Red Rocks, Pink Cliffs, and Endless Vistas in the Bryce canyon national park

Awe is a feeling, some would call it spiritual, of reverence, deep respect, with an undercurrent of fear or wonder. We usually describe a feeling of awe when we sense that what we find awesome is greater and more powerful than ourselves.  Find here some reflections on awe.

We teach children how to measure and how to weigh. We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe.

— Harold S. Kushner

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.

— Immanuel Kant

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge.

— Carl Sagan

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt is awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

— Albert Einstein

I felt deep within me that the highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!

— Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

What is sacred is what is worthy of our reverence, what evokes awe and wonder in the human heart, and what, when contemplated, transforms us utterly.

— Phil Cousineau

If a man will comprehend the richness and variety of the universe, and inspire his mind with a due measure of wonder and awe, he must contemplate the human intellect not only on its heights of genius but in its abysses of ineptitude….

— A. E. Housman

Knowledge and wonder are the dyad of our worthy lives as intellectual beings. Voyager did wonders for our knowledge, but performed just as mightily in the service of wonder – and the two elements are complementary, not independent or opposed. The thought fills me with awe – a mechanical contraption that could fit in the back of a pickup truck, traveling through space for twelve years, dodging around four giant bodies and their associated moons, and finally sending exquisite photos across more than four light-hours of space from the farthest planet in our solar system.

— Stephen Jay Gould

Modern technology has lost its magic. No longer do people stand in awe, thrilled by the onward rush of science, the promise of a new day. Instead, the new is suspect. It arouses our hostility as much as it used to excite our fancy. With each breakthrough there are recurrent fears and suspicion. How will the advance further pollute our lives; modern technology is not merely what it first appears to be. Behind the white coats, the disarming jargon, the elaborate instrumentation, and at the core of what has often seemed an automatic process, one finds what Dorothy found in Oz: modern technology is human after all.

— David F. Noble

No sight is more provocative of awe than is the night sky.

— Llewelyn Powys

Nothing inspires more reverence and awe in me than an old man who knows how to change his mind.

— Santiago Ramón y Cajal

There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower.

— Richard P. Feynman

[When I was a child] I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and I was a street kid. … [T]here was one aspect of that environment that, for some reason, struck me as different, and that was the stars. … I could tell they were lights in the sky, but that wasn’t an explanation. I mean, what were they? Little electric bulbs on long black wires, so you couldn’t see what they were held up by? What were they? … My mother said to me, “Look, we’ve just got you a library card … get out a book and find the answer.” … It was in there. It was stunning. The answer was that the Sun was a star, except very far away. … The dazzling idea of a universe vast beyond imagining swept over me. … I sensed awe.

— Carl Sagan

We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world…. We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.

— Wendell Berry

Every day is an opportunity to stand in awe when witnessing the overpowering presence of nature, an apt time to pay reverence for the inestimable beauty of life. I must remain mindful to live in an ethical manner by paying attention to the threat of injustice towards other people and resist capitulating to the absurdity of being a finite body born into infinite space and time. I am part of the world, a spar in a sacred composition, a body of energy suspended in the cosmos. I seek to create a poetic personal testament to life.

— Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.

— Lise Meitner

Most days I live awed by the world we have still, rather than mourning the worlds we have lost…. So much beauty I often laugh, and my day is made. Still if you wanted to, I think, you could feel sadness without end.

— Paul Bogard

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

— John Milton

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.

— Carl Sagan

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

— Albert Einstein

We need to build millions of little moments of caring on an individual level. Indeed, as talk of a politics of meaning becomes more widespread, many people will feel it easier to publicly acknowledge their own spiritual and ethical aspirations and will allow themselves to give more space to their highest vision in their personal interactions with others. A politics of meaning is as much about these millions of small acts as it is about any larger change. The two necessarily go hand in hand.

— Michael Lerner

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

— Henry Miller

Every aspect of Nature reveals a deep mystery and touches our sense of wonder and awe. Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries.

— Carl Sagan

Morality is not a matter of convenience; it is not for superficial appearances. Morality is not determined by a committee nor does morality simply give us pleasure. Moral laws emerge from infinite depths and heights. There is a personal voice that speaks to us about the ultimate reality of things. Morality is the expression of our highest nature. When we work for morality, we add to the moral good in our social universe. Reverence and awe in the presence of the moral law is the beginning of true religion.

— Felix Adler
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