Quotations about   contemplation

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Anger blows out the lamp of the mind. In the examination of a great and important question, every one should be serene, slow-pulsed and calm.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Christian Religion,” Article 3, The North American Review (1881)
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Added on 31-May-19 | Last updated 31-May-19
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One of the things I like best about animals in the wild is that they’re always off on some errand. They have appointments to keep. It’s only we humans who wonder what we’re here for.

Diane Ackerman (b. 1948) American poet, author, naturalist
“In Praise of Bats,” The Moon by Whale Light (1991)
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Added on 28-Dec-18 | Last updated 28-Dec-18
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Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte (b. 1955) Irish-English poet
“Sweet Darkness,” House of Belonging (1996)
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Added on 20-Mar-18 | Last updated 20-Mar-18
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Truth is compar’d in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetuall progression, they sick’n into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.

[Truth is compared in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.]

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
Areopagitica (1644)
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Added on 16-Aug-17 | Last updated 16-Aug-17
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Then I went back to my hotel to think long thoughts. As is usual when I’m thinking long thoughts, I lay on the bed with my eyes closed. Susan says I often snore when thinking long thoughts.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Hugger Mugger, ch. 3 (2000)
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Added on 14-Jun-17 | Last updated 14-Jun-17
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Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of Solitude, and the Society of thy self, nor be only content, but delight to be alone and single with Omnipresency.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Christian Morals, Part 3, sec. 9 (1716)
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Added on 30-May-17 | Last updated 30-May-17
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I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Essays, First Series, “Self-Reliance” (1841)
Added on 30-Dec-16 | Last updated 30-Dec-16
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Sometimes I don’t know if my life is complicated, or if it’s that I just think too much about things.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Zoe’s Tale (2008)
Added on 20-Sep-16 | Last updated 20-Sep-16
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But the greatest gift in the power of loneliness to bestow is the realization that life does not consist either of wallowing in the past or of peering anxiously at the future; and it is appalling to contemplate the great number of often painful steps by which one arrives at a truth so old, so obvious, and so frequently expressed. It is good for one to appreciate that life is now. Whether it offers little or much, life is now — this day — this hour — and is probably the only experience of the kind one is to have.

Charles Macomb Flandrau (1871-1938) American author and essayist
Viva Mexico!, ch. 7 (1908)
Added on 25-May-16 | Last updated 25-May-16
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I could wile away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers,
Consultin’ with the rain;
And my head I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’,
If I only had a brain.

E. Y. "Yip" Harburg (1896-1981) American lyricist [Edgar Yipsel Harburg, b. Isidore Hochberg]
“If I Only Had a Brain,” The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Added on 3-Feb-16 | Last updated 3-Feb-16
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A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.

Patton - vigor now - wist_info

George S. Patton (1885-1945) American soldier
(Attributed)
Added on 2-Nov-15 | Last updated 3-Nov-15
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It’s what people know about themselves inside that makes them afraid.

Ernest Tidyman (1928-1984) American author and screenwriter
High Plains Drifter (film) (1973)
Added on 14-Jul-15 | Last updated 14-Jul-15
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It is infinitely difficult to know when and where one should stop, and for all but one in thousands the goal of their thinking is the point at which they have become tired of thinking.

[Es ist unendlich schwer, zu wissen, wenn und wo man bleiben soll, und Tausenden für einen ist das Ziel ihres Nachdenkens die Stelle, wo sie des Nachdenkens müde geworden.]

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
Letter to Moses Mendelssohn (9 Jan 1771)
Added on 8-Apr-15 | Last updated 8-Apr-15
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Success for the most part attends those who act boldly, not those who weigh everything, and are slow to venture.

Xerxes I (519-465 BC) King the Achaemenid Empire of Persia [Xerxes the Great]
In Herodotus, The Persian Wars, 7.50 [tr. Rawlinson (1942)]
Added on 30-Dec-14 | Last updated 30-Dec-14
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‘Patriotism is not enough.’ But neither is anything else. Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics are not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything will really do.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Island, “Notes on What’s What” (1962)
Added on 22-Oct-14 | Last updated 22-Oct-14
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In stating prudential rules for our government in society, I must not omit the important one of never entering into dispute or argument with another. I never saw an instance of one or two disputants convincing the other by argument. I have seen many, on their getting warm, becoming rude, and shooting one another. Conviction is the effect of our own dispassionate reasoning, either in solitude, or weighing within ourselves, dispassionately, what we hear from others, standing uncommitted in argument ourselves.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Thomas Jefferson Randolph (24 Nov 1808)
Added on 11-Jul-14 | Last updated 11-Jul-14
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If we are to survive, we must have ideas, vision, courage. These things are rarely produced by committees. Everything that matters in our intellectual and moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind and conscience in a room by himself.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) American historian, author, social critic
“The Decline of Greatness,” Saturday Evening Post (1 Nov 1958)
Added on 7-Apr-14 | Last updated 7-Apr-14
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The question is: Bad as I am, have I the right to think? And I think I have for two reasons: First, I cannot help it. And secondly, I like it.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?” Sec. 1 (1880)
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Added on 12-Oct-11 | Last updated 21-Aug-14
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To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) American poet
“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee”
Added on 26-Jan-11 | Last updated 1-Jul-16
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The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye. We are active; and indeed we know, as something more than a symbolic accident in the evolution of man, that it is the hand that drives the subsequent evolution of the brain. We find tools today made by man before he became man. Benjamin Franklin in 1778 called man “a tool-making animal,” and that is right.

Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974) Polish-English humanist and mathematician
The Ascent of Man, ch. 3 (1973)
Added on 8-Dec-10 | Last updated 28-Aug-17
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Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
Among My Books, “Dryden” (1870)
Added on 2-Feb-09 | Last updated 13-Jun-17
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Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.

[La pensée est le labeur de l’intelligence, la rêverie en est la volupté.]

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Les Misérables, Vol. 4 “St. Denis,” Book 2 “Eponine,” ch. 1 “The Field of the Lark” (1862) [tr. Wilbour]

Alt trans. [Denny (1980)]: "Thought is the work of the intellect, reveries its self-indulgence." Cited as Part IV, ch. 2 "Eponine."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jun-16
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