Quotes about selfishness

A collection of quotes on the topic of selfishness.

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Arthur Rimbaud photo
Buckminster Fuller photo

„Those with financial advantage reason that selfishness is necessary and fortify themselves even further.“

—  Buckminster Fuller American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist 1895 - 1983

From 1980s onwards, Norie Huddle interview (1981)
Context: Humanity is moving ever deeper into a crisis which has no precedent. It is a crisis brought about by evolution being intent on completely integrating differently colored, differently cultured, and intercommunicating humanity, and by evolution being intent on making integrated humanity able to live sustainedly at a higher standard of living for all than has ever been experienced by any. Probably ninety-nine percent of humanity does not know that we have the option to make it; we do. It can only be accomplished, however, through a Design Science Revolution.
Those in supreme power, politically and economically, aren’t yet convinced that our Planet Earth has anywhere nearly enough life support for all humanity.
They assume it has to be either you or me, that there is not enough for both. Those with financial advantage reason that selfishness is necessary and fortify themselves even further.

Matka Tereza photo

„If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway!“

—  Matka Tereza Roman Catholic saint of Albanian origin 1910 - 1997

This is a variant or paraphrase of The Paradoxical Commandments, by Kent M. Keith, student activist, first composed in 1968 as part of a booklet for student leaders, which had hung on the wall of Mother Teresa's children's home in Calcutta, India, and have sometimes become misattributed to her. The version posted at his site http://www.paradoxicalcommandments.com begins:
Misattributed
Context: People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Marcus Garvey photo
Anne Frank photo

„Everyone thinks I'm showing off when I talk, ridiculous when I'm silent, insolent when I answer, cunning when I have a good idea, lazy when I'm tired, selfish when I eat one bite more than I should.“

—  Anne Frank victim of the Holocaust and author of a diary 1929 - 1945

Variant: If I talk, everyone thinks I'm showing off; when I'm silent they think I'm ridiculous, rude if I answer, sly if I get a good idea, lazy if I'm tired, selfish if I eat a mouthful more than I should, stupid, cowardly, crafty, etc., etc.
Source: The Diary of a Young Girl

Marilyn Monroe photo

„I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.“

—  Marilyn Monroe American actress, model, and singer 1926 - 1962

Attributed to Monroe in self-help books and on social media, this quotation is of unknown origin and date.
Misattributed

Greg Graffin photo

„Our faith should be expressed in working toward a better planet for our children and not the selfish, juvenile hope for a better afterlife for ourselves. I don't think anyone is going to Hell, because it only exists in the minds of people who wish ill will on others.“

—  Greg Graffin American musician 1964

Bozell, Brent, Punk Rockers Knock Christmas, townhall.com, December 20, 2013, http://townhall.com/columnists/brentbozell/2013/12/20/punk-rockers-knock-christmas-n1766181, 2013-12-25

Booker T. Washington photo

„We all should rise, above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness, and selfishness.“

—  Booker T. Washington African-American educator, author, orator, and advisor 1856 - 1915

Source: The Story of My Life and Work

Amos Oz photo
Jane Austen photo

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John D. Rockefeller photo

„I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.

I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master.

I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.

I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs.

I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.

I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man's word should be as good as his bond, that character—not wealth or power or position—is of supreme worth.

I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.

I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual's highest fulfillment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will.

I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.“

—  John D. Rockefeller American business magnate and philanthropist 1839 - 1937

Mario Cuomo photo
Honoré de Balzac photo

„The passion of love is essentially selfish, while motherhood widens the circle of our feelings.“

—  Honoré de Balzac French writer 1799 - 1850

L’amour est profondément égoïste, tandis que la maternité tend à multiplier nos sentiments.
Part II, ch. LII.
Letters of Two Brides (1841-1842)

K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera photo
Thomas Wolfe photo
Ray Comfort photo
Logan Pearsall Smith photo
Letitia Elizabeth Landon photo
Jane Austen photo
Tenzin Gyatso photo

„Through violence, you may 'solve' one problem, but you sow the seeds for another.

One has to try to develop one's inner feelings, which can be done simply by training one's mind. This is a priceless human asset and one you don't have to pay income tax on!

First one must change. I first watch myself, check myself, then expect changes from others.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

I myself feel, and also tell other Buddhists that the question of Nirvana will come later.
There is not much hurry.
If in day to day life you lead a good life, honesty, with love,
with compassion, with less selfishness,
then automatically it will lead to Nirvana.

The universe that we inhabit and our shared perception of it are the results of a common karma. Likewise, the places that we will experience in future rebirths will be the outcome of the karma that we share with the other beings living there. The actions of each of us, human or nonhuman, have contributed to the world in which we live. We all have a common responsibility for our world and are connected with everything in it.

If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue.

It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.

Whenever Buddhism has taken root in a new land, there has been a certain variation in the style in which it is observed. The Buddha himself taught differently according to the place, the occasion and the situation of those who were listening to him.

Samsara - our conditioned existence in the perpetual cycle of habitual tendencies and nirvana - genuine freedom from such an existence- are nothing but different manifestations of a basic continuum. So this continuity of consciousness us always present. This is the meaning of tantra.

According to Buddhist practice, there are three stages or steps. The initial stage is to reduce attachment towards life.
The second stage is the elimination of desire and attachment to this samsara. Then in the third stage, self-cherishing is eliminated.

The creatures that inhabit this earth-be they human beings or animals-are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.

To develop genuine devotion, you must know the meaning of teachings. The main emphasis in Buddhism is to transform the mind, and this transformation depends upon meditation. in order to meditate correctly, you must have knowledge.

Anything that contradicts experience and logic should be abandoned.

The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.

From one point of view we can say that we have human bodies and are practicing the Buddha's teachings and are thus much better than insects. But we can also say that insects are innocent and free from guile, where as we often lie and misrepresent ourselves in devious ways in order to achieve our ends or better ourselves. From this perspective, we are much worse than insects.

When the days become longer and there is more sunshine, the grass becomes fresh and, consequently, we feel very happy. On the other hand, in autumn, one leaf falls down and another leaf falls down. The beautiful plants become as if dead and we do not feel very happy. Why? I think it is because deep down our human nature likes construction, and does not like destruction. Naturally, every action which is destructive is against human nature. Constructiveness is the human way. Therefore, I think that in terms of basic human feeling, violence is not good. Non-violence is the only way.

We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are "news"; compassionate activities are so much a part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored.

The fundamental philosophical principle of Buddhism is that all our suffering comes about as a result of an undisciplined mind, and this untamed mind itself comes about because of ignorance and negative emotions. For the Buddhist practitioner then, regardless of whether he or she follows the approach of the Fundamental Vehicle, Mahayana or Vajrayana, negative emotions are always the true enemy, a factor that has to be overcome and eliminated. And it is only by applying methods for training the mind that these negative emotions can be dispelled and eliminated. This is why in Buddhist writings and teachings we find such an extensive explanation of the mind and its different processes and functions. Since these negative emotions are states of mind, the method or technique for overcoming them must be developed from within. There is no alternative. They cannot be removed by some external technique, like a surgical operation."“

—  Tenzin Gyatso spiritual leader of Tibet 1935

Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, 2004

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