24 Random Quotes from the Library's collection

When you discover that everything you do is completely determined, then you suddenly have to wake up to the fact that the only real you is whatever it is that’s determining what you do.
Alan Watts
Samvega was what the young Prince Siddhartha felt on his first exposure to aging, illness, and death. It’s a hard word to translate because it covers such a complex range—at least three clusters of feelings at once: the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it’s normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. This is a cluster of feelings we’ve all experienced at one time or another in the process of growing up, but I don’t know of a single English term that adequately covers all three. It would be useful to have such a term, and maybe that’s reason enough for simply adopting the word samvega into our language.
I doubt whether there is a more decisive moment for a thinking being than when the scales fall from his eyes and he discovers that he is not an isolated unit lost in the cosmic solitudes, and realises that a universal will to live converges and is hominised in him.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1955
The population on the limited surface of this planet which bears us is increasing in almost geometrical progression; while at the same time the scope of each human molecule, in terms of movement, information, and influence, is becoming rapidly coextensive with the whole surface of the globe. A state of tightening compression, in short; but even more, thanks to the biological intermingling developed to its uttermost extent by the appearance of reflection, a state of organized compenetration, in which each element is linked with every other.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1947
Debate has focused on the question of whether mind must be in the head, but a more relevant question in assessing these examples might be: is mind in the present?
Andrew Clark
1998
How do we fight back? I think: by creating art. Art. Man was not put on this planet to toil in the mud—or: the god who put us on this planet to toil in the mud is no god I want to have any part of. It’s some kind of gnostic demon. It’s some kind of cannibalistic demiurge that should be thoroughly renounced and rejected. By putting the art pedal to the metal, we really, I think, maximize our humanness and become much more necessary and incomprehensible to the machines. This is what people were doing up until the invention of agriculture. I’m absolutely convinced that the absence of ceramic and textural material, and so forth and so on, does not indicate the absence of subtle minds, poetically empowered minds, minds with an incredible sense of humor and irony and community. And that it was the fall into history that enslaved us to the labor cycle, to the agricultural cycle. And notice how fiendish it is: a person who dedicates themselves to agriculture, who did in the Paleolithic, can produce hundreds of times the amount of food they can consume. Well, so why would anyone do that? Well, the answer is: because you can use it to play power games, you know? You can trade it for wives or land or animals or something like that. And so living in the moment, creating art—probably largely through poetry and body decoration and dance—gave way to toil and predatory social forms of behavior which we call commerce, capitalism, the market economy, so forth and so on.
Do I really need to exist? To be here as an organism? I mean, good lord, I am here, you know? And, well, I can’t help it! It has nothing to do with my ego that I have feet and that I exist and that I’m here. Do I really mean it or don’t I? Well, I guess I do. I mean, my physical existence here is perfectly sincere. It’s about as real as anything can be, but I didn’t intend it. I don’t have to say UGH! you know?
We can draw but one conclusion from this evolutionary conflict between the without (which is limited) and the within (which knows no limit) of the noösphere: that we must foresee an internal break between the two aspects of the phenomenon. We are forced to conceive that beyond a certain critical value, centration can in some way or other continue independently of the physico-chemical synthesis that was necessary, in a first phase, for its initiation: the centre throwing off its original shell of complication.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1941
The human mind—long unacknowledged as humanity’s highest faculty—ultimately would discover its own significance and would become established and most importantly operative not only aboard planet Earth, but also in respect to vast, locally evidenced aspects of Universe.
Richard Buckminster Fuller
1981
If, however, we consider the ecosystem as an energy system which manifests itself in the organization of matter, maximum “engagement” in matter (i.e. energy storage) and maximum process intensity (i.e. entropy production) are the criteria for optimal stability. This may explain to some extent why the most differentiated and mature ecosystems occur at high temperatures.
It was actually taking place, it wasn’t a dream, a vision nor a symbol to be interpreted. It was there taking place, beyond any doubt; it was not a thing of imagination. No thought could possibly invent it; it was too immense and real for thought to formulate it.
Jiddu Krishnamurti
1976
Living Matter Evades the Decay to Equilibrium.
For the last twenty thousand years during which we have known it (for that is all) there appears to have been no appreciable change in the structure or in the functioning of the brain of Homo sapiens. When, however, we leave aside the individual and turn to the collectivity of man, something new comes to light.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1941
It is a curious thing that it’s very difficult to get human beings to organize their energies for something pleasant. It’s only under fear, under external threat to their life, that human beings will really get busy and cooperate. So the solidarity of any group of human beings depends to an enormous extent on an external menace. And therefore, that menace is friendly to the solidarity and the cooperative enterprise of the group.
Alan Watts
It’s very important for people to define themselves as artists, and learn tools, and understand just how the game is being played in this informational jungle that is being erected. Because you will either have a plan, or you will become part of somebody else’s plan. And there are a million plans out there waiting to ensnare the clueless.
There will be ever larger and larger classes and groups of people from whom problems of economic necessity have been practically removed. The critical difference will be realised when this condition has become so general that the nature of one’s duty to one’s neighbour is changed. For it will remain reasonable to be economically purposive for others after it has ceased to be reasonable for oneself.
In that state of pure listening without naming, you cannot tell the difference between the universe and your action upon it. That’s kinda scary.
The things around us—the manmade inventions we provide ourselves with—are like a vast network, each part of which is interdependent with all the others.
The Milky Way, our Milky Way, is not the only one of its kind in the Universe. Here and there small milky patches are to be discerned in the sky, which the telescope shows to be spiral clouds containing sparks of brilliance. These, as we now know, are infinitely further away from us than the stars. They do not belong to our own, immediate world—or, as one might put it, to the sidereal vessel which bears us. They are other islands, other fragments of the Universe, other Milky Ways sailing in convoy with our own through space.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1945
You’ve got this extraordinary feeling of the amazing nature of looking at reality, at life, without doing anything to it, without any sense of hurry, without any wish to improve it. Just let it happen.
Alan Watts
Life is not an accident in the Material Universe, but the essence of the phenomenon.
Until we get this higher perspective we are going to continue to rattle the bars of our cage. The higher perspective depends on seeing things on a scale of thousands of years and potentially millions of light-years. A cosmic scale—the correct scale; the scale on which we are truly operating.
Terence McKenna
1989
We ignore and screen out the physical fact of our total interdependence with the natural world. We are as embodied in it as our own cells and molecules are embodied in us. Our neglect and repression of this interrelationship gives special urgency to all the new sciences of ecology, studying the interplay of organisms with their environments, and warning us against ignorant interference with the balances of nature.
The universe is fundamentally a system which creeps up on itself and then says, “Boo!” And then it laughs at itself for jumping. And, you see, every time it does it, it forgets that it did it before, so it never becomes a bore.
Alan Watts
1971


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