Quote – Dostoevsky (“The Brothers Karamazov”)

“Paradise” he said, “is hidden in each one of us, it is concealed within me, too, right now, and if I wish, it will come for me in reality, tomorrow even, and for the rest of my life. ”

I looked at him: he was speaking with tenderness and looking at me mysteriously, as if questioning me.

“And”, he went on, “as for each man being guilty before all and for all, besides his own sins, your reasoning about this is quite correct, and it is surprising that you could suddenly embrace it so fully. And indeed it is true that when people understand this thought, the Kingdom of Heaven will come to them, no longer in a dream but in reality.”

“But when will this come true?” I exclaimed to him ruefully. “And will it ever come true? Is it not just a dream?”

“Ah” he said, “now you do not believe it, you preach it and do not believe it yourself. Know, then, that this dream, as you call it, will undoubtedly come true, believe it, though not now, for every action had its law. This is a matter of the soul, a psychological matter. In order to make the world over anew, people themselves must turn onto a different path psychically. Until one has indeed become the brother of all, there will be no brotherhood. No science or self-interest will ever enable people to share their property and their rights among themselves without offense. Each will always think his share too small, and they will keep murmuring, they will envy and destroy one another. You ask when it will come true. It will come true, but first the period of human isolation must conclude.”

“What isolation?” I asked him.

“That which is now reigning everywhere, especially in our age, but it is not all concluded yet, its term has not come. For everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what comes of all his efforts is not the fullness of life but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self-definition, they fall into complete isolation. For all men in our age are separated into units, each seeks seclusion in his own hole, each withdraws from the others, hides himself, and hides what he has, and ends by pushing himself away from people and pushing people way from himself. He accumulates wealth in solitude, thinking : how strong, how secure I am now; and does not see, madman that he is, that the more he accumulates, the more he sinks into suicidal impotence. For he is accustomed to relying only on himself, he has separated his unit from the whole, he has accustomed his soul to not believing in people’s help, in people or in mankind, and now only trembles lest his money and his acquired privileges perish. Everywhere now the human mind has begun laughably not to understand that a man’s true security lies not in his own solitary effort, but in the general wholeness of humanity. But there must needs come a term to this horrible isolation, and everyone will all at once realize how unnaturally they have separated themselves one from another. Such will be the spirit of the time, and they will be astonished that they sat in darkness for so long, and did not see the light. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens…But until then we must keep hold of the banner, and every once in a while, if only individually, a man must suddenly set an example, and draw the soul from its isolation for an act of brotherly communion, though it be with the rank of holy fool. So that the great thought does not die…”

Quote – Martin Luther King Jr.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Quotes On Being Human

“Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery, because I want to be a man.”

-Dostoevsky

“Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort”

-Fred Rogers


“Why do you run scattershot

begging for answers

when you are the essence

of all meaning?”

Rumi

“A human being is a spatially and temporally limited piece of the whole, what we call the “Universe”. He experiences himself and his feelings as separate from the rest, an optical illusion of his consciousness. The quest for liberation from this bondage is the only object of true religion. Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace.”

Einstein

“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“The Little Prince”, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond”

Rumi

“We are never confronted with a task that denies us our free will.”

Rumi

“In every one of us this morning, there’s a war going on. It’s a civil war. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care where you live, there is a civil war going on in your life. And every time you set out to be good, there’s something pulling on you, telling you to be evil. It’s going on in your life. Every time you set out to love, something keeps pulling on you, trying to get you to hate. Every time you set out to be kind and say nice things about people, something is pulling on you to be jealous and envious and to spread evil gossip about them. There’s a civil war going on. There is a schizophrenia, as the psychologists or the psychiatrists would call it, going on within all of us. And there are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us. And we end up having to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.” We end up having to agree with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. Or sometimes we even have to end up crying out with Saint Augustine as he said in his Confessions, “Lord, make me pure, but not yet.” We end up crying out with the Apostle Paul, “The good that I would I do not: And the evil that I would not, that I do.” Or we end up having to say with Goethe that “there’s enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue.” There’s a tension at the heart of human nature. And whenever we set out to dream our dreams and to build our temples, we must be honest enough to recognize it.”

“Unfulfilled Dreams” Sermon, Martin Luther King Jr.

” The human shape is a ghost

made of distraction and pain.

Sometimes pure light, sometimes cruel,

trying wildly to open,

this image tightly held within itself”

Rumi

“Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know they are loved and capable of loving.”

Fred Rogers

“We are all so much alike… and yet we’re all so different! I find myself rejoicing at the endless variety of human beings, and that’s partly, I know, because your differences from one another tell me that it’s all right for me to be different in many ways, too.”

Fred Rogers

Share in the comments any quotes about being human that speak to you. I’d love to read them.

Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” Quotes

These quotes are from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov written in 1880. I first read The Brothers Karamazov for a school assignment. I absolutely loved the book. Though I could not clearly see the book’s message, I knew I found it beautiful. It always remained close to my heart; and I believe it was a large part of the light which helped me start this journey back to myself. I will be forever grateful Dostoevsky helped spread and keep alive these beautiful ideas.

“Strive to love your neighbor actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain.”

“Active love is a harsh and fearful thing compared with the love in dreams. Love in dreams thirsts for immediate action, quickly performed, and with everyone watching. Indeed, it will go as far as the giving even of one’s life, provided it does not take long but is soon over, as on stage, and everyone is looking on and praising. Whereas active love is labor and persistence, and for some people, perhaps, a whole science.”

“I believe that you are sincere and good at heart. If you do not attain happiness, always remember that you are on the right road, and try not to leave it. Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness and look into it every hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in attaining love…..But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal instead of nearer to it – at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you.”

“At some thoughts one stands perplexed – especially at the sight of men’s sin – and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once and for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvelously strong, the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.”

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”

“Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we won’t see it, if we would, we should have heaven on earth the next day”

“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”

How Much Have I Changed? Looking Through My Old Quote Collection.

In my late teens and into my early 20’s I collected quotes I liked in a small brown journal. A few weeks ago, after a decade in my closet, I picked the journal back up and flipped through it. I have changed so much over the years, especially this past year. I think of myself as a different person than who I was at 19. Yet this little collection of quotes had a surprise for me. It showed me that my younger self was very much “me”. Maybe me in confusion, in fear, in darkness, in doubt, but still me.

I will share some of the quotes from this book. I will organize them into themes (in the journal they were written down as I found them – in no order). These quotes opened my eyes to how much younger me already “knew” about myself and life, in a sort of non-experiential and even non-understanding way.

Younger me “knew”:

1. The Importance of the Heart and Love

“The only way I can live is according to my heart, and you lived by rules. I loved you just so, but you probably loved me in order to save me, to instruct me.” (Tolstoy)

“Ah, one thing is sure: the heart alone is the source of our happiness.” (Goethe)

“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections.” (Keats)

“Dreamer though you are. It is you who’s been my signpost so far” (Belle and Sebastian)

“All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.” (Tolstoy)

“She told him she loved him because she understood him completely, because she knew that he had a loving heart and that everything he loved was good.” (Tolstoy)

“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” (Sasha Sagan)

2. My Mind Causes My Suffering

“At that time, having understood clearly for the first time that for every human being and for himself nothing lay ahead but suffering, death, and eternal oblivion, he decided that it was impossible to live that way, that he either had to interpret his life in a way that did not seem to be an evil mockery on the part of some devil, or else shoot himself…..But he did neither one thing nor the other he went on living, thinking, and feeling; he even married at just this time, had many joys, and was happy whenever he wasn’t thinking about the meaning of his life…..what did it mean? It meant he was living well but thinking badly.”(Tolstoy)

“My heart’s not dead; it’s just really bad weather in my temporary head.” (Of Montreal)

“This identity I’ve composed out of terror, has become oppressive now. I must deny, defy, defeat this dark assignment. I’m over it now; I’m so over it now.” (Of Montreal)

“Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts or happenings. It consist mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever flowing through one’s head.” (Mark Twain)

“And yesterday I saw you kissing tiny flowers

But all that lives is born to die.

And so I say to you that nothing really matters,

And all you do is stand and cry.” (Led Zeppelin)

3. My Vision of Reality Wasn’t Clear, Yet I “Knew” What Reality Was

“I’ve discovered nothing. I’ve simple learned what I knew already.” (Tolstoy)

“Without going out of your door
You can know all things on earth
Without looking out of your window
You could know the ways of heaven
The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows. Arrive without traveling
See all without looking
Do all without doing” (Beatles/Tao Te Ching)

“If the doors of perception where cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite” (William Blake)

“I found myself all at once on the brink of panic. This, I suddenly felt, was going too far. Too far even though the going was into intenser beauty, deeper significance. The fear, as I analyze it in retrospect, was of being overwhelmed, or disintegrating under the pressure of reality greater than a mind, accustomed to living most of the time in a cozy world of symbols, could possibly bear. (Huxley)

“God is neither the see-er or the seen, but the “seeing” (?)

“And our greatest illusion is to believe that we are what we think ourselves to be.” (Amiel)

“the end result is the “burn out”, who although still fully in contact with reality, refuses to acknowledge its intrinsic meaning” (Amiel)

“I’m happy just because I found out I am really no one.” (Bright Eyes)

“The intense feeling of unknowingly knowing that there is something which cannot be seen” (?)

“All things are full of gods” (Thales)

“The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you cannot understand them” (Anatole France)

“I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” (Sylvia Plath)

4.Life Has Goodness, Beauty, and Meaning – But Those Paths Are Challenging

“It (life) has the incontestable meaning of the goodness I have the power to put into it.” (Tolstoy)

“Man is a mystery: If you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery because I want to be a man.” (Dostoevsky)

“Winston watched with a vague sense of reverence. For whom, for what, was that bird sining? No mate, no rival, was watching it. What made it sit at the edge of the lonely wood and pour its music into nothingness?” (George Orwell)

“There is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory from childhood or home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us. Perhaps we may even grow wicked later on, may be unable to refrain from a bad action, may laugh at men’s tears…but however bad we may become – which God forbid – yet……..perhaps that one memory may keep him from great evil and he will reflect and say “Yes, I was good and brave and honest then!” Let him laugh to himself, that’s no matter, a man often laughs at what’s good and kind. That’s only from thoughtlessness. But I assure you, that as he laughs he will say at once in his heart “No I do wrong to laugh, for that’s not a thing to laugh at”. (Dostoevsky)

“It’s so easy to laugh
It’s so easy to hate
It takes strength to be gentle and kind” (The Smiths)

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man” (Shakespeare)

“I somehow see what’s beautiful in things that are ephemeral” (She&Him)

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy . Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” (Dalai Lama)

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” (Kurt Vonnegut)

5. I Fear Other People And Myself

“So this is what hell is. I would never have believed it. You remember: the fire and brimstone, the torture. Ah! the farce. There is no need for torture: hell is other people.” (Sartre)

“I am disturbed to find he values my mind and abilities more highly than my heart, which is my only source of pride, and indeed of everything, all my strength and happiness and misery. The things I know, anyone can know – but my heart is mine and mine alone.” (Goethe)

“The fear of what I love is my fatality.” (?)

“How I should long to know others as I know myself.” (Tolstoy)

“What uniform can I wear to hide my heavy heart? – It is too heavy. It will always show. Jacques felt himself growing gloomy again. He was well aware that to live on earth a man must follow its fashions, and hearts were no longer worn.” (Jean Cocteau)

“It’s not my fault if I have feelings. You don’t have to humiliate me.” (Science of Sleep Movie)

“I am often filled with longings and think :ah, if only you could breathe onto the paper in all its fullness and warmth what is so alive in you, so that it would mirror your soul as your soul is the mirror of God in His infinity! – My friend – But it will be the end of me. The glory of these visions, their power and magnificence, will be my undoing” (Goethe)

“In the act of loving you arm another person against you” (?)

“As strange as it seems, I’d rather dissolve than have you ignore me” (MGMT)

“Could I create myself anew, I would not fail in pleasing you.” (Joseph Merrick)

6. I Doubted Everything

“My principal sin is doubt. I doubt everything, and am in doubt most of the time.” (Tolstoy)

“This sadness will last forever” (Van Gogh)

“I know, I know that I shall never again meet anything or anybody who will inspire me with passion. You know, it’s quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. there is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice : If you think about it you don’t do it. I know I’ll never jump again.” (Sartre)

 “Romeo: Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!
Thou talk’st of nothing.

Mercutio: True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
Which is as thin of substance as the air
And more inconstant than the wind.” (Shakespeare)

“Something or someplace that you miss deeply, wish you could be there or have it again. A nostalgic yearning for something which may no longer exist, melancholic, fatalist overtone that the object of longing may never return.” (Saudade Definition)

“I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.” (Edna Millay)

“Are they nothing but shadows and apparitions if we are happy?” (Goethe)

“Ah, love, let us be true.

To one another! for the world, which seems.

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain.

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night.” (Matthew Arnold)

It seems I’m not so much “changing” through time as rediscovering long buried parts of myself. Parts that even though they were buried seemed able to express themselves through my recognition and love of the good and beauty I saw in these quotes. By rediscovering and bringing long buried parts of myself to the surface, I can heal what needs healing and live a more full version of life and myself. With more of my real self at the surface I am better able to see that the good and the beautiful I have always loved is real and true. It is alive and living within me, others, and in the world…..and it always has been.