A buoyant and full-blooded soul has quick senses and miscellaneous sympathies: it changes with the changing world; and when not too much starved or thwarted by circumstances, it finds all things vivid and comic. Life is free play fundamentally and would like to be free play altogether.
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O world, thou choosest not the better part! It is not wisdom to be only wise, And on the inward vision close the eyes, But it is wisdom to believe the heart. Columbus found a world, and had no chart, Save one that faith deciphered in the skies; To trust the soul's invincible surmise Was all his science and his only art.
Christianity persecuted, tortured, and burned. Like a hound it tracked the very scent of heresy. It kindled wars, and nursed furious hatreds and ambitions. It sanctified, quite like Mohammedism, extermination and tyranny. All this would have been impossible if, like Buddhism, it had looked only for peace and the liberation of souls. It looked beyond; it dreamt of infinite blisses and crowns it should be crowned with before an electrified universe and an applauding God... Buddhism had tried to quiet a sick world with anesthetics; Christianity sought to purge it with fire.
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Religious doctrines would do well to withdraw their pretension to be dealing with matters of fact. That pretension is not only the source of the conflicts of religion with science and the vain and bitter controversies of sects; it is also the cause of the impurity and incoherence of religion in the soul.
... even if Lucretius was wrong, and the soul is immortal, it is nevertheless steadily changing its interests and its possessions.Our lives are mortal if our soul is not; and the sentiment which reconciled Lucretius to death is as much needed if we are to face many deaths, as if we are to face only one.
The human race, in its intellectual life, is organized like the bees: the masculine soul is a worker, sexually atrophied, and essentially dedicated to impersonal and universal arts; the feminine is queen, infinite fertile, omnipresent in its brooding industry, but passive and abounding in intuitions without method and passions without justice.
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Man alone knows that he must die; but that very knowledge raises him, in a sense, above mortality, by making him a sharer in the vision of eternal truth. He becomes the spectator of his own tragedy; he sympathizes so much with the fury of the storm that he has no ears left for the shipwrecked sailor, though the sailor were his own soul. The truth is cruel, but it can be loved, and it makes free those who have loved it.
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The wonder of an artist's performance grows with the range of his penetration, with the instinctive sympathy that makes him, in his mortal isolation, considerate of other men's fate and a great diviner of their secret, so that his work speaks to them kindly, with a deeper assurance than they could have spoken with to themselves.
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Any attempt to speak without speaking any particular language is not more hopeless than the attempt to have a religion that shall be no religion in particular.... Every living and healthy religion has a marked idiosyncrasy. Its power consists in its special and surprising message and the bias which that revelation gives to life.
When a man's life is over, it remains true that he was one sort of man and not another. A man who understands himself under the form of eternity knows the quality that eternally belongs to him, and knows that he cannot wholly die, even if he would, for when the movement of his life is over, the truth of his life remains.
The aim of life is some way of living, as flexible and gentle as human nature; so that ambition may stoop to kindness, and philosophy to condor and humor. Neither prosperity nor empire nor heaven can be worth winning at the price of a virulent temper, bloody hands, an anguished spirit, and a vain hatred of the rest of the world.
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To most people, I fancy, the stars are beautiful; but if you asked why, they would be at a loss to reply, until they remembered what they had heard about astronomy, and the great size and distance and possible habitation of those orbs. ... [We] persuade ourselves that the power of the starry heavens lies in the suggestion of astronomical facts.
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In the Gospels, for instance, we sometimes find the kingdom of heaven illustrated by principles drawn from observation of this world rather than from an ideal conception of justice; ... They remind us that the God we are seeking is present and active, that he is the living God; they are doubtless necessary if we are to keep religion from passing into a mere idealism and God into the vanishing point of our thought and endeavour.
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With you a part of me hath passed away; For in the peopled forest of my mind A tree made leafless by this wintry wind Shall never don again its green array. Chapel and fireside, country road and bay, Have something of their friendliness resigned; Another, if I would, I could not find, And I am grown much older in a day. But yet I treasure in my memory Your gift of charity, and young hearts ease, And the dear honour of your amity; For these once mine, my life is rich with these. And I scarce know which part may greater be,-- What I keep of you, or you rob from me.
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