borrowed meditations

Observe what grace and charm appear even in the accidents that accompany Nature's work. Thus some parts of a loaf crack and burst in the baking; and this cracking, though in a manner contrary to the design of the baker, looks well and invites the appetite. Figs too, gape when at their ripest, and in ripe olives the very approach to rotting adds a special beauty to the fruit. The droop of ears of corn, the bent brows of the lion, the foam at a boar's moouth, and many other things, are far from comely in themselves, yet, since they accompany the works of Nature, they make part of her adornment, and rejoice the beholder.

— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 3.2

With a great sigh, Yan Hui lamented, “The more I look up at it, the higher it seems; the more I delve into it, the harder it becomes. Catching a glimpse of it before me, I then find it suddenly at my back.”

“The Master is skilled at gradually leading me on, step by step. He broadens me with culture and restrains me with the rites, so that even if I wanted to give up I could not. Having exhausted all of my strength, it seems as if there is still something left, looming up ahead of me. Though I desire to follow it, there seems to be no other way through.”

Analects 9.11

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what it is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “[...] if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”

— Matthew 12:1-7

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.

— Ecclesiastes 5:1

The Way lies in what is near, but people seek it in what is distant; one's task lies in what is easy, but people seek it in what is difficult. If everyone would treat their kin as kin, and their elders as elders, the world would be at peace.

Mengzi 4A11

Remember then: there is only one time that is important—Now! It is the most important time because because it is the only time when we have any power. The most neccessary person is the one with whom you are, for no one knows whether they will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is, to do them good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!

— Leo Tolstoy, “Three Questions”

Music is joy, an unavoidable human disposition. So, people cannot be without music; if they feel joy, they must express it in sound and give it shape in movement.

Xunzi 20

You have turned my wailing into dancing;
you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;
O Lᴏʀᴅ my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

— Psalm 30:11-12

Knowing is the intent of acting, and acting is the effort of knowing.

Knowing is the beginning of acting, and acting is the completion of knowing.

Where the knowing is honest and genuine, it is acting; where acting is discerning and finely observing, it is knowing.

— Wang Yangming

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says they have faith but does not have works? Can that faith save them? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

— James 2:14-16

Wake, now, compassion, give heed to the cry;
voices of suffering fill the wide sky;
take as your neighbor both stranger and friend,
praying and striving their hardship to end.

Wake, now, my conscience, with justice thy guide;
join with all people whose rights are denied;
take not for granted a privileged place;
God’s love embraces the whole human race.

— “Wake, Now, My Senses” (Singing the Living Tradition 298)

For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man.

— John F. Kennedy

And so we ride
Over land and tide
Without a thought of fear—
Man never had
The faith in God
That he has in an engineer!

— James Weldon Johnson, “The Word of an Engineer”

“As ye see, I am tortured from love and uncertainty. Men tell me that in your religion there is no place for life, or human joy, or happiness, or law, or order, or authority, or Roman dominion. Is this true? Men tell me that ye are madmen; but tell me yourselves what ye bring. Is it a sin to love, a sin to feel joy, a sin to want happiness? Are ye enemies of life? Must a Christian be wretched? Must I renounce Lygia? What is truth in your view? Your deeds and words are like transparent water, but what is under that water? Ye see that I am sincere. Scatter the darkness. Men say this to me also: Greece created beauty and wisdom, Rome created power; but they⁠—what do they bring? Tell, then, what ye bring. If there is brightness beyond your doors, open them.”

“We bring love,” said Peter.

— Henryk Sienkiewicz, Quo Vadis

“Why,” he once said to Martin, “should the world pay me for doing what I want and what they do not want?”

— Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith

We are not strangers, we are neighbors, and you needn't think you'd be a bother.

— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women