• There are essentially three types of people: those who love life more than they fear it, those who fear life more than they love it, and those who have no clue what I'm talking about

    Neel Burton
  • According to the Buddha, the failure to recognize the illusion of the self is the source of all ignorance and unhappiness. It is only by renouncing the self, that is, by dropping his ego defences and committing metaphorical suicide, that a person can open up to different modes of being and relating and thereby transform himself into a pure essence of humanity. In so doing, he becomes free to recast himself as a much more joyful and productive person, and attains the only species of transcendence and immortality that is open to man

    Neel Burton
  • The disease of the soul is both more common and more deadly than the disease of the body. Just as medicine is the art devoted to healing the body, so philosophy is the art devoted to healing the soul, curing it of improper emotions, false beliefs, and faulty judgments, which are the causes of so much hardship and handicap. To heal the body one turns to the practitioner of the art of healing the body, but to heal the soul there is no doctor to turn to, and each of us is left to become that doctor unto himself. Yet, this need not stop us from exhorting others to imitate us in the godly art, in the forlorn hope that they might transform themselves into better citizens for Athens and better companions for us

    Neel Burton
  • A more fundamental problem with labelling human distress and deviance as mental disorder is that it reduces a complex, important, and distinct part of human life to nothing more than a biological illness or defect, not to be processed or understood, or in some cases even embraced, but to be ‘treated’ and ‘cured’ by any means possible—often with drugs that may be doing much more harm than good. This biological reductiveness, along with the stigma that it attracts, shapes the person’s interpretation and experience of his distress or deviance, and, ultimately, his relation to himself, to others, and to the world. Moreover, to call out every difference and deviance as mental disorder is also to circumscribe normality and define sanity, not as tranquillity or possibility, which are the products of the wisdom that is being denied, but as conformity, placidity, and a kind of mediocrity

    Neel Burton
  • Philosophy is a bitter medicine with many fearsome side effects, but if you are able to stomach it, it can cure your soul of the many ills and infirmities of ignorance. Given the choice, most men prefer not to take it, and many of those who do soon find that they cannot carry on with it. In the end, they choose what is more pleasant over what is more wholesome, and prefer the society of those who encourage them in their follies to that of those who admonish and improve them. You, on the other hand, appear to be minded otherwise, for when a young men sets for himself the highest standards of education and conduct, he naturally shuns the company of mindless nobodies and boldly seeks out that of the singular men who are prepared to teach him and challenge him and exhort him to virtue. In time, by his strivings, he will come to realize that it is from the hardest toil and noblest deeds that the purest and most persisting pleasures are to be had, and, taking pity on other men, and thinking also of the gods, he will do everything in his power to share this precious secret

    Neel Burton
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