Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Self

"What keeps persons down in the world, besides lack of capacity, is not a philosophical contempt of riches or honors, but thoughtlessness and improvidence, a love of sluggish torpor, and of present gratification. It is not from preferring virtue to wealth - the goods of the mind to those of fortune - that they take no thought for the morrow; but from want of forethought and stern self-command. The restless, ambitious man too often directs these qualities to an unworthy object; the contented man is generally deficient in the qualities themselves. The one is a stream that flows too often in a wrong channel, and needs to have its course altered, the other is a stagnant pool." -

"The most infectiously joyous men and women are those who forget themselves in thinking about others and serving others. Happiness comes not by deliberately courting and wooing it but by giving oneself in self-effacing surrender to great values." - Robert J. McCracken, D.D.

"Self-sacrifice is never entirely unselfish, for the give never fails to receive." - Dolores E. McGuire

"He who attempts to act and do things for others and for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them only the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, and his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas." - Thomas Merton

"That man who lives for self alone lives for the meanest mortal known." - Joaquin Miller, formally Cincinnatus Heine (or Hiner) Miller

"The aim of the college, for the individual student, is to eliminate the need in his life for the college; the task is to help become a self-educating man." - C. Wright Mills, fully Charles Wright Mills

"From obedience and submission spring all other virtues, as all sin does form self-opinion." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"The laws of conscience, which we say are born of nature, are born of custom. Each man, holding in inward veneration the opinions and the behavior approved and accepted around him, cannot break loose from them without remorse, or apply himself to them without self-satisfaction." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Self-government, self-discipline, self-responsibility are the triple safeguards of the independence of man." - Bernice Moore-Valdez

"Virtue is to her self the best reward." - Henry Spencer Moore

"The habit of saving is itself an education; it fosters every virtue, teaches self-denial, cultivates the sense of order, trains to forethought, and so broadens the mind." - Theodore T. Munger

"Be satisfied with life always but never with one's self." - George Jean Nathan

"One secret act of self-denial, one sacrifice of inclination to duty, is worth all the mere good thoughts, warm feelings, passionate prayers in which idle people indulge themselves." -

"Man gains freedom only through the use of his highest faculties. Materialism makes him more and more a slave to the forces of the phenomenal world... Our present-day materialism points in this direction - that is, in the direction of the enslavement of man by mechanisation and by its direct results, by state organisations, uniformity, the sacrifice of independent intelligence, the sweeping away of individual differences, local customs, local diversity, and all the infinite branchings of humanity that enrich life... Man is made free by ‘truth’. The truth spoken here is equated with mind. This kind of truth begins with self-knowledge." - Maurice Nicoll

"Only when we realise that we have no self can we seek ourselves. Only through a flash of truth can one understand ignorance." - Maurice Nicoll

"We live in a narrow reality, partly conditioned by our form of perception and partly made by opinions that we have borrowed, to which our self-esteem is fastened. We fight for our opinions, not because we believe them but because they involve the ordinary feeling of oneself. Though we are continually being hurt owing to the narrowness of the reality in which we dwell, we blame life, and do not see the necessity of finding absolutely new standpoints. All ideas that have a transforming power change our sense of reality." - Maurice Nicoll

""Every man has a price." This is not true. but for every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing. To win over certain people to something, it is only necessary to give it a gloss of love of humanity, nobility, gentleness, self-sacrifice - and there is nothing you cannot get them to swallow. To their souls, these are the icing, the tidbit: other kinds of soul have others." -

"Man is much more sensitive to the contempt of others than to self-contempt." -

"The human being inventing signs is at the same time the human being who becomes ever more keenly conscious of himself. It was only as a social animal that man acquired self-consciousness." -

"The most intelligent men, like the strongest, find their happiness where others would find only disaster: in the labyrinth, in being hard with themselves and with others, in effort; their delight is self-mastery; in them asceticism becomes second nature, a necessity, an instinct." -

"The most spiritual human beings, as the strongest, find their happiness where others would find their destruction: in the labyrinth, in severity towards themselves and others, in attempting; their joy lies in self-constraint: with them asceticism becomes nature, need, instinct." -

"The People have the right to the Truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is not right that they be exploited and deceived with false views of life, false characters, false sentiment, false morality, false history, false philosophy, false emotions, false heroism, false notions of self-sacrifice, false views of religion , of duty, of conduct and manners." - Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Norris

"The highest purpose of intellectual cultivation is, to give a man a perfect knowledge and mastery of his own inner self." -

"People work for self-expression." - Howard Vincent O'Brien

"A great man is one who has conquered himself. He has brought order, discipline and meaning into his life and prevented it from becoming the aimless, self-centered, repulsive existence to which he is drawn by his inherited weaknesses. The process begins when a man brings a center of interest into his life. This interest must be something inspiring and elevating. If you push these requirements far enough, the center of his life can only be God." - Harold Oxley

"There is nothing a man can less afford to leave at home than his conscience or his good habits; for it is not to be denied that travel is, in its immediate circumstances, unfavorable to habits of self-discipline, regulation of thought, sobriety of conduct, and dignity of character. Indeed, one of the great lessons of travel is the discovery how much our virtues owe to the support of constant occupation, to the influence of public opinion, and to the force of habit; a discovery very dangerous, if it proceed from an actual yielding to temptations resisted at home, and not from a consciousness of increased power put forth in withstanding them." - Richardson Pack or Packe

"Since there is really no duality, separation is unreal. Until duality is transcended and at-one-ment realized, enlightenment cannot be attained... All phenomena are your own ideas, self-conceived in the mind, like reflections in a mirror. To know whether or not this is true, look inside your own mind." - Padmasamabhava, "The Lotus-Born", aka Guru Rinpoche "Precious Guru" or Lopon Rinpoche or Padum in Tibet NULL

"If one lives with Nature a little while, he soon recognizes the harmony of creation... Each of us is, therefore, an instrument of God. When one thinks of his humble self in this light, life takes on a more profound meaning." - Alden C. Palmer

"How shall I grasp it? Do not grasp it. That which remains when there is no more grasping is the Self." -

"To be forbearing to all - that is love; to be relentless toward self - that is wisdom; to be content with what one has - that is riches; to be discontented with what one is - that is piety." - Nikita Ivanovich Panin

"Never violate the sacredness of your individual self-respect. Be true to your own mind and conscience, your heart and your soul; so only can you be true to God." - Joseph Parker

"Never violate the sacredness of your individual self-respect." - Theodore Parker

"I believe that being true to the self is the most important thing in life - to have a free heart, a pure soul and a pure mind. We all live, or should live, for the fulfillment of the self. We are all mirror images of each other; whatever we feel in ourselves we feel in others. I believe that we create our own lives... Intuition should play the main role in everything we do. Through the creative source of the mind and the unlimited power of the spirit all our deepest wishes come true. For me the meaning is that we are all one, and the only true reality is the spirit. Believing in the power of spirit is simply to have a passion for life, to learn, to grow, to evolve and most of all to love, and live each day and each moment of the day to the fullest." - Tatjana Patitz

"If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more frightened. The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on. Discipline, pride, self-respect, self-confidence, and the love of glory are attributes which will make a man courageous even when he is afraid." -

"Self-acceptance is more important than self-improvement. There is no possibility of self-improvement without the prerequisite of self-acceptance... Interdependence is more important than independence." - Paul Pearsall

"There are wounds of self-love which one does not confess to one’s dearest friends." - Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn

"Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. People grow old only by deserting their ideals and outgrowing the consciousness of youth. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. You are as old as your doubt; your fear; your despair. The way to keep young is to keep your faith young. Keep your self-confidence young. Keep your hope young." - Luella F. Phelan

"We are all weak, finite, simple human beings, standing in the need of prayer. None need it so much as those who think they are strong, those who know it not but are deluded by self-sufficiency." - Harold Cooke Phillips

"So the thing to do when working on a motorcycle, as in any other task, is to cultivate the peace of mind which does not separate one’s self from one’s surroundings. When that is done successfully, then everything else follows naturally. Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all." - Robert M. Pirsig

"Many times it has happened: lifted out of the body into myself; becoming external to all other things and self-centered; beholding a marvelous beauty; then, more than ever, assured of community with the loftiest order; enacting the noblest life, acquiring identity with the divine; stationing within It by having attained that activity; poised above whatsoever in the Intellectual is less than the Supreme: yet, there comes the moment of descent from intellection to reasoning, and after that sojourn in the divine, I ask myself how it happens that I can now be descending, and how did the Soul ever enter into my body, the Soul which even within the body, is the high thing it has shown itself to be." - Plotinus NULL

"The pinions of your soul will have power to still the untamed body. The creature will yield only to watchful, strenuous constancy of habit. Purify your soul from all undue hope and fear about earthly things, mortify the body, deny self - affections as well as appetites - and the inner eye will begin to exercise its clear and solemn vision." - Plotinus NULL

"We ourselves possess beauty when we are true to our own being; our ugliness is in going over to another order; our self-knowledge, that is to say, is our beauty; in self-ignorance we are ugly." - Plotinus NULL

"True politeness consists in being easy one's self, and in making every one about one as easy as one can." - Alexander Pope

"Self-love leads men of narrow minds to measure all mankind by their own capacity." - Jane Porter

"The measure of a man is not determined by his show of outward strength or the volume of his voice or the thunder of his action. It is to be seen rather in terms of the strength of his inner self in terms of the nature and depth of his commitments the sincerity of his purpose and his willingness to continue "growing up."" - Grady Poulard

"One of the best of all earthly possessions is self-possession." - George Dennison Prentice

"Love means giving one’s self to another person fully, not just physically. When two people really love each other, this helps them to stay alive and grow. One must be loved to grow. Love’s such a precious and fragile thing that when it comes we have to hold on tightly. And when it comes, we’re very lucky because for some it never comes at all. If you have love, you’re wealthy in a way that can never be measured." - Nancy Reagan, born Anne Frances Robbins

"To start from self does not mean to be selfish. It means to start from premises based on human life and the rest of nature, rather than premises that are the artificial products of the Corporate State, such as power or status. It is not an ‘ego trip’ but a radical subjectivity designed to find genuine values in a world whose official values are false and distorted. It is not egocentricity, but honesty, wholeness, genuineness in all things. It starts from self because human life is found as individual units, not as corporations and institutions; its intent is to start from life." - Charles A. Reich

"If self-knowledge be a path to virtue, virtue is a much better one to self-knowledge. The more pure the soul becomes, it will, like certain precious stones that are sensible to the contact if poison, shrink from the fetid vapors of evil impressions." -

"To lose one's self in reverie, one must be either very happy, or very unhappy. Reverie is the child of extremes." - George Ripley