You can filter through this mess with these categories   

“This above all — ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple ‘I must,’ then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.”



“A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgment of it: there is no other.”

Rainer Rilke

“Thinking accompanies life and is itself the de-materialized quintessence of being alive; and since life is a process, its quintessence can only lie in the actual thinking process and not in any solid results or specific thoughts. A life without thinking is quite possible; it then fails to develop its own essence – it is not merely meaningless; it is not fully alive. Unthinking men are like sleepwalkers.”

Hannah Arendt

“Stupid people are very happy because they don’t know for what they are here. They don’t know that there is some task to be fulfilled. They are almost like mentally challenged children who go on playing with teddy bears even as they age. Your teddy-bears can change their shape; somebody’s teddy bear is money and somebody’s teddy bears are women, and somebody’s teddy bears are men. But whatever you are doing – and you are feeling very happy that money is accumulating, that you have found a new girlfriend, that you are promoted to a higher position – you are utterly happy. unless you are stupid it is not possible.

A man of intelligence will be able to see without fail all these small things of life are preventing you from the beyond. They keep you engaged here, which is not your home. They keep you engaged in a life which is going to end up in a graveyard.

The intelligent man starts asking – and this becomes his fundamental search and quest – ‘is there something beyond the graveyard or not? If there is nothing beyond the graveyard, then this whole life is just a dream and meaningless. Unless there is something beyond, life cannot be significant, and life cannot be meaningful.’

But the stupid person is immensely happy with any toys that the society provides him.

Don’t be Stupid.”


“Feeling the force of that [moral] confusion, and the pressure to sort it out, is the impulse to philosophy.”

Michael J. Sandel

“For my part, I think action is best when it emerges from a profound apprehension of the universe and human destiny, not from some wildly passionate impulse of romantic but disproportioned self-assertion…A life confined to what is personal is likely, sooner or later, to become unbearably painful; it is only by windows into a larger and less fretful cosmos that the more tragic parts of life become endurable.” 

Bertrand Russell

“The history of thought proves that each new structure raised by a man of extraordinary intellect is sure to be pulled down by the succeeding ones. This constant pulling down and building up is all right as far as philosophy itself is concerned; for the inherent nature of the intellect, as I take it, demands it and we cannot put a stop to the progress of philosophical inquiries any more than to our breathing. But when it comes to the question of life itself we cannot wait for the ultimate solution to be offered by the intellect, even if it could do so. We cannot suspend even for a moment our life-activity for philosophy to unravel its mysteries. Let the mysteries remain as they are, but live we must… Zen therefore does not rely on the intellect for the solution of its deepest problems.”

DT Suzuki

“Speaking as a scientist, it seems to me that it is our uncommonly difficult task, as post-Kantians, on the one hand step by step to erect barriers which will restrain the influence of metaphysics on the presentation of facts seen as true within our individual fields – while on the other hand preserving it as the indispensable basis of our knowledge, both general and particular…metaphysics does not form part of the house of knowledge but is the scaffolding, without which further construction is impossible.”

Erwin Schrodinger

“There is a dimension where the bottom drops out of the world of factuality and of the ordinary. Western Industrial Culture is in the curious position of having simultaneously reached the climax of an entire totalitarian rationality of organization and of complete absurdity and self-contradiction. Existentialists and a few others have noticed the absurdity. But the majority persist in seeing only the rational machinery against which no protest avails: because, after all, it is ‘rational’, and it is ‘a fact’. So, too, is the internal contradiction.”

Thomas Merton

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Philosophy’s purpose is to illuminate the ways our soul has been infected by unsound beliefs, untrained tumultuous desires, and dubious life choices and preferences that are unworthy of us. Self-scrutiny applied with kindness is the main antidote.”

Sharon Lebell

“How very paltry and limited the normal human intellect is, and how little lucidity there is in the human consciousness, may be judged from the fact that, despite the ephemeral brevity of human life, the uncertainty of our existence and the countless enigmas which press upon us from all sides, everyone does not continually and ceaselessly philosophize, but that only the rarest of exceptions do.”


“When Ali asked Mohammad, ‘What am i to do that I may not waste my time?’ the Prophet answered, ‘Learn to know thyself.'”

“Discard such definite imaginations of phenomena as your own self, thou human being, thou’rt a numberless mass of sun-motes: each mote a shrine. The same as to your shyness of other selves, selfness as divided into infinite numbers of beings, or selfness as identified as one self existing eternally. Be obliging and noble, be generous with your time and help and possessions, and be kind, because the emptiness of this little place of flesh you carry around and call your soul, your entity, is the same emptiness in every direction of space unmeasurable emptiness, the same, one, and holy emptiness everywhere: why be selfy and unfree, Man God, in your dream?”

Jack Kerouac

“When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.”

James Joyce

“Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful; he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also:…never cease chiseling your statue.”


“Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact.”

William Burroughs

“To know more, one must feel less, and vice versa… Nature, the soul, love, and God, one recognizes through the heart, and not through the reason. Were we spirits, we could dwell in that region of ideas over which our souls hover, seeking the solution. But we are earth-born beings, and can only guess at the Idea — not grasp it by all sides at once. The guide for our intelligences through the temporary illusion into the innermost centre of the soul is called Reason. Now, Reason is a material capacity, while the soul or spirit lives on the thoughts which are whispered by the heart. Thought is born in the soul. Reason is a tool, a machine, which is driven by the spiritual fire.” ​

*He wrote this in a letter when he was just 17. Who writes like that at 17?


“The outward circumstances – comfort, money, position and power – seem to dominate and shape our existence…There is hope only in the integration of the several processes of which we are made up…it [the integration] comes into being only through extensive and deep awareness. This awareness must go into the deeper layers of consciousness and not be content with the surface responses.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Thoroughly to know oneself, is above all art, for it is the highest art. If thou knowest thyself well, thou art better and more praise-worthy before God, than if thou didst not know thyself, but didst understand the course of the heavens and of all the planets and stars, also the virtue of all herbs, and the structure and dispositions of all mankind, also the nature of all beasts, and, in such matters, hadst all the skill of all who are in heaven and on earth.”

Theologia Germanica

“The basic thing is therefore to dispel, by experiment and experience, the illusion of oneself as a separate ego.”

Alan Watts

“He who knows others is wise;
He who knows himself is enlightened.”

Lao Tzu

“The feeling that we call ‘I’ is an illusion. There is no discrete self or ego living like a Minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is – the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself – can be altered or entirely extinguished…repeatedly cutting through the illusion of the self, is what is meant by ‘spirituality’…”

Sam Harris

“Attainment of consciousness is culture in the broadest sense, and self-knowledge is therefore the heart and essence of this process.”

Carl Jung

“After a careful and critical appraisal of the many experiences and arguments, I have come to accept the existence of deeper spiritual layers that cannot be adequately defined by the conventional concept of time.”

Wolfgang Pauli

“He [the poet] must be quite aware of the obvious fact that art never improves, but that the material of art is never quite the same…the difference between the present and the past is that the conscious present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the past’s awareness of itself cannot show.”

TS Eliot

“[poetry can be] the skilled and inspired use of the voice and language to embody rare and powerful states of mind that are in immediate origin personal to the singer, but at deep levels common to all who listen.”

Gary Snyder

“People who for some reason find it impossible to think about themselves, and so really be themselves, try to make up for not thinking with doing.”

Laura Riding

“We and God have business with each other; and in opening ourselves to his influence our deepest destiny is fulfilled.”

William James

“Yet in order to sustain his creed, contemporary man pays the price in a remarkable lack of introspection. He is blind to the fact that, with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by ‘powers’ that are beyond his control. His Gods and Demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological complications, and an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food – and above all, a large array of neuroses.”

Carl Jung

“Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds…gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great, delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also lost almost any taste for pictures or music…My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of fact, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

Charles Darwin

“Nature, it has been said, abhors a vacuum, and when the available ‘spiritual space’ is not filled by some higher motivation, then it will necessarily be filled by something lower – by the small, mean, calculating attitude to life which is rationalised in the economic calculus.”

E.F. Schumacher

“Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity. For the crowd believes that if it cannot see to the bottom of something it must be profound. It is so timid and dislikes going into the water.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

“What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?”

Naomi Klein

“Not to seek the Self which is the source of knowledge and ignorance is real ignorance”

Ramana Maharshi

“The hope that the pursuit of goodness and virtue can be postponed until we have attained universal prosperity and that by the single-minded pursuit of wealth, without bothering our heads about spiritual and moral questions, we could establish peace on earth, is an unrealistic, unscientific, and irrational hope.”

E.F. Schumacher

“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”

Mary Oliver

“The antidote, in so far as it is a matter of individual psychology, is to be found in history, biology, astronomy, and all those studies which, without destroying self-respect, enable the individual to see himself in his proper perspective. What is needed is not this or that specific piece of information, but such knowledge as inspires a conception of the ends of human life as a whole: art and history, acquaintance with the lives of heroic individuals, and some understanding of the strangely accidental and ephemeral position of man in the cosmos – all this touched with an emotion of pride in what is distinctively human, the power to see and to know, to feel magnanimously and to think with understanding. It is from large perceptions combined with impersonal emotion that wisdom most readily springs.”

Bertrand Russell

“The capitalist process rationalizes behavior and ideas and by doing so chases from our minds, along with metaphysical belief, mystic and romantic ideas of all sorts. Thus it reshapes not only our methods of attaining our ends but also these ultimate ends themselves…”

Joseph Schumpeter

“I would say that is hipness, that attitude of waking up in the midst of society and finding that everybody was crazy. It was all a mad scheme that was going to destroy everybody and nobody was going [to] get out alive.”

Allen Ginsberg

“To be enlightened is to be aware, always, of total reality in its immanent otherness – to be aware of it and yet to remain in a condition to survive as an animal, to think and feel as a human being, to resort whenever expedient to systematic reasoning. Our goal is to discover that we have always been where we ought to be. Unhappily we make the task exceedingly difficult for ourselves.”

Aldous Huxley

“…religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness … and if you are never solitary, you are never religious.”

Alfred North Whitehead

“Everything was becoming allegorical, understood by the group mind, and especially this: ‘You’re either on the bus…or off the bus.'”

Tom Wolfe

“That it’s what makes room for the universes inside you, all the endless inbent fractals of connection and symphonies of different voices, the infinities you can never show another soul. And you think it makes you a fraud, the tiny fraction anyone else ever sees? Of course you’re a fraud, of course what people see is never you. And of course you know this, and of course you try to manage what part they see if you know it’s only a part. Who wouldn’t? It’s called free will, Sherlock. But at the same time it’s why it feels so good to break down and cry in front of others, or to laugh, or speak in tongues, or chant in Bengali – it’s not English anymore, it’s not getting squeezed through any hole.”

David Foster Wallace

“If each of us is that very old being and not this young body, or this body that is going through this life…why don’t we remember? Why don’t we remember it all?? Why can’t we read the entire akashic record?? Because of our attachments to the physical plane of reality…Because of the power of our identification with our own body-senses and thoughts.”

Ram Dass

“…the real problems of life have to be grappled with. To repeat the quotation from Thomas Aquinas, ‘The slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things,’ and ‘grappling’ with the help of slender knowledge is the real stuff of life, whereas solving problems with the help of ‘the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things’ is merely one of many useful and perfectly honorable human activities designed to save labor.”

E.F. Schumacher

“The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life. Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interest upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance…In the final analysis, we count for something only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that, life is wasted.”

Carl Jung

“The individual cannot permit himself to be aware of the thoughts or feelings which are incompatible with the patterns of his culture, and hence is forced to repress them. Formally speaking, then, what is unconscious and what is conscious depends (aside from the individual, family-conditioned elements and the influence of humanistic conscience) on the structure of society and on the patterns of feelings and thoughts it produces. As to the contents of the unconscious, no generalization is possible. But one statement can be made: it always represents the whole man, with all his potentialities for darkness and light; it always contains the basis for the different answers which man is capable of giving to the question which existence poses…The unconscious is the whole man – minus that part of man which corresponds to his society.”

Erich Fromm

“The aim of metaphysics…is to extend, albeit only negatively, our use of reason beyond the limitations of the sensorily given world, that is, to eliminate the obstacles by which reason hinders itself.”

Immanuel Kant

“For a human soul, the greatest of self-inflicted wrongs is to make itself (so far as it is able to do so) a kind of tumour or abscess on the universe…”

Marcus Aurelius

“And why, after all, may not the world be so complex as to consist of many interpenetrating spheres of reality, which we can thus approach in alternation by using different conceptions and assuming different attitudes, just as mathematicians handle the same numerical and spatial facts about geometry, by analytical geometry, by algebra, by the calculus, or by quaternions, and each time come out right?
Whether the various spheres of systems are ever to fuse integrally into one absolute conception, as most philosophers assume that they must, and how, if so, that conception may best be reached, are questions that only the future can answer. What is certain now is the fact of lines of disparate conception, each corresponding to some part of the world’s truth, each verified in some degree, each leaving out some part of real experience.”

William James

“Men do not know themselves, and therefore they do not understand the things of their inner world. Each man has the essence of God and all the wisdom and power of the world (germinally) in himself; he possesses one kind of knowledge as much as another, and he who does not find that which is in him cannot truly say that he does not possess it, but only that he was not capable of successfully seeking for it.”


“The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.”


“The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside by a generous hand. But- and this is the point- who gets excited by a mere penny? But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.”

Annie Dillard

“The need of reason is not inspired by the quest for truth but by the quest for meaning. And truth and meaning are not the same. The basic fallacy, taking precedence over all specific metaphysical fallacies, is to interpret meaning on the model of truth.”

Hannah Arendt

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”


“…today we don’t even know where real life is, what it is, or what it’s called! Left alone without literature, we immediately become entangled and lost – we don’t know what to join, what to keep up with; what to love, what to hate; what to respect, what to despise! We even find it painful to be men – real men of flesh and blood, and our own private bodies; we’re ashamed of it, and we long to turn ourselves into something hypothetical called the average man. We’re stillborn, and for a long time we’ve been brought into the world by parents who are dead themselves: and we like it better and better. We’re developing a taste for it, so to speak. Soon, we’ll invent a way to be begotten by ideas altogether.”


“Belief is of the ignorant people who do not want to explore the truth themselves. But a man of sincerity never believes in anything — any God, any scripture, any religion. He searches.”


“The task of our generation, I have no doubt, is one of metaphysical reconstruction.”

E.F. Schumacher

“One may care less for the efficiency of the capitalist process in producing economic and cultural values than for the kind of human beings that it turns out and then leaves to their own devices, free to make a mess of their lives.”

Joseph Schumpeter

“When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for 200-years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true-value

But beware! The time for all this is not yet! For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our Gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.”

John Maynard Keynes

“that man as we know him is not a completed being; that nature develops him only up to a certain point and then leaves him, either to develop further, by his own efforts and devices, or to live and die such as he was born, or to degenerate and lose capacity for development…Evolution of man…will mean the development of certain inner qualities and features which usually remain undeveloped, and cannot develop by themselves.”

P.D. Ouspensky

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.”

Annie Dillard

“The more abstract a truth one wishes to teach, the more one must first entice the senses.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

“In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his senses a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, and his fame doubtful. In short, all that is of the body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapours; like a warfare, a brief sojourning in an alien land; and after repute, oblivion. Where, then, can man find the power to guide and guard his steps? In one thing and one alone: Philosophy. To be a philosopher is to keep unsullied and unscathed the divine spirit within him, so that it may transcend all pleasure and all pain, take nothing in hand without purpose…accept each and every dispensation as coming from the same Source as itself…and…wait with a good grace for death…”

Marcus Aurelius

“‘Seek within – know thyself,’ these secret and sublime hints come to us wafted from the breath of Rishis through the dust of ages.”

Swami Ramdas

“He burned to appease the fierce longing of his heart before which everything else was idle and alien. He cared little that he was in mortal sin, that his life had grown to be a tissue of subterfuge and falsehood. Beside the savage desire within him to realise the enormities which he brooded on nothing was sacred.”

James Joyce

“For pray do not…spin your airy fables about moon or sun or the other objects in the sky and in the universe so far removed from us and so varied in their natures, until you have scrutinised and come to know yourselves. After that, we may perhaps believe you when you hold forth on other subjects; but before you establish who you yourselves are, do not think that you will ever become capable of acting as judges or trustworthy witnesses in the other matters.”

Philo Alexandria

“The economist, like everyone else, must concern himself with the ultimate aims of man.”

Alfred Marhsall

“They don’t understand that you gotta die to be born.”

Ram Dass

“The life or lives of man may be regarded as constituting a curve – an arc of time – experience subtended by the duration of the individual Will to Life. The outward movement of this curve – Evolution, the Path of Pursuit – the Pravritti Marga – is characterized by self-assertion. The inward movement – Involution, the Path of Return – the Nivritti Marga – is characterized by increasing Self-realization. The religion of men on the outward path is the Religion of Time; the religion of those who return is the Religion of Eternity.”

Ananada K. Coomaraswamy

“Philosophy is to be studied…above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.”

Bertrand Russell

“…I found that the way people define the nature of the self dictates how they envision the purpose of life. For some, the highest aspiration is self-improvement, for others it is self-discovery, and for others it is self-transcendence and selfless service…Finding a way to integrate these often contradictory perspectives into everyday life became my own central challenge.”

Tony Schwartz