Comforting thought: The silence of the bird and the lily by Søren Kierkegaard

Quirky Facts About The Kea: NZ's Alpine Trickster

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) implored people to learn from the silence of the lily and the bird. In other words to learn to refrain from speaking. He believed that we should learn this because we humans possess the power of speech and so we should learn the art of silence. According to Kierkegaard our human suffering stems from our inability to be silent.

The Bird:

“The bird keeps silent and waits; it knows, or rather it fully and firmly believes, that everything takes place at its appointed time. Therefore the bird waits, but it knows that it is not granted to it to know the hour or the day; therefore it keeps silent. ‘It will surely take place at the appointed time,’ the bird says. Or no, the bird does not say this, but keeps silent. But its silence speaks, and its silence says that it believes it, and because it believes it, it keeps silent and waits. Then, when the moment comes, the silent bird understand that this is the moment; it makes use of it and is never put to shame.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard

The Lily:

“because it knows that [Spring] will come at the appointed time; it knows that it would not benefit in any way whatever if it were permitted to determine the seasons of the year. It does not say, ‘When will we get rain?’ or ‘When will we have sunshine? Or ‘Now we have had too much rain,’ or ‘Now it is too hot.’…no, it keeps silent and waits…” ~ Søren Kierkegaard

Tui - Birds, Mana and Maori Culture
Tui – Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

Read more: The Inward Turn

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

6 thoughts on “Comforting thought: The silence of the bird and the lily by Søren Kierkegaard

      1. That history is by Bertrand Russel so a bit of a classic. Heavy going though. Thanks for the recommendation- the title reminds me of a book I bought recently: thank you for being late.


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