30 wise quotes on Consciousness

Below is a selection of 30 wise quotes, aphorisms and inspiring sayings from my forthcoming Free Ebook anthology, ‘Thoughts From the Conscious Universe’. Unlike many lists of this kind, all of the following words are from the world’s greatest minds, whether from recent times or days past. And they all have a little more depth and substance than the usual quote lists on the Internet – in particular, they all reflect (or directly comment on) the Conscious Universe theory – that the world around us is a living, breathing and purposeful entity. This also includes the notion that our very thoughts do not issue from our brain; rather, our minds are but a tiny part of the Universal Mind, just as countless drops of water form the oceans. This outlook is also the basis of all magic – whether we’re talking Harry Potter or Aleister Crowley. It’s also in the philosophies of Plato, Pythagoras and Aristotle, the poetry of William Blake and Shelley, and the more recent psychologies of William James and Carl Gustav Jung, not to mention quantum physicists like David Bohm and Freeman Dyson.

A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us, that a higher law than that of our will regulates events; that our painful labors are unnecessary, and fruitless; that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Physics is the knowledge of structural form, and not knowledge of content. All through the physical world runs that unknown content, which must surely be the stuff of our consciousness.

– Eddington

There is in natural things a certain truth which cannot be seen with the outward eye … and of this the Philosophers have had experience, and have ascertained that its virtue is such as to work miracles …As faith works miracles in man, so this power, the veritas efficaciae, brings them about in matter. This truth is the highest power and an impregnable fortress wherein the stone of the philosophers lies hid.

– Gerhard Dorn (Alchemist)

Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are. The “divinity that shapes our ends” is in ourselves; it is our very self. Only himself manacles man: thought and action are the gaolers of Fate—they imprison, being base; they are also the angels of Freedom—they liberate, being noble. Not what he wishes and prays for does a man get, but what he justly earns … Circumstances, however, are so complicated, thought is so deeply rooted, and the conditions of happiness vary so, vastly with individuals, that a man’s entire soul-condition (although it may be known to himself) cannot be judged by another from the external aspect of his life alone.

– James Allen

Nothing costs children so much trouble as thought. This is because the ultimate and essential destiny of the soul is to see and to know, and not to think. Thought is one of the tasks of life, a method of attainment, a road, a passage, but not an end in itself. To know, and to be known, are the two points of rest; here will be the happiness of souls.

– Joubert

Now what the [musical] Instrument is to the Musician, the Brain may be to the Mind, for aught we know to the contrary; and to pursue the figure, as the musician has an existence distinct from that of the instrument, so the Mind may have an existence distinct from that of the Brain; for in truth we have no proof whatever of Mind being a property dependent upon any arrangement of Matter.

– Charles Caleb Colton

If evolution be true, living matter has been evolved by natural processes from matter which is, apparently, not alive. But if life is potential in matter, it is a thousand times more evident that Mind is potential in … the unit of Matter – the electron itself … It is to assert the sublime truth first perceived by Spinoza, that Mind and Matter are the warp and woof of what Goethe called ‘the living garment of God.’ Both are complementary expressions of the Unknowable Reality which underlies both.

– Yogi Ramacharaka

Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. So much for our philosophy of consciousness.

–  Jerry A. Fodo (philosopher)

A certain degree of solitude seems necessary to the full growth and spread of the highest mind ; and therefore must a very extensive intercourse with men stifle many a holy germ, and scare away the gods, who shun the restless tumult of noisy companies and the discussion of petty interests.


To live in a great idea means to treat the impossible as though it were possible. It is just the same with a strong character; and when an idea and a character meet, things arise which fill the world with wonder for thousands of years.

– Goethe

Matter, force, life, thought, are all one … In reality, there is only one principle in the universe … embracing all that is and all that possibly can be. That which we call matter is only a form of motion. At the basis of all is force, dynamism, and universal mind, or spirit.

– Flammarion

The life of things is none other than a spiritual essence, an invisible and impalpable thing, a spirit and a spiritual thing. On this account there is nothing corporeal but has latent within itself a spirit and life.

– Paracelsus

The sharp division between mentality and nature has no ground in our fundamental observation. … I conclude that we should conceive mental operations as among the factors which make up the constitution of nature.

– A.N. Whitehead

The superior and inferior bodies of the World having the same source [the One] and the same matter as a principle, have preserved a sympathy which causes that the purest, the noblest, the strongest, communicate to those who are less so all the perfection of which they are susceptible.
– Pernety

The universe is a thought of God. After this ideal thought-fabric passed out into reality, and the new-born world fulfilled the plan of its Creator—permit me to use this human simile—the first duty of all thinking beings has been to retrace the original design in this great reality; to find the principle in the mechanism, the unity in the compound, the law in the phenomenon, and to pass back from the structure to its primitive foundation. Accordingly to me there is only one appearance in nature—the thinking Being.

– Schiller

We all cannot honestly say  ‘we have life’ for life does not belong to us, and we cannot control or monopolize it. All we can say without arrogance and presumption is that we are instruments through which a universal principle that produces what we call ‘life’ manifests itself in the form of a human being… He who thinks that he has any power whatever of his own, thinks foolish; for all the powers he has are lent him by nature

– Franz Hartmann

It is reasonable to believe in the existence of a third level of mind, a mental component of the universe. If we believe in this … and call it God, then we can say that we are small pieces of God’s mental apparatus.

– Freeman Dyson, physicist (‘Disturbing the Universe’)

The universe is a great organism, controlled by a dynamism of the psychical order. Mind gleams through its every atom.

– Flammarion

Are we not forced to conclude that even in the simplest inanimate things there is something which belongs to the same realm of being as self-awareness? . . . Something must go on in the simplest inanimate things which can be described in the same language as would be used to describe our self-awareness.

C. H . Waddington

Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking in the radio for the announcer.

– Nasseim Haramein

It is probable that what we call thought is not an actual being, but no more than the relation between certain parts of that infinitely varied mass, of which the rest of the universe is composed.

– Percy Bysse Shelley

Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.

– Emerson

The goal to be reached is the mind’s insight into what knowing is. Impatience asks for the impossible, wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there. The length of the journey has to be borne with, for every moment is necessary, … because by nothing less could that all-pervading mind ever manage to become conscious of what itself is — for that reason, the individual mind, in the nature of the case, cannot expect by less toil to grasp what its own substance contains.

– Hegel

It is not necessary to ask whether soul and body are one, just as it is not necessary to ask whether the wax and its shape are one.

– Aristotle

It is manifest . . . that every soul and spirit hath a certain continuity with the spirit of the universe. . . . The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the universe [and is] exceedingly connected and attached thereto.

– Giordano Bruno

Everyone can see [the sun’s] body, but no one can see its soul—not that you could see the soul of any other creature, living or dying. Nevertheless, there are good grounds for believing that we are in fact held in the embrace of some such thing though it is totally below the level of our bodily senses, and is perceptible by reason alone.

– Plato

All experience is in its degree conscious. . . .We must ascribe consciousness to every living agent, such as a plant cell or bacterium, and even (if the continuity of nature is not to be broken) to an electron.

– W. E. Agar

A remarkable tract of occult philosophy in which the world is shown to be a living and truly conscious image of God, and all its parts and particles thereof to be endowed with sense perception, some more clearly, some more obscurely, to the extent required for the preservation of themselves and of the whole in which they share sensation.

– Campanella

Consciousness exists already, behind the scenes, coeval with the world … A medium, for example, will show knowledge of his sitter’s private affairs which it seems impossible he should have acquired through sight or hearing, or inference therefrom … On the transmission-theory, the[se impressions] don’t have to be produced —they exist ready-made in the transcendental world, and all that is needed is an abnormal lowering of the brain-threshold to let them through.

– William James

To put the conclusion crudely, the stuff of the world is mind-stuff.

– Eddington

The Tao that can be described is not the enduring and unchanging Tao.

The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.

(Conceived of as) having no name,

it is the Originator of heaven and earth;

(conceived of as) having a name,

it is the Mother of all things.

Always without desire we must be found,

If its deep mystery we would sound;

But if desire always within us be,

Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.

Under these two aspects, it is really the same;

But as creation takes place, it receives different names.

Together we call them the Mystery.

Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that is subtle and wonderful.

There was something undefined and complete,

coming into existence before Heaven and Earth.

How still it was and formless, standing alone,

Undergoing no change, reaching everywhere

In no danger (of being exhausted)!

It may be regarded as the Mother of all things.

– Lao Tzu