The meaning of suffering

… according to Rebecca West

from https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/02/24/rebecca-west-black-lamb-grey-falcon/

While recovering from surgery in an English hospital in the fall of 1934, West heard on the radio that Yugoslavia’s King Alexander I had been assassinated — the first monarch of a young country born out of the horrors of WWI, murdered by the same fascist forces that would pave the way for WWII. She recognized instantly, with a sorrowful urgency, that such local crises of inhumanity never exist in isolation from the whole of humanity. A quarter century before Martin Luther King urged us to see that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality [and] whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,” West reflected on hearing the radio announcement:

I had to admit that I quite simply and flatly knew nothing at all about the south-eastern corner of Europe … that is to say I know nothing of my own destiny.

And indeed, from West’s regional focus on my native Balkans radiates a larger inquiry into the collective fate of humanity, with all its tragedy and tenaciousness, and the ultimate resilience of the human spirit — nowhere more so than in a passage describing her encounter with a woman on a mountain road in Montenegro. West relays the woman’s response to being asked how she had ended up there, across the country from her hometown of Durmitor:

She laughed a little, lifted her ball of wool to her mouth, sucked the thin thread between her lips, and stood rocking herself, her eyebrows arching in misery. “It is a long story. I am sixty now,” she said. “Before the war I was married over there, by Durmitor. I had a husband whom I liked very much, and I had two children, a son and a daughter. In 1914 my husband was killed by the Austrians. Not in battle. They took him out of our house and shot him. My son went off and was a soldier and was killed, and my daughter and I were sent to a camp. There she died. In the camp it was terrible, many people died. At the end of the war I came out and I was alone. So I married a man twenty years older than myself. I did not like him as I liked my first husband, but he was very kind to me, and I had two children of his. But they both died, as was natural, for he was too old, and I was too old, and also I was weak from the camp. And now my husband is eighty, and he has lost his wits, and he is not kind to me any more. He is angry with everybody; he sits in his house and rages, and I cannot do anything right for him. So I have nothing.”

To the question of where she is headed on that mountain road, the woman responds:

“I am not going anywhere. I am walking about to try to understand why all this has happened. If I had to live, why should my life have been like this? If I walk about up here where it is very high and grand it seems to me I am nearer to understanding it.” She put the ball of wool to her forehead and rubbed it backwards and forwards, while her eyes filled with painful speculation. “Good-bye,” she said, with distracted courtesy, as she moved away, “good-bye.”

With this, West delivers her stroke of genius in revealing the animating force of human existence, that which gives rise to all art and all science and the irrepressible roving curiosity that has given us everything we call culture:

This woman [was] the answer to my doubts. She took her destiny not as the beasts take it, nor as the plants and trees; she not only suffered it, she examined it. As the sword swept down on her through the darkness she threw out her hand and caught the blade as it fell, not caring if she cut her fingers so long as she could question its substance, where it had been forged, and who was the wielder. She wanted to understand … the mystery of process.

I knew that art and science were the instruments of this desire, and this was their sole justification, though in the Western world where I lived I had seen art debauched to ornament and science prostituted to the multiplication of gadgets. I knew that they were descended from man’s primitive necessities, that the cave man who had to hunt the aurochs drew him on the rock-face that he might better understand the aurochs and have fuller fortune in hunting and was the ancestor of all artists, that the nomad who had to watch the length of shadows to know when he should move his herd to the summer pasture was the ancestor of all scientists. But I did not know these things thoroughly with my bowels as well as my mind. I knew them now, when I saw the desire for understanding move this woman. It might have been far otherwise with her, for she had been confined by her people’s past and present to a kind of destiny that might have stunned its victims into an inability to examine it. Nevertheless she desired neither peace nor gold, but simply knowledge of what her life might mean. The instrument used by the hunter and the nomad was not too blunt to turn to finer uses; it was not dismayed by complexity, and it could regard the more stupendous aurochs that range within the mind and measure the diffuse shadows cast by history. And what was more, the human will did not forget its appetite for using it.

In a sentiment that calls to mind Hannah Arendt’s timelessly incisive perspective on the only effective antidote to evil, found in the fact that “one man will always be left alive to tell the story,” West considers the essential quality of spirit which the Montenegrin woman modeled:

If during the next million generations there is but one human being born in every generation who will not cease to inquire into the nature of his fate, even while it strips and bludgeons him, some day we shall read the riddle of our universe. We shall discover what work we have been called to do, and why we cannot do it. If a mine fails to profit by its riches and a church wastes the treasure of its altar, we shall know the cause: we shall find out why we draw the knife across the throat of the black lamb or take its place on the offensive rock, and why we let the grey falcon nest in our bosom, though it buries its beak in our veins. We shall put our own madness in irons.

The Jesus story is the universe story

By Richard Rohr

The Mystery of the Cross
Sunday, April 23, 2017

It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. —1 Corinthians 2:8

Jesus’ life, death, and raising up is the whole pattern revealed, named, summed up, and assured for our own lives. It gives us the full trajectory that we might not recognize otherwise. He is the map. The Jesus story is the universe story. The Universal Christ is no threat to anything but separateness, illusion, domination, and the imperial ego. In that sense, Jesus, the Christ, is the ultimate threat, but first of all to Christians. Only when we follow Jesus through his life, death and resurrection will we have any universal and salvific message for the rest of the earth.

The lead up to and the follow up from the cross is the great interpretative key that makes the core pattern clear. It’s no accident that we have made the cross the Christian logo, because in the revelation of the cross, many great truths become obvious and even overwhelming, even though we do not want to see them.

Those who “gaze upon” (John 19:37) the Crucified long enough—with contemplative eyes—are always healed at deep levels of pain, unforgiveness, aggression, and victimhood. Contemplative gazing demands no theological education, just an “inner exchange” by receiving the image within and offering one’s soul back in safe return. C. G. Jung is supposed to have said that a naked man nailed to a cross is perhaps the deepest archetypal symbol in the Western psyche. [1]

The crucified Jesus offers, at a largely unconscious level, a very compassionate meaning system for history. Without such cosmic meaning and soul significance, the agonies and tragedies of Earth feel like Shakespeare’s “sound and fury signifying nothing” or “a tale told by an idiot.” The body can live without food more easily than the soul can live without such transformative meaning.

If all our crucifixions are leading to some possible resurrection, and are not dead-end tragedies, this changes everything. If God is somehow participating in the suffering of humans and creation, instead of just passively tolerating it and observing it, that also changes everything—at least for those who are willing to “gaze” contemplatively.

We Christians are given the privilege to name the mystery rightly and to know it directly and consciously, but in many ways we have not lived it much better than other religions and cultures. All humble, suffering souls can learn this from the flow of life itself, but the Christian Scriptures named it and revealed it to us publicly and dramatically in Jesus. It all depends on whether you have “gazed” long and deep enough at the paradoxical mystery of life and death.

 

Gateway to Silence:
I am crucified with Christ.

References:

[1] See Jerry Wright, “Christ, a Symbol of the Self,” C.G. Jung Society of Atlanta Quarterly News (Fall 2001), 6-8. Jung wrote extensively about Christ as archetype; Wright’s essay offers a brief overview of key ideas and resources. Available at http://www.jungatlanta.com/articles/fall01-crist-symbol-of-self.pdf

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008), 185-187

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "geronda"

Un punct de vedere solid argumentat

„Cum ne vrea Hristos în lume? După spusa celebră a lui Nicolae Steinhardt, „Hristos nu ne-a cerut niciunde să fim proști, ci deștepți. Nicăieri şi niciodată nu ne-a cerut Hristos să fim proști. Ne cheamă să fim buni, blânzi şi cinstiţi, smeriţi cu inima, dar nu tâmpiţi”.

Cunoaștem cuvintele cu care îi trimite Hristos pe apostoli să propovăduiască adevărul: „Iată, Eu vă trimit ca pe niște oi în mijlocul lupilor; fiți dar înțelepți ca șerpii și blânzi ca porumbeii” (Matei 10, 16). Pasajul din Biblia ortodoxă (în diortosirea vrednicului de pomenire Bartolomeu Anania) ar trebui totuși amendat.

În greacă, adjectivul care califică șerpii nu este σοφόi (înțelepți), ci φρόνιμοι, care înseamnă „deștepți”, „isteți”. Nu vicleni, nici înțelepți, ci deștepți – adică inteligenți, dar și treji, alerți, capabili mereu să deosebească prietenul de dușman, înțeleptul de nebun, licheaua de cel vrednic, minciuna de adevăr.

Cel deficitar în registrul lui „frónimos” se cheamă oligofren. „Fren-”, „fron-” sunt grade apofonice diferite ale aceluiași radical, la rândul lui înrudit cu „frag-”, care înseamnă a închide, a proteja. Diafragma (φρήν) este membrana care separă plămânii și inima, organele nobile ale sufletului, de viscere, organele joase ale pasiunilor și instinctelor primare. Găsim deci în subsidiar opoziția dintre rațiune și pasiune, dintre inteligență și pornirea animalică. Deși comparația hristică privește animale, asociate ca în fabulă unor calități specifice, cuvântul ales disociază între inteligența umană și visceralitatea animală. Hristos le cere deci apostolilor să nu fie pasionali, viscerali, impulsivi, deci dobitoci, ci raționali și deștepți, în toate sensurile pe care acest din urmă cuvânt le are în limba română.

Și atributul porumbeilor se cuvine îndreptat. Nu blândețe cere Hristos aici, ci puritate. În greaca veche, avem ἀκέραιοι, adică „neamestecat” (cf. verbul κεράννυμι, a amesteca). Amestecul la care se referă în primul rând acest cuvânt este cel al apei cu vinul, adică falsificarea, diluarea. Hristos le cere deci apostolilor să fie puri ca vinul neîndoit cu apă. Cea mai bună traducere ar fi, așadar, „integru”, „pur”. Nu este deci vorba despre blândețe, opusă asprimii, ci despre nevinovăție, căci în versetul următor Hristos îi avertizează pe apostoli să fie ireproșabili, integri, ca să se ferească de cei care oricum caută să-i persecute.

În vremuri de confuzie, să fim deci așa cum ne cere Mântuitorul: integri și deștepți. Să înțelegem că manipularea ideologică a credinței se poate numi putinism, dughinism, puricism, vadimism – orice, dar nu ortodoxie. Că Dumnezeu nu-i iubește pe criminali, pe hoți și pe corupți dacă nu se îndreaptă. Că patriotismul înseamnă iubire cinstită și firească, nu viol urmat de jaf. Că libertatea și curajul de a te lupta pentru adevăr și dreptate sunt bineplăcute lui Dumnezeu, iar faptul că unii profită viclean de ele nu e un motiv de resemnare și inacțiune.”

Adrian Papahagi

inliniedreapta.net/monitorul-neoficial/adrian-papahagi-nu-va-lasati-inselati-de-cantecul-de-sirena-al-celor-care-denatureaza-patriotismul-si-ortodoxia/

Fukuyama, today

The Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor, February  9

Francis Fukuyama, an acclaimed American political philosopher, entered the global imagination at the end of the Cold War when he prophesied the „end of history” — a belief that, after the fall of communism, free-market liberal democracy had won out and would become the world’s „final form of human government.” Now, at a moment when liberal democracy seems to be in crisis across the West, Fukuyama, too, wonders about its future.

„Twenty five years ago, I didn’t have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward,” said Fukuyama in a phone interview. „And I think they clearly can.”

Fukuyama’s initial argument (which I’ve greatly over-simplified) framed the international zeitgeist for the past two decades. Globalization was the vehicle by which liberalism would spread across the globe. The rule of law and institutions would supplant power politics and tribal divisions. Supranational bodies like the European Union seemed to embody those ideals.

But if the havoc of the Great Recession and the growing clout of authoritarian states like China and Russia hadn’t already upset the story, Brexit and the election of President Trump last year certainly did.

Now the backlash of right-wing nationalism on both sides of the Atlantic is in full swing. This week, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen announced her candidacy for president with a scathing attack on the liberal status quo. „Our leaders chose globalization, which they wanted to be a happy thing. It turned out to be a horrible thing,” Le Pen thundered.

Marine Le Pen launches her presidential campaign in Lyon, France, on Feb. 5. (Arnold Jerocki/EPA)</p>

Marine Le Pen launches her presidential campaign in Lyon, France, on Feb. 5. (Arnold Jerocki/EPA)

Fukuyama recognizes the crisis. „Globalization really does seem to produce these internal tensions within democracies that these institutions have some trouble reconciling,” he said. Combined with grievances over immigration and multiculturalism, it created room for the „demagogic populism” that catapulted Trump into the White House. That has Fukuyama deeply concerned.

„I have honestly never encountered anyone in political life who I thought had a less suitable personality to be president,” Fukuyama said of the new president. „Trump is so thin-skinned and insecure that he takes any kind of criticism or attack personally and then hits back.”

Fukuyama, like many other observers, worries about „a slow erosion of institutions” and a weakening of democratic norms under a president who seems willing to question the legitimacy of anything that may stand in his way — whether it’s the judiciary, his political opponents or the mainstream media.

But the problem isn’t just Trump and the polarization he stokes, argues Fukuyama. What the scholar finds „most troubling” on the American political scene is the extent to which the Republican Party has gerrymandered districts and established what amounts to de facto one-party rule in parts of the country.

„If you’ve tilted the playing field in the electoral system that it doesn’t allow you to boot parties out of power, then you’ve got a real problem,” said Fukuyama. „The Republicans have been at this for quite a while already and it’s going to accelerate in these four years.”

„When democracies start turning on themselves and undermining their own legitimacy, then you’re in much more serious trouble,” he said.

International institutions don’t seem to be faring any better. Fukuyama thinks the European Union is „definitely unraveling” due to a series of overlapping mistakes. The creation of the eurozone „was a disaster” and the continued inability to develop a collective policy on immigration has deepened discontent. Moreover, said Fukuyama, „there really was never any investment in building a shared sense of European identity.”

But while the West is lurching through a period of profound uncertainty, Fukuyama calls for patience, not panic.

„We don’t know how it’s all going to play out,” he said. The tide of right-wing nationalism may ebb if the results of major elections this year go against the Le Pens of the world. Fukuyama wonders whether Trump will eventually face a backlash from within his own party, particularly if he cozies up to an autocrat like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

„The Austrian election was actually interesting,” he said, referring to a presidential vote in which a far-right candidate narrowly lost last year. „It was as if people in Europe said, ‘Well, we don’t want be like these crude Americans and elect an idiot like Donald Trump.'”

The turbulence of the moment doesn’t have to be read as a rebuttal of his original thesis. The „end of history” was always more about ideas than events. For that reason, Fukuyama’s most vehement critics over the years were not right-wing nationalists but thinkers on the left who reject the dogma of free markets. Fukuyama himself always left the door open for future uncertainty and crisis.

„Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history,” he wrote more than two decades ago, „will serve to get history started once again.”

Nu putem evita greselile

Oameni fiind, greselile sunt inevitabile. Poate ca am facut pe cineva sa sufere, poate ca am ranit suflete dragi, si ne pare tare rau. Dar putem totdeauna sa o luam de la capat, greselile pot fi puncte de plecare pentru o transformare. Sunt cea mai buna scoala pentru a învata sa fii mai bun, mai sensibil la durerea altcuiva, mai iubitor, mai tolerant. De aceea greselile isi au rolul lor de jucat în evolutia noastra. Sa nu ne lasam prinsi în capcana vinovatiei daca am facut în viata niste greseli. 

Because we are human beings, we cannot avoid making mistakes. We might have caused someone else to suffer, we might have offended our beloved ones, and we feel regret. But it is always possible for us to begin anew, and to transform all these kinds of mistakes. Without making mistakes there is no way to learn, in order to be a better person, to learn how to be tolerant, to be compassionate, to be loving, to be accepting. That is why mistakes play a role in our training, in our learning, and we should not get caught in the prison of culpability just because we have made some mistakes in our life.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

O glorie diferita de ce ne închipuim

„Un lucru e sigur şi se impune cu o evidenţă strigă­toare: istoria omenirii, începând cu vârstele ei cele mai îndepărtate, are un caracter tragic. Nu a rămas nică­ieri vreo urmă a unei vârste de aur, decât, desigur, în imaginarul colectiv al popoarelor.

Istoria omenească, în fond, este Babel. Turnul Babel reprezintă simbolul biblic al unei voinţe prometeice a unei puteri omeneşti unite, care degenerează în confu­zie şi împrăştiere. Uciderea lui Abel şi Turnul Babel sunt două mari imagini profetice ale istoriei omeneşti, a cărei desfăşurare apare ca o suită de lupte fratricide pentru putere între sisteme închise. Totul se petrece ca şi cum capacitatea divină de a iubi, depusă în om de la începuturi, s-ar fi prefăcut într-o forţă monstruoasă, lucrând numai pentru a domina şi a exclude.

Câteodată, e adevărat, intervine câte o surpriză feri­cită: un suflu mesianic se ridică, aducând pace şi fră­ţie, părând a croi o cale de destindere şi de înţelegere. O firavă speranţă se naşte. Se înalţă pe catarge drapele de pace. Apoi vântul îşi schimbă brusc direcţia şi izbuc­neşte o altă furtună. Pacea pe care o crezuserăm veşnică nu fusese decât un somn al conflictelor. Antagonismele reapar, ca şi excluderile. Reîncep ura, sfâşierea, cu ala­iul lor de cruzimi.

Când se porneşte o nouă avalanşă de orori, Dumne­zeu îşi regretă actul creator, ne spune Biblia: „s-a căit pentru că l-a creat pe om pe pământ şi s-a mâhnit în inima lui” (Gen 6,6). Dumnezeu ar fi putut opri trage­dia, renunţând la proiectul său grandios, prefăcând totul în pulbere. Însă Dumnezeu nu este ca omul. Gândurile sale nu sunt ca ale noastre, iar el nu iubeşte distrugerea: „… căci Eu sunt Dumnezeu… iar nu om… nu voi veni să te prăpădesc” (Os 11,9). Iubirea care a plămădit lumea, iubirea care a dorit creaţia pentru a se împărtăşi unor fiinţe distincte de sine, iubirea aceasta nu va renunţa la proiectul la temelia căruia stă venirea „Primului-născut din toată creaţia”. Dum­nezeu a văzut nenorocirea oamenilor, iar priveliştea aceasta a născut în inima lui o iubire nouă, plină de milostivire şi de duioşie. Cine ar putea măsura puterea unei asemenea iubiri? Dumnezeu a luat hotărârea de a salva ceea ce fusese pierdut.

Nu, Ziditorul nu-şi va uita măreţul proiect. Se va revela pe deplin celui pe care l-a voit şi iubit din vecie: omul, dorit ca să-i aducă lui Dumnezeu bucurie, fericire, slavă. Misiunea de a-şi mântui fraţii întru umanitate îi va reveni Fiului cel iubit; el îi va smulge din haos, din ură şi din moarte, cufundându-i în unda iubirii ce zideşte şi îndumnezeieşte: pentru ca şi ei să se poată bucura de viaţa divină, având, de asemenea, parte de plinătatea ei. Dăruindu-se neprecupeţit omului decăzut, Dumne­zeu va revărsa asupra inimii omeneşti dragostea sa milostivă; va dărui propria privire îndurătoare asupra celui rătăcit. Pe scurt, îl va trimite pe Fiul său cel iubit pentru a fi chipul omenesc al Iubirii răscumpărătoare.

De aceea a coborât Fiul unic al lui Dumnezeu în lumea noastră dezbinată şi sfâşiată. Sosirea lui fusese anunţată, însă el a apărut printre oameni fără nimic din strălucirea aşteptată: „într-o asemenea obscuritate (ceea ce lumea numeşte „a fi obscur”), scrie Pascal, încât istoricii, cei ce nu notează decât evenimentele importante ale statelor, abia dacă l-au observat”. „Glo­ria pe care venise s-o arate” era de alt ordin.”

Eloi Leclerc, Chemin de contemplation, în româneste „Cale de îndumnezeire”, ed. Sapientia