Rilke and Rumi quotes

I just finished reading This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness and found it  pretty thought provoking. Sure, I spent of lot of thinking what the author was keeping inside her own head ("you're being such a pushover!" etc.) but it was interesting for it. It is a rather powerful idea that you can choose to responsible for your own happiness by not making it dependent on things that are outside your control.

And it's almost inspiring, in a way, that she valued her relationship with her husband (or at least, who he was truly when he wasn't depressed about his lack of career success) and their children to work in the way she chose to hold it together. She's not some passive woman who just couldn't bear the thought of being alone or anything. You can read her initial essay, "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear" for a primer.

Anyway, she mentions some quotes from Rilke and Rumi that they included in their ceremony, that resonated with me:

Rilke, translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all out tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far into life, is solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves.

Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become world, to become world for himself for another's sake. It is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things. Only in this sense, as the task of working at themselves ("to hearken and to hammer day and night"), might young people use the love that is given them. Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must save and gather for along, long time still), is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives as yet scarcely suffice.
From Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.


Lisa said...

i read that nytimes article awhile and was pretty amazed by it...very interested to read more by her

Jen said...

fun! I heard her talk on NPR a while back and really want to read that book! I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on it.

And from the bit I heard her speak it sounds pretty amazing what she did. Very impressive because at this moment in time I know I could not do that but would like to be able to.

Angie said...

i've missed you!

and what beautiful readings and links you've shared. i just forwarded your post to josh. think we're going to try and use rilke in the ceremony

Cupcake Wedding said...


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Miss C said...

I love thr first one. If only we could have a million readings and not have everyone fall asleep.

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