Life quotes, and what they mean to me...
"They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them." Mahatma Gandhi
I really like this quote because it reminds me of one of the most basic truths of life: Everything begins, ends, and emanates outward from the self. When we truly love and respect ourselves, that transfers to how we see -- and treat -- other people. (The need to look down upon or criticize others often comes from a need to elevate one's self...a compulsion born of insecurity. And the need to unduly elevate other people -- often at the expense of one's self -- usually comes from the same place...a feeling of inferiority.) Yet true kindness and true appreciation come from self-respect, from knowing we are neither above nor below any other being. After all, in order to "love thy neighbor as thyself" one must first love thyself!
And once we obtain that oh-so-simple-yet-profound foundation of self-love -- self respect -- we now have something that is not easily taken away. We can succeed or fail; encounter others of greater or lesser ability; navigate through a world where some will love us, some will hate us, and some will fail to see us altogether--yet, we will continue to exist exactly as we are, unchanged by the fickle opinions of the masses: Their praise does not make us any greater. Their condemnation does not render us any lesser. Rather, we choose who and what we are in every moment, and we remain so independent of what others choose to be, do, or say. Like our lives, our choices are our own.
To that end, I've always contended that there is a reason we are born alone -- and die alone -- and such a profoundly personal -- and eternal -- connection to Spirit remains indelibly OURS, alone, to foster, nurture, and discover as we go through this journey of life. No one can give us that sense of SELF; it has to come from within. It is not based on how we look or what we have or what we've achieved relative to others, but on who we are, what we do, and all we strive to become, relative to ourselves.
And once we really get that...once we really respect that...then we indeed possess the one thing this life can never take away -- the one thing from which everything else will evolve.