I wanted to compile a list of inspiring quotes by the spiritual giant – Leonardo Da Vinci - for a very long time. He’s such an obvious and unequivocal choice. So the time has come now to dive into the leaves filled with illuminating thoughts from the spiritual diaries of the prototypical Renaissance man & not so prototypical vegetarian.
Leonardo’s obsession with the idea of human flight is fascinating in terms of his mechanical designs & scientific inventions. But in my dreamy, inspired moments I wonder whether human wings should not be more appropriately fashioned from soul & spirit instead of solid canvass & steel skeleton. Maybe the solution to human flight should not be sought in science & engineering, but counter-intuitively in the creative domains of art & spirit.
But anyway, coming back from my momentary reverie I would like to share some of my favourite quotes by the great polymath & humanistic educator. So, enjoy!
The painter's mind is a copy of the divine mind, since it operates freely in creating the many kinds of animals, plants, fruits, landscapes, countrysides, ruins, and awe-inspiring places.
The five senses are the ministers of the soul.
Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.
You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself. . . . the height of a man's success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. . . . And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.
Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rater than seen.
The average human ‘looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking’.
The faculty of imagination is both the rudder and the bridle of the senses.
Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return.
The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.
Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.
Intellectual passion drives out sensuality.
He turns not back who is bound to a star.
Experience does not err; only your judgment errs by expecting from her what is not in her power.
All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.
Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.
I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.
It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.
The truth of things is the chief nutriment of superior intellects.
Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.
The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.
The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.
If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself. If you are accompanied by even one companion you belong only half to yourself or even less in proportion to the thoughtlessness of his conduct and if you have more than one companion you will fall more deeply into the same plight.
One has no right to love or hate anything if one has not acquired a thorough knowledge of its nature. Great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you know it but little you will be able to love it only a little or not at all.
All sciences are vain and full of errors that are not born of Experience, the mother of all Knowledge.
Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.
Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.
The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.
He who possesses most must be most afraid of loss.
Life without love, is no life at all.
Truth at last cannot be hidden. Dissimulation is of no avail. Dissimulation is to no purpose before so great a judge. Falsehood puts on a mask. Nothing is hidden under the sun.
The human bird shall take his first flight, filling the words with amazement, all writings with his fame,and bringing eternal glory to those whose nest whence he sprang.
The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.
Nothing is more apt to deceive us than our own judgement of our work. We derive more benefit from having our faults pointed out by our enemies than from hearing the opinions of friends.
Be eager to lend a patient ear to the opinions of others and think long and hard whether whoever finds fault has reason or not to censure you. And if the answer is yes, correct the fault. If no, give the impression that you have not heard him, or if he is a man whom you respect, explain to him why he is mistaken.
The great man presides over all his states of consciousness with obstinate rigor.
It should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which... you may find really marvellous ideas.
Look at light and admire its beauty. Close your eyes, and then look again: what you saw is no longer there; and what you will see later is not yet.
The smallest feline is a masterpiece. [So Leonardo loved kitties too! ;-)]
I wish to work miracles.
Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.
The painter or draftsman ought to be solitary, in order that the well-being of the body not sap the vigour of the mind.
A good painter is to paint two main things, namely, man and the workings of man's mind. The first is easy, the second difficult...
The mind of a painter should be like a mirror which is filled with as many images as there are things placed before him.
Feathers shall raise men even as they do birds, toward heaven; that is by letters written with their quills.
It is ordained that to the ambitious, who derive no satisfaction from the gifts of life and the beauty of the world, life shall be a cause of suffering, and they shall possess neither the profit nor the beauty of the world.
The soul can never be corrupted with the corruption of the body, but it is like the wind which causes the sound of the organ, and which ceases to produce a good effect when a pipe is spoilt.
Experience is a truer guide than the words of others.
The imagination is to the effect as the shadow to the opaque body which causes the shadow.