54 Inspirational Quotes and Aphorisms

Here are some of the teachings that have inspired me most this past year. Enjoy!

Escaping from mimesis is something only geniuses and saints can do. –Rene Girard

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. –Joseph Campbell

I actually think that 1984 came to pass. Orwell’s writing about a totalitarian state, and that part isn’t the case. But the notion that you might live in a society that rather rigorously limits your available behavior, and that watches you to make sure that you do, you know I think we are increasingly seeing, but what’s interesting is that it’s not big brother, we’re doing it to ourselves. The notion that every single thing we do is recorded, and not only every mouse click, but every purchase, can be tracked in every way, that there is no part of our lives, except maybe going to the bathroom, and that’s soon to change, where we can truly be alone. Where we can say what we’re doing is not available for observation. And I think the notion that… we’re all on camera now, and we’re all having a conversation, we were having a conversation before the cameras started, and I don’t know about you, but I at least experience some subtle but genuine difference now that the cameras are rolling… I’m on the air… I’m being shown, and I’m not being my normal self. And I’m concerned that there’s not going to be any part of my life where I can be my normal self. –Michael Crichton

Point of view is worth 80 IQ points. –Alan Kay

The artists task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is dithering while Rome burns. If artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found. –Terence McKenna

Fear is the mind killer. –Frank Herbert

Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. –John 14:11–14

For among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions which your Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage mode of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called “initiations,” so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope. –Cicero, Laws II, xiv, 36

If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you; if you do not bring forth what is within you, it will destroy you. –The Gospel of Thomas

Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game. –Goethe

Dead corpses, the rotting body of a brother man, whom fate or unjust men have killed, this is not a pleasant spectacle; but what say you to the dead soul of a man, — in a body which still pretends to be vigorously alive, and can drink rum? –Thomas Carlyle

Good things happen to the human spirit when it is left alone. –John Taylor Gatto

I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas. –Agatha Christie

I think science fiction does help, and it points in very interesting directions. It points in relativistic directions. It says that we have the imagination for these other opportunities, these other choices. We tend to tie ourselves down to limited choices. We say, “Well, the only answer is …” or, “If you would just …”. Whatever follows these two statements narrows the choices right there. It gets the vision right down close to the ground so that you don’t see anything happening outside. Humans tend not to see over a long range. Now we are required, in these generations, to have a longer range view of what we inflict on the world around us. –Frank Herbert

Literacy is the ability to read the word. Leadership is the ability to read the world. –Robert McKee

Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy. –Margaret Thatcher

People always say you should live every day like your last…I think you should live every day as if it’s going to go on forever, you should treat people like you’re going to see them again in the future, you should start working on projects that may take a long time. –Peter Thiel

Curious people are more likely to already have in their heads the building blocks for crafting a solution for any particular problem they come across, versus the more quote-unquote intelligent, but less curious, person who is trying to get by on logic and pure intellectual effort. –Marc Andreessen

The only definition of risk we have is what risk adverse people don’t like. –Nassim Taleb

My own feeling is that civilization ended in World War I, and we’re still trying to recover from that…Much of the blame is the malarkey that artists have created to glorify war, which as we all know, is nonsense, and a good deal worse than that — romantic pictures of battle, and of the dead and men in uniform and all that. –Kurt Vonnegut

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” –T.H. White

Frankly, though, I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying. –Elon Musk

Strategy is the essence of human action — the bridge between an idea and its realization in the world. –Robert Greene

Folks, it’s time to evolve. That’s why we’re troubled. –Bill Hicks

Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed. –Terence McKenna

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. –Albert Camus

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. –Dwight Eisenhower

The hero I had is Forrest Gump — I really like that guy! I’ve been watching that movie for about ten times. Every time I get frustrated, I watch the movie. I watch the movie before I came here again for coming to the New York [Prior to the Alibaba IPO]. I watched the movie again. No matter what changes, you are you. I’m a stupid guy — fifteen years ago I only earned like $20 a month. –Jack Ma (on the floor of the NYSE after the Alibaba IPO)

I actually think a lot of the reason why great stuff gets built is because it’s kind of irrational at the time… so it kind of selects for the people who care the most about it doing it. –Mark Zuckerberg

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to every one who is striking at the root. –Henry David Thoreau

You are some kind of a mystery suspended between two eternities. And in that moment, when a mind looks out at a world and asks the question, ‘What is it?’ In that moment art can be created. And art is the only form of immortality that I have any certainty of, and it’s available to everyone. –Terence McKenna

All art is incarnation. –Rene Girard

Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else. –Joseph Campbell

No grand idea was ever born in a conference but a lot foolish ideas have died there. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you take risks and face your fate with dignity, there is nothing you can do that makes you small; if you don’t take risks, there is nothing you can do that makes you grand, nothing. –Nassim Taleb

Founders are crazy… they’re closer to artists than engineers or marketers. –Steve Blank

The engineers of the future will be poets. –Terence McKenna

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. –Corinthians 1:15–26

Still round the corner there may wait a new road or a secret gate, and though we pass them by today, Tomorrow we may come this way and take the hidden paths that run towards the Moon or to the Sun. –J.R.R. Tolkien

The failure, if it was one, lay in the fact that, having too much to hold on to, they slowly lost what they had. On the whole, it was those who had least who were able to move most freely to the new world which was coming into existence. –The Making of the Middle Ages

Being heroic in the face of disaster — as humans often are — will not help in most of these cases. This means that we have to “learn about consequences before they happen”. We have to be able to summon vivid enough imaginations of the disasters to be heroic long before they happen. And we have to educate our imaginations how to do this without introducing superstitions and paranoid delusions. –Alan Kay

Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level. –Bruce Lee

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. –Mark Twain

But the crazy part is, from the perspective of all the people on the internet, failure and success basically look the same until that final moment when you discover the truth. –Julien Smith

The whole thing seemed pretty iffy at that stage, there wasn’t really anything except for a guy with a barking laugh building desks out of doors in a converted garage. –Shel Kaphan (first Amazon CTO- on joining Amazon with Jeff Bezos)

Prioritize the substance of what you’re doing. Don’t get caught up in status, prestige, games [that are] endlessly dazzlingly, they’re all endlessly disappointing. –Peter Thiel

Top-down knowledge is an illusion. Education without erudition is nothing. –Nassim Taleb

Who’s my master? Whoever controls what you desire or dislike. –Epictetus

We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes. –Joseph Campbell

You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it, you wanna sell it. Well…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. –Ian Malcolm

The best way to help mankind is through the perfection of yourself. –Joseph Campbell

The future of technology is not pre-determined, and we must resist the temptation of technological utopianism — the notion that technology has a momentum or will of its own, that it will guarantee a more free future, and therefore that we can ignore the terrible arc of the political in our world. A better metaphor is that we are in a deadly race between politics and technology. The future will be much better or much worse, but the question of the future remains very open indeed. We do not know exactly how close this race is, but I suspect that it may be very close, even down to the wire. Unlike the world of politics, in the world of technology the choices of individuals may still be paramount. The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism. –Peter Thiel

It’s time to start speaking about the unspeakable, it’s time to articulate these options. It’s possible we’re going to sink into the quicksand of extinction with the answer clutched in our hands. That would be a tragedy too much to bear. –Terence McKenna