Quotes 2A

"... serving the memorable copyright of every witness."    [Etznab Mathers] 

The mission of philosophy a priori is to establish the relation of manifested things to their invisible ultimate cause or nature. [Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928), p. 1]

   "... every language, whether elaborated or crude, leaves many more things to be understood than it is able to express. Essentially discontinuous, since it proceeds by juxtaposing words, speech can only indicate by a few guide-posts placed here and there the chief stages in the movement of thought. That is why I can indeed understand your speech if I start from a thought analogous to your own, and follow its windings by the aid of verbal images which are so many sign-posts that show me the way from time to time. But I shall never be able to understand it if I start from the verbal images themselves, because between two consecutive verbal images there is a gulf which no amount of concrete representations can ever fill. For images can never be anything but things, and thought is a movement." [Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, 6th impression: 1950, p. 159; 1st published: 1911

   "All things in their fundamental nature are not namable or explicable. They cannot be adequately expressed in any form of language." [Ashvaghosha]

   "People never capture anything literally, says psychologist Henry L. Roediger III of Washington University in St. Louis. 'Whenever you encode an experience, you filter it through your own awareness. If we only remembered the literal words of a conversation, we might miss the meaning. If I tell you I'm really tired today because the baby was up all night, you might remember that the baby cried all night. It's an inference. We're always doing that, and that's actually very intelligent.' The odd thing, though, is that we usually don't know we're confabulating. People have an unfounded confidence in their memories, says Elizabeth Loftus." [Discover Magazine, August 2004, p. 76] 

   "Witchcraft has always been a religion of poetry, not theology. The myths, legends, and teachings are recognized as metaphors for 'That-Which-Cannot-Be-Told,' the absolute reality our limited minds can never completely know. The mysteries of the absolute can never be explained - only felt or intuited. Symbols and ritual acts are used to trigger altered states of awareness in which insights that go beyond words are revealed. When we speak of the 'secrets that cannot be told,' we do not mean merely that rules prevent us from speaking freely. We mean that the inner knowledge literally cannot be expressed in words. It can only be conveyed by experience, and no one can legislate what insight another person may draw from any given experience." [Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, p. 32]

   "The very nature of language is such that it relies for meaning upon the normal subject-object relationships. But, in the experience of Unity, there is no such separation. Thus, simply by naming It, that Unity is misrepresented." [S. Abhayananda, History of Mysticism, The Unchanging Testament, 3rd (Revised) Edition: 1996, p. 75; Original Copyright: 1987]

   "It should be remembered that the mystic writes in order to put into rational verbal form what he has experienced, and he utilizes the verbal symbols and terms of preceding mystics, not in a dogmatic fashion, but solely in order to draw upon familiar terminologies to make clear his own vision, and to show its consistency with the vision of those who preceded him.... For it is only natural and to be expected that one person, having experienced the Unity, will describe It in terms similar or identical to another who has experienced It." [S. Abhayananda, History of Mysticism, The Unchanging Testament, 3rd (Revised) Edition: 1996, p. 142; Original Copyright: 1987]

   Reminding us that the Indic dhyama 'thought' is a cognate of the Greek sema, Gregory Nagy has tried to resolve what seems at first sight to be a problem of meaning: How are we to understand the semantic relation between "thought" and "sign"?(43) Nagy's answer is that the Greek sema, which he translates as "coded message," is associated with the idea of a noesis, an anagnosis, or anagnorisis, key words that designate the mental process of decoding signs, reading, and recognition. Such processes are to be found in the immediate contexts of the word sema. There is no sema without noesis 'decoding'. In Nagy's view this semantic link constitutes a linguistic reflex, as it were, in ancient Greek. A sema remains incomplete without the "thought" implied in its decoding.

(43) G. Nagy, "Sema and noesis: Some Illustrations," Arethusa 16 (1983), pp. 35-55. I was privileged to attend the May 1982 lecture in which Nagy presented this article at the Centre de recherches comparees sur les societes anciennes in Paris. It has been reworked as chap. 8 in G. Nagy, Greek Mythology and Poetics (Ithica, N.Y., 1990), pp. 202-222, under the title "Sema and Noesis: The Hero's Tomb and the 'Reading' of Symbols in Homer and Hesiod."

[Based on: PHRASIKLEA - An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece (1993), by Jesper Svenbro, p. 17]

   "In religion and politics, peoples beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination." [Mark Twain]

   "Anyone familiar with George Orwell’s 1984 is already aware of the idea that controlling a people’s definition of words, controlling the meanings that those words evoke in the minds of the general public, is integral to achieving actual thought control of the populace." [Based on: Mathew Kristin Kiel, 01/14/2005]  

The creatures of painting stand like living beings, but if we ask them a question, they preserve a solemn silence. And so it is with written words; you might think they spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them, wishing to know about their sayings, they always say one and the same thing. (12)   - Socrates 

(12) Phaedrus 275d. See Protagoras 329a, Hippias Minor 365c-d (and Republic 378d), Laws 12.968d-e, Letters 7.343a.

[Based on: PHRASIKLEA - An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece (1993), by Jesper Svenbro, p. 29]

   "All religious teachings tend to crystallize over time. This is a sign that perceptions are becoming frozen and learning has slowed down. However, it is not just public criticism that creates this; public praise has the same effect.
   "People like to simplify a religious teaching into dogmatic phrases, mentalized concepts and rituals, and to file these belief systems away into neat little boxes. So, after thousands of such public statements, whether for or against a religion, perceptions start to become frozen, and the real spiritual essence becomes hidden."
[Doug Marman, Dialogue in the Age of Criticism, Chap. 10]   

   "On every side of you, you might see others following the outer writings, or the group consciousness, or leaders in an organization, but you should never let these outer authorities tell you what to believe. Faith in only the Inner Master, or Life of Itself, the ECK, will lead us to what we need to gain." [Doug Marman, Dialogue in the Age of Criticism, Chap. 11]    

   "From the moment when we start creating special points, ideas and distinctions, we exile ourselves from the state of God-Consciousness, and miss the infinite freedom of Reality...
   "The problem of saints within organized religions lies in the thought that once they have reached the formless - that of the true Kingdom of Heaven - they begin to make the mistake of putting themselves into the limitations of symbols and cherished opinions. All experiences of the mystics within religions have done this, and find themselves limited by the mind, which intervenes and creates tragic anxiety within the symbols of the adored formless vision and sound. Therefore, in spite of their lofty thoughts, they are able to penetrate only the limits of the mental plane where we find symbols, ideas and forms existing. [Paul Twitchell, Illuminated Way Letter, September 1966]

    "The minister and the priest teach that the organization is greater. No great philosophy has ever come from an organization, but from an individual whose research has been a personal study of God and ITS ways." [Paul Twitchell, The Flute of God, 10th printing: 1988, p. 5; 1st published: 1969]

   "There is no teacher, living or past, who can give us the actual understanding of Truth. A teacher can only put our feet upon the path and point the way. That is all. It is wholly dependent on the individual to make his way to Truth." [Paul Twitchell, The Flute of God, 10th printing: 1988, p. 14; 1st published: 1969]

   "Truth, in fact, can never be organized or encompassed by one or the many, for it does not lend itself to this modus operandi. Because of its peculiarity of action, those who attempt to organize it as churches, order or institutions will eventually meet with failure." [Paul Twitchell, The Flute of God, 10th printing: 1988, p. 19; 1st published: 1969

   "To recognize negativism as a force of creation is to give up the creative standpoint altogether. It is to quit the plane of the first cause and descend into the realm of secondary causation and lose ourselves amid the confusion of a multiplicity of relative causes and effects without grasping any unifying principle behind it." [Paul Twitchell, The Flute of God, 10th printing: 1988, p. 154; 1st published: 1969]

   "Self-recognition, the self-contemplation of spirit is the primary movement out of which all creativeness proceeds ...." [Paul Twitchell, The Flute of God, 10th printing: 1988, p. 158; 1st published: 1969]

   "Substance must emanate from spirit and is nothing else than the record of the spirit's conception of itself finding expression in space and time." [Paul Twitchell, The Flute of God, 10th printing: 1988, p. 160; 1st published: 1969]

   "Our spiritual attitude is determined by our conception of our relation to infinite spirit." [Paul Twitchell, The Flute of God, 10th printing: 1988, p. 161; 1st published: 1969]


   "The most that a religion or spiritual teaching can do is to lead us to the inner reservoir of truth and show us how to imbibe." [Ford Johnson, Confessions of a God Seeker, A Journey to Higher Consciousness, p. 244]

   "Belief in outer circumstances determining reality shapes most people's lives. They think that they are powerless to control or even influence these forces. The truth is just the opposite. Outer realities are shaped by what we accept and know as truth. By accepting the premise that our lives are the effect of outer circumstances, we plant this false paradigm in our consciousness and our lives out-picture accordingly." [Ford Johnson, Confessions of a God Seeker, A Journey to Higher Consciousness, p. 274]


   "The Master, the audible life stream, and spiritual liberation during this lifetime - these three constitute the substance of this book." [Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters, Sixteenth Edition 1997, p. 18; 1st published: 1939]

   "Let it be said with all due emphasis, that there is no such distinction as true and false religion, for every man's religion is for him true and genuine. It is his experience. But just what constitutes the differences, which we all know exist? That difference lies in the degree of objective reality which lies behind our individual experiences. If we build up a form of religion upon assumptions, superstitions, speculations, our system will be like the house built upon sand. When tested, it will not stand. But if our religious thinking and experiences are founded upon reality, our religion will stand every test." [Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters, Sixteenth Edition 1997, p. 161; 1st published: 1939]

   "Ages before the time of Jesus or Buddha, every single precept taught by either one of them was well known in the world and formed a part of the fundamental code. If you live up to those teachings, you are not thereby following that particular Master or any one Master. If a given precept has been taught by seven Masters during different ages of the world, are you thereby a disciple of all seven of them? You are simply walking in the light of universal ethical principles, regardless of individual Masters." [Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters, Sixteenth Edition 1997, p. 192; 1st published: 1939]

  "Each and every man, when properly trained, is able to detach himself from the physical body while still living in that body in perfect health, and then travel to all parts of the outlying universe. Everyone has this ability whether he is conscious of it or not." [Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters, Sixteenth Edition 1997, p. 366; 1st published: 1939]


A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure. - Buddha


   "Verily, God does not change men's condition, unless they change their inner selves." [Koranic Verse]


   "Words are used to express meaning. When you understand the meaning, you can forget about the words." [Chuang Tze]


"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool [moros], that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness [moria] with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." [St. Paul - 1 Cor. 3:18-19]


"The wise through excess of wisdom is made a fool." [Ralph Waldo Emerson]



"Possession is the highest form of knowledge," but, as Plato tells us in his Phaedrus, there is more than one kind of possession, or madness: "one produced by human infirmity, the other ... a divine release of the soul from the yoke of custom and convention."

And we made four divisions of the divine madness, ascribing them to four gods, saying that prophecy was inspired by Apollo, the mystic madness by Dionysus, the poetic by the Muses, and the madness of love, inspired by Aphrodite and Eros, we said was the best.... He who without the divine madness comes to the doors of the Muses, confident that he will be a good poet by art, meets with no success, and the poetry of the sane man vanishes into nothingness before that of the inspired madman. - Plato, Phaedrus, 265b; 245a


[Based on: article (Sing, Muse) by Martha T. Heyneman, Parabola Vol. 25, No.3, Fall 2000, p.55] 


   "Western Christians have been particularly prone to the flattering belief that they are God's elect. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Crusaders justified their holy wars against Jews and Muslims by calling themselves the new Chosen People, who had taken up the vocation that the Jews had lost. Calvinist theologies of election have been largely instrumental in encouraging Americans to believe that they are God's own nation." [Karen Armstrong, The History of God, p. 55]

   "Mark's Gospel, which as the earliest is usually regarded as the most reliable, presents Jesus as a perfectly normal man, with a family that included brothers and sisters. No angels announced his birth or sang over his crib. He had not been marked out during his infancy or adolescence as remarkable in any way. When he began to teach, his townsmen in Nazareth were astonished that the son of the local carpenter should have turned out to be such a prodigy." [Karen Armstrong, The History of God, p. 80]

   "An early tradition (hadith) has God say to Muhammad: 'I was a hidden treasure; I wanted to be known. Hence I created the world so that I might be known.' " [Karen Armstrong, The History of God, p. 150]

   "We should not be ashamed to acknowledge truth and to assimilate it from whatever source it comes to us, even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples. For him who seeks the truth there is nothing of higher value than truth itself; it never cheapens or debases him who reaches for it but ennobles and honors him." [Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi (d. ca. 870)]

   "A journey to the depths of the mind involves great personal risks because we may not be able to endure what we find there. That is why all religions have insisted that the mystical journey can only be undertaken under the guidance of an expert, who can monitor the experience, guide the novice past the perilous places and make sure that he is not exceeding his strength, like poor Ben Azzai, who died, and Ben Zoma, who went mad. All mystics stress the need for intelligence and mental stability. Zen masters say that it is useless for a neurotic person to seek a cure in meditation, for that will only make him sicker. The strange and outlandish behavior of some European Catholic saints who were revered as mystics must be regarded as aberrations. This cryptic story of the Talmudic sages shows that Jews had been aware of the dangers from the very beginning: later, they would not let young people become initiated into the disciplines of Kabbalah until they were fully mature. A mystic also had to be married, to ensure that he was in good sexual health." [Karen Armstrong, The History of God, p. 213]

   "Since each man and woman had had a unique experience of God, it followed that no religion could express the whole of the divine mystery. There was no objective truth about God to which all must subscribe ...." [Karen Armstrong, The History of God, p. 238]

   "Do not attach yourself to any particular creed exclusively, so that you may disbelieve all the rest; otherwise you will lose much good, nay, you will fail to recognize the real truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omnipotent, is not limited by any one creed, for, he says, 'Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of al-Lah' (Koran 2:109). Everyone praises what he believes; his god is his own creature, and in praising it he praises himself. Consequently he blames the beliefs of others, which he would not do if he were just, but his dislike is based on ignorance." [Ibn al-Arabi]

   "In Christianity Not Mysterious (1696), Toland argued that mystery simply led to 'tyranny and superstition.' "  [Karen Armstrong, The History of God, p. 306]

   "A God who kept tinkering with the universe was absurd; a god who interfered with human freedom and creativity was a tyrant. If God is seen as a self in a world of his own, an ego that relates to a thou, a cause separate from its effect, 'he' becomes a being, not Being itself. An omnipotent, all-knowing tyrant is not so different from earthly dictators who made everything and everybody mere cogs in the machine which they controlled. An atheism that rejects such a God is amply justified." [Karen Armstrong, The History of God, p. 383]


   "Fundamentalism - whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim - rarely arises as a battle with an external enemy; it usually begins, instead, as an internal struggle in which traditionalists fight their own coreligionists who, they believe, are making too many concessions to the secular world." [Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God, p. 110]

   "Fundamentalism exists in a symbiotic relationship with an aggressive liberalism or secularism, and, under attack, invariably becomes more extreme, bitter, and excessive." [Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God, p. 178]

   "To this day, the placards and graffiti on the walls of an anti-Zionist district in Jerusalem equate the political leaders of the State of Israel with Hitler. To an outsider, such an equation is shocking, false, and perverse, but it gives us some idea of the profound horror that secularism can inspire in the heart of a fundamentalist." [Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God, p. 205]

   "Fundamentalists have turned the mythos of their religion into logos, either by insisting that their dogmas are scientifically true, or by transforming their complex mythology into a streamlined ideology. They have thus conflated two complementary sources and styles of knowledge which the people in the premodern world had usually decided it was wise to keep separate. The fundamentalist experience shows the truth of this conservative insight. By insisting that the truths of Christianity are factual and scientifically demonstrable, American Protestant fundamentalists have created a caricature of both religion and science. Those Jews and Muslims who have presented their faith in a reasoned, systematic way to compete with other secular ideologies have also distorted their religion, narrowing it down to a single point by a process of ruthless selection. As a result, all have neglected the more tolerant, inclusive, and compassionate teachings and have cultivated theologies of rage, resentment, and revenge. On occasion, this has even led a small minority to pervert religion by using it to sanction murder. Even the vast majority of fundamentalists, who are opposed to such acts of terror, tend to be exclusive and condemnatory of those who do not share their views." [Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God, p. 366]

   "The desire to define doctrines, erect barriers, establish borders, and segregate the faithful in a sacred enclave where the law is stringently observed springs from that terror of extinction which has made all fundamentalists, at one time or another, believe that the secularists were about to wipe them out. The modern world, which seems so exciting to a liberal, seems Godless, drained of meaning, and even satanic to a fundamentalist. If a patient brought such paranoid, conspiracy-laden, and vengeful fantasies to a therapist, he or she would undoubtly be diagnosed as disturbed." [Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God, p. 368] 


   "One should not expect, without having been reformed himself, to attempt to reform another." [Ayatollah Khomeini]


   "All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of nature, but the man lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor. But the man who knows the relation between the forces of Nature and actions, sees how some forces of Nature work upon other forces of Nature, and becomes not their slave." [Bhagavad-Gita]


   "The motions akin to the divine part in us are the thoughts and revolutions of the universe; these, therefore, every man should follow, and correcting those circuits in the head that were deranged at birth, by learning to know the harmonies and revolutions of the world, he should bring the intelligent part, according to its pristine nature, into the likeness of that which intelligence discerns, and thereby win the fulfillment of the best in life set by the gods before mankind both for this present time and for the time to come." - Plato


   "The most important characteristic of the Eastern world view - one could almost say the essence of it - is the awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things and events, the experience of all phenomena in the world as manifestations of a basic oneness. All things are seen as interdependent and inseparable parts of this cosmic whole; as different manifestations of the same ultimate reality. The Eastern traditions constantly refer to the ultimate, indivisible reality which manifests itself in all things, and of which all things are parts. It is called Brahman in Hinduism, Dharmakaya in Buddhism, Tao in Taoism. Because it transcends all concepts and catagories, Buddhists also call it Tathata, or suchness." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 130-131]

   "Quantum theory forces us to see the universe not as a collection of physical objects, but rather as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of a unified whole. This, however, is the way in which Eastern mystics have experienced the world, and some of them have expressed their experience in words which are almost identical with those used by atomic physicists." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 138]

   "The crucial feature of atomic physics is that the human observer is not only necessary to observe the properties of an object, but is necessary even to define these properties. In atomic physics we cannot talk about the properties of an object as such. They are only meaningful in the context of the object's interaction with the observer. In the words of Heisenberg, 'What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.' The observer decides how he is going to set up the measurement and this arrangement will determine, to some extent, the properties of the observed object. If the experimental arrangement is modified, the properties of the observed object will change in turn." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 140]

   "The idea of 'participation instead of observation' has been formulated in modern physics only recently, but it is an idea which is well known to any student of mysticism. Mystical knowledge can never be obtained just by observation, but only by full participation with one's whole being. The notion of the participator is thus crucial to the Eastern world view, and the Eastern mystics have pushed this notion to the extreme, to a point where observer and observed, subject and object, are not only inseparable but also become indistinguishable." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 141-142]

   "Modern physics has confirmed most dramatically one of the basic ideas of Eastern mysticism; that all the concepts we use to describe nature are limited, that they are not features of reality, as we tend to believe, but creations of the mind; parts of the map, not of the territory. Whenever we expand the realm of our experience, the limitations of our rational mind become apparent and we have to modify, or even abandon, some of our concepts." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 161]

   "The real revolution that came with Einstein's theory ... was the abandonment of the idea that the space-time coordinate system has objective significance as a separate physical entity. Instead of this idea, relativity theory implies that the space and time coordinates are only the elements of a language that is used by an observer to describe his environment." [Mendel Sachs]

   "The Vedic concept of Rita anticipates the idea of karma which was developed later to express the dynamic interplay of all things and events. The word karma means 'action' and denotes the 'active', or dynamic, interrelation of all phenomena. In the words of the Bhagavad Gita, 'All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of nature.' The Buddha took up the traditional concept of karma and gave it a new meaning by extending the idea of dynamic interconnections to the sphere of human situations. Karma thus came to signify the never-ending chain of cause and effect in human life which the Buddha had broken in attaining the state of enlightenment." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 190]

   "The Buddha taught that 'all compounded things are impermanent', and that all suffering in the world arises from our trying to cling to fixed forms - objects, people or ideas - instead of accepting the world as it moves and changes... Buddhists call this world of ceaseless change samsara, which means, literally, 'incessantly in motion'; and they affirm that there is nothing in it which is worth clinging to. So for the Buddhists, an enlightened being is one who does not resist the flow of life, but keeps moving with it." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 191]

   "Whenever a subatomic particle is confined to a small region of space, it reacts to this confinement by moving around. The smaller the region of confinement, the faster will the particle 'jiggle' around in it. This behaviour is a typical 'quantum effect', a feature of the subatomic world which has no macroscopic analogy."  [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 192]

   "The tendency of particles to react to confinement with motion implies a fundamental 'restlessness' of mater which is characteristic of the subatomic world... According to quantum theory, matter is thus never quiescent, but always in a state of motion." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 193]

   "Because of the relativistic nature of subatomic particles, we cannot understand their properties without understanding their mutual reactions, and because of the basic interconnectedness of the subatomic world we shall not understand any one particle before understanding all the others." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 205]

   "The bootstrap hypothesis not only denies the existence of fundamental constituents of matter, but accepts no fundamental entities whatsoever - no fundamental laws, equations or principles - and thus abandons another idea which has been an essential part of natural science for hundreds of years. The notion of fundamental laws of nature was derived from the belief in a divine lawgiver which was deeply rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition." [Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 3rd Edition, p. 286-287]


Page last updated 09/05/11