Becoming a brilliant Star Selected Quotations from Cultural/Historical Sources and Religious Scripture

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Becoming A Brilliant Star

Selected Quotations from

Cultural/Historical Sources and Religious Scripture
Compiled by

William G. Huitt

Valdosta, GA

Last Revised: May 2006

It is important to acknowledge that parents, schools, religious organizations, and other groups in the community have significant impact on child and youth development (Huitt, 1999). One way that these social institutions can begin to build a consciousness about what it means to Become A Brilliant Star is through a "Thought for the Day" activity. [See Huitt (2006) for an overview of this concept.]

The following quotations provide some guidance on how to define the attributes, values, and virtues represented by the 10 domains and the 2 core elements that comprise the Brilliant Star. An equal number have been selected from cultural and historical resources and from scriptures of major world religions. The following table shows how many quotations have been selected from each source for each domain. Eighteen selections are available for each of the following religions: American Indigenous Religions, Bahá’í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, and Sikhism. Nine each have been selected from Confuscianism and Taoism. Three selections have been made from Zoroastrianism.

The quotations are arranged in separate columns for easy identification. Cultural/historical sources are listed in the left-hand column while religious scripture sources on listed in the right-hand column.





























































Select one quotation each day on which to reflect. When implemented by a school, the principal (or perhaps the teacher or students) would select the quote. Each quote will be considered or discussed for about 5 minutes with respect to four questions:

  1. What does the quote mean? What is the central concept or principle?

  2. Why is this concept or principle important? Why should we try to put this into practice? What would happen if we did? What would happen if we did not? What would happen if we put an opposite concept or principle into practice?

  3. How can this concept or principle be applied in my life today? What can I do today to put this in practice? How can I assert this in an affirmation statement?

  4. At the end of the day, what are some indicators that I could use to know that I have been successful or unsuccessful? How can I measure my implementation? How can I hold myself accountable for my behavior?

A worksheet is provided at the end of the quotations that can be used to help guide the reflection or discussion.

The purpose of this activity is twofold:

  1. to demonstrate that our cultural/historical and religious backgrounds provide us with generic knowledge about how to think and behave in our modern world (see Huitt, 2000 for a discussion of some of the desired outcomes for youth in the 21st century);

  2. to practice learning to apply these in specific situations in our daily lives.

A common comment from those who have reviewed the material is how much overlap there is among the cultural/historical sources and the various religions.

The following guidelines for the selection of a daily reading will assist in meeting the broad objectives of the exercise. These are especially critical when used in a public setting.

  1. A quote can be used only once during the school or calendar year. Mark the quote in some way when it is used.

  2. We want to emphasize all areas of human development represented by the Brilliant Star. This can be done in at least two ways. Select a quote from a different dimension or domain (e.g., cognitive, family) on any two consecutive days. Alternatively, a quote could be selected from the same dimension for an entire week, but then all dimensions would be considered (if possible) before that dimension is considered again.

  3. Quotes should be selected alternatively from the two primary sources (i.e., cultural/historical or religious scripture). Equal selection should be made from these two sources (i.e., 3 or 4 cultural/historical sources and 2 or 3 scriptural sources one week; 2 or 3 cultural/historical and 3 or 4 scriptural sources the next week.)

  4. A quote should not be selected from the same religious tradition more than once in a given week. A main objective is to consider a wide variety of what it means to develop each of these domains or core elements.

By selecting an equal number of quotes from cultural/historical and religious scripture and by having selections from all the major world religions, the process is within constitutional guidelines of neutrality with respect to advocating secular and religious worldviews in a public setting.

Schools implementing this activity are encouraged to contact families for their support. For families who want to provide additional opportunities to learn from this process, separate sets of quotations are available. One set is specifically devoted to only cultural/historical resources for parents who desire a completely secular orientation. Additional sets are under development for the Bahá’í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism/Confucianism for parents who want to utilize materials from a specific religious tradition. Families using these materials are encouraged to spend five minutes each morning reading a selected quotation and answering the four questions described above.

Schools are also encouraged to contact religious organizations in order to coordinate themes taught in weekly children’s and youth study classes with themes taught in the home and school. Community organizations and businesses can be asked to support the efforts of these institutions by giving recognition to students who are in the process of “Becoming Brilliant Stars” (e.g., memorizing quotations, getting good grades, demonstrating excellence in sports or in the arts, participating in service projects, etc.)

If you implement this activity either in the home or at school, please send me an e-mail and let me know of your experiences. I have used this activity with middle and high school students, as well as adults, and most have found it a rewarding way to start the day.


Huitt, W. (1999). Implementing effective school achievement reform: Four principles. Paper presented at the School Counseling Summit, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA, April 20. Available online at

Huitt, W. (2000). Desired student outcomes. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Available online at

Huitt, W. (2006, April 26). Becoming a Brilliant Star: A framework for discussing formative holistic education. Paper presented at the International Networking for Educational Transformation (iNet) Conference, Augusta, GA. Retrieved May, 2006, from


I change myself, I change the world.

Gloria Anzaldúa (Author)

The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top.

Joyce Brothers (Author and Scientist)

When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us.

Cesar Chavéz (Activist)

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

Chinese Proverb

You are not judged by the height you have risen, but from the depth you have climbed.

Frederick Douglas (Activist and Author)

Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.

Albert Einstein (Scientist)

Positive expectations combined with well-focused enthusiastic effort will yield success and positive growth.

Tim Foley (Athlete and Businessman)

Almost everything we do is insignificant, but it’s very important that we do it.

Mohandas Gandhi (Activist)

Experience is not what happens to you. Experience is what you do with what happens to you.

Aldous Huxley (Scientist)

You can't win unless you know how to lose.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Athlete)

The challenge is to keep moving and learning, never to settle for any of the same until you’re rotting in your own comfort.

Raúl Julia (Entertainer)

Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye and deny it.

Garrison Keillor (Entertainer)

A man would do nothing, if he waited until he could do it so well that no one at all would find fault with what he has done.

Cardinal Newman (Religious Leader)

That which does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

Friedrich Nietsche (Philosopher)

The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.

Richard Nixon (U. S. President)

What distinguishes the human being from an ape is the power of ideation, the ability to be conscious of our consciousness, a free will and a spiritual dimension.

Nathan Rutsein (Journalist and Educator)

A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

George Bernard Shaw (Playwright)

You never know a line is crooked unless you have a straight one to put next to it.

Socrates (Philosopher)

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

United Nations: Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

U.S. Constitution, Article I

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

U.S. Declaration of Independence

Do a common thing in an uncommon way.

Booker T. Washington (Educator)

In the Navajo religion and culture, there is an emphasis on how you relate to everything around you. Everything has to be measured, weighed, and harmonious. We call it nizhoni—walking in beauty.

American Indigenous Religions, Lori Cupp (Navajo)

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

American Indigenous Religions, Chief Seattle (Suquamish)

Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday.

Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh: TB, 138

Conquering oneself is better than conquering other people.

Buddhism, Dhammapada 104

For self is the master of self; self is the refuge of self. Therefore tame yourself, like a merchant tames a noble horse.

Buddhism, Dhammapada 380

…be sure that everything is done properly and in order.

Christianity, Corinthians I 14: 40 NLT

Tseng Tzu said: “Each day I examine myself in three ways: in doing things for others, have I been disloyal? In my interactions with friends, have I been untrustworthy? Have not practiced what I have preached?”

Confucianism, Analects 1: 4

[A] person consists of desires. And as is his desire, so is his will; and as is his will, so is his deed; and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.

Hinduism, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4: 5

Difficult to conquer is oneself; but when that is conquered, everything is conquered.

Jainism, Uttaradhyayana Sutra 9.36

Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.

Taoism, Tao Te Ching 67


A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

James Allen (Philosopher)

Of all the properties that belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.

Henry Clay (Politician)

People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (Author)

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (Author)

If you tell the truth and live with the truth, you have the right to be believed every time.

José León Flores (Diplomat)

Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself.

Hopi Proverb

Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.

Thomas Jefferson (U. S. President)

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.

Helen Keller (Author and Motivational Speaker)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Activist and Religious Leader)

The reason people blame things on the previous generations is that there’s only one other choice.

Doug Larson (Entertainer and Religious Leader)

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.

Nelson Mandela (Activist and South African Prime Minister)

Kindness is to use one’s will to guard one’s speech and conduct so as not to injure anyone.

Omaha Oral Tradition

We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.

Ronald Reagan (U. S. President)

It is not fair to ask others what you are not willing to do yourself.

Eleanor Roosevelt (Activist and Motivational Speaker)

Dreams are the touchstones of our character.

Henry David Thoreau (Author and Philosopher)

Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

John Wooden (Athlete and Coach)

Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations.

American Indigenous Religions, Black Elk (Oglala Sioux)

[O]ur traditional values are based on order,…decency, …wisdom, … and health... These endow us with the knowledge that our life is our religion; this land is our church; and the universe is our relative.

American Indigenous Religions, Elizabeth A. Wells (Mescalero Apache)

The most vital duty, in this day, is to purify your characters, to correct your manners, and improve your conduct.

Bahá’í Faith, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: SWAB, 10

The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice...

Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh: HW, Arabic #2

Bad actions and actions harmful to ourselves are easy to do; what is beneficial and good, that is very difficult to do.

Buddhism, Dhammapada 117

By oneself is wrong done; by oneself one suffers; by oneself is wrong left undone; by oneself is one purified. Purity and impurity come from oneself; no one can purify another.

Buddhism, Dhammapada 119

As a smith removes the impurities from silver, so let the wise remove the impurities from oneself one by one, little by little, again and again.

Buddhism, Dhammapada 239

The gift of truth surpasses all gifts; the sweetness of the truth surpasses all sweetness; joy in the truth surpasses all pleasures; the destruction of craving overcomes all sorrows.

Buddhism, Dhammapada 259

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Christianity, Timothy I 4: 12 NKJV

Confucius said: “The Superior Man cares about virtue; the inferior man cares about material things. The Superior Man seeks discipline; the inferior man seeks favors.”

Confucianism, Analects 4: 11

Single is each being born; single it dies; single it enjoys the reward of its virtue; single it suffers the punishment of its sin.

Hinduism, Laws of Manu 4: 240

Truth is said to be the one unequalled means of purification of the soul. Truth is the ladder by which man ascends to heaven, as a ferry plies from one bank of a river to another.

Hinduism, Narada Dharma

Sutra 1: 210
On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged.

Islam, Qur’án 23: 62

Conform yourselves to the character of God.

Islam, Hadith of Abu Nuaym

Subdue pride by modesty, overcome hypocrisy by simplicity, and dissolve greed by contentment.

Jainism, Samanasuttam 136

He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy.

Judaism, Mishlei (Proverbs) 28: 13 JPS

One should be known as true who in his heart bears truth—

His impurity of falsehood cast off, his person should be washed clean.

Sikhism, Adi Granth, Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 468
Realization of Truth is higher than all else;

Higher still is truthful living.

Sikhism, Adi Granth, Sri Ashtpadi, M.1, p. 62


People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.

H. Jackson Browne (Entertainer)

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (Author)

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

Thomas Jefferson (U. S. President)

Two hundred cattle are under one stick, but two hundred human beings are under two hundred sticks.

Nupe Proverb (Nigeria)

We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.

Stevie Wonder (Entertainer)

…everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.

American Indigenous Religions, Mourning Dove [Christine Quintasket] (Salish)

Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God.

Bahá’í Faith, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: PUP, 293

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.

Christianity, Romans 12: 6 ASB

God, glory be to Him, has not created you without a purpose and has not left you without duties, obligations, and responsibilities.

Islam, Nahjul Balagha Sermon 67

Spiritual Development

After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.

Italian Proverb

A wide chasm separates knowing what is the right thing and actually doing the right thing. Spiritual intelligence bridges that chasm.

Khalil Khavari (Scientist)

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.

Mother Teresa (Activist)

The Great Spirit is in all things, is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground, She returns to us....

American Indigenous Religions, Big Thunder [Bedagi] (Wabanaki Algonquin)

There is no death. Only a change of worlds.

American Indigenous Religions, Chief Seattle (Suquamish)

The greatest power in the realm and range of human existence is spirit—the divine breath which animates and pervades all things.

Bahá’í Faith, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: PUP, 58

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

Christianity, Galatians 5: 22-23 NLT

“Oh, how calm would be the work of one who really understood the divinity of man! For such, there is nothing to do, save to open men's eyes. All the rest does itself.”

Hinduism, Swami Vivekananda, Sayings and Utterances

Neither illusion nor the mind, only bodies attained death

Hope and delusion did not die, so Kabir said.

Hinduism, Kabir, Doha 10

Heaven and earth contain Me not, but the heart of My faithful servant contains Me.

Islam, Hadith of Suhrawardi
Beware that this world is not made for you to live forever, you will have to change it for the hereafter.

Islam, Nahjul Balagha Sermon 67

Religion is basically virtue, which is grounded ultimately in the spiritual nature of man.

Jainism, Kundakunda, Pravacanasara 7

Lord! You are the uninvoked savior, motiveless compassionate being, a well-wisher even when unprayed, a friend even when unrelated.

Jainism, Vitaragastava 13.1

Beloved is man, for he was created in the image of God. But it was by a special love that it was made known to him that he was created in the image of God.

Judaism, Mishnah, Abot 3: 18

Man wails over the loss of what he calls his:

Know, the Self is not perishable.

Sikhism, Adi Granth, Gauri, M.5, p. 188
If a man sings of God and hears of Him,

And lets love of God sprout within him,

All his sorrows shall vanish,

And in his mind,

God will bestow abiding peace.

Sikhism, Adi Granth, Japuji 5, M.1, p. 2

The world is a garden,

The Lord its gardener,

Cherishing all, none is neglected.

Sikhism, Adi Granth, Majh Astpadi M.3

Liberation comes from living the holy Word.

Sikhism, Adi Granth, Sri Raga, Ashtpadi 14.8, M.1, p. 62

To know the eternal is called enlightenment.

Not to know the eternal is to act blindly to result in disaster.

Taoism, Tao Te Ching 16
This is true religion; to cleanse oneself with pure thoughts, pure words, and pure deeds.

Zoroastrianism, Zend Avesta

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