The Quotable Sir John - On Life and Spirituality
"The main focus in my life now is to open people's minds so no one will be so conceited that they think they have the total truth. They should be eager to learn, to listen, to research and not to confine, to hurt, to kill, those who disagree with them."
"I wouldn't call it radical; I would call it enthusiasm for progress," the philanthropist says of his approach.
"I served for 42 years on the board of trustees of the largest Presbyterian seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and we had brilliant people — teachers and students both—but they did not come up with many new concepts. They weren't invited to come up with new concepts. Anybody who had come up with a new concept would have been under suspicion for being out of step with the tradition or out of step with the teachings of the church."
"Suppose you went to your priest and asked for help; he
would refer you to the Bible. But if you went the next day to
your medical doctor and he referred you to the book of Hippocrates,
which was written at about the same time as the Bible, you would
think that was old-fashioned."
"I'm really convinced that our descendants
a century or two from now will look back at us with the same
pity that we
have toward the people in the field of science two centuries
"Three of my children are medical doctors;
they know at least a hundred times as much about your body
as my grandfather
knew, but they don't know much more about soul than he did."
"I have no quarrel with what I learned in the Presbyterian
church — I am still an enthusiastic Christian. But why
shouldn't I try to learn more? Why shouldn't I go to Hindu services?
Why shouldn't I go to Muslim services? If you are not egotistical,
you will welcome the opportunity to learn more."
"We hope that there will be nothing
that conflicts with anybody's religion or faith. We would never
say a person's religion
is not effective. We say, 'Would you be interested in something
more effective?' We always put things in an optimistic, progressive
perspective. Do you want to make your prayers more effective?
Not that they are not effective, but do you want to help
them become more effective?'"
"Work at being a humble person."
"If we become increasingly humble about
how little we know, we may be more eager to search."
"A doctor today would never prescribe
the treatments my grandfather used in the Confederate Army,
but a minister says
pretty much the same thing today that a minister would have said
"...Making people get over the concept
that they've got the total proof. To get them to feel, 'Gee,
I want to learn more.
I want to hear anybody who can tell me something in addition
to ways I already know about God or my spiritual principles."
"We may find the Divine to be 3,000
times what we think it is now. It's like asking the tulip there
to explain you. The
tulip is a beautiful creation, with millions of atoms cooperating
with each other to produce great beauty, but ask that tulip to
talk about you, and it can't do it. It doesn't have those perceptive
abilities. Wouldn't it be conceited to suggest that I had the
abilities to describe the deity?"
"The correct description is that we
try every day to become more humble when we talk about divinity,
we try to realize how
little we know and how open minded we should be. It's self centered
to think that human beings, as limited as we are, can describe
"I thought, I'm only going to be on
this planet once, and only for a short time. What can I do
with my life that will lead
to permanent benefits?"
"I focus on spiritual wealth now, and
I'm busier, more enthusiastic, and more joyful than I have
"Tell your readers to use it or lose
it. If you don't use your muscles, they get weak. If you don't
use your mind it begins
"The objective of our religious foundations
is to teach people that they are hurting themselves when they
say they believe
something. What we should realize is we know almost nothing about
God and therefore we should be eager to search and to learn."
"A flower is a miracle, but it does
not have the sight or speech to describe us. And our own ability
is no greater than
that flower when we try to describe God. His infinity covers
not only one planet, but the entire solar system and 100 billion
suns. That doesn't mean he is limited in his ability to be part
of you. "
"Let's worship Divinity, but understand
the divinity we worship is beyond our comprehension."
"I believe all religions are becoming
obsolete, clinging to ancient concepts."
"The idea that an individual can find
God is terribly self-centered. It is like a wave thinking it
can find the sea."
"The question is not is there a God,
but is there anything else except God? God is everyone and
each of us is a little bit."
"Anybody who had come up
with a new concept would have been under suspicion for being
out of step with the
tradition or out of step with the teachings of the church."
"It's self-centered to think that human
beings, as limited as we are, can describe divinity."
"If you are not egotistical, you will
welcome the opportunity to learn more."
"Only one thing is more important than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience."
"Before this century is over, the Dow Jones
Industrial Average will probably be over one million versus around
10,000 now. So
for the long-term, the outlook is tremendously bullish if you
buy stocks blindly to keep for a century."
"The other boys at Yale came from wealthy
families, and none of them were investing outside the United
States, and I
thought, 'That is very egotistical. Why be so shortsighted or
near-sighted as to focus only on America? Shouldn't you be more
"See the investment world as an ocean
and buy where you get the most value for your money. Right
now the value is in
non-callable bonds. Most bonds are callable so when they start
going up in price, the debtor calls them away from you. But the
non-callable bonds, especially those non-callable for 25-30 years,
can go way up in price if interest rates go way down."
"If you buy all the stocks selling at
or below two times earnings, you will lose money on half of
them because instead
of making profits they will actually lose money, but you will
only lose a dollar or so a share at most. Then others will be
mediocre performers. But the remaining big winners will go up
and produce fabulous results and also ensure a good overall result."
"How about no income tax at all on people
over 65? People would continue working, remain healthier, not
be an economic
and social drain on society. Then the elderly would also have
more disposable income to help charitable activities."
"In my 45-year career as an investment
counselor, humility did show me the need for worldwide diversification
risk. That career did help me to become more and more humble
because statistics showed that when I advised a client to buy
one stock to replace another, about one-third of the time the
client would have done better to ignore my advice. In other endeavors,
humility about how little I know has encouraged me to listen
more carefully and more wisely."
"If governments encourage people to
become more spiritual there will be a reduction in healthcare costs."
"High ethics and religious
principles form the basis for success and happiness in every
area of life."
"Diversify your investments."
"Bull-markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria."