Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Dag Hammarskjöld

Swedish Statesman, Secretary General of United Nations, Governor of the Riksbank (the central bank of Sweden), State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Minister Without Portfolio and a member of the Swedish Academy

"Dejection and despair lead to defeatism and defeat."

"Because it is more difficult to limit wars to a single area, all wars are of concern for all nations. Not only construction, but also destruction may today be global."

"Friendship needs no words - it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness."

"God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason."

"In play, the body can learn the model for actions in real life. Its lust can prepare a man to endure tribulation."

"During a working day, which is real only in god, the only poetry which can be real to you is the kind which makes you become real under God; only then is the poetry real for you, the art true. You no longer have time for - pastimes."

"It is when we all play safe that we create a world of the utmost insecurity."

"Life only demands from the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible - not to have run away."

"Is not beauty created at every encounter between a man and life, in which he repays his debt by focusing on the living moment all the power which life has given him as an obligation? Beauty - for the one who pays his debt. For others, too, perhaps."

"Is life so wretched? Isn't it rather your hands which are too small, your vision which is muddied? You are the one who must grow up."

"Loneliness is not the sickness unto death. No, but can it be cured except by death? And does it not become the harder to bear the closer one comes to death?"

"Our will to live only survives so long as we will live without a though as to whether it is our own or not."

"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for."

"The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned"

"The present moment is significant, not as the bridge between past and future, but by reason of its contents, contents which can fill our emptiness and become ours, if we are capable of receiving them."

"Time always seems long to the child who is waiting -- for Christmas, for next summer, for becoming a grownup: long also when he surrenders his whole soul to each moment of a happy day."

"Time goes by: reputation increases, ability decline."

"The road to knowledge does not pass through faith. But only through the self-knowledge we gain by pursuing the fleeting light in the depth of our being do we reach the point where we can grasp what faith is."

"To the diplomat of the middle of the twentieth century, war is something that must be averted at almost any cost."

"What gives life its value you can find - and lose. But never possess. This holds good above all for ‘the Truth about Life.’"

"To become free and responsible. For this alone was man created, and he who fails to take the Way which could have been his shall be lost eternally."

"Your ‘personal’ life cannot have a lasting intrinsic meaning. It can acquire a contingent meaning, but only by being fitted into and subordinated to something which ‘lasts’ and has a meaning in itself. Is this something what we attempt to identify when we speak of ‘Life’? Can your life have a meaning as a tiny fragment of life? Does Life exist? Seek and you shall find, experience Life as reality. Has Life a ‘meaning’? Experience Life as reality and the question becomes meaningless. Seek - ? Seek by daring to take the leap into unconditional obedience. Dare this when you are challenged, for only by the light of a challenge will you be able to see the cross-roads and, in full awareness of your choice, turn your back upon your personal life - with no right ever to look back. You will find that ‘in the pattern’ you are liberated from the need to live ‘with the herd’. You will find that, thus subordinated, your life will receive from Life all its meaning, irrespective of the conditions given you for its realization. You will find that the freedom of the continual farewell, the hourly self-surrender, gives to your experience of reality the purity and clarity which signify - seal-realization. You will find that obedience requires an act of will which must continually be re-iterated, and that you will fail, if anything in your personal life is allowed to slip back into the center."

"What I ask is absurd: that life shall have a meaning. What I strive for is impossible: that my life shall acquire a meaning."

"Do not seek death. Death will find you, but seek the road which makes death a fulfillment."

"Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only they who keep their eye fixed on the far horizon will find their right road."

"Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken ismade whole again, what is soiled is made clean."

"The longest journey is the journey inward."

"Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exultation. To be humble is not to make comparisons. Secure in its reality, the self is neither better nor worse, bigger nor smaller, than anything else in the universe. It is – is nothing, yet at the same time, one with everything."

"The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside."

"In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action."

"We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours."

"You are the lens in the beam. You can only receive, give, and possess the light as the lens does. If you seek yourself, you rob the lens of its transparency. You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency, your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end, and remain purely as a means."

"What makes loneliness an aguish is not that I have no one to share my burden, but this: I have only my burden to bear."

"Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others can receive your orders without being humiliated."

"A task becomes a duty from the moment you suspect it to be an essential part of that integrity which alone entitles a man to assume responsibility."

"At every moment you choose yourself. But do you choose your self?"

"Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment."

"Be grateful as your deeds become less and less associated with your name, as your feet ever more lightly tread the earth."

"Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who ‘forgives’ you - out of love - takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done. Forgiveness, therefore, always entails a sacrifice. The price you must pay for your own liberation through another’s sacrifice, is that you in turn must be willing to liberate in the same way, irrespective of the consequences yourself."

"Goodness is something so simple: always to live for others, never to seek one’s own advantage."

"In our age, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action."

"In your attempt to break down the boundaries of a personality you are building a new prison for yourself."

"It is easy to be nice, even to an enemy - from lack of character."

"In the last analysis it is our conception of death which decides our answers to all the questions that life puts to us."

"Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step: only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road."

"Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible - not to have run away."

"It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity."

"Life yields only to the conqueror. Never accept what can be gained by giving in. You will be living off stolen goods, and your muscles will atrophy."

"Landscape: only your immediate experience of the detail can provide the soil in your soul where the beauty of the whole can grow."

"Only life can satisfy the demands of life... Don’t be afraid of yourself, live your individuality to the full - but for the good of others. Don’t copy others in order to buy fellowship, or make convention your law instead of living the righteousness."