When reading the ‘Weekly interestingness digest newsletter”, Brain Pickings from Maria Popova I discovered the book (and read it avidly) of the Buddhist scholar, environmental activist, and pioneering philosopher of ecology, Joanna Macy: A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke.
I’ve always appreciated Rilke, and this book synthesizes his work brilliantly.
Rather than Rilke, I cannot think of anyone describing so clearly the mysterious transition we misunderstand the most: Life and Death.
We dread death. Many of us have experienced losses of beloved ones though. Much has been written about how we react to it. I single out one common life changing situation that occurs when someone experiences near-death or death.
We become more aware of what matters in life. We value life more purposefully. That has happened to me.
Rilke’s words speak to my heart and make death – or any difficult moment we go through in life, feel light, normal, and acceptable.
“Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.”
Macy explains: Rilke’s grasp of the transient nature of all things is critical to his capacity to praise and to cherish.
“In the face of impermanence and death, it takes courage to love the things of this world and to believe that praising them is our noblest calling. Rilke’s is not a conditional courage, dependent on an afterlife. Nor is it a stoic courage, keeping a stiff upper lip when shattered by loss. It is courage born of the ever-unexpected discovery that acceptance of mortality yields an expansion of being. In naming what is doomed to disappear, naming the way it keeps streaming through our hands, we can hear the song that streaming makes.”
And here I share one of his poems on death and consciousness.
This laboring of ours with all that remains undone,
as if still bound to it,
is like the lumbering gait of the swan.
And then our dying — releasing ourselves
from the very ground on which we stood —
is like the way he hesitantly lowers himself
into the water. It gently receives him,
and, gladly yielding, flows back beneath him,
as wave follows wave,
while he, now wholly serene and sure,
with regal composure,
allows himself to glide.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets, Rainer Maria Rilke was unique in his efforts to expand the realm of poetry through new uses of syntax and imagery and in the philosophy that his poems explored. With regard to the former, W. H. Auden declared in New Republic, “Rilke’s most immediate and obvious influence has been upon diction and imagery.” Rilke expressed ideas with “physical rather than intellectual symbols. While Shakespeare, for example, thought of the non-human world in terms of the human, Rilke thinks of the human in terms of the non-human, of what he calls Things (Dinge).” Rejecting the Catholic beliefs of his parents as well as Christianity in general, the poet strove throughout his life to reconcile beauty and suffering, life and death, into one philosophy. As C. M. Bowra observed in Rainer Maria Rilke: Aspects of His Mind and Poetry, “Where others have found a unifying principle for themselves in religion or morality or the search for truth, Rilke found his in the search for impressions and the hope these could be turned into poetry…For him Art was what mattered most in life.”
Rilke was the only child of a German-speaking family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
I am posting for Silver Threading Event, Writer’s Quote Wednesday. If you love quotes, it is the place to be.
I am also posting for the Photo101 Rehab, the event for everyone who loves photography (hobbyists, amateurs, pro-shooters, or just curious , anyone is welcome), and wants to join a community of like-minded people, who are also fun to connect with.
Want to know how to join? Check below.
Here is what ‘The Clinic Photo Rehab is:
This blog hosted ‘The Photo101 Rehab Clinic’ from 04 to 31 December 2014 and featured over 170 photos made by Photobloggers Andy Townend, Mara Eastern, Cardinal Guzman, DesleyJane, Justine, Amy, Teresa, Albert, Terri, Giving Thought, Ellen, Nalinki, Mariangeles, DwayCrafts, Lucy, Terri, Bampa’s Views, PeaceCrafting, Dreaming of Leaving and Project Easier.
As former patients informed me that the withdrawal symptoms remained active, and new patients recognized the same symptoms, The Clinic – Photo Rehab reopened its doors.
You can do a self-examination. If you detect any of the following symptoms, as carefully described by Albert from the blog Passionately Curious, come and join us: “Withdrawal symptoms may include the incessant need to carry your camera everywhere with you, the need to wake up in the wee hours to take photos during the golden hour, and checking up on others you met during the course to see what their newfound knowledge has brought fruit to.”
How to join:
Time: The Clinic is open 24 x 7 until the healing process ends.
Camera: You can use any camera, from DSLR, mirrorless, compact, to smartphones.
Theme: Bring your creativity and photograph a theme of your liking in B&W or Color. With or without edition. We like learning techniques as well, if you want to share it with everyone.
Who can join: Anyone can join; and not only former Photo 101 bloggers. All you need is passion. Passion to speak up through images – or words, if you may want to add your thoughts to it as well – showing what you see and how much that is important to you.
Thanks for joining and enjoy it.
The Clinic – Photo Rehab
Here is the link to add your photos. Knock the wall… and click on the image below:
Even if you don’t want to join in, click above and appreciate the beautiful photos of the former and current participants. Go and check their wonderful blogs as well: