Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"The greatest manifestation of your love for the Almighty can be expressed on your day of death. Before your death, you might be thinking about how you have not fulfilled all of your wishes and plans. In the moments before your death you might have complaints against the Almighty, or you might fatalistically accept your death by saying, What can be done? My body is giving in to the laws of nature. The doctors have given up hope.” Both of these attitudes are wrong You now face the greatest challenge of your life. You have the potential to submit yourself to the will of the Almighty with love. This level takes preparation. If a person has not mastered control of his thoughts, he is likely to waste his last moments thinking of petty resentments and desires. Frequently confusion and fear of death swallow up every other thought unless one has prepared for that moment." - Shlomo Wolbe, aka Wilhelm Wolbe

"I had the opportunity to deliver babies... In each of these numinous moments, I knew that life had meaning; each experience was accompanied by an upwelling of gratitude and humility. These moments, which can be called an experience of the self, or archetype of meaning, are akin to the act of finally seeing the Holy Grail after a long quest... It is through these moments of grace and gratitude that we acquire a sense of meaning and a desire to live a meaningful life. The personal challenge is now." - Jean Shinoda Bolen

"What a man accomplishes in a day depends upon the way in which he approaches his tasks. When we accept tough jobs as a challenge to our ability and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm miracles can happen. When we do our work with a dynamic conquering spirit we get things done." - Arland Gilbert

"The glory of the nation rests in the character of her men. And character comes from boyhood. Thus every boy is a challenge to his elders." - Herbert Hoover, fully Herbert Clark Hoover

"What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers." - Marina Horner

"The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands a times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Moaning over what cannot be helped is a confession of futility and fear, of emotional stagnation - in fact, of selfishness and cowardice. The best way to "snap out of it" is to stop thinking about yourself, and start thinking about other people. You can lighten your own load by doing something for someone else. By the simple device of doing an outward, unselfish act today, you can make the past recede. The present and future will again take on their true challenge and perspective." - Frederick Loomis, fully Sir Frederick Oscar Warren Loomis

"Every aspect of our lives is a challenge and a test. With this perspective, life will never be boring or mundane. Every single situation and occurrence is different from each other and each is an opportunity for elevation and growth." - Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, also Moses Hayyim Luzzato, known by Hebrew acronym RaMCHal

"Never be afraid to challenge an axiom." - A. E. Mander, fully Alfred Ernest Mander

"Find a purpose in life so big it will challenge every capacity to be at your best." - David O. McKay

"Every man stamps his value on himself. The price we challenge for ourselves is given us by others. Man is made great or little by his own will." - Friedrich Schiller, fully Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

"We usually fall asleep in our relationships... not because we are tired of love but so we can dream of new relationships. Life, however, is a work in progress, and love's challenge is not to see people as they once were but as they might be. People who grow old can also grow love." - Noah benShea

"Creation is a continuing process... One meaning of our life, then, is the opportunity and challenge it presents to us for participation in the continuous process of creation - through discussion and cooperative work rather than conflict." -

"Truth is the disciple of the ascetic, the quest of the mystic, the faith of the simple, the ransom of the weak, the standard of the righteous, the doctrine of the meek, and the challenge of Nature. Together, all these constitute the Law of the Universe." - John Hay Allison

"The central purpose of American education is to prepare man to think and the major challenge facing us today is to keep man thinking." - Milo Bail

"It is not social change alone which is the challenge. It is the rate of change. That rate of change has been vastly accelerated by numerous factors. Peril lies not in change, but in the tremendous rate of change." -

"The great and invigorating influences in American life have been the unorthodox: the people who challenge an existing institution or way of life, or say and do things that make people think." -

"The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments." - Gustave Flaubert

"Aristotle said that all creative people are dissatisfied because they are looking for happiness in perfection and seeking for things that do not exist. This is one of the hopes of the world. There is no progress where people are satisfied. Discontent is perhaps the most potent challenge to improvement." - Clarence Edwin Flynn

"How to teach rigor while preserving imagination is an unsolved challenge to education." - Ralph Gerard, fully Ralph Waldo Gerard

"The enduring value of religion is in its challenge to aspiration and hope in the mind of man." - Ernest Martin Hopkins

"No time exists other than now... So now is all you have and all you ever will have... Why not begin doing the best you can right where you are?... Trust the process of growth. Trust God. Pay attention to the details of your life, doing your very best with each challenge that presents itself... The past is the raw material of the present, but the past is not a blueprint for the present... Begin where you are. Do what you can. Even a small effort to change, to grow, to improve, will bring astonishing results... You can choose to build on what you were, but you are not what you were. You can focus on what you will be, but you are not what you will be. What you are is what you are right now - the inheritor of all of God’s gifts." - Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla

"The unreal perceives separation. The Real knows there is none. The unreal despairs, is lonely, worries; the Real sees challenge, creates solutions, knows. The unreal produces more and more confusion. The Real empowers." - Gloria D. Karpinski

"If scientific discovery has not been an unalloyed blessing, if it has conferred on mankind the power not only to create but also to annihilate, it has at the same time provided humanity with a supreme challenge and a supreme testing." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"Life is a process of challenge and response." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Creativity can replace conformity as the primary mode of social being. We can cling to that which is passing, or has already passed, or we can remain accessible to - even surrender to - the creative process, without insisting that we know in advance the ultimate outcome for us, our institutions, or our planet. To accept this challenge is to cherish freedom, to embrace life, and to find meaning." - Stephan Nachmanovitch

"Science will never be able to reduce the value of a sunset to arithmetic. Nor can it reduce friendship to a formula. Laughter and love, pain and loneliness, the challenge of accomplishment in living, and the depth of insight into beauty and truth: these will always surpass the scientific mastery of nature." - Louis Orr

"People who lead fulfilling lives generally have found a sense of “home” in what they do. They have a philosophy of life that connects them to a larger vision. They accept that life is a continuing challenge. More often than not, they are able to live according to their own schedules, choosing work that is interesting and complex enough to keep them engaged. They get excited about being effective and about being stretched to learn new things. They have a few good friends who understand their vision and perhaps even share common aspirations. They are not driven by urgency, competition, or the demands of the ego." - Carol Adrienne

"I challenge my destiny, my time. I challenge the human eye. I will sneer at ridiculous rules and people. That is the end of it; I will fill my eyes with pure light, and swim in a sea of unbounded feeling." - Aisha al-Taimuriya

"The greatest challenge for democracy is to persuade people not to eat the seed corn of tomorrow's harvest." - Clement Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, fully Clement Richard Attlee

"In this world within, your world, you are the most important figure. There is a place that no one else can fill There is an influence that no one else can impart. There is a life that no one else can live quite as well as you can live it. What you do with your life within, in terms of self-realization, self-awareness, self-denial and self-expression, is the greatest challenge that can come to you." - Marcus Bach, fully James Marcus Bach

"Always challenge conventional wisdom." - Tom Butler-Bowdon

"After the day’s struggle there is no freedom like unfettered thoughts, no sound like the music of silence. And though behind you lies a road of dust and heat and discouragement, and before you the challenge and uncertainty of untried paths, in this brief hour you are master of all highways, and the universe nestles in your soul." - Max Ehrmann

"Disciplining one’s appetite may be the biggest spiritual challenge many of us will face this side of dying. In a world where the future of the planet depends on how many of us will agree to say not to excessive lifestyles, fasting can teach us that physical satisfaction is not the purpose of life." - Nancy Forest-Flier

"The first question to be answered by any individual or any social group, facing a hazardous situation, is whether the crisis is to be met as a challenge to strength or as an occasion for despair." -

"The challenge is to hate the sin but love the sinner." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"A sense of purpose and fulfillment is the single strongest issue flowing out of the quest for meaning… The end of the quest for meaning is the beginning of the journey of faith. Indeed, nothing better illuminates the entire journey of life and faith, and in particular the special challenge of finishing them well, than the issue of purpose." - Os Guiness

"Despair is due not to failures but to the inability to hear deeply and personally the challenge that confronts us." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Detachment of doctrine from devotion, detachment of reason from reverence, of scrutiny from the sense of the ineffable reduces God as a challenge to a logical hypothesis… God is relevant only when overwhelmingly urgent." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Subconsciously (particularly in the West), we still expect that limitless expansion - moving on, growing, and building a place of our own – will always be the intrinsic state of affairs. Expansion is necessary for life’s continued development – even expansion into space, throughout our galaxy and into others beyond. Evolutionary change occurs only when possible and advantageous; when niches open up, when food supplies vary, or when a mutation confers a bonus. If niches never alter, change brings penalty, not reward. If we choose zero growth, if we immobilize our niche, we will cease evolving. Without challenge, we do not advance." - David Hockey

"Bereavement is the deepest initiation into the mysteries of human life, an initiation more searching and profound than even happy love… Bereavement is the sharpest challenge to our trust in God; if faith can overcome this, there is no mountain which it cannot remove." - William Ralph Inge

"The challenge of aggressive evil can be met only by the power of aggressive good." - Nikhilananda, fully Swami Nikhilananda, born Dinesh Chandra Das Gupta NULL

"I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress...It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitude is right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me." - Charles Swindoll

"Often communities that are the most cohesive are also hostile and fearful of outsiders. Community spirit says, “Take care of your own.” The ethical challenge is to make people see that the world is their community." - Richard P. Taub

"All art is a challenge to despair." - E. C. Bentley, fully Edmund Clerihew Bentley

"What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers." - Matina Horner, fully Matina Souretis Horner

"Where would we be without prophets, visionaries, nonconformists, ironists, and dissenters? The great ethical traditions, both religious and secular, as well as literature and the arts, are filled with eccentrics - complex characters who challenge, inspire, and irritate those around them. They flaunt conventional wisdom, stubbornly champion new and unsettling ideals, love those whom others deem unlovable, or are themselves considered strange and unlovable." - Elizabeth Kiss (pronounced "quiche")

"Throughout human history, progress has come through the men and women who dared to challenge the precepts and dogmas that curtailed freedoms. Freethinking (which includes skepticism, rationalism, unbelief, atheism, agnosticism, humanism and so forth) has made great and lasting contributions to human freedom, human rights, and human equality." - Gerald Alexander Larue

"To repeat what others have said, requires education, to challenge it, requires brains." - Mary Pettibone Poole

"If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth." - Mitsugi Saotome