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Tastes differ, but I know of no finer prayer than the one which ends old Indian dramas (just as in former times English plays ended with a prayer for the King). It runs: “May all living beings remain free from pain.”

[Der Geschmack ist verschieden; aber ich weiß mir kein schöneres Gebet, als Das, womit die Alt-Indischen Schauspiele (wie in früheren Zeiten die Englischen mit dem für den König) schließen. Es lautet: „Mögen alle lebenden Wesen von Schmerzen frei bleiben.”]

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
On the Basis of Morality [Über die Grundlage der Moral], § 19.4 (Part 3, ch. 8.4) (1840) [tr. Saunders (1965)]

(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

In former times the English plays used to finish with a petition for the King. The old Indian dramas close with these words: "May all living beings be delivered from pain." Tastes differ; but in my opinion there is no more beautiful prayer than this.
[tr. Bullock (1903)]

Added on 20-Apr-23 | Last updated 20-Apr-23
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More quotes by Schopenhauer, Arthur

PENTHEUS: Do you hold your rites
during the day or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night.
The darkness is well suited to devotion.
PENTHEUS: Better suited to lechery and seducing women.
DIONYSUS: You can find debauchery by daylight too.

[Πενθεύς: τὰ δ᾽ ἱερὰ νύκτωρ ἢ μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν τελεῖς;
Διόνυσος: νύκτωρ τὰ πολλά: σεμνότητ᾽ ἔχει σκότος.
Πενθεύς: τοῦτ᾽ ἐς γυναῖκας δόλιόν ἐστι καὶ σαθρόν.
Διόνυσος: κἀν ἡμέρᾳ τό γ᾽ αἰσχρὸν ἐξεύροι τις ἄν.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 485ff (405 BC) [tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

PENTHEUS: By night or day these sacred rites perform'st thou ?
BACCHUS: Mostly by nighty for venerable is darkness.
PENTHEUS: To women this is treacherous and unsafe.
BACCHUS: E'en in the broadest day may shame be found.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the rites by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night; darkness conveys awe.
PENTHEUS: This is treacherous towards women, and unsound.
DIONYSUS: Even during the day someone may devise what is shameful.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

PENTHEUS: Performest thou these rites by night or day?
DIONYSUS: Most part by night -- night hath more solemn awe.
PENTHEUS: A crafty rotten plot to catch our women.
DIONYSUS: Even in the day bad men can do bad deeds.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

PENTHEUS: Dost thou perform thy rites by day; or night?
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night; darkness gives dignity.
PENTHEUS: Craft rather and seduction it denotes.
DIONYSUS: Base acts are oft made manifest by day.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 462ff]

PENTHEUS: Is it by night or day thou performest these devotions?
DIONYSUS: By night mostly; darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Calculated to entrap and corrupt women.
DIONYSUS: Day too for that matter may discover shame.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

PENTHEUS: By night or day dost thou perform his rites? ⁠
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night: gloom lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Ay -- and for women snares of lewdness too.
DIONYSUS: In the day too may lewdness be devised.
[tr. Way (1898)]

PENTHEUS: How is thy worship held, by night or day?
DIONYSUS: Most oft by night; 'tis a majestic thing,
The darkness.
PENTHEUS: Ha! with women worshipping?
'Tis craft and rottenness!
DIONYSUS: By day no less,
Whoso will seek may find unholiness.
[tr. Murray (1902)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate your sacred acts at night or by day?
DIONYSUS: At night for the most party. Darkness possesses solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Darkness for women is deceitful and corrupt!
DIONYSUS: Even in daytime one could discover disgraceful behavior.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate your mysteries by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night. Darkness induces religious awe.
PENTHEUS: For women darkness is treacherous and impure.
DIONYSUS: Impurity can be practiced by daylight too.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

PENTHEUS: These sacred practices of your god, the worship,
The rites of great devotion, do they
Hold at night, or in the day.
DIONYSUS: [...] We hold our rites mostly at night
Because it is cooler. And the lamps
Lend atmosphere and feeling to the heart in worship.
PENTHEUS: And I say night hours are dangerous
Lascivious hours, lechery ....
DIONYSUS: You'll find debauchery in daylight, too.
[tr. Soyinka (1973)]

PENTHEUS: The rites -- at night or by day you perform them?
DIONYSUS: At night, mostly; there’s majesty in darkness.
PENTHEUS: And for women there’s trickery and smut.
DIONYSUS: Even by day one may discover shame.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform your mysteries
during the day or by night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night.
The dark is more conducive to worship.
PENTHEUS: You mean to lechery and bringing out the filth in women.
DIONYSUS: Those who look for filth, can find it at the height of noon.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

PENTHEUS: Do you worship in daylight or at night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night. Darkness is most sacred.
PENTHEUS: That is treacherous and unwholesome for women.
DIONYSUS: Some find shame even in daylight.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate these sacred rites at night or in the day?
THE STRANGER: At night mostly, since darkness induces devotion.
PENTHEUS: No, darkness is devious and corrupts women.
THE STRANGER: Even in the day someone could devise shameful deeds.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

PENTHEUS: You practice this cult by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night. Darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Darkness is just a filthy trap for women.
DIONYSUS: Some people can dig up dirt in daytime, too.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the rites by day? -- or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night -- because the darkness has its holiness.
PENTHEUS: It's treacherous, for women, and corrupts them.
DIONYSUS: What's shameful can be found even by light of day.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000), l. 571ff]

PENTHEUS: Do you practice your rites at night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night: darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: This is an immoral trick aimed at women.
DIONYSUS: Someone could engage in shameful deeds even by day.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

PENTHEUS: And you perform these practices at night?
DIONYSUS: Man's true nature's seen in darkness not in light.
PENTHEUS: While darkness shrouds a woman's true duplicity.
DIONYSUS: Duplicity's not found in night exclusively.
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

PENTHEUS: Tell me, when do you hold your worship? By clear day, or dark night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night -- it is a majestic time.
PENTHEUS: Indeed! A majestic time to take advantage of women. Shameful!
DIONYSUS: There are enough shameful things done by day. And enough shameful thoughts in your head, I am sure!
[tr. Rao/Wolf (2004)]

PENTHEUS: These ... holy orgies of yours… do you perform them during the day or in the night?
DIONYSUS: Most of them during the night. Darkness adds a certain modesty.
PENTHEUS: That’s quite a dubious thing for the women… and rather lecherous, I’d say.
DIONYSUS: Shame, of course can be seen during the day, too, if it exists and if one were to look for it.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

PENTHEUS: Do you conduct the mysteries in the night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Us'ally by night, for darkness holds reverence.
PENTHEUS: Is this thing deceitful or unwholesome towards women?
DIONYSUS: One might also uncover shameful things i' the day.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

PENTHEUS: When you dance these rites,
is it at night or during daylight hours?
DIONYSUS: Mainly at night. Shadows confer solemnity.
PENTHEUS: And deceive the women. It's all corrupt!
DIONYSUS: One can do shameful things in daylight, too.
[tr. Johnston (2008), l. 604ff]

PENTHEUS: These mysteries. Do you practise them by day, or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night. Dark is better for devotion.
PENTHEUS: Better for lechery and the taking of women.
DIONYSUS: That happens in daylight too.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

PENTHEUS: And are these rites conducted by day or by night?
DIONYSUS: Night, for the most part. It’s so much more ... spiritual. Good for devotion.
PENTHEUS: The night’s a trap for women’s virtue.
DIONYSUS: And the day isn’t? You don’t get out much, do you?
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform your rituals by day or night?
DIONYSUS: By night. We believe that darkness is holy.
PENTHEUS: It's a cunning time to force filth upon women.
DIONYSUS: Vice thrives in daylight, too.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the sacred rites [hiera] by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night; darkness conveys awe.
PENTHEUS: This is treacherous towards women, and unsound.
DIONYSUS: Even during the day you can find what is shameful.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Added on 28-Mar-23 | Last updated 28-Mar-23
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The superior man in everything considers righteousness to be essential. He performs it according to the rules of propriety. He brings it forth in humility. He completes it with sincerity. This is indeed a superior man.


Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 15, verse 18 (15.18) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Legge (1861), 15.17]

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations, noting where Legge's numbering is used:

When the "superior man" regards righteousness as the thing material, gives operation to it according to the rules of propriety, lets it issue in humility, and become complete in sincerity, -- there indeed is your superior man!
[tr. Jennings (1895), 15.17]

A wise and good man makes Right the substance of his being; he cries it out with judgment and good sense; he speaks it with modesty; and he attains it with sincerity: -- such a man is a really good and wise man!
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 15.17]

The noble man takes the Right as his foundation principle, reduces it to practice with all courtesy, carries it out with modesty, and renders it perfect with sincerity, -- such is the noble man.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.17]

When a princely man makes the Right his fundamental principle, makes Courtesy his rule in evolving it, Modesty his rule for exhibiting it, and Sincerity his rule for effectuating it perfectly, -- what a princely man he is!
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.17, alternate]

The proper man gives substance to his acts by equity. He proceeds according to the rites, puts them forth modestly, and makes them perfect by sticking to his word. That's the proper man (in whom's the voice of his forebears).
[tr. Pound (1933), 15.17]

The gentleman who takes the right as his material to work upon and ritual as the guide in putting what is right into practice, who is modest in setting out his projects and faithful in carrying them to their conclusions, he indeed is a true gentleman.
[tr. Waley (1938), 15.17]

He whose very substance is justice; whose actions are governed by the rites; whose participation in affairs is compliant; and whose crowning perfection is truthfulness -- that man is a perfect gentleman.
[tr. Ware (1950)]

The gentleman has morality as his basic stuff and by observing the rites puts it into practice, by being modest gives it expression, and by being trustworthy in word brings it to completion. Such is a gentleman indeed!
[tr. Lau (1979)]

Righteousness the gentleman regards as the essential stuff and the rites are his means of putting it into effect. If modesty is the quality with which he reveals it and good faith is his method of bringing it to completion, he is indeed a gentleman.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

A gentleman takes justice as his basis, enacts it in conformity with the ritual, expounds it with modesty, and through good faith, brings it to fruition. That is how a gentleman proceeds.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

A gentleman considers righteousness his major principle; he practices it in accordance with the rituals, utters it in modest terms, and fulfils it with truthfulness. A gentleman indeed!
[tr. Huang (1997)]

A gentleman takes the righteousness as his essence, practices with the rituals, words with modesty, and gets achievement with honesty. It is the gentleman.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), v. 402]

Having a sense of appropriate conduct [yi] as one's basic disposition [zhi], developing it in observing ritual propriety [li], expressing it with modesty, and consummating it in making good on one's word [xin]; this then is an exemplary person [junzi].
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

If a gentleman has right as his substance, and puts it in practice with propriety, promulgates it with lineality, and brings it to a conclusion with fidelity, he is a gentleman indeed!
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), LY17 c0270 addition]

The noble-minded make Duty their very nature. They put it into practice through Ritual; they make it shine through humility; and standing by their words, they perfect it. Then they are noble-minded indeed!
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

The gentleman takes rightness as his substance, puts it into practice by means of ritual, gives it expression through modesty, and perfects it by being trustworthy. Now that is a gentleman!
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

The gentleman makes rightness the substance, practices it through ritual, displays it with humility, brings it to completion with trustworthiness. That’s the gentleman.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

The gentleman makes rightness the substance. He works at it through ritual propriety; he expresses it with modesty; he brings it to completion by being trustworthy. Now that is a gentleman!
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

A Jun Zi regards righteousness and honor as fundamental bases, acts in line with Li, shows humility, delivers promises, and completes contracts with sincerity and trust. If so, he is indeed a Jun Zi.
[tr. Li (2020)]

A leader takes rightness as their essence, puts it into practice through ritual, manifests it through humility, and brings it to fruition through trustworthiness. This is how a leader behaves.
[tr. Brown (2021)]

Added on 19-Jul-22 | Last updated 8-May-23
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All religions are ultimately cargo cults. Adherents perform required rituals, follow specific rules, and expect to be supernaturally gifted with desired rewards — long life, honor, wisdom, children, good health, wealth, victory over opponents, immortality after death, any desired rewards.

Octavia Butler (1947-2006) American writer
Parable of the Talents, ch. 19, epigram (1998)
Added on 7-Oct-21 | Last updated 7-Oct-21
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Americans rightly think their patriotism is a sort of religion strengthened by practical service.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) French writer, diplomat, politician
Democracy in America, Vol. 1, “Public Spirit of the Townships of New England” (1835)

Alt. trans.: "For in the United States it is believed, and with truth, that patriotism is a kind of devotion which is strengthened by ritual observance." [tr. Reeve (1839)]
Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Nov-18
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The most absurd customs and the most ridiculous ceremonies are everywhere excused by an appeal to the phrase, but that’s the tradition. This is exactly what the Hottentots say when Europeans ask them why they eat grasshoppers and devour their body lice. That’s the tradition, they explain.

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Maxims and Thoughts, ch. 3, #249 (1796)
Added on 14-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Aug-17
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The waiter returned with Ronni’s bourbon. She drank it while he explained about the specials. The explanation took a while and I wondered, as I always did when people recited a menu at me, what I was supposed to do while they did it. To just sit and nod wisely made me feel like a talk show host. To get up and go to the men’s room seemed rude. Once in Chicago I had tried taking notes in the margin of the menu, but they got mad at me.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
The Widening Gyre (1983)
Added on 29-Mar-17 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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The most dangerous type of atheism is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism — that’s the most dangerous type. And the world, even the church, is filled up with people who pay lip service to God and not life service. And there is always a danger that we will make it appear externally that we believe in God when internally we don’t. We say with our mouths that we believe in him, but we live with our lives like he never existed. That is the ever-present danger confronting religion. That’s a dangerous type of atheism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 20-Jan-19
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If we use no ceremony towards others, we shall be treated without any. People are soon tired of paying trifling attentions to those who receive them with coldness, and return them with neglect.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
Characteristics in the Manner of Rochefoucault’s Maxims, #188 (1837 ed.)
Added on 23-Jan-17 | Last updated 23-Jan-17
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He who fasteth and doth no Good, saveth his Bread but loseth his Soul.

Fuller - fasting - wist_info

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #2382 (1732)
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Respectfulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes timidity; boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes insubordination; straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes rudeness.


Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 8, verse 2 (8.2.1) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Legge (1861)]

(Source (Chinese)). Brooks (below) believes this text was interpolated into Book 8 at the time that Book 14 was collected. Alternate translations:

Without the Proprieties, we have these results: for deferential demeanour, a worried one; for calm attentiveness, awkward bashfulness; for manly conduct, disorderliness; for straightforwardness, perversity.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

Earnestness without judgment becomes pedantry; caution without judgment becomes timidity; courage without judgment leads to crime; uprightness without judgment makes men tyrannical.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

Courtesy uncontrolled by the laws of good taste becomes labored effort, caution uncontrolled becomes timidity, boldness uncontrolled becomes recklessness, and frankness uncontrolled become effrontery.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

Respect without rules of procedure becomes laborious fuss: scrupulosity without rules of procedure, timidity (fear to show the thought); boldness without such rules breeds confusion; directness without rules of procedure becomes rude.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

Courtesy not bounded by the prescriptions of ritual becomes tiresome. Caution not bounded by the prescriptions of ritual becomes timidity, daring becomes turbulence, inflexibility becomes harshness.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

Not to follow the rites in being modest is annoyance. Not to follow them in exercising care is timidity. Not to follow them in acts of bravery is confusion. Not to follow them in our uprightness is brusqueness.
[tr. Ware (1950)]

Unless a man has the spirit of the rites, in being respectful he will wear himself out, in being careful he will become timid, in having courage he will become unruly, and in being forthright he will become intolerant.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

If one is courteous but does without ritual, then one dissipates one's energies; if one is cautious but does without ritual, then one becomes timid; if one is bold but does without ritual, then one becomes reckless; if one is forthright but does without ritual, then one becomes rude.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

Without ritual, courtesy is tiresome; without ritual, prudence is timid; without ritual, bravery is quarrelsome; without ritual, frankness is hurtful.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

Respectfulness without the rituals becomes laboriousness; discretion without the rituals becomes apprehensiveness; courage without the rituals becomes rebelliousness; straightforwardness without the rituals becomes impetuosity.
[tr. Huang (1997)]

One would be tired if one is humble but not polite; One would be week if one is cautious but not polite; One would be foolhardy if one is brave but not polite; One would be caustic if one is frank but not polite.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #190]

Deference unmediated by observing ritual propriety [li] is lethargy; caution unmediated by observing ritual propriety is timidity; boldness unmediated by observing ritual propriety is rowdiness; candor unmediated by observing ritual propriety is rudeness.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

If he is respectful without propriety, he becomes wearisome. If he is careful without propriety, he becomes finicky. If he is brave without propriety, he becomes disruptive. If he is upright without propriety, he becomes censorious.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

Reverence becomes tedium without Ritual, and caution becomes timidity. Without Ritual, courage becomes recklessness, and truth becomes intolerance.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

If you are respectful but lack ritual you will become exasperating; if you are careful but lack ritual you will become timid; if you are courageous but lack ritual you will become unruly; and if you are upright but lack ritual you will become inflexible.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

Courtesy without ritual becomes labored; caution without ritual becomes timidity; daring without ritual becomes riotousness; directness without ritual becomes obtrusiveness.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

Unless a man acts according to the spirit of the rites, in being respectful, he will tire himself out; in being cautious, he will become timid; in being brave, he will become unruly; in being forthright, he will become derisive.
[tr. Chin (2014)]

Added on 13-Mar-12 | Last updated 8-May-23
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More quotes by Confucius

KING ARTHUR: I am your king.

WOMAN: Well, I didn’t vote for you.

KING ARTHUR: You don’t vote for kings.

WOMAN: Well how’d you become king then?

KING ARTHUR: [angelic music plays] The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your king.

DENNIS: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Monty Python (contemp.) British comedy troupe
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Sep-22
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