Many / One

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Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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The Way Things Are
Huston Smith, edited by Phil Cousineau
Conversations with Huston Smith on the spiritual life

1 "It sounds glib when I put it into words – but the truth is that absolute perfection reigns. In addition to being glib, it sounds dogmatic when I say it that categorically, but please understand that I see myself as basically a transmitter, reporting what the intellectual and spiritual giants of the past pretty much attest to in unison."

2 "Well, there is something magical about a circle. For one thing, geometrically it encompasses more space than any other shape. But this is just a mathematical beginning. The circle is also profoundly symbolic, for a circle travels without leave-taking. So it combines journeying with returning. It's powerful in bringing the two together."

3 "Is there such a thing as chance? I don't think so. There's more, there's always more. Call it grace, call it synchronicity, but I think of it as God telling us that at the deepest level everything is scripted, of saying there are no accidents!"

4 "Symbolism is the science of the multiple levels of reality. It is the science of seeing how something on one level, here in the material, sensible plane, actually transports our minds to a reality which is on a higher level….Equally one could say that it is an opening on the sensible plane for the supersensible to enter into and infuse it….To say that this mode of seeing is important is an understatement. It's the lifeline."

5 "Beware of the blindness to the unity that binds us."

6 "My favorite definition of faith is 'the choice of the most meaningful hypothesis.'"

7 "My soul is a Mosque for Muslims, a Temple for Hindus, an Altar for Zoroastrians, a Church for Christians, a Synagogue for Jews, and a Pasture for gazelles." Ibn Arabi

8 "Reality is one."

9 "In their specifics, their particulars, myths differ; yet the underlying theme is constant."

10 "Religion is a living conversation between the human and the divine that goes on generation after generation."

11 "God is the Good, the True, the Beautiful – and Power and Mystery, we should add – fused so completely that the five are not five but one. In my best moments I am drawn to that God as moth to flame."

12 "The elders told us that this is the road of life that we are walking down. We're supposed to be holding up one another, supporting each other, having our arm underneath our brother's arms while walking down the road of life." Reuben Snake, Winnebago medicine man

13 "We can ponder the three words 'wiser than despair', which I find very catalyzing. There are so many problems – global warming, population explosion, the increasing gulf between the rich and poor. It's so easy to despair. But despair is not a creative stance toward life, and we must seek opportunities to put every ounce of our strength to use."

14 "Everything is an outpouring of the infinite that is spiritual in essence, so everything reflects that spirit."

15 "The path has been charted – compassion and justice – imbued by vision. And it's up to each individual."

16 "Good encompasses evil and transmutes it, showing its place in the total scheme of things."

17 "I will share a prayer that is a Hindu Sanskrit chant. The translation is 'Lead us from the unreal to the Real, lead us from darkness to Light, lead us from death to immortal life. Peace, peace, peace."

18 "Life is no accident. It has derived from an Ultimate Source that is divine."

19 "What the wisdom traditions insist is that if we could understand and comprehend the whole of what seems to us, in our heart's hot spots, as being irreducible tragedies, it would be like the learning experiences that a one-year-old child encounters that we understand are necessary for the growth of that child."

20 "Faith is an affirmative stance toward life."

21 "Follow the light where it leads, and do not underestimate the possibilities and resources in this human life that each one of us has been privileged to be given."

22 "If we were privy to the whole spectrum of reality, we would then see that, yes, even what looks like unmitigated evil to us has its place in the scheme of things entire."

23 "For over fifty years I've read a passage from one of the world's sacred texts before breakfast. I'm not the first person in history to undertake the spiritual quest, and it's only sensible to draw on the experiences of those who have preceded me. The Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the Koran, the Bible, and the like are data banks of what they learned, so I apprentice myself to them. They are my guides on the path."

24 "We're in good hands and in gratitude for that fact it would be good if we bore one another's burdens."

25 "I have stood up for the saints, the seers, the prophets that I think have brought humanity to whatever nobility it has achieved. There's still a lot of that nobility around in our world, and it needs to be protected."

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite