The Living Book

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The friends of Job appear on the scene as advisers and “consolers,” offering Job the fruits of their moral scientia. But when Job insists that his sufferings have no explanation and that he cannot discover the reason for them through conventional ethical concepts, his friends turn into accusers, and curse Job as a sinner. Thus, instead of consolers, they become torturers by virtue of their very morality, and in so doing, while claiming to be advocates of God, they act as instruments of the devil.

Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968)

He who knows the Bliss of Brahman does not distress himself with the thought, “Why did I not do what is good? Why did I do what is evil?” Whoever knows this bliss regards both of these as Atman (self, soul), indeed he cherishes both as Atman.

Upanishads (circa 800 – 200 B.C.E.)

As a man in his sleep doubts the reality of his nightmares and yearns to awaken and return to real life, so the average man of our day cannot, in the depths of his heart, believe the terrible condition in which he finds himself — and which is growing worse and worse — to be a reality. He yearns to attain to a higher reality, the consciousness of which is already within him… Our average man has but to make a conscious effort and ask himself, “Is not all this an illusion?” in order to feel like an awakened sleeper, transported from a hypocritical and horrible nightmare-world into a living, peaceful, and joyous world of reality.

Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

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)

Can a person or a thing, regarded in its solidity, avoid being seen when it comes before our eyes? The higher divine realities on the other hand, even when they are in front of us, can be perceived only with their own consent. It depends entirely on them whether they are seen or hidden. It was by grace that God revealed himself to Abraham and the other prophets. The eye of the heart itself did not allow Abraham to see God, but the grace of God was offered spontaneously to the gaze of that righteous man.

Origen (184 – 253)

He who knows the Tao is sure to be well acquainted with the principles that appear in the procedures of things. Acquainted with those principles, he is sure to understand how to regulate his actions in all kinds of circumstances. Having that understanding, he will not allow things to injure him.


Is freedom anything else than the power of living as we choose? Nothing else. Tell me then, you men, do you wish to live in error? We do not. No one who lives in error is free. Do you with to live in fear? Do you wish to live in sorrow? Do you wish to live in tension? By no means. No one who is in a state of fear or sorrow or tension is free, but whoever is delivered from sorrows or fears or anxieties, he is at the same time also delivered from servitude.

Epictetus (55 – 135 A.D.)

There is no reason for despair. You need not fancy it is impossible to regulate your life in accordance with abstract ideas and maxims… the first thing to do is to understand the rule; the second thing is to learn the practice of it. The theory may be understood at once by an effort of reason, and yet the practice of it acquired only in the course of time.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)

A fundamental teaching of Baha’u’llah is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind, he says, “Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.” By this it is meant that the world of humanity is like a tree, the nations or peoples are the different limbs or branches of that tree, and the individual human creatures are as the fruits and blossoms thereof.

Baha’i Faith