Writer Rainer Maria Rilke on Life and Living

Let me share this quote with you as a reminder that we live in a vast universe that is evolving, changing, right before our eyes. Our self-absorption and concern about little details may prevent us from looking outward, in awe of how our humble existence is connected to the broader tableau of life. Faced with daily challenges, and despite all our sufferings and difficulties, there is solace in the thought and perpetual appreciation of the glorious fact that we are alive because we were chosen, and because we were chosen, much is expected of us.

“Is it not peculiar that nearly all of the great philosophers and psychologists have always paid attention to the earth and nothing but the earth? Would it not be more sublime to lift our eyes from the crumb, and instead of considering a speck of dust in the universe, to turn our attention to space itself? Just imagine how small and insignificant all earthly toils would suddenly appear at the moment when our earth would shrink to the tiniest, swirling, aimless particle of an infinite world! And how the human being would have to grow in size on his “small earth”!

“Peculiar. Each bird that builds its home under the roof beams first examines the spot it has chosen and over which a miniscule part of its life shall now be dispersed. And the human being, meanwhile, is entirely satisfied with approximately and scarcely knowing the earth and leaves the wide worlds above to waver and to change their ways. Does it not seem as if we are still positioned quite low since our gaze is so consistently fixed on the ground?” (“Letters on Life”, Rainer Maria Rilke, edited and translated by Ulrich Baer, The Modern Library, New York)

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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  • Nice piece about Life and living!

    People could be sanctimonious at times and so full of themselves……….(this is inclusive)

    We always here the golden rule,but we never really put ourselves in other’s shoes.

    Speaking of Philosopher/scientists,I think it was Ptolemy who stated that Earth is the center of the Universe,thanks to the other famous scientists who said that the sun is the center of the Solar syatem and their is a vast Universe out there.

  • Maybe we can consider that we live in a house, then in a city, in a country, a continent, then in a planet, a planet one among many others in a galaxy, one galaxy among many other galaxies. Or maybe it would be better not to. Though we are all but miniscule blips in the continuum of vast space and seemingly eternal time, we’re the blips that bring life to our humble abodes.