Pithy Quotes: Turning Dragons into Princesses

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Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875-1926

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And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle that tells us we must always trust in the difficult, then now what appears to be the most will become our intimate and trusted experience. Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act,  just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps Everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
Rainer Maria Rilke


We live in difficult times. We carry a heavy load of anger. We battle with entitlements. We place blame on others. Who firightens you? What frightens you. What actions may you take bring your passions into being, no matter what?

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Augustus Rodin (1840-1917 )

Photograph (C. 1907) by Edward Steichen (1879-1973)

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Rilke was Rodin’s secretary for a while, and Rodin one day advised him to go down to the zoo and try to see something. Rilke did and spent some time watching a panther. Rodin respected seeing, the ability to observe, to use the terrific energy of the eyes, to pay attention to something beside one’s own subjectivity. Rilke understood that his own poetry lacked seeing, and he wrote nearly two hundred poems in about six years in an effort to sharpen his seeing. Through that labor, Rilke pased to a new stage of his art.

News of the Universe, Robert Bly

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The Panther
Rainer Maria Rilke
In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

From seeing the bars, his seeing is so exhausted
that it no longer holds anything anymore.
To him the world is bars, a hundred thousand
bars, and behind the bars, nothing.

The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride
which circles down to the tiniest hub
is like a dance of energy around a point
in which as great will stand stunned and numb.

Only at times the curtains of the pupil rise
without a sound…then a shape enters,
slips through the tightened silence of the shoulders,
reaches the hear, and dies.

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How are you like the panther? How are you like Rilke? When do you make time to sit still and observe? This afternoon go to the zoo, a park, a beach, a… Then sit and observe. Meditate on it. Breathe in and Breathe out. Listen to your heartbeat. Show courage. Love what you see. If you hear voices in your mind, command them to go away or perhaps it would be interesting to listen without judgements. Do this for at least an hour. When you are finished, write in your journal, draw, photograph, create.Use the energy of your eyes.

Let us hear your comments. Did you do this exercise? Did you discover the essence of what you observed? Did you turn a dragon into a princess?

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