5 Spiritual Quotes to Live By

These spiritual quotes carry messages of wisdom across the centuries that still apply today.

Nov 2, 2019

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“Nothing Binds You. You Are Free.” - The Buddha, Dhammapada

The quote comes from Dhammapada, a book of sacred sayings of the Buddha. It immediately brings a sense of calm in the stillness. 

When left unchecked, our thoughts run wild in our minds, like a monkey jumping from tree to tree. We feel pulled in different directions, chasing fruits of desire like fame, money, success, praise, and attention. This creates an endless cycle of stress. We find ourselves trying so hard to control life, chasing desires, putting out fires, and judging the outcomes. Buddhists call this wheel of suffering, “Samsara”.

In this quote, the Buddha teaches a way to release ourselves from this painful pattern through meditation. Sit quietly, observe thoughts as they arise, and then release them. 

At first, meditation can feel impossible; our minds jump from thought to thought, a stream of “Radio Non-stop Talking”. But like the body needs exercise to become stronger, so too does the mind. Through practice, your mind learns to sit and observe. No longer bound to every thought and emotion, you become free.

“Be Content with What You Have.” - Laozi, Tao Te Ching 

This quote comes from the classical Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching. Scholars attribute the text to the 6th-century BCE sage, Laozi. This important literary work went on to inspire concepts in Chinese philosophy and Buddhism as well as countless poets, painters, and calligraphers.

The first section of the passage this quote comes from makes a connection between fame, money, and success. They all represent ephemeral, superficial concepts. On the other hand, can you see how cultivating integrity and happiness will ultimately bring more fulfillment and joy?

Many people spend their lives chasing happiness, thinking that by attaining certain things, like power, money, or success, then and only then will they feel at ease. Something strange happens, though. Once we accomplish those goals, more often than not, people grasp for more and continue to strive for more. 

So, what does this quote tell us? Acceptance leads to contentment. Rejoice in your current state and appreciate what you already have. This way of thinking brings happiness and fulfillment.

“The battle between two wolves is inside us all.” - An Old Cherokee Proverb

A grandfather says to his grandson, “My dear one, the battle between two wolves exists inside us all. One is evil; it is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, arrogance, resentment, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

“The other is good. It is joy, peace, kindness, compassion, faith, love, serenity, empathy, and truth.”

The boy pauses and replies, “Grandfather, which one wins?”

The grandfather responds, “The wolf you feed.”

The Cherokee people lived in the southeastern woodlands of the present-day United States. In their culture, spirituality played a role in everyday life, practiced through private rituals and public sacred ceremonies.

This Cherokee proverb passed down through generations still rings as true today. Many of us experience the war inside. This battle carries on throughout our lives. In each moment, we have the choice of where we put our energy. Will we feed the shadow, our evil wolf, or instead try to cultivate loving kindness and compassion? 

Feeding the first wolf can feel so much easier sometimes. We get instant gratification by hurting others out of spite, complaining rather than taking responsibility, or gossiping instead of focusing on bettering ourselves. But ultimately, those low vibration emotions make us feel depleted and oppressed. 

We have more to gain by feeding the second wolf. Cultivating inner peace and kindness brings a life of love and purpose. 

That’s not to say that we should suppress anger, sadness, or hatred. Perhaps the parable tells us to recognize this internal struggle in a healthy way.

Often these negative emotions arise, without us even realizing it. But by recognizing them, we can acknowledge what we feel and are, therefore, better able to address those emotions. By  noticing the first wolf, you can start to see how those emotions affect your life. You can then decide whether you feed it or not.

The parable provides an effective way to confront our shadow emotions, see how they affect your life, and help you decide whether you want to continue down the dark path or get well. At the same, we cultivate positive, constructive emotions that can propel us toward living a more meaningful life. 

“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.” - Spiritual activist and author, Marianne Williamson 

The New York Times bestselling author, Marianne Williamson, works as a Christian spiritual leader. In her famous quote, she reminds each of us to recognize our own value and never hide it away from the world. 

It can take a lot of courage to share our authentic selves. Sometimes it just feels easier to conform and hide away our opinions, passions, and talents. However, in doing so, we mask the divine expression within each of us. 

Williamson promotes that, rather than live in fear, we should bravely express our authentic selves. Doing so represents an act of serving and: “giving other people permission to do the same”. 

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” - A Zen Proverb

Like many of the proverbs from Zen Buddhism, this quote holds a deeper truth beyond the literal. This quote reminds us that when you become too busy, this marks the exact time you need to refocus spiritual practice. When we become distracted with the superficial and material matters, we lose sight of the true meaning in life. That means it’s time to take a step back from the day-to-day, reset, and refocus on your spiritual journey.

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ALLISON MICHELLE DIENSTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Working from her laptop as a freelance writer, Allison lives as a digital nomad, exploring the world while sharing positivity and laughter. She is a lover of language, travel, music, and creativity with a degree in Chinese language and literature.