Animism / Buddhist / Confucius / Deism / Hinduism / Taoism / Pantheism / Atheism / Miscellaneous /
"God of Abraham" religions: General Christianity / Islam / Judaism / Baha'i Faith / Ancient Hasidic Oral Tradition / Latter Day Saints
By oneself the evil is done, and it is oneself who suffers:
by oneself the evil is not done, and by one's Self one becomes pure.
The pure and the impure come from oneself:
no man can purify another."
The Dhammapada is a collection of statements claimed to be the teachings of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), or inspired by him: but it was likely compiled some two centuries after his death. Even though tradition holds that Buddha avoided any discussion of God, and held man completely accountable for his actions; mysticism had already started to influence the religion when the Dhammapada was written. The quote is from the Mascaro translation; which is far from accurate, but has a nice poetic style that gets across the basic message.
"There is no fire like lust,
and no chains like those of hate.
There is no net like illusion,
and no rushing torrent like desire."
"As the bee takes the essence of a flower and flies away
without destroying its beauty and perfume,
so let the sage wander in this life."
"Think not of the faults of others, of what they have done or not done.
Think rather of your own sins,
of the things you have done or not done."
[Dhammapada 50 & 51]
"Hold not a sin of little worth, thinking 'this is little to me.'
The falling drops of water will in time fill a water-jar.
Even so the foolish man becomes full of evil, although he gather it little by little."
"Hold not a deed of little worth, thinking 'this is little to me.'
The falling drops of water will in time fill a water-jar.
Even so the wise man becomes full of good, although he gather it little by little."
[Dhammapada 121 & 122]
"The traveller has reached the end of the journey!
In the freedom of the infinite he is free from all sorrows,
the fetters that bound him are thrown away,
and the burning fever of life is no more."
"1. All is suffering.
2. The root of suffering is desire.
3. To eliminate suffering, one must eliminate desire.
4. The way to the supreme good is the eightfold noble path:
right thought, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood
right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration."
[The Four Noble Truths - Buddha]
Buddhism is very structured, and has a seemingly infinite number of lists: the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, the Five Precepts, the 28 benefits of secluded meditation, the 253 rules for Tibetan Monasticism, the 364 rules for nuns, the twenty kinds of women, the 6 Paramitas, etc., etc., etc.
"When you have an itch, you scratch.
But not to itch at all
is better than any amount of scratching."
Nagarjuna was a Mahayana Buddhist philosopher who lived sometime around 200 CE.
"I look on religion as medicine. For different complaints, doctors will prescribe different remedies. Therefore, because not everyone’s spiritual 'illness' is the same, different spiritual medicines are required."
"What is religion? As far as I am concerned, any deed done with good motivation is a religious act. On the other hand, a gathering of people in a temple or church who do not have good motivation are not performing a religious act when they pray together."
[Lhamo Thondup - 1990]
Lhamo Thondup (aka: Tenzin Gyatso) is the 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
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General Judeo-Christian Quotes
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom,
and the man that getteth understanding.
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver,
and the gain therof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies:
and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her."
[PROVERBS 3: 13-15 *King James Bible]
"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish,
and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Let him drink, and forget his poverty,
and remember his misery no more."
[PROVERBS 31: 6,7 *King James Bible]
Proverbs are a collection of old, likely oral, Hebrew saying. They were composed by a number of unknown authors of various times; and are of indeterminate age. The book of proverbs was compiled sometime in the fourth (or possibly the fifth) century BCE.
"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts;
even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other;
yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast:
for all is vanity."
[ECCLESIASTES 3:19 *King James Bible]
Ecclesiastes is a third century B.C.E. composition by an unknown author. Its generally pessimistic tone led the Rabbis, assembling the Old Testament, to initially resist its inclusion.
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, ...
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
[John Donne - 'Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions' 1674]
John Donne (1572 - 1631) was an Anglican clergyman, renowned as a metaphysical poet and writer of prose. He held the position of royal chaplain to the British monarchy.
"As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos."
[Martin Luther King Jr. -'The Most Durable Power' 1956]
"The satisfaction that accompanies good acts is itself not the motivation of the act;
satisfaction is not the motive, but only the consequence."
[Bishop Joseph Butler 1692-1752]
"If Jesus were to come today, people would not even crucify him.
They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it."
[Thomas Carlyle -'Carlyle at his Zenith' by D.A. Wilson]
"Many honest people should have a more tranquil mind if they were assured that they had only a blind destiny for their guide: they tremble more in thinking that there is a God, than if they believed that he did not exist."
[Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper Shaftesbury III 1671-1713]
"Wherefore will ye trouble yourselves, seeking after the law of God,
whilst ye have that which is common to all the world,
and which is written on the tablets of nature?"
[Tertullian - De Corona Militis]
Quintas Tertullianus (AKA: Tertullian) (160 - 220 CE) was a Christian writer, teacher, and clergyman. His work is highly regarded by modern Christian scholars.
“it is sufficiently clear that a free curiosity is more effective than a discipline based on fear.
Yet, by thy ordinance, O God, discipline is given to restrain the excesses of freedom"
[Saint Augustine - 'Confessions' - 400 CE]
Much of contemporary Roman Catholic and Protestant theology is based on Saint Augustine's (354 - 430 CE) doctrine. Martin Luther was strongly influenced by his writing. Saint Augustine was the first Western scholar to note the proof of individual existence: "I think, therefore I am" (later expanded upon by Decartes).
"We have a right to look upon an atheist as a monster amongst rational beings,
as one of those extraordinary productions
which we hardly ever meet with in the whole human species,
and who opposing himself to all other men,
revolts not only against reason and human nature,
but against the Divinity himself."
[William Derham 1657 - 1735]
W. Derham was an Anglican clergyman, author, and royal chaplain. His best-known work was 'Physico-Theology'.
"Fundamentalism, or extreme conservative evangelicalism, can be an important phase through which to pass, though not a good one in which to get stuck. The conservative evangelicals do have the zeal to sometimes jolt young people out of an unthinking, self-centered materialism, and this can be very good. What is not good, of course, is for people to remain in that mold and become not simply enthusiastic young evangelicals but retarded adult ones."
[John Hick - 'A Liberal Christian View' - 1985]
J. Hick is a Presbyterian minister, university professor, and prolific author
"General tradition, or the unanimous consent of mankind, is no criterion of truth"
[Pierre Bayle 1647 - 1706]
P. Bayle was a French philosopher who promoted free thought in all aspects of life. Although historians consider him to be a Protestant teacher, the fact that he was highly respected by the secretive atheist community of his time, and for a century after his death - as well as having been under investigation by the church for his dangerous views on the freedom to think rationally, likely means that he was hiding behind religion to avoid the gruesome fate that awaited anyone who was not a Christian.
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"As for man, when his Lord tests him by exalting him and bestowing favours on him, he says: 'My Lord is bountiful to me.' But when He tests him by grudging him His favours, he says: 'My Lord despises me.'
No! But you show no kindness to the orphan, nor do you vie with each other in feeding the destitute. Greedily you lay your hands on the inheritance of the weak, and you love riches with all your hearts."
[Qur'an - AL-FAJR 15-20 - Dawood translation]
"How shouldst thou know what the scaling of the height is? It is the freeing of a slave, or feeding, on a day of scarcity, an orphan near of kin, or a poor person reduced to penury; and to be of those who believe and exhort one another to steadfastness and exhort one another to mercy. These are the people of the right."
[Qur'an - AL-BALAD - Khan translation]
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Baha'i Faith "The light of men is justice.
Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny.
The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men."
[Tablets of Baha'u'llah]
The Baha'i Faith is based upon the writings of Mirza Hoseyn Ali Nuri (1817-1892) who, through divine revelation in a dream, declared himself to be the new messiah, and adopted the title Baha'u'llah ("The Splendor of God").
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Someone said, "Repay an injury with a good turn. What do you think of this saying?"
The Master said, "What then, do you repay a good turn with?
You repay an injury with straightness, but you repay a good turn with a good turn."
[CONFUCIUS 14: 34 *Analects - Lau translation]
The Analects are a collection of the sayings of K'ung Fu Tzu, now referred to as Confucius. The sayings were compiled by his students, soon after his death in 497 BCE.
“It is assuredly not in the nature of water to flow to the east or to the west, but can one say that it is not in the nature of water to flow upwards or downwards? Man’s nature is inherently good, just as it is the nature of water to flow downwards. As there is no water that flows upwards, so there are no men whose natures inherently are bad. Now you may strike forcefully upon water, and it will splash above your head. With a series of dams, you may force it uphill. But this is surely nothing to do with the nature of water; it happens only after the intrusion of some exterior force. A man can be made to do evil, but this is nothing to do with his nature. It happens only after the intrusion of some exterior force.”
[Mencius 6A.2 - W. Dobson translation]
"Mencius said, 'Fish is what I want; bear's palm is also what I want. If I cannot have both, I would rather take bear's palm than fish. Life is what I want; dutifulness is also what I want. If I cannot have both, I would rather take dutifulness than life. On the one hand, though life is what I want, there is something I want more than life. That is why I do not cling to life at all costs. On the other hand, though death is what I loathe, there is something I loathe more than death. That is why there are troubles I do not avoid. If there is nothing a man wants more than life, then why should he have scruples about any means, so long as it will serve to keep him alive? If there is nothing a man loathes more than death, then why should he have scruples about any means, so long as it helps him to avoid trouble? Yet there are ways of remaining alive and ways of avoiding death to which a man will not resort. In other words, there are things a man wants more than life and there are also things he loathes more than death. This is an attitude not confined to the moral man but common to all men. The moral man simply never loses it."
[Mencius 6A. 10 - D. Lau translation]
Meng Tzu (Mencius) 390 BCE - 305 BCE, known as the Second Sage, was the most important of the followers of Confucius. He emulated Confuscius, and like him, experienced little success or notoriety during his own lifetime.
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"Of late, instead of saying God is Truth I have been saying Truth is God, in order more fully to define my religion. I used at one time to know by heart the thousand names of God which a booklet in Hinduism gives in verse form and which perhaps tens of thousands recite every morning. But nowadays nothing so completely describes my God as Truth. Denial of God we have known. Denial of Truth we have not known. The most ignorant among mankind have some truth in them. We are all sparks of Truth. The sum total of these sparks is indescribable, as-yet-Unknown Truth, which is God. I am being daily led nearer to it by constant prayer. The bearing of this religion on social life is, or has to be, seen in one's daily social contact. To be true to such religion one has to lose oneself in continuous and continuing service of all life. Realization of Truth is impossible without a complete merging of oneself in and identification with this limitless ocean of life. Hence, for me, there is no escape from social service; there is no happiness on earth beyond or apart from it. Social service here must be taken to include every department of life. In this scheme there is nothing low, nothing high. For all is one, though we seem to be many."
"We must not, like the frog in the well who imagines that the universe ends with the wall surrounding his well, think that our religion alone represents the whole Truth and all others are false."
"What, then, does Jesus mean to me? To me He was one of the greatest teachers humanity has ever had. To His believers He was God's only begotten Son. Could the fact that I do or do not accept this belief make Jesus have any more or less influence in my life? Is all the grandeur of His teaching and of His doctrine to be forbidden to me? I cannot believe so. To me it implies a spiritual birth. My interpretation, in other words, is that in Jesus' own life is the key of His nearness to God; that He expressed, as no other could, the spirit and will of God. It is in this sense that I see Him and recognize Him as the Son of God."
[The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi ©1986 Navajivan Trust and Raghavan N. lyer.]
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 - 1948) was a political and spiritual leader, who won India's independence from Britain through non-violent methods. He was eventually assassinated by a Hindu zealot.
"Like the sharp edge of a razor, the sages say, is the path.
Narrow it is, and difficult to tread."
[from the Katha Upanishad]
The Upanishads are the late writings in Vedic Hinduism, considered to have been composed between 400 and 200 BCE.
"Discipline divorced from wisdom is not true discipline,
but merely the meaningless following of custom,
which is only a disguise for stupidity."
[Rabindranath Tagore 1861-1941]
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"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."
[Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator, 1890]
Thanks to Ian Monteith for the quote.
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There are other interesting statements made in religions, that aren't quite what I would term "inspirational"; I refer to these as quotes from the Dark Side.