"You have seen that the universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate "you" to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real "you" is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For "you" is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new."
"I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here. I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell."
"Music, this complex and mysterious act, precise as algebra and vague as a dream, this art made out of mathematics and air, is simply the result of the strange properties of a little membrane. If that membrane did not exist, sound would not exist either, since in itself it is merely vibration. Would we be able to detect music without the ear? Of course not. Well, we are surrounded by things whose existence we never suspect, because we lack the organs that would reveal them to us."
"The brain does not own any direct copies of stuff in the world. There is no library of forms and ideas against which to compare the images of perception. Information is stored in a plastic way, allowing fantastic juxtapositions and leaps of imagination. Some chaos exists out there, and the brain seems to have more flexibility than classical physics in finding the order in it.
In a way, art is a theory about the way the world looks to human beings. It’s abundantly obvious that one doesn’t know the world around us in detail."
"It is extremely interesting, then, to think about the meaning of the word ‘form’ as it applies to constructions of arbitrarily complex shapes. For instance, what is it that we respond to when we look at a painting and feel its beauty? Is if the ‘form’ of the lines and dots on our retina? Evidently it must be, for that is how it gets passed along to the analyzing mechanisms in our heads–but the complexity of the processing makes us feel that we are not merely looking at a two-dimensional surface; we are responding to some sort of inner meaning inside the picture, a multidimensional aspect trapped somehow inside those two dimensions. It is the word ‘meaning’ which is important here. Our minds contain interpreters which accept two-dimensional patterns and then ‘pull’ from them high-dimensional notions which are so complex that we cannot consciously describe them. The same can be said about how we respond to music, incidentally.
We human beings are macroscopic structures in a universe whose laws reside at a microscopic level. As survival-seeking beings, we are driven to seek efficient explanations that make reference only to entities at our own level. We therefore draw conceptual boundaries around entities that we easily perceive, and in so doing we carve out what seems to us to be reality."
"One night after dinner a group of us were talking about the supernatural, and one of our dinner guests said that when the electric light was invented, people began to lose the dimension of the supernatural. In the days before we could touch a switch and flood every section of the room with light, there were always shadows in the corner, shadows which moved with candlelight, with firelight; and these shadows were an outward and visible sign that things are not always what they seem; there are things which are not visible to the mortal human being; there are things beyond our ken."
"The isolation spins its mysterious cocoon, focusing the mind on one place, one time, one rhythm - the turning of the light. The island knows no other human voices, no other footprints. On the offshore lights you can live any story you want to tell yourself, and no one will say you're wrong: not the seagulls, not the prisms, not the wind."
"In a sense it has been my way to transcendental experience: to the discovery that matter metaphorically speaking, is the creation of the spirit (the mode of existence of the observer in a domain of discourse), and that the spirit is the creation of the matter it creates. This is not a paradox, but it is the expression of our existence in a domain of cognition in which the content of cognition is cognition itself. Beyond that nothing can be said."
"I hope that you will listen, but not with the memory of what you already know; and this is very difficult to do. You listen to something, and your mind immediately reacts with its knowledge, its conclusions, its opinions, its past memories. It listens, inquiring for a future understanding.
Just observe yourself, how you are listening, and you will see that this is what is taking place. Either you are listening with a conclusion, with knowledge, with certain memories, experiences, or you want an answer, and you are impatient. You want to know what it is all about, what life is all about, the extraordinary complexity of life. You are not actually listening at all.
You can only listen when the mind is quiet, when the mind doesn't react immediately, when there is an interval between your reaction and what is being said. Then, in that interval there is a quietness, there is a silence in which alone there is a comprehension which is not intellectual understanding.
If there is a gap between what is said and your own reaction to what is said, in that interval, whether you prolong it indefinitely, for a long period or for a few seconds - in that interval, if you observe, there comes clarity. It is the interval that is the new brain. The immediate reaction is the old brain, and the old brain functions in its own traditional, accepted, reactionary, animalistic sense.
When there is an abeyance of that, when the reaction is suspended, when there is an interval, then you will find that the new brain acts, and it is only the new brain that can understand, not the old brain".
"A painter, who finds no satisfaction in mere representation, however artistic, in his longing to express his inner life, cannot but envy the ease with which music, the most non-material of the arts today, achieves this end. He naturally seeks to apply the methods of music to his own art. And from this results that modern desire for rhythm in painting, for mathematical, abstract construction, for repeated notes of color, for setting color in motion."
"The winds and seas, the powers of water and earth an light, all that these do, and all that the beasts and green things do, is well done, and rightly done. All these act within the Equilibrium. From the hurricane and the great whale's sounding to the fall of a dry leaf and the gnat's flight, all they do is done within the balance of the whole. But we, insofar as we have power over the world and over one another, we must learn to do what the leaf and the whale and the wind do of their own nature. We must learn to keep the balance. Having intelligence, we must not act in ignorance. Having choice, we must not act without responsibility."
"I suppose therefore that all things I see are illusions; I believe that nothing has ever existed of everything my lying memory tells me. I think I have no senses. I believe that body, shape, extension, motion, location are functions. What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain."