Voices from Antiquity

They speak to us across two thousand years, and we still listen: Confucius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Gautama, Nagarjuna, Heraclitus, Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many others. Even across oceans and through translations, somehow their voices still sound clear and distinctive, and they still have the power to get us to see things and understand ourselves a little better. Their words deserve and repay continued mulling. Even — perhaps especially — after many readings, they are able to surprise and instruct us. This is why they grow better as we age, and why readers of each century find new layers to the old books.

In this blog, I’ll be posting one or two sentences of ancient wisdom a few times a week. They wIll be somewhat more demanding than “ancient memes,” and they will be actual selections from the books and not quotations made up by one of our contemporaries to sound like something the Buddha or Plato might have said. They will be sentences that resonate through my day, and I hope they will be richly resonant for you too. I will say a few words about why the day’s sentences have moved me to share them with you — and above all, I will keep it brief! Your thoughts and comments, if you have time to write any, will always be appreciated. At the very least I hope that these pages will turn out to be a useful anthology of wonderful passages.

Today — March 30, 2017 — I have been re-reading Confucius…


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