The necessary premise is that a man is somehow more than his “characteristics,” all the emotions, strivings, tastes and constructions which it pleases him to call “My Life.” We have ground to hope that a Life is something more than a cloud of particles, mere facticity. Go through what is comprehensible and you conclude that only the incomprehensible gives any light.
The tendency of an event to occur varies inversely with one’s preparation for it.
The only important thing is to follow nature. A tiger should be a good tiger; a tree, a good tree. So man should be man. But to know what man is, one must follow nature and go alone, admitting the importance of the unexpected. Still, nothing is possible without love. . . . For love puts one in a mood to risk everything, and not to withhold important elements.
Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.
It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish.
The idea is not to become a mere sloth, sitting on your behind with a vacant mind. It is rather to get into the position of being able to concentrate enormously, so that you can, so to speak, look with all your energy — so that you do not miss a thing.
What would people think about if they were not taught what to think about?
There is no use in one person attempting to tell another what the meaning of life is. It involves too intimate an awareness. A major part of the meaning of life is contained in the very discovering of it. It is an on-going experience of growth that involves a deepening contact with reality. To speak as though it were an objective knowledge, like the date of the war of 1812, misses the point altogether. The meaning of life is indeed objective when it is reached, but the way to it is by a path of subjectivities. . . . The meaning of life cannot be told; it has to happen to a person.
When I was a kid I drew like Michelangelo. It took me years to learn to draw like a kid.
I have been in love with painting ever since I became conscious of it at the age of six. I drew some pictures I thought fairly good when I was fifty, but really nothing I did before the age of seventy was of any value at all. At seventy-three I have at last caught every aspect of nature — birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all. When I am eighty I shall have developed still further, and I will really master the secrets of art at ninety. When I reach a hundred my work will be truly sublime, and my final goal will be attained around the age of one hundred and ten, when every line and dot I draw will be imbued with life.
Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
I remembered one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath. In vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings needed to be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.
That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the greatest laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.
What bothers and bores me about the American feminist movement is its “missionary” aspect. All missionaries are my enemies, even when their cause is good.
Let us be kinder to one another.
To be sighted in the land of the blind carries its own perils. If you try to interpret what you see for the blind, you tend to forget that the blind possess an inherent movement conditioned by their blindness. They are like a monstrous machine moving along its own path. They have their own momentum, their own fixations.
Go with the pain, let it take you . . . open your palms and your body to the pain. It comes in waves like a tide, and you must be open as a vessel lying on the beach, letting it fill you up and then, retreating, leaving you empty and clear . . . With a deep breath — it has to be as deep as the pain — one reaches a kind of inner freedom from pain, as though the pain were not yours but your body’s. The spirit lays the body on the altar.
It is only the untalented director who imagines himself in every part, wants his own thoughts and emotions portrayed; it is only the untalented who makes his own limitations those of the actor as well.
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
God, my God, God Whom I meet in darkness, with you it is always the same thing! Always the same question that nobody knows how to answer!
I have prayed to You in the daytime with thoughts and reasons, and in the nighttime You have confronted me, scattering thought and reason. I have come to You in the morning with light and with desire, and You have descended upon me, with great gentleness, with most forbearing silence, in this inexplicable night, dispersing light, defeating all desire. I have explained to You a hundred times my motives for entering the monastery and You have listened and said nothing, and I have turned away and wept with shame.
Is it true that all my motives have meant nothing? Is it true that all my desires were an illusion?
While I am asking questions which You do not answer, You ask me a question which is so simple that I cannot answer. I do not even understand the question.
This night, and every night, it is the same question.
Could a woman be a complete wife unless, for a moment, in one particular mood, a man felt almost inclined to call her Brother?
I never saw an instance of one or two disputants convincing the other by argument.
If you never want to see the face of hell, when you come home from work every night, dance with your kitchen towel and if you’re worried about waking up your family take off your shoes.
Produce your own dream. If you want to save Peru, go save Peru. It’s quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don’t expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself. That’s what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are there for all to see, have always been and always will be.