"But if a man happens to find himself he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the the days of his life."

James Michener


"If you don't believe in yourself, that probably makes it unanimous."

-Henry Ford



"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You can't let the world judge you too much."

-actress Ruth Gordon playing Maude in the film "Harold & Maud" 1971


"You must find your own path. Go your own way, which is both terrifying and exhilarating. No one can tell you any longer the way, but only a way-your way, which is as valid as any other as long as you live it honestly."

-Robert Johnson

Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth



"No man is free who cannot command himself."



"One must learn to love oneself....with a wholesome and healthy love, so that one can bear to be with oneself and need not roam."

-Friedrich Nietzsche


"If you do not ask yourself what it is you know, you will go on listening to others and change will not come because you will not hear your own truth."

-St. Bartholomew


"My own thoughts

Are my companions; my designs and labors

And aspirations are my only friends."

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Masque of Pandora


"The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile."




"Most do violence to their natural aptitude, and thus attain superiority in nothing."

-Baltasar Gracian



"Be wisely selfish."

-Dalai Lama


"Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin/As self-neglecting."

-William Shakespeare


"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking others to live as one wishes to live."

Oscar Wilde


"You have no idea how promising the world begins to look once you have decided to have it all for yourself. And how much healthier your decisions are once they become entirely selfish."

-Anita Brookner



"Human beings have an inalienable right to invent themselves; when the right is pre-empted it is called brain-washing."

-Germaine Greer   Times London 1 feb. 1986


"The persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is."

-Carl Jung


"I think Dostoevsky was right, that every human being must have a point at which he stands against the culture, where he says, this is me and the damned world can go to hell."

Rollo May


"Insist on yourself; never imitate."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


"Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself determines, or rather indicates his fate."



"One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star."

-G.K. Chesterton


"My a dramatic ensemble. Here a prophetic ancestor makes his appearance. Here a brutal hero shouts. Here an alcoholic bon vivant argues with a learned professor. Here a lyric muse, chronically lovestruck, raises her eyes to heaven. Her papa steps forward, uttering pedantic protests. Here the indulgent uncle intercedes. Here the aunt babbles gossip. Here the maid giggles lasciviously. And I look upon it all with amazement. the sharpened pen in my left hand."

-Paul Klee

The Diaries of Paul Klee


"You never find yourself until you face the truth."

-Pearl Bailey


"How can you come to know yourself? Never by thinking, always by doing. Try to do your duty, and you'll know right away what you amount to. And what is your duty? Whatever the day calls for."



"Above all things, reverence yourself."



"The true value of human beings can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self."

Albert Einstein


"We are all serving a life-sentence in the dungeon of self."

-Cyril Connolly

The Unquiet Grave


"The self is the modern substitute for the soul."

-Allan Bloom


"Beware of no Man more than thy self."

-Thomas Fuller


"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that inner string."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


"In running away from ourselves,

we either fall on our neighbor's shoulders

or fly at this throat."

-Eric Hoffer, The True Believer


"I suppose everyone continues to be interested in the quest for the self, but what you feel when you're older, I think, is really must make the self. It is absolutely useless to look for it, you won't find it, but it's possible in some sense to make it. I don't mean in the sense of making a mask, a Yeatsian mask. But you finally begin in some sense to make and choose the self you want."

-Mary mcCarthy (1912-89)

Writers at Work (Second Series, ed. by George Plimton, 1963)


"Man is not merely the sum of his masks. Behind the shifting face of personality is a hard nugget of self, a genetic gift....The self is malleable but elastic, snapping back to its original shape like a rubber band. Mental illness is no myth, as some have claimed. It is a disturbance in our sense of possession of a stable inner self that survives its personae."

-Camille Paglia

Sex, Art, and American Culture


"The most important event in the life of a man is the moment when he becomes conscious of his own ego."



"Man is fearful of things which cannot hurt him and he knows it; and he longs for things which can be of no good to him and he knows it, but in truth it is something in man himself of which he is afraid and it is something in man himself for which he longs."

-Rabbi Nachman


"You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality."

-Florida Scott-maxwell


"This above all: to thine own self be true."



"Can one thus resume one's self? Can one know one's self? Is one ever somebody? I don't know anything about it any more. It now seems to me that one changes from day to day and that every few years one becomes a new being."

-George Sand 

The Intimate Journal of George Sand


"True happiness consists in eliminating the false idea of "I."

The Buddha


"He who would lead a Christlike life is he who is perfectly and absolutely himself."

Oscar Wilde


"The humble knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God than the deepest search of science."

-Thomas a Kempis

Imitation of Christ


Resolve to find thyself and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery"

-Matthew Arnold "Self-Dependence"


"Nobody doubts he exists, though he may doubt the existence of God. If he finds out the truth about himself and discovers his own source, this is all that is required."

Ramana Maharishi


"The very discovery of these hidden things is in itself a purifying experience! The soul needs to discover what is inside. The self nature needs to see what it really is, and what it is like-right to the very bottom."

-Jeanne Guyon


"Me, what's that after all? An arbitrary limitation of being bounded by the people before and after and on either side. Where they leave off, I begin, and vice versa."

Russell Hoban

Turtle Diary


"Why are we so full of restraint? Why do we not give in all directions? Is it fear of losing ourselves? Until we do lose ourselves there is no hope of finding our selves."

-Henry Miller

The World of Sex


"I have always disliked myself at any given moment; the total of such moments is my life."

-Cyril Connolly


"I am always with myself, and it is I who am my tormentor."

-Leo Tolstoy


"Which is your true self, the self of yesterday, that of today, or that of tomorrow.....for whose preservation you clamor?"

-The Buddha


"Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation says "I"  And in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I belongs to the Whole, to the whole man, and that a thought, a desire, or an aversions is expressed by this Whole."

P.D. Ourspensky


"All I can tell you with certainty is that I, for one, have no self, and that I am unwilling or unable to perpetrate upon myself the joke of a self....What I have instead is a variety of impersonations I can do, and not only of myself-a troupe of players that I have internalised, a permanent company of actors that I can call upon when a self is required....I am a theater and nothing more than a theater."

Philip Roth

The Counterlife


"Whoso would be a (wo)man, must be a nonconformist. (S)He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world."

Emerson "Self-Reliance"


"To study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things."

Zen Master Dogen (1350 C.E.)


"We loosely talk of Self-realization, for lack of a better term. But how can one realize or make real that which alone is real? All we need to do is to give up our habit of regarding as real that which is unreal. All religious practices are meant solely to help us do this. When we stop regarding the unreal as real, then reality alone will remain, and we will be that."

Ramana Maharishi


"Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignation with oneself: no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions."

-Joan Didion


"I sloughed off my self as a snake sloughs off its skin. Then I looked into myself and saw that I am He."

Abu Yazid Al-Bistami (?-874 C.E.)

Sufi mystic


"But you.....yourself can create your own world."

Henry Miller


"People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates."

-Thomas Szasz

The Second Sin


"Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others."



"The surest way to be deceived is to consider oneself cleverer than others."

-Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld (1613-80)


""Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself: no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions."

-Joan Didion

Slouching Towards Bethlehem


"It is easy to live for others; everybody does. I call on you to live for yourselves."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."

-Lucille Ball


"It is easy-terribly easy- to shake a man's faith in himself. To take advantage of that  is to break a man's spirit is devil's work."

-George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)


"No longer am I waiting

For someone else

To take me out

Of that dark place

The self of you is the prime mover."

Louise Nevelson


"The noble soul has reverence for itself."



"Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cardles. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself."

-Virginia Woolf 

A Room of One's Own


"The surest way to be deceived is to consider oneself cleverer than others."

-Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld (1613-80)


"One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self: of all mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be dug up."



"Respect yourself if you would have others respect you."

-Baltasar Gracian


"Know thyself? If I knew myself, I'd run away."

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


"When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too."

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh


"Explore thyself. Herein are demanded the eye and the nerve."

-Henry David Thoreau


"Our original shimmering self gets buried so deep we hardly live out of it at all....rather, we learn to live out of all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and casting off like coats and hats against the world's weather."

Frederick Buechner

Telling Secrets


"You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself."

Beryl Markham


"Allow the Sources of Being to maintain contact with you: ignore the impressions and opinions of your customary self. If this self were of value in your search, it would have found realization for you. But all it can do is to depend upon others."

Amin Suhrawardi


   "The idea that we are separate and autonomous beings is not only mistaken but is a fundamental source of our suffering."

Wes Nisker

Buddha's Nature


"It is ironic that the one thing that all religions recognize as separating us from our creator-our very self-consciousness-is also the one thing that divides us from our fellow creatures. It was a bitter birthday present from evolution."

-Annie Dillardd

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


   "The self that pervades the modern world at the close of the twentieth century is completely convinced of its own autonomy and separateness. Over time we have developed what psychological historian Philip Cushman calls "the bounded, masterful self," an individual who believes that he or she is completely independent of outside forces. This modern self lives in a "culture of narcissism," with very little sense of being part of either a grand cosmic design, the unfolding process of nature, or even a communal or historical destiny. In the mirror of our culture and in the mirror of our private bathrooms we see only the individual. Upon closer examination, this image begins to look like an hallucination: we seem to be suffering a new form of schizophrenia in which we label all of the different voices in our heads as "I" or "mine." Believing them all to be ours is as far-fetched as believing they all belong to the gods."

Wes Nisker

Buddha's Nature


"The behavior (or our genes) is designed to interfere with the happiness of others. If genes were capable of having emotions, (they) would say things like: "Happiness is making others unhappy".....(Their) strengths depend upon billions of years and selection for selfishness."

Lyall Watson



"One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead."

Oscar Wilde


"Although there's a person we know all about

Still bearing our name and loving himself as before.

That person has become a fiction; our true existence

Is decided by no one and has no importance to love."

W.H. Auden

"For the Time Being a Christmas Oratorio"


"Where is your Self to be found? Always in the deepest enchantment that you have experienced."

Hugo Von Hofmannsthal


"Long years must pass before the truths we have made for ourselves become our very flesh."



"We have to serve our self many years before we gain our own confidence."

Henry Haskins


"He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living creatures."

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Thus Spake Zarathustra

"Of Self-overcoming" 


" find that instead of becoming weak, crushed, empty (as might have been expected) you gain a new strength and wholeness which you realize is the only real strength and wholeness. You achieve a knowledge that is the only real knowledge, a freedom and happiness that alone truly deserves these names. By non-action-that is, by abandoning the aggressive self-assertion that alone seems effective action to others-you find that in reality you are accomplishing all the ends that are worth accomplishing."

Dr. Edwin A Burtt

Man Seeks the Divine


"A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us that a higher law than that of our will regulates events; that our painful labors are unnecessary and fruitless; that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong....Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment."

Ralph Waldo Emerson


   "Only those qualities that result from our spontaneous activity give strength to the self and thereby form the basis of its integrity. The inability to act spontaneously, to express what one genuinely feels and thinks, and the resulting necessity to present a pseudo self to others and oneself, are the root of the feeling of inferiority and weakness. Whether or not we are aware of it, there is nothing of which we more ashamed than of not being ourselves, and there is nothing that gives us greater pride and happiness than to think, to feel, and to say what is ours."

Erich Fromm

Escape From Freedom


   "Love of detachment," on the other hand, is free from all demanding ness, all need to control the loved one, all dependence upon him. It is detached, not in the sense of with-drawing from emotional concern for others, but in the sense of gladly accepting them as they are, not requiring them to be different from their present selves as the price on one's friendly affection. it is detached, not from caring for others, but from preoccupation with oneself, and from the need to make others serve the cravings of the self. It is the compassionate giving of oneself to the world without asking for anything in return..."

Edwin A Burtt

Man Seeks the Divine


"Our task, then, is to strengthen our consciousness of ourselves, to find centers of strength within ourselves which will enable us to stand despite the confusion and bewilderment around us."

Rollo May

Man's Search for Himself


"Our natural view of our mental state is deeply distorted....the oneness we feel is an illusion....we are not the same person from day to day or moment to moment. Our mind contains a special system, hidden from our view, that quietly preserves the illusion of unity."

-Dr. Robert Ornstein

The Evolution of Consciousness


"Now another avenue is open towards his goal. It comes from inside themselves, not with moral commands but with creative power. It is really their better Self....The most amazing thing is that this new and unheard-of power is as the same time well-known and familiar to them. They have felt, thought, dreamt all this many times. Only they were never able to express it clearly enough.....And then the most unexpected thing happens: a new clarity and certainty, and a new and deeper consciousness are there; the real Self and its creative forces begin the new proves that there is a way...."

Fritz Kunkel

In Search of Maturity


"A person is never himself but always a mask; a person never owns his own person, but always represents another, by whom he is possessed. And the other that one is, is always ancestors."

Norman O. Brown

Love's Body


"Those who do everything for their own sake alone practice selfishness, which is the greatest of evils, which produces unsociability, want of fellowship, unfriendliness, injustice, impiety, for nature has made man not like those beasts which love solitude, but like the gregarious beasts which live together like the most sociable of all creatures, that he may live not to himself alone, but also to his father, and to his mother, and to his brethren, and to his wife, and to his children, and to all his other relations and friends, and to those of the same borough as himself, and to those of the same tribe, and to his native country, and to his fellow countrymen, and to all mankind, and moreover to the different parts of the universe, and to the whole world, and much more to the Father and Creator of the world, for he must be (if at least he is really endowed with reason) sociable, loving the world, and loving God, that he may also be beloved by God."

Philo of Alexander


   "The symptoms of self-centered frustration are the same, whether in Sally and Sam in a home or in Sukarno on his island throne, ruling over a hundred million people-the symptoms are the same and they are these: "I am what I am because you are what you are. If you were different I would be different. It is all your fault." The self-centered blame their problems on others. The self at the center is off-center and hence the recurring problems, individual and collective.

   This is the center of the diseases of humanity-the self out of place. All else is symptom-this is the disease. Quacks treat symptoms, doctors treat diseases.

   Will the Christian faith turn out to be a quack, treating the symptoms of individual and world diseases? Or will it turn out to be a physician-the great physician, putting His finger on the spot, the sore spot of the world's problems? And will that touch be healing?"

E. Stanley Jones

Victory Through Surrender


"When you have found yourself you can have knowledge. Until then you can only have opinions. Opinions are based on habit and what you conceive to be convenient to you.

   The study of the Way requires self-encounter along the way. You have not met yourself yet.  The only advantage of meeting others in the meantime is that one of them may present you to yourself.

   Before you do that, you will possibly imagine that you have met yourself many times. But the truth is that when you do meet yourself, you come into a permanent endowment and bequest of knowledge that is like no other experiences on earth."


from Wisdom of the Idiots by Idries Shah


"For one thing, the False Self tries to make you feel guilty and disloyal at the thought of abandoning it. Also, it makes full use of man's mental laziness. It slyly whispers the greatest lie of all-that no state really exists other than its own miserable one. This is its chief weapon of terror-to hint that your plunge away from the False Self is a plunge toward a terrifying nothingness. But the truth is, this new nothingness turns out to be a world of fantastic light and freedom.

   "While the False Self is causing all this commotion, what is the True Self doing?"


  "Gently trying to get you to listen to the truth that you are free and always have been. It urges you to see that you are not a slave to the illusions whispered by the False Self. It tells you that the False Self is bluffing, and that you have power to call that bluff. Remember, the True Self is the voice of Truth."

Vernon Howard


"But how is it that we expect to catch up with our envisioned selves? Really, the whole thing is impossible from the start. Think about it. In the first place, this envisioned self we pant after is not out there. It resides, if it can be said to reside anywhere, in our imagination as a vital but volatile element of the available self; for that very reason it exists in a whirlwind of change, redefinition, and instability. The congruence we seek-the matching up of some self that exists now with some self that exists off somewhere in an ideal future-is an illusion, albeit an immensely popular one. 

Brian J. Mahan

Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose


   "There is no whole self. It suffices to walk any distance along the inexorable rigidity that the mirrors of the past open to us in order to feel like outsiders, naively flustered by our own bygone days. There is no community of intention in them, nor are they propelled by the same breeze. This has been declared by those men who have truly scrutinized the calendars from which time was discarding them. "

Jorge Luis Borges

"The Nothingness of Personality"

Selected Non-Fictions


"In oneself lies the whole world, and if you know how to look and learn, then the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either that key or the door to open, except yourself."

J. Krishnamurti


"God and I in space alone

   And nobody else in view.

:And where are the people, O Lord?" I said.

"The earth below and the sky o'erhead

And the dead whom once I knew?"


"That was a dream," God smiled and said,

"A dream that seemed to be true,

There were no people, living or dead.

There was no earth and no sky o'erhead

There was only myself-and you,"

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox, "Illusion"



"Socrates was once gossiping with some friends about an Athenian who was about to take a voyage. "Will he learn much from his trip?" asked one friend. "Unlikely," replied Socrates. "He's taking himself along." Twenty-four hundred years later, the words still bite deep. Real learning is not, like foraging or money-making, a simple matter of acquisition. It is rather a process in which new experience that encounters is reciprocated by inner change in oneself. This inner change, this growth, is difficult, if not impossible, if one "takes oneself along," that is, if one confronts every new situation with an armored identity, imposing a familiar perspective on unfamiliar events. This assertive attitude, this obsessive self, is like some government censor blocking any ideas or data that might provoke rebellion. Instead one must be ready to lose the self, or to have a sense of self so flexible and yielding that it poses no threat to the new. This flexible self is not a weak self; it is a stronger, more youthful, more human identity, open to the outrageous variety of experience and the profound surprises of change."

Robert Grudin

On Dialogue


"Start suspecting that those anxious thoughts and feelings you catch trying to sell you an umbrella are not there to shelter you from some approaching storm....but that their sole purpose is to lure you into one."                 

Guy Finley

The Secret Way of Wonder


Book: Sources of the Self" by Charles Taylor

Book: "The Point of Existence: Transformations of Narcissism in Self-Realization" by A.H. Almaas

Book: "The Courage To Be: Second Edition" by Paul Tillich

Book: "The Intimate Enemy" by Guy Finley

Book: "Honoring the Self" by Nathaniel Branden

Book: "Modernity's Wager: Authority, the Self, and Transcendence" by Adam B. Seligman

Book: "How do we know who we are? A Biography of the Self." by Arnold M. Ludwig

Book: "BLISS: Writing to Find Your True Self" by Katherine Ramsland

Book: "The Origin of Minds: Evolution, Uniqueness, and the New Science of the Self." by P. La Cerra & R. Bingham

Book: "The Heart of Islamic Philosophy: The Quest for Self-Knowledge in the Teachings of Adal al-din Kashania" by William C. Chitick

© 2001



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