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#2682 - Wednesday,
December 27, 2006 - Editor: Gloria Lee
The Nondual Highlights
I have a medicine
Called elixir of mind;
For years its been refined
In the oven of afflictions
Till I recognized its
Unchanging color in the matrix
Shining with radiance,
Illuminating the universe.
"People are like
stained-glass windows. They sparkle and
shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have
known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss,
and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have
an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that
fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving
concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."
From the website
posted to Daily Dharma
The rest of this issue is by Mazie Lane, "A Christmas Listening".
Rilke in his workroom at Hôtel Biron, Paris, during the time he was writing The Notebooks of Malte Laurid Brigge.
Rome - A Letter
from Rilke to his friend, Mr. Kappus (Letter Six)
December 23, 1903
My dear Mr. Kappus,
I don't want you to be without a greeting from me when Christmas comes and when you, in the midst of the holiday, are bearing your solitude more heavily than usual. But when you notice that it is vast, you should be happy; for what (you should ask yourself) would a solitude be that was not vast; there is only one solitude, and it is vast, heavy, difficult to bear, and almost everyone has hours when he would gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial or cheap, for the tiniest outward agreement with the first person who comes along, the most unworthy. . . . But perhaps these are the very hours during which solitude grows; for its growing is painful as the growing of boys and sad as the beginning of spring. But that must not confuse you. What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours - that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grown-ups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn't understand a thing about what they were doing.
And when you realize that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own solitude, which is itself work and status and vocation? Why should you want to give up a child's wise not-understanding in exchange for defensiveness and scorn, since not-understanding is, after all, a way of being alone, whereas defensiveness and scorn are participation in precisely what, by these means, you want to separate yourself from.
Think, dear Sir, of the world that you carry inside you, and call this thinking whatever you want to: a remembering of your own childhood or a yearning toward a future of your own - only be attentive to what is arising within you, and place that above everything you perceive around you. What is happening on your innermost self is worthy of your entire love; somehow you must find a way to work at it, and not lose too much time or too much courage in clarifying your attitude toward people. Who says that you have any attitude at all? - I know, your profession is hard and full of things that contradict you, and I foresaw your lament and knew that it would come. Now that it has come, there is nothing I can say to reassure you, I can only suggest that perhaps all professions are like that, filled with demands, filled with hostility toward the individual, saturated as it were with the hatred of those who find themselves mute and sullen in an insipid duty. The situation you must live in now is not more heavily burdened with conventions, prejudices, and false ideas than all the other situations, and if there are some that pretend to offer a greater freedom, there is nevertheless note that is, in itself, vast and spacious and connected to the important Things that the truest kind of life consists of. Only the individual who is solitary is placed under the deepest laws like a Thing, and when he walks out into the rising dawn or looks out into the event-filled evening and when he feels what is happening there, all situations drop from him as if from a dead man, though he stands in the midst of pure life. What you, dear Mr. Kappus, now have to experience as an officer, you would have felt in just the same way in any of the established professions; yes, even if, outside any position, you had simply tried to find some easy and independent contact with society, this feeling of being hemmed in would not have been spared you. - It is like this everywhere; but that is no cause for anxiety or sadness; if there is nothing you can share with other people, try to be close to Things; they will not abandon you; and the nights are still there, and the winds that move through the trees and across many lands; everything in the world of Things and animals is still filled with happening, which you can take part in; and children are still the way you were as a child, sad and happy in just the same way - and if you think of your childhood, you once again live among them, and the grown-ups are nothing, and their dignity has no value.
And if it frightens and torments you to think of childhood and of the simplicity and silence that accompanies it, because you can no longer believe in God, who appears in it everywhere, when ask yourself, dear Mr. Kappus, whether you have really lost God. Isn't it much truer to say that you have never yet possessed him? For when could that have been? Do you think that a child can hold him, him whom grown men bear only with great effort and whose weight crushes the old? Do you suppose that someone who really has him could lose him like a little stone? Or don't you think that someone who once had him could only be lost by him? - But if you realize that he did not exist in your childhood, and did not exist previously, if you suspect that Christ was deluded by his yearning and Muhammad deceived by his pride - and if you are terrified to feel that even now he does not exist, even at this moment when we are talking about him - what justifies you then, if he never existed, in missing him like someone who has passed away and in searching for him as though he were lost?
Why don't you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity, the one who will someday arrive, the ultimate fruit of a tree whose leaves we are? What keeps you from projecting his birth into the ages that are coming into existence, and living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of a great pregnancy? Don't you see how everything that happens is again and again a beginning, and couldn't it be His beginning, since, in itself, starting is always so beautiful? If he is the most perfect one, must not what is less perfect precede him, so that he can choose himself out of fullness and superabundance? - Must not he be the last one, so that he can include everything in himself, and what meaning would we have if he whom we are longing for has already existed?
As bees gather honey, so we collect what is sweetest out of all things and build Him. Even with the trivial, with the insignificant (as long as it is done out of love) we begin, with work and with the repose that comes afterward, with a silence or with a small solitary joy, with everything that we do alone, without anyone to join or help us, we start Him whom we will not live to see, just as our ancestors could not live to see us. And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.
Is there anything that can deprive you of the hope that in this way you will someday exist in Him, who is the farthest, the outermost limit?
Dear Mr. Kappus, celebrate Christmas in this devout feeling, that perhaps He needs this very anguish of yours in order to being; these very days of your transition are perhaps the time when everything in you is working at Him, as you once worked at Him in your childhood, breathlessly. Be patient and without bitterness, and realize that the least we can do is to make coming into existence no more difficult for Him than the earth does for spring when it wants to come.
And be glad and confident.
Rainer Maria Rilke
"Why don't you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity, the one who will someday arrive, the ultimate fruit of a tree whose leaves we are?"
not heard his silent steps?
He comes, comes, ever comes.
Every moment and
every day and every night he comes,
comes, ever comes.
Many a song have
I sung in many a
mood of mind, but all their notes have
always proclaimed, "He comes,
comes, ever comes."
In the fragrant
days of sunny April
through the forest path he comes,
comes, ever comes.
In the rainy
gloom of July nights
on the thundering chariot of clouds
he comes, comes, ever comes.
In sorrow after
sorrow it is his
steps that press upon my heart, and it
is the golden touch of his feet that
makes my joy to shine."
~ Rabindranath Tagore, from the 'Gitanjali"
Paris - from
Rilke to Mr. Kappus' reply to his Dec. 23rd letter
The day after Christmas, 1908
You must know, dear Mr. Kappus, how glad I was to have the lovely letter from you. The news that you give me, real and expressible as it now is again, seems to me good news, and the longer I thought it over, the more I felt that it was very good news indeed. That is really what I wanted to write you for Christmas Eve; but I have been variously and uninterruptedly living in my work this winter, and the ancient holiday arrived so quickly that I hardly had enough time to do the most necessary errands, much less to write.
But I have thought of you often during this holiday and imagined how silent you must be in your solitary fort amongst the empty hills, upon which those large southern winds fling themselves as if they wanted to devour them in large pieces.
It must be immense, this silence, in which sounds and movements have room, and if one thinks that along with all this the presence of the distant sea also resounds, perhaps as the innermost note in this prehistoric harmony, then one can only wish that you are trustingly and patiently letting the magnificent solitude work upon you, this solitude which can no longer be erased from your life; which, in everything that is in store for you to experience and to do, will act as an anonymous influence, continuously and gently decisive, rather as the blood of our ancestors incessantly moves in us and combines with our own to form the unique, unrepeatable being that we are at every turning of our life.
Yes: I am glad you have that firm, sayable existence with you, that title, that uniform, that service, all that tangible and limited world, which in such surroundings, with such an isolated and not numerous body of men, takes on seriousness and necessity, and implies a vigilant application, above and beyond the frivolity and mere timepassing of the military profession, and not only permits a self-reliant attentiveness but actually cultivates it. And to be in circumstances that are working upon us, that from time to time place us in front of great natural Things - that is all we need.
Art too is just a way of living, and however one lives, one can, without knowing, prepare for it; in everything real one is closer to it, more its neighbor, than in the unreal half-artistic professions, which, while they pretend to be close to art, in practice deny and attack the existence of all art - as, for example, all of journalism does and almost all criticism and three quarters of what is called (and wants to be called) literature. I am glad, in a word, that you have overcome the danger of landing in one of those professions, and are solitary and courageous, somewhere in a rugged reality. May the coming year support and strengthen you in that.
R. M. Rilke
The Happiest of the Merriest of All Christmas' ... This I wish for All My Friends, Mazie
Letters to a Young Poet: Letter One || Letter Two || Letter Three || Letter Four || Letter Five
Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke - Translated by Stephen Mitchell; Random House; ISBN: 0394741048; 1987
Rainer Maria Rilke, (1875-1926), was one of the greatest poets of modern Germany. He wrote these 10 letters in 1903 to Franz Xaver Kappus who had them published after Rilke's untimely death. To learn more about Rilke, please read this short bio.
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