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Adages of Wisdom Quotes by Master Sheng Yen

The meaning of life lies in serving; the value of life in giving.


The purpose of life is to receive karmic results, fulfill old vows, and make new ones.


There's no need to be concerned about the past or the future. Live fully in the present, and you are connected with both the past and the future.


As the past has faded into misty memories, and the future remains a dream unrealized, seizing the present is most important.


Our value depends not on how long we live, but on how much we contribute.


Wisdom is not knowledge, nor experience, nor dialectical excellence, but a selfless attitude.


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William Sloan Coffin

"All of life is the exercise of risk."

American Author, Clergy, Peace Activist

1924 - 2006

Have you ever let fear stand in the way your doing something that you desired to do?  Most of us have.  And yet if we stop and think about it: all life is a risk.  While eating carrots, you can choke and die.  Walking down the street at 6 a.m., you can be hit by a speeding car.  Taking a shower, you can slip and fall and hit your head.  You can visit a doctor and be told that you have cancer and have only six weeks to live.  All life is fraught with risk.  So why haven't you tried that new technique of painting?  Are you afraid you will fail?  Why haven't you sent your novel to a publisher?  Are you afraid of rejection?

Fear is powerful and often stops us from doing what we want to do?  We all have dreams and hopes, but sometimes we are not courageous enough to take that first step into the unknown.  That first step is often the most difficult.  In our minds, we think of all the things that could go wrong.  We should instead focus on our dreams and what we want to accomplish.  What steps are you going to take today to overcome your fears?  
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Norman Vincent Peale Quotes - The Power of Positive Living

The Power of Positive Living 

These Norman Vincent Peale quotes are for anyone who is suffering from negative thinking.  He reveals that if we can get on top of our thoughts and depend on God for help, we can soar to higher and higher heights. What you think is what you will become.  Therefore, thinking positive at all times will yield positive experiences.

Read and think about these Norman Vincent Peale Quotes and take control of your thinking:

“That is the trouble with anyone who takes the wrong way.  It may seem the easiest, most expedient way, but as Jesus Christ taught us: ‘…the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction…’”

“That initial thought, if given residence in the mind, is the spark that ignites the action.  And success or failure depends on whether that thought is positive or negative.”

“Whenever a problem comes up, I try to remind myself, “Now be a thinker.  Think this through in a cool intellectual process…I tell myself, “for heaven’s sake, don’t decide this matter emotionally.”

“…Even the smartest person can do astonishingly stupid things.”

“The safeguard is to think, always think.  And most important is to pray, which I believe is thinking in its highest form.  For then your thoughts are in tune with God, who sees a lot further down the road than you do.”

“Believing is the power of positive living.  It gets things done.  It reverses failure into success.  Believers are achievers.”

“…all belief should be undergirded by a solid trust in the help of God.”

“Several times everyday look in the mirror.  Look yourself straight in the eye and say, ‘Listen you – you are somebody, so start being what you are supposed to be!’  And then stand up to your full height: stand tall, think tall, talk tall, and believe tall.”

“Indeed, the basic principle of success is to be a believer.  Believe in what you do, believe in yourself as able to do what you do.  Believe in people, like them, and be of service to them.  Don’t use them.”

“The best way, I’ve found, to eliminate negative thought is to instantly supplant it with a positive thought.”

“ …say to yourself, even though you may not believe it at first, ‘I am going to be successful.’ as you firmly repeat your strong intention again and again, it will be implanted in your subconscious mind which, in turn, will actually assist you to become what you will to be.”

“Constant reiteration, constant assertion, constant affirmation of the believing attitude, this will help eliminate the negative effect of the constant unbelieving attitude which you have practiced for so long.”

“You might undertake saying aloud a least 25 times a day, ‘I believe God loves me, god wants the best for me, God will guide me – I believe.’  This will drive the new dynamic idea into your non-believing subconciousness.”

“Have the guts to take a risk.  Practice believing in the impossible until impossibilities start becoming possibilities, then actualities.”

“An effective way to counteract the ‘I can’t’ feeling when facing a challenge is to instantly replace it with an ‘I can’ thought pattern.  That will fire you with the confidence to win.”

“…As long as God allows me to live, I will continue to emphasize the undisputed fact that by changing one’s own habitual thought pattern, one can thereby change his or her life.”

“If you will get self doubt out of your mind, and rid yourself of that inferiority complex you are nursing, if you believe that Jesus Christ will help you, if you will give all of yourself to whatever you do, you will get along alright.”

“We become what we think.”

“Think.  If you’ll sit down and really think, you’ll come up with ideas or insight that can change everything.”

“When we are trying to adjust to things that go wrong, we need to recognize that most of what is going wrong usually comes from within ourselves.  If you claim that someone else is the cause of your problem, you are, in effect, saying that your destiny is out of your control.”

“We ourselves are almost always the cause of things going wrong, besides the tragedies out of our control.  A good, sharp, honest analysis will often reveal the truth.”

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Odani Motohiko

"I used to find that idea of an ever changing, impalpable style appealing, but now I want to concentrate on the things I ought to be doing, the things that only I can do.  The result I hope will be works that like the Buddhist statues of the past will be capable of communicating with people for centuries to come."

Japanese Artist

1972 -

Are you doing the creative work that you ought to be doing — that only you can do?  In today's world it is easy to get sidetracked and caught up in projects that have nothing to do with our true work.  There are many people and things that demand our attention and time.  If you don't know what creative work you are supposed to be doing it is easy to get lost.  Do you have a vision of the work that you should be doing?  Do you stay focused or are you easily distracted?

Will the creative work that you are doing still be communicating to generations to come?  Or will your work be forgotten as soon as you leave this world?  No one can predict which poems, or paintings or sculptures will last for centuries and which are meant for the dustbins of time.  Many artists and writers dream and hope that their creative works will give them immortality.    

To see more of Odani Motohiko's creative work, check out this site:

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Rick Warren Quotes- Purpose Driven Life

The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For?
Rick Warren’s book, Purpose Driven Life is an outstanding book that expresses the real meaning of life.  Sometimes we can be so focused on here and now and forget what God has in store for us.  We forget that we are here to serve and praise him.  Therefore, we must live and act for God’s glory.

Let the following quotes by Rick Warren inspire you to stay focused on what really matters:

“The purpose of life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.  It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.”

“…life is about letting God use you for his purposes, not your using him for your own purpose.”

“The easiest way to discover the purpose of an invention is to ask the creator of it.  The same is true of discovering your life’s purpose: Ask God.”

“God has not left us in the dark to wonder and guess.  He has clearly revealed his five purposes for our lives through the Bible.  It is our owner’s manual, explaining why we are alive, how life works, what to avoid, and what to expect in the future.”

“You discover your identity and purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“The purpose of your life fits into a much larger, cosmic purpose that God has designed for eternity.”

“We are products of our past but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

“Listen: Those who have hurt you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now unless you hold on to the pain through resentment.  Your past is past! Nothing will change it.  You are only hurting yourself with your bitterness.  For your own sake, learn from it, and then let it go.”

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.  You must move against it with the weapons of faith and love.

“Without a purpose, life is a motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason.  Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty, and pointless.”

“The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.”

“Your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren’t.  You simply ask, “Does this activity help me fulfill one of God’s purposes for my life?”

“Without a clear purpose you have no foundation on which you base decisions, allocate your time, and use your resources.  You will tend to make choices based on circumstances, pressures, and your mood at the moment.”

“It is impossible to do everything people want you to do.  You have just enough time to do God’s will.  If you can’t get it all done, it means you’re trying to do more than God intended for you to do.”

“Purpose-driven life leads to a simpler lifestyle and a saner schedule.”

“If you want your life to have impact, focus it!  Stop dabbling.  Stop trying to do it all.  Do less.  Prune away even good activities and do only that which matters most.  Never confuse activity with productivity.  You can be busy without a purpose, but what’s the point?”

“It is usually meaningless work, not overwork that wears us down, saps our strength, and robs our joy.”

“You weren’t put on earth to be remembered.  You were put here to prepare for eternity.”

“God won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views.  The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him? What did you do with what I gave you?  What did you do with your life – your gifts, talents, opportunities, energy, relationships, and resources God gave you?  Did you spend them on yourself, or did you use them for the purposes God made for you?”

“When you fully comprehend that there is more to life than just here and now, and you realize that life is just preparation for eternity, you will begin to live differently.  You will start living in light of eternity, and that will color how you handle every relationship, task, and circumstance… The closer you live to God the smaller everything else appears.”
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George Grosz

"My drawings and paintings were done as an act of protest; I was trying by means of my work to convince the world that it is ugly, sick and hypocritical."

German Artist

1893 - 1959

The Wanderer

Do you believe that art should be beautiful?  Should we as artists and writers only show what is best about the world and the humans who occupy great chunks of it?  Some people would say: "Yes, that the ugly is not art. That art and writing are to show mankind at its best."  Why do you think so many people want a happy ending to a novel or a movie?  The hero may go down into the gutter to find the criminal, but he must rise above the world he inhabits and transcend the ugliness around him.  He must be better than those he encounters.

Grosz fought on the side of Germany during World War I.  He volunteered in 1914 and was discharged in 1915 as unfit for duty.  He was conscripted in 1917 because Germany was desperate for soldiers.  He was court-martialed for insubordination and sentenced to death.  One of his patrons saved him from execution and he was diagnosed as suffering from shell-shock and discharged.  Anti-Nazi, Grosz left Germany for America before Hitler came to power and became a naturalized citizen in 1938.  Here is a painting Grosz painted in 1943, entitled, Hitler in Hell.

Hitler in Hell

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Trying A Matchmaker Service

In today's busy world, dating has become harder than ever – to find love and romance in their busy lives, many are turning to matchmaker services to help them meet like-minded singles.

As anyone with a demanding job will agree, it can be almost impossible to meet people, let alone find the right sort of people that you actually want to date.

Friends may set you up, or you may decide to go out to a club, where you might meet a few potential interests – more often than not, the time spent getting to know someone only to realise that you have nothing in common seldom makes it worth it.

This is what makes matchmaker services different. Rather than sifting through a large number of potentials, you have the chance to choose the exact type of person that you would like to meet.

Matchmaking changes the way dating services work because you can find somebody who lives just down the corner from you that you just never noticed at all, or you can meet somebody in another part of the state, who you would never have met without that opportunity of enrolling with a matchmaker.
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Medardo Rosso

"What the artist must aim at above all else is this: to produce, by any process whatever, a work which by the life and humanity emanating from it communicates to the beholder . . . ."

Italian Sculptor

1858 - 1928

Ecce Puer
Behold the Boy


Who is the audience for your creative work?  This is a question I have struggled with for years.  Is there an audience for my work?  Is there someone who understands what I am communicating?  First, poetry has a very small readership in this country.  So the audience from which I can draw my readership is very small.  Second, finding this readership is very difficult.  One would hope that one could find a readership among other poets, but there are many people who write poetry who have never read it.  Third, what I write does not fit within the historical categories of poetry.  I don't rhyme or follow western forms.  I did spend seven years writing and studying Japanese haiku which many in the west perceive as an exercise for school children.  So after 35 years of writing, I have yet to find an audience for my writing who will stand in line for six hours to buy my next book.  In fact, there are days I can't give it away.  But I don't let the lack of an audience stop me from writing.  I keep writing and believing that one day someone will read and appreciate.
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Edvard Munch

The Scream

"I was walking along a path with two friends, the sun was setting.  I felt a breath of melancholy.  Suddenly the sky turned blood-red.  I stopped and leant against the railing, deathly tired, looking out across flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword over the deep blue fjord and town.  My friends walked on.  I stood there trembling with anxiety and felt a great, infinite scream pass through nature."

Norwegian Painter

1863 - 1944

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch was inspired to paint The Scream by what he felt.  He later said: "For several years I was almost mad. . . You know my picture, The Scream? I was stretched to the limit — nature was screaming in my blood. . . After that I gave up hope ever of being able to love again."

What drives you to paint?  What inspires you to write?  Is it light or darkness?  Fear or compassion?  Beauty or pain?  What message do you want to communicate?  What is your vision of the world?  Does your creative work come from deep within your soul?  Do you paint what you feel?  Do you write what you experience?

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George Bernard Shaw

"The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time."

1856 - 1950

Irish Playwright

Why do you write?  Why do you paint?  Is it to tell your story?  For many of us creative work helps us understand who we are and where we came from.  Creative work allows us to explore the world into which we were born.  In the process of understanding who we are and where we came from, we also begin to understand what it means to be human.
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Tennessee Williams

"Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you hardly catch it going."

American Playwright

1911 - 1983

Most of us live in the past with occasional ventures into the future.  The time spent in the present is minuscule.  The present moment no more than arrives and it is gone, quickly becoming a part of our memory.  Time passes second by second and we watch it leave. 

Are you frustrated because there is not enough time in a day to do all the painting or writing that you want to do?  Do you wish you had more time to do the things you want to do?  Modern life is hectic and it gets faster and faster every year.  Ever since man invented the first machine, we have been promised that we would gain more time to do the things we wanted to do.  And it has never happened.  Cell phones, I-Pads and computers do not make our lives easier.  We have to work longer and harder just to stay even.  We are now in touch with the world 24/7.

I talked with a salesman who said that thirty years ago he would leave town for a week. He would tell his secretary to take any messages and to tell the people he would call them when he returned.  He says that today if he don't return a call within 15 minutes he has lost the sale.

So what does this have to do with creative leadership?  Each of us have 86,400 seconds a day to spend as we choose.  How do you spend your seconds?  Doing the things you want to do or doing what others want you to do?  Do you spend your seconds focused on the past and what has already happened or do you spend your seconds in the present creating new works of art?

We all have been given the same amount of time each day.  We can not change the amount of time we have.  But we can choose how we spend it.  Be surely to spend your time wisely.
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Lillian Hellman

"Nothing you write, if you hope to be good, will ever come out as you first hoped."

American Playwright

1905 - 1984

Often what we create does not match our expectations of what we imagined we would create.  Creation takes hard work and the process of re-creating again and again until we come close to capturing our vision of what we thought we wanted to say.  Rarely, though, does the end product match what we imagined it to be in the beginning.  The process of creation changes the vision and perfects its limited and narrow perspective.  Our imagination gives us the seed necessary to start us on our journey, but hard work is the rain that the seed needs to help it grow into a beautiful rose.  Be patient with yourself.  Don't quit just because reality does not match your dreams.  Keep working.  Keep learning.  Keep growing.  Some day what you create will be what you want it to be.
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Gustave Flaubert

"Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work."

French Novelist

1821 - 1880 

For me, I work best when my everyday life is dull and boring.  The more things I can do as a routine habit allows my mind to flow freely.  My wife, though, keeps me on my toes by constantly re-arranging the house.  She reorganizes the kitchen cabinets periodically.  I go to pour myself a cup of coffee and the cups are not where they should be.  When I am looking for a bowl or a plate, it is not where it should be.  But she doesn't stop with the kitchen.  She re-arranges the various rooms to suit her moods.  All this re-learning is a challenge for someone who prefers to keep his routines the same every day.  The reason I prefer routines is so my mind does not have to worry about what shirt to wear or what food to eat.  My mind is free to concentrate on what is important like the poem I am writing.  The more normal and routine my life is; the more I can go crazy in my mind.  As a writer I live in my imagination.  Some might call me the absent-minded professor.
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Robert Bly

"When anyone seriously pursues an art — painting, poetry, sculpture, composing — over twenty or thirty years, the sustained discipline carries the artist down to the countryside of grief, and that descent, resisted so long proves invigorating. . . . As I've gotten older, I find I am able to be nourished more by sorrow and to distinguish it from depression."

American Poet

1926 - 

I first heard Robert Bly read poetry in 1969 while I was in college and I still own a copy of his very first book of poetry, Silence in the Snowy Fields, which I bought when he was in town and is autographed by him.  He was majestic, expansive and seemed to blow the roof off the auditorium.  I fell in love with the poetry I read in that small sixty-page book, published by Wesleyan University Press, full of images of the midwest where I was born and raised.  Years later I had another opportunity to hear Bly read and I bought a collection of his prose poems, Morning Glory.  I own a number of his poetry books and his books of translated poems.  I even bought the book that made him rich and famous, Iron John, a non-fiction book I have never been able to finish reading.  

Here is a short poem that I love.  The last two lines have the feel of Japanese haiku.

Watering the Horse

How strange to think of giving up all ambition!

Suddenly I see with such clear eyes

The white flake of snow

That has just fallen in the horse's mane!

Here is another favorite poem of mine from his first collection.  This poem evokes the feeling of the rural countryside in which I grew up.  Anyone who grew up in the rural midwest will immediately feel at home.

Three Kinds of Pleasure



Sometimes, riding in a car, in Wisconsin

Or Illinois, you notice those dark telephone poles

One by one lift themselves out of the fence line

And slowly leap on the gray sky —

And past them, the snowy fields.


The darkness drifts down like snow on the picked cornfields

In Wisconsin:  and on these black trees

Scattered, one by one,

Through the winter fields —

We see stiff weeds and brownish stubble,

And white snow left now only in the wheeltracks of the combine.


It is a pleasure, also, to be driving

Toward Chicago, near dark,

And see the lights in the barns.

The bare trees more dignified than ever,

Like a fierce man on his deathbed,

And the ditches along the road half full of a private snow.

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Mark Rothko

"The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed."

Mark Rothko

Russian Artist

1903 - 1970

I remember in the early days of speaking when I was conducting 2 1/2 day workshops, I was never sure what the ultimate outcome would be — would the group bond and be persuaded by the message I was delivering.  After conducting more than 25 sessions, I became confident that no matter where the group began, they would end up in the same place — passionate about creating a caring environment for their customers and employees.  I developed a faith that the program worked.  I learned to believe in my ability to connect and bond with my audience.

As creative leaders we need to believe in what we are doing.  We need to have the faith that the art we are producing is good.  When our backs are up against the wall, we will be able to produce a miracle.  Do you have faith in your abilities?  Do you believe in what you are doing?

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Marcel Duchamp

"I force myself to contradict myself, so as to avoid conforming to my own taste."

French Artist

1887 - 1968

Nude Descending
A Staircase No. 2

Do you ever feel that you are in rut — repeating the same stories over and over, painting the same landscape again and again?  Sometimes we fall into a rut and don't even know.  Our creative works become the same — bland and boring.  What are you doing to make your art fresh and new?  How do you challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone?  How do you avoid old habits?

As creative leaders, you need to challenge yourself — explore new territory, try new ideas.  We all can become stale and tired.  You need to find new sources of ideas — new ways of seeing the world.

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Deepak Chopra

"The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself."

Indian Author, Speaker

1946 -

The life we live is a work of art and we must continuously be creating and recreating it.  The choices we make in life determine the person we become.  And the person we become is reflected in the life we live.

Are you living the life you want to live?  Have you become the person you dreamed of becoming.  To create your life you want requires vision, hard work and persistence.  If you think painting a picture or writing a novel is a challenge, creating your life is a bigger challenge.  

Sometimes creative leaders become so caught up in their creative work that they lose sight of themselves and the person who they wanted to become.  They lose sight of the people they love.  We must learn to take care of ourselves — our physical, mental and emotional natures.  If we let our work devour us, we can become addicted to drugs, alcohol or sex.  We can become paranoid, fearful and anxious.  We must learn to love ourselves and those nearest to us.
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Pierre Auguste Renoir



"It is not enough for a painter to be a clever craftsman; he must love to 'caress' his canvas, too.

— Pierre Auguste Renoir

French Artist

1841 - 1919

For some people the process of creation is painful and difficult.  They struggle to put words on paper or paint on the canvas.  They let their fear of failure or their drive for perfection prevent them from working.  Others love to work.  They are happiest standing before a canvas or sitting before a computer.  Work comes easy for them.  Which person are you?  Do you love your work?  Do you enjoy painting?  Can you get lost in process of painting?  Do you enjoy writing?  Can you write for hours and suddenly stop and realize how fast the time has flown by?  Or do you procrastinate and look for ways to avoid working?  Do you tell yourself that you have to clean the house, wash the dishes or pay the bills instead of working on your art or writing?



Read my poem, Indecision, inspired by Renoir's painting, Umbrellas.

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