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Quotations: Solitude & Alone

Book cover for "Planet Earth: Insane Asylum for the Universe"


Solitude, Alone, & Introspection


Quotations from Various Sources

Organized Alphabetically

“A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company.” —Charles Evans Hughes

“A man is born alone and dies alone; and he experiences the good and bad consequences of his karma alone; and he goes alone to hell or the Supreme abode.” —Chanakya

“A man should keep for himself a little back shop, all his own, quite unadulterated, in which he establishes his true freedom and chief place of seclusion and solitude.” —Montaigne (1533–1592)

“A solitude is the audience chamber of God.” —Walter Savage Landor

“A wise man never enjoys himself so much, nor a fool so little, as when alone.” —Josh Billings (1818–1885)

“All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” —Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)

“Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of someday meeting yourself again.” —Emile M. Cioran

“And for this you must have quiet and solitude. But society does not allow you to have them. You must be with people, outwardly active at all costs. If you are alone you are considered antisocial or peculiar, or you are afraid of your own loneliness.” —J. Krishnamurti, The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti, Volume III, p. 216

“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” —John 8:29

“And Wisdom’s self/ Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude/ Where with her best nurse Contemplation/ She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings.” —John Milton (1608–1674)

“And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” —John 8:16

“As for solitude, I cannot understand how certain people seek to lay claim to intellectual stature, nobility of soul and strength of character, yet have not the slightest feeling for seclusion; for solitude, I maintain, when joined with a quiet contemplation of nature, a serene and conscious faith in creation and the Creator, and a few vexations from outside is the only school for a mind of lofty endowment.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

“Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.” —Nikola Tesla

“Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” —John 16:32

“Better be alone than in bad company.” —John Clark, 1596-1658

“But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” —I Corinthians 7:32-33

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” —Matthew 6:6

“By all means use sometimes to be alone.” —George Herbert

“Contagion is very dangerous in crowds. You must either imitate the vicious or hate them.” —Michel de Montaigne

“Deep down, Erikson wants profoundly to be respected and admired–and very deep down he wants to be left alone.” —Stanley Hoffmann

“Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new, sweet earth, and the Great Silence alone!” —Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa)

“Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.” —Martin Luther

“Flight of the alone to the Alone.” —Plotinus (205–270)

“For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

“Get away from the crowd when you can. Keep yourself to yourself, if only for a few hours daily.” —Arthur Brisbane

“Give up the dark side and be in the light. Seek happiness in solitude and not in material pleasures.” —Dhammapada: The Wise Person, verse 87

“God created man and, finding him not sufficiently alone, gave him a companion to make him feel his solitude more keenly.” —Paul Valéry (1871–1945)

“Great decisions in the realm of thought and momentous discoveries and solutions of problems are only possible to an individual working in solitude.” —Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)

“He who delights in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” —Friedrich Nietzsche (1813–1855)

“‘He who seeks may easily get lost himself. It is a crime to go apart and be alone.’–Thus speaks the herd.” —Friedrich Nietzsche (1813–1855)

“How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude!” —Jean De La Bruyère (1645–1696)

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time … I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will.” —Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

“I had three chairs in my house: one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.” —Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will.” —Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” —Audrey Hepburn

“I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.” —Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926)

“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.” —Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

“I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” —Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

“I love tranquil solitude.” —Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792–1822)

“I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone.” —Lord Byron (1788–1824)

“I restore myself when I’m alone.” —Marilyn Monroe

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not defined by another person.” —Oscar Wilde

“I was never less alone than when by myself.” —Edward Gibbon (1737–1794)

“I went to the woods because I wished to live life deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” —Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

“If an egg is broken from an outside force, life ends. If an egg is broken by an inside force, then life begins. Great things happen from the inside.” —Jim Kwik

“If we are to survive, we must have ideas, vision, courage. There things are rarely produced by communities. Everything that matters in our intellectual and moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind and conscience in a room by himself.” —Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1971–)

“If you are afraid of being lonely, don’t try to be right.” —Jules Renard

“If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.” —Jean-Paul Sartre

“If you are not enough company, then no amount of people can ever be enough company–after all–they are just more you.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“If you cannot find a good companion to walk with, walk alone, like an elephant roaming the jungle. It is better to be alone than to be with those who will hinder your progress.” —Dhammapada: The Elephant, verses 329–330

“If you don’t like being in your own company, what makes you think others will?” —Anonymous

“If you lie down with dogs, you may end up with fleas.” —Benjamin Franklin

“If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone.” —Maxwell Maltz

“In solitude, be a multitude to thyself.” —Tibullus (54?–18? B.C.)

“In the tumult of great events, solitude was what I hoped for. Now it is what I love. How is it possible to be contented with anything else when one has come face to face with history?” —Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970)

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” —Agnes Repplier

“It may be laid down as a position which seldom deceives, that when a man cannot bear his own company, there is something wrong.” —Samuel Johnson (1790–1884)

“Know yourself and you will win all battles.” —Sun Tzu

“Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” —Paul Tillich

“Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou will ever dig.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Men fear silence as they fear solitude, because both give them a glimpse of the terror of life’s nothingness.” —André Maurois

“Nature has made us a present of a broad capacity for entertaining ourselves apart, and often calls us to do so, to teach us that we owe ourselves in part to society, but in the best part to ourselves.” —Montaigne (1533–1592)

“Never less alone than when alone.” —Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)

“No one can help us to achieve the intimate isolation by which we find our secret worlds, so mysterious, rich and full. If others intervene, it is destroyed. This degree of thought, which we attain by freeing ourselves from the external world, must be fed by the inner spirit, and our surroundings cannot influence us in any way other than to leave us in peace.” —Maria Montessori (1870–1952)

“No one with a mind is ever bored or lonely.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Now the New Year reviving old Desires / The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires.” —Edward FitzGerald (1809–1883)

“Oh blessed a thousand times the peasant who is born, eats and dies without anybody bothering about his affairs.” —Giuseppe Verdi

“‘On the whole, the longing for solitude is a sign that there still is spirit in a person and is a measure of what spirit there is.” —Søren Kierkegaard (1844–1900)

“One man runs to his neighbor because he is looking for himself, and another because he wants to loose himself. Your bad love of yourselves makes solitude a prison for you.” —Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

“One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude.” —Carl Sandburg (1878–1967), American writer

“Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of man’s being alone. It has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” —Paul Tillich (1886–1965)

“Peace comes from within. Don’t seek it without.” —Buddha

“People who take time to be alone usually have depth, originality, and quiet reserve.” —John Miller

“Religion … shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude.” —William James (1842–1910)

“Seek not the good in external things; seek it in yourselves.” ―Epictetus

“She would not exchange her solitude for anything. Never again to be forced to move to the rhythms of others.” —Tillie Olsen (1913–2007)

“Silence is more musical than any song.” —Christina Rossetti

“Sit alone. Sleep alone. Travel alone. Do your practice alone. Enjoy your seclusion without desire.” —Dhammapada: Other Things, verse 305

“Solitude either develops the mental power, or renders men dull and vicious.” —Victor Hugo

“Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous–to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.” —Tomas Mann

“Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.” —James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

“Solitude is naught and society is naught. Alternate them and the good of each is seen.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

“Solitude is the place of purification.” —Martin Buber (1878–1965)

“Solitude lies at the lowest depth of the human condition. Man is the only being who feels himself to be alone and the only one who is searching for the Other.” —Octavio Paz (1941–1998)

“Solitude shows us what we should be; society shows us what we are.” —Richard Cecil

“Solitude sometimes is best society / And short retirement urges sweet return.” —John Milton (1608–1674)

“Solitude vivifies; isolation kills.” —Joseph Roux (1834–1886)

“Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

“Something of the hermit’s temper is an essential element in many forms of excellence, since it enables men to resist the lure of popularity, to pursue important work in spite of general indifference or hostility, and arrive at opinions which are opposed to prevalent errors.” —Bertrand Russell (1872–1970)

“Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” —Psalms 4:4

“Talent develops in quiet places.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

“That inward eye/ Which is the bliss of solitude.” —William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

“The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” —Thomas Alva Edison

“The departure from the world is regarded not as a fault, but as the first step into that noble path at the remotest turn of which illumination is to be won.” —Joseph Campbell (1904–1987)

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” —Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

“The mind is never right but when it is at peace with itself.” —Seneca

“The nurse of full-grown souls is solitude.” —James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

“The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone.” —Albert Camus

“The physical union of the sexes … only intensifies man’s sense of solitude.” —Nicolas Berdyaev

“The right to be let alone is the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued in civilized man.” —Justice Louis D. Brandeis

“The secret of solitude is that there is no solitude.” —Joseph Cook

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” —Ayn Rand

“The way leads neither east nor west, but in.” —Rumi

“The young should early be trained to bear being left alone; for it is a source of happiness and peace of mind.” —Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)

“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.” —Matthew 26:36

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward was hungry.” —Matthew 4:1-2

“There is no free society without silence, without the internal and external spaces of solitude in which the individual freedom can develop.” —Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979)

“There is not true intimacy between souls who do not know how to respect one another’s solitude.” —Thomas Merton (1915–1968)

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods/ There is rapture on the lonely shore/ There is society, where none intrudes, by the deep sea and music in its roar/ I love not man the less, but Nature more.” —Lord Byron

“They are never alone that are accompanied [by] noble thoughts.” —Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1584)

“This great misfortune—to be incapable of solitude.” —Jean De La Bruyère (1645–1696)

“Those who would not be alone are those who are not worthwhile company.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“‘Tis solitude should teach us how to die; It hath no flatterers; vanity can give, No hollow aid; alone–man with God must strive.” —Lord Byron (1788–1824)

“To be lonely when alone means that you need others to feel alive, real, worthwhile—you alone are not enough.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“To be single is neither a crime against nature nor the state.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“To fear to be alone is to fear the company of oneself.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“To go into society, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary while I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

“We’re all of us sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life!” —Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)

“What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it–like some secret vice!” —Ann Morrow Lindbergh (1907–2001)

“What do you think is better: to seek for a partner, or to seek for the Self?” —Buddhacarita

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

“When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.” —Psalms 63:6

“When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” —John 6:15

“Which is worth more, a crowd of thousands, or your own genuine solitude?” —Rumi

“Who knows the world lives alone.” —Ali (600?–661)

“Whosoever delighted in solitude is either a wild beast, or a god.” —Aristotle (384–322 B.C.)

“You alone are enough for you.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” —Wayne Dyer

“Your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” —Carl Jung


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