Wisdom for the Soul Wisdom for the Soul Thoughts to live by


Related States & Conditions | Syntonic | Dystonic

As a camel beareth labor, and heat, and hunger, and thirst, through deserts of sand, and fainteth not; so the fortitude of a man shall sustain him through all perils.
c. 1385-c. 1355 BCE, Khemetic (Egyptian) Pharoah

Perseverance alone does not assure success. No amount of stalking will lead to game in a field that has none.
Yi Jing
c. 1150 BCE, Chinese Oracle

To endure is the disposition of the sage.

Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.
c. 563-483 BCE, Indian Prince, Mystic, Founder of Buddhism

In the battle between the river and the rock, the river will always win. Not through strength but by persistence.
c. 551–c. 479 BCE, Chinese Philosopher, Educator, Political Theorist

Perseverance is more prevailing than violence, and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.
c. 46-c. 120, Greek Biographer, Philosopher

We will either find a way, or make one.
c. 252-183 BCE, Carthaginian Militarist

Summon forth great energy in your efforts, great courage and determination; wielding the sword of wisdom, go directly ahead, going beyond all, beyond seeing that mountains are mountains, rivers are rivers, the whole body comes thus, the whole body goes thus – there are no complications around at all.
1202-1280, Japanese Zen Master
in The Original Face: An Anthology of Rinzai Zen, Thomas Cleary, tr., 1978

To be resolute in the way means from the beginning never to lose sight of it, whether in a place of calm or in a place of strife; to not cling to quiet places nor shun places where there is disturbance.
1213-1279, Chinese Chan Monk

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
Leonardo da Vinci
1452-1519, Italian Painter, Sculptor, Architect, Scientist

Human life suffers steep inclines on the way through the world. If you don’t keep “endurance” as your watchword as you go along, how will you tolerate the thorny undergrowth and the pits and ditches?
Hong Zicheng
fl. 1596, Chinese Philosopher, Scholar
Caigentan: Vegetable Roots Discourse, I.182, Robert Aitken & Daniel W. Y. Kwok, trs., 2006

An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.
Thomas Fuller
1608-1661, English Cleric, Antiquary

If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.
Samuel Johnson
1709-1784, English Lexicographer, Poet, Critic, Essayist
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, 1759

Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.

Climbing from lowliness to the heights, penetrating from the shallows to the depths, gradually applying effort in an orderly manner, not counting the months and years, not losing heart, eventually one will reach fulfillment. It is most important not to waste time vacillating, and not to give up halfway, as this will only leave you with unhappiness … If you start out diligently but end up slacking off, or indulge in idle imagination and hope thereby to keep essence and life whole and accomplish that which is rare in the world, you have no chance whatsoever of success.
Liu Yiming
b. c. 1737, Chinese Taoist Adept, Scholar
Awakening to the Tao, Thomas Cleary, tr., 1988

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
Thomas Paine
1737-1809, English/American Political Theorist, Pamphleteer

There are two ways of attaining an important end: force and perseverance. Force falls to the lot only of the privileged few, but austere and sustained perseverance can be practiced by the most insignificant. Its silent power grows irresistible with time.
Madame Swetchine
1782-1857, Russian Writer

Some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles.
Washington Irving
1783-1859, American Writer, Diplomat

There is no such thing as a great talent without great willpower.
Honoré de Balzac
1799-1850, French Writer

The secret of success is constancy of purpose.
Benjamin Disraeli
1804-1881, British Prime Minister, Writer

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.
Abraham Lincoln
1809-1865, 16th US President

When you get in a tight place and everything goes against you, 'til it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
1811-1896, American Writer, Reformer

“Where there is a will there is a way” is an old true saying. He who resolves upon doing a thing, by that very resolution often scales the barriers to it, and secures its achievement. To think we are able, is almost to be so – to determine upon attainment is frequently attainment itself.
Samuel Smiles
1812-1904, Scottish Poet

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't.
Henry Ward Beecher
1813-1887, American Cleric, Lecturer, Editor

Consider the postage stamp. It secures success through its ability to stick to one thing until it gets there.
Josh Billings
1818-1885, American Humorist

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
Louis Pasteur
1822-1895, French Chemist, Bacteriologist, Immunologist

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
Thomas Edison
1847-1931, American Inventor, Industrialist

The most essential factor is persistence – the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.
James Whitcomb Riley
1849-1916, American Poet

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
1850-1919, American Poet, Writer

The line between failure and success is so fine that we … are often on the line and don’t know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience … a little more persistence … and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.
Elbert Hubbard
1856-1915, American Editor, Publisher, Writer

The great thing, and the hard thing, is to stick to things when you have outlived the first interest, and not yet got the second, which comes with a sort of mastery.
Janet Erskine Stuart
1857-1914, English Catholic Nun, Educator

Great work requires great and persistent effort for a long time … Character has to be established through a thousand stumbles.
1863-1902, Indian Guru, Writer
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 1984-1987, 8:383, 1926

Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labor is immense.
Arnold Bennett
1867-1931, English Writer

Life is not easy for any of us, but what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves.
Marie Curie
1867-1934, Polish/French Physicist, 1911 Nobel Laureate

To be able to stand in the midst of darkness and live as though all about you was light is the final test of the human spirit.
Edward H Griggs
1868-1951, American Scholar, Educator, Writer

Press on: Nothing in this world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Calvin Coolidge
1872-1933, 30th US President

I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
1874-1960, American Industrialist, Philanthropist

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost
1874-1963, American Poet

Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never. Never – in anything great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.
Winston Churchill
1874-1965, English Prime Minister, Historian, 1953 Nobel Laureate
Address to Harrow School, 1941 October 29

Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.

I am not more gifted than anybody else. I am just more curious than the average person and will not give up on a problem until I have found the proper solution.
Albert Einstein
1879-1955, German/American Mathematical Physicist, 1921 Nobel Laureate

I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time, I am right.

We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough.
Helen Keller
1880-1968, American Writer, Educator

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
1882-1945, 32nd US President

Lose not courage, lose not faith, go forward.
Marcus Garvey
1887-1940, Jamaican Pan-African Leader, Writer
Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Vol. I, Amy Jacques Garvey, ed., 1923

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.
Dale Carnegie
1888-1955, American Writer, Motivational Trainer

Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Joseph P. Kennedy
1888-1969, American Entrepreneur

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.
William Feather
1889-1981, American Publisher, Writer

Nothing great will ever be achieved without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be so.
Charles de Gaulle
1890-1970, French Militarist, President

Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
1896-1940, American Writer

I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it regardless of the possible outcome.
Golda Meir
1898-1978, Russian-American Israeli Prime Minister

Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it's done right.
Walt Disney
1901-1966, American Cartoonist, Filmmaker

No one ever did anything worth doing unless he was prepared to go on with it long after it became something of a bore.
Douglas V. Steere
1901-1995, American Writer

Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
James A. Michener
1907-1997, American Writer

There comes a time in a man's life when, to get where he has to go – if there are no doors or windows, he walks through a wall.
Bernard Malamud
1914-1986, American Writer

Such is life, falling over seven times and getting up eight.
Roland Barthes
1915-1980, French Literary Critic
A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, Richard Howard, tr., 1978

Nothing stops the man who desires to achieve. Every obstacle is simply a course to develop his achievement muscle. It's a strengthening of his powers of accomplishment.
Eric Butterworth
Canadian/American Unity Cleric, Writer

Don’t give up. Keep going. There is always a chance that you stumble onto something terrific. I have never heard of anyone stumbling over anything while he was sitting down.
Ann Landers
1918-2002, American Advice Columnist

The habit of persistence is the habit of victory.
Herbert Kaufman
1922-, American Writer

It's not over until it's over.
Yogi Berra
1925-, American Baseball Player, Coach

Tough times never last, but tough people do!
Tommy Lasorda
1927-, American Baseball Manager

As long as I can stand it, God, I’ll keep on keeping on.
Ray Charles
1930-2004, African-American Musician

When I look back, the greatest thing that ever happened to me is that when I first picked up a basketball, I was terrible. If things come naturally, you may not bother to work at improving them and you can fall short of your potential.
Bob Pettit
1932-, American Basketball Player

People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life's circumstances to push them down and hold them under.
Charles Swindoll
1934-, American Cleric

Wherever you are tonight, you can make it. Hold your head high; stick your chest out. You can make it. It gets dark sometimes, but the morning comes. Don’t you surrender.
Jesse Jackson
1941-, African-American Cleric, Civil Rights Activist

The “driven” believe the impossible is possible, and are determined to prove it.
Tom Peters
1942-, American Management Consultant
The Pursuit of WOW!, 1994

Most people who succeed in the face of seemingly impossible conditions are people who simply don't know how to quit.
Marilyn vos Savant
1946-, American Columnist

Bear in mind, if you are going to amount to anything, that your success does not depend upon the brilliancy and the impetuosity with which you take hold, but upon the everlasting and sanctified bull-doggedness with which you hang on after you have taken hold.
A. B. Meldrum, Jr.
1951-, American Journalist, Educator

As long as we are persistent in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.
Denis Waitley
American Motivational Educator
The Winner’s Edge, 1980

Even with a dull ax you can blaze a trail.
Robert Powers
















This cross-index may help identify and delineate more closely subjective realities often hard to pin down.
  • Related states elucidate shades of meaning and amplify nuances of feeling
  • Syntonic elements foster and enhance well-being
  • Dystonic factors are contraindicated and should be minimized.
Related States & Conditions Action/Effort | Choice/Volition | Commitment/Dedication | Confidence | Conviction/Principle | Daring/Challenge | Engagement/Involvement/Integration, Exploration, Focus/Intention, Initiative, Patience, Power, Self-Reliance, Strength
Syntonic Attention/Awareness | Autonomy/Control | Courage | Desire | Diligence, Discipline, Faith, Flexibility/Flow/Flux, Ingenuity, Inspiration, Optimism/Positivism, Passion, Vision/Visualization, Zeal/Zest
Dystonic Anger | Avoidance/Denial/Refusal | Complacency | Criticism/Judgment | Defeat | Delusion | Distraction/Diversion, Fault, Fear, Habit, Insecurity/Risk, Limitation, Regret, Worry


Pardon us for the Author links which do not work and incomplete Subject cross-references. This is a life-work-in-progress and, like Penelope's tapestry, proceeds bit by bit.
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Thoughts to live by
Wisdom for The Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing , © 2004