This blogpost has the full quote from Pensée, B139, Divertissement

Quand je m’y suis mis quelquefois à considérer les diverses agitations des hommes et les périls et les peines où ils s’exposent dans la Cour, dans la guerre, d’où naissent tant de querelles, de passions, d’entreprises hardies et souvent mauvaises, etc., j’ai dit souvent que tout le malheur des hommes vient d’une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre. Un homme qui a assez de bien pour vivre, s’il savait demeurer chez soi avec plaisir, n’en sortirait pas pour aller sur la mer ou au siège d’une place. On n’achète une charge à l’armée si cher, que parce qu’on trouverait insupportable de ne bouger de la ville. Et on ne recherche les conversations et les divertissements des jeux que parce qu’on ne peut demeurer chez soi avec plaisir. Etc.

['Sometimes, when I set to thinking about the various activities of men, the dangers and troubles which they face at Court, or in war, giving rise to so many quarrels and passions, daring and wicked enterprises and so on, I have often said that the sole cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room. A man wealthy enough for man's needs would never leave home to go to sea or besiege some fortress if he knew how to stay at home and enjoy it. Men would never spend so much on a commission in the army if they could bear living in town all their lives, and they only seek after the company and diversion of gambling because they do not enjoy staying at home.' Pascal, Pensées, tr. A.J. Krailsheimer, London: Penguin, rev. 1995: 37. For another translation: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18269/18269-h/18269-h.htm.]

Please keep answers simple. I don't know philosophy. Gospel Coalition, Wisdom Daily are too philosophical for me to grasp. I don't have time to go through this forum. I'll check out Le Devoir.#

  • 1
    To refuse mundane life and stay with "life styles" suggested by ancient philosophers; see Ataraxia as well as Contemplative life. Jan 9, 2020 at 6:57
  • 1
    Why is Gospel Coalition too philosophical to understand? "We wanted to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified".
    – Conifold
    Jan 9, 2020 at 11:51
  • 1
    English translation added & referenced.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Jan 9, 2020 at 11:55
  • You ask why Pascal thought this. Might it not be just that it is true?
    – user20253
    Jan 9, 2020 at 12:33
  • 6
    He basically answered the question in the quote himself, no? Because human restlessness is the ultimate cause of humanity's problems, giving various examples...
    – Philip Klöcking
    Jan 9, 2020 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


Because the root of all human suffering arises from an untamed mind.

If you are not at peace within yourself, within your mind, you cannot experience peace and joy no matter how positive your external circumstances may be. If your mind is tame, the opposite is true and you may experience joy regardless of the struggles and obstacles before you.

Our perception creates our reality and if you are at peace you can sit quietly alone for extensive periods of time and not be disturbed by this because your mind is calm and does not require stimulation or distraction. These are Buddhist teachings, but hold true regardless of which religion one chooses to follow.

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