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

— J.J. van der Leeuw, “The Conquest of Illusion”

Jacobus Johannes van der Leeuw (1893 – 1934) was president of the Dutch Theosophical Society from 1930 – 1931, but, as was fairly common among the more philosophically inclined with family money, he’d also spent time testing the waters of various religions and practices. He’d been a close friend of J Krishnamurti, but unlike Krishnamurti, he’d not lost his hopes for the New World Order that the Theosophists were promoting. He was died, relatively young, in a plane crash in Africa.

Not a huge fan of the Theosophists, I do nonetheless appreciate the writings of some of their more noteworthy adherents. This particular quote is another one of those that serve as a kind of affirmation for me. Another way of remembering to keep everything in perspective – and to keep enjoying the ride.

The source reference is noteworthy for this quote because it is one (of many) with multiple attributions. The earliest I could find was from van der Leeuw’s 1928 book on the nature of consciousness – the illusions we hold on to, and the search for the reality behind the illusions. Please let me know if you are aware of anything older attributing the quote to someone else.

Image of the Ghost Nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2016, courtesy of hubblesite.org