Buddhist nontheism teaches us that no one else is going to liberate us. We are each responsible for our own liberation. Thus, self-self-liberation first is most important because without self-self-liberation true compassion, the fuel to work toward the liberation of others, will not develop properly.
—Rita Gross, Buddhism beyond Gender: Liberation from Attachment to Identity
It was Emerson’s instinct—and a major key to his strength—that in extreme situations he tended not to reach for traditional supports, not even for the Bible, but to reach for his own resources and to go it alone.
—Robert Richardson, Emerson: The Mind on Fire
“ … the sutras stress again and again that the seed of Enlightenment latent in every human being must be watered by self-cultivation, that no teacher, human or divine, can do the work on our behalf.”
—John Blofeld, quoting Ta Hai, Bodhisattva of Compassion:The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin
I see myself obligated with respect to the Other; consequently I am infinitely more demanding of myself than of others. ‘The more just I am, the more harshly I am judged,’ states one talmudic text.
—Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. But I try to work one day at a time. If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. That’s enough. When you see you can do that, you continue, and you give two little joys, and you remove two little sufferings, then three, and then four. If you and your friends do not despise the small work, a million people will remove a lot of suffering. That is the secret. Start right now.
—Chan Khong, Turning Wheel, 1994
Try to maintain perfectly pure thoughts in all circumstances, so that even the most insignificant of your acts will preserve their positive energy until you attain enlightenment.
—Dilgo Khyenste and Padama Sangye,The Hundred Verses of Advice: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on What Matters Most
You don’t need an organization to make people happy.
—David Dunn, Try Giving Yourself Away: A Book for These Troubled Times
You can do anything you want to do. It’s only your thought that you can’t do it that’s holding you back.”
—Dipa Ma, quoted in Amy Schmidt, Dipa Ma: The Life and Teachings of a Buddhist Master
Dylan, however, was not going to spell things out more than he had already done. That’s not his style. The journalists would have to make that connection for themselves.
—Richard F.Thomas, Why Bob Dylan Matters
The whole thing starts in our own heart, therefore it is essential that we realize the world is not other people. Each one of us is the world and unless we find peace within ourselves, we won’t find it anywhere. It makes no difference whether somebody is angry, upset, wrong, or egotistical. It doesn’t matter at all. The only thing that ndiamatters is what we ourselves are doing about it.
—Ayya Khema, Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path
Investigations about the [philosophical] past must have an actual, personal, formative, and existential sense.
—Pierre Hadot, The Present Alone is Our Happiness: Conversations with Jeannie Carlier and Arnold I. Davidson
In the School of Youth family, we must follow that principle. Don’t worry that those around you aren’t doing their best. Only worry about how to make yourself worthy. If you do your best, that is the surest way to remind those around you to do their best. If we want to be worthy, we must practise mindfulness. That is a certainty. Only by practising mindfulness will we not lose ourselves and will acquire a bright joy and peace. Only by practising mindfulness will we be able to look at every one else with the open mind and eyes of love
—Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of BeingAwake
Reshape yourself through the power of your will; never let yourself be degraded by self-will. The will is the only friend of the Self, and the will is the only enemy of the Self. To those who have conquered themselves, the will is a friend. But it is the enemy of those who have not found the Self within them.
—Eknath Easwaran, translator, Bhagavad Gita
[On Gotama’s last message] … when the chips are down, the only thing you can rely on is whatever values and practices you have managed to integrate into your own life. Neither the Buddha nor the Sangha will be of any help. You are on your own.
—Stephen Batchelor, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist
All human beings have the spiritual capacity of a Buddha or Saint Francis, yet all save a tiny few squander these powers beyond measure.
—Joel Kovel, History and Spirit: An Inquiry into the Philosophy of Liberation