We are focusing on the small details and hiding the misery in the world. Look at the smoker and we miss global warming, war, and the crap we eat--not the bad guys but smoking. I smoke and they talk about cancer, I eat and they talk about cholesterol, I make love, it's AIDS. Before AIDS and cholesterol and cancer there's the pleasure of making love and eating and smoking. I have to die someday, so if the thing that gave me pleasure all of my life kills me instead of me going under a truck, that's fine. Besides, why should I live so that when I die I give fresh meat to the worms? I hope that I am rotted and they don't want to eat me. F@#$ck the worms.
What good does it do me, after all, if an ever-watchful authority keeps an eye out to ensure that my pleasures will be tranquil and races ahead of me to ward off all danger, sparing me the need even to think about such things, if that authority, even as it removes the smallest thorns from my path, is also absolute master of my liberty and my life; if it monopolizes vitality and existence to such a degree that when it languishes, everything around it must also languish; when it sleeps, everything must also sleep; and when it dies, everything must also perish?
Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.
All real living is meeting.
The type of personal integration we attain – or the effective lack thereof – depends on what possibilities our life situation offers us for the development of autonomy. It is a distorted development that is the root cause of the pathological and, ultimately, evil element in human beings.
The struggle for autonomy heightens our aliveness. Insofar as the socialization process blocks autonomy, however, this process engenders the evil it attempts to prevent. If parental love is so distorted that it demands submission and dependence for its self-confirmation, social adjustment turns into a test of obedience and the child’s efforts to comply bring with them the loss of genuine feelings. The human being then becomes the true source of evil."The Betrayal of the Self: The Fear of Autonomy in Men and Women"
The only possible metaphor one may conceive of for the life of the mind is the sensation of being alive. Without the breath of life, the human body is a corpse; without thinking, the human mind is dead.
The concentration camps, by making death itself anonymous (making it impossible to find out whether a prisoner is dead or alive), robbed death of its meaning as the end of a fulfilled life. In a sense they took away the individual’s own death, proving that henceforth nothing belonged to him and he belonged to no one. His death merely set a seal on the fact that he had never existed."The Origins of Totalitarianism"
Courage is indispensible because in politics not life but the world is at stake."Between Past and Future"
I'll be honest with you I hate war in all its forms Physical, psychological, spiritual Emotional, environmental I hate war And I hate having to struggle, I honestly do Because I wish I had been born into a world where it's unnecessary This context of struggle and being a warrior and being a struggler Has been forced on me by oppression Otherwise I would be a, a sculptor, or a gardener, carpenter You know, I would be free to be so much more I guess part of me or a part of who I am, a part of what I do Is being a warrior, a reluctant warrior, a reluctant struggler But, I do it because I'm committed to life We can't avoid it, we can't run away from it Because to do that is to be cowardice To do that is to be subservient to devils, subservient to evil And so that the only way to live on this planet With any human dignity at the moment is to struggle
To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
If only we try to live sincerely, it will go well with us, even though we are certain to experience real sorrow, and great disappointments, and also will probably commit great faults and do wrong things, but it certainly is true, that it is better to be high-spirited, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done.
Human beings can be beautiful. If they are not beautiful it is entirely their own fault. It is what they do to themselves that makes them ugly. The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.
It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing.
It is remarkable that there is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting a living; how to make getting a living not merely honest and honorable, but altogether inviting and glorious; for if getting a living is not so, then living is not. One would think, from looking at literature, that this question had never disturbed a solitary individual's musings. Is it that men are too much disgusted with their experience to speak of it?
If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.
I say to you this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you aren't willing to die for it then you aren't fit to live.
You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid... You refuse to do it because you want to live longer... You're afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you're afraid someone will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you're just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road? The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated. The worst is atomic war. The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth. Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
We have more life than we know what to do with. We have life far beyond the point where it becomes a sick caricature of itself. We prolong life until it becomes a sickness, an abomination, a miserable and pathetic flight from death that saps out and mocks everything that made life desirable in the first place.
We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.
I know that life is a doorway to eternity, and yet my heart so often gets lost in petty anxieties. It forgets the great way home that lies before it. Unprepared, given over to childish trivialities, it could be taken by surprise when the great hour comes and find that, for the sake of piffling pleasures, the one great joy has been missed. I am aware of this, but my heart is not. It seems unteachable; it continues its dreaming... always wavering between joy and depression.
What I Have Lived For
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy - ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness—that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what—at last—I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me."Autobiography"
Preserving things and living beyond a reasonable time is based in fear of dying, a culture perpetuated by people that seem to emotionally not understand that letting go is ok.
If anyone went on for a thousand years asking of life: "Why are you living?" life, if it could answer, would only say, "I live so that I may live." That is because life lives out of its own ground and springs from its own source, and so it lives without asking why it is itself living.
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
Give me truths; For I am weary of the surfaces, And die of inanition. If I knew Only the herbs and simples of the wood, Rue, cinquefoil, gill, vervain and agrimony, Blue-vetch and trillium, hawkweed, sassafras, Milkweeds and murky brakes, quaint pipes and sun-dew, And rare and virtuous roots, which in these woods Draw untold juices from the common earth, Untold, unknown, and I could surely spell Their fragrance, and their chemistry apply By sweet affinities to human flesh, Driving the foe and stablishing the friend,-- O, that were much, and I could be a part Of the round day, related to the sun And planted world, and full executor Of their imperfect functions. But these young scholars, who invade our hills, Bold as the engineer who fells the wood, And traveling often in the cut he makes, Love not the flower they pluck, and know it not, And all their botany is Latin names. The old men studied magic in the flowers, And human fortunes in astronomy, And an omnipotence in chemistry, Preferring things to names, for these were men, Were unitarians of the united world, And, wheresoever their clear eye-beams fell, They caught the footsteps of the SAME. Our eyes And strangers to the mystic beast and bird, And strangers to the plant and to the mine. The injured elements say, 'Not in us;' And haughtily return us stare for stare. For we invade them impiously for gain; We devastate them unreligiously, And coldly ask their pottage, not their love. Therefore they shove us from them, yield to us Only what to our griping toil is due; But the sweet affluence of love and song, The rich results of the divine consents Of man and earth, of world beloved and lover, The nectar and ambrosia, are withheld; And in the midst of spoils and slaves, we thieves And pirates of the universe, shut out Daily to a more thin and outward rind, Turn pale and starve. Therefore, to our sick eyes, The stunted trees look sick, the summer short, Clouds shade the sun, which will not tan our hay, And nothing thrives to reach its natural term; And life, shorn of its venerable length, Even at its greatest space is a defeat, And dies in anger that it was a dupe; And, in its highest noon and wantonness, Is early frugal, like a beggar's child; Even in the hot pursuit of the best aims And prizes of ambition, checks its hand, Like Alpine cataracts frozen as they leaped, Chilled with a miserly comparison Of the toy's purchase with the length of life."Blight"
[..] The horseman serves the horse, The neatherd serves the neat, The merchant serves the purse, The eater serves his meat; 'T is the day of the chattel, Web to weave, and corn to grind; Things are in the saddle, And ride mankind. There are two laws discrete, Not reconciled,-- Law for man, and law for thing; The last builds town and fleet, But it runs wild, And doth the man unking. 'T is fit the forest fall, The steep be graded, The mountain tunnelled, The sand shaded, The orchard planted, The glebe tilled, The prairie granted, The steamer built. Let man serve law for man; Live for friendship, live for love, For truth's and harmony's behoof; The state may follow how it can, As Olympus follows Jove. [..]"Ode Inscribed to W. H. Channing"
Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.
Man always dies before he is fully born.