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 ago."
"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 back then."
"...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 divinity."
"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 ever been."
"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 to fail."
"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 open-minded?'"
"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 to reduce 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."