Tag Archives: inspirational quote

The Moral Life

Externals are not under my control; moral choice is under my control. Where am I to look for the good and the evil? Within me,  in that which is my own.

Epictetus, Discourses from The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks by Steven Stavropoulos, Barnes & Nobles Books (2003).

Passionate Curiosity

The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of the mystery every day. The important thing is not to stop questioning; never lose a holy curiosity.

Albert Einstein, in an interview with William Miller, Life magazine, May 2, 1955.

A Ripple of Hope

Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of repression and injustice.

Robert Kennedy, speech delivered in Cape Town, South Africa on June 6, 1966. This is one of two inscriptions at his gravesite, designed by architect I.M. Pei, at Arlington National Cemetary in Washington, D.C.

The Truth of Religion

Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, Doubleday (1988).

Doublets: Reading a Great Book

A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.

Robertson Davies, Canadian novelist, playwright, professor (1913-1995) best known for writing The Deptford Trilogy (1970-75).

When you read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before.

Clifton Fadiman, American editor, literary critic, and essayist (1904-1999). He helped establish the Book-of-the-Month Club and served on its editorial board for 50 years as well as serving on the editorial board of the Encyclopedia Britannica and The Reader’s Club. He was the a book editor at Simon & Schuster and The New Yorker. He was a voracious reader, known to read 80 pages per hour. Ironically, he lost his sight due to illness in the 1980s but continued reading (listening to audio tapes) and writing (through dictation).

Doublets: Tolerance

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Aristotle, Metaphysics (c. 340 – 330 BC)

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Attributed to Voltaire, Essay on Tolerance (1763). The actual quote was written by Evelyn Hall in the book, The Friends of Voltaire (1906) paraphrasing Voltaire’s attitude. An editor for Reader’s Digest misread the passage and assumed the paraphrase was an actual quote. To set the record straight, Hall later wrote: “I did not mean to imply that Voltaire used these words verbatim and should be surprised if they are found in any of his works. They are rather a paraphrase of Voltaire’s words in the Essay on Tolerance — ‘Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.’ ” (Saturday Review, May 11, 1935).

The Lesson of Experience

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.

Vernon Sanders Law (born 1930, a retired Major League Baseball pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates).

The McFarland Baseball Quotations Dictionary by David Nathan, McFarland and Company (2000).

What is Your Legacy?

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

Pericles, The Funeral Oration of Pericles (delivered circa 404 BC) as recorded in History of the Peloponnesian War (book two) by Thucydides.

Nature’s Indifference to Humanity

A man said to the universe:
“Sir I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

Stephen Crane, The Complete Poems of Stephen Crane, Cornell University Press (1972).

For further reading: The Open Boat by Stephen Crane, CreateSpace (2012)

Lean on Me

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for any one else.

Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (1864-65).

Giving Back

Great ambition and conquest without contribution is without significance. What will your contribution be? How will history remember you?

Spoken by William hundert in the film, The Emperor’s Club (2002) written by Neil Tolkin (based on short story The Palace Thief  by Ethan Canin) and directed by Michael Hoffman.

Living in a Material World

Socrates believed that the wise person would instinctively lead a frugal life. He himself would not even wear shoes; yet he constantly fell under the spell of the marketplace and would go there often to look at all the wares on display. When a friend asked why, Socrates said, “I love to go there and discover how many things I am perfectly happy without.”

Anthony De Mello, SJ. The Prayer of the Frog (Vol 2), Anand Press (1989).


Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.

Thomas Huxley. Essay “Distractions I” in Vedanta for the Western World, edited by Christopher Isherwood, Vedanta Press (1945).

The Meaning of Life – Joseph Campbell

atkins-bookshelf-quotationsPeople say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about.

 Joseph Campbell. Excerpt from Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, PBS, 2001.

Build Our Youth for the Future

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.

Franklin D. Roosevelt. From: Teachers Have Class: A Tribute by Mary Rodarthe, Andrews MacMeel Publishing (2011).

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