Notes on Cynicism and Faith

Selection of aphorisms from Yahia Lababidi’s forthcoming book, Where Epics Fail: Aphorisms on Art, Morality and Spirit – Unbound UK / Penguin Random House, 2018

The danger of cynicism is getting what you believe in: nothing.

In the same way that people are sensitive to condescension, fate is repelled by cynicism.

Cynicism’s knowingness cheats itself out of true knowing.

Cynicism: a knowingness that does not know it lacks spiritual stamina – in other words, a shortage of breath and vision.

Cynics are in need of constant reassurance; first, that their worst doubts about humanity are true and then, of course, that they are not.

Cynicism loves Misery’s company.

Cynics never win, because they insist on defeat.

The only failures are misanthropes.

The problem with being full of yourself is that you cannot fill up with much else.

Why announce your few good deeds to the world, when you hide your many bad ones – even from yourself?

There is such a thing as spiritual deformity, a kink in the soul that keeps us from loving straight.

Selfish love fosters dependence – hobbling the beloved, then offering a crutch.

At the heart of every vice sits selfishness, yawning.

Cruelty:  obscene pain turned outwards.

Since they make no allowances for happy surprises, cynics are forever being surprised.

Pity atheists their pitilessness. They are like persons hurt in love, who vow: never again.

Atheism, as a season of the spirit, is equivalent to winter.  Naturally, it should be followed by spring – where wonder stirs, anew.

Questioning everything is good practice for, eventually, accepting everything.

Poor rational mind, it would sooner accept a believable lie than an incredible truth.

In the spiritual dimension, versus the merely literary, one cannot produce a masterpiece, before they become one.

Where there are demons, there is something precious worth fighting for.

Our salvation lies on the other side of our gravest danger.

Conscience: the skewer and the spitfire.

Every time we betray our conscience, we strangle an angel.  Yet, it’s not certain we are allotted an infinite supply of winged pardons.

Shield the angel, as you would the child, from seeing what is unbecoming.

Unheeded pricks of conscience might return as harpoons of circumstance.

Inhibitions might be the handmaidens of conscience.

To remain in fine, flying form, our wings require careful, constant grooming.

Wings are needed not only to fly, but also to keep our balance.

As in the physical realm, so in the spiritual – it takes one moment of inattention to slip and fall.

Spiritual initiation is knowledge received intravenously.

It’s all very well being a spiritual tourist – keeping in mind, you cannot know a place until you live there.

Spiritual tourists:  the playboys of religions.

Paths are also relationships – to be meaningful, they require fidelity.

If we pay attention, we are ushered along our path in winks and nudges.

To acquire a third eye, one cannot blink.

The guardian of the riddle must speak in riddles.

If we ask life for favors, we must be prepared to return them.

We can lend ideas our breath, but Ideals require our entire lives.

All who are tormented by an Ideal, must learn to make an ally of failure.

One definition of success might be: refining our appetites, while deepening our hunger.

Trust in Longing to sing itself.

The path to Peace is littered with dead selves.

As we make peace with ourselves, we become more tolerant of our faults–in others.

Every day we cast the net, and only what is ours returns to us.

In the deep end, every stroke counts.

The book is now available for pre-order at

Yahia Lababidi is an Egyptian-American author of six books of poetry and prose. Labadi’s forthcoming book, Where Epics Fail: Aphorisms on Art, Morality and Spirit, is being published by Unbound (UK) in partnership with Penguin Random House.