Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Wisdom of Howard Thurman

• “Religious experience is dynamic, it’s fluid, it’s effervescent, it’s yeasty… all these words. But the mind can’t handle that, so it has to imprison the religious experience in some way, get it bottled up. Then, when it gets quiet enough – it meaning the religious experience – then the mind draws a bead on it and extracts out of this ferment concepts, notions, dogmas, so that the religious experience will make sense to the mind. But meanwhile, the religious experience goes on experiencing! Therefore, whatever creed there is, whatever theology there is, it is always a little out of date. This is why I feel, once a religion is stated in terms of dogma, or interlocutions, perhaps, then it can become the source of propaganda… But as long as the experience is vital, the only way that it can spread is by contagion, not by instruction, not by addressing the mind, but as something you catch, as you catch the measles… This is the nature of religious experience, whatever kind it is.”

• "When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart."

• “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

• “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”

• “Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve centre of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.”

• “During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.”

• “A dream is the bearer of a new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope.”

• "Follow the grain in
 your own wood."

• "To keep a lamp burning,
 we have to keep putting
 oil in it."

• “Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.”


  1. Typically, conservatives call me liberal and liberals call me conservative....

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  2. Anonymous,

    First, no one called you anything in the post on Howard Thurman. Second, feel free to come out of the closet and identify yourself.

    Lastly, you sound like you feel misunderstood. Perhaps you need to clarify your positions and better articulate where you are coming from?