We may think there is a safe road. But that would be the road of death. Then nothing happens any longer – at any rate, not the right things. Anyone who takes the safe road is as good as dead.
If you risk nothing, you risk everything.
— Geena Davis
You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame; how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?
A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.
If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.
A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.
I have never thought of writing for reputation and honor. What I have in my heart must come out; that is the reason why I compose.
I want to seize fate by the throat.
Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.
— Terence McKenna
Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.
I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activities.
What he wanted was totality…he disciplined himself to wholeness, he created himself.”
— Nietzsche (on Goethe)
What does your conscience say? – ‘You shall become the person you are’.
All psychology so far has got hung up on moral prejudices and fears: it has not dared to descend into the depths.
I undertook something that not everyone may undertake: I descended into the depths, I bored into the foundations.
He enters a labyrinth, and multiplies a thousandfold the dangers that life in itself brings with it – of which not the least is that nobody can see how and where he loses his way, becomes solitary, and is torn to pieces by some cave-minotaur of conscience.
Direct self observation is not nearly sufficient for us to know ourselves: we need history, for the past flows on within us in a hundred waves.
[The] most shortsighted and pernicious way of thinking wants to make the great sources of energy, those wild torrents of the soul that often stream forth so dangerously and overwhelmingly, dry up altogether, instead of taking their power into service and economizing it.
He has lost and destroyed his instinct, and can no longer trust the “divine animal” and let go the reins when his understanding falters and his way leads through deserts.
It is a myth to believe that we will find our authentic self after we have left behind or forgotten one thing or another…To make ourselves, to shape a form from various elements – that is the task! The task of a sculptor! Of a productive human being!
There is a false saying: “How can someone who can’t save himself save others?” Supposing I have the key to your chains, why should your lock and my lock be the same?
Every philosophy also conceals a philosophy. Every opinion is also a lurking place. Every word is also a mask. Every deep thinker is more afraid of being understood than of being misunderstood.
Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
All I can do is be me, whoever that is.
— Bob Dylan
The time has come when we have to pay for having been Christians for two thousand years: we are losing the center of gravity by virtue of which we lived; We are lost for a while
If you wish to understand the psychological and spiritual temper of any historical period, you can do no better than to look long and searchingly at its art. For in the art the underlying spiritual meaning of the period is expressed directly in symbols.
— Rollo May
The picture of the ideal man disappeared from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
— Nikolai Berdyaev
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.
Picasso’s art no longer seeks the complete human being at all. It has lost the faculty of seeing things as wholes. It tears off one cover after another in order to lay bare the structure of nature and in doing so penetrates even further into the depths, disclosing images of things truly monstrous.
— Nikolai Berdyaev
Are we not continually falling?—backwards, sideways and in all directions? Do top and bottom still remain? Are we not wandering through infinite nothingness? Is not the breath of empty space in our faces? Has it not grown colder?
In Futurism man has completely ceased to be the leading theme of art, indeed in futurist art there are literally no more human beings, for man has been torn into tatters. All the real things in the world leave the places that are proper to them, and objects such as lamps, sofas, streets begin to penetrate the human form, so that man and his incomparable personality are no longer entities at all. Man collapses into the world of objects.
It is characteristic of all these movements that the human form should be shattered to pieces and utterly dismembered, and indeed [in modern art] we have a sort of ending to man as an entity.
— Nikolai Berdyaev
But let us be careful! We are speaking of ourselves. If this art is degenerate, we too are degenerate, for innumerable individuals are suffering the same collapse of the cultural canon, the same alienation, the same loneliness – the rising blackness with its shadow and devouring dragon. The disintegration and dissonance of this art are our own; to understand them is to understand ourselves.
— Erich Neumann
The development of modern art with its seemingly nihilistic trend towards disintegration must be understood as the symptom and symbol of a mood of universal destruction and renewal that has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the right moment for a “metamorphosis of the gods,” of the fundamental principle and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science.
Our envy of others devours us most of all.
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The indignant person feels anger at the prosperity of those who do not deserve it, and the envious at that of everyone.
indignation is felt at the well-being of evil persons, while envy at the happiness of the good ones.
…no society can exist in which envy [is] raised to the status of a normative virtue…Even [the] superstition…of simple societies, sees envy as a disease, the envious man as dangerously sick – a cancer from which the individual and the group must be protected – but never as a normal case of human behavior and endeavor. Nowhere, with very few exceptions, do we find the belief that society must adapt itself to the envious man, but always that it must seek to protect itself against him.
— Helmut Schoeck
Contemporary people are subject to a massive supply of information through the mass media; consequently, people can have opinions about the happiness of those they have never met or groups of people to which they do not belong; and, as a result of these feelings, they may envy. This possibility becomes a probability if, as is habitual in the mass media, information is distributed already “focused” by a partial selection, an intentional editing, mystifying, or simply a bias that, in our case, is directed to bring out the differences among individuals… One does not envy this or that person, but an abstraction, like “the rich” or “the elitists.”
A contemporary disguise of collective envy is what is called “social justice.” How does this ideological…argumentation run? A fundamental postulate is established that the more just a society is, the more equal its members are in opportunities, position, and wealth; and immediately it is established that the party will fight without rest to achieve such “justice.”
— Gonzalo Fernandez de la Mora
[envy] directed against personal qualities is the most insatiable and poisonous because the envious is left without hope; it is also the lowest type of envy for it hates what it ought to love and respect.
— Arthur Schopenhauer
All men of resentment, are these physiologically distorted and worm-riddled persons, a whole quivering kingdom of burrowing revenge, indefatigable and insatiable in its outbursts against the happy, and equally so in disguises for revenge, in pretexts for revenge: when will they really reach their final, fondest, most sublime triumph of revenge? At that time, doubtless, when they succeed in pushing their own misery, indeed all misery there is, into the consciousness of the happy; so that the latter begin one day to be ashamed of their happiness, and perchance say to themselves when they meet, ‘It is a shame to be happy! There is too much misery!’
What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism. This history can be related even now; for necessity itself is at work here… For some time now, our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.
My brother, if you have a virtue and she is your virtue, then you have her in common with nobody. Even naming one’s virtue would make her too common; if one must speak of her, it should be: “This is my good; this I love; it pleases me wholly; thus alone do I will the good. I do not will it the law of a god; I do not will it as human statute and need”
Nobody can build the bridge for you to walk across the river of life, no one but you yourself alone. There are, to be sure, countless paths and bridges and demi-gods which would carry you across this river; but only at the cost of yourself; you would pawn yourself and lose. There is in the world only one way, on which nobody can go, except you: where does it lead?
“Man is a rope,” Zarathustra cries out to the crowd, “fastened between animal and Superman – a rope over an abyss.”
We have learnt better. We have become more modest in every respect. We no longer trace the origin of the human being in “spirit”, in the “divinity”, we have placed it back among the animals…And even in asserting that we assert too much: the human being is, relatively speaking, the most bungled of all the animals, the sickliest, the one most dangerously strayed from its instincts. But for all that, he is of course the most interesting.
To call the taming of an animal its “improvement” is in our ears almost a joke. Whoever knows what goes on in menageries is doubtful whether the beasts in them are “improved”. They are weakened, they are made less harmful, they become sickly beasts through the depressive emotion of fear, through pain, through injuries, through hunger. – It is no different with the tamed human being…
You aspire to free heights, your soul thirsts for the stars. But your wicked instincts, too, thirst for freedom. Your wild dogs want freedom; they bark with joy in their cellar when your spirit plans to open all prisons.
Who among the philosophers before me was in any way a psychologist? Before me there simply was no psychology
One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.
I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.
And once you are awake, you shall remain awake eternally.
There is always some madness in love. But there is always some reason in madness.
God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console our selves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has so far possessed, has bled to death under our knife, who will wipe the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What purifications, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history so far!
It should be said at once that the completely profane world, the wholly desacralized cosmos, is a recent discovery in the history of the human spirit…for the nonreligious men of the modern age, the cosmos has become opaque, inert, mute; it transmits no message, it holds no cipher.
— Mircea Eliade
The end of Christianity – at the hands of its own morality… which turns against the Christian God. The sense of truthfulness, developed highly by Christianity, is nauseated by the falseness and mendaciousness of all Christian interpretations of the world and of history; rebound from “God is truth” to the fanatical faith “All is false”
Among my writings my Zarathustra stands by itself. With this book I have given mankind the greatest gift it has ever been given.
I need pure, smooth mirrors for my teaching; upon your surface even my own reflection is distorted. Many a burden, many a memory weighs down your shoulders; many an evil dwarf crouches in your corners. And there is a hidden mob in you, too. And although you are high and of a higher type, much in you is crooked and malformed. There is no smith in the world who could hammer you straight and into shape for me. You are only bridges: may higher men than you step across upon you!
The time is coming when man will no more shoot the arrow of his longing out over mankind, and the string of his bow will have forgotten how to twang!
But, by my love and hope I entreat you: do not reject the hero in your soul! Keep holy your highest hope!
What if a regressive trait lurked in “the good man,” likewise a danger, an enticement, a poison, a narcotic, so that the present lived at the expense of the future? Perhaps in more comfort and less danger, but also in a smaller-minded, meaner manner? … So that morality itself were to blame if man never attained the highest power and splendor possible for the type man? So that morality itself was the danger of dangers?
…a smaller, almost ridiculous type, a herd animal, something eager to please, sickly, and mediocre.
[The modern] individual focuses too narrowly on his own short lifespan… and wants to pluck the fruit himself from the tree he plants, and so no longer likes to plant those trees that demand a century of constant tending and are intended to provide shade for long successions of generations.
The concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently.
There is a solitude within him that is inaccessible to praise or blame, his own justice that is beyond appeal
There is among men as in every other animal species an excess of failures, of the sick, degenerating, infirm, who suffer necessarily; the successful cases are, among men, too, always the exception
The morality that would un-self man is the morality of decline par excellence—the fact, “I am declining,” transposed into the imperative, “all of you ought to decline”…This only morality that has been taught so far, that of un-selfing, reveals a will to the end; fundamentally, it negates life.
Finally—this is what is most terrible of all—the concept of the good man signifies that one sides with all that is weak, sick, failure, suffering of itself…the principle of selection is crossed—an ideal is fabricated from the contradiction against the proud and well-turned-out human being who says Yes, who is sure of the future, who guarantees the future—and he is now called evil.— And all this was believed, as morality!
We can see nothing today that wants to grow greater, we suspect that things will continue to go down, down, to become thinner, more good-natured, more prudent, more comfortable, more mediocre, more indifferent… Here precisely is what has become a fatality…together with the fear of man we have also lost our love of him, our reverence for him, our hopes for him, even the will to him. The sight of man now makes us weary—what is nihilism today if it is not that?—We are weary of man.
My brother, if you have a virtue and she is your virtue, then you have her in common with nobody.” Even naming one’s virtue would make her too common; if one must speak of her, it should be: “This is my good; this I love; it pleases me wholly; thus alone do I will the good. I do not will it the law of a god; I do not will it as human statute and need
Our highest insights must – and should – sound like follies and sometimes like crimes when they are heard without permission by those who are not predisposed and predestined for them
[for the last two milennia…] a common war on all that is rare, strange, privileged, the higher man, the higher soul, the higher duty, the higher responsibility, and the abundance of creative power and masterfulness.
Today – is greatness possible?
When some men fail to accomplish what they desire to do they exclaim angrily, “May the whole world perish!” This repulsive emotion is the pinnacle of envy, whose implication is “If I cannot have something, no one can have anything, no one is to be anything!”
What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?
Great star! What would your happiness be, if you had not those for whom you shine!
You have come up here to my cave for ten years: you would have grown weary of your light and of this journey, without me, my eagle and my serpent…
Behold! I am weary of my wisdom, like a bee that has gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it.
I must descend into the depths: as you do at evening, when you go behind the sea and bring light to the underworld too, superabundant star!
Like you, I must go down…
Behold! This cup wants to be empty again, and Zarathustra wants to be man again. I teach you the Superman. Man is something that should be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? All creatures hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and do you want to be the ebb of this great tide, and return to the animals rather than overcome man?
The church fights passion with excision in every sense: its practice, its “cure,” is castratism. It never asks: “How can one spiritualize, beautify, deify a craving?” It has at all times laid the stress of discipline on extirpation (of sensuality, of pride, of the lust to rule, of avarice, of vengefulness). But an attack on the roots of passion means an attack on the roots of life: the practice of the church is hostile to life.
Once you said ‘God’ when you gazed upon distant seas; but now I have taught you to say ‘Superman’
Man is a rope fastened between animal and Superman – a rope over an abyss.
I love all those who are like heavy drops falling singly from the dark cloud that hangs over mankind: they prophesy the coming of the lightning and as prophets they perish.
Behold, I am a prophet of the lightning and a heavy drop from the cloud: but this lightning is called Superman.
It is time for man to fix his goal. It is time for man to plant the seed of his highest hope. His soil is still rich enough for it. But this soil will one day be poor and weak; no longer will a high tree be able to grow from it… I tell you: one must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you still have chaos in you. Alas! The time is coming when man will give birth to no more stars… Behold! I shall show you the Last Man…
No herdsman and one herd. Everyone wants the same thing, everyone is the same: whoever thinks otherwise goes voluntarily into the madhouse.
And now they look at me and laugh: and laughing, they still hate me. There is ice in their laughter.
It is the same with the human being as with the tree. The higher they climb into the height and light, the more strongly their roots strive earthward, downward, into the dark, the depths – into evil.
Can freedom become a burden, too heavy for man to bear, something he tries to escape from?
— Erich Fromm
Nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom. Man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born.
— Fyodor Dostoevsky
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“I did examine myself,” he said. “Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing — when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.”
— Chris Knight (hermit living in the woods for 27 years)
The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.
Strange as it may seem, life becomes serene and enjoyable precisely when selfish pleasure and personal success are no longer the guiding goals.
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
how you do anything is how you will do everything.
— John Wooden
We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.
— Aldous Huxley
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
— Steve Jobs
Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching,.
— Attributed to Assyrian stone tablet of ~2800 B.C.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
— Native American Proverb
Man isn’t a noble savage, he’s an ignoble savage. He is irrational, brutal, weak, silly, unable to be objective about anything where his own interests are involved—that about sums it up. I’m interested in the brutal and violent nature of man because it’s a true picture of him. And any attempt to create social institutions on a false view of the nature of man is probably doomed to failure.
Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.
— Ben Franklin
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions. Their lives a mimicry. Their passions a quotation.
Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth.
— Oscar Wylde
Step out of the cave my friend, it is a bit colder, but my god the stars of beautiful.
No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.
If you can’t be criticized for it, it’s probably not remarkable. Are you devoting yourself to something devoid of criticism?
You are afraid to die, and you’re afraid to live. What a way to exist.”
— Neale Donald Walsch
Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, ‘cause “the West is the best.” And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.
So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
— Chris McCandless
Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel.
— Horace Walpole
Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.
— John Greenleaf Whittier
I will say that the God concept is at the heart of 2001 but not any traditional, anthropomorphic image of God. I don’t believe in any of Earth’s monotheistic religions, but I do believe that one can construct an intriguing scientific definition of God, once you accept the fact that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, that each star is a life-giving sun and that there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in just the visible universe. Given a planet in a stable orbit, not too hot and not too cold, and given a few billion years of chance chemical reactions created by the interaction of a sun’s energy on the planet’s chemicals, it’s fairly certain that life in one form or another will eventually emerge. It’s reasonable to assume that there must be, in fact, countless billions of such planets where biological life has arisen, and the odds of some proportion of such life developing intelligence are high. Now, the sun is by no means an old star, and its planets are mere children in cosmic age, so it seems likely that there are billions of planets in the universe not only where intelligent life is on a lower scale than man but other billions where it is approximately equal and others still where it is hundreds of thousands of millions of years in advance of us. When you think of the giant technological strides that man has made in a few millennia—less than a microsecond in the chronology of the universe—can you imagine the evolutionary development that much older life forms have taken? They may have progressed from biological species, which are fragile shells for the mind at best, into immortal machine entities—and then, over innumerable eons, they could emerge from the chrysalis of matter transformed into beings of pure energy and spirit. Their potentialities would be limitless and their intelligence ungraspable by humans.
The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.