Selected Short Quotes

Gandhiji on War:
When the Gita was written, although people believed in ahimsa, 
wars were not only not taboo, 
but nobody observed the contradiction between them and ahimsa.
Let it be granted that according to the letter of the Gita 
it is possible to say that warfare is consistent with renunciation of fruit. 
But after forty years' unremitting endeavour fully to enforce the teaching of Gita in my own life, 
I have, in all humility, felt that perfect renunciation is impossible
without perfect observance of ahimsa in every shape and form..............(Mahatma Gandhi)

Einstein on War
"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism --
how passionately I hate them!" 

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake,
since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once.
Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this,
how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action!
It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."        Albert Einstein

Gandhiji on Prayer:
Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul.
It is daily admission of one’s weakness.
It is better in prayer to have a heart without words
than words without a heart.                         Mahatma Gandhi

Einstein on a personal God
I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment
on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent,
been placed in doubt by modern science. My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself
in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. 

Morality is of the highest importance ---  for us, not for God.   Albert Einstein 

Let birds of sorrow
Fly over the head;
Do not allow them to build their nests
And multiply in you.

Do not try to drown your sorrows;
they know how to swim.

Have you touched the center of your own sorrow? 
Have you been opened by life's betrayals? 
Or, have you become shriveled, 
and closed from fear of further pain.
-- Oriah Mountain Dreamer (opening of 'The Invitation')

Let not your shoulders become hunched 
to carry the weight of your duties;
instead, let your shoulders be arched 
to support the span of your wings.
Meera Syal in 'Travellers'

Do not go where the path may lead;
go instead where there is no path,
and leave a trail.

Don't put the key to your happiness
in someone else's pocket.

Although the world is very full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it.

Knock, And He'll open the door.
Vanish, And He'll make you shine like the sun.
Fall, And He'll raise you to the heavens.
Become nothing, And He'll turn you into everything.

Shoot for the moon.
Even if you miss it,
you will land among the stars!

How else,
except through a broken heart,
may God enter?

Lack of self confidence is not overcome
merely by faith, but by action.
It is a lack,
not of certainty, 
but of effort.

Too often,
we are certain that we can't,
even before we give ourselves a fair chance.

The plaque on the wall says:
"Life is a do-it-yourself project"
Who could say it more clearly?

Your life today is the result
of your attitudes and choices in the past.
Your life tomorrow will be the result
of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

The nature of God is a circle
of which the center is everywhere
and the circumference is nowhere.

We dance around in a ring and suppose,
but the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

Everybody exists.
It is only the few who live.

The past should be a springboard,
not a hammock.

In the confrontation between the stream and the rock,
the stream always wins,
not through strength,
but through perseverance.

A man is but the product of his thoughts;
What he thinks, he becomes.

yath bhavam tath bhavathi
You shall be, What you determine to be.

What is the process? 

Start believing in yourself.
     A musician must make music, 
     an artist must paint, 
     a poet must write; 
What you can be, you must be

Begin doing what you want to do NOW. 
      We are not living in eternity. 
      We have only this moment, 
      sparkling like a star in our hand 
      and melting like a snowflake.

Cultivate the ‘Beginner's Mind’; ask yourself:
     How can I be a beginner in each moment,
     even in situations where I am doing 
     what I have done before many times?
















We do not, what we ought,
What we ought not, we do;
And lean upon the thought
That chance will bring us through.
But our own acts, for good or ill,
are mightier power

The will is free.
Strong is the soul, 
and wise, and beautiful.
The seeds of god-like power are in us still;
Gods are we,
Bards, saints, heroes,
if we will !

The mark of your ignorance
Is the depth of your belief
in injustice and tragedy.
      What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,
      The master calls a butterfly.

There is no such thing as a problem
without a gift for you in its hands.
You seek problems
because you need their gifts.

No one can make you feel inferior 
without your consent.

Desire and anger are like two sides of the coin;
when one is denied, the other shows up.

Some people change their ways
when they see the light;
when they feel the heat.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die;
for the harder I work, the more I live.
I rejoice in life for it's own sake.

Life is no brief candle for me.
It is a sort of splendid torch
which I have got hold of for a moment,
and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible
before handing it on to future generations.

When a neighborhood forest was devastated by fire
the Master told his disciples:
We must replant it with the cedars.
The disciples pointed out to him
that Cedars would take 200 years to grow.
"In that case, hurry," the Master said,
for there is not a minute to lose.
We must set out at once.

Correction of error
cannot always arise from new discovery
within an accepted conceptual system.
Sometimes, existing theory has to give first,
and a new framework has to be adopted,
before the crucial facts can be seen at all.

The old order changeth, 
yielding place to new, 
And God fulfils Himself in many ways, 
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.     (Tennyson in
Morte D'Arthur)

The body Of Benjamin Franklin, Printer,
(Like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out
And stripped of its lettering and gilding)
Lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be lost.
For it will (as he believed) appear once more
In a new and more elegant edition
Revised and corrected by
The Author

The quest for certainty
blocks the search for meaning.
Uncertainty is the very condition
to impel man to unfold his powers.

We delight in one knowable thing,
which comprehends all that is knowable;
in one apprehensible,
which draws together all that can be apprehended;
in a single being that includes all
and, above all,
in the one which is itself the all.

I am certain of nothing
but the holiness of the heart's affections,
and the truth of imagination.

The best lack all conviction,
While the worst
are full of passionate intensity.

The fire that burns a piece of coal
also covers it and hides it with ash.
Blow the ash away;
you see the glowing fire within.
The Sun that shines
causes the clouds which hide it.
When the wind blows and the clouds move away,
We see the sun shining as before.

The Brahman, with His radiance
and eternal Blissful nature,
resides in each one of us.
Avidya, our ignorance
of the true nature of ourselves,
and the veil of Maya
Hide Brahman from our perception.
Faith, Guru and Saadhana (practice)
help us to lift the veils of ignorance and Maya
and live in the state of eternal Bliss: 
Sat Chit Ananda.

One who has lived is always ready to die.
His readiness is not a forced attitude.
His readiness is just like a flower.

When the flower has flowered, 
has sent its perfume to the infinite corners of existence, 
enjoyed the moment, lived it, 
danced through the breeze, risen against the wind, 
looked at the sky, watched the sun rise, lived it,
a fulfillment comes by the evening 
and the flower is ready to drop to the earth,
to go back, to rest. 
And it is always beautiful.

When you have lived, rest is beautiful. 
It is the thing!
The flower simply drops to the earth and goes to sleep.
There is no tension, no anguish, no cry, no effort to cling.
You cling to life because your life is unfulfilled.

Temper takes you to Trouble,
Pride keeps you there.

Anger befuddles the mind
and leads you to disaster.


'No, thanks; I am an addict.'
'Strange that you should reply like that.'
'But you know, addiction is a devil
and I should remember it always.'
'Do you believe in devils? '
'I believe in devils, little ones.
There are very few big ones around on earth; too easy for them.
They send the little fellows here, to get some practice.
Their game is simple; you have to be very careful.
You give in a little and they get you a little.
They are patient; they grab you slowly.
First, you can still make a few decisions,
you can still say No now and then;
But, gradually, they take over.
And when they have you,
They can do anything they like with you.'
'And, where do they take us?'
'To jail, or to a precipice.
They don't have to shove you;
you'll jump by yourself.
You do not even know you are jumping!'

'And where will you be then? In eternal hell?'
'I don't know. I don't think so. I believe there is a hell, but not for ever.
You'll probably be free again. Some day you will find out where you are
and you will want to get out.
And if you want to get out, you can get out.'
(A Glimpse of Nothingness by J Van de Wetering - pp.88)

Alocoholics Anonymous prayer:
God! Grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

A Zen Lesson:
I saw a lucky omen the other day - a white mouse.
But then, the mouse suddenly shook itself and lo,
became an ordinary gray mouse.
It had earlier accidentally fallen into a tin of flour
and the shaking removed
all its coating of the white flour!
Our Zen Master told us:
Don't be like the little white mouse.
If you shake yourself now,
you will be as gray as you were
when you started this course.
Watch it and stay white.
One day, you may really be white.

Budhist funeral service
When the day's work is ended,
night brings the blessings of sleep.
So too, death is the ending of a larger day
and, in the night that follows,
every person finds rest until, of his own volition,
he returns to fresh endeavor and to labors anew.
So has it been with this our friend,
so will it be for all of us.                    

Culture is restraint.  (C.Rajagopalachari)

We do not count a man's years
until he has nothing else to count.

The tragedy of old age is not that one is old,
but that one is young.

Do not go gently into that good night;
Old age should burn and rave at close of day.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Growing old is no more than a bad habit
which a busy man has no time to form.

No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern.
No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated.
...Ellen Glasgow 

Don't be afraid to learn.
Knowledge is weightless, 
a treasure you can always carry easily.

Don't use time or words carelessly. 
Neither can be retrieved.

Uttering a word 
is like striking a note 
on the keyboard of the imagination.
-Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher

Beware of words.
The moment you look away,
they will take a life of their own.
They will dazzle, mesmerize, terrorize
and lead you astray from 
the reality they merely represent,
and lead you to believe that they are real.
The world you see is but a fragmented one,
broken into a thousand pieces by the word.
It is as if each ocean wave were seen to be disparate
and separate from the body of the ocean.
When words and thoughts are silenced,
the Universe blooms forth real,
and whole, and one;
Words become
what they were always meant to be:
     the score, not the music;
     the menu, not the food;
     the signpost, not the journey's end.
The language of the divine is silence.

(Dakshinamurthi instructed the sages in silence; 
the Dakshinamurthi slokam says:
Mauna-vyaakhyaa-prakatitha para-brahma tathvam yuvaanam
He explained the perennial supreme truth in silent discourse


Between the hours of Sunrise and Sunset,
Twelve Golden Hours Set with sixty diamond minutes.
No finders:
No rewards.
For alas,
They are lost for ever!

Life is not a race, 
but a journey to be savored each step of the way.

Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery and Today is a gift.
Maybe that's why we call it the Present.

The Kalpataru tree is a magic tree.
It listens attentively to our every wish and, in due time, grants them all.
Most of our wishes may be very unwise,
but the wishing tree fulfills them all, just the same,
hoping that you will learn by experiencing the consequences.
The gifts that it gives are like the links in a chain.
Each wish is linked to another, and the chain itself holds us in its tight grip.
As we grow, our wishes increase, the grip tightens; 
and it seems as if we could never wish enough.
Our wishes had been quite simple when we were children,
but steadily they became increasingly complex and more difficult to fulfill.
The Kalpataru had kindled in us a spark of fire by granting our first wish
and this has now grown into a blazing fire
which we do not know how to control or extinguish!

We may not always be wise enough to know what is good for ourslves in the long run (Shreyas).
Instead of leaving it to the Lord to grant what we really need, we demand from God
the granting of our desires, like a spoiled kid.
The result, according to Oscar Wilde:

     When the Gods choose to punish us, 
     they merely answer our prayers.

There is the well-known, bizarre story of the Monkey's Paw that illustrates this theme more effectively,
by describing the unexpected consequences of the magical fulfilment of our wishes.

Perhaps, the texts quoted above might help us indirectly to understand why the rakshasas were destroyed
as a direct consequence of the granting of their own wishes by Brahma. The seeds of destruction were contained
already in the wishes that they first entertained unwisely.

For us, it is better to follow the wisdom contained in Ramana Maharishi's advice in Upadesa Saaram (Sloka 3):

IshvarArpitaM necchayA krtaM
citta-shodhakaM mukti-sAdhakam

each lives in his own world.
The Wise, 
they have a world in common.

From what we get, we can make a living;
what we give, makes life.

The soul would have no rainbows
had the eyes no tears.

A faith to live by,
a self to live with, and
a purpose to live for.

How do we discover our purpose in Life?
If we meditate and listen carefully, 
we will hear or sense
a voice inside ourselves;
It's the voice of our inner teacher.
We must train ourselves to listen to it.
Amidst all the din of the other voices,
the inner teacher reminds us constantly:
     "I am here, very close to you.
      I'm your friend and I love you.
      If you listen to me, I can guide you."
We have to listen to this teacher attentively
for guidance in this journey of Life.

It is a tiny little golden key 
that unlocks the wisdom 
that He has endowed you with
for dealing with problems.
     When you are in need,
     search for that little key;
you shall find it 
in the silence 
deep within your heart......................Supreeta

Use what talents you possess.
The woods would be very silent
if no birds sang except those that sang best.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

When asked about the greatest satisfaction
that a life like hers has brought upon her,
M.S Subbulakshmi did not answer for a while; she remained silent.
Then she said hesitantly at first, and then with more conviction:
"Each of us has a gift. We use it to the best of our abilities.
That is nothing wonderful..........
What gives me satisfaction?...
Well, I have never wished anyone I have known any harm.
Perhaps, that has been my only real achievement."

God does not cease to exist
because we cease to believe in a personal deity.
But we die the day
when our lives cease to be illumined
by the radiance, the wonder --
the source of which is beyond all reason.

To be wronged is nothing,
unless you insist on remembering it.
When someone offends you,
raise your spirits to heights
where offenses cannot reach.

The atheists make the mistake of denying
that of which nothing may be said;
the theists, of affirming it.

True wealth is what you are --
not what you have.
Too many of us are spending money
that we haven't earned,
to buy things we don't need,
to impress people we don't like.

Don't brag.
It's not the whistle that moves the train.

May the peace of God
disturb you always.

With the erosion of the community,
people are spending more and more time alone
and enjoying it less.
To be sure, we value our privacy,
but being truly alone with ourselves
is something different,
something that unfortunately inspires unease,
if not fear.

In our solitary moments,
the vigilant forces of socialization let down their guard
and the forbidden threatens to surface.
And then we become prey
to our feelings of the inadequacy
and meaninglessness of our lives,
or destructive thoughts of revenge.
No wonder, then, that many people work hard
to avoid being alone,
anesthetizing their minds
with the constant rumble of media noise.
Radio, television, movies, books
all distract them from being alone,
from reflecting on who they are,
where they are going and why.

A longing for solitude can grow out of fear, flight from self
or from a need to discover the true self in one.
Whether we experience our time-when-alone 
negatively as loneliness
or positively as solitude
depends on whether we view it as a product of free choice.
Our internal dialogue is intimately bound up
with our beliefs about `aloneness' 
and what meanings we attach to it.

Loneliness results not only from lack of choice
but also from not knowing how to occupy ourselves when alone.
Time can seem to stretch out endlessly 
like the monotonous tick-tocking of a clock, 
without meaning or purpose.

First, rub your hands with oil
if you wish to break open the jack-fruit.
the milky exudation will stick to your hands.

First anoint your hands 
with the oil of devotion (Bhakti) 
and detachment (Vairagya);
then deal with the affairs of the world.

Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself.

You can't avoid criticism; for,
to do so, you may have to do nothing,
say nothing and,
Be nothing!

Do you feel the weight of your knowledge?
Remember, true knowledge does not breed arrogance.

Do not be like the donkey

that carries a load of sandal wood.

It knows only the weight of the load

not the fragrance of the Sandal.

Keep your hands open,
and all the sands of the desert can pass through them.
Close them, 
and all you can feel is a bit of grit.

The heart has it's reasons,
of which reason knows nothing.

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare.
It is because we do not dare that things are difficult.

Education is not filling a bucket,
but lighting a fire.

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide
that you are not going to stay where you are.

Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!
Whom dost thou worship
in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut?
Open thine eyes and see:
thy God is not before thee
but within you!

He is there
where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and
where the path-maker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower,
and his garment is covered with dust.
Put off thy holy mantle
and even like him,
come down on the dusty soil!

Who is the pupil?
A child of God, not a tool of the State.
Who is the teacher?
A Guide, not a guard.
Who is a principal?
A master of teaching, not a master of teachers.
What is learning?
A journey, not a destination.
What is discovery?
Questioning the answers, not answering the questions.
What is the process?
Discovering concepts, not covering content.
What is the goal?
Opened minds, not closed issues.
What is the test?
Being and becoming, not remembering and reviewing.
What is a school?
Whatever we choose to make it.               Lola May

We are not punished for our anger;
we are punished by our anger.

We cannot direct the wind;
But we can adjust the sails.

The tragedy of a man's life
Is what dies inside of him while he lives.

Insist on yourself; never imitate.
Your own gift you can present every moment
with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation;
but of the adopted talent of another
you have only an extemporaneous half possession...

The scent of flowers cannot travel against the wind,
nor can that of sandal-wood or jasmine.
But the fragrance of the good
does travel against the wind:
a good man perfumes the four quarters of the earth.

Most of us have an inner authority (ego)
telling us who we are and
what we ought to do.
We carry out its orders
without questioning who's in charge.
But that inner authority has no real knowledge
other than what is based on the past.
It has no real power over you.
If you don't respond to it,
it will just fade away.

You will then hear another voice
which is softer, loving -- yet persistent.
Listen to it and its advice:
"Let go of the patterns and habits from the past,
and be free to make wise choices
in the present moment."

Happiness multiplies
when it is divided!