Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"The purpose of this discipline is to bring man into the habit of applying the insight that has come to him as the result of the preceding disciplines. When one is rising, standing, walking, doing something, stopping, one should constantly concentrate one’s mind on the act and the doing of it, not on one’s relation to the act, or its character or value. One should think: there is walking, there is stopping, there is realizing; not, I am walking, I am doing this, it is a good thing, it is disagreeable, I am gaining merit, it is I who am realizing how wonderful it is. Thence come vagrant thoughts, feelings of elation or of failure and unhappiness. Instead of all this, one should simply practice concentration of the mind on the act itself, understanding it to be an expedient means for attaining tranquillity of mind, realization, insight and Wisdom; and one should follow the practice in faith, willingness and gladness. After long practice the bondage of old habits become weakened and disappears, and in its place appear confidence, satisfaction, awareness and tranquillity. What is the Way of Wisdom designed to accomplish? There are three classes of conditions that hinder one from advancing along the path to Enlightenment. First, there are the allurements arising from the senses, from external conditions and from the discriminating mind. Second, there are the internal conditions of the mind, its thoughts, desires and mood. All these the earlier practices (ethical and mortificatory) are designed to eliminate. In the third class of impediments are placed the individual’s instinctive and fundamental (and therefore most insidious and persistent) urges - the will to live and to enjoy, the will to cherish one’s personality, the will to propagate, which give rise to greed and lust, fear and anger, infatuation, pride and egotism. The practice of the Wisdom Paramita is designed to control and eliminate these fundamental and instinctive hindrances." - Aśvaghoṣa NULL

"Vanity is a strong temptation to lying; it makes people magnify their merit, over flourish their family, and tell strange stories of their interest and acquaintance." - Jeremy Collier

"In a noble soul, merit alone should light the flame of love." - Pierre Cornielle

"Reputation is rarely proportioned to virtue. We have seen a thousand people esteemed, either for the merit they had not yet attained or for that they no longer possessed." - Charles de Saint-Évremond, fully Charles Marguetel de Saint-Denis, seigneur de Évremond

"Though we may sometimes unintentionally bestow our beneficence on the unworthy, it does not take from the merit of the act. For charity doth not adopt the vices of its objects." - Henry Fielding

"Confronted by outstanding merit in another, there is no way of saving one's ego except by love." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Though the noblest disposition you inherit, And your character with piety is pack'd, All such qualities have very little merit unaccompanied by Tact." - Harry Graham, Fully Jocelyn Henry Clive 'Harry' Graham

"True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes." - Charles Montagu Halifax, 1st Earl of Halifax, Lord Halifax

"To be loved, we should merit but little esteem; all superiority attracts awe and aversion." - Claude-Adrien Helvétius

"There is no merit where there is no trial; and, till experience stamps the mark of strength, cowards may pass for heroes, faith for falsehood." - Aaron Hill

"All merit ceases the moment we perform an act for the sake of its consequences. Truly, in this respect “we have our reward.”" -

"Self-knowledge leading to self-hatred and humility, is the condition of the love and knowledge of God. Spiritual exercises that make use of distractions have this great merit, that they increase self-knowledge. Every soul that approaches God must be aware of who and what it is. To practice a form of mental or vocal prayer that is, so to speak, above one’s moral station is to act a lie: and the consequences of such lying are wrong notions about God, idolatrous worship of private and unrealistic phantasies and (for lack of the humility of self-knowledge) spiritual pride." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"The mischief of flattery is, not that it persuades any man that he is what he is not, but that it suppresses the influence of honest ambition by raising an opinion that honor may be gained without the toil of merit." -

"Men do not easily rise whose poverty hinders their merit." - Juvenal, fully Decimus Junius Juvenalis NULL

"He who is self-approving does not shine. He who boasts has no merit. He who exalts himself does not rise high." -

"Arrogance in persons of merit affronts us more than arrogance in those without merit: merit itself is an affront." -

"Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul." - Alexander Pope

"Jealousy is an awkward homage which inferiority renders to merit." - Madame de Puisieux, Madeleine de Puisieux

"There are difficulties in your path. Be thankful for them. They will test your capabilities of resistance; you will be impelled to persevere from the very energy of the opposition. But what of him that fails? What does he gain? Strength for life. The real merit is not in the success but in the endeavor; and win or lose, he will be honored and crowned." - William Morley Punshon

"When we pray, we should feel the seriousness of speaking directly to the Almighty. The concept of seriousness should not be mistaken for sadness since sadness is a transgression. Seriousness should stem from the true joy of fulfilling a mitzvah [biblical law or good deed], the joy of having the merit to pray to the Almighty." - Moshe Schwab

"Speak but little and well, if you would be esteemed as a man of merit." -

"It is especially important to express your feelings of joy when giving charity to a poor person. Show the person you are glad to be able to help him out. Showing displeasure giving charity erases the merit of giving." - Yorah Daiah

"The existence of law is one thing; its merit or demerit is another." - John Austin

"The ambitious man grasps at opinion as necessary to his designs; the vain man sure for it as a testimony to his merit; the honest man demands it as his due; and most men consider it as necessary to their existence." - Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria-Bonesana

"In politics, merit is rewarded by the possessor being raised, like a target, to a position to be fired at." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"Vanity is a strong temptation to lying; it makes people magnify their merit, over-flourish their family, and tell strange stories of their interest and acquaintance." - Jeremy Collier

"Real merit requires as much labor, to be placed in a true light, a humbug to be elevated to an unworthy eminence; only the success of the false is temporary that of the true, immortal." - Francis Alexander "F.A." Durivage, wrote under pen name "Old Un"

"Do not pride yourself on the few great men who, over the centuries, have been born on your earth through no merit of yours. Reflect, rather, on how you have treated them at the time, and how you have followed their teachings." - Albert Einstein

"Almost every conspicuously successful American owes his rise to having thrown himself heartily into his work and to having done it better than ordinary. Promotion comes to those who demonstrate that they can do more and better work than others. Look upon your work as the lever by which you can rise in the world. To get the best and the most out of life, put the best and the most of yourself into it. Eventually each of us gets rewards we merit." - B. C. Forbes, fully Bertie Charles "B.C." Forbes

"It is not possible to be regarded with tenderness, except by a few. That merit which gives greatness and renown diffuses its influence to a wide compass, but acts weakly on every single breast; it is placed at a distance from common spectators, and shines like one of the remote stars, of which the light reaches us, but not the heat." -

"No man is nobler born than another, unless he is born with better abilities and more amiable disposition. They who make such a parade with their family pictures, and pedigrees, are, properly speaking, rather to be called noted or notorious than noble persons. I thought it right to say this much, in order to repel the insolence of men who depend entirely upon chance and accidental circumstances for distinction, and not at all on public services and personal merit." -

"God considers not the action, but the spirit of the action. It is the intention, not the deed wherein the merit or praise of the doer consists." - Peter Abelard, Latin: Petrus Abaelardus or Abailard; French: Pierre Abélard

"Truth is the only merit that gives dignity and worth to history." - John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, fully John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

"The mischief of flattery is not that it persuades any man that he is what he is not, but that it suppresses the influence of honest ambition, by raising an opinion that honor may be gained without the toil of merit." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The sage does not display himself, therefore he shines. He does not approve himself therefore he is noted. He does not praise himself, therefore he has merit. He does not glory in himself, therefore he excels." - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

"Not all ideas and beliefs and ideals have equal merit." - Jason A. Merchey

"Moderation has been declared a virtue so as to curb the ambition of the great and console lesser folk for their lack of fortune and merit." -

"[Plato's ideal society] guarantees to all people the right to an education that diagnoses and perfects their unique talents, plus a work role that conveys a sense of self-esteem, saving them from the neuroses of megalomania and the lust for power. It forbids privilege and sexism and all other criteria irrelevant to merit. It eliminates conflict of interest from those who hold office and gives the masses a potent checklist they can use to hold their rulers to account. Best of all, it eliminates all traces of "might makes right" and serves as a pattern laid up in heaven to rank actual societies in terms of what corrupts them. Society becomes more corrupt as the struggle for power becomes more brutal." - James R. Flynn, aka Jim Flynn

"Men of real merit, and whose noble and glorious deeds we are ready to acknowledge, are yet not to be endured when they vaunt their own actions." - Aeschines NULL

"Equality does not seem to take the same form in acts of justice and in friendship; for in acts of justice what is equal in the primary sense is that which is in proportion to merit, while quantitative equality is secondary, but in friendship quantitative equality is primary and proportion to merit secondary." - Aristotle NULL

"Some of the virtues are intellectual and others moral, philosophic wisdom and understanding and practical wisdom being intellectual, liberality and temperance moral. For in speaking about a man’s character we do not say that he is wise or has understanding but that he is good-tempered or temperate; yet we praise the wise man also with respect to his state of mind; and of states of mind we call those which merit praise virtues." - Aristotle NULL

"Unwelcome are the loiterer, who makes appointments he never keeps; the consulter, who asks advice he never follows; the boaster, who seeks for praise he does not merit; the complainer, who whines only to be pitied; the talker, who talks only because he loves to talk always; the profane and obscene jester, whose words defile; the drunkard, whose insanity has tot the better of his reason; and the tobacco-chewer and smoker, who poisons the atmosphere and nauseates others." - Author Unknown NULL

"The fool mistakes power for virtue, acclaim for merit, nonconformity for dangerousness, conviction for truth, revenge for justice, license for liberty, and kindness for weakness." - Author Unknown NULL

"There is no sphere in heaven where the soul remains a shorter time than in the sphere of merit; there is none where it abides longer than in the sphere of grace (love)." - Baal Shem Tov, given name Yisroel ben Eliezer

"Contemporaries appreciate the man rather than the merit; posterity will regard the merit rather than the man." - Charles Buxton

"For all the practical purposes of life, truth might as well be in a prison as in the folio of a schoolman; and those who release her from her cow-webbed shelf and teach her to live with men have the merit of liberating, if not of discovering, her." - Charles Caleb Colton

"Contemporaries appreciate the man rather than his merit; posterity will regard the merit rather than the man." - Charles Caleb Colton

"There is no cruelty so inexorable and unrelenting as that which proceeds from a bigoted and presumptuous supposition of doing service to God. The victim of the fanatical persecutor will find that the stronger the motives he can urge for mercy are, the weaker will be his chance for obtaining it, for the merit of his destruction will be supposed to rise in value in proportion as it is effected at the expense of every feeling both of justice and of humanity." - Charles Caleb Colton