Philosophy Weekend: Three Quotes

Three quotes I like, not necessarily related in any particular way:

When Zarathustra was thirty years old, he left his home and the lake of his home, and went into the mountains. There he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude, and for ten years did not weary of it. But at last his heart changed,- and rising one morning with the rosy dawn, he went before the sun, and spake thus unto it:

Thou great star! What would be thy happiness if thou hadst not those for whom thou shinest!

For ten years hast thou climbed hither unto my cave: thou wouldst have wearied of thy light and of the journey, had it not been for me, mine eagle, and my serpent.

But we awaited thee every morning, took from thee thine overflow, and blessed thee for it.

Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it.

I would fain bestow and distribute, until the wise have once more become joyous in their folly, and the poor happy in their riches.

Therefore must I descend into the deep: as thou doest in the evening, when thou goest behind the sea, and givest light also to the nether-world, thou exuberant star!

Like thee must I go down, as men say, to whom I shall descend.

Bless me, then, thou tranquil eye, that canst behold even the greatest happiness without envy!

Bless the cup that is about to overflow, that the water may flow golden out of it, and carry everywhere the reflection of thy bliss!

Lo! This cup is again going to empty itself, and Zarathustra is again going to be a man.

Thus began Zarathustra’s down-going.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathusra

* * * * *

Many a traveller came out of his way to see me and the inside of my house, and, as an excuse for calling, asked for a glass of water. I told them that I drank at the pond, and pointed thither, offering to lend them a dipper. Far off as I lived, I was not exempted from the annual visitation which occurs, methinks, about the first of April, when everybody is on the move; and I had my share of good luck, though there were some curious specimens among my visitors. Half-witted men from the almshouse and elsewhere came to see me; but I endeavored to make them exercise all the wit they had, and make their confessions to me; in such cases making wit the theme of our conversation; and so was compensated. Indeed, I found some of them to be wiser than the so-called overseers of the poor and selectmen of the town, and thought it was time that the tables were turned. With respect to wit, I learned that there was not much difference between the half and the whole.

One day, in particular, an inoffensive, simple-minded pauper, whom with others I had often seen used as fencing stuff, standing or sitting on a bushel in the fields to keep cattle and himself from straying, visited me, and expressed a wish to live as I did. He told me, with the utmost simplicity and truth, quite superior, or rather inferior, to anything that is called humility, that he was “deficient in intellect.” These were his words. The Lord had made him so, yet he supposed the Lord cared as much for him as for another. “I have always been so,” said he, “from my childhood; I never had much mind; I was not like other children; I am weak in the head. It was the Lord’s will, I suppose.” And there he was to prove the truth of his words. He was a metaphysical puzzle to me. I have rarely met a fellowman on such promising ground — it was so simple and sincere and so true all that he said. And, true enough, in proportion as he appeared to humble himself was he exalted. I did not know at first but it was the result of a wise policy. It seemed that from such a basis of truth and frankness as the poor weak-headed pauper had laid, our intercourse might go forward to something better than the intercourse of sages.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

* * * * *

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh, Anger

(Photo by me, taken at Neabsco Creek, Virginia)

7 Responses

  1. Nice foto!
    I could never get

    Nice foto!
    I could never get into Zarathustra but The Gay Science rocks.
    This is the best Thich Nhat Hanh quote I ever read.

  2. Sign of the times.
    When I

    Sign of the times.

    When I read this:

    “Lo! I am weary of my wisdom…”

    I first read it as LOL.


    Laughing out loud I weary of wisdom.

  3. I enjoyed, appreciated and
    I enjoyed, appreciated and related most to the Thoreau passage.

    The Nietzsche passage was poetic but IDK WTH he’s talking about.

    The third shortest one, while true enough and nicely concise, I see as pablum (click the link, it’s worth it).

  4. Think of Thoreau as
    Think of Thoreau as Zarathustra’s Sun. See where that leads you. Think of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “another person” as the sun. See where that leads.

  5. The last quote is the one
    The last quote is the one that really speaks to me his morning. It’s a good reminder to me, so I can react appropriately to certain people who have been trying my patience.

    Levi, it occurs to me that your writing on Thoreau would make another great LitKicks books. I remember one piece in particular – I think you wrote it upon declaring Walden your favorite book. Good choice, by the way.

  6. 3 for 3
    “Blessed are the

    3 for 3

    “Blessed are the sleepy for they shall soon drop off” Nietzsche

    “How did the mad appear in Shakespeare’s’ plays? The fools, the mad. Well they appear as the people who bring the most important wisdom into the plays. They have… the mad in Greek society were considered as touched by the gods; their words were looked at almost as the words of oracles. ”

    “…existentialism has certainly been good for me, I think. It’s been a healthy thing for me. It cut short therapy, I went to a therapist once, I went three times, and on the third visit I went “Oh by the way I have a question. Why are we born to suffer and die?” and she went [unintelligible mumble], and that was the end of therapy for me. I figured that if she couldn’t help me with my fundamental problem, she wasn’t going to do much good on the trivial problems.”
    rick roderick

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!