Emmy’s epigrams

Emmy’s Epigrams


  1. Don’t ever stop exploring

Don’t hold back reaching out

Don’t let yourself cease wondering

Don’t let your light dim down.



2      You were made to live before you die: passionately, freely and with ever growing strength and wisdom.  If you don’t take the chance to do so, you will regret it when the time comes to die.


3      Sometimes it is right to claim sun-light, sometimes it is good to relent. Sometimes it is good to head straight for the best and rely on life to take care of the rest.



4      Simply this: to breathe, to be, to feel, to see, to think, to take and to give. Return to the basics when you start out each day and life will allow you to live.


5      Be free, be strong, breathe deep, sleep long.  Be well, be true, keep safe, be you.



6      And so go, and do something new today, something you have never done before.


7      The way we live our every day becomes our destiny.  Catch the glints of light and fly, or let the murky shadows surround you and grind you down till you die.



8      Following your daily path you come to crossroads where you need to choose your way.   Before you decide to take a new direction beware that you are prepared to stay on track.


9      One foot on the water, and one foot steady on earth, dipping your toe in the midst of the flow, feeling fluidity merge with your urge.


10  You can tune into the nothingness inside of you or the nothingness out there around you.  There is room for you in the universe and room to become you, whole and true at the core of you.

11  Hot weather leads to thunderstorms and rain as night leads to day and happiness fades to pain. Life is life, predictably sane.


12  Hasten slowly and be present in your life, or you will find the days rush by without depth, claimed by strife.



  1. To live well is to know your limitations and the limits of life.  And when it is time to sleep and let go, you will do so, lest you try to be in charge and control all the time.


  1. Like trees we add a layer of bark to our soul with each passing year.  Like trees we become stronger as our wrinkled layers thicken.  Unlike trees we are free to change where we are rooted and we can transfer our learning to each other and to a different place.


  1. You will reach out to the sunlight and grow your leaves, flowers and fruits with abundance, and come autumn you will release them and retrieve your sap.


  1. Some days are full of light and sunshine and others are tempered with clouds.  Some mornings are misty, some mornings are windy, sometimes it is time to keep your head down and aim to simply survive.


  1. And when the evening comes make room for peace and reflection.  Don’t fill your head with noise and regrets. Leave expectations and fears for the morrow as you retreat to safety and bed.


  1. Sometimes you need to be prepared to cross high mountains, but mostly the trick is not to stumble over the loose stones on your path.


  1. And when the sun shines, soak it up and fill life with light: enough to make good memories and keep the warmth inside.


  1. But when it rains, you need some shelter, so build this while you can.  Rain sounds good on a sound, solid roof: so make sure you have one to hide you.


  1. Have a crack at the garden and work with the seeds and the weeds. They are a reminder of the paradox of life: the more you weed and the better the seeds grow.  The more you abstain from weeding and the more seedy life goes.



10. Drugs and alcohol are never the main issue, but a symptom of tragedy, created by deep irresolvable conflict, leading to despair and giving up.


11. Summer is for recreating yourself: slowing down from frantic activity to deliberate non-action and from there to engaged and deeply restoring restful but deliberate action.


12. In the thick of winter’s ice and snow soon enough you will know how to prize shelter and how to let go to kindle the warmth inside and find strength and peace by the fireside.




  1. Fear not.  It is only anxiety you are feeling: a good sign you are alive and well.  Live it.


  1. A good weekend has a balance of challenge to stretch yourself and indulgence to rest yourself, spaced evenly between time alone and time shared.


  1. When you look at the pond you see nothing but a pond

When you look in the pond you see a world

Creatures rushing, swirling, hurrying

In the whirlwind of their worries

To complete the million tasks

Of striving lives and urges.


  1. To truly feel into the other’s experience is to extend yourself beyond your usual boundaries and to become subjective about them rather than objective.  They are you, you are they.  Very little between you.


  1. Love is a laborious task that requires us to pay attention and heed the other as we heed ourselves, come what may and with goodwill all the way.


  1. Expand towards the other and let the other expand towards you.  Allow equal space and wait for the sense of mutual respect to create the basis for the encounter.  Don’t be hasty- love can wait – just make sure you are not late or absent in the process.


  1. To be free with another is to know your inner space will not be invaded, nor will you invade the other’s inner space. Freedom is the basis of good relating.  Take nothing less and give all you are worth.


  1. To build a safe place together and to be true to the pledge that this joint space will be respected by both of you is to begin to live with love.


  1. Love is labour that is enjoyable: as we jointly face the conflicts that divide us we begin to build a union that envelops and protects us.


10. No union is possible without the safety and solidity of the recognition of tension and trouble.


11. Do not be like atlas, carrying the world on your shoulders.  You were meant to be strong enough for your own troubles, not for those of all those around you.



12.  Don’t let them get to you if they are negative.  Leave them far if they are wrong, sullen and moping.  But if they are fair and free and full of glee, keep them close and leave your door right open.




  1. 1. Freedom is to retrieve strength from your roots and grow strong no matter what the conditions.  Freedom is soaring.

  1. Good memories are made with care: you make them with lots of love, a little fear, much joy and a dose of despair.  Open yourself to the depth of the day and your memories will make themselves comfortable.


  1. To be worthy of yourself is to be worthy of life: all you have to do is live with zest and a readiness to learn.  None of us are perfect and goodness is earned.  Each day we try and fail is a day we are doing our best.


  1. And when night-time comes, feel safe enough to fly away and dream of new shores, new lives, new ways, new homes.


  1. Follow the river of feeling at night and settle into the stream and the flow. Explore the depth and let it carry you, before you know it you are gone.


  1. Existential courage is the capacity to be steady no matter what happens and to go forwards facing both good and bad in your life with equanimity and a commitment to truth.


  1. Do not moan in the morning and do not regret late at night: carry your load on your shoulders and learn from your grief and your plight.


  1. Break the habit of a life time

Laugh out loud at the strain on your heart

Run around, turn about

Let your sorry sadness shout

Then sit down and feel the lifting of the clouds.


  1. In small ways try doing something different today. Be kinder, be closer, more real, more engaged. Notice world, others, self and beliefs that drive you. Renew your commitment to yourself and the world. You will be surprised at how life will reward you.


10. You are you, I am me.  Who I am is my prerogative, my privilege and my challenge.   I can constrict or release myself.  Who I become is my gift to myself, but miraculously also to you.


11. To be good to myself and make the sacred space inside me a place of peace and safety is my first port of call each day.  Only if I do this fully and well will there be spare energy for the world, for others and for life itself.


12. As the languorous longing for being evolves and lengthens inside me, I learn to let my vital energy free and release it to reach far beyond me.





  1. Living to the full is only possible if you retrieve strength from your roots and grow strong no matter what the conditions.


  1. Strength is to live for evolution and transcendence, not caring about the cost.  Be transparent, be true, overcome and see it through.


  1. Being human is about becoming.  Sometimes we need to pause and ponder, but mostly it is our action or lack of it that determines who we are and how we become.


  1. We are all responsible for changing the world in which we live.  In small ways, everyday we alter our existence, by the way in which we choose to relate to what is and realize our projects.


  1. You are nothing at your core.  The world is nothing until we make it into something.  The space of nothing is the base for creation.  Be nothing and make the most of the space inside and around you.


  1. Peace is the core of the cosmos, but constantly lost in the clashes and turmoil of the expansion and contraction of its natural movement.  Connecting back to this easy stable core is a good starting point for dealing with the conflict and movement.


  1. Feel into the peace of the water, the peace of the wind, the peace of the fire, the peace of the solid earth and build your daily routines upon them.


  1. Bring the weight and stability of your inner strength to the daily sorrows and disappointments and losses that will strike you, forbearance is the virtue that will help you onwards, no matter what comes.


  1. And when you have a dark night of the soul: don’t fight your worry and sorrow. Surrender to it and let the blackness carry you, always forwards and onwards.  At the core of despair, in the eye of your storm, you will find all the courage you long for.


10. The door will always open eventually.  You do not have to break it down.  The sun will always shine again, you do not have to set it on fire.  The clouds will lift and light will surround you.  All you have to do is sit back and admire.


11. Afflicted by troubles, worries and despair, feeling low and upset, torn apart, you need to trust to the stream of the river of life and let the flow lift your spirit and heart.


12. Eventually it all comes down to the universal harmony we are part of.  You barter, you try, you falter, aim high, but in the end we all die and return to the nothing at the heart of it.
















7 thoughts on “Emmy’s epigrams

  1. Dear Mrs Emmy van Deurzen,

    I would like to thank you so much for sharing with us the ”secrets” of life…! I feel so grateful that I had the chance to attend your speech in Patras of Greece…surely you have heard that before but the truth is that you touched our hearts! Thank you for the wonderful experience and the precious memories you gave me!

    Yours Sincerely,
    Catherine Mila

    • I very much appreciate you letting me that my talk n Patras touched your hearts.
      I need to hear such things regularly to keep going.
      thanks and take care.

  2. Dear Beautiful Emmy, thank you so much for your work. I discovered your videos on YouTube today, seeking some sort of understanding in my own existential crisis, and your words landed squarely on my heart. Thank you so much! Love and happiness to you. 🙂


  3. Thank you so much for sharing these epigrams. The recent realisation that I am autistic, in my late fifties, has led me to think deeply about life, my place, passion and purpose. A lecture you gave on existential psychotherapy (posted on YouTube and discovered via Twitter) was enormously helpful too. Concepts discussed – such as resituating ourselves in the world and the emotional compass – seem highly relevant to me as a newly diagnosed autistic person. The Simone de Beauvoir quote had considerable resonance too. I will take these ideas with me and continue to explore them.

  4. I love this so much! What a joy to read. Thank you for sharing Emmy. Much love from my heart to yours…
    PS I am a new life coach (and an old) yoga teacher, and writing a book about life, spirituality, energy, the heart – I would dearly love to include (with full credit) and reference, a little about your 4-D existentialist model – and am not sure of protocol – would this be okay?!
    It will be self-published, and perhaps called ‘Diamond Within’ – not scholarly at all – but love your philosophy/psychology…

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