Favorite Quotes and Excerpts

Shuvomoy Das Gupta

Last update: July 30, 2022

I had a notebook of quotes and excerpts. Over the years I collected a lot of quotes and excerpts in it. I often sought refuge in some of the quotes, and they provided me great solace. Unfortunately, I lost the notebook around 2018. In this blog I am just re-accumulating some of those quotes and excerpts (for which the sources are available) and adding a few new ones. I will update this blog as time progresses.

Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon.


Don’t worry about motivation. Motivation is fickle. It comes and goes. It is unreliable and when you are counting on motivation to get your goals accomplished—you will likely fall short. So. Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be.

Don’t count on motivation.

Count on Discipline.

You know what you have to do. So: MAKE YOURSELF DO IT. You do that with Discipline.

Everyone wants some magic pill—some life hack—that eliminates the need to do the work. But that does not exist. No. You have to do the work. You’ve got to hold the line. You’ve got to MAKE IT HAPPEN.

So. Dig in. Find the Discipline. Be the Discipline. ACCOMPLISH. That’s it.

Jocko Willink

I tell you one thing – if you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather learn to see your own faults. Learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger, my child; this whole world is your own.

Sarada Devi

Do not get entangled in technicalities. You may work hard endlessly for years and years, and gain complete mastery over technique, but it will not lead you to the Truth. Technique is merely a medium to express your thinking. Technique can be taught. Truth cannot. To attain the Truth, you must have the strength to look inwards with unflinching honesty. This is extremely difficult. It is a lifelong quest. And eventually, when you do encounter the Truth, it takes great courage to face it. Because the Truth is often not pretty.

Maai in The disciple

It is very difficult to know exactly what good should come out of a particular situation. To attempt to manipulate circumstances so your idea of good can come about, is to let the ego play God-and that, as you know, can and does backfire.

Neem Karoli Baba

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.

Malcolm S. Forbes.

The soil of a man’s heart is stonier: a man grows what he can and tends it.

Stephen King

Sometimes you fall in and out of love with stuff. If you set something free and it comes back to you, it's true love.

C M Punk after his return

You gotta work hard. And at the end of the day you have to look at everything you have, and you have to really enjoy it.

Donald Kennedy

Zindagī kyā hai anāsir meñ zuhūr-e-tartīb

Maut kyā hai inhīñ ajzā kā pareshāñ honā

What is life:

When elements become ordered, that’s all.

What is death:

But a moment when into chaos they fall.

Brij Narayan Chakbast

Satyam Vada Dharmam Cara (Speak the truth; cultivate virtue.)

Taittiriya Upanishad 1.2.1

My life as a researcher was and is characterized by frequent periods of tension: whenever a new discovery is on the horizon, a tremendous amount of effort and concentration is needed in order to snatch the secret from nature by digging deeper and deeper. One day the new result seems at hand; you just have to write it down. Next day it all seems to have been an illusion; nothing seems to work when you want to put it together. When you finally manage to crystallize your findings into a theorem that you think you have proved, upon going the third or fourth time through the logical steps of your proof you suddenly discover a minor, insignificant­ looking crack. But when you set out to repair it, the crack widens into a gaping hole. It turns out that what you thought was true is only true under certain circumstances. Maybe there is something of the same flavor that is true under more general conditions; but it is not what you had originally thought it was. So now you nail down your result for the more limited situation for which it is true, and you go on groping for a more general result that holds beyond those specific circumstances. And so on. . . . This is the flavor of mathematical discovery. It is an uneven process that often becomes hectic, with periods of sleepless or half sleepless nights. It requires the kind of passionate concentration in the grip of which you forget about everything else for a while. To be successful at it, you must have ''fire in your belly." And it certainly helps if your basic inclination is to persist and not give up in the face of difficulties, not to become dejected in case of setbacks, but to try again and again until you manage to find the right way.

Egon Balas

The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, because he has no real effect in the world. But the tradesman must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away. His well-founded pride is far from the gratuitous “self-esteem” that educators would impart to students, as though by magic.

Matthew B. Crawford

In other words, therefore, life flows. The individual ego tries to swim against the current, and becomes unhappy. In going with the flow, the pain may be there, which is participation in life.

... When my Guru, Nisargadatta Maharaj, towards the end of his life was in great pain with cancer, he would perhaps moan; a moan that would come out of the body. So somebody asked, out of great sympathy: "Are you in great pain, Maharaj, are you in great pain?" And the answer, which promptly, spontaneously came out, was: "Yes, there is great pain."

Ramesh S. Balsekar

Life is hard and then you die. You can, however, enjoy the process of living; don't worry about the fact that you're going to die. Some bad people have a good life, and some good people have a bad life, and that doesn't seem fair; but don't worry about that either. Just think about ways of enjoying the journey.

Donald Knuth paraphrasing book of Ecclesiastes, Bible

You don't race to get to the goal; the process of racing itself, of keeping the pace, is the real goal.

Donald Knuth paraphrasing Philippians 3:16, Bible

"If you want to be a public health doctor", Bill told me on the way home, "you have to change the way you get satisfaction. It's different than clinical medicine. You won't see immediate results. You won't have parents thanking you for bringing down the fever of their child. No one will name their child after you or say, 'Larry, you saved my family.' Here, satisfaction comes quietly, alone, late at night, when you are analyzing numbers. You won't be able to watch the curve of a child's fever on a hospital chart go down and feel good about yourself. You have to look at the chart and graphs of hundreds of anonymous cases, watching the epidemic curve instead. Even when you succeed in stopping an epidemic, you may be the only one who knows what you did. The public doesn't often reward prevention–-you won't be a hero. But if you are willing to dedicate yourself to getting outcomes that you alone may see, take quiet satisfaction in the scale of what public health accomplishes, and not worry about personal recognition, then public health and epidemiology will be a great source of happiness."

This was the medical equivalent of nish kam karma yoga, Maharji's custom tailored path for me.

Larry Brilliant

I think Maharaji wanted me to gain nonattachment to success. A spiritual apprenticeship can be confusing, even counterintuitive. Those long exhausting trips, constant rejections, and the daily reminder of my unworthiness, the roller coaster of doubt and the balm of Maharaji's reassurance, were all part of the preparation. What developed in me during that time was faith - delicate, wavering, tenuous, but faith nonetheless.

Sometimes people say that faith is the opposite of doubt, but I don’t think that is true. To me, the opposite of faith is rigid certainty. Doubt is the constant companion of true faith; like God, it is more verb than noun. Faith is the ride, not the station, as Indians describe it. No one can avoid doubt, skepticism, fear, and uncertainty on the journey to faith if they are honest to themselves. Obstacles are the training ground.

Larry Brilliant

You can plan for a hundred years, but you don't know what will happen the next moment.

Neem Karoli Baba

It is the struggle itself that is most important. We must strive to be more than we are. It does not matter that we will not reach our ultimate goal. The effort itself yields its own reward.

Gene Roddenberry

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place, and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!

Rocky Balboa

The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.

Robert Green Ingersoll

When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in the paths of his deeds, so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent.


Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3-5, Bible (New International Version)

One of life's greatest sources of satisfaction is the knowledge that something you have created is contributing to the progress or welfare of society.

– Donald Knuth

Easy things are often amusing and relaxing, but their value soon fades. Greater pleasure, deeper satisfaction, and higher wages are associated with genuine accomplishments, with the successful fulfillment of a challenging task.

– Donald Knuth

If you optimize everything, you will always be unhappy.

– Donald Knuth

Forgiveness is the greatest weapon, because a saint so armed is unperturbable ... he can give up anger immediately.

Neem Karoli Baba

মনির, যদি দৌড়াতে হয় তাহলে চ্যাম্পিয়নের পিছে দৌড় দিও, ল্যাংড়ার পেছনে দৌড়াইও না।

শিল্পাচার্য জয়নুল আবেদিন

Even if a person hurts you, give him love. The worst punishment is to throw someone out of your heart ... you should love everyone as God, and love each other. If you cannot love each other, you cannot achieve your goal.

Neem Karoli Baba

The core of wisdom is delayed gratification.

Bret Weinstein

All religions are the same. They all lead to God. God is everybody ... the same blood flows through us all, the arms, the legs, the heart, all are the same. See no difference, see all the same.

Neem Karoli Baba

The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, And let it spring from love Born out of concern for all beings.

Gautama Buddha

So you should view this fleeting world As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, A flash of lightning in a summer cloud, A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

Gautama Buddha

If something can be remedied Why be unhappy about it? And if there is no remedy for it, There is still no point in being unhappy.


If you knew, as I do, the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing some of it.

Gautama Buddha

You have the right to work only, but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.


Those who have conquered themselves...live in peace, alike in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, praise and blame...To such people a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same...Because they are impartial, they rise to great heights.


Hatred can never cease by hatred. Hatred can only cease by love. This is an eternal law.

Gautama Buddha

In a battle, the winners and the losers both lose.

Gautama Buddha

A friend of mine who spent years in India with a great teacher from the ancient forest tradition tells a moving story that, to my mind, makes the same point. Years after his beloved teacher had died, he was back in India staying at the home of his guru’s most devoted Indian disciple.

“I must show you something,” the disciple said to my friend one day. “This is what he left for me.” My friend was excited, of course. Any trace of his teacher was nectar to him. He watched as the elderly man opened the creaking doors of an ancient wooden wardrobe and took something from the back of the bottom shelf. It was wrapped in an old, dirty cloth.

“Do you see?” he asked my friend.

“No. See what?”

The disciple unwrapped the object, revealing an old, beat-up aluminum pot, the kind of ordinary pot one sees in every Indian kitchen. Looking deeply into my friend’s eyes, he told him, “He left this for me when he went away. Do you see? Do you see?”

“No, Dada,” he replied. “I don’t see.”

According to my friend, Dada looked at him even more intensely, this time with a mad glint in his eyes.

“You don’t have to shine,” he said. “You don’t have to shine.”

Mark Epstein

There is a general principle that a stupid man can ask such questions to which one hundred wise men would not be able to answer. In accordance with this principle I shall formulate some problems.

Vladimir Arnold

So he told me how the villagers chain a ewer – a vase with a narrow neck and a bulbous bottom – to the base of a tree.

‘They fill the bottom with nuts and whatever else monkeys like to eat. In the night, a monkey climbs out of the trees and slips his hand down the long neck. He grabs the sweets and his hand makes a fist. That means it’s too big to get back up the narrow neck, and he’s trapped. In the morning the villagers come round and hit him on the head.’

He looked at me for a moment. ‘It’s a Zen story of course,’ he said, smiling again. ‘The point is: if you want to be free, all you have to do is let go.’

Terry Hayes

People say love is weak, but they’re wrong: love is strong. In nearly everyone it trumps all other things – patriotism and ambition, religion and upbringing. And of every kind of love – the epic and the small, the noble and the base – the one that a parent has for their child is the greatest of them all.

Terry Hayes

Imagine you’re trying to split a huge piece of wood with a small axe. You hit that piece of wood ninety-nine times and nothing happens. Then you hit it the hundredth time, and it splits open. You might wonder, after that hundredth whack, What did I do differently that time? Did I hold the axe differently; did I stand differently? Why did it work the hundredth time and not the other ninety-nine?

But, of course, we needed all those earlier attempts to weaken the fiber of the wood. It doesn’t feel very good when we’re only on hit number thirty-four or thirty-five; it seems as if we aren’t making any progress at all. But we are, and not only because of the mechanical act of banging on the wood and weakening its fiber. What’s really transformative is our willingness to keep going, our openness to possibility, our patience, our effort, our humor, our growing self-knowledge, and the strength that we gain as we keep going. These intangible factors are the most vital to our success.

Sharon Salzberg

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore

If you shut your door to all errors, truth will be shut out.

Rabindranath Tagore

Your work may not reach the destination, but your intention should.

Apur Panchali

One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it. As each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

Viktor Frankl

Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run—in the long run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.

Viktor Frankl

Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now.

Viktor Frankl

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.

George R.R. Martin

You see, my son, it is not a fact that you will never face dangers. Difficulties always come, but they do not last forever. You will see that they pass away like water under a bridge.

Sarada Devi

The mind is everything. It is in the mind alone that one feels pure and impure. A man, first of all, must make his own mind guilty and then alone can he see another man's guilt.

Sarada Devi

It is in the very nature of man to see defects. You should learn to appreciate virtues. Man is no doubt liable to err, but you must not take notice. If you constantly find fault with others, you will see faults alone. … Do not look at the faults of others lest your eyes should become vitiated.

Sarada Devi

Man finds faults in others after bringing down his own mind to that level. Does anything ever happen to another if you enumerate his faults? It only injures you. This has been my attitude. Hence I cannot see anybody's faults. If a man does a trifle for me, I try to remember him gratefully even for that. To see the faults of others! One should never do it.

Sarada Devi