Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I just had to share this beautiful passage from Rainer Maria Rilke's book, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Bridge. It almost made me cry.

"Ah! but verses amount to so little when one writes them young. One ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness a whole life long, and a long life if possible, and then, quite at the end, one might perhaps be able to write ten lines that were good. For verses are not, as people imagine, simply feelings (those one has early enough), —they are experiences. For the sake of a single verse, one must see many cities, men and things, one must know the animals, one must feel how the bids fly and know the gestures with which the little flowers open in the morning. One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected meetings and partings one had long seen coming; to days of childhood that are still unexplained, to parents whom one had to hurt when they brought one some joy and one did not grasp it (it was a joy for someone else); to childhood illnesses that so strangely begin with such a number of profound and grave transformations, to days in rooms withdrawn and quiet and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along on high and flew with all the stars—and it is not yet enough if one may think of all of this. One must have memories of many nights of love, none of which was like the others, of the screams of women in labor, and of light, white, sleeping women in childbed, closing again. But one must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the window open and the fitful noises. And still it is not yet enough to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again. For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not till they have turned to blood within us, to glance and gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves—not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them."


My Favorite Quotations From "Letters to a Young Poet"


“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”

"How can we forget that old myth, which is to be found at the beginning of all peoples-the myth of the dragon, which at the last moment changes into a princess? Perhaps all the dragons of your life are princesses, who are only waiting for us to show a little beauty and courage. Perhaps at the bottom of every horror is something helpless, that wants help from us."

"If it were possible for us to see a little further than our knowledge can reach, to see out a little farther over the outworks of our surmising, we should perhaps bear our griefs with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moment when something new, something unknown enters into us."

"I believe that nearly all our griefs are moments of suspense, which we experience as paralysis, because we can no longer hear our estranged feeling living. Because we are alone with that foreign thing, which has entered into us; because everything in which we have confidence and to which we are accustomed is for a moment taken away from us; because we are in the midst of a state of transition, in which we cannot remain. The grief, too, passes.

"So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”

"Rejoice in your growth, into which you can take no one with you, and be good to those who remain behind. Be assured and peaceful in their presence, do not torture them with your doubts and do not frighten them with your confidence or your joy, which they could not comprehend."

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don't know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”

"And if we speak once more of loneliness, it becomes even clearer that that is not a thing which one can choose or reject. We are lonely. One can deceive oneself over and over and behave as if it were not so. That is all. But how much better it is to realize that we are lonely and candidly to make that realization our starting point."

"Avoid adding new material to that strained dram which-is ever played between parents and children. It uses up much of the children's strength and consumes the love of the parents, which is always active and warm, even if it does not understand."

"Men have already had to change their conceptions of many processes, and they will gradually come to realize that what we call fate comes out of human beings themselves and does not come upon them from without."

Friday, February 1, 2013

'Food For Thought' Friday! Joseph Campell On The Purpose Of Life

Today's food for thought is an excerpt from "Joseph Campbell - The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers" I love reading Joseph Campbell's work, and although I don't entirely agree with all of his viewpoints, it always gives me something to think about. This excerpt is from a PBS series (see following link below for more details) that featured a series of conversations between Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers. I hope you find it interesting!


MOYERS: So the experience of God is beyond description, but we feel compelled to try to describe it?

CAMPBELL: That’s right. Schopenhauer, in his splendid essay called "On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual," points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot? Schopenhauer suggests that just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so, too, your whole life is composed by the will within you. And just as people whom you will have met apparently by mere chance became leading agents in the structuring of your life, so, too, will you have served unknowingly as an agent, giving meaning to the lives of others, The whole thing gears together like one big symphony, with everything unconsciously structuring everything else. And Schopenhauer concludes that it is as though our lives were the features of the one great dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream, too; so that everything links to everything else, moved by the one will to life which is the universal will in nature.

It’s a magnificent idea – an idea that appears in India in the mythic image of the Net of Indra, which is a net of gems, where at every crossing of one thread over another there is a gem reflecting all the other reflective gems. Everything arises in mutual relation to everything else, so you can’t blame anybody for anything. It is even as though there were a single intention behind it all, which always makes some kind of sense, though none of us knows what the sense might be, or has lived the life that he quite intended.

MOYERS: And yet we all have lived a life that had a purpose. Do you believe that?

CAMPBELL: Wait a minute. Just sheer life cannot be said to have a purpose, because look at all the different purposes it has all over the place. But each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality. How do you do it,’ My answer is, "Follow your bliss." There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam, And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss.

MOYERS: I like the idea that it is not the destination that counts, it’s the journey.

CAMPBELL: Yes. As Karlfried Graf Durckheim says, "When you’re on a journey, and the end keeps getting further and further away, then you realize that the real end is the journey."

The Navaho have that wonderful image of what they call the pollen path. Pollen is the life source, The pollen path is the path to the center. The Navaho say, "Oh, beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty to the right of me, beauty to the left of me, beauty above me, beauty below me, I’m on the pollen path,"