The Living Book

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I may be asked what I mean by “Inward Spiritual Freedom”… Spiritual freedom is the attribute of a mind in which reason and conscience have begun to act, and which is free through its own energy, through fidelity to the truth, through resistance to temptation… We are in the midst of influences which menace the intellect and heart; and to be free is to withstand and conquer these.

William Ellery Channing (1780 – 1842)

It is therefore exceedingly good and beneficial to us to discover this dark, disordered fire of the soul, because when rightly known and rightly dealt with, it can as well be the foundation of heaven.

William Law (1686 – 1761)

Our life is like a journey in which, as we advance, the landscape takes a different view from that which is presented at first, and changes again, as we come nearer. This is just what happens, especially with our desires. We often find something else, no, something better than what we were looking for… Instead of finding, as we expected, pleasure, happiness, joy, we get experience, insight, knowledge — a real and permanent blessing, instead of a disappearing and illusory one. In their search for gold, the alchemists discovered other things — gunpowder, china, medicines, the laws of nature. There is a sense in which we are all alchemists.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)

Be neither the slave of your impulses and sensations of the moment, nor of an abstract and general plan; be open to what life brings from within and without, and welcome the unforeseen, and give to your life unity, and bring the unforeseen within the lines of your plan. Let what is natural in you raise itself to the level of the spiritual, and let the spiritual become once more natural. Thus will your development be harmonious.

Henri Amiel (1821 – 1881)

Whatever forms Christianity assumed in later times, however distorted it became, it must be remembered that its introduction was heralded by John the Baptist preaching change of mind as the first step towards “eternal” life. And this change of mind was connected by him with the teaching on the Kingdom of Heaven — an idea so difficult to grasp and so contrary to all sense-thinking and external evidence that it remains a new idea for all time.

Maurice Nicoll (1884 – 1953)

Culture, far from giving us freedom, only develops as it advances, new necessities; the fetters of the physical close more tightly around us, so that the fear of loss quenches even the ardent impulse towards improvement, and the maxims of passive obedience are held to be the highest wisdom of life.

Friedrich von Schiller (1759 – 1805)