Rainer Maria Rilke and Carl Jung on learning how to live with life’s unanswerable questions

Sometimes, certain questions about life grip us, but we have no answers for them. In time, with more of life’s experiences, understanding may grow, and some questions will eventually get answered, resolved.

On the other hand, some of those questions may no longer seem relevant, and will be replaced by other more practical pressing problems.

In Letters to a Young Poet, I remember the now famous wise advice Rainer Maria Rilke gave a young man who wrote to him looking for answers to life’s unanswerable questions.

I recently came across a similar notion in a quote by Carl Gustav Jung. What they both said makes sense, each from their own perspective.

Read what Rilke and Jung had to say about this idea and let us know if you agree or disagree. Leave your comments below.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875 – December 29, 1926)

Read more quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke. Read these profound poems by Rilke posted on this blog.

“The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble…. They can never be solved, but only outgrown…. This ‘outgrowing’, as I formerly called it, on further experience was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of view, the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life-tendency.”

― Carl Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961)

Read selected powerful quotes from C.G. Jung

This deepening and maturation of consciousness throughout one’s life can lead to a more enlightened growth in understanding, self-actualization, self-realization. This was the theme of the Bildungsroman, a literary genre that focused on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, a coming of age in which character change is important. The term comes from the German words Bildung (“education”) and Roman (“novel”).

For those who practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique, and its advanced programs, some questions seem to answer themselves in ways we never could have imagined, from a whole different perspective. They are answered, realized through intuition, the result of an evolving consciousness.

From the deeper, more holistic perspective of Maharishi Vedic Science, ‘that intelligence which knows only the truth,’ is known as Ritam bhara pragya. Maharishi explains that when awareness is permanently established in pure consciousness, only the truth will dawn in one’s consciousness.

During the practice of Transcendental Meditation, as the awareness goes from the gross thinking level to finer thinking levels and then to the transcendent, the experience of Ritam bhara pragya can occur on the finest thinking level, very close to the transcendent.

Maharishi explains that in this experience one feels “I know everything.” And “as the practice advances, the experience of Ritam bhara pragya becomes permanently established.”

— First International Symposium on the Science of Creative Intelligence, July 26, 1971, UMASS Amherst, USA.

A related post: Two kinds of knowledge about living and learning

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2 Responses to “Rainer Maria Rilke and Carl Jung on learning how to live with life’s unanswerable questions”

  1. Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, Buddha in Glory, reminds us of our eternal nature within | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Advice from Letters to a Young Poet is quoted in Sue Monk Kidd on empathy and the purpose and power of literature to enter the common heart. Rainer Maria Rilke and Carl Jung on learning how to live with life’s unanswerable questions. […]


  2. Sue Monk Kidd on empathy and the purpose and power of literature to enter the common heart | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Writers on Writing–What Writing Means To Writers | Elizabeth Gilbert—Some Thoughts On Writing | Words of Wisdom on Writing from Literary Lights | Burghild Nina Holzer inspires us to write and discover who we are and what we have to say | John O’Donohue’s 4 short lines say it all for poets | The perils of praise or blame for young writers. New ways to help students find their own voice | Letters to a Young Poet Quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke | Rainer Maria Rilke and Carl Jung on learning how to live with life’s unanswerable questions […]


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