planning, or things that you may be dreading – all this is still but a present state of mind. This is the real meaning of the traditional phrase, The Eternal Now. The only joy you can experience is the joy you experience now. A happy memory is a present joy. The only pain you can experience is the pain of the present moment. Sad memories are present pain." - Emmet Fox

"The inability to act spontaneously, to express what one genuinely feels and thinks, and the resulting necessity to present a pseudo-self to others and oneself, are the root of the feeling of inferiority and weakness." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"Whatever complaints the neurotic patient may have, whatever symptoms he may present are rooted in his inability to love, if we mean by love a capacity for the experience of concern, responsibility, respect, and understanding of another person and the intense desire for that other person’s growth." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"At the time of writing I never think of what I have said before. My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth as it may present itself to me [at that] given moment. The result is that I have grown from truth to truth." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Fear not the future, but the present. God orders us to take care of the present." -

"The present-day global landscape is one of profound crisis, which could end either in the death of humankind or in the breakthrough to a new civilization. . . . It is up to all of us who live today on this planet." - Mikhail Gorbachev, fully Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

"The purpose of the past: to give us pleasant memories, wisdom and lessons to learn, not endless regrets. The purpose of the future: to give us hope and motivation and a place for our dreams. To warn us of possible risks, not for needless worry. The purpose of the present: to help us grow by applying the lessons from our past. To enjoy and appreciate the gift and beauty of life. To do what is necessary to make our dreams come true. To heed the warnings coming from our future." - Tom Gregory

"The reality of God’s existence appears as love in the manifestation of goodness, beauty, and truth… Apart from God’s existence as living and active, existence has no ultimate meaning. However far we may look backwards in time, we cannot reach a time when the ordered beauty of the heavens – that beauty which seems overwhelming when we contemplate it – was not present. The existence of truth, order and beauty are eternal, since God is eternal." -

"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

"Recollection is a holy act; we sanctify the present by remembering the past… The essence of faith is memory." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"We all measure good and evil by the pleasure and pain we feel at present, or expect hereafter." - Thomas Hobbes

"The soul needs a physical body here… but when… the body is no longer an adequate instrument through which the soul may function, it lays the present body aside and continues to function through a more subtle one." - Ernest Shurtleff Holmes

"Life is short, should hope be more? IN the moment of our talking, envious time has ebb’d away. Seize the present, trust tomorrow e’en as little as you may." -

"From your past emerges the present, and from the present is born your future." - Mohamed Iqbal or Sir Muhammad Iqbal, aka Allama Iqbal

"The law of duty demands moral perfection or holiness. But this is impossible in our present life, therefore it can only be attained by an indefinite progress, and this progress is only possible under the hypothesis of an existence and a personality that re indefinitely prolonged." - P. A. R. Janet and G. Sèailles

"Everything points with overwhelming force to a definite event, or series of events, of creation at some time or times, not infinitely remote. The universe cannot have originated by chance out of its present ingredients, and neither can it have been always the same as now." -

"All information funnels through a chief of staff and the commanding officer expects his staff to present him with a recommended course of action, not simply the facts and the alternatives." - Richard Tanner Johnson

"He that hopes hereafter to look back with satisfaction upon past years, must learn to know the present value of single minutes." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"No mind is much employed upon the present: recollection and anticipation fill up almost all our moments." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The future is purchased by the present." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"God is withdrawn from both ends of time, for his life is not Time but Eternity, the archetype of time. And in eternity there is neither past nor future but only present." -

"People do not define themselves directly through a chronology of life experiences. Rather, they define themselves through the expression of selected life experiences... people crystallize certain experiences into themes… considered building blocks of identity. Identity in old age – the ageless self – is founded on the present significance of past experience, the current rendering of meaningful symbols and events of a life." - Sharon R. Kaufman

"Personal identity as a phenomenon can be studied only in the present; the researcher cannot know about those themes which have been altered or abandoned, because the integration of experience takes place only through presently existing frameworks of understanding." - Sharon R. Kaufman

"The first and greatest imperative of command is to be present in person. Those who impose risk must be seen to share it… It is the spectacle of heroism, or its immediate report, that fires the blood." - John Keegen

"The unhappy person is never present to themself because they always live in the past or the future." -