Quote: Life Is Not a Problem

Website by Jazz Andrews

My name's Jazz, I'm a human just like you. Alive for a brief flash in this incredible universe.

April 24, 2023

This quote helps me to remember to let go of fighting with life, to let go of trying to get somewhere else, and instead to be more fully present with what is.

The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is reality to be experienced.

Jacobus Johannes Leeuw

Quote Details

While this quote is usually attributed to the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in the form: “The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is a reality to be experienced”, I couldn’t find a source online. The website Wikiquote lists it as misattributed:

Attributed to Kierkegaard in a number of books, the earliest located on Google Books being the 1976 book  Jack Kerouac: Prophet of the New Romanticism  by Robert A. Hipkiss,  p. 83. In the 1948  The Hibbert Journal: Volumes 46-47  the quote is referred to as “the famous Kierkegaardian slogan” on  p. 237, which may be intended to suggest the phrase is Kierkegaard-esque rather than being something written by Kierkegaard, while in the 1949  The Ampleforth Journal  the quote is now described on p. 5  as “Kierkegaard’s famous slogan”. In reality this seems to be a slightly altered version of the quote “The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is a reality to be experienced” which appeared in the 1928 book  The Conquest of Illusion  by Jacobus Johannes Leeuw,  p. 9. An earlier analogue less similar in wording can be found in the 1922 book  The General Problems of Psychology  by Robert Mac Dougall, who writes on  p. 160  that “Religion does not offer a truth to be proved, but a reality to be experienced.”

So based on the information above, I’m atttributing it here to the author Jacobus Johannes Leeuw.

Quote Source

The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is reality to be experienced. Beware of the man who claims to have solved the problem of life, who would explain its complexities and, with deadly logic, build a system in which all the facts of our existence may be pigeon-holed and neatly stored away. He stands condemned by his own claim. The child which sees wonder in all the world around it, to whom the shells with which it plays on the beach are objects breathless excitement and thrilled amazement, is nearer to divine truth than the intellectualist who would strip a world of its mystery and takes pride in showing us its anatomy in ruthless dissection. For a while it may satisfy evolving man to know that the splendors of a sunset are but the breaking of light-rays in a moist atmosphere; he will come to realize that he may have explained the method, but has not touched the mystery at all.”

From the Conquest of Illusion by Jacobus Johannes Leeuw, first published in 1928, page 12. You can access a PDF of the book here: https://selfdefinition.org/rose/J.J.-van-der-Leeuw-Conquest-Of-Illusion.pdf


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