The rich collection of quotations that you will find here was initiated not long ago by Jackie Durham of Reston, Virginia.  Nearly every day since the start of 2010 I’ve received an email from her with the subject line “Ponderables.”  Each email contains a new morsel of wisdom to reflect upon.  Arriving as they do in the daily mix of messages, most of which pertain to the here and now, I’ve come to eagerly anticipate each timeless truth as a spiritual pause that refreshes. 


The practice of sending these light-filled emails is an act of service and a gift to the recipient.  Each one can be duly savored as it arrives, but together they are a treasure trove of collective wisdom worthy of being shared with many.  So we've decided to post them here and add to them periodically.  If you would like to send us further truths worth pondering, we will gladly include them.


Please note that quotations that circulate on the web these days are not always attributed to the correct original source.  As a case in point, the first quote below has been attributed to both Philo and Plato and has appeared with slightly different phrasing.  But the gem of wisdom remains.


For a set of quotations on the subject of truth (“the truth about life and death”), compiled by extraordinary college students, we recommend The Truth Contest:  http://www.truthcontest.com/


                                                                                              Nancy Seifer  (May ’10)





Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Philo of Alexandria



Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.

Rabindranath Tagore



The solution to the problems of the day is awakening the consciousness of humanity to the divinity within.

Hazrat Inayat Khan



May I hold myself in compassion.

May I meet the suffering and ignorance of others with compassion.




Who looks outside, dreams,
Who looks inside, awakens.

Carl Jung



To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.

Mahatma Gandhi



Behind everyone’s learned behaviors and odd eccentricities lurks a soul, ready to make contact if only coaxed out through a crack in the ego.
Ram Dass



And the time came when the risk to remain in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Anais Nin



There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein



I do not feel like writing verses; but as I light my perfume burner with myrrh and jasmine incense, they suddenly burgeon from my heart, like flowers in a garden.




By three methods we may learn wisdom:

First, by reflection, which is noblest;

Second, by imitation, which is easiest;

Third, by experience, which is bitterest.




The soul comes to earth to learn lessons, not to get married or stay married, or take this job or that job.  Don’t ask the wrong question.  The question is:  What lesson does my soul want to learn.




In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.

Ranier Maria Rilke



It is easier to tell the truth.  You don’t have to remember anything.

Mark Twain



Only through kindness and love can peace of mind be achieved.

The Dalai Lama



The best of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.

Victor Frankl



With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.

William Wordsworth



The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.

Carl Jung



We die and are reborn every time we confront change.




Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.

Albert Einstein



In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light,

and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.

Mahatma Gandhi



An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

Winston Churchill



Be yourself, no base imitator of another, but your best self.

There is something which you can do better than another.

Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that.

Ralph Waldo Emerson



Do not take lightly small good deeds, believing they can hardly help.  For drops of water, one by one, in time can fill a giant pot.

Patrul Rinpoche



We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.

Tao Te ching



He who has great power should use it lightly.




Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become your character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.




What the superior man seeks is in himself;

What the small man seeks is in others.




I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.

Abraham Lincoln


At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  We think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within.

Albert Schweitzer



If we knew that tonight we were going to go blind, we would take a long, last real look at every blade of grass, every cloud formation, every speck of dust, every rainbow, raindrop—everything.

Pema Chodron



The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the source of all true art and science.

Albert Einstein



Do one thing every day that scares you.

Eleanor Roosevelt



The greatest fortune one can have is to be able to help his fellow man… and coming close to it is to attain peace and serenity.

C.P. Robertson



A friend is someone to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart—chaff and grain together—knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.

Persian quote



Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Albert Einstein



The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.




No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.

Robert Southey



When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.

John Ruskin



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