The Living Book

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Remember Augustine’s dictum, “Amor meus, pondus meum.” “My love is a weight, a gravitational force.” As one loves temporal things, one gains an illusory substantiality and a selfhood which gravitates “downward,” that is to say acquires a need for things lower in the scale of being than itself. It depends on these things for its own self-affirmation. In the end this gravitational pull becomes an enslavement to material and temporal cares, and finally to sin. Yet this weight itself is an illusion, a result of the “puffing up” of pride, a “swelling” without reality. The self that appears to be weighed down by its love and carried away to material things is, in fact, an unreal thing. Yet it retains an empirical existence of its own: it is what we think of as ourselves.

Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968)

All the matter of the world that surrounds us, the food that we eat, the water that we drink, the air that we breathe, the stones that our houses are built of, our own bodies — everything is permeated by all the matters that exist in the universe. There is no need to study or investigate the sun in order to discover the matter of the solar world; this matter exists in ourselves and is the result of the division of our atoms. In the same way we have in us the matter of all other worlds. Man is, in the full sense of the term, a “miniature universe”; in him are all the matters of which the universe consists; the same forces, the same laws that govern the life of the universe, operate in him; therefore in studying man we can study the whole world, just as in studying the world we can study man.

P. D. Ouspensky (1878 – 1947)

There is no greater mystery than this, that we keep seeking reality though in fact we are reality. We think that there is something hiding reality and that this must be destroyed before reality is gained. How ridiculous! A day will dawn when you will laugh at all your past efforts. That which will be the day you laugh is also here and now.

Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950)

Start first with yourself and abandon yourself. Truly, if you won’t first leave yourself, wherever you may go you will find obstacles and war, anywhere. They who seek peace in external things — in places or in ways and methods, in persons or works, in monasticism or isolation, in poverty or humility, in anything, however great that might be — not one of them has the least value and it does not bring peace at all.

They who ask this way, ask wrong. The further they go, the less they find what they seek. They walk like the man who has lost his way: the more he walks the more his delusion grows… But if someone abandons himself, whatever else he might keep, whether riches or honours, or anything, he has abandoned all things. See yourself and wherever you find him, see him off. The more you go out of all things, that much, neither less nor more, God comes in you with all that is His.

Meister Eckhart (circa 1260 – 1328)

All the ills of mankind appear, according to Lao Tzu, not from man’s neglect of the necessary, but because he does what is unnecessary. If men would practice what Lao Tzu calls non-action, they would be free not only of their personal difficulties, but also of those residing in every form of government.

Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

Fear not… there is no danger for you. There is a way to cross over the ocean of the world, and by this way the wise men have reached the shore. This same way I point out to you, for it is the way to destroy the world’s fear. Crossing the ocean of the world by this way, you will win perfect peace.

Shankara (circa 700)

It is not “man” in the abstract who recognizes anything. It is always a certain principle, having become active in him, that recognizes its own counterpart in external nature, when it comes in contact with it. Only he in whom is light can see the light; only the element of love can feel love; only the divinity in man can know God in and through man.

Jacob Boehme (1575 – 1624)

For my part, I would rather there were less of such excitement and transport, less of mere thrilling emotion, so that a man were diligent and rightly manful in working and in virtue, for in such exercises do we learn best to know ourselves.

Johannes Tauler (circa 1300 – 1361)

If we do depend on others psychologically, we become secondhand people; which we are. The whole history of mankind is in us… and we don’t know how to read that… You’re not the reader… you are the book. When you read the book as a reader it has no meaning. But if you are the book, and the book is telling you; showing you the story, then you’ll not depend on a single person. Then one will be a light to one’s self.

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986)

The spiritual life justifies itself to those who live it, but what can we say to those who do not understand? This, at least, we can say: that it is a life whose experiences are proved real to their possessor, because they remain with him when brought closest into contact with the objective realities of life. Dreams cannot stand this test. We wake from them to find that they are but dreams. Wanderings of an overwrought brain do not stand this test. These highest experiences that I have had of God’s presence have been rare and brief — flashes of consciousness which have compelled me to exclaim with surprise, “God is here!”

William James (1842 – 1910), from The Varieties of Religious Experience, attributed to J. Trevor

You grieve for those for whom you should not grieve. The wise grieve neither for the living nor the dead. Never at any time was I not, nor thou, nor these princes of man, nor shall we ever cease to be. The unreal has no being, the real never ceases to be.

Bhaghavad-Gita (500 B.C.E.)

A man of intellect is like an artist who gives a concert without help from anyone else, playing on a single instrument — perhaps a piano, which is a small orchestra in itself. Such a man is a small world in himself, and the effects produced by various instruments together, he produces all by himself, in the unity of his own consciousness.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)

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