The Power of Quotes

A Gift of Appreciation for Rinpoche

By Barry Schieber

A few years ago I sent the following quote from Rinpoche to my friend J., a legendary professor of finance at Stanford University.

“It has more to do with pursuing our highest ideals and values. For instance, it might have to do with helping others – our family, our friends, our community – or making a contribution to humanity. It might have to do with advancing knowledge or creating beauty. Your values may be very different from someone else’s, and that is fine. But the question to ask is whether you are letting time go by in activities that have nothing to do with our own sense of what’s important. That’s what I mean by getting a good return on investment.”

To my surprise he posted it on his refrigerator. I found this out when I visited J. in January in the hospital.

In the waiting room his son told me he saw the quote on the refrigerator and copied it and put it on his as well. They loved the quote. That evening when he visited his father he read him the quote. J. signaled his understanding by raising his thumb to the air; the sure sign that all was well.

Perhaps it was my great respect for J. that made me wonder how inspirational Rinpoche’s quotes can be. How they can make such a powerful difference in our lives. We decided to make a book of selected quotes in celebration of his 50 years of teaching in America and present it to him on July 4, 2018. From the beginning the book was meant to be a secular book that would connect and inspire (breathe in). A book for all; your friend, neighbor, relative, your dental hygienist.

As the quotes rolled in and the selection and order began to unfold a transformation began. So many quotes, read over and over, seemingly gentle inquiries, reflections and poetry, became a considerable source of curiosity. Each morning or evening or both I would read. It became an addiction, I wanted more; not more quotes but more understanding. What was the meaning of words? What was this power that had seduced me?

Was it:
The depth of the questions?
The poetry, exercises, the charm?
The unmistakably uplifting nature of the book?

Composing the book began to feel like creating a musical piece with far more grander proportions than I understood. At the same time, the minimalist design format of the book/journal allows the space and openness for writing and reflection.

And then:
What is contained in these quotes that unleashed such a kaleidoscope of creativity and curiosity?
What jump started this awareness and appreciation?
What is it about questioning, about beauty that is so freeing and fun?

What is it about this book!?
See for yourself; it is a gift, available to all.


Visiting instructor Barry Schieber is a long-time student of Rinpoche, former Dean of Nyingma Institute, and has been a teacher of Kum Nye since it was first introduced at the Institute. He recently created Quotes, a journal that is meant to be given away.