“This search for God, this longing for meaning and understanding, while often frustrating, has given me greater acquaintance with many gods along the way – all, especially the dark ones, worthy of and demanding respect – and many good and many bad people, but always an interesting life. In the end, having a more interesting life, a life that disturbs complacency, a life that pulls us out of the comfortable and thereby demands a larger spiritual engagement than we planned or that feels comfortable, is what matters most. To have been here, to have wrestled with such things, to have lived such questions, to have kept the mystery before us, to have joyfully accepted being ‘ defeated by ever larger things. ‘ to have kept one’s appointment with destiny, to have taken one’s journey through this dark, bitter, luminous, wondrous universe, to have risked being who we really are, is, finally, what matters most.”
“Plucking chrysanthemums from the eastern hedge
I gaze into the distance at the southern mountain.
The mountain air is refreshing at sunset
As the flocking birds are returning home.
In such things we find true meaning,
But when I try to explain, I can’t find the words.”
“Thoreau was an important thinker on more than just the natural environment. His other great themes were humanity and the pursuit of a moral life. He was, for instance, a lifelong opponent of slavery and an inveterate source of succour to runaway slaves. In 1845, having withheld his poll tax for years from the US government on the basis that it was morally unfit to enjoy his meagre contributions, Thoreau was arrested and incarcerated.
The time spent in the town jail may have been no more than a single night, but three years later the experience inspired an essay that became one of the foundational texts on the individual’s moral duty towards unjust or illegal government. The title of the piece, Civil Disobedience, has helped to frame campaigns of resistance to oppressive regimes across the world and has impacted on the lives of millions of people.”