Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Nikos Kazantzakis

1883 – 1957 CE

Fearless philosopher, poet, translator, prolific writer, and spiritual alchemist; Kazantzakis was condemned by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church wouldn’t even let him be buried in a cemetery. He followed in the Zen/Taoist tradition of synthesizing opposites and reconciled Buddhism and Christianity, philosophy and politics, sensuality and a spiritual path. An extensive traveler in both the east and west, he was given the International Peace Award and made great contributions to culture beyond nationalism, religion, and sectarian view.

Eras

Sources

Last Temptation of Christ

Report to Greco

Toda Raba

Zorba the Greek

Unlisted Sources

The Saviors of God, 1923

Quotes by Nikos Kazantzakis (168 quotes)

“An old grandfather of ninety was busy planting an almond tree. ‘What, grandfather!’ I exclaimed. ‘Planting an almond tree?’ And he, bent as he was, turned around and said: ‘My son, I carry on as if I should never die.’ I replied: ‘And I carry on as if I was going to die any minute.’ Which of us was right, boss?”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 22. Heaven's Door

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“Every man has his folly, but the greatest folly of all … is not to have one.”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 41. Distilled Life

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

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“God changes his appearance every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises.”

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

Themes: Sacred World God

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“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 26. The Still Rule the Restless

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“I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out… I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life… and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled… It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late… That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.”

from Report to Greco

Chapters: 64. Ordinary Mind

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“I say one thing, you write another, and those who read you understand still something else!”

from Last Temptation of Christ

Chapters: 65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

Themes: Lies

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“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”

from Report to Greco

Chapters: 73. Heaven’s Net

Themes: Change Reality

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“the highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 25. The Mother of All Things

Themes: Sacred World

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“The truth is that we all are one, that all of us together create god, that god is not man's ancestor, but his descendant.”

from Last Temptation of Christ

Chapters: 39. Oneness
54. Planting Well

Themes: Oneness God

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“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition.”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 20. Unconventional Mind

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“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

from Report to Greco

Chapters: 19. All Methods Become Obstacles

Themes: Teachers

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“Woe to whoever commences his life without lunacy... Happy the youth who believes that his duty is to remake the world and bring it more in accord with virtue and justice, more in accord with his own heart.”

from Report to Greco

Chapters: 41. Distilled Life

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

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“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”

Chapters: 72. Helpful Fear

Themes: Fear Hope

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“Three kinds of souls, three prayers:
1) I am a bow in your hands, Lord. Draw me, lest I rot.
2) Do not overdraw me, Lord. I shall break.
3) Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Confidence

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“Two equally steep and bold paths may lead to the same peak. To act as if death did not exist, or to act thinking every minute of death, is perhaps the same thing.”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 15. Inscrutability

Themes: Death and Dying

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“Beauty is merciless. You do not look at it, it looks at you and does not forgive.”

from Report to Greco

Chapters: 54. Planting Well

Themes: Beauty Beauty

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“When I encounter a sunrise, a painting, a woman, or an idea that makes my heart bound like a young calf, then I know I am standing in front of happiness.”

from Report to Greco

Chapters: 32. Uncontrived Awareness

Themes: Inspiration

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“Free yourself from one passion to be dominated by another and nobler one. But is not that, too, a form of slavery? To sacrifice oneself to an idea, to a race, to God? Or does it mean that the higher the model, the longer the tether of our slavery?”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

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“When shall I at last retire into solitude alone, without companions, without joy and without sorrow, with only the sacred certainty that all is a dream?”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 13. Honor and Disgrace

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“I am a mariner of Odysseus with heart of fire but with mind ruthless and clear”

from Toda Raba

Themes: Middle Way

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“Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.”

Chapters: 47. Effortless Success

Themes: Travel

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“All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven't the time to write, and all those who have the time don't live them!”

from Zorba the Greek

Chapters: 56. One with the Dust

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“Every word is an adamantine shell which encloses a great explosive force. To discover its meaning you must let it burst inside you like a bomb and in this way liberate the soul which it imprisons.”

from Report to Greco

Chapters: 64. Ordinary Mind

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“Trouble? Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”

from Zorba the Greek

Themes: Obstacles

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“Die every day. Be born again every day. Deny everything you have every day. The superior virtue is not to be free but to fight for freedom.”

from The Saviors of God, 1923

Themes: Virtue

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“One of man’s greatest obligations is anger.”

Themes: Anger

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“Dame Hortense, you remind me of Sarah Bernhardt… when she was young. I didn't expect to find such elegance, such grace and courtesy, such beauty, in this wild place. What Shakespeare was it sent you here amongst the barbarians?”

from Zorba the Greek

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“Poverty and nakedness are nothing, provided you have a good wife.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Marriage

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“But we did not allow women, even the dearest, to lead us astray. We did not follow their flower-strewn road, we took them with us. No, we did not take them, these dauntless companions followed our ascents of their own free will.”

from Report to Greco

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“Every integral man has inside him—in his heart of hearts—a mystic center around which all else revolves... Alas for the man who does not feel himself governed inside by an absolute monarch. His ungoverned, incoherent life is scattered to the four winds.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Meaningfulness

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“Only socialism—[a social system which] does not permit the exploitation of one person by another [and that] must guarantee every freedom—as the goal and democracy as the means [can solve the] frightfully urgent problems of the age in which we are living.

Themes: Socialism

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“There is only one woman in the world. One woman, with many faces.”

from Last Temptation of Christ

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“Christianity soiled the union of man and woman by stigmatizing it as a sin. Whereas formerly it was a holy act, a joyous submission to God's will, in the Christian's terror-shaken soul it degenerated into a transgression. Before Christ, sex was a red apple; along came Christ, and a worm entered that apple and began to eat it.”

from Report to Greco

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“Very few people, living or dead, have aided my struggle... The first for me, was the peaceful, brilliantly luminous eye, like the sun's disk which illuminated the entire universe with its redemptive splendor; Buddha, the bottomless jet-dark eye in which the world drowned and was delivered.”

from Report to Greco

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“Very few people, living or dead, have aided my struggle... Nietzsche enriched me with new anguishes and instructed me how to transform misfortune, bitterness, and uncertainty into pride.”

from Report to Greco

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“Very few people, living or dead, have aided my struggle... Bergson relieved me of various unsolved philosophical problems which tormented me in my early youth”

from Report to Greco

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“My life's greatest benefactors have been journeys and dreams... I have been ashamed many times in my life because I caught my soul not daring to do what supreme folly—the essence of life—called me to do.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Confidence Travel

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“If it had been a question of choosing a spiritual guide, a guru, surely I would have chosen Zorba... from Zorba's elderly breast a laugh spurted and demolished all the barriers—morality, religion, homeland—which that wretched poltroon, man, has erected around him in order to hobble with full security through his miserable smidgen of life.”

from Report to Greco

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“He had the primordial glance that seizes its nourishment arrow-like from on high; the creative artlessness that enabled him to see all things constantly as though for the first time”

from Report to Greco

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“The Second World War—the tempest which had already begun to drive down upon the earth. Millions of people trembled as they saw the oncoming hunger, slaughter, and madness. All the devils in men were awake and thirsting for blood.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Aggression War

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“Man's soul seems to have grown bigger; it cannot fit any longer within the old molds. A pitiless civil war has broken out between the old, formerly omnipotent myth and the new myth which is battling to govern our souls.”

from Report to Greco

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“I intentionally struggle to surpass the boundaries of art, and thus harmony—the essence of beauty—is distorted... I was struggling, not for beauty, but for deliverance... I wanted to be delivered from my own inner darkness and to turn it into light”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Art Beauty

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“'God'—the Power that always gives us more than we are able to receive and always asks for more than we are able to give.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: God

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“Look fear straight in the eye if you can and the fear will feel afraid and run away.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Fear

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“The Greek air is truly holy, I thought to myself; surely freedom was born here... Norway's struggle had become this Greek shepherd's struggle, because liberty, for him, was like his own daughter.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Freedom

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“My soul suddenly longed to transcend its destiny, breathe free air, and become a bird—for a flash only, as long as it could endure. But that was enough; this flash was eternity. That is the meaning of eternity.”

from Report to Greco

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“Reality does not exist independent of man, completed and ready; it comes about with man's collaboration, and is proportionate to man's worth.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Reality

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“if today's creative artist formulated his deepest inner presentiments with integrity, he would aid future man to be born one hour sooner, one drop more integrally.”

from Report to Greco

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“Today, writing is a grave duty. Its purpose is not to entertain the mind with fairy tales and make it forget, but to proclaim a state of mobilization to all the luminous forces still surviving in our age of transition, and to urge men to do their utmost to surpass the beast.”

from Report to Greco

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“My struggle to make a synthesis of these two antagonistic impulses has lent purpose and unity to my life... the visible world round about fell into order and my inner and outer lives made peace with each other.”

from Report to Greco

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“I am the son of lightning, grandson of thunder's howl;
At will I flash and thunder, at will I fling down hail.”

from Report to Greco

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“I become a child again to enable myself to view the world always for the first time with virgin eyes... This is what keeps my mind untouched by wastage, keeps it from withering and running dry.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Sacred World

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“Without being aware of it, we carry omnipotence within us... Every living thing is a workshop where God, in hiding, processes and transubstantiates clay. This is why trees flower and fruit, why animals multiply, why the monkey managed to exceed its destiny and stand upright on its two feet.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Sacred World

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“I knew my true face and my sole duty: to work this face with as much patience, love, and skill as I could manage... to turn it into flame so that Charon would find nothing of me to take. For this was my greatest ambition: to leave nothing for death to take—nothing but a few bones.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Carpe diem

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“suffering is the greatest guide along the ascent which leads from animal to man”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Suffering

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“there was poverty, and as if this were not enough, the pride which demanded that no one discover the poverty.”

from Report to Greco

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“to use words; that is to convert an inner surge into immobility. Every word is an adamantine shell which encloses a great explosive force. To discover its meaning you must let it burst inside you like a bomb and in this way liberate the soul which it imprisons.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Creativity

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“the true man is he who resists, struggles, and is not afraid, in time of great need, to say no, even to God... Hero together with saint: that was the perfect man.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Integrity

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“When I read Cervantes, his hero Don Quixote seemed to me a great saint and martyr who had left amidst jeering and laughter to discover, beyond our humble everyday life, the essence which hides in back of appearances”

from Report to Greco

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“When the heart believes and loves, nothing chimerical exists; nothing exists but courage, trust, and fruitful action.”

from Report to Greco

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“Crows don't hatch doves.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Karma

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“Mankind's struggle is truly an uninterrupted sacrament.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Sacred World

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“Separately, we die one by one, but all together we are immortal.”

from Report to Greco

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“the great secret: that by means of poetry all this suffering and effort could be transformed into dream; no matter how much of the ephemeral existed, poetry could immortalize it by turning it into song.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Poetry Magic

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“a previously unheard of intoxication, a drunken desire to lean and make progress, to pursue the bluebird with (as I afterwards discovered) is called Spirit.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Progress

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“It is our duty to set ourselves an end beyond our individual concerns, beyond our convenient, agreeable habits, higher than our own selves, and disdaining laughter, hunger, even death, to toil night and day to attain that end... Not to attain it, but never to halt in the ascent. Only then does life acquire nobility and oneness.”

from Report to Greco

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“this world possesses a good which is dearer than life, sweeter than happiness—liberty... to gain freedom from the inner Turk—from ignorance, malice, and envy, from fear and laziness, from dazzling false ideas; and finally from idols, all of them, even the most revered and beloved.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Moral Freedom

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“God is not man's ancestor, but his descendant... God is being built. I too have applied my tiny red pebble, a drop of blood, to give Him solidity lest He perish—so that He might give me solidity lest I perish”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Evolution

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“To my father's ferocious pedagogy I owe the endurance and obstinacy which have always stood by me in times of difficulty. To this ferocity I also owe all the indomitable thoughts which govern me now at the end of my life and which do not condescend to accept comforting from either God or the devil.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Education

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“From youth right to old age every word or deed which diverted me from my destiny I considered a sin... I pushed away the refreshing face of every young girl”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Perseverance

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“I was wrong in my attempt to divine the future crone behind the young girl's face; rather, I should re-create and resurrect in the face of the crone the freshness and youth of the girl who no longer existed.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Projection

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“Perfection is a momentary equilibrium above chaos, a most difficult and dangerous balance. throw a little weight to one side or the other and it falls.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Impermanence

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“man's lofty toil transgresses the inhuman laws of eternity. Thus our life and our endeavors acquire a tragic, heroic intensity. We have but a single moment at our disposal. Let us transform that moment into eternity. No other form of immortality exists.”

from Report to Greco

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“In Greece, as everywhere, once realism begins to reign, civilization declines. Thus we arrive at the realistic, magniloquent, and faithless Hellenistic era which was devoid of suprapersonal ideals... Emotions and passions run wild. The free individual loses his powers of discipline, the bridle which maintained instinct in strict balance flies from his hands..”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Civilization

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“ancient Greek civilization was not a supernatural flower suspended in mid-air; it was a tree that rooted itself deeply in the earth, consumed mud, and turned this mud into flowers. And the more mud it consumed, the more richly elaborate did this flowering become.”

from Report to Greco

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“Civilization begins at the moment sport begins. As long as the struggles for preservation—to protect itself from its enemies, maintain itself upon the surface of the earth—civilization cannot be born. It is born the moment that life satisfies its primary needs and begins to enjoy a little leisure.”

from Report to Greco

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“Harmony of mind and body—that was the Greeks' supreme ideal. Hypertrophy of one to the detriment of the other they considered barbaric. When Greece began to decline, the athlete's body began at the same to to hypertrophy and to kill his mind.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Middle Way

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“I always had a book in my hand, sometimes Dante, sometimes Homer. As I read the immortal verses, I felt that man could become immortal and that the world's heterogeneous surfae of houses, people, joys, insults—the incoherent chaos we call life—was capable of uniting into harmony.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Peace

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“The minor virtues, I reflected, are much more dangerous than the minor vices. If these two did not sing and play so well, they would not be invited to pafties, would not get drunk, would not fritter away their time, and they might be saved. As it was, singing beautifully, playing the guitar beautifully, they had started along the downgrade.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Music Virtue

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“My suffocating soul, unable any longer to fit within its cage of clay, was hanging from my scalp and weighting whether or not to flee... It was being convulsed by a cry, a command to break our prison bars of morality, shame, and hope, and to give ourselves over to, lose ourselves in, become one with the fearful, enticing Lover who lies in wait in the darkness and whom we call God... I felt that love, death, and God were one and the same.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Enlightenment

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“there is an uncertainty which is more certain that certitude itself... there were no longer any such things as truth and falsehood; everything was a soft dough which I kneaded and rolled freely”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Openness

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“This struggle between reality and imagination had momentarily intoxicated my heart... By means of imagination I had obliterated reality, and I felt relieved... the ashes had turned back into an apple, and I was holding this apple in my hand.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Imagination

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“This secret is concerned not with supramundane problems but with everyday ones in all their fervent detail, with the incessantly renewed problems of man's life here upon this earth.”

from Report to Greco

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“the ideal man: handsomely well built, taciturn, freed from superfluous wealth; powerful, but capable on the other hand of restrianing this power and imposing limits on his imagination... All is finely balanced and measured. Even its virtues do not run to excess, do not break the human mean”

from Report to Greco

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“When I encounter a sunrise, a painting, a woman, or an idea that makes my heart bound like a young calf, then I know that I am standing in front of happiness... Throughout my life this has served me as an infallible sign.”

from Report to Greco

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“But now and again in the midst of this seriousness there is a smile—All opposites join together, mix, and are reconciled here, creating the supreme miracle, harmony.”

from Report to Greco

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“I too began to discern the eternal, immutable face of God behind all religious symbols... Every race and every age gives God its own mask. But behind all the masks, in every age and every race, is always the same never-changing God.”

from Report to Greco

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“The essence went by many names; it kept changing masks all the while we pursued it. Sometimes we called it supreme hope, sometimes supreme despair, sometimes summit of man's soul, sometimes desert mirage, and sometimes blue bird and freedom. And sometimes... 'God.'”

from Report to Greco

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“One thing only we pursued all our lives: a harsh, carnivorous, indestructible vision—the essence... We're not working for pay, we have no desire for a daily wage. We are warring in the empty air, beyond hope, beyond paradise!”

from Report to Greco

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“Once more I realized to what an extent earthly happiness is made to the measure of man. It is not a rare bird which we must purse at one moment in heaven, at the next in our mind. Happiness is a domestic bird found in our own courtyards.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Less is More

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“Helen has become a love cry—to this day every woman reflects her splendor. She traverses the centuries, awakens in every man the yearning for kisses and perpetuation. She transforms every woman we clasp to our breast... sexual desire assumes exalted titles of nobility. At her touch ugly children become beautiful”

from Report to Greco

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“This mine, mine and me, me was my friend's terrible prison, a dungeon without windows or doors. 'Do you know the highest peak a man can reach? It is to conquer the self, the ego. When we reach that peak, and only then, Angelos, we shall be saved.'”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Egolessness

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“we must conquer the minor virtues you talk about—courtesy, pity, expediency. I am less afraid of the major vices than of the minor virtues, because these have lovely faces and deceive us all too easily.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Golden Chains

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“I want to give the worst explanation: I say I did it from cowardice, because I want to shame my soul and keep it from doing the same thing again.”

from Report to Greco

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“The great artist looks beneath the flux of everyday reality and sees eternal, unchanging symbols. Behind the spasmodic, frequently inconsistent activities of living men, he plainly distinguishes the great currents which sweep away the human soul. The great artist considers realistic representation a disfigurement and caricature of the eternal.”

from Report to Greco

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“We still wanted, as we always had, to create a new and better world, but we saw that we could not do so. I admitted this, but my friend kept it hidden all his life. That was why he secretly writhed and suffered more than I did.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Letting Go

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“In the hands of Euripides, tragedy degenerated into a human rather than a divine passion, a sophistical sermon to propagandize new ideas. It lost its tragic essence and perished... Greek tragedy abruptly vanished. It was murdered by logical analysis.”

from Report to Greco

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“Socrates, with his dialectics, killed the Apollonian sobriety and Dionysiac intoxication... Greek tragedy abruptly vanished. It was murdered by logical analysis.”

from Report to Greco

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“What value does Wagner's art have? It was without form, without faith; nothing but panting rhetoric devoid of sacred intoxication and nobility, good only for hysterical ladies, hypocrites, and invalids... Now he was working on Christian themes, writing Parsifal. The hero had been defeated—the very man who promised to create new myths and hitch the leopard of reason to the Dionysian chariot!”

from Report to Greco

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“Never had a more heart-rending cry sprung from a human breast... You saw what man is not permitted to see, and your sight was taken from you; you danced beyond human endurance at the brink of the abyss, and into the abyss you plunged.”

from Report to Greco

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“What is the most valiant joy? To assume complete responsibility!”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Skillful Means

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“You should not ask if you will succeed or not. That isn't what matters. The only thing that matters is your struggle to carry it further.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Success

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“whoever uproots his instincts uproots his strength—for with time, satiety, and discipline this dark matter may turn to spirit... if you wish to conquer temptation, there is only one way: embrace it, taste it, learn to despise it.”

from Report to Greco

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“You cannot struggle with men, not you, because at the very moment you are fighting, you keep thinking that your enemy might be right, and no matter what he does to you after that, you forgive him.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Enemy Conflict

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“As in love, so in hospitality, surely he who gives is happier than he who receives.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Golden Rule

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“We rejoice that the whole of the visible and invisible world is a deep inscrutable mystery—incomprehensible, beyond the intelligence, beyond desire, beyond certitude.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Inscrutable

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“Christ was not the harbor where one casts anchor, but the harbor from which one departs, gains the offing, encountersa a wild, tempetuous sea, and then struggles for a lifetime to anchor in God. Chirs is not the end, He is the beginning. He is not the 'Welcome!' He is the 'Bon voyage!'”

from Report to Greco

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“He must have pitied [men] in order to have created woman and favored her with such grace that she leads us to paradise along the surest and shortest of roads. Woman is more powerful than prayer, fasting, and—forgive me, Lord—even than virtue.”

from Report to Greco

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“It is true that we cannot conquer death; we can, however, conquer our fear of death.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Confusion

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“Observing how my old friends had settled in, I was seized with terror. I vowed never to shut myself up inside the four walls of an office, never to come to terms with the good life, never to sign an agreement with necessity.”

from Report to Greco

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“Never in my life had I felt so tangibly and with such astonishment that hate, by passing successively through comprehension, mercy, and sympathy, can be transformed into love. The same can happen when good wrestles with evil”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Evil Hate

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“Disease served as your great enemy and also your greatest friend, the only one that stayed loyal to the death. It never permitted you to relax or remain where you were, never allowed you to declare: I am fine here, I shall go no further.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Friendship Health

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“Dionysus shatters individuation... Men and beasts become brothers, death itself is seen as one of life's masks, the multiform stalking-blind of illusion rips in two, and we find ourselves in breast-to-breast contact with truth. What truth? The truth that we all are one, that all of us together create God, that God is not man's ancestor but his descendant.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Illusion

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“Oh, how crafty of religion, I cried out indignantly, to transplant rewards and punishments into a future life in order to comfort cowards and the enslaved and aggrieved, enabling them to bow their necks patiently before their masters, and to endure this earthly life”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Religion

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“the man who either hopes for heaven or fears hell cannot be free. Shame on us if we continue to become intoxicated in the taverns of hope or the cellars of fear.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Hope

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“Of all the people the earth has begotten, Buddha stands resplendently at the summit, an absolutely pure spirit... Unlike Christ, Buddha does not single out only humans; he pities everything, and saves everything.”

from Report to Greco

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“this fiery girl—a flame of the utmost purity—reminded me of an extraordinary woman, likewise either all body or all soul: saint Teresa. She gave herself completely to each of her acts, nourishing her body and her soul with equal voracity.”

from Report to Greco

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“Francis was one of the first, the first consummate flower to rise out of the discord-tilled winder of the Middle Ages. His hear was simple, happy, and chaste; his eyes, like those of children and great poets, always saw the world for the first time... After so many centuries, Francis was the first to see the world with virgin eyes.”

from Report to Greco

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“I have a passionate love for solitude and silence; I can gaze for hours at a fire or the sea without feeling any nee for additional companionship. These have always been my most faithful, most beloved comrades... Direct contact with human beings I had always found irksome.”

from Report to Greco

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“They resemble each other like two brothers: Saint Francis of Assisi and Albert Schweitzer... my heart could nevermore distinguish between these two deeply enticing figures so far removed in transitory time, so closely united in eternity”

from Report to Greco

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“the sole way to save oneself is to save others. Or to struggle to save others—even that is sufficient.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Golden Rule

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“only by means of hope can we obtain what is beyond hope”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Hope

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“I believe in a world which does not exist, but by believing in it, I create it. We call 'nonexistent' whatever we have not desired with sufficient strength.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Emptiness

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“The silkworm is the most ambitious of worms. Nothing but belly and mouth, it drags inself along, eaing, soiling, eating again, a filthy pipe with two holes. then suddenly all the food turns to silk. Man is the same.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Butterfly

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“Difficulty, however, has always been life's stimulant, awakening and goading all our impulses, both good and bad, in order to make us overleap the obstacle which has suddenly risen before us.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Mistakes

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“Nothing is certain. For that very reason every people, every individual, has a great responsibility in our amorphous, uncertain age, a greater responsibility than ever before. It is in such uncertain, possibility-filled times that the contribution of a people and of an individual can have incalculable value.”

from Report to Greco

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“What does 'will be saved' mean? It means finding a new justification for life because the old one has vented its strength and can no longer support the human edifice. Happy the man who hears the Cr of his times (each epoch has its own Cry) and works in collaboration with it. He alone can be saved.”

from Report to Greco

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“I kept asking myself how a dream could change a man's life. It does not change it, I replied; it simply announces that the change has taken place.”

from Report to Greco

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“Hubris is perhaps the only sin which the universal harmony considers mortal and does not forgive. The culmination of an organism's power is fated to engender its destruction.”

from Report to Greco

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“one of man's most legitimate pleasures is to toil and see his toil bearing fruit”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Pleasure

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“by believing passionately in something which still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired, whatever we have not irrigated with our blood to such a degree that it becomes strong enough to stride across the somber threshold of nonexistence.”

from Report to Greco

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“The soul is an octopus and all these are its tentacles—the mountains and seas, the beloved people, the poor little beloved house.”

from Report to Greco

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“it does not matter very much what problem, whether big or small, is tormenting us; the only thing that matters is that we be tormented, that we find a ground for being tormented. In other words, that we exercise our minds in order to keep certainty from turning us into idiots... problems keep the soul from rotting.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Problems

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“Bulls and bears cannot smash the door of fate; the heart of a dove, however, smashes it.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Free Will

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“by believing in a myth, desiring it, imbuing it with blood, sweat and tears (tears alone are not sufficient, nor is blood, nor sweat), man transforms that myth into reality.”

from Report to Greco

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“Reality is nothing more than the chimera subjected to our desire and our suffering.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Confusion

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“Who can trust destiny? It is not blind, it blinds.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Prostitution

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“More than wine or love, more underhandedly than ideas, art is able to entice man and make him forget. Art takes the place of duty; it fights to convert the ephemeral into the eternal and to transubstantiate man's suffering into beauty... Art makes us scorn the petty everyday concern for food, and even for justice; we forget that this is the root which nourishes the immortal flower.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Forget Memory

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“A great gulf divides the Slavic soul from the Western. The Russian is able to harmonize inner contradictions which are incompatible to the European's rationality... The Russian places the soul above everything else, the dark, rich, contradictory, intricate force which pushes man beyond rationality to violent, irresponsible passion... The Russian is still tightly glued to the soil; he is filled with earth and world-engendering darkness.”

from Report to Greco

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“Miracle butts against reality, makes a hole, and enters.”

from Report to Greco

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“the mysterious force which uses men—and used animals, plants, and minerals before us—as its carriers and beasts of burden, and which hastens along as though it had a purpose and were following a specific road. You feel surrounded here by the blind forces which create sight and light.”

from Report to Greco

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“But time—all blessings upon it—takes pity on us. Time is a sponge, and it erases. The new crop of spring grass quickly covers the tombstones, and life pantingly resumes the ascent.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Time

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“Only the immortal dead entice me, the great Sirens Christ, Buddha, and Lenin. From my early years I sat at their feet and listened intently to their seductive love-filled song. I struggled all my life to save myself from each of these Sirens without denying any one of them, struggled to unite these three clashing voices and transform them into harmony.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Continuity

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“I do not believe in coincidence; I believe in destiny.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Fate / Destiny

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“at that moment—At life's most decisive moment—when the young man pushes aside the multitude of possibilities open to him, selects one and one only, identifies his destiny with it, and enters adulthood—at that moment...”

from Report to Greco

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“Zorba taught me to love life and have no fear of death... he had just what a quill-driver needs for deliverance: the primordial glance which seizes its nourishment arrow-like from on high, the creative artlessness, renews each morning which enabled him to see all things constantly as though for the first time.”

from Report to Greco

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“Truly, the curtain embroidered with blossoms, birds, and men—this must be God. This world is not His vestment, as I once believed; it is God himself. Form and essence are identical.”

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“I knew full well that a name imprisons the soul, cramps it so that it can fit inside a word, obliges it to take whatever it has of the inexpressible, all the most precious qualities for which no substitute can be found, and abandon them outside this name's boundaries.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Opinion

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“Be it animals, birds, or humans, at each whirl of the dance the ephemeral masks are thrown off and behind all of them the same face is always revealed, the eternal face of love.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Love

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“The human being cannot support absolute freedom; such freedom leads him to chaos... Man is able to bear working only in a fixed, circumscribed arena.”

from Report to Greco

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“Throughout my life dreams have always been infallible guides. All the problems tormenting my waking mind, twining and intertwining in a hopeless effort to discover a simple, certain solution, have been refined in my dreams. They throw off all superfluity, are reduced to exceedingly simple essence, and this essence is liberated.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Dream

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“Is there anything truer than truth? Yes, legend. This gives eternal meaning to ephemeral truth.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Truth

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“someone else's blood was flowing... a gigantic ancestor, a sea-fighter and mountaineer. I was no more than his shadow, the faithful shadow following him. I did not perceive him; I simply heard his sigh or thunderous laughter from time to time I would look around me then and see no one. But I felt his immense breath hanging over me.”

from Report to Greco

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“Just as a pearl is a sickness and at the same time the oyster's supreme accomplishment, so too I felt turmoil and fever in my blood, and at the same time a secret message”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Medicine

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“If only we could see man crucified and man resurrected in every heartbeat, could sense that ants, stars, ghosts, and ideas all issue from the same mother as we do, that we all suffer and all hope the day will come when our eyes will be opened and we shall see that we all are one”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Enlightenment

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“It expected me to hear the Cry of the future, to exert every effort to divine what that Cry wanted, why it was calling, and where it invited us to go... Greetings, man, you little two-legged cock! It's really true (don't listen to what others say): if you don't crow in the morning, the sun does not come up!”

from Report to Greco

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“I had no confidence in the mind, for this can discern nothing but the body. It does not see the flame which shimmers around the body and leaps from the scalp and is battered by the wind like a banner This, precisely this, is the soul.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Mind

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“I had been struggling for a lifetime to stretch my mind until it creaked at the breaking point in order to bring forth a great idea able to go give a new meaning to life, a new meaning to death, and comfort to men.”

from Report to Greco

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“Virtue, for me, in not the fruit of my nature, it is the fruit of my struggles. God did not give it to me, I have had to labor in order to conquer it by the sword. For me, virtue's flower is a pile of transubstantiated dung.”

from Report to Greco

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“once more I was overcome with admiration for the world's secret harmony., Men and animals are governed by the same utterly simple laws.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Law and Order

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“do not think that since you are an ephemeral animal you cannot interfere in the government of the cosmos. Alas! If you only knew your strength, you would already have overstepped human limits.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Government

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“Every man has a cry, his cry, to sling into the air before he dies; let us waste no time, therefore, lest we be caught short... You are not a sheep, you are a man, and that means a thing which is unsettle and shouts. Well then—shout!”

from Report to Greco

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“God makes us grubs, and we, by our own efforts, must become butterflies... He sent us the silkworm to point out our way... the grub's yearning to become butterfly always stood a its—and man's—most imperative and at the same time most legitimate duty.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Inspiration

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“Like the ancient Chinese sage [Lao Tzu], I seemed to have been born a hoary, decrepit old man with snow-white beard. As the years went by the beard turned gray, then gradually blackened, then fell off, and in my old age a tender adolescent fuzz spread across my cheeks.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Old Age

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“Every age has its own countenance. The countenance of our age was ferocious, and delicate souls dared not look it straight in the eye.”

from Report to Greco

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“The creator's responsibility is a great one; he opens a road that may entice the future and force it to make up its mind.”

from Report to Greco

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“And still higher up, on the highest level of all, our cloud boat scattered, our silken threads dissolved. The world's apparitions vanished, and nothing remained on this highest level but a mute, blind, stationary sun, blacker than blackness.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Emptiness

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“The most ignorant say that good and evil are enemies. Others rise one step higher and say that good and evil are allies. Still others, embracing the game of life and death upon this terrestrial crust with an all-encompassing glance, rejoice at the harmony and say: Good and evil are One.”

from Report to Greco

Themes: Paradox

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Quotes about Nikos Kazantzakis (1 quotes)

“In my 33 years by his side, I cannot recall ever being ashamed by a single bad action on his part. He was honest, without guile, innocent, infinitely sweet toward others, fierce only toward himself.”

Heleni Kazantzakis 1903 – 2004 CE

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