When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.
For it is our most secret desire that governs and dominates all. If your eyes look for nothing but evil, you will always see evil triumphant; but if you have learned to let your glance rest on sincerity, simpleness, truth, you will ever discover, deep down in all things, the silent overpowering victory of that which you love.
Our lives must be spent seeking our God, for God hides; but His artifices, once they be known, seem so simple and smiling! From that moment, the merest nothing reveals His presence, and the greatness of our life depends on so little.
Should we not invariably act in this life as though the God whom our heart desires with its highest desire were watching our every action?
For what are in reality the things we call ‘Wisdom,’ ‘Virtue,’ ‘Heroism,’ ‘sublime hours,’ and ‘great moments of life,’ but the moments when we have more or less issued forth from ourselves, and have been able to halt, be it only for an instant, on the step of one of the eternal gates whence we see that the faintest cry, the most colourless thought, and most nerveless gestures do not drop into nothingness; …
There may be human joy in doing good with definite purpose, but they who do good expecting nothing in return know a joy that is divine.
He is wise who at last sees in suffering only the light that it sheds on his soul; and whose eyes never rest on the shadow it casts upon those who have sent it towards him. And wiser still is the man to whom sorrow and joy not only bring increase of consciousness, but also the knowledge that something exists superior to consciousness even. To have reached this point is to reach the summit of inward life, whence at last we look down on the flames whose light has helped our ascent.
We suffer but little from suffering itself; but from the manner wherein we accept it overwhelming sorrow may spring. We are wrong in believing that it comes from without. For indeed we create it within us, out of our very substance.
He who knows himself is wise; yet have we no sooner acquired real consciousness of our being than we learn that true wisdom is a thing that lies far deeper than consciousness. The chief gain of increased consciousness is that it unveils an ever-loftier unconsciousness, on whose heights do the sources lie of the purest wisdom.
Wisdom is the lamp of love, and love is the oil of the lamp. Love, sinking deeper, grows wiser; and wisdom that springs up aloft comes ever the nearer to love. Love is the food of wisdom; wisdom the food of love; a circle of light within which those who love, clasp the hands of those who are wise.
Truly they who know still know nothing if the strength of love be not theirs; for the true sage is not he who sees, but he who, seeing the furthest, has the deepest love for mankind. He who sees without loving is only straining his eyes in the darkness.
… it is that such of us as have loved deeply have learnt many secrets that are unknown to others; for thousands and thousands of things quiver in silence on the lips of true friendship and love, that are not to be found in the silence of other lips, to which friendship and love are unknown. …
Our real life is not the life we live, and we feel that our deepest, nay, our most intimate thoughts are quite apart from ourselves, for we are other than our thoughts and our dreams. And it is only at special moments – it may be by merest accident – that we live our own life. Will the day ever dawn when we shall be what we are? …
Every new star that is found in the sky will lend of its rays to the passions, and thoughts, and the courage, of man. Whatever of beauty we see in all that surrounds us, within us already is beautiful; whatever we find in ourselves that is great and adorable, that do we find too in others.
Thousands of channels there are through which the beauty of your soul may sail even unto our thoughts. Above all is there the wonderful, central channel of love.
There needs but so little to encourage beauty in our soul; so little to awaken the slumbering angels; or perhaps is there no need of awakening --- it is enough that we lull them not to sleep. It requires more effort to fall, perhaps, than to rise. Can we, without putting constraint upon ourselves, confine our thoughts to everyday things at times when the sea stretches before us, and we are face to face with the night? And what soul is there but knows that it is ever confronting the sea, ever in presence of an eternal night?
Nothing in the whole world is so athirst for beauty as the soul, nor is there anything to which beauty clings so readily. There is nothing in the world capable of such spontaneous up-lifting, of such speedy ennoblement; nothing that offers more scrupulous obedience to the pure and noble command it receives.
In all truth might it be said that beauty is the unique aliment of our soul, for in all places does it search for beauty, and it perishes not of hunger even in the most degraded of lives. For indeed nothing of beauty can pass by and be altogether unperceived. Perhaps does it never pass by save only in our unconsciousness, but its action is no less puissant in gloom of night than by light of day; the joy it procures may be less tangible, but other difference there is none.
Must we always be warned, and can we only fall on our knees when some one is there to tell us that God is passing by? If you have loved profoundly you have needed no one to tell you that your soul was a thing as great in itself as the world; that the stars, the flowers, the waves of night and sea were not solitary; that it was on the threshold of appearances that everything began, but nothing ended, and that the very lips you kissed belonged to a creature who was loftier, much purer, and much more beautiful than the one whom your arms enfolded.
To love one’s neighbour in the immovable depths means to love in others that which is eternal; for one’s neighbour, in the truest sense of the term, is that which approaches the nearest to God; in other words, all that is best and purest in man; and it is only by ever lingering near the gates I spoke of, that you can discover the divine in the soul.
Look upon men and things with the inner eye, with its form and desire, never forgetting that the shadow they throw as they pass by, upon hillock or wall, is but the fleeting image of a mightier shadow, which, like the wing of an imperishable swan, floats over every soul that draws near to their soul. Do not believe that thoughts such as these can be mere ornaments, and without influence upon the lives of those who admit them. It is far more important that one’s life should be perceived than that it should be transformed; for no sooner has it been perceived, than it transforms itself of its own accord.
It is the disaster of our entire existence that we live thus away from our soul, and stand in such dread of its slightest movement. Did we but allow it to smile frankly in its silence and its radiance, we should be already living an eternal life. We have only to think for an instant how much it succeeds in accomplishing during those rare moments when we knock off its chains – for it is our custom to enchain it as though it were distraught – what it does in love, for instance, for there we do permit it at times to approach the lattices of external life.
Be good at the depth of you, and you will discover that those who surround you will be good even to the same depths. Nothing responds more infallibly to the secret cry of goodness than the secret cry of goodness that is near. While you are actively good in the invisible, all those who approach you will unconsciously do things that they could not do by the side of any other man.
This invisible and divine goodness, of which I only speak here because of its being one of the surest and nearest signs of the unceasing activity of our soul, this invisible and divine goodness ennobles, in decisive fashion, all that it has unconsciously touched.
May it not be the supreme aim of life thus to bring to birth the inexplicable within ourselves; and do we know how much we add to ourselves when we awake something of the incomprehensible that slumbers in every corner? Here you have awakened love which will not fall asleep again. … nothing can ever separate two souls which, for an instant, ‘have been good together.
Each man has to seek out his own special aptitude for a higher life in the midst of the humble and inevitable reality of daily existence. Than this there can be no nobler aim in life. It is only by the communications we have with the infinite that we are to be distinguished from each other.
To love thus is to love according to the soul; and there is no soul that does not respond to this love. For the soul of man is a guest that has gone hungry these centuries back, and never has it to be summoned twice to the nuptial feast.
Death has come and atoned for all. I have no grievance against the soul of the man before me. Instinctively do I recognise that it soars high above the gravest faults and the cruellest wrongs (and how admirable and full of significance is this instinct!). If there linger still a regret within me, it is not that I am unable to inflict suffering in my turn, but it is perhaps that my love was not great enough and that my forgiveness has come too late. …
If I tell some one that I love him – as I may have told a hundred others – my words will convey nothing to him; but the silence which will ensue, if I do indeed love him, will make clear in what depths lie the roots of my love, and will in its turn give birth to a conviction, that shall itself be silent; and in the course of a lifetime, this silence and this conviction will never again be the same. …
As gold and silver are weighed in pure water, so does the soul test its weight in silence, and the words that we let fall have no meaning apart from the silence that wraps them round.
And it is because we all of us know of this sombre power and its perilous manifestations, that we stand in so deep a dread of silence. We can bear, when need must be, the silence of ourselves, that of isolation: but the silence of many - silence multiplied - and above all the silence of a crowd - these are supernatural burdens, whose inexplicable weight brings dread to the mightiest soul.
A superior atmosphere exists, in which we all know each other; and there is a mysterious truth – deeper far than the material truth - to which we at once have recourse, when we try to form a conception of a stranger. Have we not all experienced these things, which take place in the impenetrable regions of almost astral humanity?
We all live in the sublime. Where else can we live? That is the only place of life.… All that happens to us is divinely great, and we are always in the centre of a great world. But we must accustom ourselves to live like an angel who has just sprung to life, like a woman who loves, or a man on the point of death. If you knew that you were going to die to-night, or merely that you would have to go away and never return, would you, looking upon men and things for the last time, see them in the same light that you have hitherto seen them? Would you not love as you never yet have loved?
And indeed, if we had only the courage to listen to the simplest, the nearest, most pressing voice of our conscience, and be deaf to all else, it were doubtless our solitary duty to relieve the suffering about us to the greatest extent in our power.
It is well to believe that there needs but a little more thought, a little more courage, more love, more devotion to life, a little more eagerness, one day to fling open wide the portals of joy and of truth.
We believe we have dived down to the most unfathomable depths, and when we reappear on the surface, the drop of water that glistens on our trembling finger-tips no longer resembles the sea from which it came. We believe we have discovered a grotto that is stored with bewildering treasure; we come back to the light of day, and the gems we have brought are false – mere pieces of glass – and yet does the treasure shine on, unceasingly, in the darkness!
It is only too evident that the invisible agitations of the kingdoms within us are arbitrarily set on foot by the thoughts we shelter. Our myriad intuitions are the veiled queens who steer our course through life, though we have no words in which to speak of them. How strangely do we diminish a thing as soon as we try to express it in words!