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Do not love the world or anything in the world. ~ John the Evangelist
Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. ~ James
Are you contented with this world's life instead of the Hereafter? The provision of this world's life is but little as compared with the Hereafter. ~ Quran
When Jesus and his disciples are said to be in the world but not of the world, the meaning is clear enough. Although they live in the world they are not worldly, they do not subscribe to the present values and standards of the world. ~ Albert Nolan
It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides. ~ Thomas à Kempis

Worldliness is a theological concept of connection to the imperfect material world.

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  • If an ignorant person is attracted by the things of the world, that is bad. But if a learned person is thus attracted, it is worse.
  • Withdrawal from the world does not mean bodily removal from it, but the severance of the soul from sympathy with the body, and the giving up city, home, personal possessions, love of friends, property, means of subsistence, business, social relations, and knowledge derived from human teaching.
    • Basil of Caesarea, Letter to Gregory, Saint Basil: The Letters, R. Deferrari, trans. (1926), vol. 1, p. 11.
  • Freedom from the world is, in principle, not asceticism, but rather a distance from the world for which all participation in things worldly takes place in the attitude of “as if not.” (1 Cor. 7:29-31)
    • Rudolf Bultmann, New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings (1984), p. 18.


  • Facts witness to the reality that [Christians] have abandoned God, that they have entered the world and become one with the world. Whatever the world considers praiseworthy ... vanity, comfort, wealth, fancy notions, blasphemies — the Christians, too, praise with one accord, quite blatantly without shame and without conscience. We can find with difficulty one man in a thousand who does not conform himself to the world. For this reason authority is necessary for the pagan world, since a man of weak faith will not be better than a pagan. A world contrary to God must be kept within bounds by the world’s sword.
  • Every day that we allow some little physical infirmity or worldly worry to come between us and our obstinate, indignant, defiant exultation, we are weakening our genius for life.


  • The worldly man lives in society, marries, establishes a family; Yoga prescribes absolute solitude and chastity. The worldly man is “possessed” by his own life; the yogin refuses to “let himself live”; to continual movement, he opposes his static posture, the immobility of āsana; to agitated, unrhythmical, changing respiration, he opposes prānāyāma, and even dreams of holding his breath indefinitely; to the chaotic flux of psychomental life, he replies by “fixing thought on a single point,” the first step to that final withdrawal from the phenomenal world which he will obtain through pratyāhāra. All of the yogic techniques invite to one and the same gesture—to do exactly the opposite of what human nature forces one to do. From solitude and chastity to samyama, there is no solution of continuity. The orientation always remains the same—to react against the “normal,” “secular,” and finally “human” inclination.
    • Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, W. Trask, trans. (Princeton: 1969), pp. 95–96.


  • The habit which many have got into must be as far as possible corrected; those, I mean, who while they fight strenuously against the baser pleasures, yet still go on hunting for pleasure in the shape of worldly honour and positions which will gratify their love of power. They act like some domestic who longed for liberty, but instead of exerting himself to get away from slavery proceeded only to change his masters, and thought liberty consisted in that change. But all alike are slaves, even though they should not all go on being ruled by the same masters, as long as a dominion of any sort, with power to enforce it, is set over them.


  • The victorious course of Christianity since Nicaea and especially since Augustine, which was not unlike the expansion of Buddhism since the reign of Asoka, sealed its pact with that worldly wisdom which it had originally professed to renounce. Its readiness for fanaticism, without which its ascendancy would have been unstable, testified to a secret and indomitable hatred for that attitude of mind for which its founder had earlier been put to death.
    • Max Horkheimer, “Theism and Atheism” (1963), in Critique of Instrumental Reason (1974).


  • θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν, ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου.
    • Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
  • Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.


  • This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
  • What we call worldliness simply consists of such people who, if one may so express it, pawn themselves to the world.
  • The world and Christianity have completely opposite conceptions. The world says of the apostles, of the Apostle Peter as their spokesman, "He is drunk,"-and the Apostle Peter admonishes, "Become sober." Consequently the secular mentality considers Christianity to be drunkenness, and Christianity considers the secular mentality to be drunkenness. "Do become reasonable, come to your senses, try to become sober"-thus does the secular mentality taunt the Christian. And the Christian says to the secular mentality, "Do become reasonable, come to your senses, become sober." The difference between secularity and Christianity is not that one has one view and the other another-no, the difference is always that they have the very opposite views, that what one calls good the other calls evil, what the one calls love the other calls selfishness, what the one calls piety the other calls impiety, what the one calls being drunk the other calls being sober. it is precisely the drunken man, the apostle, who finds it necessary to bring home to the sober (I assume) world the admonition: "Become sober!" This very admonition may, as intended, most severely wound the callous secular mentality, which as a rule cannot be wounded very easily or disconcerted.




  • The science, which teaches arts and handicrafts
    Is merely science for the gaining of a living;
    But the science which teaches deliverance from worldly existence,
    Is not that the true science?
    • Nagarjuna, Prajñadanda (The Staff of Wisdom)
  • The civilized classes and nations are swept away by the grand rush for contemptible wealth. Never was the world worldlier, never was it emptier of love and goodness.
  • The much quoted text, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) does not mean that the kingdom is not, or will not be, in this world or on this earth. … When Jesus and his disciples are said to be in the world but not of the world, the meaning is clear enough. Although they live in the world they are not worldly, they do not subscribe to the present values and standards of the world. … The values of the kingdom [of God] are different from, and opposed to, the values of this world. There is no reason for thinking that it means the kingdom will float in the air somewhere above the earth or that it will be an abstract entity without any tangible social and political structure.
    • Albert Nolan, Jesus Before Christianity: The Gospel of Liberation (1976) p. 48.


  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
  • A dim consciousness of infinite mystery and grandeur lies beneath all the commonplace of life. There is an awfulness and a majesty around us, in all our little worldliness.
    • Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. XXII : Grand Master Architect, p. 190.
  • The inexperienced in wisdom and virtue, ever occupied with feasting and such, are carried downward, and there, as is fitting, they wander their whole life long, neither ever looking upward to the truth above them nor rising toward it, nor tasting pure and lasting pleasures. Like cattle, always looking downward with their heads bent toward the ground and the banquet tables, they feed, fatten, and fornicate. In order to increase their possessions they kick and butt with horns and hoofs of steel and kill each other, insatiable as they are.


  • Every soul will taste death. And you will be paid your reward fully only on the Resurrection day. Then whoever is removed far from the Fire and is made to enter the Garden, he indeed attains the object. And the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of delusion.
  • O you who believe, what (excuse) have you that when it is said to you, Go forth in Allah's way, you should incline heavily to earth? Are you contented with this world's life instead of the Hereafter? The provision of this world's life is but little as compared with the Hereafter.
  • The ones who prefer the worldly life over the Hereafter and avert (people) from the way of Allah, seeking to make it (seem) deviant. Those are in extreme error.
  • So when the great Calamity comes; The day when man remembers all that he strove for, And hell is made manifest to him who sees. Then as for him who is inordinate, And prefers the life of this world, Hell is surely the abode. And as for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains himself from low desires, The Garden is surely the abode.


  • By constantly repeating, 'I am free, I am free', a man verily becomes free. On the other hand, by constantly repeating, 'I am bound, I am bound', he certainly becomes bound to worldliness. The fool who says only, 'I am a sinner, I am a sinner', verily drowns himself in worldliness. One should rather say: 'I have chanted the name of God. How can I be a sinner? How can I be bound?'
    • Ramakrishna, Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita, translated in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (1942), p. 274.
  • The world is water and the mind milk. If you pour milk into water they become one; you cannot find the pure milk any more. But turn the milk into curd and churn it into butter. Then, when that butter is placed in water, it will float. So, practice spiritual discipline in solitude and obtain the butter of knowledge and love. Even if you keep that butter in the water of the world the two will not mix. The butter will float.
    • Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (1942), p. 82
  • Suppose the offer were this: You shall die slowly; your blood shall daily grow cold, your flesh petrify, your heart beat at last only as a rusted group of iron valves. Your life shall fade from you, and sink through the earth into the ice of Caina; but, day by day, your body shall be dressed more gaily, and set in higher chariots, and have more orders on its breast—crowns on its head, if you will. Men shall bow before it, stare and shout round it, crowd after it up and down the streets; build palaces for it, feast with it at their tables’ heads all the night long; your soul shall stay enough within it to know what they do, and feel the weight of the golden dress on its shoulders, and the furrow of the crown-edge on the skull;—no more. Would you take the offer, verbally made by the death-angel? Would the meanest among us take it, think you? Yet practically and verily we grasp at it, every one of us, in a measure; many of us grasp at it in its fulness of horror. Every man accepts it, who desires to advance in life without knowing what life is; who means only that he is to get more horses, and more footmen, and more fortune, and more public honour, and—not more personal soul.


  • I liked Charentz straight off, but more important than this was the feeling that I had that he was a truly great man. Human greatness is a rather difficult thing to account for, and more often than not one is mistaken in one's hunches about somebody one has met. Charentz seemed great to me, I think, because he was made of a mixture of proud virtues and amusing flaws. On the one hand, his independence of spirit was balanced by a humorous worldliness, his acute intelligence by a curiosity that frequently made him seem naive, his profoundly gentle manners by a kind of mocking mischievousness which might easily be mistaken for rudeness. But he was never rude, he was witty, and the purpose of his wit was to keep himself from the terrible condition of pomposity.
    • William Saroyan, I Used to Believe I Had Forever — Now I'm Not So Sure (1968); on Armenian poet Yegishe Charentz, whom Saroyan met in Moscow in June, 1935.
  • The idea underlying such endless discussion and dreaming about the physical act is that sexual expertise confers worldliness and is therefore part of becoming an affirmed individual. This is a curious suggestion... Sex is many things — a need, a desire, an emotion, a release — but it has nothing to do with worldly sophistication, character building or even existential action. Sex, in general, is more of an obstacle than anything else for those who wish to free themselves and act as individuals... [W]e aren't dealing with a successful affirmation of responsible individualism in the real world. We are creating private dreams which compensate for the fracturing of the individual and the castration of his or her power in public life.
  • O my God! close my eyes, that I may see Thee; separate me from the world, that I may enjoy Thy company.
    • Christian Scriver, Gotthold's Emblems, translated by Robert Menzies (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1862), CCLXXXVI. The Blinded Bird, p. 375.
  • I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
To closeness and the bettering of my mind.


  • Do we have all the hatred and all the aversion for the world which Our Lord requires, and which his example must inspire in us?
Have we regarded it as the greatest enemy of Christianity, an enemy that can not abide that Jesus Christ reigns over the faithful, crying ceaselessly through the mouth of its fans, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Saint Anthony).
Have we raised ourselves up to that outlook opposed to the world, and have we tried to destroy the esteem and love for it in all hearts?
Have we referred to it with indignation, distance and contempt; and have we made it clear that it is filled only with corruption, vanity and falsehood?
Have we condemned the world's sentiments? Are we opposed to its maxims? And have we made all our efforts to abolish its laws and overturn its accursed customs?
Have we despised what the world esteems and esteemed what it despises? Have we fled what it wants and wanted what it flees? Have we loved what it hates and hated what it loves?
Have we had the colossal aversion to the world's public assemblies, to its spectacles and all its pomp? ...
Have we fled the company of worldly persons, whom the saints, especially the Ecclesiastics, advise us to avoid like the plague, whom one should see only by necessity, and from whom we should separate ourselves as vigilantly as we can?
Have we wanted, in order to render our separation from the world as perfect as the sanctity of our state demands, that the world have aversion to us, as we have aversion to the world, following the example the apostle has given us, “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
  • Louis Tronson, Examens particuliers sur divers sujets, pp. 321-322.


  • The Buddha Is Nearer to Us You see clearly a man, simple, devout, lonely, battling for light, a vivid human personality, not a myth. Beneath a mass of miraculous fable I feel that there also was a man. He too, gave a message to mankind universal in its character. Many of our best modern ideas are in closest harmony with it. All the miseries and discontents of life are due, he taught, to selfishness. Selfishness takes three forms — one, the desire to satisfy the senses; second, the craving for immortality; and the third the desire for prosperity and worldliness. Before a man can become serene he must cease to live for his senses or himself. Then he merges into a greater being. Buddha in a different language called men to self-forgetfulness five hundred years before Christ. In some ways he was near to us and our needs. Buddha was more lucid upon our individual importance in service than Christ, and less ambiguous upon the question of personal immortality.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)


Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Faith is the inspiration of nobleness, it is the strength of integrity; it is the life of love, and is everlasting growth for it; it is courage of soul, and bridges over for our crossing the gulf between worldliness and heavenly-mindedness; and it is the sense of the unseen, without which we could not feel God nor hope for heaven.
  • Day and night, and every moment, there are voices about us. All the hours speak as they pass; and in every event there is a message to us; and all our circumstances talk with us; but it is in Divine language, that worldliness misunderstands, that selfishness is frightened at, and that only the children of God hear rightly and happily.
  • Set not your heart upon the world, since God hath not made it your portion.
  • Lift thyself up, look. around, and see something higher and brighter than earth, earthworms, and earthly darkness.
  • Unworldliness is this — to hold things from God in the perpetual conviction that they will not last; to have the world, and not let the world have us; to be the world's masters, and not the world's slaves.
  • There is such a thing as a worldly spirit, and there is such a thing as an unworldly spirit — and according as we partake of the one or the other, the savor of the sacrifice of our lives is ordinary, common-place, poor, and base; or elevating, invigorating, useful, noble, and holy.
  • Conformity to the world has in all ages proved the ruin of the church. It is utterly impossible to live in nearness to God, and in friendship with the world.
  • Show me the men who imbibe the spirit of the world, who choose the company of the world, who imitate the example of the world, conform to the maxims of the world, are swallowed up in the gayety, fashions, and amusements of the world; — behold, these are the ungodly, who are brought into desolation as in a moment.
  • There is no surer evidence of an unconverted state than to have the things of the world uppermost in our aim, love, and estimation.
  • Not by empty protestations against the pleasures of the world, and cynical denunciations of its enjoyments, but by our superiority to its perishing greatness, to its fading beauties, and its impotent antagonisms, are we to express our redemption from its power.
  • We wonder why a certain church-member is so lax in his devotions and loose in his practices. The reason is that, while his trunk and his branches are over on the church side of the wall, his roots run under the wall and dwell in the bad soil on the other side.
  • Christians should live in the world, but not be filled with it. A ship lives in the water; but if the water gets into the ship, she goes to the bottom. So Christians may live in the world; but if the world gets into them, they sink.
  • The only true method of action in this world is to be in it, but not of it.
  • A Christian making money fast is just a man in a cloud of dust, it will fill his eyes if he be not careful.
  • Christianity does not condemn traffic, commerce, material activities of any kind. Its highest development is possible with the busiest life. To be a first-rate business man does not involve being a fourth-rate Christian. Buying, possessing, accumulating — this is not worldliness. But doing this in the love of it, with no love of God paramount — doing it so that thoughts of eternity and God are an intrusion — doing it so that one's spirit is secularized in the process; this is worldliness.
  • They best pass over the world who trip over it quickly; for it is but a bog. If we stop, we sink.
  • I had as lief preach humanity to a battle of eagles, as to urge honesty and integrity upon those who have determined to be rich, and to gain it by gambling stakes, and madmen's ventures.

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