Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Colin Wilson

1931 – 2013 CE

Author of over 100 books, philosopher, novelist, and instigator of “optimistic existentialism;” Wilson wrote The Outsider in 1956 when he was only 24 years old and—translated into 30+ languages—it hasn’t been out of print since. A deep interest in metaphysical themes led him to in-depth studies and writings on people like Aleister Crowley, Gurdjieff, Helena Blavatsky, Paracelsus, Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Rudolf Steiner, and P. D. Ouspensky. His challenging and ground-breaking reflections spawned an International Conference that began in 2016. Dissolving most boundaries of conformity, he brought an extremely open-minded and non-conformist views on most modern issues; but, went so far in that direction, he often fell into believing naive and primitive speculations. In spite of—or possibly because of—these “failings,” his books challenge conventionality and open conceptual, panoramic perspectives on the most important issues we struggle with on political, social, and personal levels.

Lineages
British

Eras

Sources

Outsider

Unlisted Sources

A Criminal History of Mankind

G. I. Gurdjieff: The War Against Sleep (1980)

Rasputin

Rudolf Steiner: The Man and His Vision (1985)

The Books In My Life, 1998

The Occult

The Occult (1971)​

They Had Strange Powers (1975)

Voyage to a Beginning, 1968​

Quotes by Colin Wilson (31 quotes)

“For me [fiction] is a manner of philosophizing... Philosophy may be only a shadow of the reality it tries to grasp, but the novel is altogether more satisfactory. I am almost tempted to say that no philosopher is qualified to do his job unless he is also a novelist.”

from Voyage to a Beginning, 1968​

Themes: Philosophy

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“The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain.”

Themes: Conformity

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“Imagination should be used, not to escape reality but to create it.”

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“As a young man I was scornful about the supernatural but as I have got older, the sharp line that divided the credible from the incredible has tended to blur; I am aware that the whole world is slightly incredible”

Themes: Belief

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“It is far easier to write an angry letter than to go and say angry things to another person - because as soon as we look in one another's faces we can see the other point of view.”

from A Criminal History of Mankind

Themes: Anger

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“The worst crimes are not committed by evil degenerates, but by decent and intelligent people taking 'pragmatic' decisions.”

Themes: Crime

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“Religion, mysticism and magic all spring from the same basic 'feeling' about the universe: a sudden feeling of meaning, which human beings sometimes 'pick up' accidentally, as your radio might pick up some unknown station.”

from The Occult

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“Poets feel that we are cut off from meaning by a thick, lead wall, and that sometimes for no reason we can understand the wall seems to vanish and we are suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of the infinite interestingness of things.”

from The Occult

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“Man’s greatest problem, the problem that has caused most of his agonies and miseries, has been his attempt to compensate for the narrowing of consciousness and the entrapment in the left-brain ego. His favorite method of compensation has been to seek out excitement. He feels most free in moments of conquest; so for the past three thousand years or so, most of the greatest man have led armies into their neighbors' territory, and turned order into chaos. This has plainly been a retrogressive step; the evolutionary urge has been defeating its own purpose.”

from A Criminal History of Mankind​

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“Alone in my room, feeling totally cut off from the rest of society…it struck me that I was in the position of so many of my favorite characters in fiction: Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov, Rilke's Malte Laurids Brigge, the young writer in Hamsun's Hunger. It was not a position I relished . . . Yet an inner compulsion had forced me into this position of isolation.”

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

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“Man is not a 'fixed and limited animal whose nature is absolutely constant'. He changed drastically when he developed 'divided consciousness' to cope with complexities of civilization, and has been changing steadily ever since.”

Themes: Change

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“Writers who have had an easy start in life are usually second rate -- or at least, not quite first-rate. Dickens, Balzac, Dostoevsky, Shaw, H. G. Wells, are examples of the first-rate kind; in the twentieth century, John Galsworthy, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and Samuel Beckett are examples of the second kind. They are far from being mediocre writers; yet they tend to be tinged with a certain pessimism that arises from never having achieved a certain resistance against problems.”

from The Books In My Life, 1998

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“If we think of Kierkegaard, of Nietzsche, of Hölderlin, we see them standing alone, outside of history. They are spotlighted by their intensity, and the background is all darkness. They intersect history, but are not a part of it. There is something anti-history about such men; they are not subject to time, accident and death, but their intensity is a protest against it.”

from Rasputin

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“For Jung, the 'psychic world' (i.e. the world of the mind) was an independent reality, and it was possible to travel there and make the acquaintance of its inhabitants.”

from Rudolf Steiner: The Man and His Vision (1985)

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“Whatever one thinks about the extraordinary claims of its founder, it must be acknowledged that there is something very beautiful and healthy about the Swedenborgian religion. Its founder may have not been a great occultist, but he was a great man.”

from The Occult (1971)​

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“Gurdjieff on the contrary, has become steadily better known, and his influence continues to grow. One of the main reasons for this is that there was so little of the charlatan about him. He is no cult figure with hordes of gullible disciples. What he has to teach makes an appeal to the intelligence, and can be fully understood only by those who are prepared to make a serious effort.”

from They Had Strange Powers (1975)

Themes: Teachers

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“Considered as a whole, Hesse's achievement can hardly be matched in modern literature... Hesse has little imagination in the sense that Shakespeare or Tolstoy can be said to have imagination, but his ideas have a vitality that more than makes up for it. Before all, he is a novelist who used the novel to explore the problem: What should we do with our lives? The man who is interested to know how he should live instead of merely taking life as it comes, is automatically an Outsider.”

from Outsider

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“Humanism is only another name for spiritual laziness, or a vague half-creed adopted by men of science and logicians whose heads are too occupied with the world of mathematics and physics to worry about religious categories.”

from Outsider

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“The real issue is not whether two and two make four or whether two and two make five, but whether life advances by men who love words or men who love living.”

from Outsider

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“Self-expression is impossible in relation with other men; their self-expression interferes with it. The greatest heights of self-expression in poetry, music, painting—are achieved by men who are supremely alone.”

from Outsider

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“The Outsider is always unhappy, but he is an agent that ensures the happiness for millions of 'Insiders'.”

from Outsider

Themes: Leadership

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“They change their shirts every day, but never their conception of themselves... These men are in prison... caged animals who have never known freedom; but it is a prison all the same.”

from Outsider

Themes: Slavery

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“Art is thought, and thought only gives the world an appearance of order to anyone weak enough to be convinced by its show.”

from Outsider

Themes: Deception Art

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“The Outsider has his proper place in the Order of Society, as the impractical dreamer.”

from Outsider

Themes: Dream

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“The Outsider has his proper place in the Order of Society, as the impractical dreamer.”

from Outsider

Themes: Dream

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“This is certainly our most remarkable human characteristic: imagination. Animals require actual physical stimuli to trigger their experience. A man can retreat into a book—or a daydream... Such a curious ability is far beyond the power of any animal.”

from G. I. Gurdjieff: The War Against Sleep (1980)

Themes: Imagination

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Demian is an example of the artist's miraculous power of surviving a mental earthquake... It is a question of self-realization. It is not enough to accept a concept of order and live by it; that is cowardice, and such cowardice cannot result in freedom. Chaos must be faced. Real order must be preceded by a descent into chaos. This is Hesse's conclusion.”

from Outsider

Themes: Progress

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“no act is evil in itself; man puts the evil into it by the motive with which he commits it... Evil cannot coexist without the striving to 'live more abundantly' which is the ultimate aim of religion.”

from Outsider

Themes: Religion Evil

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“Nietzsche was, in short, a religious mystic... Nietzsche understood that society is a hall of distorting mirrors.”

from Outsider

Themes: Illusion

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“One of the most striking of Ramakrishna's teachings is the belief in the unity of all religions... We—among the complexities of our modern civilization—are forced to develop hard shells... Ramakrishna, at the opposite extreme, could plunge to a depth of imaginative ecstasy which few Westerners have ever known”

from Outsider

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“The Buddha advocated a 'middle way' yet this was only after a preliminary course of extremes... As to the way of escaping delusion, there is no division of opinion: Go to extremes. That is the first necessity.”

from Outsider

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