Dr. Lao: The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it.
[an evening heart-to-heart between Dr. Lao and Mike]
Dr. Lao: Mike, let me tell you something. The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it. The way the sun goes down when you're tired, comes up when you want to be on the move. That's real magic. The way a leaf grows. The song of the birds. The way the desert looks at night, with the moon embracing it. Oh, my boy, that's... that's circus enough for anyone. Every time you watch a rainbow and feel wonder in your heart. Every time you pick up a handful of dust, and see not the dust, but a mystery, a marvel, there in your hand. Every time you stop and think, "I'm alive, and being alive is fantastic!" Every time such a thing happens, you're part of the Circus of Dr. Lao.
Mike: I don't understand.
Dr. Lao: Neither do I.
Dr. Lao: Mike, the whole world is a circus if you look at it the right way. Every time you pick up a handful of dust, and see not the dust, but a mystery, a marvel, there in your hand, every time you stop and think, "I'm alive, and being alive is fantastic!" Every time such a thing happens, Mike, you are part of the Circus of Dr. Lao.
Dr. Lao: Every time you pick up a grain of sand you hold a universe in the palm of your hand.
Apollonius of Tyana: Tomorrow will be like today, and the day after tomorrow will be like the day before yesterday. I see your remaining days as a tedious collection of hours full of useless vanities. You will think no new thoughts. You will forget what little you have known. Older you will become, but not wiser. Stiffer, but not more dignified. Childless you are, and childless you will remain. Of that suppleness you once commanded in your youth, of that strange simplicity which once attracted men to you, neither endures, nor shall you recapture them.
Mrs. Cassin: You're a mean, ugly man!
Apollonius of Tyana: Mirrors are often ugly and mean. When you die, you will be buried and forgotten, and that is all. And for all the good or evil, creation or destruction, your living might have accomplished, you might just as well never have lived at all.
Ed Cunningham: Now, come on, Doc! What kind of oriental hocus-pocus is going on around here? A circus with no wagons, no animals, no cages? A crazy old magician? What's it all about?
Dr. Lao: This is the circus of Dr. Lao. We show you things that you don't know. Oh we spare no pains and we spare no dough, oh we want to give you one hell of a show. And youth may come and age may go, but no more circuses like this show.
Lean Cowboy: Who's that, anyway?
Fat Cowboy: I don't know. Looked like a Jap to me.
Toothless Cowboy: Nah, he's Chinese.
Fat Cowboy: How do you know?
Toothless Cowboy: 'Cause I ain't stupid.
Ed Cunningham: Hey! How come you speak perfect English all of a sudden?
Dr. Lao: [no accent] Oh, it comes and goes. Whatever dialect the mood requires.
Ed Cunningham: Oh, it just comes and goes?
Dr. Lao: [thick Chinese accent] Whassa matta you? Alla time asking silly questions! Wise guy!
[Dr. Lao is fishing in a dried-up riverbed]
Ed Cunningham: I hate to tell you this, Doctor, but there aren't any fish in that river. In fact, there isn't any river.
Dr. Lao: That's okay. Me no use bait.
Mayor James Sargent: He doesn't want to lose. Who does?
Clint Stark: I do. Mayor Sargent, every time I bet on weakness, corruption, fallibility... I want to lose. But I always win.
Clint Stark: I was like you once, long time ago. I believed in the dignity of man. Decency. Humanity. But I was lucky. I found out the truth early, boy.
Ed Cunningham: And what is the truth, Stark?
Clint Stark: It's all very simple. There's no such thing as the dignity of man. Man is a base, pathetic and vulgar animal.
Dr. Lao: Now, Mr. Cunningham, do you suppose this garrulous intruder may be a... a swindler, perhaps, an assassin, a charlatan plotting some curious disaster for your town? Such characters exist, but they are secretive rather than mysterious. I, sir, am a major mystery.
Giant Serpent: I wouldn't care to trade with you.
Clint Stark: Maybe not, but the point is, my scaly friend, that you are in a cage, while I'm free to walk about!
Giant Serpent: Oh, you have your cage, too. You test your bars just as often as I test mine, kiddo.
Merlin: Tricks? Gadzooks, Madam, these are not tricks! I do magic. I - I create, I transpose, I transubstantiate, I break up, I recombine - but I never trick!
Mike: How old are you?
Dr. Lao: I believe I will tell you. I am seven thousand, three hundred and twenty-two years old... this October.
Dr. Lao: [Dr. Lao's Welcome speech] This is the circus of Dr. Lao./ We show you things that you don't know./We've spared no pains and spared no dough,/ but we wanted to give you one helluva show.
Apollonius of Tyana: [after giving a grim prophecy] Five cents, please.