Useful quotes/poems/stories to stir the imagination, inspire the soul, and catalyze action…
Commitment and Perseverance
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”
– As told to Goethe by W.H. Murray
“This is the true joy in life, to be used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, to be thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap. To be a force of nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am a member of the community and as a member it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can before I die. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch that I want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
– George Bernard Shaw
“I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle.”
– Robert Fulghum
“I asked for strength,
and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom,
and God gave me problems to learn to solve.
I asked for prosperity,
and God gave me a brain and brawn to work.
I asked for courage,
and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for love,
and God gave me people to help.
I asked for favors,
and God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted.
I received everything I needed.”
– Hazrat Inayat Khan
“After the final No, there comes a Yes. And on that Yes, the future of the world depends.”
– Wallace Stevens
“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; a freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in an adult of 60 more than a child of 20. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.
Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.
Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what’s next. In the center of your heart and my heart it’s as if there were a radio antenna; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from people and from the infinite, so long are you young.”
– Samuel Ullman
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust
“To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
– e. e. cummings
“We must never cease our exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to return to the place where we first began and to truly know that place for the first time.”
– T.S. Eliot
The Courage To Take A Stand
“All truth goes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. And lastly, it is accepted as self-evident.”
– Arthur Schoepenhauer
“Why don’t you stay in the wilderness? Because that isn’t where it’s at, its back in the city, back in downtown St. Louis, back in Los Angeles… You go to nature for an experience of the sacred… to reestablish your contact with the core of things… The final test is whether your experience of the sacred in nature enables you to cope more effectively with the problems of humanity.”
– Will Unsoeld, Mountaineer and Educator
“I am only one person, and I cannot do everything. But just because I cannot do everything, does not mean that I will refuse to do that which I can.”
– Hellen Keller
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and found that life was service. I acted and, behold, service was joy.”
– Rabindranath Tagore
“Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tide and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
– Teilhard de Chardin
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people that have come alive.”
– Harold Thurman Whitman
“Give me a place to stand… And I will move the world.”
“The reasonable (person) adapts herself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to change the world. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable person.”
– George Bernard Shaw
The Adventurous, Passionate Life
“Come to the edge,” she said. They said, “We are afraid.” “Come to the edge,” she said. They came. She pushed them… and they flew.”
– Guillaume Apollinaire
“Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things… I am tempted to think that perhaps there are no little things.”
– Bruce Barton
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
– Frederic Buechner
“I will not life an unlived life, I will not life in fear, Of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live, so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to be as blossom, goes on as fruit.”
– Dawna Markova
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves:
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson, as quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech
The Spirit of Service
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
– Fred Buechner
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
– Teilhard de Chardin
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, But one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
– Albert Schweitzer
“Be the change you wish to see for the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“A person totally wrapped up in himself makes a small package.”
– Harry Emerson Fosdick
“Perhaps people who have come out of disturbing situations have a better grasp of who they are and what they want. They have had to fight. Perhaps worse off are those who have never been challenged, never been questioned what makes their life worth living, those who grow up chained to an external model of success rather than inspired by an internal one. The difficulty lies in moving out of the monotony, out of the comfort zone, from that which is just above bearable, to that which makes us sparkle and glow.”
– Jennifer Butte-Dahl
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need to have a heart full of grace. A soul generated by Love.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Racism, Violence, and Justice
“Violence is anything that denies human integrity, and leads to hopelessness and helplessness.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Environmental racism is racial discrimination in environmental policymaking. It is racial discrimination in the enforcement of regulations and laws. It is racial disccrimination in the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste disposal and the siting of polluting industries. It is racial discrimination in the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in communities of color. And, it is racial discrimination in the history of excluding people of color from mainstream environmental groups, decision-making boards, commissions, and regulatory bodies.”
– Rev. Benjamin Chavis, Jr.
“Environmental justice advocates are not saying, ‘Take the poisons out of our community and put them in a white community.’ They are saying that no community should have to live with these poisons. They have thus taken the moral high road and are building a multicultural and inclusive movement that has the potential of transforming the political landscape of this nation.”
– Benjamin Chavis, Jr.
Peace, Reconciliation, and Diversity
“You can’t solve a problem on the same level on which it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.”
– Albert Einstein
“We must learn to live together as brothers, or we are going to perish together as fools.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him (or her) a friend.”
– Abraham Lincoln
“An eye for an eye will only leave the whole world blind.”
– Mahatma Ghandi
“While walking in a toy store, The day before today,
I came upon a crayon box, With many things to say.
“I don’t like red!”, said Orange, And Green said, “Nor do I!”
And no one here likes Yellow, But no one knows just why.
“We are a box of crayons, That does not get along,”
Said Blue to all the others, “Something here is wrong!”
Well, I bought that box of crayons, And I took it home with me,
And I laid out all the colors, So the crayons could all see…
They watched me as I colored, With Red and Blue and Green,
And Black and White and Orange, And every color in between.
They watched as Green became the grass, And Blue became the sky.
The Yellow sun was shining bright, On White clouds drifting by.
Colors changing as they touched, Becoming something new.
They watched me as I colored, They watched ’till I was through.
And when I’d finally finished, I began to walk away,
And as I did the crayon box, Had something more to say…
“I do like Red!”, said Orange, And Green said, “So do I!
And Blue, you were terrific, So high up in the sky!”.
“We are a box of crayons, Each of us unique,
But when we get together, The picture is complete.”
– Shane De Rolf
“When you let go of what trying to get more of what you don’t really need – which is what most of us spend our lives trying to get more of – an enormous amount of energy is freed up to make a difference with what you have. “When you make a difference with what you have – it expands.”
– Lynne Twist
“What you appreciate – appreciates.”
– Lynne Twist
“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
– Lin Yutang
A Simple Story
The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The America complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.” The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?” To which the American replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, senor?” The American laughed and said that’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions. “Millions, senor? Then what?” The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
The Shambhala Prophecy
As told by Joanna Macy
Coming to us across twelve centuries, the Shambhala prophecy comes from ancient Tibetan Buddhism. The prophecy foretells of a time when all life on Earth is in danger. Great barbarian powers have arisen. Although these powers spend much of their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable destructive power, and technologies that lay waste our world. In this era, when the future of sentient life hangs by the frailest of threads, the kingdom of Shambhala emerges.
You cannot go there, for it is not a place; it is not a geopolitical entity. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. That is the term the prophecy used – “warriors.” You cannot recognize the Shambhala warrior when you see him or her, for they wear no uniforms or insignia, and they carry no specific banners. They have no barricades on which to climb or threaten the enemy, or behind which they can hide to rest or regroup. They do not even have any home turf. Always they must move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.
Now the time comes when great courage – moral and physical courage – is required of the Shambhala warriors, for they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power, into the pits and pockets and citadels where the weapons are kept, to dismantle them. To dismantle weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where decisions are made.
The Shambhala warriors have the courage to do this because they know that these weapons are “manomaya.” They are mind made. Made by the human mind, they can be unmade by the human mind. The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers threatening life on Earth are not visited on us by any extraterrestrial power, satanic deities, or pre-ordained evil fate. They arise from our own decisions, our own lifestyles, and our own relationships.
So in this time, the Shambhala warriors go into training in the use of two weapons. The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary, the prophecy for foretells. The Shambhalla warriors must have compassion because it gives the juice, the power, the passion to move. It means not to be afraid of the pain of the world. Then you can open to it, step forward, act. But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other – you need insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With insight into our profound inter-relatedness, you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of compassion. Together these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world.
Many in the Tibetan lineage believe that this is the time of this ancient prophecy. If so, perhaps we are among the Shambala warriors.
May You Forever Be Haunted By Your Conscience
May you forever be haunted by your conscience.
May you grow ever so vigilant in the realization that the miracle of our biological differences in birth is not a natural reason to consider one as subordinate to the other.
May you forever be uncomfortable in the thought that the difference between you and indigenous peoples is the persistence of a legal doctrine declaring them as having a low level of intelligence and backward and uncivilized.
May you remember others as they struggle for shelter as you enjoy yours in the worse of weather conditions.
May you be forever awed by the political influence of capital and the insistent struggle of workers for a decent wage and the dignity of collective recognition.
May you be conscious that the hands that have nurtured the food in the simplest and fanciest of meals eat less that three times daily.
May you imagine as you revel in the giggles of your children the ever growing possibilities of child labor oppression harassment and sexual assault.
May you realize that the ecological disaster that you have watched with detachment on the television- may happen or is happening to you at present.
May you feel the powerlessness of other people of your people in your own powerlessness.
May you understand the other as you understand yourself while you comprehend the otherness of others in yourself.
May we be forever haunted by a detailed vision of a just society, an equitable society a gender fair society a culturally appropriate society. And in these processes of becoming and being may we be haunted enough to empower.
May all these continue to haunt you and to disturb you.
May you forever be empowered.
– Atty Marvic Leonen