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)

Shade said to Shadow, “A little while ago, you were moving, and now you are standing still. A little while ago, you were sitting down, and now you are getting up. Why all this indecision?”

Shadow replied, “Don’t I have to depend on others to be what I am? Don’t others also have to depend on something else to be what they are? My dependence is like that of the snake on his skin, or of the cicada on his wing. How can I tell why I do this, or why I do that?”

Zhuang Zhou (369 – 286, B.C.E.)

Only the illimitable permanent is here. A peace stupendous, featureless, still replaces all, what once was I, in it a silent unnamed emptiness content either to fade in the unknowable or thrill with the luminous seas of the Infinite.

Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950)

The precious, the living, the effectual part… is that of which he sees the reasonableness and excellence; that which approves itself to his intelligence, his conscience, his heart; that which answers to deep wants in his own soul, and of which he has the witness in his own inward and outward experience.

William Ellery Channing (1780 – 1842)

Love between human beings springs from a desire to be made free of another world than one’s own. Every true communion of lovers is a mutual discovery and recognition. Every passion is a passion for release, for that loss of one’s self by which alone one gains life.

Gerald Bullett (1893 – 1958)

Energy is spent chiefly on unnecessary and unpleasant emotions, on the expectation of unpleasant things, possible and impossible, on bad moods, on unnecessary haste, nervousness, irritability, imagination, day-dreaming, and so on. Energy is wasted on the wrong work of centers, on unnecessary tension of the muscles out of all proportion to the work produced, on perpetual chatter which absorbs an enormous amount of energy, on the “interest” continually taken in things happening around us or to other people and having in fact no interest whatever, on the constant waste of the force of “attention,” and so on, and so on.

P. D. Ouspensky (1878 – 1947)

The Indian believes profoundly in silence — the sign of a perfect equilibrium. Silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind and spirit. The man who preserves his self-hood is ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence. What are the fruits of silence? They are self control, true courage or endurance, patience, dignity and reverence. Silence is the cornerstone of character.

Ohiyesa (1858 – 1939)

The world is built for the truth, but false combinations of thought misrepresent the true state of things and bring forth errors. Errors can be fashioned as it pleases those who cherish them, therefore they are pleasant to look upon, but they are unstable and contain the seeds of dissolution. Truth cannot be fashioned… Truth is the essence of life… Happy are those who walk in it.

Buddhism (circa 500 B.C.E.)