Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

  • Vagabonding defined:
    • The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time.
    • A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit.
    • A deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible.
    • Latin-derived term that refers to a wanderer with no fixed home.
    • Vagabonding has always been a private choice within a society that is constantly urging us to do otherwise.
  • This book views long-term travel not as an escape but as an adventure and a passion – a way of overcoming your fears and living life to the fullest.

Research your own experiences for the truth… Absorb what is useful… Add what is specifically your own… The creating individual is more than any style or system. – Bruce Lee

  • Out of insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don’t really need – we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travel becomes just another accessory – a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture.
    • Ultimately, this shotgun wedding of time and money has a way of keeping us in a holding pattern. The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we are too poor to buy our freedom.
    • In reality, long-term travel has nothing to do with demographics – age, ideology, income – and everything to do with personal outlook.
    • Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions.
    • Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure.

[We end up spending] the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it. – Henry David Thoreau

  • … rooting ourselves to a home or a career and using the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present.
  • Vagabonding is the ongoing practice of looking and learning, of facing fears and altering habits, of cultivating new fascination with people and places.
    • Vagabonding is a personal act that demands only realignment of self.

And they say in truth that a man is made of desire. As his desire is, so is his faith. As his faith is, so are his works. As his works are, so he becomes. – The Supreme Teaching of the Upanishads

Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month? The boy who made his own jackknife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this – or the body who had… received a Rodger’s penknife from his father? Which would be most likely to cut his fingers? – Henry David Thoreau

  • [Trustafarians] Because they never worked for their freedom, their travel experiences have no personal reference – no connection to the rest of their lives.
    • They are spending plenty of time and money on the road, but they never spent enough of themselves to begin with. Thus, their experience of travel has a diminished sense of value.
  • The “meaningful” part of travel always starts at home, with a personal investment in the wonders to come.
  • Work is how you settle your financial and emotional debts – so that your travels are not an escape from your real life but a discovery of your real life.

Wanting to travel reflects a positive attitude. You want to see, to grow in experience, and presumably to become more whole as a human being. Vagabonding takes this a step further: it promotes the chances of sustaining and strengthening this positive attitude. As a vagabond, you begin to face your fear now and then instead of continuously sidestepping them in the name of convenience. You build an attitude that makes the life more rewarding, which in turn makes it easier to keep doing it. It’s called positive feedback, and it works. – Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa

  • However you choose to fund your travel freedom, keep in mind that your work is an active part of your travel attitude.

We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis. – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

  • List the job skills travel has taught you: independence, flexibility, negotiation, planning, boldness, self-sufficiency, improvisation.

A lot of us first aspired to far-ranging travel and exotic adventure early in our teens; these ambitions are, in fact, adolescent in nature, which I find an inspiring idea… Thus, when we allow ourselves to imagine as we once did, we know, with a sudden jarring clarity, that if we don’t go right now, we’re never going to do it. And we’ll be haunted by our unrealized dreams and know that we have sinned against ourselves gravely. – Tim Cahill, Exotic Places Made Me Do  It

  • …travel allows you to experience the nuances of the world in a way that mass media never will.
  • Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level; it’s fund through simplicity – the conscious decision of how to use what income you have.
    • Simplicity merely requires a bit of personal sacrifice: an adjustment of your habits and routines within consumer society itself.
    • At times, the biggest challenge in embracing simplicity will be the vague feeling of isolation that comes with it, since private sacrifice doesn’t garner much attention in the frenetic world of mass culture.

Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants… Our forefathers forges chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation, add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief. – John Muir, Kindred and Related Spirits

… the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want… general junk you always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of [it] impersonal in a system of work, produce, consume. – Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

  • … neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own.

[Seeking happiness in one’s material desires is absurd as] suffering because a banana tree will not bear mangos. – Buddha

  • Despite several millennia of such warnings, however, there is still an overwhelming social compulsion – an insanity of consensus, if you will – to get rich from life rather than live richly, to “do well” in the world instead of living well.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing. – Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

By switching to a new game, which in this case involves vagabonding, time becomes the only possession and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle. – Ed Buryn

Travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: one the road, we often live more simply, with no more possession than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance. This is what Camus meant when he said that “what gives value to travel is fear.” – disruption, in other words (or emancipation), from circumstance and all the habits behind which we hide. – Pico Iyer, Why We Travel

  • There are three general methods to simplifying your life: stopping expansion, reining in your routine, and reducing clutter.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

  • Vagabonding is, was, and always will be a private undertaking – and its goal is to improve your life not in relation to your neighbors but in relation to yourself.
  • Indeed, not only does simplicity save you money and buy you time; it also makes you more adventuresome, forces you into sincere contact with locals, and allows you the independence to follow your passions and curiosities down exciting new roads.

My greatest skill has been to want little. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  • Vagabonding is not just a process of discovering the world but a way of seeing – an attitude that prepares you to find the things you weren’t looking for.

It is fatal to know too much at the outset; boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his routes as the novelist who is overcertain of his plot. – Paul Theroux, To the Ends of the Earth

  • The key to preparation is to strike a balance between knowing what’s out there and being optimistically ignorant.
  • The gift of the information age is knowing your options – not your destiny – and those people who plan their travels with the idea of eliminating all uncertainty and unpredictability are missing out on the whole point of leaving home in the first place.
  • The goal of preparation is not knowing exactly where you’ll go but being confident nonetheless that you’ll get there. This means that your attitude will be more important than your itinerary, and that the simple willingness to improvise more vital, in the long run, than research.

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity… no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

  • A lot of media information – especially day-to-day news – should be approached with a healthy amount of skepticism. This is because so many media outlets are more in the business of competing for your attention than giving you a balanced picture of the world.

A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving. – Laozi, The Way of Life

  • Human-centered adventures

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to practical bum is not difficult. He has built-in garden of reason to choose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and its fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgment. The traveler was a student of what he sought. – Paul Fussell, Abroad

  • … moderate the amount of time you spend online as you travel – since nothing stifles your vagabonding flexibility quite like the compulsive urge to stay connected to the modern world.
  • Vagabonding is not like bulk shopping: The value of our travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home – and the slow, nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty counties.
  • Never underestimate your ability to learn and adapt quickly – and don’t waste time fretting about every possibility that might come your way on the road.
    • Simple courage is worth far more than detailed logistics, and a confident, positive, ready-to-learn attitude will make up for any travel savvy you lack at the outset.

Travel, there is no path
path are made by walking. – Antonio Machado, Cantores

  • Buddhists believe that we live our everyday lives as if inside an eggshell. Just a an unhatched chicken has few clues about what life is truly like, most of us are only vaguely aware of the greater world that surrounds us.

Excitement and depression, fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain are storms in a tiny, private, shell-bound realm – which we take to be the whole fo existence. Yet we can break out of this shell and enter a new world. – Eknath Easwaran

Travel in general, vagabonding in particular, produces an awesome density of experiences… a cramming together of incidents, impressions and life detail that is both stimulating and exhausting. So much new and different happens to you so frequently, just when you’re most sensitive to it… You may be excited, bored, confused, desperate and amazed all in the same happy day. – Ed Buryn

I don’t want to hurry it. That itself is a poisonous twentieth-century attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things. – Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  • At home, you’re conditioned to get to the point and get things done, to favor goals and efficiency over moment-by-moment distinction.

When you travel you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak.. You begin to be more accessible to others, because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. – Paulo Coelho

Did you think you should enter the Garden of Bliss without such trials as came to those who passed before you? – The Koran

  • In other words, tourist attractions are defined by their collective popularity, and that very popularity tends to devalue the individual experience of such attractions.

The practice of soulful travel is to discover the overlapping point between history and everyday life, the way to find the essence of every place, every day: In the markets, small chapels, out-of-the-way parks, craft shops. Curiosity about the extraordinary in the ordinary moves the heart of the traveler intent on seeing behind the veil of tourism. – Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage

Bear in mind that the special advantage of vagabonding is the experience not really knowing what happens next, which you can obtain at bargain rates in all cases… The challenges you face offer no alternative but to cope them. And doing that , your life is being lived fully. – Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Europe and North America

We see as we are. – The Buddha

Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own countrymen, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with traveled bodies, but untraveled minds. – Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

We do not need to understand other people and their customs fully to interact with them and learn in the process; it is making the effort to interact without knowing all the rules, improvising certain situations, that allow us to grow. – Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions

We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazards, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment no matter what. – George Santayana, The Philosophy of Travel

Exploration is not so much a covering surface distance as a study in depth: a fleeting episode, a fragment of landscape or a remark overheard that may provide the only means of understanding and interpreting areas which would otherwise remain barren of meaning. – Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques

  • The secret of adventure is not to carefully seek it out but to travel in such a way that it finds you.
    • To do this, you first need to overcome the protective habit of home and open yourself up to unpredictability.

Explore your own higher latitude. Be a Columbus to whole new continents within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The man who is truly good and wise will bear with dinginity whatever fortune sends, and will always make the best of his circumstances. – Aristotle

We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them… How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquesioningly. Everything … we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is golden for him who has the vision to realize it as such. – Henry Miller

Our eyes find it easier on a given occasion to produce a picture already often produced, than to seize upon the divergence and novelty of an impression. It is difficult and painful for the ear to listen to anything new; we hear strange music badly. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Traveler vs. Tourist

The traveler sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see. – GK Chesterton

The traveler was active, he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. – Daniel Boorstin

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been; travelers don’t know where they’re going. – Paul Theroux

Travelers are those who leave their assumptions at home, and [tourists are] those who don’t. – Pico Iyer

  • With escape in mind, vacationers tend to approach their holiday with a grim resolve, determined to make their experience live up to their expectation; on the vagabonding road, you prepare for the long haul knowing that the predictable and the unpredictable, the pleasant and the unpleasant are not separate but part of the same ongoing reality.
  • In this way, “seeing” as you travel is somewhat of a spiritual exercise: a process not of seeking interesting surroundings, but of being continually interested in whatever surrounds you.

Most people are on the world, not in it – having no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate. – John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints. – Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes

  • The best way to confront reality is not with a set method of interpretation but with a sincere attitude of open-mindedness.

Luxury, then, is a way of being ignorant, comfortably. – Leroi Jones, Political Poem

  • Cling too fiercely to your ideologies and you’ll miss the subtle realities that politics can’t address.
  • Just as skepticism should not be confused with cynicism, however, embracing realism need not be confused with falling into pessimism.

The evaluation of tourism cannot be accomplished against a static background. Some of what we see as destruction is construction. Some is the result of a lack of any other viable option; and some the result of choices that could be made differently. – Davydd J. Greenwood

  • One particular potent strain of traveler pessimism is the notion that modern influences are destroying native societies, or that certain cultures were more “real” sometimes in the not-too-distant past. According to this assumption, any given society was somehow better twenty years ago, before it was “spoiled.” What such reflexive pessimism overlooks, of course, is that societies have always changed, and that “tradition” is a dynamic phenomenon.
    • … much of concern about the evils of change within premodern culture is less an interest in the quality of local life than our own desire to experience an “untainted” culture.
    • The purest way to see a culture is simply to accept and experience it as it is now.

While I complain of being able to glimpse no more than the shadow of the past, I may be insensitive to reality as it is taking shape at this very moment… A few hundred years hence, in this same place, another traveler, as despairing as myself, will mourn the disappearance of what I might have seen, but failed to see. – Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques

The unreal never is: the Real never is not. This truth indeed has been seen by those who can see the true. – Bhagavad Gita

The drug vision remain a sort of dream that cannot be brought over into daily life. Old mist may be banished, that is true, but the alien chemical agent forms another mist, maintaining the separation of the ‘I” from the true experience of the ‘One.’ – Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

  • The problem with marijuana, however, is that it’s the travel equivalent of watching television: It replaces real sensation with artificially enhanced ones. Because it doesn’t force you to work for a feeling, it creates passive experiences that are only vaguely connected to the rest of your life.

I never took drugs because I am drugs. – Salvador Dali

  • Strive to be drugs as you travel, to patiently embrace the raw, personal sensation of unmediated reality – an experience far more affecting than any intoxicant can promise.

Often I feel I got to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am… Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That’s not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating. – Michael Crichton, Travels

We all have stuck in us deep somewhere a keenness for excitement, a savoring for the kooky, a leap-for-life outlook. From this comes the catalytic impetus, without which all other requirements mean nothing. Everyday types are as likely to have this sine qua non as the obvious icon-kickers. The person who strikes off for himself is no hero, nor necessarily even unconventional, but to a greater degree than most people, he or she thinks and acts independently. The vagabond frees in himself the latent urge to live closer to the edge of experience. – Ed Buryn

  • …what most people consider “paradise” is defined in contrast to the stresses of home.
  • In knowing my possibilities, I also knew my limitations.
  • Aboriginal walkabout – walkabout acts as a kind of remedy when the duties and obligations of life cause one to lose track of his or her true self. To correct this, one merely leaves behind all possessions and starts walking.
    • There is no physical goal: It simply continues until one becomes whole again.

One must not delude oneself that we are all alike or destined to be members of some sort of global family. – Jeffrey Taylor, Ex-Peace Corps worker

  • Acknowledging differences and avoiding superficial cures is not just a valuable lesson of volunteer work – it’s often the first step in actually solving the problems that you seek to fix.

He who stays at home beside his hearth and is content with the information which he may acquire concerning his own region, cannot be on the same level as one who divides his life span between different lands and spends his days journeying in search of precious and original knowledge. – al-Masudi, The Meadows of Gold

People say that we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we are seeking is an experience of being alive. – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

[Travel as a form of asceticism] is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person. It is a radical way of knowing exactly who, what, and where you are, in defiance of those powerful forces in society that aim to make us forget. – Kathleen Norris

  • Travel compels you to discover your spiritual side by simply elimination: Without all the rituals, routines, and possessions that give your life meaning at home, you are forced to look for meaning within yourself.
  • Words are symbols, and symbols never resonate the same for everyone.

There is no God but reality. – Sufi saying

  • it is not a declaration of unbelief. Rather, it is a warning to avoid turning inspiration into fetish and tradition into dogma; it is an admonition to never reduce the spiritual realm to the narrow borders of your own perceptions, prejudices, and ideals.

Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we sense them. The least we can do is try to be there. – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

http://www.vagabonding.net/resources/

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Posted: December 17, 2011 in Book Notes
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  • Morrie’s questions:
    • Tell me something close to your heart.
    • Tell me something about your faith.
    • Have you found someone to share your heart with?
    • Are you at peace with yourself?
  • Life is a series of pulls back and forth… A tension of opposite, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.
  • The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.
    • [People] gave up days and weeks of their lives, addicted to someone else’s drama.
  • The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.

Love is the only rational act. – Stephen Levine

  • How useful it would be to put a daily limit on self-pity.
  • Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel.
  • We’re so wrapped up with egoistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks – we’re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing?

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. – Henry Adams

  • Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.
    • … learn to actually be more involved in your life while you’re living.

Love each other or perish. – W.H. Auden

  • Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it.
  • I don’t want to leave the world in a state of fright. I want to know what’s happening, accept it, get to a peaceful place, and let go.
  • … giving as an adult and taking as a child.
  • Aging is not just decay. It’s growth.
    • You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive. And, age is not a competitive issue.
  • Envy comes to me, I feel it, and then I let it go.
  • Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over… More is good. More is good. We repeat it – and it repeated to us – over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore.
  • What really gives you satisfaction is offering others what you have to give.
    • So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
  • What we take, we must replenish.
  • People are only mean when they’re threatened… and that’s what our culture does. That’s what our economy does.
  • I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community… The little things I can obey. But the big things – how we think, what we value – those you must choose yourself. You can’t let any one – or any society – determine those for you.
  • Look, no matter where you live, the biggest defect we human beings have is our shortsightedness. We don’t see what we could be. We should be looking at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become.
  • It’s not just other people we need to forgive. We also need to forgive ourselves.
  • People act as if death is contagious… It’s not contagious, you know. Death is as natural as life. It’s part of the deal we made.
  • Death ends a life, not a relationship.
  • There is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do and what their life is like.
  • … ignore the lure of advertised values…

Interview: ‘Tuesdays With Morrie,’ Part 1

The Exercise of The Other

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Short Stories
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This is an excerpt from “By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” by Paulo Coelho.

Man runs into an old friend who had somehow never been able to make it in life. “I should give him some money,” he thinks. But instead he learns that his old friend has grown rich and is actually seeking him out to repay his debts he had run up over the years.

They go to a bar they used to frequent together, and the friend buys drinks from everyone there. When they ask him how he became so successful, he answers that only until a few days ago, he had been living the role of “The Other”.

“What is the Other?” they ask.

The Other is the one who taught me what I should be like, but not what I am. The Other believes that it is our obligation to spend our entire life thinking about how to get our hands on as much money a possible so that we will not die of hunger when we are old. So we think so much about money and our plans for acquiring it that we discover we are alive only when our days on earth are practically done. And then it’s too late.

“And you? Who are you?”

“I am just like everyone else who listens to their heart: a person who is enchanted by the mystery of life. Who is open to miracles, who experiences joy and enthusiasm for what they do. It’s just that the Other, afraid of disappointment, kept me from taking action.”

“But there is suffering in life,” one of the listeners said.

“And there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggle for your dreams than to be defeated without ever even knowing what you’re fighting for.”

“That’s it?” another listener asked.

“Yes, that’s it. When I learned this, I resolved to become the person I had always wanted to be. The Other stood there in the corner of my room, watching me, but I will never let the Other into myself again – even though it has already tried to frighten me, warning me that it’s risky not to think about the future.”

“From the moment that I ousted the Other from my life, the Divine Energy began to perform its miracles.”

I sleep but my heart is awake. – Song of Songs 5:2

  • Dreaming emanates from our right brain which, along with the rest of our brain, never stops emitting nerve impulses. This is a natural result of being alive. Like breathing, it goes on day and night.
  • The left brain is abstract and talks of mind, the right brain is spatial and speaks of body.
    • The right brain doesn’t “think”, it experiences. Its realm is the body, its language is formed with images (The process by which the right brain translates our sensory experiences into awareness).

The poet’s language, with its “head of emotion,” its associative images, its leaps, brings us closer to the real thing. The farther poem gets from its initial worldly circumstance without breaking the thread, the more content it has. – Robert Bly

  • Poets flourish at precisely this juncture between the imaginal and the verbal. To them the dream world is primal; verbal language is the servant of dream. For the poet, living movements of the imaginal body gives rise to words as the earth gives rise to a fountain of life. The words of the imaginal body don’t necessarily follow each other in a rational sequence as they would in an intellectual argument. In poetry there are leaps, amazing juxtapositions, shocking associations.
  • Disowning its twin sibling which is the imaginal mind, the conscious mind has fed upon its ability to “know” reality. For four centuries and more it has glorified in measuring, verifying, and proving what it knows. A huge cultural ego has grown around this ability to fix knowledge.
    • In the words of this theorizing ego: What cannot be proven is not true, what is not verifiable does not exist.
    • This way of thinking is very seductive, as it greatly reduces the uncertainties we face and allows us to believe that we control our environment.
  • What cannot be proven is not necessarily untrue.
    • This allows us to accept what we “see” while we yet lack the simply logical tools, or a paradigm, to prove it.
  • Is fear not there to teach us courage?
    • Confronting mysteries may lead us on fascinating adventures we would otherwise miss if we were to give in to our fear.
  • We can hold onto what we think is stable: the outside world. We cling to our supposed ability to distinguish the separation, for we are convinced our safety depends on our being able to see reality as it is.
  • The true juncture between the two world is the body. Trust your body.
    • Your sensations are the pathways in both directions, to the concrete and to the dream world. The senses act as doors that swing in or out at will.
  • Dream acts on the physical world.
    • The images may be “fantasy,” but their effects are real.
    • Imagination affects the physical, and vice versa.
    • The two world interact through the body.
  • By paying attention to your senses, you catch the tail of the beast. Staying grounded in the present and becoming skillful at listening to what your body’s senses are telling you is the first step in your training as a dreamer.
    • Victory over our illusions and projections comes when we are able to distinguish, in our bodies, the difference in sensation between our surface reactions and our true intuitive feelings.
  • We live in a world made recognizable through patterns and forms and, should they disappear, this world would become lost to us.
  • While we would feel totally naked and vulnerable without a sense of boundaries (left brain: stability), at the same time we long to escape their imprisonment (right brain: freedom).
    • We need shape to shape ourselves. Yet we also need a vacation away from shape to allow ourselves, when we return, a larger gamut of choices within the patterned tapestry of this world.
  • We can sustain some chaos, but pattern grounds our lives.
    • Without pattern, life cease to make sense.
    • The mind is insatiable in its search for meaningful patterns.
    • This is the paradox you will encounter as you become a true dreamer: to be able to experience the lightness and freedom beyond pattern and yet remain grounded in your earthly body!
  • In perceiving your world you create it. What you are attracted to defines the way you see the world and yourself.
    • You make the world fit into the parameters of your strange attractors.
    • Since you gravitate only towards certain configurations and ignore others, your worldview is essentially limited and your beliefs about your possibilities are also restricted.
  • The destiny of man is to fully embody the potential offered by the genetic structure that is given to him. Each human being incarnates to fulfill that purpose. But human beings respond to their environment, they have the power of choice…
    • More difficult to deal with than genetic endowments are the environmental restraints which have conditioned us, through repeated programming from the outside, to a narrowed perspective on life. This conditioning is there from the beginning of life.
    • We are self-referent creatures, we train ourselves as we go along, digging ourselves deeper into the groove we have chosen. Then we train our children to do the same.
  • Hypnagogic images: These images appear at the threshold between waking and sleeping, when all your habitual processes are reversed (you are lying down, not standing; your eyes are closed, not open; your muscles are relaxed, not working). You are too relaxed to want to manipulate your images, and thus this hidden inner world – the reverse of the outer world – comes out to play.
  • Imagine that you have been in a dark cave for many days and nights. When you come out into the sunshine the probability is that you will see only swirling colors, hazy shapes, and unfocused senses which you will misinterpret. In the same fashion, you have been in the open cave of the outer world far too long, and have forgotten how to “see” in the dark.
    • When you focus in this new world, you scan the whole picture without ever narrowing in on one particular form. You learn to watch a pattern without getting caught in the pattern.

Rabbi Hiyya said: When the evil inclination (the unexamined impulse) starts to attach itself to a man it is like someone coming to the door (of a house). When he sees that no one tries stop him, he enters the house and becomes a guest. He notices that no one tries to stop him or send him on his way. Once he has entered the house, and still no one tries to stop him, he gains the upper hand becomes the master of the house, so that in time he exercises control over the whole household. – Zohar II, 267B – 268A

What has been done in time must be undone with time. – Colette Simhah Aboulker-Muscat

  • Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stop?…To say “no” and, in so doing, be the master of your needs rather than their slave?
    • …by reigning in their instinctual nature, we can make this great energy available for positive, creative purposes – bringing in extra soul, vital energy.
  • Habits are ingrained in the body. You must work with the body if you wish  to change your habits.
    • To be successful, you must replace this old habit with another “better” habit.
  • Life is movement.
  • Strange attractors – empty lungs and air – have found each other. From the initial shock of their meeting, the whole pathway and form of their interaction is forged into a pattern of exhaling and inhaling. The impulse of the empty lungs to kick back when incited or pricked by the air is what we call an “instinctual reflex.” We can say that our instinct is to breathe out.
    • In the same way, the first encounter of eyes and light stimulates the impulse to see forms; the first sounds activating our ear drums stimulate the impulse to hear sounds; the first meeting of body and space stimulates the impulse to move; skin and touch stimulate the impulse for contact; an empty stomach stimulates the impulse to eat; too much stimuli stimulates the impulse to shut down and sleep.
    • These are all reflexes and instincts, impulsive movements in response to outside stimuli.
    • Our inner nature encounters outside nature and habits of interaction are formed.
    • Fear gravitates toward anger.
    • Just as our bodies are subject to the natural pull of gravity, our psyches are attracted to our more natural urges (desires and reactions).
  • The truth is that there is no sin, only a lack of awareness of where to direct the great waves of our emotions.
    • Blocking an instinctual movement is like blocking the raging torrent. Tension builds and builds, to the point where something has to give.
    • Remember – the movement must go somewhere, for once it is triggered it cannot stop moving until, like a wave, it has exhausted its potential.
  • Being able to observe yourself is the first step in clearing the mirror, while recording your movements brings your observations into concrete focus.

A dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that is not read. And come and see. If one does not remember it, it is as if one had never known it. Therefore whoever forgets a dream and does not know it, will not benefit from its fulfillment. – Zohar I, 199B – 200A

  • Nightmares don’t vanish so easily. How can they, since they are our perception of chaotic sensations produced by our very real emotions?
  • Disease can manifest at four different levels:
    • The physical
    • The emotional (fantasies, illusions, destructive patterns of behavior, etc.)
    • The mental (obsessions, compulsions, schizothymia, paranoia, etc.)
    • The spiritual (indolence, indifference, bitterness, accidie, loss of meaning, apostasy, etc.)
    • One thing you may be sure of, if there is backed-up energy, disease will eventually make its appearance at one of those levels of your being. Can you imagine living in a house where a supporting wall is cracked? If you can’t trust the stability of your own home, you won’t find much enjoyment in your life. Your anxiety and obsession about the cracked wall can cause you to lose your healthy grip on reality. Added to this, instead of dealing with the source of your disease, you are now obsessed about its effects.
  • Repetitiveness is a call for help.
  • We are call caught in some form of repetitive behavior, simply because we are human. It is the nature of our world to be limited by form and habit.
  • Remember, our feelings are not emotions.
    • Emotions are reactions to blocked desires, expectations, claims, etc.
    • Emotions is a movement out, a spark of electricity in reaction to an outer trigger, while feeling is a state of being.
    • Emotions are not thoughts. They are experiences. When you feel anger, you whole body is involved.
  • We need the flame of emotion to light the fire of feeling.
  • Since feeling is triggered by a response, it always comes from the heart realm.

Men and women are animals so long as they react. They only become human beings when they learn to respond.

  • Respond instead of react – adequately address the necessity of the situation.
    • Responding means transmuting emotions into feeling.
    • Why not simply be present to what is presented to us and look necessity in the face?
  • Despite what you say to yourself, the dream is you. You are its audience, yes, but you are also its author…you are the creator of your dreams.
  • Remember that the place inside you where dreams are created is fundamentally optimistic and free.
  • As an old pattern moves into a new configuration, you will feel moved in your entire being.
  • Whereas the conscious mind seizes, directs, proceeds linearly and by elimination, the dreaming mind dissolves, transmutes, leaps ahead or in any which direction – like the all-powerful queen in the game of chess.
  • For, like that famous fruit [Adam and Eve’s apple], truth to us is both good and evil and must be handled with care.
  • As true disciples of scientific side of the Enlightenment, we have been taught, and we teach our children, to step out and, unfortunately, to stay out. Objectivity is our credo. We pride ourselves on being able to distinguish, to separate, to study each aspect of a matter.
    • It is time we remembered that experience as a way of knowing is powerful, valid, and equal in importance to our ability to reason and employ logic as means by which to reach the ultimate goal of “knowledge.”
  • The disease of our modern times is our need to dissect, describe, classify, and interpret experience.
    • With too much information at our fingertips, we are reaching the breaking point where real meanings gets lost in the mind’s deconstructing process.
  • Continually exploring one direction to the exclusion of the others is an impoverishment. To become true dreamers we need to explore all directions.
  • Law of open-endedness: If we set out to ask a question and rush to answer it, we haven’t allowed the question to hang suspended over the void. We haven’t listened.
    • Open-endedness creates the space for a response to come. This space (the pause) is not only the secret of knowing yourself, it is the secret of all healing. Within the pause, the response finds the room to emerge. Open-endedness allows the source to be triggered and the imagination to unfold creatively.
  • How will you ever learn to focus your imagination if, at the very beginning, you are already questioning its validity?
  • Is “vision” a prophetic message from the gods? Or a blueprint of our inner structure that, when unfolded, reveals the true purpose of our being?
  • Don’t worry whether your first memory is an authentic memory or simply a “screen memory,” because either type is capable of becoming your personal myth, as it is its effect on you that is important.

There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

  • None of us is immune to the inexorable order of things.
  • The only difference between you and those you envy is a difference in timing.
    • Like the phoenix, they have resurrected themselves from their ashes, whereas so far you haven’t been able to do so.
    • Even when you are in possession of the inestimable treasure of having discovered your purpose in life, you still must face the struggles inherent in accomplishing that purpose.
  • When the conscious mind acknowledges its failure and gives up trying to solve the problem, there is room for the emotions to be felt. This does not mean that the conscious mind goes to sleep. Instead it relinquishes center stage and steps aside to place itself in the observer’s position.
    • Just allow yourself whatever emotion you feel and acknowledge your experience…This allows you to sink into the body of the experience, the domain of the subconscious mind, where two seemingly opposite tendencies can co-exist. It is in this cauldron of paradox that “something other” can emerge.
  • Curiously, being both minds at once, you are the conscious mind amazed as new pattern and directions emerge, and the subconscious mind at play, skipping in the woods! Observer and participant all in one…
  • Memory is selective.

All happy families resemble each other, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolstoy

  • True, we can be stuck remembering a happiness we lost, but it is regret and loss that motivate us to spend time with the memory, not happiness.
  • Emulation is a very persuasive and seductive argument when you are young and inexperienced (Isn’t that exactly what Eve wants to be, like God? Don’t kids just want to be like their parents?). But, to keep you out of danger, obedience is required.
  • Separation is the first wound.
    • The first wound was separation: another word for it is “stopping.” You were stopped, denied fulfillment of your longing to be One with your mother, with God.
    • Fear and anxiety, anger and frustration, guilt and resentment; these are the dreadful mix-ups arising from the original wound of separation.
  • Unresolved emotions and thwarted desires crowd our minds, pushing against us, intruding on our present, muddying our vision of the future. Isn’t it time we did something about them?

In returning and in rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. – Isaiah 30:15

  • Can we give rise to love and goodness in place of reactivity and thwarted desires?
  • It takes only an instant, a shift of seeing, for fear – the ogre – to become servant to our kavanah.
    • Imagine that instead of being a passenger in the speeding train of your life, you are the switchman at the central switchboard…While you speed along in your train, you are also “considering,” from the switchman’s position, the train’s direction.
  • Remember, we cannot dispense with an emotion without replacing it with something better, in the same way that we cannot dispense with a bad habit without replacing it with another, better one.
    • Where there is an empty space you must dream up something better or the empty space will fill up with the old dream again, and you, sadly, will be back where you started.
  • You can teach anything to the body so long as you teach it in the regular intervals of natural rhythms of beats and pauses.
    • Seven and multiples of seven are natural rhythms.
  • You eat three times a day or five and, because you eat this frequently, think how often during the day food comes into your thoughts. If you have been habituated to pray to God three or five times a day, God will come into your thoughts more often than into those of someone who is not practicing daily prayer.
  • As we strive over and over to return to the heart center through our dreaming, the physical world strives to unman and unbalance us and cut us off from our true feelings again and again.
  • …we learn to become one with the movement and to rest ourselves in the rhythm of the flow.
  • Isn’t it finally obvious that keeping dreaming and consciousness apart will only lead to more opposition?
  • A consciousness that cultivates sobriety (patience, attentiveness) will be rewarded with an insight to the “laws” governing the “irrational.”
  • Can we embrace our two worlds, supporting their differences, contradictions, and opposites equally, beyond opinion?
    • Paradox means (para) “beyond” + (doxa) “opinion.”
  • Attaining balance is always precarious…consider this task of balancing, to be a work in progress. Perfection is of the moment only.
    • Total illumination is not of this world: there are always new causes for unbalance, and new heart spaces to grow into.
    • In bodywork, balance is achieved by equal pressure converging and diverging at the same time from all directions.
  • When we open us to allow all manner of creatures, ways, and truths to exist side by side, understanding, wisdom and compassion develop exponentially.
  • Switch your energy from indecision and idle irritation to active participation in the flow.
  • Since it is no use trying to compete with consciousness, why not elicit its cooperation? Why not use it to watch, not only the outer world which it does by predilection, but also the inner world?

Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein

  • Practice speaking from your “insights” (speak directly from the dream image instead of short-circuiting half of your brain’s input) and soon your two languages will blend. You will have created for yourself a new, fresh, and very alive way of communication. It will free you from calculation and manipulation. The grace, ease, and magic of dreaming will animate all of your encounters.
  • This mitigating circumstance prevents us from coming to a verdict. For how can we condemn something that is ephemeral, in transit?
  • …reveals the profound moral perversity of a world that rests essentially on the nonexistence of return, for in this world everything is pardoned in advance and therefore everything cynically permitted.
  • But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?
    • The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
  • We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.
    • And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?
    • Any schoolboy can do experiments in physics laboratory to test various scientific hypotheses. But man, because he has only one life to live, cannot conduct experiments to test whether to follow his passion (compassion) or not.
  • What happens but once.
    • If we have only one life to live, we might as well not have lived at all.
  • Love does not make itself felt in the desire of copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).
  • Compassion
    • Latin form: “with” (com-), “suffering” (passio)
    • We cannot look on coolly as others suffer; or, we sympathize with those who suffer.
    • Not only to be able to live with the other’s misfortune but also to feel with him any emotion – joy, anxiety, happiness, pain.
    • Maximal capacity of affective imagination, the art of emotional telepathy. In the hierarchy of sentiments, then, it is supreme.
    • For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.
  • A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person.
  • …and now he realized that those years were more attractive in retrorespect than they were when he was living them.
    • Now what was tiring had disappeared and only the beauty remained.
  • Necessity, weight, and value are three concepts inextricably bound: only necessity is heavy, and only what is heavy has value.
  • Chances and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us.
    • Necessity knows no magic formulae – they are all left to chance. If a love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it like birds to Francis of Assisi’s shoulders.
    • “Co-incidence” means that two events unexpectedly happen at the same time, they meet.
  • Human lives are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence to a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual’s life.
    • While people are fairly young and the musical composition of their lives is still in its opening bars, they go about writing it together and exchange motifs, but if they meet when they are older, their musical compositions are more or less complete, and every motif, every object, every word means something different to each of them.
  • Dreaming is not merely an act of communication (or coded communication, if you like); it is also an aesthetic activity, a game of imagination, a game that is a value in itself.
    • Our dreams prove that to imagine – to dream about things that have not happened – is among mankind’s deepest needs.
  • Anyone whose goal is “something higher” must expect some day to suffer vertigo.
    • What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
    • The intoxication of the weak: aware of his weakness, a man decides to give in rather than stand up to it.
  • Being in foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the net afforded a person by the country where he has his family, colleagues, and friends, and where he can easily say what he has to say in a language he has known from childhood.
  • All lovers unconsciously establish their own rule of the game, which from the outset admit no transgression.
  • What we have not chosen we cannot consider either our merit or our failure.
  • That is what made him feel that fidelity deserved pride of place among the virtues: fidelity gave a unity to lives that would otherwise splinter into thousands of split-second impressions.
  • But what is betrayal? Betrayal means breaking ranks. Betrayal means breaking ranks and going off into the unknown.
    • The first betrayal is irreparable. It calls forth a chain reaction of further betrayals, each of which takes us farther and farther away from the point of our original betrayal.
  • And suddenly he realized that all his life he had done nothing but talk, write, lecture, concoct sentences, search for formulations and amend them, so in the end no words were precise, their meaning were obliterated, their content lost, they turned into trash, chaff, dust, sand; prowling through his brain, tearing at his head, they were his insomnia, his illness.
    • The endless vanity of speeches and words, the vanity of culture, the vanity of art.
  • The darkness was pure, perfect, thoughtless, visionless; that darkness was without end, without borders; that darkness was the infinite we each carry within us. (Yes, if you’re looking for infinity, just close your eyes!)
  • Culture is perishing in overproduction, in an avalanche of words, in the madness of quantity.
  • The dead are as innocent as children.
  • There are things that can be accomplished only by violence. Physical love is unthinkable without violence.
  • For Sabina, living in truth, lying neither to ourselves nor to others, was possible only away from the public: the moment someone keeps an eye on what we do, we involuntarily make allowances for that eye, and nothing we do is truthful.
  • Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness. What fell to her lot was not the burden but the unbearable lightness of being.
  • The goals we pursue are always veiled.
    • The thing that gives our every move its meaning is always totally unknown to us.
  • Only the most naïve of questions are truly serious. They are questions with no answers. A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.
  • For what made the soul so excited was that the body was acting against its will; the body was betraying it, and the soul was looking on.
  • People usually escape from their troubles into the future; they draw an imaginary line across the path of time, a line beyond which their current troubles will cease to exist.
  • In a society run by terror, no statements whatsoever can be taken seriously. They are all forced, and it is the duty of every honest man to ignore them.
  • How defenseless we are in the face of flattery!
  • Men who pursue a multitude of women fit neatly into two categories. Some seek their own subjective and unchanging dream of a woman in all women. Others are prompted by a desire to possess the endless variety of the objective female world.
    • The obsession of the former is lyrical: what they seek in women is themselves, their ideal, and since an ideal is by definition something that can never be found, they are disappointed again and again.
    • The obsession the latter is epic, and women see nothing the least bit touching in it: the man projects no subjective ideal on women, and since everything interests him, nothing can disappoint him.
  • Is it better to shout and thereby hasten the end, or to keep silent and gain thereby a slower death?
  • Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.
  • “Kitsch” is a German word born in the middle of the sentimental nineteenth century, and from German it entered all Western language.
    • Kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.
    • Kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word.
  • A question is like a knife that slices through the stage backdrop and gives us a look at what lies hidden behind it.
    • The true opponent of kitsch is the person who asks questions.
  • And no wonder: political movements rest not so much on rational attitudes as on the fantasies, images, words, and archetypes that come together to make up this that political kitsch.
  • We all need someone to look at us. We can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under.
    • The first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public.
    • The second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes.
    • The third category are people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love.
    • The fourth category are people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present. They are dreamers.
  • The very beginning of Genesis tells us that God created man in order to give him dominion over fish and fowl and all creatures. Of course, Genesis was written by man, not a horse. There is no certainty that God actually did grant man dominion over other creatures. What seems more likely, in fact, is that man invented God to sanctify the dominion that he had usurped for himself over the cow and the horse.
    • Even though Genesis say that God gave man dominion over all animals, we can also construe it to mean that He merely entrusted them to man’s care. Man was not the planet’s master, merely its administrator, and therefore eventually responsible for his administration.
    • True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.
  • We can never establish with certainty what part of our relations with others is the result of our emotions – love, antipathy, charity, or malice – and what part is predetermined by the constant power play among individuals.
  • Life in paradise was not like following straight line to the unknown; it was not an adventure. It moved in a circle among known objects. Its monotony bred happiness, not boredom.
    • And therein lies the whole of man’s plight. Human time does not turn in circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.
  • The longing for Paradise is man’s longing not to be man.
    • Or to be more precise, man had not yet been cast out on man’s path.
  • Horror is a shock, a time of utter blindness. Horror lacks every hint of beauty. All we can see is the piercing light of an unknown waiting us. Sadness, on the other hand, assumes we are in the know.
  • Sometimes you make up your mind about something without knowing why, and your decision persists by the power of inertia. Every year it gets harder to change.
  • We all have tendency to consider strength the culprit and weakness the innocent victim.
  • …still he is not likely to allow objectivity to nudge him off the pillar of his own perspective.
  • Logic only gives man what he needs. Magic gives him what he wants.
  • The most important thing in life is style. That is, the style of one’s existence – the characteristic mode of one’s actions – is basically, ultimately what matters. For if man defines himself by doing, then style is doubly definitive because style describe the doing.
  • Happiness is a learned condition. And since it is learned and self-generating, it does not depend upon external circumstances for it perpetuation.
  • It is in the realm of High Mystery that certain men and women are destined to act out their lives.
  • When she was a small girl, Amanda hid a ticking clock in an old rotten tree trunk. It drove woodpeckers crazy. Ignoring tasty bugs all around them, they just about beat their brains out trying to get at the clock. Years later, Amanda used the woodpecker experiment as a model for understanding capitalism, Communism, Christianity and all other systems that traffic in future rewards rather than in present realities.
  • America is no more a democracy than Russia is a Communist state…We both have the same basic form of government: economic totalitarianism. There’s only a difference of degree.
  • Man’s peculiarly ambivalent psyche permits him to operate simultaneously according to two opposing codes. There is the code which he professes to live by, and there is the code to whose standards he actually does adhere. The deceit is so ingrained and subtle that most men truly are unaware of it…
  • To simply “say” that a desire is immoral – or, resorting to even flimsier abstraction, to deem the fulfillment of a desire illegal – does not eliminate the desire. It does not eliminate anything except straightforwardness. It creates, in addition to a climate of deception, an underworld into which men “descend” in order to partake of Code B services not permitted under the provisions of Code A.
    • The underworld persists because society needs it, insists upon it, supports it (at the same time that it denies and persecutes it, or course).
  • In the wild, the battle for survival is unrelenting. Hunger follows the animal like a shadow.
  • As unrefined and basic as an animal’s emotional equipment may be, it s not insensitive to freedom.
    • Somewhere in the archives of crudest instinct is recorded the truth that it is better to be endangered and free than captive and comfortable.
    • Whether meaningful or meaningless, the game of life is there to be played – and the animal in his animal way sees to “know” it and the cage is an offense to what his inner animal voice tells him is right and true.
  • When a man confines an animal in a cage, he assumes ownership of that animal. But an animal is an individual; it cannot be owned. When a man tries to own an individual whether that individual be another man, an animal or even a tree, he suffers the psychic consequences of an unnatural act.
    • A creature, human or otherwise, that has had its freedom compromised has been degraded. In a subconscious reaction that combines guilt, fear, and contempt, the keepers of the caged – even the observers of the caged are degraded themselves. The cage is a double degrader.
    • Any bar, whether concrete or intangible, that stands between a living thing and its liberty is communicable perversity, dangerous to the sanity of everyone concerned.
  • Alienation is a disease of the unsoiled.
    • The further we separate ourselves from the dirt, the further we separate ourselves from ourselves.

No particle of living energy is ever extinguished, no particle is ever created anew. – Ernst Haeckel

  • Action, like sounds, divide the flow of time into beats.
  • The drummer deals almost exclusively with rhythm, therefore he is an architect of energy.
    • Art is not eternal. Only energy is eternal.
  • History is a discipline of aggregate bias.
  • The scientist keep the romantic honest and the romantic keeps the scientist human.
  • …[he] has eaten at many tables and has not been nourished.
  • In an electronic technology, cultural changes occur more rapidly than value systems can accommodate them, and in the resulting confusion technology itself becomes a surrogate religion.
    • The fault lay not in modern man’s blindness but in an outdated church’s camouflage.
    • Major technological breakthroughs, such as the ones in electronics and psycho-chemistry that have occurred in our era, inevitably alter man’s image of himself, of his environment and his deity.
  • There was no revolution. There was spiritual evolution – an infinitely more profound and permanent process.
  • Christianity was born and everything that is born must die, philosophical systems no exception.
  • Ambivalence is a bigger nuisance than schizophrenia. When you’re schizoid each of your two personalities is blissfully ignorant of the other, but when you’re ambivalent each half of you is painfully aware of the conflicting half, and if you aren’t careful your whole life can turn into a taffy pull.
  • Science is an active response to the world. Mysticism accepts the world.
    • Mystics scurry about trying to get in harmony with nature. Scientists turn nature to issues which we define.
    • Science is resistance, rather than acceptance.
  • There are three mental states that interest me [Amanda]: amnesia, euphoria, ecstasy.
    • Amnesia is not knowing who one is and wanting desperately to find out.
    • Euphoria is not knowing who one is and not caring.
    • Ecstasy is knowing exactly who one is – and still not caring.
  • Among the Haida Indians of the Pacific Northwest, the verb for “making poetry” is the same as the verb “to breathe.”
  • Was it when man initiated the division of labor that he lost contact with the complete reality and began to fragment and go numb?
  • Men who lust for power, who are addicted to laws and other unhealthy abstractions, who long to govern and lead and censor and order and reward and punish; those men are the turds of Moloch, men who don’t know how to love, men who are sickly afraid of death and therefore are afraid of life: they fear all that is chaotic and unruly and free-moving and changing – thus they fear nature and fear life itself, they deny life and in so doing deny God.
  • Authority is the most damaging trauma to which the psyche is subjected between birth and death.

I must invent my own systems or else be enslaved by other men’s. – William Blake

  • We can live on top of content, float above the predictable responses, social programming and hereditary circuitry, letting the bits of color and electricity and light filter up to us, where we may incorporate them at will into our actions –freedom to be free of languages and leaders and gods. We must use style to alter content – a style that is masterful that it is fluid and at the same time complete.
  • Marriage is not a synonym for monogamy any more than monogamy is a synonym for ideal love.
  • Every system that science proposed was a product of human imagination and had to be accepted with faith nearly as blind as the religious beliefs which he had jettisoned.
  • What difference does it make who you are when you wake up as long as you wake up somebody?
  • Laws are abstractions. Laws symbolize ethical arts, proper behavior toward other human animals. Laws have no moral content, they merely symbolize conduct that does.
    • If we respected each other, if we respected animals and if we respected the land, then we could dispense with laws and cut the middleman out of morality.
    • Rather than “Drive Legally” we would have “Drive Lovingly.”
  • But good or bad, they – being human – couldn’t carry on without their faith.
  • You can’t find truth if you start with a false premise, and Western traditions, the best and the worst of it, has always moved from the false premise of Christian divinity.
  • Christianity as a religion is at best a distortion of the teachings of Christ, and at worst, is an authoritarian system that limits man’s liberty and represses the human spirit.
    • Christianity isn’t based on nature, it’s based on a political model. As far back as the Emperor Constantine, the authoritarians spotted Christianity as the perfect front, and they’ve been using poor old Jesus ever since – using him to bolster their business, to sanction their armies and to generally yoke and manipulate the people.
  • Christianity is simply too ineffectual (on a spiritual level) and too contradictory (on an intellectual level) to survive.

Men lead lives of quiet desperation. – Henry David Thoreau

  • Life isn’t stable. Stability is unnatural.
    • The only stable society is the police state. You can have a free society or you can have a stable society. You can’t have both. Take your choice.
    • The world is perpetually changing. It doesn’t do much else but change.
  • The clown (freedom) is always being chased by the policeman (authority). Clowns are funny precisely because their shy hopes lead invariably to brief flings of (exhilarating?) disorder followed by crushing retaliation from the status quo. It delights us to watch a careless clown break taboos; it thrills us vicariously to watch him run wild and free; it reassures us to see him slapped down and order restored.
  • Christianity signaled the end of paganism, and the final separation of man from nature. From now on, culture will dominate nature, the phallus will dominate the womb, permanence will dominate change, and the fear of death will dominate everything.
    • Maybe it’s unsophisticated to venerate mountains and regard rivers as sacred, but as long as man thinks of his natural environment as holy, then he’s gonna respect it and not sell it out or foul it up.
  • To an artist a metaphor is as real as a dollar.
  • The fear of death is the beginning of slavery…
  • Whatsoever is given precedence over life will take precedence over life, and will end in eliminating life.
    • Since economics, at its most abstract level, is the religion of our people, no noneconomic happening can radically alter the souls of our people.
  • To look for meaning – or the lack of it – in things is a game played by beings of limited consciousness. Behind everything in life is a process that is beyond meaning – but not beyond understanding.
  • A man can be as free and as happy as he wants to be because there’s nothing to lose and nothing to gain.
  • Her face is flushed with that passionate serenity that is evidently known only by those who live outside of man’s laws and according to nature’s.
  • Your head is like a cup. It has limited capacity and if you want to learn something about the world you should keep your head empty in order to learn it. It’s very easy to spend your whole life swishing old tea around in your cup thinking it’s great stuff because you’ve never really tried anything new…
  • [Peyote] The experience is determined by the person’s mental stage, the structure of his or her personality, the physical setting, and cultural influences.
  • Man is not suited to scientific objective study. Objects of scientific study are supposed to hold still. They’re supposed to follow the laws of cause and effect in such a way that a given cause will always have a given effect, over and over again. Man doesn’t do this. Not even savages.
  • The fundamental nature of reality is outside language; that language splits things up into parts while the true nature of reality is undivided.
    • Thought is not a path to reality. It sets obstacles in that path because when you try to use thought to approach something that is prior to thought your thinking does not carry you toward that something. It carries you away from it. To define something is to subordinate it to a tangle of intellectual relationships. And when you do that you destroy real understanding.
    • Purity, identified, ceases to be purity. Objections to pollution are a form of pollution.
  • Positivism is a philosophy that emphasizes science as the only source of knowledge. It sharply distinguish fact and value, and is hostile to religion and traditional metaphysics.
  • The culture in which we live hands us a set of intellectual glasses to interpret experience with, and the concept of primacy of subjects and objects is built right into these glasses.

Common sense – non-weirdness – is just a bundle of prejudices acquired before the age of eighteen. – Albert Einstein

  • Value is the reality that brings the thoughts to mind.
  • Empiricists’ believe – experience is the starting point of all reality.
  • Within the Metaphysics of Quality, science is a set of static intellectual patterns describing this reality, but the patterns are not the reality they describe.
  • Once a thief is caught a whole string of crimes is often solved.
  • In any hierarchy of metaphysical classification the most important division is the first one, for this division dominates everything beneath it. If this first division is bad there is no way you can ever build a really good system of classification around it.

Mankind is driven forward by dim apprehensions of things too obscure for its existing language. – A.N. Whitehead

  • Good is conformity to an established pattern of fixed values and value objects.
    • Static morality is full of heroes and villains, loves and hatreds, carrots and sticks.
  • Although Dynamic Quality, the Quality of freedom, creates this world in which we live, these patterns of static quality, the quality of order, preserve our world. Neither static nor Dynamic Quality can survive without the other.
  • That was the mistake. He let himself get caught in the kind of “picking-and-choosing” situation that Zen avoids, and now he was stuck.

Evolution is recklessly opportunistic: it favors any variation that provides a competitive advantage over other members of an organism’s own population or over individuals of different species. For billions of years this process has automatically fueled what we call evolutionary progress. No program controlled or directed this progression. It was the result of spur of the moment decisions of natural selection. – Ernst Mayr

  • Science value static patterns.
    • A deviation from a normal static pattern is something to be explained and if possible controlled.
  • Dynamic Quality, the source of all things, the pre-intellectual cutting edge of reality, always appears as “spur of the moment.”
    • Natural selection is Dynamic Quality at work.
    • Life is a migration of static patterns toward Dynamic Quality.
  • A Dynamic advance is meaningless unless it can find some static pattern with which to protect itself from degeneration back to the conditions that existed before the advance was made.
    • Evolution can’t be a continuous forward movement. It must be a process of ratchet-like steps…
    • What’s good is freedom from domination by any static pattern, but that freedom doesn’t have to be obtained by the destruction of the patters themselves.
    • Need to obtain static and Dynamic Quality simultaneously.
    • If you don’t have the static patterns of scientific knowledge to build upon you’re back with the cave man. But if you don’t have the freedom to change those patterns you’re blocked from any further growth.

We are suspended in language. – Niels Bohr

  • Our intellectual (scientific) description of nature is always culturally derived.
    • Nature tells us only what our culture predisposes us to hear. The selection of which inorganic patterns to observe and which to ignore is made on the basis of social patterns of value, or when it is not, on the basis of biological patterns of value.
  • In general, given a choice of two courses to follow and all other things being equal, that choice which is more Dynamic, that is, at a higher level of evolution, is more moral.
    • E.g. It’s more moral for a doctor to kill a germ than to allow the germ to kill his patient.
    • Ideas are patterns value. They are at a higher level of evolution than social patterns of value. Just as it is more moral for a doctor to kill a germ than a patient, so it is more moral for an ideal to kill a society than it is for a society to kill an idea.
  • Morality is not a simple set of rules. It’s a very complex struggle of conflicting patterns of values. This conflict is the residue of evolution. As new pattern evolve they come into conflict with old ones. Each stage of evolution creates in its wake a wash of problems.
    • Morality is nothing more than a social convention.
  • It’s not the “nice” guys who bring about real social change. “Nice” guys look nice because they’re conforming. It’s the “bad” guys, who only look nice a hundred years late, that are the real Dynamic force in social evolution.
  • The intelligence of the mind can’t think of any reason to live, but it goes on anyway because the intelligence of the cells can’t think of any reason to die.
  • Biological man doesn’t invent cities or societies any more than pig and chickens invent the farmer that feeds them. The force of evolutionary creation isn’t contained by substance. Substance is just one kind of static pattern left behind by the creative force.
  • “Mankind” has never been interested in getting itself killed. But the superorganism, the Giant, who is a pattern of values superimposed on top of biological human bodies, doesn’t mind losing a few bodies to protect his greater interests.
  • You go to any socialist city and it’s always a dull place because there’s little Dynamic Quality…A freemarket is a Dynamic institution…The market is always changing and the direction of that change can never be predetermined.
  • When things are organized in a free-enterprise parallel, an increase in complexity becomes an increase in diversity more capable of responding to Dynamic Quality, and thus an increase of the probability of success.
  • Scientific truth is provisional.
    • Science always contains an eraser, a mechanism whereby new Dynamic insight could wipe out old static patterns without destroying science itself. Thus science, unlike orthodox theology, has been capable of continuous, evolutionary growth.
    • The pencil is mightier than the pen.
  • Central problem in the static-Dynamic conflict of evolution: how do you tell the saviors from the degenerates? Particularly when they look alike, talk alike and break all the rules alike? Freedoms that save the saviors also save the degenerates and allow them to tear the whole society apart. But restriction that stop the degenerates also stop the creative Dynamic forces of evolution.
  • They think that because they pay you money, which is a social form of gratification, they are entitled to do as they please with the intellectual truth of a book.
  • The one dominating question of the 20th century has been, “Are the social pattern of our world going to run our intellectual life, or is our intellectual life going ot run the social patterns?”
    • The new culture that has emerges is the first in history to believe that patterns of society must be subordinate to patterns of intellect.
  • Science, the intellectual pattern that has been appointed to take over society, has a defect in it – the subject-object science has no provision for morality.
    • Subject-object science is only concerned with facts. Morals have no objective reality…They are all in your head. They exist only in your imagination.
  • Cities function on punctuality and attention to material detail.
  • In the ‘60s it was thought that both society and intellect together were the cause of all the unhappiness and that the transcendence of both society and intellect would cure it.
  • Man is always the measure of all things, even in matters of space and dimension.
  • The scientific laws of the universe are invented by sanity. There’s no way by which sanity, using the instruments of its own creation, can measure that which is outside of itself and its creations. Insanity isn’t an “object” of observation. It’s an alternation of observation itself. There is no such thing as a “disease” of patterns of intellect. There’s only heresy. And that’s what insanity really is.
    • Insanity is an intellectual pattern. It may have biological causes but it has no physical or biological reality.
    • Insanity always exists in relation to others.
    • Insanity is culturally defined. It occurs in all cultures but each culture has different criteria for what constitutes it.
    • Sanity is not truth. Sanity is conformity to what is socially expected. Truth is sometimes in conformity, sometimes not.
    • A philosophy of insanity generated by a Metaphysics of Quality states that all these conflicting intellectual truth are just value patterns. One can vary from a particular common historical and geographical truth pattern without being crazy.

The fact of the matter is that the “real world” is to large extend unconsciously build up on the language habits of the group…Forms and significances which seem obvious to an outsider will be denied outright by those who carry out the patterns; outlines and implications that are perfectly clear to these may be absent to the eye of the onlooker. – Edward Sapir

Any language is more than an instrument of conveying ideas, more even than an instrument for working upon the feelings of others and for self-expression. Every language is also a means of categorizing experience. The events of the “real” world are never felt or reported as a machine would do it. There is a selection process and an interpretation in the very act of response. Some features of the external situation are highlighted, others are ignored or not fully discriminated.

Every people has its own characteristic class in which individuals pigeonhole their experiences. The language says, as it were, “notice this,” “always consider this separate from that,” “such and such thing always belong together.” Since persons are trained from infancy to respond in these ways they take such discriminations for granted as part of the inescapable part of life. – Clyde Kluckhohn

  • Your static value system filters out the undesirable opinions and preserves the desirable ones.
  • Seeing is not believing. Believe is seeing.
  • We build up whole cultural intellectual patterns based on past “facts” which are extremely selective. When a new fact comes in that does not fit the pattern we don’t throw out the pattern. We throw out the fact. A contradictory fact has to keep hammering and hammering and hammering, sometimes for centuries, before maybe one or two people see it.
  • Human is a complex ecology of patterns moving toward Dynamic Quality. Man is an evolutionary battle against the static patterns of his own life.
  • Pragmatism: The test of truth is its practicality or usefulness.

There must always be a discrepancy between concepts and reality, because the former are static and discontinuous while the latter is dynamic and flowing. – William James

  • The primal reality from which subjects and objects spring is value…Value, the pragmatic test of truth, is also the primary empirical experience. (Unites pragmatism and radical empiricism)

Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness provided the madness is given us by divine gift. – Socrates

  • In all religions bishops tend to gild Dynamic Quality with all sorts of static interpretations because their cultures require it. But these interpretations become like golden vines that cling to a tree, shut out its sunlight and eventually strangle it.
  • Dharma is Quality itself, the principle of “rightness” which gives structure and purpose to the evolution of all life and to the evolving understanding of the universe which life has created.
  • The Zen monk’s daily life is nothing but one ritual after another, hour after hour, day after day, all his life. They don’t tell him to shatter those static patterns to discover the unwritten Dharma. They want him to get those patterns perfect! The explanation for this contradiction is the belief that you do not free yourself from static patterns by fighting them with other contrary static patterns. You free yourself from static patterns by putting them to sleep. That is, you master them with such proficiency that they become an unconscious part of your nature. You get so used to them you completely forget them and they are gone. There in the center of the most monotonous boredom of static ritualistic patterns the Dynamic freedom is found.
  • In cultures without books ritual seem to be a public library for teaching the young and preserving common values and information.

While sustaining biological and social patterns, kill all intellectual patterns. Kill them completely. And then follow Dynamic Quality. And morality will be served.

  • You could discover a lot about a culture by what it said about its idols. The idols would be an objectification of the culture’s innermost values, which were its reality.
  • How and why do we numb ourselves to our own experiences? How and why do we deafen ourselves to the voices of others?
  • We are too afraid to explore the potential for life and love and happiness we each carry inside.

You may not destroy someone’s world unless you are prepared to offer a better one. – Franz Kafka

Our behavior is a function of our experience. We act according to the way we see things. If our experience is destroyed, our behavior will be destructive. If our experience is destroyed, we have lost our own selves. – R.D. Laing

  • When we do allow self-evident truths to percolate past our defenses and into our consciousness, they are treated like so many hand grenades rolling across the dance floor of an improbably macabre party. We try to stay out of harm’s way, afraid they will go off, shatter our delusions, and leave us exposed to what we have done to the world and to ourselves, exposed as the hollow people we have become. And so we avoid these truths, these self-evident truths, and continue the dance of world destruction.
  • Silencing is central to the workings of our culture. The staunch refusal to hear the voices of those we exploit is crucial to our domination of them.

The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable. – Judith Herman

  • We live in a world of make-believe.
    • …he created the reality that he required in order to continue his behavior.
    • In attempting to describe the world in make-believe terms, we have forgotten what is real what isn’t. We pretend the world is silent, whereas in reality it is filled with conversations.
    • We pretend death is an enemy, although it is an integral part of life.
    • We pretend that anything we do not understand – anything that cannot be measured, quantified, and controlled – does not exist.
    • We pretend the animals are resources to be conserved or consumed, when, in reality, they have purposes entirely independent of us.
  • By substituting the illusion of disembodied thought from experience, by substituting mathematical equations for living relations, and most importantly by substituting control, or the attempt to control, for the full participation in the wild and unpredictable process of living, Descartes became the prototypical modern man.
    • Single most important rule of Western philosophy: if it doesn’t fit the model, it doesn’t exist.
  • We live our lives, grateful that things aren’t worse than they are. But there has to be a threshold beyond which we can no longer ignore the destructiveness of our way of living.

The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man. Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years. – R.D. Laing

The rite of passage into the scientific (modern) way of being centers on the ability to apply the knife to the vocal cords, not just of the dog on the table, but of life itself. Inwardly, he [the modern human] must be able to sever the cords of his own consciousness. Outwardly, the effect must be the destruction of the larynx of the biosphere, an action essential to the transformation of the world into a material object. – Neil Evernden

We are the land…That is the fundamental idea of Native American life: the land and the people are the same. – Paula Gunn Allen

  • Whether we are electrifying a kitten or petting a cat, if the purpose is specifically to collect data we’re still objectifying the cat…But the point is pursuing a relationship, not gathering data.

Today we took a little snake. I had to apologize to her for cutting her life off so suddenly and so definitely; I did what I did knowing that my own life will also be cut off someday in very much the same fashion, suddenly and definitely. – Jack Forbes

  • We have come to believe that violence equals aggression, and we have come to base our model of sexuality on our model of violence. This goes a long way toward explaining the prevalence of rape scenes in horror movies, art films, and blockbusters alike, the woman pushing at her attacker’s chest, until, by the end of the scene she has her arms wrapped around him, pulling him close to her. By enacting this transition, the filmmakers convert an act of aggression into an act of consensual sexuality. The ubiquity of rape in real life attests to the desire of many members of our culture to attempt this same transition.
  • To kill without emotion and without respect, or to ignore the intimacy inherent in the act, is to rob it of its dignity, and to rob the life you are ending of its significance.

All through school and University I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance to the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity had been complete; and no interpreter had come along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps. – E.F. Schumacher

Sufficiently severe and enduring social isolation reduces these animals to a social-emotional level in which the primary social responsiveness is fear. – Harry Harlow

  • What is real? It is always possible to consciously or unconsciously “see” almost anything we want.
    • Perception is of course intimately tied to preconception.
  • It is up to us to determine for ourselves how closely the patterns we’ve been handed by our culture fit our experience of the world.
  • When my teacher told me how, I wanted to know why, and when they gave me abstractions, I asked them to make the lessons real.
    • To ask how without asking why might be dangerous.
  • The God of our culture has always been jealous, and whether going by the name of God the Father, Yahweh, Jesus Christ, Civilization, Capitalism, Science, Technology, Profit, or Progress, He has never been less than eager to destroy all those He cannot control.
  • Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write or blow up a dam…Anyone who lives in this region and who knows anything about salmon knows the dams must go. And anyone who knows anything about politics knows the dams will probably stay. Scientists study, politicians and businesspeople lie and delay, bureaucrats hold sham public hearings, activists write letters and press releases, I write books and articles, and still the salmon die. It’s a cozy relationship for all of us but the salmon.

God does not send us despair in order to kill us; he sends it in order to awaken us to new life. – Hermann Hesse

Don’t look at my finger, look at the moon. – Buddhist saying

  • I will no longer forget. I have learned that whether I choose to feel or not, pain exists, and whether we choose to acknowledge them or not, atrocities continue. I have grown to understand that in the shadow of the unspeakable I can and must speak and act against our culture’s tangled web of destructiveness, and stop the destruction at its roots.

The most striking difference between ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of argument at the expense of truth, whereas the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality. – Hannah Arendt

  • Scientific verification is impossible [for interspecies communication], because science is by definition the study of objects, and a conversation is an interaction between two or more subjects.
  • The nature of physical reality is not determined by popular vote. Many people sharing the same delusion does not make the delusion true, whether we are talking about interspecies communication, modern science, Christianity, or capitalism.

The press is the hired agent of a monied system, and set up for no other purpose than to tell lies where the interests are involved. – Henry Adams

Art is whatever you can get away with. – John Cage

  • The price of admission to public discourse is an optimistic denial pushed to absurd lengths.
  • When dams were erected on the Columbia, salmon battered themselves against the concrete, trying to return home. I expect no less from us. We too must hurl ourselves against and through the literal and metaphorical concrete that contains and constrains us, that keeps us from talking about what is most important to us, that keeps us from living the way our bones know we can, that bars us from our home. It only takes one person to bring down a dam.
  • …it is no longer possible to be lonely…and it is only our own fear that sets us apart.
  • Take responsibility for one’s own action, and to fight for egalitarianism. It is easier to listen to the voice of God than it is to listen to the voice of one’s conscience, suffering and outrage.
  • A claim to virtue” – It is not possible to commit deforestation, or any other mass atrocity – mass murder, genocide, mass rape, the pervasive abuse of women or children, institutionalized animal abuse, imprisonment, wage slavery, systematic impoverishment, ecocide – without first convincing yourself and others that what you’re doing is beneficial
    • First, the pattern itself is horrifying, too terrible to think about. Second, if we allow ourselves to recognize the pattern and fully internalize its implications, we would have to change it.
    • Rational discussion presupposes rational motivations, yet claims to virtue are always attempts to place rational masks over nonrational urges.
    • The way out of from these destructive frames of mind is to step in – experience, not thought or rationalization.
      • Thought divorced from experience is nonsense.
  • Fearing death, fearing life, fearing love, and fearing most of all the loss of control, we create social rules and institutions that mirror our fears and reinforce our destructive behaviors.
  • Perhaps in taking the world into our bodies we also need to dive into the body of the world, to dive down deep and let it pull us deeper still, until at last we not only consume but are consumed, until at last we are no longer separate – standing alone and lonely on the darksome heights to which only men aspire – but instead, simply living in commune with the rest of the world.
  • The primary function of grades is to offer an external reinforcement to coerce people to perform tasks they’d rather not do.
    • Grades, as is true once again for wages in later life, are an implicit acknowledgement that the process of schooling is insufficiently rewarding on its own grounds for people to participate of their own volition.
  • [School] Systematically – inherent in the process – direct personal experience is subsumed to external authority, and at every turn creativity, critical thought, and the questioning of fundamental assumptions are discouraged.
    • A primary purpose of school – and this is true for our culture’s science and religion as well – is to lead us away from our own experience.
    • The process of schooling does not give birth to human beings – as education should but never will so long as it springs from the collective consciousness of our culture – but instead it teaches us to value abstract rewards at the expense of our autonomy, curiosity, interior lives, and time.
    • Through the process of schooling, each fresh child is attenuated, muted, molded, made – like aluminum – malleable yet durable, and so prepared to compete in society, and ultimately to lead this society where it so obviously headed. Schooling as it presently exists, like science before it and religion before that, is necessary to the continuation of our culture and to the spawning of a new species of human, ever more submissive to authority, ever more pliant, prepared, by thirteen years of sitting and receiving, sitting and regurgitating, sitting and waiting for the end, prepared for the rest of their lives to toil, to propagate, to never make waves, and to live each day with never an original thought nor even a shred of hope.
  • We should not be surprised that our culture as a whole must destroy all life and that we as individuals must not dwell upon the horrors we visit not only upon others but upon ourselves, that we dwell instead upon the daily earning of our bread, and beyond that pile upon ourselves project after project to keep ourselves always occupied, always unconscious of the fact that we do not have to live this way, always blinded to alternatives. For if we looked we might see, if we saw we might act, and if we acted we might take responsibility for our own lives. If we did that, what then?

When the oppressors give me two choices, I always take the third. – Meir Berliner

  • One method Nazis used to control Jews was to present them a series of meaningless choices…In making these choices victims felt the illusion of control over their destinies, and often failed to reject the entire system. Resistance to exploitation was diminished.
  • I sometimes called in sick when it was a nice day, rationalizing the lie by telling myself I was sick of work, which was true enough.
  • Selling the hours of my life was no different from selling my fingers one by one. We’ve only so many hours, so many fingers; when they’re gone, they’re gone for good.
  • It should not be terribly surprising that people would ignore the world to rationalize exploitation. In order to exploit, we must deafen ourselves to the voices of those we are victimizing. The justification of this exploitation would demand that we continue with our selective deafness, selective blindness, and selective stupidity.
  • We all – humans and nonhuman alike – are refugees from the war zone that is civilization – that we cannot longer survive unless we cooperate with those around us.

The world of the concentration camps…was not an exceptionally monstrous society. What we saw there was the image, and in a sense the quintessence, of the infernal society into which we are plunged every day. – Eugene Lonesco

  • In a concentration camp, it is better to be the killer than the killed, better to be a collaborator than a resister, a guard than a collaborator, a supervisor than a guard, and better still to be the boss. But of course it would be better to not be in the camp at all.
  • In order to make equations manageable (thus allowing the pretension that life is manageable) economists must disregard or fudge variables that may be difficult or impossible to quantify.
  • Not much that we do in our personal lives makes much economic sense, just as most things we do for money make no sense in personal terms.
  • Our economics, as is true for our science, represents the triumph of product over process, and form over content. It is the triumph of selective deafness and blindness over conscience and relationship.
    • One of the problems with our economic system is that money is valued over all else.
    • So long as money is valued – and in fact necessary – a great percentage of people will end up spending a great deal of time doing things they don’t want to do.
  • Because our cash economy is predicated on the idea of a society composted of atomistic individuals pulling in selfish directions, it can do no other than reward selfish behaviors.
  • Our economics promises a life of increasing ease…For those of us rich enough to reap its benefits, our economic system offers a life devoid of experience; as though life, and experience, were a hassle.
  • Negative experiences can lead to joy and understanding. Life is untidy. When we reject this messiness – and in doing so reject life – we risk perceiving the world through the lens of our economics or our science. But if we celebrate life with all its contradictions, embrace it, experience it, and ultimately live with it, there is the chance for a spiritual life filled not only with pain and untidiness, but also with joy, community, and creativity.
  • To believe any one thing is “the problem” would be to believe that if we simply reform our economic system, everything will be okay, or if we reform science, or Christianity, then everything will suddenly be fine.
    • We need to look beyond, to the urges that inform, to the hidden wounds and presumptions that lead first to the conceptualization and late implementation of our economics, our science, our religion, our misogyny and child abuse.
    • An economics like ours can emerge only from a consciousness like ours, and only a consciousness like ours can give rise to an economics like ours.
    • We must fundamentally change our consciousness, and in so doing fundamentally change the way we perceive the world.
  • It is unavoidable: so long as we value money more highly than living beings and more highly than relationships, we will continue to see living beings as resources, and convert them to cash; objectifying, killing, extirpating.
    • If monetary value is attached to something it will be exploited until it’s gone.
    • Money perfectly manifests the desires of our culture. It is safe. It neither lives, dies, nor rots. It is exempt from experience. It is meaningless and abstract. By valuing abstraction over living beings, we seal not only our own fate, but the fates of all those we encounter.

It’s life that matters, nothing but life – the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  • Your faith must be strong enough that you can walk the path blindfolded.
    • Wherever you put your foot, there is the path. You become the path.
  • Develop – to cause to become gradually fuller, larger, better.
  • I’m more of a practical man, so rather than write papers about being kaitiaki, I just do it. I don’t trust words. I’m frightened of the intellectualism that can insulate us from action and turn the problems and solutions into puzzles or fantasies…The work has got to be done.
  • We rescue a piece of beautiful wood out of an old building, and as we restore it and put it in place, we rescue and restore ourselves.
  • We are suffering from a great illness, and the way to get better is serve others. We should all be in service. It makes us well. I serve the birds and trees, the earth, the water.
  • As with everything else, our lawns manifest our cultural desire: they are static, they are artificial, and they are kept sexually immature.
  • How much richness do we deprive ourselves of by accepting the default decisions handed to us by our elders?
  • The tree had made it clear to me that the price of diversity is death.
    • Transitions by definition involve pain, loss, sorrow, and even death.
  • Part of their personal identities includes their habitat – their human and nonhuman surroundings. Thus they are not working to save something out there, but responding in defense of their own lives.
  • Activation energy – the amount of energy that must be present before a certain reaction can proceed.
    • How much – and what – will it take for you to  begin to act?
  • Violations come not only in paroxysms of rage, spasms of violence and violent orgasms. They come more often with constant erosion, with an incessant imparting of the full knowledge that there is nothing, no one, nowhere, no thought, no action, that the violator will not seek out and attempt to control.
  • The central question of our time: What are sane and appropriate responses to insanely destructive behavior?
    • Gandhi wrote a letter to Hitler asking him to stop committing atrocities, and was mystified that it didn’t work.
  • It is desperately true that we each need to look inside, to make ourselves right.
    • The Old One says you must put your house in order before you can have guests.

You didn’t set up the system. Do what you can, but don’t identify with the problem. If you internalize what is not yours, you fight not only them but yourself as well. Take responsibility only for that which you’re responsible – your own thoughts and actions.Jeannette Armstrong

  • We’re responsible not only for what we do, but also for what is in our power to stop.

We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, affliction, or infamy. We kill when, because it is easier, we countenance, or pretend to approve of atrophied social, political, educational, and religious institutions, instead of resolutely combating them. – Hermann Hesse

  • Because life feeds off life, and because every action causes a killing, the purpose of existence cannot be to simply avoid taking lives. That isn’t possible. What is possible, however, is to treat others, and thus ourselves, with respect, and to not unnecessarily cause death or suffering.
  • The finitude of the planet guarantees that running away is no longer a sufficient response. Those who destroy must be stopped.
  • …but their democracy is our dictatorship…
  • I asked what the MRTA wants for Peru. He replied, “I am not sure what you mean. We are Peru. We want nothing from Peru. There are others who want plenty from Peru: our oil, wood, fish, gold. Our lives. Capitalism is taking away what is elemental to our lives: our land, rivers, forests are being violated by institutions and individuals who have deafened themselves to the meanings they have for us.”
  • The children of Peru continued to starve, the forests continued to fall, and the fisheries continued to be depleted. In other words, Fujimori continued his policy of committing genocide and ecocide to benefit transnational corporations. In other words, it was business as usual in the civilized, industrialized world.
  • Time and again we show ourselves willing to die or to live to support ecological and economical justice and sanity, and time and again our enemies – the indecent ones, the destroyers – show themselves willing to lie and to kill to maintain control.

When those in power lie, the only way to conduct a meaningful dialogue with them is to have in your hands a way to force them to be accountable. Even then you can only be sure they will remain true so long as you continue to hold them tightly in your hands. – Isaac Velazco

  • Readers may more closely recognize our own culture in Fromm’s description of the Dobus, Kwaikutl, Aztecs, and others he put into the category of “destructive.” These cultures, he said, are “characterized by much interpersonal violence, destructiveness, aggression, and cruelty, both within the tribe and against others, a pleasure in war, maliciousness, and treachery. The whole atmosphere of life is one of hostility, tension, and fear. Usually there is a great deal of competition, great emphasis on private property, strict hierarchies, and a considerable amount of war-making.”
  • The social forms and institutions of nonaggressive cultures positively reinforces acts that benefit the group as a whole while negatively reinforcing acts (and eliminating goals) that harm some members of the group.
    • The social forms of aggressive cultures, on the other hand, reward actions that emphasize individual gain, even or especially when that gain harms others in the community.
  • One of the primary problems with our system of social rewards is its tautological nature. We grant communal responsibility and esteem to those who have accumulated and maintained power; but the primary motivation for those who are responsible for decisions affecting the larger community lies in the accumulation and maintenance of power.
  • Although I cannot predict the future, I do know that any culture that consumes its natural environmental base will eventually collapse under the weight of its own strengths.
  • Cultural convention is merely cultural invention. It does not have to be this way, that not all cultures have as their trajectory centralized control and ultimate annihilation.

What I fear is being in the presence of evil and doing nothing. I fear that more than death. – Otilia deKoster

I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others. – Thomas Jefferson, Owner of Slaves

  • I’m not certain the language is raw enough. My language is too fine, the sentences too lyrical, to describe things neither child nor adult should have to describe at all.
    • It is not the writing that must change, but the reality.
  • I understand now that somewhere inside of each of us – some more than others – still survives that person who would not and will not rape, who would not and will not coerce, that person who understands what it means to be alive and to be a part of a relationship, a family, a community of both human and nonhuman.

Happiness is love, nothing else. A man who is capable of love is happy. – Herman Hesse

  • It was the bees who provided me my first real somatic understanding of cooperation and compliance: work against bees and they sting; work with them as they work with themselves and they reward you with honey, joy, and sore muscles.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. – Abraham Lincoln

  • We’re so good at getting along that we do so at the expense of actions that would in a meaningful sense bring a change in those original circumstances that cause our suffering.
  • What you value is what you create.
    • We do what we reward, and we reward what we value.
  • Underlying the different forms of coercion is a unifying factor: Silence. The necessity of silencing victims before, during, and after exploitation or annihilation, and the necessity at these same times of silencing one’s own conscience and one’s conscious awareness of relationship is undeniable.
    • The perpetrators of these atrocities share a deeply unifying belief in their own separateness and superiority, and a tightly rationalized belief in the rightness of their actions.
    • Fearful of life, the perpetrators forget that one can affect another with love, by allowing another’s life to unfold according to its own nature and desires and fate, and by giving to the other what it needs to unfold. One can affect another by merely being present and listening intently to that other.
  • Our religion, philosophy, science, economics, politics, and so on are manifestations of cultural desire, that means these fields have as their purpose the rationalization of exploitation, what makes you think we could expect anything different from a revolution that comes from this same culture?

The greatest virtue between heaven and earth is to live. – ‘The Great Treatise’ of the I Ching

  • Economic production requires that resources be funneled toward producers, while ecosystemic production requires that resources be returned to all members of the natural community, including, especially, the ground.

Our goal should be not the emulation of the ancients and their ways, but to experience for ourselves the aspects of human existence out of which arose those ancient forms which we we see them elicit such a feeling of longing. Otherwise the modern will remain forever superficial while the real will remain ancient, far away, and therefore, outside of ourselves. – Mr. Aoki

On the terms imposed by technocratic society, there is no hope for mankind except by ‘going with’ its plans for accelerated technological progress, even though man’s vital organs will all be cannibalized in order to prolong the megamachine’s meaningless existence…But for those of us who have thrown off the myth of the machine, the next move is ours: for the gates of the technocratic prison will open automatically, despite their rusty hinges, as soon as we choose to walk out. – Lewis Mumford

  • For an entire community to disentangle itself from that web may be well-nigh impossible, given the modern economy’s interconnected nature as well as overpopulation, resource depletion, and environment degradation that comes with civilization.

The advantage of one individual becomes a victory over another, and the majority who are not victorious must shift as they can. – Ruth Benedict

  • An emphasis on production requires an emphasis on private ownership requires a means to protect this ownership requires, in the end, murder.
  • When a slave rebels without challenging the entire notion of slavery, he merely encounters a new boss. But if all the blood is painfully squeezed away, what emerges is a free man, and not even death can stop those who are free.
  • Like an iceberg, or the entrance to a cave, or like the ocean itself, there is so much more beneath only hinted at by the surface.

The body’s carbon is simply carbon. Hence, ‘at bottom’ the psyche is simply ‘world.’ – Carl Jung

  • For scientists to give up predictability means they have to give up control, which means they have to give up Western culture, which means it’s not going to happen until civilization collapses under the weight of its own ecological excesses.
  • There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of the earth, and it is the language of our bodies. It is the language of dreams, and of action. It is the language of meaning, and of metaphor.
    • This language of symbol is the umbilical cord that binds us to the beginning, to whatever is the source of who we are, where we come from, and where we return.
    • We suffer from misperceiving the world. We believe ourselves separated from each other and from all other by words and by thoughts. We believe – rationally, we think – that we are separated by rationality, and that to perceive the world “rationally” is to perceive the world as it is. But perceiving the world “as it is” is also to misperceive it entirely, to blind ourselves to an even greater body of truth.

A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake. – George Gurdjieff

  • Everyone understands that for there to be growth, there must always be a dying away.
    • To let part of your life die so another may emerge.

The part of the mind that is dark to us in this culture, that is sleeping in us, that we name ‘unconsciousness,’ is the knowledge that we are inseparable from all other beings in the universe. – Susan Griffin

  • It is no more possible to cheat fate than it is to resolve the nonrational through the purely rational.

The significant problems of the world cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness at which they were created. – Albert Einstein

All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble…They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This ‘outgrowing’ proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon, and through this broadening of his or her outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge. – Carl Jung

  • We do not easily give up our acquired ways of being, even when they’re killing us.
    • Only when that mindset had, like a plant in a too-small pot, exhausted its own possibilities did I begin casting about for another way to be; only when I no longer had any real choice, far past the time when what little choice there was – death or change – had become all-too-painfully obvious, did I begin to reject the earlier mindset. This is why I don’t think our culture will stop before the world has been impoverished beyond our most horrifying imaginations.

It seems to me that anything that can be taught to another is relatively inconsequential, and has little or no significant influence on behavior…I have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning. Such self-discovered learning, truth that has been personally appropriated and assimilated in experience, cannot be directly communicated to another. As soon as the individual tries to communicate such experience directly, often with a quite natural enthusiasm, it becomes teaching, and its results are inconsequential… When I try to teach, as I do sometimes, I am appalled by the results, which seem a little more than consequential, because sometimes the teaching seems to succeed. When this happens I find that the result is damaging. It seems to cause the individual to distrust his [or her] own experience, and to stifle significant learning. Hence I have come to feel that the outcomes of teaching are either unimportant or hurtful. When I look back at the results of my past teaching, the real results seem the same – either damage was done, or nothing significant occurred… As a consequence, I realize that I am only interested in being a learner, preferable learning things that matter, that have some significant influence on my own behavior… I find that one of the best, but most difficult ways for me to learn is to drop my own defensiveness, at least temporarily, and to try to understand the way in which experience seems and feels to the other person. I find that another way of leaning is for me to state my own uncertainties, to try to clarify my puzzlements, and thus get closer to the meaning that my experience actually seems to have…It seems to mean letting my experience carry me on, in a direction which appears to be forward, toward goals that I can but dimly define, as I try to understand at least the current meaning of that experience. – Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person

  • The people in my class, including me, did not need to be controlled, managed, nor even taught. What we needed was to be encouraged, accepted, and loved just for who we are…to be given time in a supportive space to explore who we were and what we wanted, with the assistance of others who had our best interests at heart.
    • All we want, whether we are honeybees, salmon, trash-collecting ants, ponderosa pines, coyotes, human beings, or stars, is to love and be loved, to be accepted, cherished, and celebrated simply for being who we are. Is that so very difficult?

The great way has no gate; there are a thousand paths to it. If you pass through the barrier, you walk the universe alone. – Wu-Men

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. – Milan Kundera

  • Isolated from the rest of nature, isolated from each other by walls of fear, isolated from our own bodies, and isolated most of all from our own horrifying experience, is it any wonder that we are all crazy?

Atrocities are actions so horrifying they go beyond words. For people who witness or experience atrocities, there is a kind of silencing that comes from not knowing how to put these experience into speech. At the same time, atrocities are the crimes perpetrators most want to hide. This creates a powerful convergence of interest: no one wants to speak about them. No one wants to remember them. Everyone wants to pretend they didn’t happen. – Dr. Judith Herman

  • In order to escape accountability the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting.
    • The more extreme the crimes, the more determined the efforts to deny the crimes happened.
  • Once you’ve forced a person to violate his or her moral codes, to break faith with him or herself – the fact that it’s done under duress does not remove the shame or guilt of the experience – you may never again even need to use threats. At that point the victim’s self-hatred, self-loathing, and shame will be so great that you don’t have to beat her up, because she’s going to do it herself.
    • A man who had knowingly compromised himself did not revolt against his masters, no matter what idea had driven him to collaboration: too many mutual skeletons in the closet.

The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be exploited. Everything has its own voice. Thunder and lightning and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees – all these have voices, and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related. – Thomas Berry

The future of mankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up their responsibility to all living things. – Vine Deloria, Jr.

  • All of us who participate in a system that “makes” money at the expense of our ecological base – upon which not only our economics but our lives depend – are signing our own death warrants. Allowing our crazy system to destroy our land base is not merely unethical and unwise but suicidal.

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? – Tao Te Ching

  • Perhaps we will awaken in an exterior landscape that is barren and lonely enough to match the landscape of our hearts and minds.
  • It is not possible to recover from atrocity in isolation. It is, in fact, precisely this isolation that induces the atrocities. If we wish to stop the atrocities, we need merely step away from the isolation. There is a whole world waiting for us, ready to welcome us home. It has missed us sorely as we have missed it. And it is time to return. Godspeed.

Magic Theatre

Entrance Not for everybody

For Madmen Only!

Price of Admittance your mind

  • …he had created within himself with positive genius a boundless and frightful capacity for pain.
  • Most men will not swim before they are able to. Is not that witty? Naturally, they won’t swim! They are born for the solid earth, not for water. And naturally they won’t think. They are made for life, not for thought. Yes, and he who thinks, what’s more, he who makes thought his business, he may go for in it, but he has bartered with solid earth for the water all the same, and one day he will drown.
  • Ever age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evil.
    • Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap.
  • He belongs to those whose fate it is to live the whole riddle of human destiny heightened to the pitch of a personal torture, a personal hell.
  • Was all that we called culture, spirit, soul, all that we called beautiful and sacred, nothing but a ghost long dead, which only a few fools like us took for true and living? Had it perhaps indeed never been true and living? Had all that we poor fools bothered our heads about never been anything but a phantom?
  • What others chose to think about it or what he chose to think himself was not good to him at all. It left the wolf inside him just the same.
  • …although it may have seemed so to himself all the same, insomuch as every man takes the sufferings that fall to his share as the greatest.
  • And even the unhappiest life has its sunny moments and its little flowers of happiness between sand and stone…And they had to because Harry wished, as every sentient being does, to be loved as a whole and therefore it was just with those whose love he most valued that he could least of all conceal and belie the wolf.
  • …these men, for whom life has no repose, live at times in their rare moments of happiness with such strength and indescribable beauty, the spray of their moment’s happiness is flung so high and dazzling over the wide sea of suffering, that the light of it, spreading its radiance, touches others too with its enchantment. Thus, like a precious, fleeting foam over the sea of suffering arise all those works of art, in which a single individual lifts himself for an hour so high above his personal destiny that his happiness shines like a star and appears to all who see it as something eternal and as a happiness of their own.
    • To them, too, however, the other thought has come that man is perhaps not merely a half-rational animal but a child of the gods and destined to immortality.
  • He never sold himself for money or an easy life or to women or to those in power; and had thrown away a hundred times what in the world’s eye was his advantage and happiness in order to safeguard his liberty.
  • The man of power is ruined by power, the man of money by money, the submissive man by subservience, the pleasure seekers by pleasure.
  • …that he is always in his own eyes exposed to an extraordinary risk, as though he stood with the slightest foothold on the peak of a crag whence a slight push from without or an instant weakness from within suffices to precipitates him into the void.
  • In this aspect suicides present themselves as those who are overtaken by the sense of guilt inherent in individuals, those soul that find the aim of life not in the perfecting and molding of the self, but in liberating themselves by going back to the mother, back to God, back to the all.
  • …the Steppenwolf stood entirely outside the world of convention, since he had neither family life nor social ambitions.
  • Brought up, as he was, in a cultivated home in the approved manner, he never tore apart of his soul loose from its conventionalities even after he had long since individualized himself to a degree beyond its scope and freed himself from the substance of its ideals and beliefs.
  • It is open to man to give himself up wholly to spiritual views, to seeking after God, to the ideal of saintliness. On the other hand, he can equally give himself up entirely to the life of instinct, to the lusts of the flesh, and so direct all his effort to the attainment of momentary pleasures.
    • He will never be a martyr or agree to his own destruction. On the contrary, his ideal is not to give up but to maintain his own identity. He strives neither for the saintly nor its opposite. The absolute is his abhorrence. He may be ready to serve God, but not by giving up the fleshpots. He is ready to be virtuous, but likes to be easy and comfortable in this world as well.
  • A man cannot live intensely except at the cost of the self.
    • Now the bourgeois treasures nothing more highly than the self (rudimentary as his may be). And so at the cost of intensity he achieves his own preservation and security. His harvest is a quiet mind which he prefers to being possessed by God, as he does comfort to pleasure, convenience to liberty, and a pleasant temperature to that deathly consuming inner fire. The bourgeois is consequently by nature a creatures of weak impulses, anxious, fearful of giving himself away and easy to rule. Therefore, he has substituted majority for power, law for force, and the polling booth for responsibility.
  • To live in the world as though it were not the world, to respect the law and yet to stand above it, to have possessions as though “ one possessed nothing,” to renounce as though it were no renunciation, all these favorite and often formulated propositions of an exalted worldly wisdom, it is in the power of humor alone to make efficacious.
  • If I say “above” or “below,” that is already a statement that requires explanation, since an above and a below exist only in thought, only as abstraction. The world itself knows nothing of above or below.
  • Harry finds in himself a human being, that is to say, a world of thoughts and feelings, of culture and tamed or sublimated nature, and besides this he finds within himself also a wolf, that is to say, a dark world of instinct, of savagery and cruelty, of unsublimated or raw nature.
    • His life oscillates as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousand and thousands.
  • Man is not capable of thought in any high degree, and even in the most spiritual and highly cultivated of men habitually sees the world and himself through the lenses of delusive formulas and artless simplifications – and most of all himself.
  • As a body everyone is single, as a soul never.
  • The beast and the body are indeed one, but the souls that dwell in it are not two, nor five, but countless in number. Man is onion made up of a hundred integuments, a texture made up of many threads…The human merry-go-around sees many changes: the illusion that cost India the efforts of thousands of years to unmask is the same illusion that the West has labored just as hard to maintain and strengthen.
  • But things are not so simple as in our thoughts, nor so rough and ready as in our poor idiotic language…
  • Man is not by any means of fixed and enduring form (this, in spite of suspicions to the contrary on the part of their wise men, was the ideal of the ancients). He is much more an experiment and a transition. He is nothing else than the narrow and perilous bridge between nature and spirit. His inner most destiny drives him on to the spirit and to God. His innermost longing draws him back to nature, the mother. Between the two forces his life hangs tremulous and irresolute.
  • The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life.
  • The return into the All, the dissolution of painful individuation, the reunion with God means the expansion of the soul until it is able once more to embrace the All.
  • I stood outside all social circles, alone, beloved by none, mistrusted by many, in unceasing and bitter conflict with public opinion and morality; and though I lived in a bourgeois setting, I was all the same an utter stranger to this world in all I thought and felt.
  • I had played Don Quixote often enough in my difficult, crazed life, had put honor before comfort, and heroism before reason.
  • …so it is with the majority of men, day by day and hour by hour in their daily lives and affairs. Without really want to at all, they pay calls and carry on conversations, sit out their hours at desks and on office chairs; and it is all compulsory, mechanical and against the grain, and it could all be done or left undone just as well by machines; and indeed it is this never-ceasing machinery that prevents their being, like me, the critics of their own lives and recognizing the stupidity and shallowness, the hopeless tragedy and waster of the lives they lead, and the awful ambiguity grinning over it all. And they are right, right a thousand times to live as they do, playing their games and pursuing their business, instead of resisting the dreary machine and staring into the void as I do, who have left the track.
  • He believes in the studies whose servant he is; he believes in the value of mere knowledge and its acquisition, because he believes in progress and evolution.
  • …it would be better for our country and the world in general, if at least the few people who were capable of thought stood for reason and the love of peace instead of heading wildly with a blind obsession for a new war.
  • I could not bear this tame, lying, well-mannered life any longer.
  • My nature had much of the child in it, its curiosity and love for idleness and play.
  • We like joking. Seriousness, young man, is an accident of time. It consists, I don’t mind telling you in confidence, in putting too high a value on time…In eternity, however, there is no time, you see. Eternity is a mere moment, just long enough for a joke.
  • To be religious you must have time, and even more, independence of time. You can’t be religious in earnest and at the same time live in actual things and still take them seriously, time and money and the Odéon Bar and all that.
  • All of a sudden there were things that concerned me again, which I could think of with joy and eagerness. All of a sudden a door was thrown open through which life came in. Perhaps I could live once more and once more be a human being. My soul that had fallen asleep in the cold and nearly frozen breathed once more, and sleepily spread its weak and tiny wings.
  • But in this Hermine was like life itself, one moment succeeding to the next and not one to be foreseen.
  • No, her surrender to the moment was so simple and complete that the fleeting shadows and agitation to the very depths of the soul came to her no less than every pleasurable impulse and were lived as fully.
  • Well, look at an animal, a cat, a dog, or a bird, or one of those beautiful great beasts at the zoo, a puma or a giraffe. You can’t help seeing that all of them are right. They’re never in any embarrassment. They always know what to do and know to behave themselves. They don’t flatter and they don’t intrude. They don’t pretend. They are as they are, like stones or flowers or stars in the sky.
  • Are ideals attainable? Do we live to abolish death? No – we live to fear it and then again to love it, and just for death’s sake it is that our spark of life glows for an hour now and then so brightly.
  • Everyone risks being laughed at when he addresses a girl.
  • We intellectuals, instead of fighting against this tendency like men, and rendering obedience to the spirit, the Logos, the Word, and gaining a hearing for it, are all dreaming of a speech without words that utter the inexpressible and gives form to the formless.
  • There was nothing to be made of us intellectuals. We were superfluous, irresponsible lot of talented chatterboxes for whom reality had no meaning.
  • Others, and Maria was one of them, were unusually gifted in love and unable to do without it. They lived solely for love and bedsides their official and lucrative friends had other love affairs as well. Assiduous and busy, care-ridden and light-hearted, intelligent and yet thoughtless, these butterflies lived a life at once childlike and raffiné; independent, not to be bought by every one, finding their account in good luck and fine weather, in love with life and yet clinging to it far less than the bourgeois, always ready to follow a fairy prince to his castle, always certain, though scarcely conscious of it, that a difficult and sad end was in store for them.
  • That night, however, for the first time since my downfall gave me back the unrelenting radiance of my own life and made me recognize chance as destiny once more and see the ruins of my being as fragments of the divine. My soul breathed once more. My eyes were opened.
  • Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.
  • And perhaps, I mean, it has always been the same and always will be, and what is called history at school, and all we learn by heart there about heroes and geniuses and great deeds and fine emotions, is all nothing but a swindle invented by the schoolmasters for educational reasons to keep children occupied for a given number of years. It has always been so and always will be. Time and the world, money and power belong to the small people and the shallow people. To the rest, to the real men belongs nothing. Nothing but death.
  • And eternity was nothing else than the redemption of time, its return to innocence, so to speak, and its transformation again into space.
  • All the women of this fevered night, all that I had danced with, all whom I had kindled or who had kindled me, all whom I had courted, all who had clung to me with longing, all whom I had followed with enraptured eyes were melted together and had become one, the one whom I held in my arms.
  • You have a longing to forsake this world and its reality and to penetrate to a reality more native to you, to a world beyond time. You know, of course, where this other world lies hidden. It is the world of your own soul that you seek. Only within yourself exists that other reality for which you long. I can give you nothing that has not already its being within yourself. I can throw open to you no picture gallery bur your own soul. All I can give you is the opportunity, the impulse, the key. I can help you to make your own world visible. That is all.
  • True humor begins when a man ceases to take himself seriously.
  • But granting that the conception of duty is no longer known to me, I still know the conception of guilt – perhaps they are the same thing. In so far as a mother bore me, I am guilty. I am condemned to live. I am obliged to belong to a state, to serve as a soldier, to kill and to pay taxes for armaments. And now at this moment the guilt of life has brought me once more to the necessity of killing the people as it did in the war. And this time I have no repugnance. I am resigned to the guilt. I have no objection to this stupid congested world going to bits. I am glad to help and glad to perish with it.
  • It is not a good thing when man overstrains his reason and tries to reduce to rational order matters that are not susceptible of rational treatment.
  • As the playwright shapes a dram form a handful of characters, so do we from the pieces of the disintegrated self build up ever new groups, with ever new interplay and suspense, and new situations that are eternally inexhaustible.
  • Each belonged recognizably to the same world and acknowledged a common origin. Yet each was entirely new.
  • Just as madness, in higher sense, is the beginning of all wisdom, so is schizomania the beginning of all art and all fantasy.
  • Each gave me what she alone had to give and to each I gave what she alone knew how to take.
  • …you are a witness of the everlasting war between idea and appearance, between time and eternity, between the human and the divine.
  • Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.
  • You are to learn to listen to the cursed music of life and to reverence the spirit behind it and to laugh at its distortions.
  • You broke through the humor of my little theater and tried to make a mess of it, stabbing with knives and spattering our pretty picture-world with the mud of reality.

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Quotes
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Whenever trade occurs between two countries, mutual cultural borrowing is inevitable.