Quotes from The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.
—Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz”

“(Leonard Cohen’s) name in the monastery, Jikan, referred to the silence between two thoughts.”

Sitting still = “Real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment.”

“(Sitting still) seems to me the most luxurious and sumptuous response to the emptiness of my own existence.”

“Going nowhere… was the grand adventure that makes sense of everywhere else.”

“Going nowhere… is not about austerity so much as about coming closer to one’s senses.”

“Going nowhere…isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.”

“As America’s wisest psychologist, William James, reminded us, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

Henry David Thoreau: “It matters not where or how far you travel—the farther commonly the worse—but how much alive you are.”

“Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.”

“I felt the liberation of not needing to take my thoughts, my ambitions—my self—so seriously.”

Matthieu Ricard: “Simplifying one’s life to extract its quintessence is the most rewarding of all the pursuits I have undertaken.”

Rainer Maria Rilke: “Always there is World and never Nowhere without the No: that pure unseparated element which one breathes without desire and endlessly knows.”

Blaise Pascal: “All the unhappiness of men arises from one simple fact: that they cannot sit quietly in their chamber.”

“After Admiral Richard E. Byrd spent nearly five months alone in a shack in the Antarctic, in temperatures that sank to 70 degrees below zero, he emerged convinced that “Half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need.”

“Researchers in the new field of interruption science have found that it takes an average of twenty-five minutes to recover from a phone call.”

“The one word for which the adjective “holy” is used in the Ten Commandments is Sabbath.In the book of Numbers, God actually condemns to death a man found collecting wood on the Sabbath. The book on the Sabbath is the longest one in the Torah, as Judith Shulevitz explains in her fine work, The Sabbath World. Another part of the Torah, dealing with the Sabbath’s boundaries, takes up 105 pages more.”

“One day Mahatma Gandhi was said to have woken up and told those around him, “This is going to be a very busy day. I won’t be able to meditate for an hour.” His friends were taken aback at this rare break from his discipline. “I’ll have to meditate for two,” he spelled out.”

“One of the strange laws of the contemplative life,” Thomas Merton, one of its sovereign explorers, pointed out, “is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until they somehow solve themselves. Or until life solves them for you.”

“And it’s only by going nowhere—by sitting still or letting my mind relax—that I find that the thoughts that come to me unbidden are far fresher and more imaginative than the ones I consciously seek out.”

“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.
In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.
And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”

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