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Richard's Book of Beliefs and Myths

This is a collection of sayings and quotes I started probably 30+ years ago.  There's no rhyme or reason to them, and I don't agree with some of it.  But something about the saying or quote made me pause and think and examine what I do believe.  It's kind of my Bible in a way.  For no particularly good reason I've decided to include it here.  They are mostly arranged as they are in the 3-ring binder that houses them, and therefore kind of as I came across them.

All great ideas, the races' aspirations,
All heroisms, deeds of rapt enthusiasts,
Be Ye my Gods...


The pages that follow are a compilation of items I find mentally stimulating - frequently inspirational; often pleasant; sometimes vaguely troubling.  The vast majority aren't original in any way, and have been plagiarized from many sources.  One of the great joys of my life is to review material originated by others for items that touch me in some way-all of these items fall into that category.

I firmly believe everyone should keep a journal; not necessarily of their day-to-day activities, but of their beliefs and how they came about.  The items that follow are my attempt to do so.  I wish that I had started sooner, for sometimes the fact of identifying our beliefs and evaluating them results in a desire to change them.  It is, in essence, the freedom to write your own Bible.

I have a rule that once an item is placed in Beliefs and Myths it cannot be removed.  Therefore, like the the Christian Bible, there may be instances where some saying, quote or poem in one part of the journal contradicts something in another.  The rule about not removing anything once entered was made for two reasons: I don't want to have to "reinvent the wheel" if at some future date I return to some previously held belief, and it also makes me seriously consider the lasting value of items before placing them in here.  I have a separate "snitch file" where I keep items while deciding whether they are worthy of Beliefs and Myths status.  Of course even this rue is subject to change at some future date.

In quoting others, I have attempted to give credit to those persons who originally spoke or wrote the passage, but I have no idea how well I have succeeded.  In any case I provided as much data as the source from which I got the data provided.  Numbers after a quotation indicate the stanza or verse that is quoted; or the date of the quote; or the year of the birth and death of the author; or possibly something else.  Hopefully they are intuitively explanatory.  If no credit is given, then the source of the quotation is unknown to me.

I, like each of you, am constantly evolving so far as my ideas on life and its meaning are concerned.  I was raised to believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of deity; I toyed with Buddhism for a while; I studied many of the world's other religions for applicability to my life; and I believed in reincarnation for many years.  I do not rule out the possibility that any of these beliefs are the true on; or that the true one (if it exists at all) has yet to be discovered.  I have changed my mind about many subjects during my lifetime, and will probably do so again.

My firmest beliefs are ones that were originally taught to me when I was undergoing training as a drug and alcohol abuse councilor: that there are only three goals in life worth pursuing - a quiet mind (inner peace), a strong body (being physically fit), and an open heart (being empathetic toward other people and their views).  I know that I am only truly happy when I perceive myself as being engaged in pursuing one of these elusive ideals.

There is no unifying thread, no single point of view, no philosophy of life that can be gleaned from these pages.  At times I probably don't agree with some of the material in here, but I would be hard pressed to either identify all I disagree with or to cogently explain my disagreements.  The only thing that can be said for the information contained herein is that, in some perhaps inexplicable way, it moved me.  I Hope some of it has that effect on you.

The quote in the header is by Walt Whitman, and is from his poem, Gods.

Rules of Conduct

Decent, without vain, show your way of life.  Bear what you can: power comes at man's need.  Know this for truth and conquer these: your belly first; then sloth, luxury and rage.  Give your body food and drink and exercise in measure; that is, to cause it no distress.  Do nothing base with others or alone, and above all other things think well of yourself.  Practice justice in your word and deed.  Do that which cannot harm you.  Consider, then act.

When first you do from smoothing sleep arise, hasten about your day's intended work.  Allow not sleep to fall on your soft lids until thrice you have each act of the day recalled: How have I sinned?  What done?  What duty missed?  Go through them first to last; and if they seem evil, reproach yourself; if good, rejoice.  Toll at and practice this; this must you love; this to the Path of Heavenly Virtue leads.

Self-chosen are the woes that fall on men - how wretched, for they see not good so near nor hearken to its voice: the wonders you seek are within yourself; the ultimate revenge is a happy life; time heals what reason cannot.

Abridged, rearranged and added to by me

Albert Einstein

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the source of all true art and science.  He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand raft in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.  This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it may be with fear, has given rise to religion.  To know that which is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness.

"In this sense and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of of devoutly religious men.

"I cannot imagine a god who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after his own - a god, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty.  Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.

"It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature."



John H. Holmes

"The universe is not hostile, nor is it friendly.  It is simply indifferent"

John Davidson

"Do I believe in Heaven and Hell?  I do, we have them here - the world is nothing else."

'Priests are no more necessary to religion than politicians to patriotism."


"Espedit esse deos; et, ut espedit, esse putemus - It is convenient that there should be gods; and since it is convenient, let us think that they exist."

Along the Road
Robert B. Hamilton

I walked a mile with Pleasure.
She chatted all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she;
But oh the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me.

John H. Holmes

"The life of humanity upon this planet may yet come to an end, and a very terrible end.  But I would have you notice that that this end is threatened in our time not by anything the universe may do to us, but only by what man may do to himself."

Albert Einstein

"My passionate interest in social justice and social responsibility always stood in curious contrast to a marked lack of desire for direct association with men and women.  I am a horse for single harness, not cut out for tandem or team work.

"I have never belonged wholeheartedly to country or state, to my circle of friends, or even to my own family.  These ties have always been accompanied by a vague aloofness, and the wish to withdraw into myself increases with the years.

"Such isolation is sometimes bitter, but I do not regret being cut off from the understanding and sympathy of other men.  I lose something by it, to be sure, but I am compensated for it by being rendered independent of the customs, opinions, and prejudices of others, and am not tempted to rest my peace of mind upon such shifting foundations."

The Desiderata
Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.