My Own Bible

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.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some topics:

Courage

“Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times — although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalhi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, “Gott spricht zu jedem nur, eh er ihn macht,” Book of Hours

“It is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible.”
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to. Don’t try to see through the distances. That’s not for human beings. Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.”
Rumi, The Essential Rumi

“To love who you are and what you do, and to have faith in your ability to do it. You’ve got to know your limitations. I don’t know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.”
Johnny Cash, in a 1993 interview

“If you’re looking for sympathy, you’ll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.”
David Sedaris, Barrel Fever

“This is how I learned to steer
through darkness by no stars.

To be lost is only a failure of memory.”
Margaret Atwood, “A Boat,” in Selected Poems II: 1976 – 1986

 

Education and (Un)Work

“Our whole theory of education is based on the absurd notion that we must learn to swim on land before tackling the water.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life

“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
Richard Buckminster Fuller, in Elizabeth Barlow’s “The New York Magazine Environmental Teach-in,” New York Magazine

“A lot of the time, it’s better to quit than to be the hero.”
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework

“In fact, the ability to start out upon your own impulse is fundamental to the gift of keeping going upon your own terms, not to mention the further and more fulfilling gift of getting again all over again — never resting upon the oars of success or in the doldrums of disappointment, but getting renewed and revived by some further transformation. Getting started, keeping going, getting started again — in art and in life, it seems to me this is the essential rhythm not only of achievement but of survival, the ground of convinced action, the basis of self-esteem and the guarantee of credibility in your lives, credibility to yourselves as well as to others.”
Seamus Heany, in a commencement address at UNC-Chapel Hill, 1996

“The Greeks understood the mysterious power of the hidden side of things. They bequeathed to us one of the most beautiful words in our language—the word ‘enthusiasm’—en theos—a god within. The grandeur of human actions is measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a god within, and who obeys it.”
Louis Pasteur

MS / Disease / Pain / Corporeality

“Your body is a dream that turns violent.”
Ben Lee, “Catch My Disease,” Awake is the New Sleep

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Children / Family

“You were my heart’s desire before you were known to me. I beheld your features with my soul ere I saw them with my eyes.”
Paris to Helen, Heroides XVI

“When things go well for days on end, it is an hilarious accident.”
Kurt Vonnegut

 

Finally…

“Enough of these phrases, conceit and metaphors,
I want burning, burning, burning.”
Rumi (always Rumi)

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