Aphorisms 1

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

– Buddhist Teaching

“The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.”

– The New York Times

“The contemporary philosophical situation is determined by the fact that two philosophers, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, who did not count in their times and, for a long time, remained without influence in the history of philosophy, have continually grown in significance. Philosophers after Hegel have increasingly returned to face them, and they stand today unquestioned as the authentically great thinkers of their age. Both their influence and the opposition to them prove it. Why then can these philosophers no longer be ignored, in our time?

In the situation of philosophizing, as well as in the real life of men, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche appear as the expression of destinies…”

– Karl Jaspers

“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”

“The will to truth which will still tempt us to many a venture, that famous truthfulness of which all philosophers so far have spoken with respect – what questions has this will to truth not laid before us! What strange, wicked, questionable questions! That is a long story even now – and yet it seems as if it had scarcely begun. Is it any wonder that we should finally become suspicious, lose patience, and turn away impatiently? that we should finally learn from this Sphinx to ask questions, too? Who is it really that puts questions to us here? What in us really wants “truth”?

Indeed we came to a long halt at the question about the cause of this will – until we finally came to a complete stop before a still more basic question. We asked about the value of this will. Suppose we want truth: why not rather untruth? and uncertainty? even ignorance?

The problem of the value of truth came before us – or was it we who came before the problem? Who of us is Oedipus here? Who the Sphinx? It is a rendezvous, it seems, of questions and question marks.

And though it scarcely seems credible, it finally almost seems to us as if the problem had never even been put so far – as if we were the first to see it, fix it with our eyes, and risk it. For it does involve a risk, and perhaps there is none that is greater.”

“What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

“Either one does not dream, or does so interestingly. One should learn to spend one’s waking life in the same way: not at all, or interestingly.”

“For – believe me – the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is – to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships unto uncharted seas! Live at war with your peers and yourselves! Be robbers and conquerors as long as you cannot be rulers and possessors, you seekers of knowledge! Soon the time will be past in which you had to be content living hidden in forests like shy deer! Finally the search for knowledge will reach for its due; it will want to rule and possess, and you with it!”

“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!” Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?… Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'”

“In former times, one sought to prove that there is no God—today one indicates how the belief that there is a God arose and how this belief acquired its weight and importance: a counter-proof that there is no God thereby becomes superfluous.—When in former times one had refuted the ‘proofs of the existence of God’ put forward, there always remained the doubt whether better proofs might not be adduced than those just refuted: in those days atheists did not know how to make a clean sweep.”

“Once upon a time, in some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of “world history” — yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die. One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened.”

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

“It was precisely here that I saw the great danger to mankind, its sublimest enticement and seduction—but to what? to nothingness?—it was precisely here that I saw the beginning of the end, the dead stop, a retrospective weariness, the will turning against life, the tender and sorrowful signs of the ultimate illness: I understood the ever spreading morality of pity that had seized even on philosophers and made them ill, as the most sinister symptom of a European culture that had itself become sinister, perhaps as its by-pass to a new Buddhism? to a Buddhism for Europeans? to—nihilism?”

“The desire for a unio mystica with God is the desire of the Buddhist for nothingness, Nirvana—and no more!”

“A ‘scientific’ interpretation of the world … might … be one of the most stupid of all possible interpretations of the world, meaning that it would be one of the poorest in meaning. This thought is intended for the ears and consciences of our mechanists who nowadays like to pass as philosophers and insist that mechanics is the doctrine of the first and last laws on which all existence must be based as on a ground floor. But an essentially mechanical world would be an essentially meaningless world. Assuming that one estimated the value of a piece of music according to how much of it can be counted, calculated, and expressed in formulas: how absurd would such a ‘scientific’ estimation of music be! Nothing, really nothing of what is ‘music’ in it!”

“Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy so far has been – namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant had grown.

Indeed, if one would explain how the abstrusest metaphysical claims of a philosopher really came about, it is always well (and wise) to ask first: at what morality does all this (does he) aim?”

“There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena.”

“Nothing is true. All is permitted.”

“Virtue is under certain circumstances merely an honorable form of stupidity: who could be ill-disposed toward it on that account? And this kind of virtue has not been outlived even today. A kind of sturdy peasant simplicity, which, however, is possible in all classes and can be encountered only with respect and a smile, believes even today that everything is in good hands, namely in the “hands of God”; and when it maintains this proportion with the same modest certainty as it would that two and two make four, we others certainly refrain from contradicting. Why disturb this pure foolishness? Why darken it with our worries about man, people, goal, future? And even if we wanted to do it, we could not. They project their own honorable stupidity and goodness into the heart of things (the old God, deus myops, still lives among them!); we others – we read something else into the heart of things: our own enigmatic nature, our contradictions, our deeper, more painful, more mistrustful wisdom.”

“The higher man is distinguished from the lower by his fearlessness and his readiness to challenge misfortune.”

“Another Christian concept, no less crazy, has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the ‘equality of souls before God.’ This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights.”

“The domestication (the culture) of man does not go deep – where it does go deep it at once becomes degeneration (type: the Christian). The ‘savage’ (or, in moral terms, the evil man) is a return to nature – and in a certain sense his recovery, his cure from ‘culture’.”

“My humanity is a constant self-overcoming.”

“We do not belong to those who have ideas only among books, when stimulated by books. It is our habit to think outdoors – walking, leaping, climbing, dancing, preferably on lonely mountains or near the sea where even the trails become thoughtful. Our first questions about the value of a book, of a human being, or a musical composition are: Can they walk? Even more, can they dance?”

“For us this law holds for all eternity: ‘Each man is furthest from himself’ – where we ourselves are concerned, we are not ‘knowledgeable people.'”

“The nihilistic question ‘for what?’ is rooted in the old habit of supposing that the goal must be put up, given, demanded from outside – by some superhuman authority. Having unlearned faith in that, one still follows the old habit and seeks another authority that can speak unconditionally and command goals and tasks.”

“But you will have gathered what I am driving at, namely, that it is still a metaphysical faith upon which our faith in science rests—that even we seekers after knowledge today, we godless anti-metaphysicians still take our fire, too, from the flame lit by a faith that is thousands of years old, that Christian faith which was also the faith of Plato, that God is the truth, that truth is divine. —But what if this should become more and more incredible, if nothing should prove to be divine any more unless it were error, blindness, the lie—if God himself should prove to be our most enduring lie?”

“One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.”

“To recognize untruth as a condition of life—that certainly means resisting accustomed value feelings in a dangerous way; and a philosophy that risks this would by that token alone place itself beyond good and evil.”

“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.”

“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it – all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary – but love it.”

“Not by wrath, but by laughter does one kill. Come, let us kill the spirit of gravity! And let that day be lost to us on which we did not dance once! And let that wisdom be false to us that brought no laughter with it! Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.”

“Men have become suffering creatures as a consequence of their moralities: what they have purchased with them is, all in all, a feeling that at bottom they are too good and too significant for the earth and are paying it only a passing visit. For the present, the ‘proud sufferer’ is still the highest type of man.”

“I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty – I call it the one mortal blemish of mankind.”

“We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live by the postulating of bodies, lines, surfaces, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content: without these articles of faith no one could manage to live at present!  But for all that they are still unproved.  Life is no argument; error might be among the conditions of life.”

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

“The cause of the origin of a thing and its eventual utility, its actual employment and place in a system of purposes, lie worlds apart; whatever exists, having somehow come into being, is again and again reinterpreted to new ends, taken over, transformed, and redirected by some power superior to it; all events in the organic world are a subduing, a becoming master, and all subduing and becoming master involves a fresh interpretation, an adaptation through which any previous “meaning” and “purpose” are necessarily obscured or even obliterated.”

“Verily, I advise you: depart from me, and guard yourselves against Zarathustra! And better still: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he hath deceived you. The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies, but also to hate his friends. One requiteth a teacher badly if one remain merely a student. And why will ye not pluck at my wreath? Ye venerate me; but what if your veneration should some day collapse? Take heed lest a statue crush you! Ye say, ye believe in Zarathustra? But of what account is Zarathustra! Ye are my believers: but of what account are all believers! Ye had not yet sought yourselves: then did ye find me. So do all believers; therefore all belief is of so little account. Now do I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when ye have all denied me, will I return unto you.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

“I begin with the principle that all men are bores. Surely no one will prove himself so great a bore as to contradict me in this.”

“This is what is sad when one contemplates human life, that so many live out their lives in quiet lostness… they live, as it were, away from themselves and vanish like shadows. Their immortal souls are blown away, and they are not disquieted by the question of its immortality, because they are already disintegrated before they die.”

“What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music.”

“Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.”

“Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wonder whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid.”

“Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.”

“It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand, and what those things are. Human understanding has vulgarly occupied itself with nothing but understanding, but if it would only take the trouble to understand itself at the same time it would simply have to posit the paradox.”

“When subjectivity, inwardness, is truth, then truth, objectively defined, is a paradox; and that truth is objectively a paradox shows precisely that subjectivity is truth, since the objectivity does indeed thrust away, and the objectivity’s repulsion, or the expression for the objectivity’s repulsion, is the resilience and dynamometer of inwardness.”

“In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant. My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known – no wonder, then, that I return the love.”

“Nowadays not even a suicide kills himself in desperation. Before taking the step he deliberates so long and so carefully that he literally chokes with thought. It is even questionable whether he ought to be called a suicide, since it is really thought which takes his life. He does not die with deliberation but from deliberation.”

“All logical thinking employs the language of abstraction, and is sub specie aeterni. To think existence logically is thus to ignore the difficulty, the difficulty, that is, of thinking the eternal as in process or becoming. But this difficulty is unavoidable, since the thinker himself is in process of becoming. It is easier to indulge in abstract thought than it is to exist, unless we understand by this latter term what is loosely called existing, in analogy with what is loosely called being a subject. Here we have again an example of the fact that the simplest tasks are the most difficult. Existing is ordinarily regarded as no very complex matter, much less an art, since we all exist, but abstract thinking takes rank as an accomplishment. But really to exist, so as to interpenetrate one’s existence with consciousness, at one and the same time eternal and as if far removed from existence, and yet also present in existence and in the process of becoming: that is truly difficult.”

“An objective uncertainty, held fast through appropriation with the most passionate inwardness, is the truth, the highest truth there is for an existing person. At the point where the road swings off (and where that is cannot be stated objectively, since it is precisely subjectivity), objective knowledge is suspended. Objectively he then has only uncertainty, but this is precisely what intensifies the infinite passion of inwardness, and truth is precisely the daring venture of choosing the objective uncertainty with the passion of the infinite. I observe nature in order to find God, and I do indeed see omnipotence and wisdom, but I also see much that troubles and disturbs. The sum total of this is an objective uncertainty, but the inwardness is so very great, precisely because it grasps this objective uncertainty with all the passion of the infinite. In a mathematical proposition, for example, the objectivity is given, but therefore its truth is also an indifferent truth.”

“Being an individual man is a thing that has been abolished, and every speculative philosopher confuses himself with humanity at large; whereby he becomes something infinitely great, and at the same time nothing at all… To be a particular individual is world-historically absolutely nothing, infinitely nothing — and yet, this is the only true and highest significance of a human being, so much higher as to make every other significance illusory… If initially my human nature is merely an abstract something, it is at any rate the task which life sets me to become subjective, the uncertainty of death comes more and more to interpenetrate my subjectivity dialectically. It thus becomes more and more important for me to think it in connection with every factor and phase of my life; for since the uncertainty is there in every moment, it can be overcome only by overcoming it in every moment… An objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation-process of the most passionate inwardness is the truth, the highest truth attainable for an existing individual… All knowledge about reality is possibility. The only reality to which an existing individual may have a relation that is more than cognitive, is his own reality, the fact that he exists; this reality constitutes his absolute interest. Abstract thought requires him to become disinterested in order to acquire knowledge; the ethical demand is that he become infinitely interested in existing… For an abstract thinker to try to prove his existence by the fact that he thinks, is a curious contradiction; for in the degree that he thinks abstractly he abstracts from his own existence.”

“Man is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but that the relation relates itself to its own self.”

“In so-called Christian speculative thought, what other presupposition can there be at all than that Christianity is the very opposite of speculative thought, that it is the miraculous, the absurd, with the requirement that the individual is to exist in it and is not to waste time on speculatively understanding. If there is speculative thinking within this presupposition, then the speculative thought will instead have as its task a concentration on the impossibility of speculatively understanding Christianity.”

“People have wanted to perform the astonishing trick of saying: ‘Christianity is an objective doctrine.’ This is what has abolished Christianity.”

“If the problem is to calculate where there is more truth, whether on the side of the person who only objectively seeks the true God and the approximating truth of the God-idea or on the side of the person who is infinitely concerned that he in truth relates himself to God with the infinite passion of need – then there can be no doubt about the answer for anyone who is not totally botched by scholarship and science.”

“Sin is this: before God, or with the conception of God, to be in despair at not willing to be oneself, or in despair at willing to be oneself.”

“Spiritual superiority only sees the individual. But alas, ordinarily we human beings are sensual and, therefore, as soon as it is a gathering, the impression changes- we see something abstract, the crowd, and we become different. But in the eyes of God, the infinite spirit, all the millions that have lived and now live do not make a crowd, He only sees each individual.”

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it – you will regret both.”

“Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs to dizziness. Further than this, psychology cannot and will not go. In that very moment everything is changed, and freedom, when it again rises, sees that it is guilty. Between these two moments lies the leap, which no science has explained and which no science can explain. He who becomes guilty in anxiety becomes as ambiguously guilty as it is possible to become.”

“Whoever is educated by anxiety is educated by possibility, and only he who is educated by possibility is educated according to his infinitude… When the discoveries of possibility are honestly administered, possibility will discover all the finitudes, but it will idealize them in the form of infinity and in anxiety overwhelm the individual until he again overcomes them in the anticipation of faith.”

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”

“Deep within every human being there still lives the anxiety over the possibility of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the millions and millions in this enormous household. A person keeps this anxiety at a distance by looking at the many round about who are related to him as kin and friends, but the anxiety is still there, nevertheless, and he hardly dares think of how he would feel if all this were taken away.”

“This has to be said; So Let It Be Said. Whoever you are, whatever in other respects your life may be, my friend, by ceasing to take part (if ordinarily you do) in the public worship of God, as it now is (with the claim that it is the Christianity of the New Testament), you have constantly one guilt the less, and that a great one: you do not take part in treating God as a fool by calling that the Christianity of the New Testament, which is not the Christianity of the New Testament… the official worship of God… is, Christianly, a counterfeit, a forgery.”

“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.”

“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.”

“People understand me so poorly that they don’t even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.”

“Suppose someone wanted to impart the following conviction: truth is inwardness, objectively there is no truth, but appropriation is the truth. Suppose him to be very eager and enthusiastic to have this said, since if people could only hear it they would be saved; suppose he said it on every occasion and succeeded in moving the hard-boiled as well as those who perspire easily: what then? No doubt there would be some workers standing idle in the marketplace and simply on hearing this summons would go forth to work in the vineyard – proclaiming this doctrine for all. And then? He would then have contradicted himself still further, just as he had from the beginning; for the eagerness and enthusiasm to have it said and get it heard was already a misunderstanding. What of course was most important was that he should be understood, and the inwardness of the understanding would consist exactly in each individual coming to understand it by himself. Here he had even gone so far as to obtain town criers of inwardness, and a town crier of inwardness is a quite remarkable animal. In order actually to impart such a conviction, art and self-control would be needed; self-control enough to grasp in inwardness that the individual’s God-relationship is the main thing, and the bustle of a third party a lack of inwardness and an excess of amiable stupidity; art enough to vary the doubly reflected form of the communication as inexhaustibly as the inwardness is itself inexhaustible.”

“If someone who wanted to learn to dance were to say: For centuries, one generation after the other has learned the positions, and it is high time that I take advantage of this and promptly begin with the quadrille–people would presumably laugh a little at him, but in the world of spirit this is very plausible. What, then, is education? I believed it is the course the individual goes through in order to catch up with himself, and the person who will not go through this course is not much helped by being born in the most enlightened age.”

“I might be tempted to make to Christendom a proposal different from that of the Bible society. Let us collect all the New Testaments we have, let us bring them out to an open square or up to the summit of a mountain, and while we all kneel let one man speak to God thus: ‘Take this book back again; we men, such as we now are, are not fit to go in for this sort of thing, it only makes us unhappy,’ This is my proposal, that like those inhabitants in Gerasa we beseech Christ to depart from our borders. This would be an honest and human way of talking — rather different from the disgusting hypocritical priestly fudge.”

“Doubt is thought’s despair; despair is personality’s doubt…. Doubt and despair … belong to completely different spheres; different sides of the soul are set in motion… Despair is an expression of the total personality, doubt only of thought.”

“Although an outsider, I have at least understood this much, that the only unforgivable high treason against Christianity is the single individual’s taking his relation to it for granted. I must therefore most respectfully refuse all theocentric helpers and the assistance of helper’s helpers to help me into Christianity in that way. So I prefer to remain where I am, with my infinite interest, with the issue, with the possibility. In other words, it is not impossible that the individual who is infinitely interested in his own eternal happiness can some day become eternally happy; on the other hand, it is certainly impossible that the person who has lost a sense for it (and such a sense can scarcely be anything but an infinite concern) can become eternally happy. Indeed, once lost, it is perhaps impossible to regain it.”

– Søren Kierkegaard

“Kierkegaard called his philosophy existential – this means: he thought in order to live and did not live in order to think. And in this lies his distinction from professional philosophers, for whom their philosophy is frequently only a “specialty” (as there are all kinds of other specialties: philology, astronomy, mathematics), a specialty that has no relationship and no connection with their life.”

– Lev Shestov

“All philosophers agree – whereby they really exalt themselves – that mind is king of heaven and earth.”

“A witty maid-servant saw Thales tumbling into a well and said that he was so eager to know what was going on in heaven that he could not see what was before his feet. This is applicable to all philosophers. The philosopher is unacquainted with the world; he hardly knows whether his neighbor is a man or an animal. For he is always searching into the essence of man, and enquiring what such a nature ought to do or suffer different from any other.”

– Plato

“Son, did you ever think that this whole enlightenment thing is just a personal journey? It has no meaning to anyone else and nobody understands it. It is a way of thinking and dealing with life, but it is not actually living. You need to get out of your head and live life. Unfortunately, living life includes doing things you don’t necessarily want to do. I am seriously worried about you. I’m afraid you’re going to end up in a psych ward.”

– Theresa Happner

“The study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy.”

– Abraham Maslow

“Nothingness” is generally forced into a relationship with “being” and made to serve as its negation, leading to its conception as something that “is” nothingness because it “is not” being. This seems to be especially evident in Western thought, even in the “nihility” of nihilism. But insofar as one stops here, nothingness remains a mere concept, a nothingness only in thought. Absolute nothingness, wherein even that “is” is negated, is not possible as a nothingness that is thought but only as a nothingness that is lived. It was remarked above that behind person there is nothing at all, that is, that “nothing at all” is what stands behind person. But this assertion does not come about as a conceptual conversion, but only as an existential conversion away from the mode of being of person-centered person. Granted what we have said about the person-centered self-prehension of person as being intertwined with the very essence and realization of the personal, the negation of person-centeredness must amount to an existential self-negation of man as person. The shift of man as person from person-centered self-prehension to self-revelation as the manifestation of absolute nothingness (Śūnyatā) requires an existential conversion, a change of heart within man himself.”

“All things that are in the world are linked together, one way or the other. Not a single thing comes into being without some relationship to every other thing. Scientific intellect thinks here in terms of natural laws of necessary causality; mythico-poetic imagination perceives an organic, living connection; philosophic reason contemplates an absolute One. But on a more essential level, a system of circuminsession has to be seen here, according to which, on the field of Śūnyatā, all things are in a process of becoming master and servant to one another. In this system, each thing is itself in not being itself, and is not itself in being itself. Its being is illusion in its truth and truth in its illusion. This may sound strange the first time one hears it, but in fact it enables us for the first time to conceive of a force by virtue of which all things are gathered together and brought into relationship with one another, a force which, since ancient times, has gone by the name of “nature” (physis).”

“When I say that person is a phenomenon, however, I do not wish to imply that there is some other “thing” behind personal being, like an actor behind a mask. Person is an appearance with nothing at all behind it to make an appearance. That is to say, “nothing at all” is what is behind person; complete nothingness, not one single thing, occupies the position behind person.”

“What is more, that core of self-prehension remains forever shackled, as we observed before, to its own narcissism. It is a grasping of the self by the self, a confinement of the self by the self that spells attachment to the self.”

– Keiji Nishitani

“‘I think we don’t have ideology,’ he said, ‘We don’t have theology. We dance.’”

– Joseph Campbell

“Those who would by learning attain to this, seek for what they cannot learn. Those who would by effort attain to this, attempt what effort can never effect. Those who aim by reasoning to reach it, reason where reasoning has no place. To know to stop where they cannot arrive by means of knowledge is the highest attainment.”

“Right is not right; so is not so. If right were really right it would differ so clearly from not right that there would be no need for argument. If so were really so, it would differ so clearly from not so that there would be no need for argument.”

“A trap is for fish: when you’ve got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you’ve got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you’ve got the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find someone who’s forgotten words so I can have a word with him?”

“During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming. We may even dream of interpreting a dream. Only on waking do we know it was a dream. Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense! You and Confucius are both dreaming, and I who say you are a dream am also a dream. Such is my tale.”

“How do I know that the dead do not regret their previous longing for life?”

“Forget the years, forget distinctions. Leap into the boundless and make it your home!”

– Zhuangzi

“The God of theological theism deprives me of my subjectivity because he is all-powerful and all-knowing. I revolt and make him into an object, but the revolt fails and becomes desperate. God appears as the invincible tyrant, the being in contrast with whom all other beings are without freedom and subjectivity. He is equated with the recent tyrants who with the help of terror try to transform everything into a mere object, a thing among things, a cog in a machine they control. He becomes the model of everything against which Existentialism revolted. This is the God Nietzsche said had to be killed because nobody can tolerate being made into a mere object of absolute knowledge and absolute control. This is the deepest root of atheism. It is an atheism which is justified as the reaction against theological theism and its disturbing implications.”

“Absolute faith is a faith which has been deprived by doubt of any concrete content, which nevertheless is faith and the source of the most paradoxical manifestation of the courage to be.”

“Sometimes I think it is my mission to bring faith to the faithless, and doubt to the faithful.”

“Man, like every living being, is concerned about many things, above all about those which condition his very existence. If a situation or concern claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim, it demands that all other concerns be sacrificed. Faith as ultimate concern is an act of the total personality. It transcends both the drives of the nonrational unconsciousness and the structures of the rational conscious. The ecstatic character of faith does not exclude its rational character although it is not identical with it, and it includes nonrational strivings without being identical with them. ‘Ecstasy’ means ‘standing outside of oneself’ – without ceasing to be oneself – with all the elements which are united in the personal center.”

“Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.”

– Paul Tillich

“Where is my faith? Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness… If there be God — please forgive me… Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal… What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true… Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.”

– Mother Teresa

“The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth.

The named is the mother of myriad things.

Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence.

Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations.

These two emerge together but differ in name.

The unity is said to be the mystery.

Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders.”

“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”

– Lao Tzu


“And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”

– John Green

“The whole problem of knowledge has constantly been that of bringing the one and the many together. When man looks about him and within him, he sees that there is a great variety of facts. The question that comes up at once is whether there is any unity in this variety, whether there is one principle in accordance with which all these many things appear and occur. All non-Christian thought, if it has utilized the idea of a supra-mundane existence at all, has used this supra-mundane existence as furnishing only the unity or the a priori aspect of knowledge, while it has maintained that the a posteriori aspect of knowledge is something that is furnished by the universe.”

– Cornelius Van Til

“Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law.”

“Wretched men cringe before tyrants who have no power, the victims of their trivial hopes and fears. They do not realize that anger is hopeless, fear is pointless and desire all a delusion. He whose heart is fickle is not his own master, has thrown away his shield, deserted his post, and he forges the links of the chain that holds him.”

“Men who give up the common goal of all things that exist, thereby cease to exist themselves. Some may perhaps think it strange that we say that wicked men, who form the majority of men, do not exist; but that is how it is. I am not trying to deny the wickedness of the wicked; what I do deny is that their existence is absolute and complete existence. Just as you might call a corpse a dead man, but couldn’t simply call it a man, so I would agree that the wicked are wicked, but could not agree that they have unqualified existence.”

“One’s virtue is all that one truly has, because it is not imperiled by the vicissitudes of fortune.”

“Human souls are more free when they persevere in the contemplation of the mind of God, less free when they descend to the corporeal, and even less free when they are entirely imprisoned in earthly flesh and blood.”

“Human perversity, then, makes divisions of that which by nature is one and simple, and in attempting to obtain part of something which has no parts, succeeds in getting neither the part- which is nothing- nor the whole, which they are not interested in.”

– Boethius

“I quote others only to better express myself.”

“There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent.”

“Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness.”

“Learned we may be with another man’s learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own.”

“Not necessity, not desire – no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything – health, food, a place to live, entertainment – they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.”

“To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death… We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere.”

“As our birth brought us the birth of all things, so in our death is the death of all things included. And therefore to lament that we shall not be alive a hundred years hence, is the same folly as to be sorry we were not alive a hundred years ago. … Long life, and short, are by death made all one; for there is no long, nor short, to things that are no more.”

“Life in itself is neither good nor evil; it is the scene of good or evil as you make it.’ And, if you have lived a day, you have seen all: one day is equal and like to all other days. There is no other light, no other shade; this very sun, this moon, these very stars, this very order and disposition of things, is the same your ancestors enjoyed, and that shall also entertain your posterity.”

“Wherever your life ends, it is all there. The utility of living consists not in the length of days, but in the use of time; a man may have lived long, and yet lived but a little. Make use of time while it is present with you. It depends upon your will, and not upon the number of days, to have a sufficient length of life.”

“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.”

“Where death waits for us is uncertain; let us look for him everywhere. The premeditation of death is the premeditation of liberty; he who has learned to die has unlearned to serve. There is nothing evil in life for him who rightly comprehends that the privation of life is no evil: to know, how to die delivers us from all subjection and constraint.”

“My art and profession is to live.”

“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.”

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

– Michel de Montaigne

“Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.”

– Thomas Paine


“Most humans have an above average number of legs.”

– Jordan O’Connors

“Many people suffer from the fear of finding oneself alone, and so they don’t find themselves at all.”

“Intimacy requires courage because risk is inescapable. We cannot know at the outset how the relationship will affect us. Like a chemical mixture, if one of us is changed, both of us will be. Will we grow in self-actualization, or will it destroy us? The one thing we can be certain of is that if we let ourselves fully into the relationship for good or evil, we will not come out unaffected.”

“Finding the center of strength within ourselves is in the long run the best contribution we can make to our fellow men. … One person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect on panic among people around him. This is what our society needs — not new ideas and inventions; important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen, but persons who can “be”, that is, persons who have a center of strength within themselves.”

– Rollo May

“If there is no God, then everything is permitted.”

– Dostoevsky

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

“I don’t want to die without any scars.”

“This is your life and its ending one moment at a time.”

“The things you used to own, now they own you.”

“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

“I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.”

“I’ve met God across his long walnut desk with his diplomas hanging on the wall behind him, and God asks me, “Why?”

Why did I cause so much pain?

Didn’t I realize that each of us is a sacred, unique snowflake of special unique specialness?

Can’t I see how we’re all manifestations of love?

I look at God behind his desk, taking notes on a pad, but God’s got this all wrong.

We are not special.

We are not crap or trash, either.

We just are.

We just are, and what happens just happens.

And God says, “No, that’s not right.”

Yeah. Well. Whatever. You can’t teach God anything.”

“I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.”

– Chuck Palahniuk

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“It’s a mystery to me. We have a greed with which we have agreed. And you think you have to want more than you need. Until you have it all, you won’t be free. When you want more than you have, you think you need. And when you think more than you want, your thoughts begin to bleed. I think I need to find a bigger place. Cause when you have more than you think, you need more space.”

– Eddie Vedder

“The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.”

– Adam Smith

“Our mission statement is to make virtual worlds more meaningful than real life. For me, real life has stopped being interesting. The economy of Eve is what I care about. You can set all kinds of rules and see how they affect human behavior. It’s about running tests without threatening real life, so to speak.”

– Eyjólfur Guðmundsson

“A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many. I had not thought death had undone so many.”

– T.S. Eliot

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods; there is a rapture on the lonely shore; there is society, where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more.”

– Lord Byron

“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

“And Ragnar – you didn’t know what profession Ragnar had chosen, Miss Taggart? No, it wasn’t a stunt pilot, or jungle explorer, or deep-sea diver. It was something much more outrageous than these. Ragnar intended to be a philosopher. An abstract, theoretical, academic, cloistered, ivory-tower philosopher.”

“What I actually am, Mr. Rearden, is a policeman. It is a policeman’s duty to protect men from criminals – criminals being those who seize wealth by force… But when robbery becomes the purpose of the law… then it is an outlaw who has to become a policeman.”

“I’m after a man whom I want to destroy… Robin Hood… He was the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. Well, I’m the man who robs the poor and gives to the rich – or, to be exact, the man who robs the thieving poor and gives back to the productive rich.”

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

“I have no defense. I do not recognize this court’s right to try me. I do not recognize my action as a crime. I am complying with the law – to the letter. Your law holds that my life, my property, my work may be disposed of without my consent. Very well, you may now dispose of me without my participation in the matter. I will not play the part of defending myself, where no defense is possible, and I will not simulate the illusion of dealing with a tribunal of justice.”

“Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a person’s sexual choice is the result and sum of their fundamental convictions. Tell me what a person finds sexually attractive and I will tell you their entire philosophy of life. Show me the person they sleep with and I will tell you their valuation of themselves. No matter what corruption they’re taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which they cannot perform for any motive but their own enjoyment – just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! – an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exultation, only on the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces them to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and accept their real ego as their standard of value. They will always be attracted to the person who reflects their deepest vision of themselves, the person whose surrender permits them to experience – or to fake – a sense of self-esteem .. Love is our response to our highest values – and can be nothing else.”

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”

“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.”

“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”

“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.”

“I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.”

“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.”

“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him? … To shrug.”

“The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.”

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

“To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I’.”

“Have you felt it too? Have you seen how your best friends love everything about you- except the things that count? And your most important is nothing to them; nothing, not even a sound they can recognize.”

– Ayn Rand

“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium [i.e. “numbing agent”] of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”

– Karl Marx

“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”

“Man is condemned to be free. It is up to you to give your life meaning.”

– Jean-Paul Sartre

“Don’t fear god.

Don’t worry about death.
What is good is easy to get.
What is terrible is easy to endure.”

– Epicurus

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