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Blaise Pascal

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Nothing is so important to man as his own state, nothing is so formidable to him as eternity; and thus it is not natural that there should be men indifferent to the loss of their existence, and to the perils of everlasting suffering. They are quite different with regard to all other things. They are afraid of mere trifles; they foresee them; they feel them. And this same man who spends so many days and nights in rage and despair for the loss of office, or for some imaginary insult to his honor, is the very one who knows without anxiety and without emotion that he will lose all by death. It is a monstrous thing to see in the same heart and at the same time this sensibility to trifles and this strange insensibility to the greatest objects. It is an incomprehensible enchantment, and a supernatural slumber, which indicates as its cause an all-powerful force. 194

Blaise Pascal

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The sensibility of man to trifles, and his insensibility to great things, indicates a strange inversion. 198

Blaise Pascal

Campbell: Eternity isn't some later time. Eternity isn't a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. There's a wonderful formula that the Buddhists have for the Bodhisattva, the one whose being (sattva) is illumination (bodhi), who realizes his identity with eternity and at the same time his participation in time. And the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it. "All life is sorrowful" is the first Buddhist saying, and it is. It wouldn't be life if there were not temporality involved which is sorrow. Loss, loss, loss.
Moyers: That's a pessimistic note.
Campbell: Well, you have to say yes to it, you have to say it's great this way. It's the way God intended it.

Joseph Campbell

It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important.

Doris Lessing

I shall suggest in a few words the danger that faces a person in the moment of despair, the reef on which he can be stranded and utterly shipwrecked. The Bible says: For what would it profit a person if he gained the whole world but damaged his own soul; what would he have in return? Scripture does not state the antithesis to this, but it is implicit in the sentence. The antitheses would read something like this: What damage would there be to a person if he lost the whole world and yet did not damage his soul; what would he need in return? There are expressions that in themselves seem simple and yet fill the soul with a strange anxiety, because they almost become more obscure the more one thinks about them. In the religious sphere, the phrase “sin against the Holy Spirit” is such an expression. I do not know whether theologians are able to give a definite explanation of it, but then I am only a layman. But the phrase “to damage one’s soul” is an esthetic expression, and the person who thinks he has an ethical life-view must also think he is able to explain it. We often hear the words used, and yet anyone who wants to understand them must have experienced the deep movements of his soul-indeed, he must have despaired, for it is actually the movements of despair that are described here: on the one side the whole world, on the other side one’s own soul. You will readily perceive, if we pursue this expression, that we arrive at the same abstract definition of “soul” at which we arrived earlier in the definition of the word “self” in the psychological consideration of wishing, without, however, wanting to become someone else. In other words, if I can gain the whole world and yet damage my soul, the phrase “the whole world” must include all the finite things that I possess in my immediacy. Then my soul proves to be indifferent to these things. If I can lose the whole world without damaging my soul, the phrase “the whole world” again includes all the finite qualifications that I possess in my immediacy, and yet if my soul is undamaged it is consequently indifferent toward them. I can lose my wealth, my honor in the eyes of others, my intellectual capacity; and yet not damage my soul: I can gain it all and yet be damaged. What, then, is my soul? What is this innermost being of mine that is undismayed by this loss and suffers damage by this gain?

Soren Aabye Kierkegaard

This I have seen in life—those who are overcautious about themselves fall into dangers at every step; those who are afraid of losing honor and respect, get only disgrace; and those who are always afraid of loss, always lose.

Swami Vivekananda
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