Without realizing what was happening, most of us gradually came to take for granted the premises underlying the philosophy of optimism. We proceeded to live these propositions, though we would not have stated them as blandly as I set them forth here: Man is inherently good. Individual man can carve out his own salvation with the help of education and society through progressively better government. Reality and values worth searching for lie in the material world that science is steadily teaching us to analyze, catalogue, and measure. While we do not deny the existence of inner values, we relegate them to second place. The purpose of life is happiness, [which] we define in terms of enjoyable activity, friends, and the accumulation of material objects. The pain and evil of life - such as ignorance, poverty, selfishness, hatred, greed, lust for power - are caused by factors in the external world; therefore, the cure lies in the reforming of human institutions and the bettering of environmental conditions. As science and technology remove poverty and lift from us the burden of physical existence, we shall automatically become finer persons, seeing for ourselves the value of living the Golden Rule. In time, the rest of the world will appreciate the demonstration that the American way of life is best. They will then seek for themselves the good life of freedom and prosperity. This will be the greatest impetus toward an end of global conflict. The way to get along with people is to beware of religious dictums and dogma. The ideal is to be a nice person and to live by the Creed of Tolerance. Thus we offend few people. We live and let live. This is the American Way.
He who knows me as his own divine Self breaks through the belief that he is the body and is not reborn as a separate creature. Such a one is united with me. Delivered from selfish attachment, fear, and anger, filled with me, surrendering themselves to me, purified in the fire of my being, many have reached the state of unity in me.
They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego-cage of "I", "me", and "mine" to be united with the Lord. This is the supreme state. Attain to this, and pass from death to immortality.
A woman asking "Am I good? Am I satisfied?" is extremely selfish. The less women fuss about themselves, the less they talk to other women, the more they try to please their husbands, the happier the marriage is going to be.
Why is it immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so? Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away? And if it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it? If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it?
Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud - that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness become the enemies you have to dread and flee - that you do not care to live as a dependent, least of all a dependent on the stupidity of others, or as a fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling - that honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others.
All your life, you have heard yourself denounced; not for your faults, but for your greatest virtues. You have been hated, not for your mistakes, but for your achievements. You have been scorned for all those qualities of character which are your highest pride. You have been called selfish for the courage of acting on your own judgment and bearing sole responsibility for your own life. You have been called arrogant for your independent mind. You have been called cruel for your unyielding integrity. You have been called anti-social for the vision that made you venture upon undiscovered roads. You have been called ruthless for the strength and self-discipline of your drive to your purpose. You have been called greedy for the magnificence of your power to create wealth. You, who've expended an inconceivable flow of energy, have been called a parasite. You, who've created abundance where there had been nothing but wastelands and helpless, starving men before you, have been called a robber. You, who've kept them all alive, have been called an exploiter. You, the purest and most moral man among them, have been sneered at as a 'vulgar materialist.' Have you stopped to ask them: by what right? - by what code? - by what standard?