This page is dedicated to people I am grateful to embrace as human beings. The people referenced on this page did more than accomplish great tasks during their stay on earth. These people altered the course of their personal lives and defined destiny. It did not define them. All sages undergo great times of suffering. This is not what makes a sage, however. The words they leave behind are immortalized with a wisdom worthy of gods in sacred texts, if not deserving of higher mantles.
I imagine no introduction is necessary.
“The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.”
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe , a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty .. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
“… knowledge must continually be renewed by ceaseless effort, if it is not to be lost. It resembles a statue of marble which stands in the desert and is continually threatened with burial by the shifting sand. The hands of service must ever be at work, in order that the marble continue to lastingly shine in the sun. To these serving hands mine shall also belong.” (Albert Einstein, On Education, 1950)
“The subtlety of the concept of space was enhanced by the discovery that there exist no completely rigid bodies. All bodies are elastically deformable and alter in volume with change in temperature.” (Albert Einstein, 1920)
“According to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether.
… Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended … thus the concept of particles or material points cannot play a fundamental part.
In order that thinking might not degenerate into “metaphysics”, or into empty talk, it is only necessary that enough propositions of the conceptual system be firmly enough connected with sensory experiences and that the conceptual system, in view of its task of ordering and surveying sense experience, should show as much unity and parsimony as possible. Beyond that, however, the “system” is (as regards logic) a free play with symbols according to (logically) arbitrarily given rules of the game. All this applies as much (and in the same manner) to the thinking in daily life as to the more consciously and systematically constructed thinking in the sciences.
By his clear critique Hume did not only advance philosophy in a decisive way but also- though through no fault of his- created a danger for philosophy in that, following his critique, a fateful “fear of metaphysics” arose which has come to be a malady of contemporary empiricist philosophising; this malady is the counterpart to that earlier philosophising in the clouds, which thought it could neglect and dispense with what was given by the senses.
However, I see no “metaphysical” danger in taking the thing (the object in the sense of physics) as an independent concept into the system together with the proper spatio-temporal structure. … .it finally turns out that one can, after all, not get along without “metaphysics”.” (Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, 1954 – On Bertrand Russell‘s Theory of Knowledge.)
“Communities tend to be guided less than individuals by conscience and a sense of responsibility. How much misery does this fact cause mankind! It is the source of wars and every kind of oppression, which fill the earth with pain, sighs and bitterness.
Yet, as a general rule, intellectual work in moderation, so far from retarding cure, indirectly helps it forward, just as moderate physical work will.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)
“We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided. And those who have an interest in keeping the machinery of war going are a very powerful body; they will stop at nothing to make public opinion subservient to their murderous ends.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)
“When, after several hours reading, I came to myself again, I asked myself what it was that had so fascinated me. The answer is simple. The results were not presented as ready-made, but scientific curiosity was first aroused by presenting contrasting possibilities of conceiving matter. Only then the attempt was made to clarify the issue by thorough argument. The intellectual honesty of the author makes us share the inner struggle in his mind. It is this which is the mark of the born teacher. Knowledge exists in two forms – lifeless, stored in books, and alive, in the consciousness of men. The second form of existence is after all the essential one; the first, indispensable as it may be, occupies only an inferior position.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)
“Numerous are the academic chairs, but rare are wise and noble teachers. Numerous and large are the lecture halls, but far from numerous the young people who genuinely thirst for truth and justice. Numerous are the wares that nature produces by the dozen, but her choice products are few.
We all know that, so why complain? Was it not always thus and will it not always thus remain? Certainly, and one must take what nature gives as one finds it. But there is also such a thing as a spirit of the times, an attitude of mind characteristic of a particular generation, which is passed on from individual to individual and gives its distinctive mark to a society. Each of us has to his little bit toward transforming this spirit of the times.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)
“Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous. There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist’s snobbishness.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)
“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” (Albert Einstein,The Merging of Spirit and Science)
Siddhartha Gautama, also known as “Buddha,” has been another of my greatest teachers and inspirations. Who he was, or even if he existed, is of no consequence to me. His words have helped me understand the nature of myself.
He is one of the many Eastern philosophers that have shown their wisdom to me…
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”
“An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.”
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”
“Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”
“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”
“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”
“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”
“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”
“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.”
“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”
“There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.”
“Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two.”
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”
“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?”
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”
“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.”
Bruce Lee is another sage that I have had the privilege of learning from. Some may simply know him as a Karate champion that rose to Hollywood fame. If only his life were so light and fluffy. Firstly, his roots were not grounded in Karate, but Gung Fu. Street gangs hunted Lee up to the point that he had to flee Hong Kong. His parents sent him away with $115.00 to live with a friend in San Francisco, Ca. Lee supplemented his ‘dishwasher’ income by teaching self defense to local residents. He worked in China Town with other Chinese migrants in the resturaunt industry.
After earning his high school diploma, he later moved to Seattle to study philosophy at the University of Washington. Bruce Lee faced challenges his entire life. His skill became legendary because of these conflicts, and, in effect, he opened schools in the West due to his growing popularity. However, that didn’t last either. Other local Gung Fu instructors accused Lee of dishonoring tradition by teaching all races and genders the art of Gung Fu. This too, Lee was forced to settle in a battle – which, he won.
Lee began integrating his knowledge of martial arts with his knowledge of philosophy. His brain child is known as ‘Jeet Kune Do.’
There is much more to his story, as well. Every struggle he faced was endured, and, at times, yielded to his benefit.
Now, a few words from the warrior poet who proved his skill with both fist and mind –
“Jeet Kune Do, It’s just a name, don’t fuss over it. There’s no such thing as a style if you understand the roots of combat.”
“Be Formless, shapeless like water. Now if you put water into a cup it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle, you put it into a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash, be water my friend.”
“Here is natural instinct and here is control. You are to combine the two in harmony, now if you have one to the extreme, you will be very unscientific. If you have another to the extreme, you will all of a sudden be a mechanical man, no longer a human being. It is a successful combination of both. Therefore, it is not naturalness or unnaturalness. The ideal is unnatural, naturalness or natural, unnaturalness.”
If there is a God, he is within. You don’t ask God to give you things, you depend on God for your inner theme.
Before I practised the Way, A cloud was just a cloud and a mountain was just a mountain. After I’d studied the Way, a cloud was no longer a cloud, a mountain was no longer a mountain. Now that I understand the Way, A cloud is again just a cloud, a mountain is just a mountain. (The clouds and mountains are simply kicks and punches).”
“The mind is like a fertile garden in which anything that is planted, flowers or weeds, will grow.
Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.
The more relaxed the muscles are, the more energy can flow through the body. Using muscular tensions to try to “do” the punch, or attempting to use brute force to knock someone over, will only work to opposite effect.
Mere technical knowledge is only the beginning of Kung Fu, to master it, one must enter into the spirit of it.”
“When I look around I always learn something, and that is to be yourself always, express yourself, and have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him. Now that seems to be the prevalent thing happening in Hong Kong, like they always copy mannerism, but they never start from the root of his being and that is, how can I be me?
Put every great teacher together in a room, and they’d agree about everything, put their disciples in there and they’d argue about everything.
By adopting a certain physical posture, a resonant chord is struck in spirit.
Wine may become so dilute that few will drink of it.”
“The void is no mere emptiness, but is real, free and existing. It is the source from which all things arise and return. It cannot be seen, touched or known, yet it exists and is freely used. It has no shape, size, colour or form, and yet all that we see, hear, feel and touch is “it”. It is beyond intellectual knowing and cannot be grasped by the ordinary mind. When we suddenly awake to the realization that there is no barrier, and has never been seen, one realizes that one is all things, mountains, rivers, grasses, trees, sun, moon, stars, universe are all oneself. There is no longer a division or barrier between myself and others, no longer any feeling of alienation or fear. Realizing this, results in true compassion. Other people and things are not seen as apart from oneself, on the contrary, as one’s own body.”
To be continued….