The Living Book

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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

Smoldering joy, oft-puffed by meditation,
Blinding my tearful eyes,
Burst into immortal flames of bliss,
Consumed my tears, my frame, my all.
Thou art I, I am Thou,
Knowing, Knower, Known, as One!
Tranquilled, unbroken thrill, eternally living, ever new peace!
Enjoyable beyond imagination of expectancy, samadhi bliss!
Not a mental chloroform
Or unconscious state without wilful return,
Samadhi but extends my conscious realm
Beyond limits of the mortal frame
To the farthest boundary of eternity
Where I, the Cosmic Sea,
Watch the little ego floating in me.

Paramhansa Yogananda (1893 – 1952)

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding… She is more precious than rubies, and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

Old Testament

Let none of us entertain the desire for possessions, for what gain is it to acquire those things which we cannot take with us? Why not rather acquire those that we can take: prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, understanding, charity, love of the poor, faith in Christ, goodness, hospitality? If we obtain these, we shall find them there before us preparing a welcome for us in the land of the meek.

Athanasius of Alexandria (circa 296 – 373)

All we taste, against all we lack, is like a single drop of water against the whole sea… for we feed upon His Immensity, which we cannot devour, and we yearn after His Infinity, which we cannot attain.

Jacob Boehme (1575 – 1624)

Eternity alone understands about compassion. If you therefore wish to learn to understand compassion, you must learn it from eternity. But if you wish to understand the eternal, then there must be quiet about you, while you absolutely center your attention on inwardness.

Soren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855)

As the light increases, we see ourselves to be worse than we thought. We are amazed at our former blindness as we see issuing forth from the depths of our heart a whole swarm of shameful feelings, like filthy reptiles crawling from a hidden cave. We never could have believed that we had harbored such things, and we stand aghast as we watch them gradually appear. But while our faults diminish, the light by which we see them waxes brighter, and we are filled with horror. Bear in mind, for your comfort, that we only perceive our malady when the cure begins.

Francois Fenelon (1651 – 1715)