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


Related States & Conditions | Syntonic | Dystonic

If you are a man who leads, a man who controls the affairs of many, then seek the most perfect way of performing your responsibility so that your conduct will be blameless.
c. 2350 BCE, Khemetic (Egyptian) Sage
in The Teachings of Ptahhotep: The Oldest Book in the World
Asa Hilliard, Larry Williams & Nia Damali, eds., 1987

Do not speak falsely for you are great; do not act lightly for you have weight; be not untrue for you are the balance and do not swerve, for you are the standard.
Book of Khun-Anup (The Eloquent Peasant)
Khemetic Text
in Kemet and the African Worldview
Maulana Karenga & Jacob Carruthers, eds., 1986

Be industrious, let thine eyes be open, lest thou become a beggar, for the man that is idle cometh not to honor.
Khemetic Saying
in Temt Tchaas: Egyptian Proverbs, Muata Ashaya Ashby, ed., 1994

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
10th Century BCE, Jewish King, Writer
in The Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:10

The wise man who just goes on doing what presents itself for him to do, encounters no difficulty in either activity or inactivity.
Ashtavakra Gita, 18.20
Ancient Sanskrit Sacred Text
John Richards, tr., 1994

If you can work sincerely and correctly on what is at hand, and do so with energy and calm, not allowing distractions but keeping your inner spirit pure, as if you had only borrowed it and had to return it intact; if you can act in this way, hoping for nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with modulating your actions to the way of nature, and with fearless truth in every word you utter, you will live contentedly.
Marcus Aurelius
121-180, Roman Emperor, Stoic Philosopher
The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius, Mark Forstater, tr., 2000

Do every act of your life as if it were your last.

People, in their rashness and ignorance, like to condemn things that are difficult and obscure, rather than … learn their meaning by diligent painstaking.
c. 185-255, Egyptian Philosopher
De Principiis, Book 3

Arouse yourself, gird your loins, put aside idleness, grasp the nettle, and do some hard work.
Bernard de Clairvaux
1091-1153, French Cistercian Abbot, Theologian, Mystic, Saint

Until the juice ferments a while in the cask, it isn’t wine. If you wish your heart to be bright, you must do a little work.
Jalaluddin Rumi
1207-1273, Afghani-Turkish Sufi Mystic, Poet
“Be Lost in the Call”

To know how to live is my trade and my art.
Michel de Montaigne
1533-1592, French Essayist, Moralist
Essais, 1580

Diligence is the mother of good fortune.
Miguel de Cervantes
1547-1616, Spanish Writer, Dramatist

Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
Benjamin Franklin
1706-1790, American Statesman, Scientist, Inventor, Writer

Determine never to be idle … It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.
Thomas Jefferson
1743-1826, 3rd US President

Don’t waste your life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803-1882, American Poet, Essayist

Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now.
P. T. Barnum
1810-1891, American Showman, Writer

Life consists not in holding good cards; but in playing those you hold well.
Josh Billings
1818-1885, American Humorist

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
Mark Twain
1835-1910, American Writer, Humorist
Speech, Brooklyn, NY, 1901

The artistic sense of perfection in work is another much-to-be-desired quality to be cultivated. No matter how trifling the matter on hand, do it with a feeling that it demands the best that is in you, and when done look it over with a critical eye, not sparing a strict judgment of yourself.
William Osler
1849-1919, Canadian Physician
Aphorisms from His Bedside Teachings and Writings

Do your work with your whole heart and you will succeed; there’s so little competition.
Elbert Hubbard
1856-1915, American Editor, Publisher, Writer

Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal.

He who grumbles at the little thing that has fallen to his lot to do will grumble at everything. Always grumbling, he will lead a miserable life, and everything will be a failure. But that man who does his duty as he goes, putting his shoulder to the wheel, will see the light, and higher and higher duties will fall to his share.
1863-1902, Indian Guru, Writer; Adversity
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 1984-1987, 5:242

When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.
Helen Keller
1880-1968, American Writer, Educator

As for accomplishments, I just did what I had to do as things came along.
Eleanor Roosevelt
1884-1962, American First Lady, Stateswoman, Humanitarian

I always remember an epitaph which is in the cemetery at Tombstone, Arizona. It says: “Here lies Jack Williams. He has done his damnedest.” I think that is the greatest epitaph a man can have – when he gives everything that is in him to do the job he has before him. That is all you can ask of him and that is what I have tried to do … I studied the lives of great men and famous women; and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy, enthusiasm and hard work.
Harry S. Truman
1884-1972, 33rd US President

Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.
1887-1963, Indian Guru

Nothing succeeds in this world without taking the trouble.
Lin Yutang
1895-1976, Chinese Writer, Dramatist, Translator
The Pleasures of A Nonconformist, 1962

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Satchel Paige
1900-1982, African-American Baseball Player

If you want to be the best, Baby, you’ve got to work harder than anybody else.
Sammy Davis, Jr.
1925-1990, African-American Entertainer, Singer

Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it.
Margaret Thatcher
1925-, British Prime Minister

When a job is once begun, never stop until it’s done.
Be the job large or small, do it right or not at all.
Carol Moseley-Braun
1947-, African-American Politician

My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
Oprah Winfrey
1954-, African-American TV Host, Actress, Producer









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 Accomplishment/Achievement/Excellence | Action/Effort | Commitment/Dedication | Determination/Persistence/Resolve | Direction, Dispatch, Focus/Intention, Goal/Ideal/Purpose, Initiative, Responsibility, Work
Syntonic Attention/Awareness | Confidence | Conviction/Principle | Discipline, Exploration, Faith, Flexibility/Flow/Flux, Learning, Openness/Receptivity, Presence, Questioning/Doubt, Self-Reliance, Zeal/Zest
Dystonic Avoidance/Denial/Refusal | Complacency | Conformity | Deferment/Delay | Delusion | Distraction/Diversion, Fault, Fear, Habit, Haste/Impatience, Inaction, Laziness,Limitation


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.
- Webmeister
Web wisdomforthesoul.org


Thoughts to live by
Wisdom for The Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing , © 2004