The Dignity of Solitude


In a post two months back, I listed the four moral attitudes that Jaspers holds as the necessary conditions of existential communication.

At the top is “the dignity of solitude.” I collect here a few insights on solitude in faith for the benefit of my good brothers and sisters throughout the ether.

“When you cease to fear your solitude, a new creativity awakens in you. Your forgotten or neglected wealth begins to reveal itself. You come home to yourself and learn to rest within. Thoughts are our inner senses. Infused with silence and solitude, they bring out the mystery of inner landscape.”
John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”
Aldous Huxley

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.”
Hermann Hesse

“Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. ”
Rainer Maria Rilke

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

“Language … has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”
Paul Tillich, The Eternal Now

“The highest form of love is to be the protector of another person’s solitude.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

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