When Pablo Casals reached ninety-five, a young reporter asked him a question: “Mr. Casals, you are ninety-five and the greatest cellist who ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”
No one will ever get out of this world alive. Resolve therefore to maintain a reasonable perspective and sense of values.
When my grandmother was dying of cancer, she wanted to live to see the roses in her garden in June. When they came, it was as if she was seeing the fullness and glory of the world for the first time: Christ’s blood flowing through the rose.
It was gorgeous traffic, it was beautiful traffic — that’s what was not usual. It was a beauty to see, to hear, to smell, even to be part of. It was so dazzlingly alive it all but took my breath away. It rattled and honked and chattered with life — the people, the colors of their clothes, the marvelous hodgepodge of their faces, all of it; the taxis, the shops, the blinding sidewalks. The spring day made everybody a celebrity — blacks, whites, Hispanics, every last one of them. It made even the litter and clamor and turmoil of it a kind of miracle.
A violent act pierces the atmosphere, leaving a hole through which the cold, damp draft of its memory blows forever.
I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could.
While you have a thing it can be taken from you . . . but when you give it, you have given it. No robber can take it from you. It is yours then forever when you have given it. It will be yours always.
It took me forever to realize that in order to write I just have to turn up at the desk every morning at 9 A.M. and do it. I can never convince kids of this. Faulkner said something wonderful about it when somebody asked him, “Mr. Faulkner, do you write by inspiration or perspiration?” He said, “Well, I write by inspiration, but fortunately it arrives every morning at nine o’clock.”
If you once turn on your side after the hour at which you ought to rise, it is all over. Bolt up at once.
Ninety-five percent of this game is half mental.
Whether people are beautiful and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself. Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one’s own. Now, when you recognize that . . . you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. Nor is this wish selective; it applies equally to all.
[Opening words of a lecture.] If there are any of you at the back who do not hear me, please don’t raise your hands because I am also nearsighted.
There was once a rabbi who was revered by the people as a man of God. Not a day went by when a crowd of people wasn’t standing at his door seeking advice or healing or the holy man’s blessing. . . . There was, however, in the audience a disagreeable fellow who never missed a chance to contradict the master. He would observe the rabbi’s weaknesses and make fun of his defects to the dismay of the disciples, who began to look on him as the devil incarnate. Well, one day the “devil” took ill and died. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. Outwardly, they looked appropriately solemn, but in their hearts they were glad. . . . So the people were surprised to see the master plunged in genuine grief at the funeral. When asked by a disciple later if he was mourning over the eternal fate of the dead man, he said, “No, no. Why should I mourn over our friend, who is now in heaven? It was for myself I was grieving. That man was the only friend I had. Here I am surrounded by people who revere me. He was the only one who challenged me. I fear that with him gone, I shall stop growing.” And, as he said those words, the master burst into tears.