Insightful Wisdom

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To laugh often and much: To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.

Martha Graham

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you for all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.  The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly to keep the channel open.  You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.  You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.  Keep the channel open.  No artist is pleased.  There is no satisfaction whatever, at any time.  There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."

Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi

"The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice."


Instructions For Life
Dalai Lama

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, donít lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three R's.  Respect for self.  Respect for others.  Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Donít let a little dispute injure a great relationship.

7. When you realize youíve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open arms to change, but donít let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer

11. Live a good, honorable life.  Then when you get older and think back, you will be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere is your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation.  Donít bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. Itís a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go some place you have never visited.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

I Would Rather See A Sermon

I would rather see a sermon than hear one any day.  I would rather one walk with me than merely tell me the way.  The eye is a better student and more willing than the ear; fine counsel can be confusing, but example is always clear.  I can soon learn how to do it, if I only see it done; I can watch your life in action, while your serious or having fun.  The greatest of all my friends are the ones who live their creeds; for to see the good in action, is what everybody needs.

Leo Toystoy's Will (a rough draft)
March 27, 1885

Furthermore and in particular, I ask people near and far not to praise me.  I know they will do so because they have done so in my lifetime in the most unseemly ways.  But if they want to study my writings, let them look carefully at those passages in them in which I know the power of God spoke through me and make use of them for their own lives.  There have been times when I felt I was becoming the bearer of God's will.  I have often been so impure, so full of personal passions that the light of this truth has been obscured but nevertheless sometimes this truth has passed through me and these have been the happiest moments of my life.  God grant that these truths should not have been defiled in passing through me and that people might feed on them despite the superficial and impure form which I have given them.

"The Inner Game of Tennis"
By: W. Timothy Galway

When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as "rootless and stem less."  We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed.

When it first shoots up out of the earth, we do not condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear.  We stand in wonder at the process taking place, and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development.

The rose is a rose from the time it is born until the time it dies.  Within it, at all times, is contained its whole potential.  It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each stage, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.

John Quincy Adams

Three days before he died.

John Quincy Adams is well.  But the house in which he lives at the present time is becoming dilapidated.  It's tottering on its foundations.  Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it.  Its roof is pretty well worn out.  Its walls are much shattered and they tremble with every wind.  I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon.  But he, himself, is quite well."

Accomplishments of Older People

Galileo was still publishing his writings at the age of 74.  Michelangelo was 71 when he was appointed as the Supervising architect of St. Peter's church.  Grandma Moses did not start painting until she was 76.  25% of her 1,500 paintings were done after she was 100.  Susan B. Anthony was head of the Suffragettes at the age of 80.   George Bernard Shaw fractured his leg at 96.  He fell out of a tree he was pruning.  Duke Ellington was passed over by the Pulitzer Prize Advisory Committee at the age of 66.  When he heard what they had done he said, "God does not want me to become too famous too early."  Goethe wrote Faust when he was 80.  Mary Baker Eddie founded the Christian Science Monitor when she was in her mid 80s.

Ben Franklin

When you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests and their selfish views.


Until one is committed, there is hesitancy; the chance to draw back is always present.  This always produces ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:

The moment one definitely commits oneself, then God moves as well.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues forth from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed would have come his or her way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it!  Boldness has genius, power and magic to it. Begin it now!

"The Wind Beneath My Wings"

It must have been cold there in my shadow, to never have sunlight on your face.  You've been content to let me shine.  You always walked the step behind.  I was the one with all the glory, while you were the one with all the strength, only a face without a name, I never once heard you complain.

Did you ever know that you're my hero, and everything I would like to be?  I can fly higher than an eagle, 'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed that I've got it all here in my heart.  I want you to know I know the truth: I would be nothing without you . . ..

When You Thought I Wasnít Looking

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that little things done for others could mean a lot.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I learned that there is a God whom I can talk to and trust.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we have to take care of each other.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing, and I learned that those who have something should give to those who donít.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I felt you kiss me good night, and I felt loved and safe.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw you take care of our house and everything in it, and I learned we have to take care of what we have.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didnít feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up, no matter what.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, and that it is okay to cry.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything I could to care for you and for others.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I learned most of lifeís lessons that I need to know to be a creative and productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasnít looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, ďThank you for all the things I saw when you thought I wasnít looking.Ē

A Cherokee Parable

"One day a Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson one of life's great lessons.  As the two of them walked around the rim of a lake that was nestled in the valley of a magnificent mountain range, the wise chief spoke:

A mighty struggle is going on inside of me as I speak.  It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil -- he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, unfaithfulness, superiority and arrogance.

The other is good -- This one is joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.  This same fight is going on inside of you and inside everyone of every nation on earth.

The grandson thought about this struggle for quite some time.  Then he broke his silence and asked, 'Which wolf will win, grandfather?'  The Cherokee chief answered, 'the one you feed, my grandson. The one you feed.'"

The Riddle

We are your constant companions.  We are your greatest helpers or your worst enemies.  We will push you onward or drag you down.  We are completely at your command.  Half the things you do might just as well be turned over to us and we will do them quickly and efficiently.  We are easily managed.  Show us exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons, we will do it automatically.  We are the servants of all great people and the demons of all who fail.  We are not machines, although we work with mechanical precision.  You may use us for growth or use us for decay -- it makes no difference to us.  Train us, be firm with us and we will bring many of your dreams into reality.  If you are easy with us, requiring no discipline from us, we will destroy you.  Who are we? The answer is, "Your Habits."

From Henry Nouwen

Henry Nouwen is a Roman Catholic priest and a professor at Boston University School of Theology.  He has written a book entitled, Letters to Marc About Jesus.  This is what he says:

I don't think you will ever be able to penetrate the mystery of God's revelation in Jesus until it strikes you that the major part of Jesus' life was hidden and that even the 'public' years remain invisible as far as most people were concerned.

Whereas the way of the world is to insist on publicity, celebrity, popularity, and getting the maximum exposure.  God prefers to work in secret. You must have the nerve to let that mystery of God's secrecy, God's anonymity, sink deeply into your consciousness because, otherwise, you will continually be looking in the wrong direction.  In God's sight, the things that really matter seldom take place in public.  It is the totally unknown people, praying and working in silence that make the difference in God's creative patterns.  Perhaps the greatest saints remain anonymous!


Truly the yoke of Christ would be sweet if petty human institutions added nothing more to what he himself imposed. He commanded us nothing save love for one another.

Whatever Is, Is Best
Helen Steiner Rice

Maybe I am kind of old-fashioned
Maybe I'm trailing the rest
But somehow I cling to the theory
that whatever happens is best.

Best if we know how to use it,
If we know just what lessons to take
Best if we know what each happening means,
And out of them just what to make.

In looking back down the trail of the years
I can now very clearly see
That so many things were not for the best
which I wanted heart breakingly;

And, too, I can see where the "bitter pills"
with which some phases were filled
Were the very cornerstones on which
I eventually found I could build.

Friends that you thought you would die without
You found in the hard, long run,
Were not the ones you needed at all,
but belonged to the days of fun.

Think back now and see if the hardest days
were not richer than all the rest
When you've conquered your fears
and learned through your tears

That whatever is, is best.

An Approach To Other Religions

We need to approach every religion with a deep humility, by which we remember that God has not left Himself without a witness in any nation at any time.  When we approach people of another faith, it should be in a spirit of expectancy.  We need to listen for how God has been speaking to them and what new understanding of God's grace and love we may discover from them.  Our first task in approaching others, another culture or another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are standing is holy ground.  If we do not, we may find ourselves treading on people's dreams.  More serious still, we may neglect remembering that God was here before our arrival.

M.A.C. Warren
The Primal Vision: Xian Presence Amid African
Religion, 1963

Siddhartha's Thoughts On Religious Belief

Do not believe what you have heard.  Do not believe in tradition because it has been handed down for many generations.  Do not believe in anything that has been spoken of many times.  Do not believe because the written statements come from some old sage.  Do not believe in conjecture.  Do not believe in authority or teachers or elders.  Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, UNLESS it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.  After careful observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and it will benefit one and all, then accept it and live by it."

Prince Siddhartha Gautama 563-483 B.C.
Buddha (which means the enlightened one)

A Parable
From Richard Bach's

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.  The current of the river swept silently over them all - - the young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current is what each had learned from birth.  But one creature said at last, "I am tired of clinging.  Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going.  I want to let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I will die of boredom."

The other creatures laughed and said, "You are a fool!  Let go, and that current will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than from boredom!"  But the one heeded them not, and taking a deep breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current against the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.  And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger cried, "See a miracle!  A creature like ourselves, yet he flies!  See a Messiah who has come to save us all."

And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more a Messiah than any of you.  The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go.  Our true work is this voyage, this adventure."  But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again, he was gone.  And they were left alone making legends of a Savior.

ords of Chief Seattle (excerpt from Joseph Campbellís The Power of Myth)

The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land but how can you buy or sell the sky, the land; the idea is strange to us.  Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.  Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, all are holy in the memory and experience of my people.  Weíre part of the Earth and it is part of us.

The perfume flowers are our sisters.  The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers.  Each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories and the life of my people.  The waterís murmur is the voice of my fatherís father.  The rivers are our brothers.  They carry our canoes and feed our children.

If we send you our land, remember that the air is precious to us.  That the air shares its spirit along with the life it supports.  The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh.  This we know, the Earth does not belong to man.  Man belongs to the Earth.  All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.  Man did not weave the web of life.  He is merely a strand in it.  Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.  Your destiny is a mystery to us.

What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered?  What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by the talking wires?  The end of living and the beginning of survival.  When the last red man has vanished with his wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie; will these shores and forests still be here?  Will there be any spirit of my people left?  We love this earth as a newborn loves his motherís heart beat.  So if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it.  Care for it as we have cared for it.  Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it.  Preserve the land for all children and love it as God loves us all.  One thing we know, there is only one God, no man be he red man or white man can be a part.  We are brothers after all.

Young Girlís Poem shortly before she died
Like Mattie Stepanek


Have you ever watched kids
On a merry go round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask, How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say, "Hi"
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.