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Wisdom from Around the Globe



Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable. ~ Helen Keller (1880-1968)


You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. ~ Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian writer and philosopher


Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't. ~ Erica Jong


Time does not change us. It just unfolds us. ~ Max Frisch


You become what you believe. ~ Oprah


The trouble with being number one in the world—at anything—is that it takes a certain mentality to attain that position in the first place, and that is something of a driving, perfectionist attitude, so that once you do achieve number one, you don't relax and enjoy it. ~ Billie Jean King


We detest in others defects which are much more glaring in us, and, with surprising impudence and thoughtlessness, express our surprise at them. ~ Michel Montaigne (1533-1952)


Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.  ~ Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)


I am passionately in love
With beauty, in its myriad shapes
and guises. 
I take up the pen of poetry to 
And the thousand-fretted lute to 
Beauty—silent, raging or
Like the sublime and mighty
Of mountains and rivers, and
poetry, and thought. 

~ The Lu, Vietnamese Poet


Learn politeness from the impolite. ~ Egyptian Proverb


It's a poor rule that won't work both ways. ~ Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)


Blessed ... is he who has it in his power to do evil, yet does it not. ~ Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549)


Those who play the game do not see as clearly as those who watch. ~ Chinese Proverb


Faith is a devout belief in what one does not understand. ~ Marie Anne de Vinchy-Chamrond (1697-1780)


Kindness is a mark of faith; and whoever hath not kindness, hath not faith. ~ Muhammad (570-632)


The wise man will not look for the faults of others, nor for what they have done or left undone, but will look rather to his own misdeeds. ~ Dhammapada (c. 3rd century B.C.E.) 


The fool is thirsty in the midst of water. ~ Ethiopian Proverb


He who forgives ends the quarrel. ~ African Proverb


If a man foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him, the more good shall go from me. ~ Buddha


Regret for wasted time 
is more wasted time. 
~ Mason Cooley


Imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain. ~ James Baldwin (1924-1987)


We compound our suffering by victimizing each other. ~ Athol Fugard


When people have peace, they hate it and long for excitement,
and when they have excitement, they want peace. ~ Amos Oz


Like beautiful flowers, full of colors but without scent, are the well-spoken words of the man who does not practice what he preaches. ~ Dhammapada (c. 3rd century B.C.E.) 


God is merciful to those who are merciful to others. ~ Talmud


You're either part of the problem or part of the solution. ~ Eldridge Cleaver


Those to whom love draws nigh are the most severely tested. ~ Attar, Persian Poet


Truth is superior to man's wisdom. ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi


The most malignant of enemies is the lust which abides within. ~ Sa'di of Shiraz, Persian Poet


You can cut, or you can drug with words. ~ Amy Lowell (1874-1925) 


Literature must be an analysis of experience and a synthesis of the findings into a unity. 
~ Rebecca West (1892-1983)


Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects of the same state. ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)




Reading is actually plunging into one's own identity and, one hopes, emerging stronger than before. You see, unconsciously, we are seeking to find an affirmation to our own world perception and set of values. ~ Amalia Kahana-Carmon, Israeli poet


Books are . . . funny little portable pieces of thought. ~ Susan Sontag, American writer and critic


Any coward can fight a battle when he's sure of winning; but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he's sure of losing. ~ George Eliot (1819-1880)


The key to life is making the best of change. ~ Evelyn Nef


There is no escape—man drags man down, or man lifts man up. ~ Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)


If reason dominates in man,
he rises higher than angels.
If lust overpowers man, he
descends lower than the beast. 

~ Rumi (1207-1273)
Persian Sufi Poet


It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself. ~ Betty Friedan


I tell the truth: your enemy is also your friend—his presence makes your life fuller and richer. 
~ Muhammad Iqbal (1873-1938)


Man is wise ...when he recognizes no greater enemy than himself. ~ Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549)


If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if thirsty, give him water to drink. Even if he came to kill you, give him food if he is hungry or water if he is thirsty. ~ Talmud


He who envies the happiness of others derives from it only evil,
like the spider which, from a flower, derives poison. ~ Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438-1471)






To be a poet is to shiver with the wind,
To dream by moonlight and to
frolic with the clouds;
To have one's soul pinned to a
thousand heartstrings,
Or torn apart by a hundred
different loves.

~ Xuan Dieu, Poetic Feelings


I have all that I lost
and I go carrying my childhood 
like a favorite flower
that perfumes my hand. 

~ Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)


There comes a time when a cup
of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to
be plunged into an abyss or injustice where they
experience the blackness of corroding despair. 

~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 
American civil rights leader


Watchfulness is the path to immortality, and thoughtlessness the path to death. The watchful do not die, but the thoughtless are already like the dead. ~ Dhammapada (c. 3rd century B.C.E.) 


If I can stop one Heart from 
I shall not live in vain. 
~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)


The man of Love follows the path of God—and shows affection to both 
the believer and the nonbeliever. ~ Muhammad Iqbal (1873-1938)
Indian Muslim Poet and Philosopher


The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself. ~ Garth Brooks


It's innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn't. ~ Mignon McLaughlin


No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time. ~ James Baldwin


The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. ~ Ann Landers


When you honor what you know your spirit is telling you to do, you are making the most conscientious decision, one for which you are willing to accept all the consequences. You understand that when you know better, you ought to do better — and doing better sometimes means changing our mind; and you realize that letting go of what others think you should do is the only way to reach your full potential. ~ Oprah


The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to 
lose all desire for things beyond your reach. ~ Lin Yutang (1895-1976)


To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage. ~ Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.)
Chinese Philosopher


If you are afraid to die, you will not be able to live. ~ James Baldwin (1924-1987)


Divine wisdom, intending to detain us some time on earth, has done well to cover with a veil the prospect of the life to come; for if our sight could clearly distinguish the opposite bank, who would remain on this tempestuous coast of time? ~ Madame de Stael (1766-1817)





All truths, not merely ideas, but truthful faces, truthful 
pictures or songs, are highly beautiful. ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)


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