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A Private History of Awe

Scott Russell Sanders

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Although "making love" may serve as a polite name for an act that has many rude ones, it's misleading. For lovers do not so much make love as they are remade by love--dipped into the fire, melted down, reshaped. If they are devoted to one another, love will transform them, dissolving the shells of their old separate selves and making them anew.”

“Even the disciples, who at times could be dense as bricks, realized that the true neighbor was the one who showed mercy to a stranger.”

“Life is precarious and improbable, a flame in matter, easily snuffed out. Nature shows no regard for the individual spark, in this creature or that, but only for the spreading of the fire, like an ember passed from cell to cell.”

“That was what it meant to be loved--there were people who would never give up looking and longing for you, no matter how far you wandered lost.”

“Saints and bodhisattvas may achieve what Christians call mystical union or Buddhists call satori--a perpetual awareness of the force at the heart of the heart of things. For these enlightened few, the world is always lit. For the rest of us, such clarity comes only fitfully, in sudden glimpses or slow revelations. Quakers refer to these insights as openings. When I first heard the term from a Friend who was counseling me about my resistance to the Vietnam War, I though of how on an overcast day, sunlight pours through a break in the clouds. After the clouds drift on, eclipsing the sun, the sun keeps shining behind the veil, and the memory of its light shines on in the mind.”

“What laid me low was no mystical vision, no message from God, but a blow of compassion. In a wakeful mind, no force is more terrible, or precious.”

“I sometimes wonder if all other animals, all plants, maybe even stars and rivers and rocks, dwell in steady awareness of God, while humans alone, afflicted with self-consciousness, imagine ourselves apart.”

“Striving to convey to this beloved audience of one what was going on around me during those five years, I learned the power of language to map a life, to overcome a distance, to focus attention on what matters most.”

“...nothing from the summer carries more lasting allure for me than the memory of sitting with Ruth on the bank of a stream on campus, taking turns reading aloud from the books we held on our laps, while the wind wet leaves gossiping in the old trees above us and the creek rustled in its stony bed.”

“What's remarkable about old age is not that we wear out but that we last so long in the grip of gravity.”

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Book Keywords:

neighbor, making-love, writing, reading, old-age, love, life, enlightenment, awareness, god, mercy, compassion, language, books

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