We do not learn only from great minds; we learn from everyone, if only we observe and inquire. I received my greatest lesson in aesthetics from an old man in an Athenian ‘taverna.’ Night after night he sat alone at the same table, drinking his wine with precisely the same movements. I finally asked him why he did this, and he said, “Young man, I first look at my glass to please my eyes, then I take it in my hand to please my hand, then I bring it to my nose to please my nostrils, and I am just about to bring it to my lips when I hear a small voice in my ears, ‘How about me?’ So I tap my glass on the table before I drink from it. I thus please all five senses.”
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. . . . The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occured. . . . Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
All his earthly past will have been heaven to those who are saved. . . . The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of heaven. . . . At the end of all things, the blessed will say, “We never lived anywhere but in Heaven.”
There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much.
The kingdom of God is within you.
There can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the Kingdom of God in our hearts.
In the coming world they will not ask me, “Why were you not Moses?” They will ask me, “Why were you not Zusya?”
There is no coming to heaven with dry eyes.
He who would be friends with God must remain alone or make the whole world his friend.
Be assured that if you knew all, you would pardon all.
My obligation is this:
To be transparent.
You have to be completely without mercy on yourself. You can’t say something like, “I did this yesterday before I played the concert and the concert was great! Therefore, I should do that again.” Anything that creates a pattern creates an anchor. First it’s conscious and then it’s unconscious. When it’s unconscious, it isn’t only an anchor, it’s a habit. . . . It’s something everyone does at times. But for me the difference is — no matter what the beneficial effect of the thing — I cannot allow it to take the place of the dance. So it’s the only way that the music is going to keep coming out. The music is dancing more than I am. I have to keep up with it by not having an anchor, so the music can take me somewhere.
The Delphic Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks. It is because I alone of all the Greeks know that I know nothing.
We have forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions.
I reproach all modern religions for having handed to their believers consolations and glossings over of death, instead of administering to them the means of reconciling themselves to it and coming to an understanding with it. With it, with its full, unmasked cruelty: this cruelty is so tremendous that it is just with it that the circle closes: it leads right back again into the extreme of a mildness that is great, pure and perfectly clear (all consolation is turbid) as we have never surmised mildness to be, not even on the sweetest spring day. But toward the experiencing of this most profound mildness which, were only a few of us to feel it with conviction, could perhaps little by little penetrate and make transparent all the relations of life: toward the experiencing of this richest and soundest mildness, mankind has never even taken the first steps — unless in its oldest, most innocent times, whose secret has been all but lost to us. The content of ‘initiations’ was, I am sure, nothing but the imparting of a ‘key’ that permitted the reading of the word ‘death’ without negation; like the moon, life surely has a side permanently turned away from us which is not its counterpart but its complement towards perfection, toward consummation, toward the really sound and full sphere and orb of being.
Understanding is the ultimate seduction of the mind. Go to the truth beyond the mind. Love is the bridge.
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?