“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. “Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.” They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.”
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
I am I, and I wish I weren’t.”
“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.”
“All that happens means something; nothing you do is ever insignificant.
“Every man’s memory is his private literature.”
Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.”
“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.”
“Ironically enough, the only people who can hold up indefinitely under the stress of modern war are psychotics. Individual insanity is immune to the consequences of collective insanity.”
“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.”
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…”
“Deprived of their newspapers or a novel, reading-addicts will fall back onto cookery books, on the literature which is wrapped around bottles of patent medicine, on those instructions for keeping the contents crisp which are printed on the outside of boxes of breakfast cereals. On anything.”
“I’m afraid of losing my obscurity. Genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery.”
“Experience teaches only the teachable.”
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”
“What you seek is seeking you.”
“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”
“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
“My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”
“Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death.”
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”
“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”
“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.”
“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.”
“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you?”
“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
“Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.”
“Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
When the door is so wide open?”
“Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others’ faults. Be like running water for generosity. Be like death for rage and anger. Be like the Earth for modesty. Appear as you are. Be as you appear.”
“A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.”
“We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.”
“Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at
the edge of the roof.”
“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames”
“People want you to be happy.
Don’t keep serving them your pain!
If you could untie your wings
and free your soul of jealousy,
you and everyone around you
would fly up like doves.”
“Suffering is a gift. In it is hidden mercy.”
Take someone who doesn’t keep score,
who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,
who has not the slightest interest even
in his own personality: he’s free.”
“Reason is powerless in the expression of Love.”
“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”
“When you go through a hard period,
When everything seems to oppose you,
… When you feel you cannot even bear one more minute,
NEVER GIVE UP!
Because it is the time and place that the course will divert!”
“Respond to every call
that excites your spirit.”
“I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.”
“The cure for pain is in the pain.”
“Study me as much as you like, you will not know me, for I differ in a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see.”
“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”
A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet “for sale”, who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence – briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing – cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society. He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his “normal” contemporaries. Not rarely will he suffer from neurosis that results from the situation of a sane man living in an insane society, rather than that of the more conventional neurosis of a sick man trying to adapt himself to a sick society. In the process of going further in his analysis, i.e. of growing to greater independence and productivity,his neurotic symptoms will cure themselves.”
“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.”
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
“If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to all others, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism.”
“One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.”
“Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.”
“Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our
insanity. ‘Patriotism’ is its cult… Just as love for one
individual which excludes the love for others is not love,
love for one’s country which is not part of one’s love
for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.”
♥ “Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love.”
“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers. “
“The real opposition is that between the ego-bound man, whose existence is structured by the principle of having, and the free man, who has overcome his egocentricity.”
“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one’s narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and fears.”
“Is love an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort.”
“To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.”
“What does one person give to another? He gives of himself, of the most precious he has, he gives of his life. This does not necessarily mean that he sacrifices his life for the other – but that he gives him of that which is alive in him; he gives him of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of his sadness — of all expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him. In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person, he enhances the other’s sense of aliveness by enhancing his own sense of aliveness. He does not give in order to receive; giving is in itself exquisite joy. But in giving he cannot help bringing something to life in the other person, and this which is brought to life reflects back to him.”
“Freedom is not a constant attribute which we either “have” or “have not.” In fact, there is no such thing as “freedom” except as a word and an abstract concept. There is only one reality: the act of freeing ourselves in the process of making choices. In this process the degree of our capacity to make choices varies with each act, with our practice of life.”
“The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”
“The faculty to think objectively is reason; the emotional attitude behind reason is that of humility. To be objective, to use one’s reason, is possible only if one has achieved an attitude of humility, if one has emerged from the dreams of omniscience and omnipotence which one has as a child. Love, being dependent on the relative absence of narcissism, requires the developement of humility, objectivity and reason.
I must try to see the difference between my picture of a person and his behavior, as it is narcissistically distorted, and the person’s reality as it exists regardless of my interests, needs and fears.”
“To have faith requires courage, the ability to take a risk, the readiness even to accept pain and disappointment. Whoever insists on safety and security as primary conditions of life cannot have faith; whoever shuts himself off in a system of defense, where distance and possession are his means of security, makes himself a prisoner. To be loved, and to love, need courage, the courage to judge certain values as of ultimate concern – and to take the jump and to stake everything on these values.”
“if i am what i have, and i lose what i have, who then am i?”
“Infantile love follows the principle: “I love because I am loved.”
Mature love follows the principle: “I am loved because I love.”
Immature love says: “I love you because I need you.”
Mature love says: “I need you because I love you.”
“The more the drive toward life is thwarted, the stronger is the drive toward destruction; the more life is realized, the less is the strength of destructiveness. Destructiveness is the outcome of unlived life.”
“The only truly affluent are those who do not want more than they have.”
“Modern man thinks he loses something – time – when he does not do things quickly. Yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains, except kill it.”
Greed has no satiation point, since its consummation does not fill the inner emptiness, boredom, loneliness, and depression it is meant to overcome.”
“To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness”
“Reason flows from the blending of rational thought and feeling. If the two functions are torn apart, thinking deteriorates into schizoid intellectual activity and feeling deteriorates into neurotic life-damaging passions.”
“The whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born when we die – although it is the tragic fate of most individuals to die before they are born.”
“The pleasure in complete domination over another person (or other animate creature) is the very essence of the sadistic drive. Another way of formulating the same thought is to say that the aim of sadism is to transform man into a thing, something animate into something inanimate, since by complete and absolute control the living loses one essential quality of life – freedom.”
“Education is identical with helping the child realize his potentialities. The opposite of education is manipulation, which is based on the absence of faith in the growth of potentialities and the connection that a child will be right only if the adults put into him what is desirable and suppress what seems to be undesirable.”
“We forget that, although freedom of speech constitutes an important victory in the battle against old restraints, modern man is in a position where much of what “he” thinks and says are the things that everybody else thinks and says; that he has not acquired the ability to think originally – that is, for himself – which alone gives meaning to his claim that nobody can interfere with the expression of his thoughts.”
“Just as modern mass production requires the standardization of commodities, so the social process requires standardization of man, and this standardization is called equality. “
“Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality.”
“…in spite of the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power-almost all our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.
Could it be that only those things are considered worthy of being learned with which one can earn money or prestige, and that love, which “only” profits the soul, but is profitless in the modern sense, is a luxury we have no right to spend energy on?”
“Modern capitalism needs men who cooperate smoothly and in large numbers; who want to consume more and more; and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily influenced and anticipated. It needs men who feel free and independent, not subject to any authority or principle or conscience– yet willing to be commanded, to do what is expected of them, to fit into the social machine without friction; who can be guided without force, led without leaders, prompted without aim– except the one to make good, to be on the move, to function, to go ahead.”
“Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinion as the result of their own thinking – and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as this of the majority.”
“People do not see that the main question is not : “Am I loved?” which is to a large extent the question : “Am I approved of? Am I protected? Am I admired?” The main question is: “Can I love?”
“Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love. If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism. Yet, most people believe that love is constituted by the object, not by the faculty.”
“We all dream; we do not understand our dreams, yet we act as if nothing strange goes on in our sleep minds, strange at least by comparison with the logical, purposeful doings of our minds when we are awake.”
“The lust for power is not rooted in strength but in weakness.”
“If I love the other person, I feel one with him or her, but with him as he is, not as I need him to be as an object for my use. Respect thus implies the absence of exploitation: it allows the other to be, to change and to develop ‘in his own ways.’ This requires a commitment to know the other as a separate being, and not merely as a reflection of my own ego. According to Velleman this loving willingness and ability to see the other as they really are is foregrounded in our willingness to risk self-exposure.”
“…Today the lack of faith is an expression of profound confusion and despair. Once skepticism and rationalism were progressive forces for the development of thought; now they have become rationalizations for relativism and uncertainty.”
“Human beings had two basic orientations: HAVING and BEING
HAVING: seeks to acquire, posses things even people
BEING: focuses on the experience; exchanging, engaging, sharing with other people”
“Take for instance a man driven to incessant work by a sense of deep insecurity and loneliness; or another one driven by ambition, or greed for money. In all these cases the person is the slave of a passion, and his activity is in reality a “passivity” because he is driven; he is the sufferer, not the “actor.” On the other hand a man sitting quiet and contemplating, with no purpose or aim except that of experiencing himself and his oneness with the world, is considered to be “passive”, because he is not “doing” anything. In reality, this attitude of concentrated meditation is the highest activity there is, an activity of the soul, which is possible only under the condition of inner freedom and independence.”
“There is no word in our language which has been so much misused and prostituted as the word love. It has been preached by those who were ready to condone every cruelty if it served their purpose; it has been used as a disguise under which to force people into sacrificing their own happiness, into submitting their whole self to those who profited from this surrender. […] It has been made so empty that for many people love may mean no more than that two people have lived together for twenty years just without fighting more often than once a week.”
“Care and responsibility are constituent elements of love, but without respect for and knowledge of the beloved person, love deteriorates into domination and possessiveness.”
“If one is not productive in other spheres, one is not productive in the love either.”
“The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”
“Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled, to concentrate, to accept conflict and tension, to be born every day, to feel a sense of self.”
“Love is a power which produces love.”
“One is not loved accidentally; one’s own power to love produces love – just as being interested makes one interesting. People are concerned with the question of whether they are attractive while they forget that the essence of attractiveness is their own capacity to love. To love a person productively implies to care and to feel responsible for his life, not only for his physical existence but for the growth and development of all his human powers. To love productively is incompatible with being passive, with being an onlooker at the loved person’s life; it implies labor and care and the responsibility for his growth.”
“Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man.”
“The intensity and excitement which accompanies moments of infatuation is frequently relative to the degree of loneliness and isolation which has been previously experienced.”
“If I perceive in another person mainly the surface, I perceive mainly the differences,that which separates us. If I penetrate to the core, i perceive our identity, the fact of our brotherhood. This relatedness from center to center – instead of that from periphery to periphery – is ‘central relatedness’.”
“Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a “standing in,” not a “falling for.” In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving.”
“To be fully awake is the condition for not being bored, or being boring—and indeed, not to be bored or boring is one of the main conditions for loving. To be active in thought, feeling, with one’s eyes and ears, throughout the day, to avoid inner laziness, be it in the form of being receptive, hoarding, or plain wasting one’s time, is an indispensable condition for the practice of the art of loving.”
“Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one’s capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable.”
“The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self
to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer,
and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden:
“Mature love is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity.”
“Pleasure and thrill are conducive to sadness after the so-called peak has
been reached; for the thrill has been experienced, but the vessel has not
“The assumption that the problem of love is the problem of an object, not the problem of a faculty . People think that to love is simple, but that to find the right object to love – or to be loved by- is difficult.”
“Our whole culture is based on the appetite for buying, on the idea of a mutually favorable exchange. …. For the man an attractive girl – and for the woman an attractive man – are the prizes they are after. ‘attractive’ usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after on the personality market. What specifically makes a person attractive depends on the fashion of the time, physically as well as mentally. … Two persons thus fall in love when they feel they have found the best object available on the market, considering the limitations of their own exchange values.”
“Women have been so thoroughly oppressed that they have accepted unconsciously the role that the ruling sex, man, gave to them.
They have even believed in male propaganda, which is very much the same as the propaganda in other wars, wars against colonial people, etc. Women have been considered to be naive:
Freud said that they were narcissistic, unrealistic, cowardly, inferior to man anatomically, intellectually, morally.
The fact is that women are less narcissistic than men, for the simple reason that there is almost nothing that man does which has not some purpose of making an impression.
Women do many, many things without this motive and in fact what you might call women’s vanity is only the necessity to please the victors.
As far as the lack of realism in women is concerned, what should we say about male realism in an epoch in which all western governments, consisting of men, are spending their money building atomic bombs, instead of taking care of threatening famine, instead of avoiding the catastrophes which threaten the whole world…”
“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.”
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.”
“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
“When love beckons to you follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth……
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.”
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”
“I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.”
“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
“No human relation gives one possession in another—every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.”
“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”
“Hearts united in pain and sorrow
will not be separated by joy and happiness.
Bonds that are woven in sadness
are stronger than the ties of joy and pleasure.
Love that is washed by tears
will remain eternally pure and faithful.”
“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need. ”
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding… And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy”
“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
“To belittle, you have to be little.”
“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”