Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.
Total freedom is never what one imagines and, in fact, hardly exists. It comes as a shock in life to learn that we usually only exchange one set of restrictions for another. The second set, however, is self-chosen, and therefore easier to accept.
To fill the hour — that is happiness; to fill the hour, and leave no crevice for a repentance or an approval.
Fearful of separation, we repeat without remembering our history, imposing upon new sets, new actors and a new production our unrecollected but still-so-potent past. . . . No one is suggesting that we consciously remember experiences of early childhood loss, if by remember we mean that we can summon up a picture of mother leaving, of being alone in a crib. What stays with us instead is what it surely must have felt like to be powerless and needy and alone.
Happiness? That’s nothing more than health and a poor memory.
The most important lesson I have learned about maturity is that the emergence, the full development, of what is uniquely me should be an important concern throughout my entire life. There are many other important concerns, but this particular one must never be submerged, never be out-of-sight.
This I learned the hard way. There was a long “wilderness” period in which I sought resources outside myself. I looked for an “answer” to the normal frustrations of life. Good years went by. No answers came. It took me a long time to discover that the only real answer to frustration is to concern myself with the drawing forth of what is uniquely me. Only as what is uniquely me emerges do I experience moments of true creativity: moments which, when deeply felt, temper the pain of long periods of frustration that are the common lot of most of us and give us the impulse and the courage to act constructively in the outside world.
The whole work of man really seems to consist in nothing but proving to himself every minute that he is a man and not a piano key.
The armor we wear — the armor of technology separating us from the natural world — has created us lately in the condition of exiles. Nature exists within as well as without, and we are become, therefore, exiled from ourselves. The style of the catatonic has become the style of Everyman.
Whatever the country, capitalist or socialist, man was everywhere crushed by technology, made a stranger to his own work, imprisoned, forced into stupidity. The evil all arose from the fact that he had increased his needs rather than limited them; instead of aiming at an abundance that did not and perhaps never would exist, he should have confined himself to the essential minimum, as certain very poor communities still do. . . . As long as fresh needs continued to be created, so new frustrations would come into being. When had the decline begun? The day knowledge was preferred to wisdom and mere usefulness to beauty. . . . Only a moral revolution — not a social or a political or a technical revolution — only a moral revolution would lead man back to his lost truth.
As soon as we trust ourselves, we will know how to live.
We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.
I only know myself as a human entity; the scene, so to speak, of thoughts and affections; and am sensible of a certain doubleness by which I can stand as remote from myself as from another. However intense my experience, I am conscious of the presence and criticism of a part of me, which, as it were, is not a part of me, but a spectator sharing no experience, but taking note of it, and that is no more I than it is you.
I am a lie that always tells the truth.
It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.