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Ben Okri quotes (showing 1-30 of 64)

“Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.”
Ben Okri
“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”
Ben Okri
“This is what you must be like. Grow wherever life puts you down.”
Ben Okri, The Famished Road
“The law is simple. Every experience is repeated or suffered till you experience it properly and fully the first time.”
Ben Okri, Astonishing the Gods
“Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.”
Ben Okri
“One human life is deeper than the ocean. Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mighty plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits. The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls. There are dolphins, plants that dream, magic birds inside us. The sky is inside us. The earth is in us.”
Ben Okri, The Famished Road
“We can redream this world and make the dream come real. Human beings are gods hidden from themselves. ”
Ben Okri, The Famished Road
“We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It's just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn't have expected.”
Ben Okri
“That's the way it is. If you believe in something your very belief renders you unqualified to do it. Your earnestness will come across. Your passion will show. Your enthusiasm will make everyone nervous. And your naivety will irritate. Which means that you will become suspect. Which means you will be prone to disillusionment. Which means that you will not be able to sustain your belief in the face of all the piranha fish which nibble away at your idea and your faith, 'till only the skeleton of your dream is left. Which means that you have to become a fanatic, a fool, a joke, an embarrassment. The world - which is to say the powers that be - would listen to your ardent ideas with a stiff smile on its face, then put up impossible obstacles, watch you finally give up your cherished idea, having mangled it beyond recognition, and after you slope away in profound discouragement it will take up your idea, dust it down, give it a new spin, and hand it over to someone who doesn't believe in it at all.”
Ben Okri
“a dream can be the highest point of a life”
Ben Okri, The Famished Road
“Will you be at the harvest,
Among the gatherers of new fruits?
Then you must begin today to remake
Your mental and spiritual world,
And join the warriors and celebrants
Of freedom, realizers of great dreams.
You can’t remake the world
Without remaking yourself.
Each new era begins within.
It is an inward event,
With unsuspected possibilities
For inner liberation.
We could use it to turn on
Our inward lights.
We could use it to use even the dark
And negative things positively.
We could use the new era
To clean our eyes,
To see the world differently,
To see ourselves more clearly.
Only free people can make a free world.
Infect the world with your light.
Help fulfill the golden prophecies.
Press forward the human genius.
Our future is greater than our past.”
Ben Okri
“Don't neglect the gold in your own back yard.”
Ben Okri
“What you see is what you make. What you see in a people is what you eventually create in them.”
Ben Okri, A Time For New Dreams
“If we could be pure dancers in spirit we would never be afraid to love, and we would love with strength and wisdom.”
Ben Okri, Birds of Heaven
“To see the madness and yet walk a perfect silver line. ... That's what the true story-teller should be: a great guide, a clear mind, who can walk a silver line in hell or madness.”
Ben Okri, Birds of Heaven
“A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick. Without stories we would go mad. Life would lose it’s moorings or orientation... Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger.”
Ben Okri
“Without stories we would go mad. Life would lose its moorings or lose its orientations. even in silence we are living our stories”
Ben Okri, Birds of Heaven
“Don't read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.”
Ben Okri
“We disliked the rigours of existence, the unfulfilled longings, the enshrined injustices of the world, the labyrinths of love, the ignorance of parents, the fact of dying, and the amazing indifference of the Living in the midst of the simple beauties of the universe. We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see.”
Ben Okri, The Famished Road
“Bad things will happen and good things too. Your life will be full of surprises. Miracles happen only where there has been suffering. So taste your grief to the fullest. Don’t try and press it down. Don’t hide from it. Don’t escape. It is life too. It is truth. But it will pass and time will put a strange honey in the bitterness. That’s the way life goes.”
Ben Okri, Dangerous Love
“There is a kind of expressed love which is easy to subvert. When a figure is loved for their deeds, their conquests, their heroism, their goodness, their love of the people, these are easy enough to destroy... But there is a kind of love which is felt for apparently no reason... A love, inspired, it seems, by the gods, which it is impossible to fight, distort, destroy, or weaken. In fact, the attempts to destroy such loves only strengthen them. And to do nothing allows them to continue to grow at their natural pace, inexoribly, till this love becomes a wide and silent adoration.”
Ben Okri
“You are a mischievous one. You will cause no end of trouble. You have to travel many roads before you find the river of your destiny. This life of yours will be full of riddles. You will be protected and you will never be alone.”
Ben Okri
“What hope is there for individual reality or authenticity when the forces of violence and orthodoxy, the earthly powers of guns and bombs and manipulated public opinion make it impossible for us to be authentic and fulfilled human beings?

The only hope is in the creation of alternative values, alternative realities. The only hope is in daring to redream one's place in the world - a beautiful act of imagination, and a sustained act of self becoming. Which is to say that in some way or another we breach and confound the accepted frontiers of things.”
Ben Okri, A Way Of Being Free
“We have not yet arrived, but every point at which we stop requires a re-definition of our destination.”
Ben Okri, Tales Of Freedom
“A man must be able to hold his drink because drunkenness is sometimes necessary in this difficult life.”
Ben Okri, The Famished Road
“I held you in the square
And felt the evening
Re-order itself around
Your smile.”
Ben Okri
“It may be that what you could be haunts you. It is real. It is a weight you have to carry around. Each failure to become, to be, is a weight. Each state you could inhabit is a burden as heavy as any physical weight, but more so, because it weighs on your soul. It is the ghost of your possibilities hanging around your neck, an invisible albatros, potentials unknowingly murdered.”
Ben Okri
“Reading, therefore, is a co-production between writer and reader. The simplicity of this tool is astounding. So little, yet out of it whole worlds, eras, characters, continents, people never encountered before, people you wouldn’t care to sit next to in a train, people that don’t exist, places you’ve never visited, enigmatic fates, all come to life in the mind, painted into existence by the reader’s creative powers. In this way the creativity of the writer calls up the creativity of the reader. Reading is never passive.”
Ben Okri, A Way Of Being Free
“Who knows, maybe this whole planet is an asylum, a penal realm. A place for hard cases.”
Ben Okri, Tales Of Freedom
“This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.”
Ben Okri

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