Heraclitus: Quotes of Wisdom
5 min read

Heraclitus: Quotes of Wisdom

Heraclitus: Quotes of Wisdom

Wisdom is a precious thing that brings a lot of beauty into life. By definition, it is the quality of having knowledge, experience, and good judgement.

Life becomes easier when you have wisdom. You know what to do and when to do it. You know how to excel in your career, maintain loving relationships, and thrive in life. You can make the right decisions when it matters most.

Wisdom also makes life a lot more fun. You know what's good for you, what you enjoy, how to naturally overcome challenges, and overall how to be happy no matter the circumstances.

So we know that wisdom is valuable. The question then becomes: how can we become wiser? One great method is by learning from wise people. Today, it's Heraclitus.

Who was Heraclitus?

Heraclitus was a Greek, pre-Socratic philosopher (pre-dating Socrates, the father of Western Philosophy) who lived around 500 BC. His work had a strong influence on many prominent philosophers that followed, including Plato, the Stoics, and Carl Jung.  

Heraclitus's philosophy centred around the idea that all of life is change and that one should live with it rather than against it. People fear change because it is unknown; there is always a possibility of loss, pain, or abandonment in the future. Heraclitus recognized this and thus encourages us to embrace change as a fundamental part of life. We must learn to live with change, even celebrate it, with total appreciation and enjoyment for what one has and what is yet to come, and without fear of what might be lost. In other words: give life your absolute all.

There is evidence that Heraclitus wrote a number of important works, but only bits and pieces have survived which today are collected in a book called Fragments. The book contains many quotations by Heraclitus that capture the essence of embracing change and giving life your absolute all. Here are the best quotes from it along with interpretations for our modern times.

Quotes of Wisdom

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man."

Life is ever-changing. You, the people around you, and the world itself are always in motion.

Best to accept it by fully enjoying the present moment. Do your best in all your endeavours and make the most out of life. Adapt when you need to, keep your head up, move forward, and have fun. Embracing the change is what life is all about.

"How can you hide from what never goes away?"

Learn to live with and love the one thing that you can never run away from: yourself.

"It is hard to contend against one's heart's desire; for whatever it wishes to have it buys at the cost of soul."

The heart wants what it wants. Following it may bring great happiness; going against it surely brings great sorrow.

Live a life that you love.

"No one that encounters prosperity does not also encounter danger."

No great success can happen without great risk. It's just a part of the game.

"Uncelebrated life is like a long innless road."

Take the time to celebrate your wins and soak in the happy moments. They're what makes life joyful and worth living.

"Because it is so unbelievable, the truth often escapes being known."

Just because something seems odd or different doesn't mean that it isn't true.

If you want wisdom then keep an objective view. Always seek the truth no matter what things look like on the surface.

"Those who love wisdom must investigate many things."

If you want to become as wise as possible, studying a single discipline is not enough. You must study the many different subjects of the world: philosophy, sociology, history, science, mathematics, finance, business, and everything else in-between. Each of these subjects will give you a different kind of knowledge and build you a deeper, more robust understanding of the world.

"Justice will overtake fabricators of lies and false witnesses."

Don't worry about the liars and the cheats because justice will take care of them. What goes around comes around.

"Man’s character is his fate."

The success and happiness you create in your life are based on more than just your surface-level actions and luck. They are the result of your character because your character is the one thing you carry with you at all times.

"The soul is dyed the colour of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day."

Your actions are a manifestation of your thoughts.

Be sure to keep your thinking and mindset clean, on positive things that will bring your life fruit.

"Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy."

Negative emotions like envy run deep within us. You must learn to resist such feelings because they never bring you any happiness. Better to ignore and live your own life to make your own sources of happiness.

"The eyes are more exact witnesses than the ears."

Actions speak louder than words. See it to believe it.

"Much learning does not teach understanding."

You should be deliberate about your learning to fully absorb the knowledge into permanent and practical wisdom.

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play."

Children live life far more naturally than adults. They act based on intuition and interest, in the present moment, and with no fear. That's how life should feel when done right.

"What is not yet known those blinded by bad faith can never learn."

Be aware of your own biases and strong beliefs. Check yourself to make sure they aren't blocking you from discovering the true wisdom and realities of the world.

"Under the comb the tangle and the straight path are the same."

You can succeed on any path if you have the right mindset. That mindset is to believe any challenge you face can be overcome and any mistakes you make can be corrected. Just like a good comb does.

“Dogs, by this same logic, bark at what they cannot understand.”

Don't be too concerned with what others think of your unique personality or ideas. All animals including humans are apprehensive towards that which they do not understand.

"Give me one man from among ten thousand if he is the best.”

Whether it's in friendship, business, or love, one great friend, partner, or significant other is better than 10,000 shallower relationships.

"Always having what we want may not be the best good fortune. Health seems sweetest after sickness, food in hunger, goodness in the wake of evil, and at the end of daylong labor sleep.”

Do not fear the scary, challenging, or bitter things in life. They are a necessity, for without them we wouldn't have any sense of joy, achievement, or sweetness.

Extras

For more on philosophy: 4 Practical Ways to Apply Philosophy in Life

For more on Heraclitus: Life is Flux - World History Encyclopedia