The Living Book

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The principles of this authentic religion are entirely natural to man, so that the instant they are communicated to him they are received as ideas long familiar and self-evident… These principles are quite simple, understandable, and few in number.

Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

Diogenes was free. How so? Not because he was of free parentage, for that was not the case, but because he was himself a free man. He had cast aside every handle by which he might be enslaved… All things sat loosely upon him, all things were attached by slender ties.

Epictetus (55 – 135 A.D.)

Be dissatisfied with the life you are now leading, but when you have rejected it, do not be in despair over yourself… Learn what the wrestling teachers do. Has the boy fallen? “Rise,” they say, “and wrestle again until your strength is renewed.” That is how it should be with you. Realize that there is nothing more flexible than the human spirit. It needs but to will, and the thing is done; the spirit is set on the right path.

Epictetus (55 – 135 A.D.)

There is only one way of truth, but different paths from different places join it, just like tributaries flowing into a perennial river. Solomon adds that there are plenty of righteous people and plenty of routes for them. He explains this as follows: “The paths of the righteous shine like light.”

Clement of Alexandria (circa 150 – 215)

Men esteem Truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man. In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God Himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all ages.

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

Let us not ask, “Why was I placed in this body?” or “Why was I not made an angel?” Does not God show partiality? Do we not have free will? All these questions simply multiple vanity. How can the creature say to the Creator, “Why did you make me like this?” or how can a creature answer back to God? Let all these kinds of discussions cease. Instead, let those discussions prevail which guide us towards virtue and knowledge. All that is present in this age of shadows is called vanity and shadows, and all that belongs to this life will be covered with the darkness, becoming obsolete upon departing this life.

Evagrius Ponticus (345 – 399 AD)