Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Religion

In 5th century BCE Greece—if not before—the idea of religion being a way for governments to control their populations was discussed. A disciple of Socrates, Critias proposed that the idea of rewards and punishments in a future life was invented by politicians to ensure obedience when their soldiers and police couldn’t watch. In the next century, Aristotle echoed this view but added more about its benefit in securing the “public good.” I the 2nd century BCE, the historian Polybius went further asserting that the Roman civilization became so great because of its foundation on religious superstition. In more modern times, Marx and Engles carried forward this view in a vivid but strident, rigid style that seemed religious itself.
Political corruptions aside, the calls to a religious view seem to have a deep, primal, possibly genetic attraction capable of seducing even the most scientific, rational minds into narrow, obsessive and creativity-enslaving beliefs. But when not constrained by dogmatic concepts and irrational commandments, a religious approach that follows the sense and not just the words of a tradition becomes capable of opening doors into the sacred meaningfulness of life, the depths of true happiness, and the treasures of compassion.

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Quotes (166)

“Lord, my mind is not noisy with desires, and my heart has satisfied its longing. I do not care about religion or anything that is not you.”

King David 1000 – 920 BCE
"The baffled king composing Hallelujah!"
from Book of Psalms

“In the curves of your body, I find my religion.”

Sappho 612 – 570 BCE via Shan Dao
“The Poetess” and most famous Greek woman

Themes: Religion

“The more harmful the religion, the more dogmatic extremists.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter #18
(Lǎozǐ)
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Religion Belief

“We do not yet know how to serve man, how can we know about serving the spirits?”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Religion

“Kill not, cause no pain. Nonviolence is the greatest religion.”

Mahavira 540 – 468 BCE
(Vardhamāna)
"the great hero”

Themes: Religion

“The ancients heard thunder, saw lightning, conjunctions of the stars, eclipses of the Sun and Moon, became afraid, and began believing in gods to explain what they couldn’t understand.”

Democritus Dēmókritos 460 – 370 BCE
Father of modern science and greatest of ancient philosophers

Themes: Religion Moon

“Myths—because of their utility in regard to social customs and the public good—were introduced to persuade the multitude.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE via Shan Dao, et alia
from Metaphysics

“Whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought 'Let me glorify my own religion,' only harms his own religion. Therefore contact (between religions) is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others.”

Ashoka 304 – 232 BCE
One of the world's most enlightened leaders

“When human life laid prostrate on the earth crushed down under the weight of religion, Epicurus found the living source of his soul and passed far beyond the flaming walls of convention finding the wonders of mind, the spirit of the immeasurable universe in turn putting under foot and trampling down on religion.”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE via H. A. J. Munro, Shan Dao
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

“All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

Seneca ˈsɛnɪkə 4 BCE – 65 CE
(Lucius Annaeus)

Themes: Religion

“Whether a person remains deluded or gains Illumination depends upon themself, not upon differences or similarity of doctrine.”

Hui Hai 大珠慧海 788 – 831 CE
from Essential Gate for Entry Into Sudden Enlightenment (Tun-wu ju dao yao-men)

Themes: Religion

“Ritual worship is futile and conceals the truth.”

Kukkuripa ཀུ་ཀྐུ་རི་པ། 915 CE –
("The Dog Lover")
Mahasiddha #34

Themes: Religion Truth

“The purpose of all dharma is contained in one point.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)

Themes: Religion

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit.”

Averroes, Ibn Rushd ابن رشد‎‎ 1126 – 1198 CE

“If the believer understood the meaning of the saying 'the color of the water is the color of the receptacle', he would admit the validity of all beliefs and he would recognize God in every form and every object of faith.”

Ibn' Arabi Ibn 'Arabi 1165 – 1240 CE
“the foremost spiritual leader in Muslim history”

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from The Prince

“Religion is the most necessary and assured support of any civil society... there never was a successful lawgiver who did not resort to divine authority, as otherwise his laws would not have been accepted by the people.”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from Discourses on Livy

“Religion is the most mysterious thing and one about which one should keep silent... it would be an offense to religion to confide it to the profane multitude.”

Agrippa 1486 – 1535 CE via Kurt Seligmann
(Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim)
Historian of the occult and early, important influence on science
from Three Books of Occult Philosophy or Magic

Themes: Religion

“Religious in mine error, I adore the sun, that looks upon his worshipper, but knows of him no more.”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from All's Well That Ends Well

Themes: Religion

“Men despise religion; they hate it, and fear it is true... we must make it lovable, to make good men hope it is true; finally, we must prove it is true.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time
from Pensées (1669)

Themes: Religion

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time

Themes: Evil Religion

“The supreme mystery of despotism, its prop and stay, is to keep men in a state of deception, and with the specious title of religion to cloak the fear by which they must be held in check, so that they will fight for their servitude as if for salvation.”

Baruch Spinoza 1632 – 1677 CE

71. Sick of Sickness

“I always begin as a philosopher but I always end up as a theologian.”

Leibniz 1646 – 1716 CE via Meyer
(Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz)

Themes: Religion
“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”

Jonathan Swift 1667 – 1745 CE
"Foremost prose satirist in the English language"

from Thoughts on Various Subjects (1703)

“All religion relates to life, and the life of religion is to do good.”

Emanuel Swedenborg 1688 – 1772 CE
Scientist, mystic, influential philosopher

from New Jerusalem

Themes: Religion

“For modes of faith, let graceless zealots fight;
He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer
from An Essay on Man

“Religion is not a restraint; on the contrary it is an encouragement to crime. Every religion is based on expiations.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE
from Notebooks

Themes: Religion

“posterity is for the philosopher what the 'other world' is for the man of religion”

Diderot 1713 – 1784 CE

Themes: Religion

“Religion can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. Therefore it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

George Mason 1725 – 1792 CE via Shan Dao
First American abolitionist, founding father, and Constitutional savior
from Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776

Themes: Religion

“The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.”

Edward Gibbon 1737 – 1794 CE
from Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

Themes: Religion

“Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE
from The Age of Reason

Themes: Religion

“Modes of worship in the Roman world were considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.”

Edward Gibbon 1737 – 1794 CE
from Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

Themes: Religion

“In every country in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own.”

Thomas Jefferson 1743 – 1826 CE
from Letter (1810)

“When will Mankind be convinced that true Religion is from the Heart, between Man and his creator, and not the imposition of Man or creeds and tests?”

Abigail Adams 1744 – 1818 CE
One of the most exceptional women in American history

“In no instance has a system in regard to religion been ever established, but for the purpose, as well as with the effect of its being made an instrument of intimidation, corruption, and delusion, for the support of depredation and oppression in the hands of government.”

Jeremy Bentham 1748 – 1832 CE
from Constitutional Code

“Religion saves the rich from being massacred by the poor.”

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821 CE via Will Durant

Themes: Religion Poverty

“Whenever philosophy has taken religion into its plan, it has ended in skepticism; and whenever religion excludes philosophy or the spirit of free inquiry, it leads to wilful blindness and superstition.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 – 1834 CE
from Converstions and Reflections, 1836

“The bad thing about all religions is that, instead of being able to confess their allegorical nature, they have to conceal it.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

56. One with the Dust

“Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Religion Reason

71. Sick of Sickness

“Religions are the children of ignorance and do not long survive their mother... Mankind is growing out of religion as out of its childhood clothes.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via R.J. Hollingdale
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

“Love is a religion, and its rituals cost more than those of other religions. It goes by quickly and, like a street urchin, it likes to mark its passage by a trail of devastation.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)
from Père Goriot

Themes: Religion Love

“poetry will take a great step, a decisive step, a step which, like the upheaval of an earthquake, will change the whole face of the intellectual world. It will set about doing as nature does, mingling in its creations—but without confounding them—darkness and light, the grotesque and the sublime; in other words, the body and the soul, the beast and the intellect; for the starting-point of religion is always the starting-point of poetry. All things are connected.”

Victor Hugo 1802 – 1885 CE
Literary pioneer, poet, and social justice provocateur
from Cromwell, 1827

Themes: Poetry Religion

“I am for religion, against religions.”

Victor Hugo 1802 – 1885 CE
Literary pioneer, poet, and social justice provocateur
from Les Misérables

Themes: Religion

“All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.”

Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allen Poe 1809 – 1849 CE

“Religion is a collective insanity. It has always sanctified violence and transformed it into 'right.' It has whisked away humanity, justice, and fraternity into a fictitious heaven, so as to leave room on earth for the reign of iniquity and brutality.”

Mikhail Bakunin 1814 – 1876 CE
Romantic rebel, revolutionary anarchist, founding father of modern socialism
from Le Progrés (1869)

Themes: Religion

“Truths for a new day:
1. The oneness of mankind
2. The foundation of all religion is one
3. Religion must be in accord with science and reason”

Bahá'u'lláh بهاء الله‎‎, 1817 – 1892 CE via Abdu’l-Bahá'
("Glory of God")

“Religion is but the false sun that revolves around those who are not fully aware… it is the sigh of the oppressed, the kindliness of a heartless world, the soul of soulless circumstance, the opiate of the people.”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE via Shan Dao, et alia
from Introduction to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law

Themes: Religion

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE

Themes: Religion

“Religion is the soul of soulless conditions, the heart of a heartless world, the sigh of the oppressed, the feeling of a heartless world, the spirit of unspiritual conditions, the opium of the people.”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE via Shan Dao
from Crititique of Hegelian Philosophy, 1844

Themes: Religion

“But when a man's religion becomes really fanatic; when it is a positive torment to him; and, in fine, makes this earth of our an uncomfortable inn to lodge in; then I think it high time to take that individual aside and argue the point with him.”

Herman Melville 1819 – 1891 CE
from Moby Dick or The Whale

“all men needed the bridle of religion, which, properly speaking, was the dread of a Hereafter”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

from Middlemarch

Themes: Religion

“All religion is nothing but the fantastic reflection in men’s minds of those external forces which control their daily life, a reflection in which the terrestrial forces assume the form of supernatural forces.”

Friedrich Engels 1820 – 1895 CE
Businessman-philosopher, political theorist
from Anti-Dühring, 1878​

Themes: Religion Control

“Since the beginning of time, the craving for community of worship remains as the main cause of our suffering. For that we’ve killed and tortured each other, said ‘Put away your gods and worship ours or we will kill you and your gods.’”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE
from Brothers Karamatzov

“The great enemy of civilization is the notion that society cannot prosper, unless the affairs of life are watched over and protected at nearly every turn by the state and the church.”

Henry Thomas Buckle 1821 – 1862 CE
from History of Civilization

17. True Leaders

“As long as man remains free, he stries for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE
from Think for Yourself

Themes: Religion

“Eternal truths survive the shock of empires, outlive the struggles of rival creeds, and witness the decay of successive religions.”

Henry Thomas Buckle 1821 – 1862 CE
from History of Civilization

Themes: Religion

6. The Source

“by combining science with religion, the existence of God and immortality of man's spirit may be demonstrated.”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy
from Isis Unveiled

“The origin of all religions—Judaeo-Christianity included—is to be found in a few primeval truths, not one of which can be explained apart from all the others, as each is a complement of the rest in some one detail. And they are all, more or less, broken rays of the same Sun of truth”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy
from The Key to Theosophy (1889)

“Liberty, next to religion, has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime... beset by its natural enemies: ignorance, superstition, lust of conquest, love of ease, craving for power”

Lord Acton 1834 – 1902 CE
(John Dalberg-Acton)
Prolific historian and politician
from History of Freedom, 1907

“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“It is here that almost all religions go wrong... forgetting that while to deny the existence of an unseen kingdom is bad, to pretend that we know more about it than its bare existence is no better.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Erewhon

Themes: Religion

“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

67. Three Treasures

“A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

Themes: Religion Belief

71. Sick of Sickness

“Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

Themes: Religion

71. Sick of Sickness

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

Themes: Religion Belief

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“I find the nicest and best people generally profess no religion at all, but are ready to like the best men of all religions.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Note-Books (1912)

Themes: Religion

“Religion, in short, is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from The Will to Believe, 1897

“There is not enough love and goodness in the world to permit giving any of it away to imaginary beings.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE
from Human All Too Human - A Book for Free Spirits

Themes: Religion

“As far as religion is concerned, it’s a damned fake… Religion is all bunk.”

Thomas Edison 1847 – 1931 CE
America's greatest inventor

Themes: Religion

“Churches are suffered to exist only on condition that they preach submission to the State as at present capitalistically organized.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from Preface, Major Barbara (1907)

Themes: Religion

“If your religion does not change you, then you had better change your religion.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE
from A Thousand and One Epigrams

Themes: Religion

“The derivation of a need for religion from the child's feeling of helplessness and the longing it evokes for a father seems to me incontrovertible... [and] kept alive perpetually by the fear of what the superior power of fate will bring.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE
from Civilization and It's Discontents (1930)

“What is your ‘civilization and progress‘ if its only outcome is hysteria and down going? What is ‘government and law‘ if their ripened harvests are men without sap? What are ‘religions and literatures‘ if their grandest productions are hordes of faithful slaves?”

Arthur Desmond 1859 – 1929 CE
from Might Is Right

“Have not some religions, including the most influential forms of Christianity, taught that the heart of man is totally corrupt? [For this reason] how could the course of religion in its entire sweep not be marked by practices that are shameful in their cruelty and lustfulness, and by beliefs that are degraded and intellectually incredible?”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"

“Religion is to mysticism what popularization is to science.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE

Themes: Science Religion

56. One with the Dust

“Religion is a way of walking, not a way of talking.”

Dean Inge 1860 – 1954 CE
Christian mystic and philosopher

Themes: Religion

“For Shakespeare, in the matter of religion, the choice lay between Christianity and nothing. He chose nothing.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet
from The Absence of Religion in Shakespeare

Themes: Religion

“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature, to have faith in yourself.”

Swami Vivekananda ʃami bibekanɔnd̪o 1863 – 1902 CE
"The maker of modern India"

Themes: Religion

“All the main religions, patriotic, moral and customary systems in which human beings are sheltering today, appear to be in a state of jostling and mutually destructive movement, like the houses and palaces and other buildings of some vast, sprawling city overtaken by a landslide.”

H. G. Wells 1866 – 1946 CE
A father of science fiction and One World Government apostle

Themes: Religion

“Religion is a disease born of fear and a source of untold misery to the human race.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

Themes: Religion

“People attempted to tame whatever animal their religion taught them to worship. The tribes that worshiped lions and crocodiles died out, while those to whom the cow or the sheep was a sacred animal prospered.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from Unpopular Essays

Themes: Religion

“The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: God Religion

“Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

“Our true religion is a monotheism of consciousness, a possession by it, with a fanatical denial of the existence of autonomous partial-systems… This leads to collective delusions, instigations to war and revolution, in a word, to destructive mass psychoses… this narrowness of consciousness is always the shortest way to the insane asylum.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

31. Victory Funeral

“Religion is the art of those who are uncreative.”

Rainer Maria Rilke 1875 – 1926 CE
Profound singer of universal music

Themes: Religion Art

“In view of its function, religion stands in greater need of a rational foundation of its ultimate principles than even the dogmas of science.”

Muhammad Iqbal محمد اقبال 1877 – 1938 CE

Themes: Religion Science

“The opposition of religion to folklore is often a kind of rivalry set up as between a new dispensation and an older tradition, the gods of the older cult becoming the evil spirits of the newer”

Ananda Coomaraswamy குமாரசுவாமி 1877 – 1947 CE
Perennial philosophy's Citizen of the World

Themes: Religion Change

“I didn't know that being religious meant health and cheerfulness.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

“I don't like religion much, and I am glad that in the Bible the word is not to be found.”

Martin Buber מרטין בובר‎‎ 1878 – 1965 CE via BBC broadcast
from The Listener, 1962

Themes: Religion

“Like the goal of art is the search for beauty, the goal of religion is the search for God and truth.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

Themes: Religion Truth God Art

“A religion contradicting science and a science contradicting religion are equally false.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

Themes: Science Religion

“My religion consists in a humble awe before the higher reality that reveals itself in the smallest details”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Religion Magic

“science without religion is lame… religion without science is blind”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Religion Science

“A peak in a poke and a pig in a pew.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Finnegan's Wake

Themes: Religion

5. Christmas Trees

“She thought there were no Gods; no one was to blame; and so she evolved this atheist's religion of doing good for the sake of goodness.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Mrs. Dalloway

“Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion… that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful… whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler… that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting, and farewells him with hooting, only to welcome another with trumpeting again.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Religion

17. True Leaders

“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”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

Themes: Religion

“Is not religion all deeds and all reflection... a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul?”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE
from The Prophet

“All faiths alike are cloaks to cover our shivering ignorance.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from The Age of Reason Begins

“In a society where government, law, and morality are bound up with a religious creed, any attack upon that creed is viewed as menacing the foundation of social order itself.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Age of Faith

Themes: Religion Belief

“As education spreads, theologies lose credence, and receive an external conformity without influence upon conduct or hope”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Lessons of History

“We know too much, and are convinced of too little. Our literature is a substitute for religion, and so is our religion.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE
from A dialog on dramatic poetry (1928)

Themes: Religion

“The sovereignty of scriptures of all religions must come to an end if we want to have a united integrated modern India.”

B.R. Ambedkar 1891 – 1956 CE
(Babasaheb)

Themes: Religion

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“religious in the only way that is becoming—extracting the utmost of life from every passing minute.”

Henry Miller 1891 – 1980 CE
from The Colossus of Maroussi

“It may be that religion is dead, and if it is, we had better know it and set ourselves to try to discover other sources of moral strength before it is too late.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE
from What America Means to Me, 1947

“It may be that religion is dead, and if it is, we had better know it and set ourselves to try to discover other sources of moral strength before it is too late.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE
from What America Means to Me (1943)

Themes: Religion

“In religion all words are dirty words. Anybody who gets eloquent about Buddha, or God, or Christ, ought to have his mouth washed out with carbolic soap.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

56. One with the Dust

“Given the nature of spiders, webs are inevitable. And given the nature of human beings, so are religions. Spiders can't help making fly-traps, and men can't help making symbols. That's what the human brain is there for - to turn the chaos of given experience into a set of manageable symbols.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

“Neither your gods, nor your science can save you, can bring you psychological certainty; and you have to accept that you can trust in absolutely nothing.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

“All the present bureaucracies of political governments, great religious organizations, and all big businesses find that physical success for all humanity would be devastating to the perpetuation of their ongoing activities.”

Buckminster Fuller 1895 – 1983 CE

58. Goals Without Means

“religious, political, personal… symbols, ideas, beliefs… are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man in every relationship.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
from Core of the Teaching

67. Three Treasures

“Religion is the frozen thought of mankind out of which they build temples.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Themes: Religion Reason

“While theistic religions are based on authority and dogma, non-theistic religions like Taoism and Buddhism are based on self-responsibility and universality. The highest good is found n the lowest places; therefore it is compared to water.”

Anagarika​ (Lama) Govinda 1898 – 1985 CE
(Ernst Hoffmann)
Pioneer of Tibetan Buddhism to the West

from Inner Structure of the I Ching

“To fall in love is to create a religion that has a fallible god.”

Jorge Luis Borges 1899 – 1986 CE
Literary Explorer of Labyrinthian Dreams, Mirrors, and Mythologies

Themes: Religion God

“The jewel has facets and it is possible that many religions are moderately true.”

James Hilton 1900 – 1954 CE
from Lost Horizon

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“Religion: What at one time was a dynamic structure, mediating between man an his destiny and interpersonal responsibilities, has become mere mechanical ritual that dwarfs men rather than strengthening them.”

Eric Fromm 1900 – 1980 CE
from Contribution (1964)

Themes: Religion

“organized religion... goes back to myths which, though they may have a kernel of truth, are untrue. Why then should the Jewish myth be true and the Indian and Egyptian myths not be true?”

Karl Popper 1902 – 1994 CE
Major Philosopher of Science

“Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck to its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

“I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril.”

James Michener 1907 – 1997 CE
Historical and Generational Saga Master


from The World Is My Home (1991)

“I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril.”

James Michener 1907 – 1997 CE
Historical and Generational Saga Master


from The World Is My Home (1991)

“We must convert religion to religion that transcends religion, return philosophy to its original purity, and replace science with a science that rejects modern science.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE
from Road Back to Nature

“I do not believe in God and I am not an atheist.”

Albert Camus 1913 – 1960 CE

Themes: God Religion

“I think it matters almost infinitely that we practice one of the authentic religions. But if you mean does it make any difference which, the answer is no.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“It is commonly said and known that each civilization has its own religion. Now my claim is that if we look deeper, the different civilizations were brought into being by the different revelations.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“If we take the world's enduring religions at their best, we discover the distilled wisdom of the human race.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“God has to speak to each person in their own language, in their own idioms. Take Spanish, Chinese. You can express the same thought, but to different people you have to use a different language. Its the same in religion.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“Walnuts have a shell, and they have a kernel. Religions are the same. They have an essence, but then they have a protective coating. So the kernels are the same. However, the shells are different”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“In the realm of religion, we can look forward to ecumenical dissolution of sects, dogmas, and superstitions since they create a tiro mortis of the mind, emotions and spirit.”

Ralph Alan Dale 1920 – 2006 CE
Translator, author, visionary
from Tao Te Ching, a new translation and commentary

Themes: Religion

“Religions appear to be schismatic technical harangues, corruptions of some original pure Vision”

Jack Kerouac 1922 – 1969 CE
from Some of the Dharma

“There is an inner core common to all religions: the universal teachings of morality and charity, of a disciplined and pure mind full of love, compassion, goodwill and tolerance.”

Goenka ဂိုအင်ကာ 1924 – 2013 CE
(Satya Narayan)
"The Man who Taught the World to Meditate"

“Many a time we ease ourselves into convenient clichés and… once more we are trapped by habits that are the dunghills upon which the creeds feed.”

Reb Zalman 1924 – 2014 CE
from Paradigm Shift

20. Unconventional Mind

“Once a great conception, philosophy, or system of thought is turned into a religion, the original thought dies off.”

Hua-Ching Ni 1925 CE –
from Complete Works of Lao Tzu

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Delusion Religion

“No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“My religion is humanitarianism, which is the basis of every religion in the world.”

Abdul Sattar Edhi عبدالستار ایدھی 1928 – 2016 CE
Pakistan's "Father Teresa"

Themes: Religion

“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE
Leading world influence for equality, peace, non-violence, and poverty alleviation

Themes: Science Religion

“Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE
Leading world influence for equality, peace, non-violence, and poverty alleviation

“Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE
Leading world influence for equality, peace, non-violence, and poverty alleviation

“Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE
Leading world influence for equality, peace, non-violence, and poverty alleviation

“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.”

Colin Wilson 1931 – 2013 CE
from Outsider

Themes: Evil Religion

“Science is not always positive. How many lives were lost from nuclear weapons, and how much energy was lost that could have gone toward the development of countries instead of their destruction? It is unnecessary to believe in developing only in a scientific way. It is also unnecessary to be against the idea of a spiritual path, because those who follow a spiritual path and develop spiritual qualities can help to create peace in the world.”

Thinley Norbu གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ 1931 – 2011 CE
(Kyabjé Dungse)

Themes: Science Religion

“Every war results from the struggle for markets and spheres of influence, and every war is sold to the public by professional liars and totally sincere religious maniacs, as a Holy Crusade to save God and Goodness from Satan and Evil.”

Robert Anton Wilson 1932 – 2007 CE
from Cosmic Trigger II

31. Victory Funeral

“Opinions and beliefs can be helpful... as long as we don't believe them”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –
from Tao Te Ching — The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“To me there's no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They're all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful.”

Woody Allen 1935 CE –

Themes: Religion

“The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

Themes: Religion

79. No Demands

“In the bullshit department… religion easily has the greatest story ever told.”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: Religion

18. The Sick Society

“In general, people speak as if there is a kind of religion created by Buddha Shakyamuni. That is not a correct point of view. Buddha never created any kind of school or religion.”

Namkhai Norbu ཆོས་རྒྱལ་ནམ་མཁའི་ནོར་བུ་ 1938 – 2018 CE via John Shane
Dzogchen Master
from Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State

Themes: Religion Buddhism

“Universally—in all traditions and schools of thought, religions, philosophies, political theories—there's always a conflict about how to relate the imaginary world to the physical world.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via The Six Chakras and the Four Karmas (tr: Judith Lief, editor)
from Secret Beyond Thought, Boston, 1971

“Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do - nothing to kill or die for, no religions too.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

18. The Sick Society

“Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV, and you think you're so clever and classless and free… A working class hero is something to be.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

35. The Power of Goodness

“All religions are branches of one big tree. It doesn't matter what you call Him just as long as you call.”

George Harrison 1943 – 2001 CE
Guitar-playing philanthropist

“Religion isn't about believing things. It's about what you do. It's ethical alchemy. It's about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.”

Karen Armstrong 1944 CE –
Champion of the Golden Rule and perennial philosophy

“Politics and church are the same. They keep the people in ignorance.”

Bob Marley 1945 – 1981 CE

“Along with the lust for power, religion and spirituality are the most profound motivators in human history.”

J. Rufus Fears 1945 – 2012 CE

Themes: Religion

“Market capitalism has already become the most successful religion of all time, winning more converts more quickly than any previous belief or value system in human history.”

David Loy 1947 CE –
from A Buddhist History of the West

“Religion—a medieval form of unreason—when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms… ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

Salman Rushdie 1947 CE –
Fearless antagonist of Islamic fundamentalism

“Financial dealings have become a religious activity... People worship capital, adore its aura, genuflect before Porsches and land values”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Alfred Birnbaum
from Dance, Dance, Dance

53. Shameless Thieves

“the excruciating ache of the awakening love for wisdom… the sacred origin not just of religion but also everything else, of science, technology, education, law, medicine, logic architecture, ordinary daily life”

Peter Kingsley 1953 CE –
from A Story Waiting to Pierce You

“Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all… places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world. Never a word of it is literally true.”

Neil Gaiman 1960 CE –
Myth-transmitting creative maelstrom
from American Gods

“Religion is one of the most perverse misuses of intelligence we have ever devised.”

Sam Harris 1967 CE –

Themes: Religion

“What matters is abuse, and how it is anchored in a religion that denies women their rights as humans. What matters is that atrocities against women and children are carried out in Europe. What matters is that governments and societies must stop hiding behind a hollow pretense of tolerance so that they can recognize and deal with the problem.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali 1969 CE –
Powerful voice for Islamic reform
from Infidel

“The most boring and unproductive question one can ask of any religion is whether or not it is true.”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge
from Religion for Atheists

Themes: Religion

“"If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn’t be any religious people."”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from The Bone Clocks

56. One with the Dust

“[Capitalist–consumerism] is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do... most people today successfully live up to this ideal... the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money and the masses give free reign to their cravings and passions and buy more and more.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens

“religion is often considered a source of discrimination, disagreement and disunion. Yet in fact, religion has been the third great unifier of humankind, alongside money and empires... Religions assert that our laws are not the result of human caprice... thereby ensuring social stability.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

Themes: Religion