The Most Important Thing

‘Do not wait until old age is upon you before taking up religious practice. Most graves of the past still hold men who died young…You must cling to the certain knowledge that presses in on us, and never for an instant forget it.

Those who feel the impulse to pursue the path of enlightenment should immediately take the step, and not defer it while they attend to all the other things on their mind…In general, I find that reasonably sensitive and intelligent people will pass their whole life without the step they know they should. Would anyone with a fire close behind him choose to pause before fleeing? In a matter of life and death,one casts aside shame, abandons riches and runs. Does mortality await our choosing?’

Yoshida Kenko, Essays in Idleness.

‘Do not live as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours.’

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, translated by Maxwell Staniforth.

‘The most important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.’

Charles du Bos, Approximations.

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