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When I run after what I think I want, my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety; if I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me, and without pain. From this I understand that what I want also wants me, is looking for me and attracting me. There is a great secret here for anyone who can grasp it.
Religion is based … mainly upon fear … fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.
If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and … if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own I would refuse… I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being’s right to exist.
I love my own culture. I love my African-American culture very deeply, and I know it deserves to be honored. You have to be aware that people are suffering unjustly, and given our own history we have a duty to stand for the people who are being treated like our parents and grandparents and children were treated.
From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.
My mother always accused me of being in love with the sound of my own voice. When we went on road trips, she’d be like, ‘Stop singing. Be quiet, you’re talking just to hear yourself speak.’ It was probably true. I like to ramble on, which is probably why I’m well suited to interviews. You know, there’s no other forum where you’re literally supposed to sit down and just talk for hours about yourself. I love it.
If I can get out of the way, if I can be pure enough, if I can be selfless enough, and if I can be generous and loving and caring enough to abandon what I have in my own preconceived silly notions of what I think I am – and become truly who in fact I am, which is really just another child of God – then the music can really use me. And therein lies my fulfillment. That’s when the music starts to happen.
When I was 19 years old, both of my parents died in the same year; my mom of cancer and my dad in a car accident. Through the next two or three years and a series of bad decisions – all my own, I might add – I ended up literally homeless, before that was even a word. I even slept occasionally under a pier on the Gulf Coast.
I have never belonged wholeheartedly to country or State, to my circle of friends or even to my own family… Such isolation is sometimes bitter, but I do not regret being cut off from the understanding and sympathy of other men. I lose something by it,to be sure, but I am compensated for it in being rendered independent of the customs, opinions and prejudices of others, and am not tempted to rest my peace of mind upon such shifting foundations.