“This is a lovely description of what a well lived life is. You’ll have some pain in your life, you’ll have some pleasure. Hopefully those pleasures are more active than passive. But then you also have the appropriate attitude about life that life is only capable of bestowing so much upon you and that’s a really good reminder to be grateful.”
Happiness is not a life of rapture, but moments of such, in an existence made up of few and transitory pains, many and various pleasures, with a decided predominance of the active over the passive, and having as the foundation of the whole, not to expect more from life than it is capable of bestowing.
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher
David Shapiro, co-author with Richard Leider of
Repacking Your Bags,The Power of Purpose and
Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?
The Path of Purposeful Aging
“I just love that quote because it’s the theme that I’ve been exploring. I’ve been grappling with how our contemplative practices relate to our work for social change in the world and I felt very inspired to learn that James Baldwin was thinking about that as well and recognizing that our inner life has power to affect our outer world. I know that that’s a key theme for New Dimensions and your community of listeners.”
Though we do not wholly believe it yet, the interior life is a real life, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world.
James Baldwin (1924-1987), Nobody Knows My Name, 1961
Oren Jay Sofer, meditation and mindfulness teacher
and author of Your Heart Was Made for This:
Contemplative Practice for Meeting a World in
Crisis with Courage, Integrity & Love
“John Perry Barlow (1947-2018) was well known around the world in certain circles. He was a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and wrote many of Bob Weir’s songs. He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation in hopes of creating a safe internet. He had the foresight to see what could happen. I just attended his memorial and was reminded of this quote from John which inspires me by its truth, by its boldness, and by reminding me that it’s a different world now. It reminds me to remember to do what I need to do to work for the change to make it better.”
Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping Tom to install your window blinds.
John Perry Barlow
Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Nicki Scully, teacher of the shamanic arts and author of
Planetary Healing: Spirit Medicine
for Global Transformation
“For me the reason this quote is so important is because of the mental discipline that he had to engage in in order to be able to do what he did. That kind of mental discipline is not easily arrived at. I’m sure he had to go through a lot of deep inner research and understanding in order to be able to get to the place where he could really understand how hatred is a prison, how revenge is a prison, how the desire for vengeance is a prison. To be able to liberate himself from that prison through the decision to be free in every sense of the word is why this quote is so important to me. When I get to the place where there’s some reason I want to be mad at somebody and I [tell myself no] there is no reason to hold onto anger. Yes, maybe they’ve done something wrong. Maybe they’ve done some trespass. I have to look at the effect that that has had on me and I have to understand how I want to live with that. Do I want to cultivate the wound or do I want to heal it? I think that this quote really shows his determination to heal the wound rather than cultivate it.”
As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
Former President of South Africa
and apartheid activist
Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D., author of Coming to Peace:
Resolving Conflict Within Ourselves and
With Others and founder of the process depth hypnosis
“This favorite quote is from the great Shantideva and is often quoted by the Dalai Lama. If something is going wrong and you can do something about it, why be frustrated and unhappy? Do it. If something is going wrong and you can’t do anything about it, why be frustrated and unhappy on top of not being able to do anything about it? It inspires me not to be freaked out. Whatever it is. Be happy, no matter what. When things are going wrong and if you can’t do anything about it, be happy anyway.”
Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy about something if it cannot be remedied?
Shantideva (685 AD – 763 AD, India)
8th-century Indian philosopher, Buddhist monk
Robert Thurman, Ph.D. is an eminent scholar of
Asian and Tibetan history and
Buddhist art and sciences.
For over 50 years he has been a close student,
colleague and personal friend of the Dalai Lama.
He is co-creator of the graphic novel
Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet
“This inspires me because I realized that I’ve been attached to my home, my life, and living in Marin County. Recently it dawned on me that I was feeling too much attachment to where I was living. The moment I surrendered to it, the moment I let it go and said ‘I let it go’ something shifted in me and my happiness came back. It was at this point this quote came in the mail and I thought to myself isn’t that amazing that the universe helped me by giving me this quote. I remember hearing Wayne Dyer at a conference talk about how he had to let go of all of his material possessions and how much better he felt. I’m not letting go of everything yet but I am letting go of the attachment to those things.”
Have a mind that is open for everything and attached to nothing.
Wayne Dyer (1940-2015) Motivational speaker
and author of many books including
Change Your Thoughts-Change Your Life
“Carl Faber was the psychologist from whom I took a class at UCLA well over 40 years ago and who was my first inspiration as a psychotherapist. What he taught about deep listening has been a source of inspiration for how my work has evolved through the years.”
Healing and transforming things can happen between people when there is the true presence of mutual openness to the wind. Listeners that have brought themselves to this mystery, time and time again, become deeply wise and powerful people. Awed by their participation, they become better and better listeners. Their souls are weathered souls which carry not only their own life wounds but those of friends and lovers. Some rare listeners seem to feel the wounds of the world.”
Carl A. Faber, Ph.D. author of On Listening
“That quote encapsulates everything I know in my mind, heart, and from my experiences of what’s possible for us as we age. I believe that so many of us are not aiming high as we age because we feel that our best is behind us. Or, sadly we’re not aiming for anything and just kind of drifting from day to day. I believe we all have, deep in us, a vision and it may take a little work to get in touch with it. To aim for that vision [as we approach elderhood] can be our guide in living with intentionality and teaches us to ever be striving to be our best rather than just settling for some minimal goals or worse just drifting with no real goal in sight at all.”
The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it but that it is too low and we reach it.
Michelangelo (1475-1674) Italian sculptor, painter of the Sistine Chapel
“I love that Emerson’s teaching is all about what he called ‘lowly listening,’ and connecting to our inner guidance and understanding that our mind is an expression of the one mind and learning to step aside and listen. It is a mind and intelligence that is greater than we are. Listening and knowing how to be receptive isn’t an art that we have perfected in our culture. We do not determine what we think we only open our senses, clear away as we can all obstruction from the facts, and let God think through us. Emerson is encouraging us to put control aside for the minute, to realize that we’re not creating our thoughts. Rather, we’re recipients of a mind stream that’s flowing through all of creation. And that is extremely humbling and, at the same time, enlarging and expansive. There’s something precious in us, a treasure in us, if we just quiet down enough and tune in.”
The whole course of things goes to teach us faith. We need only obey. There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening, we shall hear the right word.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
American essayist and philosopher
“Francis had a hard time believing me when I told him that there’s only one person on this planet that I would ask to write a preface to my book, and that’s you. I knew him well enough to feel it was a good request. And the preface that he came back with was so amazing. He said afterwards it was the hardest thing he ever wrote. As he entered into it, he went through an initiation in writing it. He captures the idea that initiation is never about the individual. The role of initiation is not to serve the individual person as it is the larger community of life.”
Any genuine initiation requires a maturation of our being and stepping more fully into our robust identity, rooted in soul. We must become immense, capable of welcoming all that arrives at the gateway to the heart.
Francis Weller, psychotherapist, author, and soul activist,
from the preface of Choosing Earth
Duane Elgin is a visionary futurist
and author of the revised edition of
Choosing Earth: Humanity’s Journey of Initiation
through Breakdown and Collapse to Mature