Letters On Life – October’s Reading List

I wanted to write down what I have read recently. I find it beautiful and it resonates with the very landscape of my soul. This quiet evening, I will share some lovely thoughts from “Letters on Life” by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875—1926), a modern library classic. I truly believe in the healing prowess of reading and introspection. Rainer was the author of Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus which are such amazing works, to be honest! So grab a nice cup of tea or coffee if you prefer and join me, as I share a reflection from one of my favourite lyrically poignant poets of the twentieth century.

Before I delve in, here is one of my favourite prose from Rainer. I thought it would be fitting as Autumn is around the corner.


The leaves fall, fall as from far, Like distant gardens withered in the heavens;

They fall with slow and lingering descent.

And in the nights the heavy Earth, too, falls From out the stars into the Solitude.

Thus all doth fall. This hand of mine must fall And lo! the other one:—it is the law.

But there is One who holds this falling Infinitely softly in His hands.

Here are some of his profound cogitation:

“Do not believe that the person who is trying to offer you solace lives his life effortlesly among the simple and quiet words that might ocassionally comfort you. His life is filled with much hardship and sadness, and it remains far behind yours. but if it were otherwise, he could never have found these words.”

Introduction XXV

I have witnessed firsthand that the person(s) that offers peace and comfort comes from a place of pain and much quiet suffering and do not wish to see another suffer. If they could alleviate the pain, they would. I believe it is crucial to listen keenly to such words that might seem too optimistic because usually, they come from a source of much pain.

“Life itself is heavy and difficult. And do you actually want to live? Then you are mistaken in calling it your duty to take on difficulties. It is your survival instinct that pushes you to do it. So what is duty, then? It is duty to love what is difficult…. You have to be there when it needs you”.

Letters on Life , On Work , page 46

I strongly resonate that pain and suffering must not be for nothing. It must be for something worthwhile, worth keeping the good fight for, to bring meaning to the journey of life and most times I know it is never an easy undertaking. Usually, the thing that is worth struggling for, is what’s most important to us. Finding that purpose will greatly spur us with the right motivation to keep going.

“But the tasks of all tasks is to transform what is inconspicuous into radiance; to present a speck of dust in a way that shows it to be part of the whole so that one cannot see it with also instantly seeing all of the stars and the heavens’ deep coherence to which it intimately belongs”

Letters on Life , On Work , page 48

This is just too beautiful to explain! To respect the simplest of things because it is so much more than that what our human naked eyes and sometimes one-dimensional mind can comprehend at first glance!

“Words… could they be words of consolation? I am not sure about that, and I don’t quite believe that one could console oneself over a loss as sudden and great as the one you just experienced”.Even time do not console, as people say superficially; at best it puts things in their place and creates order…..”

Letters on Life , On Loss, Dying , and Death page 109

Truth be told, I agree with this wholeheartedly. I think pain does not diminish much over time but rather incrementally, we learn to adapt to what has happened, put into perspective our priorities and gain the acceptance that life must ultimately go on.

“Finally, my absolute reflection of his in this entire compilation: ” God is the most ancient work of art. He has been preserved very poorly and many parts have been added later, in approximations. But it is of course incumbent upon any educated person to be able to talk about him and to have seen the remnants”

Letters on Life , On Faith page 169

This is how I see religion truthfully and God in general. Man has made God “man-made”. The creation tries to humanify God when God is this primordial force, to begin with, or to some, God is just folklore. Nevertheless, the idea of God to me is very much distorted to fit politics, philosophy and ideologies. However, I am smitten with how he dutifully reconnitre religion and faith in this book and I absolutely delighted myself as I poured into these pages and I hope you would too if you ever consider getting this book.

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