Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Today words no longer arise out of silence, through a creative act of the spirit which gives meaning to language and to the silence, but from other words, from the noise of other words. Neither do they return to the silence but into the noise of other words, to become immersed therein." - Max Picard

"The language spoken by men in cities does not seem to belong to them any longer. It is a mere part of the general noise, as if the words were no longer formed by human lips but were only a scream and a shriek coming from the mechanism of the city. It is said today that people need only go into the country to reach the "quietness of nature" and silence. But they do not meet the silence there; on the contrary, they carry the noise of the great towns and the noise of their own souls out into the country with them. That is the danger of the "Back to the Land" movement: the noise that is at any rate concentrated in the big towns, locked up as in a prison, is let loose on the countryside. To decentralize the big towns is to decentralize the noise, to distribute it all over the countryside." - Max Picard

"There is a difference between ordinary noise and the noise of words. Noise is the enemy of silence; it is opposed to silence. The noise of words is not merely opposed to silence: it makes us even forget that there was ever any such thing as silence at all. It is not even an acoustical phenomenon: the acoustic element, the continual buzzing of verbal noise, is merely a sign that all space and all time have been filled by it." - Max Picard

"Language has become a mere mechanical vehicle transporting the outward signs of language. Language has ceased to be organic and plastic, ceased to establish things firmly. Words have become merely signs that something is being fetched out of the jumble of noise and thrown at the listener. The word is not specifically a word. It can now be replaced by signs—colour signs or sound signs; it has become an apparatus, and like every mere apparatus it is always facing the possibility of destruction. And therefore the man who does not live directly from the word, but allows himself to be dragged along by the apparatus of noise, also faces destruction at any moment." - Max Picard

"Verbal noise is neither silence nor sound. It permeates silence and sound alike and it causes man to forget both silence and the world. / There has ceased to be any difference between speech and silence, since one single noise of words permeates both the speaker and the non-speaker. The silent listener has simply become a non-speaker. / Verbal noise is a pseudo-language and a pseudo-silence. That is to say, something is spoken and yet it is not real language at all. Something disappears in the noise and yet it is not real silence. When the noise suddenly stops, it is not followed by silence, but merely by a pause in which the noise accumulates in order to expand with even greater force when it is released. / It is as though the noise were afraid that it might disappear, as if it were constantly on the move, because it must always be convincing itself that it really exists. It does not believe in its own existence. / The real word, on the contrary, has no such fear, even when it is not being expressed in sound: its existence is in fact even more palpable in the silence." - Max Picard

"I don't think people are any more concerned about noise now than they were in the past. I think the concerns are the same, but there are now more opportunities, more solutions available, to help with the problem. These solutions may or may not have been available in the past." - Michael Lerner

"He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak." -

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls." - Mother Teresa, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu NULL

"My beloved children, who are the pupils of my eye—Truth is silent. If Truth has dawned within you, then there will be no further speech. It is silence, and silence is the greatest Truth, the best question. If there is no Truth, then there will be a lot of talk and questions. One is good and the other is bad. If there is good within you, there will be no further noise within. But if you are full of bad, there will be so much of talk, speeches and questions. Therefore, seek the good. God does not make a noise. If you need anything, then you will have only to knock, and if you are tuned to that point, with the sound of that knock you will get an answer immediately. No noise, you don't have to make a sound. This is the Truth." - Bawa Mahaiyadden, fully Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

"If you must cry, cry like a child. You were once a child, and one of the first things you learned in life was to cry, because crying is a part of life. Never forget that you are free, and that to show your emotions is not shameful. Scream, sob loudly, make as much noise as you like. Because that is how children cry, and they know the fastest way to put their hearts at ease. Have you ever noticed how children stop crying? They stop because something distracts them. Something calls them to the next adventure. Children stop crying very quickly. And that's how it will be for you. But only if you can cry as children do. " - Paulo Coelho

"To refuse awards... is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal." - Peter Ustinov, fully Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov

"I never understood music. It seemed to me to be the maximum amount of noise conveying the minimum amount of information." - Quentin Crisp, born Denis Charles Pratt

"Two pieces of coin in one bag make more noise than a hundred." - Rabbinical Proverbs

"Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?" - Rachel Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson

"Your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes, far in the distance." - Rainer Maria Rilke, full name René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke

"Man will survive as a species for one reason: He can adapt to the destructive effects of our power-intoxicated technology and of our ungoverned population growth, to the dirt, pollution and noise of a New York or Tokyo. And that is the tragedy. It is not man the ecological crisis threatens to destroy but the quality of human life." - René Dubos, fully René Jules Dubos

"The Sound of the Trees - I wonder about the trees. Why do we wish to bear Forever the noise of these More than another noise So close to our dwelling place? We suffer them by the day Till we lose all measure of pace, And fixity in our joys, And acquire a listening air. They are that that talks of going But never gets away; And that talks no less for knowing, As it grows wiser and older, That now it means to stay. My feet tug at the floor And my head sways to my shoulder Sometimes when I watch trees sway, From the window or the door. I shall set forth for somewhere, I shall make the reckless choice Some day when they are in voice And tossing so as to scare The white clouds over them on. I shall have less to say, But I shall be gone." - Robert Frost

"A VALE OF TEARS - A vale there is, enwrapt with dreadful shades, Which thick of mourning pines shrouds from the sun, Where hanging cliffs yield short and dumpish glades, And snowy flood with broken streams doth run. Where eye-room is from rock to cloudy sky, From thence to dales with stony ruins strew'd, Then to the crushèd water's frothy fry, Which tumbleth from the tops where snow is thaw'd. Where ears of other sound can have no choice, But various blust'ring of the stubborn wind In trees, in caves, in straits with divers noise; Which now doth hiss, now howl, now roar by kind. Where waters wrestle with encount'ring stones, That break their streams, and turn them into foam, The hollow clouds full fraught with thund'ring groans, With hideous thumps discharge their pregnant womb. And in the horror of this fearful quire Consists the music of this doleful place; All pleasant birds from thence their tunes retire, Where none but heavy notes have any grace. Resort there is of none but pilgrim wights, That pass with trembling foot and panting heart; With terror cast in cold and shivering frights, They judge the place to terror framed by art. Yet nature's work it is, of art untouch'd, So strait indeed, so vast unto the eye, With such disorder'd order strangely couch'd, And with such pleasing horror low and high, That who it views must needs remain aghast, Much at the work, more at the Maker's might; And muse how nature such a plot could cast Where nothing seemeth wrong, yet nothing right. A place for mated mindes, an only bower Where everything do soothe a dumpish mood; Earth lies forlorn, the cloudy sky doth lower, The wind here weeps, here sighs, here cries aloud. The struggling flood between the marble groans, Then roaring beats upon the craggy sides; A little off, amidst the pebble stones, With bubbling streams and purling noise it glides. The pines thick set, high grown and ever green, Still clothe the place with sad and mourning veil; Here gaping cliff, there mossy plain is seen, Here hope doth spring, and there again doth quail. Huge massy stones that hang by tickle stays, Still threaten fall, and seem to hang in fear; Some wither'd trees, ashamed of their decays, Bereft of green are forced gray coats to wear. Here crystal springs crept out of secret vein, Straight find some envious hole that hides their grace; Here searèd tufts lament the want of rain, There thunder-wrack gives terror to the place. All pangs and heavy passions here may find A thousand motives suiting to their griefs, To feed the sorrows of their troubled mind, And chase away dame Pleasure's vain reliefs. To plaining thoughts this vale a rest may be, To which from worldly joys they may retire; Where sorrow springs from water, stone and tree; Where everything with mourners doth conspire. Sit here, my soul, main streams of tears afloat, Here all thy sinful foils alone recount; Of solemn tunes make thou the doleful note, That, by thy ditties, dolour may amount. When echo shall repeat thy painful cries, Think that the very stones thy sins bewray, And now accuse thee with their sad replies, As heaven and earth shall in the latter day. Let former faults be fuel of thy fire, For grief in limbeck of thy heart to still Thy pensive thoughts and dumps of thy desire, And vapour tears up to thy eyes at will. Let tears to tunes, and pains to plaints be press'd, And let this be the burden of thy song,— Come, deep remorse, possess my sinful breast; Delights, adieu! I harbour'd you too long. " - Robert Southwell, also Saint Robert Southwell

"Every object and being in the universe is a jar overflowing with wisdom and beauty, a drop of the Tigris that cannot be contained by any skin. Every jarful spills and makes the earth more shining, as though covered in satin... Make peace with the universe. Take joy in it. It will turn to gold. Resurrection will be now. Every moment, a new beauty." - Rumi, fully Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi NULL

"What is a highway to one is a disaster to the other." - Rumi, fully Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi NULL

"An ill-paying job is better than a lucrative heist." - Russian Proverbs

"The general review of the past tends to satisfy me with my political life. No man, I suppose, ever came up to his ideal. The first half [of] my political life was first to resist the increase of slavery and secondly to destroy it.... The second half of my political life has been to rebuild, and to get rid of the despotic and corrupting tendencies and the animosities of the war, and other legacies of slavery." - Rutherford B. Hayes, fully Rutherford Birchard Hayes

"As God sets the soul in this dark night… He allows it not to find attraction or sweetness in anything whatsoever. God transfers to the spirit the good things and the strength of the senses… if it is not immediately conscious of spiritual sweetness and delight, but only of aridity and lack of sweetness, the reason for this is the strangeness of the exchange. #6. If those souls to whom this comes to pass knew how to be quiet at this time… then they would delicately experience this inward refreshment in that ease and freedom from care… it is like the air which, if one would close one’s hand upon it, escapes. In this state of contemplation… it is God Who is now working in the soul. He binds its interior faculties, and allows it not to cling to the understanding, nor to have delight in the will, nor to reason with the memory. God communicates… by pure spirit. From this time forward imagination and fancy can find no support in any meditation." - Saint John of the Cross, born Juan de Yepes Álvarez NULL

"If the memory is annihilated, the devil is powerless, and it liberates us from a lot of sorrow, affliction and sadness." - Saint John of the Cross, born Juan de Yepes Álvarez NULL

"May the non-dual Lord, who, by the power of His maya, covered Himself, like a spider, with threads drawn from primal matter, merge us in Brahman!" - Shvetashvatara Upanishad

"But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"All men, if they work not as in the great taskmaster's eye, will work wrong, and work unhappily for themselves and for you." - Thomas Carlyle

"The difference between man, and man, is not so considerable, as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit, to which another may not pretend as well as he." - Thomas Hobbes

"An injured friend is the bitterest of foes." - Thomas Jefferson

"Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened and debased by the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers, the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and shops, the everlasting suggestion of advertising and propaganda. The whole mechanism of modern life is geared for a flight from God and from the spirit into the wilderness of neurosis." - Thomas Merton

"Faced by the supercilious contempt of friends as well as the hatred of our avowed enemies, and wondering what there is in us to hate, we have considered ourselves and found ourselves quite decent, harmless and easygoing people who only ask to be left alone to make money and have a good time. The keystone of our admittedly nebulous optimism is that if everyone is left alone to take care of his own interests, the laws of economics will benignly take care of the needs of all, and anyone who is not a slacker can get rich. But this philosophy of life is questioned, and when it is questioned we also are forced to examine our beliefs. And when we examine them we find we are not too sure just what they are. We tend to operate on sentiments of good will or civilization rather than on deeply based convictions." - Thomas Merton

"I believe we are going to have to prepare ourselves for the difficult and patient task of outgrowing rigid and intransigent nationalism, and work slowly towards a world federation of peaceful nations. How will this be possible Don't ask me. I don't know. But unless we develop a moral, spiritual, and political wisdom that is proportionate to our technological skill, our skill may end us." - Thomas Merton

"In a spiritual crisis of the individual, the truth and authenticity of the person’s spiritual identity are called into question. He is placed in confrontation with reality and judged by his ability to bring himself into a valid and living relationship with the demands of his new situation. In the spiritual, social, historic crises of civilizations – and of religious institutions – the same principle applies. Growth, survival and even salvation may depend on the ability to sacrifice what is fictitious and unauthentic in the construction of one’s moral, religious or national identity. One must then enter upon a different creative task of reconstruction and renewal. This task can be carried out only in the climate of faith, of hope and of love: these three must be present in some form, even if they amount only to a natural belief in the validity and significance of human choice, a decision to invest human life with some shadow of meaning, a willingness to treat other men as other selves." - Thomas Merton

"Life consists in learning to live on one’s own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one’s own—be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid." - Thomas Merton

"Now one of the things we must cast out first of all is fear. Fear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves. If we were terrified of God as an inexorable judge, we would not confidently await His mercy, or approach Him trustfully in prayer." - Thomas Merton

"You must realize that it is the ordinary way of God's dealings with us that our ideas do not work out speedily and efficiently as we would like them to. The reason for this is not only the loving wisdom of God, but also the fact that our acts have to fit into a great complex pattern that we cannot possibly understand. I have learned over the years that Providence is always a whole lot wiser than any of us, and that there are always not only good reasons, but the very best reasons for the delays and blocks that often seem to us so frustrating and absurd." - Thomas Merton

"If Humility is Christianity, you, O Jews! are the true Christians. If your tradition that Man contained in his limbs all animals is true, and they were separated from him by cruel sacrifices, and when compulsory cruel sacrifices had brought Humanity into a Feminine Tabernacle in the loins of Abraham and David, the Lamb of God, the Saviour, became apparent on Earth as the Prophets had fore-told! The return of Israel is a return to mental sacrifice and war. " - William Blake

"When the painted birds laugh in the shade, when our table with cherries and nuts is spread: come live, and be merry, and join with me to sing the sweet chorus of 'ha, ha, he!" - William Blake

"A life of ease is a difficult pursuit." - William Cowper

"Observing this years ago I formulated a question? Is it possible to build an agriculture based on the prairie as standard or model? I saw a sharp contrast between the major features of the wheat field and the major features of the prairie. The wheat field features annuals in monoculture; the prairie features perennials in polyculture, or mixtures. Because all of our high-yielding crops are annuals or are treated as such, crucial questions must be answered. Can perennialism and high yield go together? If so, can a polyculture of perennials outyield a monoculture of perennials? Can such an ecosystem sponsor its own fertility? Is it realistic to think we can manage such complexity adequately to avoid the problem of pests outcompeting us?" - Wes Jackson

"We fancy that our afflictions are sent us directly from above; sometimes we think it in piety and contrition, but oftener in moroseness and discontent." - Walter Savage Landor

"It was a country . . . that he and his people had known how to use and abuse, but not how to preserve." - Wendell Berry

"Speak, even, as if I did not hear you speaking, but spoke for you perfectly in my thoughts, conceiving words, as the night conceives the sea-sounds in silence, and out of their droning sibilants makes a serenade." - Wallace Stevens

"There was neither voice nor crested image, no chorister, nor priest. There was only the great height of the rock and the two of them standing still to rest." - Wallace Stevens

"Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from." - Vernon Howard, fully Vernon Linwood Howard

"The mercy we need is self-mercy, which consists of ceasing to behave badly while justifying it." - Vernon Howard, fully Vernon Linwood Howard

"A type does not reproduce any man in particular; it cannot be exactly superposed upon any individual; it sums up and concentrates under one human form a whole family of characters and minds. A type is no abridgement: it is a condensation." - Victor Hugo

"The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance." - Viktor Frankl, fully Viktor Emil Frankl

"From those thy words, I deem from some distress by deeds of mine thy dear life I might save; O then, delay not! if one ever gave his life to any, mine I give to thee; come, tell me what the price of love must be? Swift death, to be with thee a day and night and with the earliest dawning to be slain? Or better, a long year of great delight, and many years of misery and pain? Or worse, and this poor hour for all my gain? A sorry merchant am I on this day,e'en as thou willest so must I obey." - William Morris

"Nothing routs us but the villainy of our fears." -