Kazantzakis

A man, writes Kazantzakis, has three duties.  His first duty is to the mind which imposes order on disorder, formulates laws, builds bridges over the unfathomable abyss, and sets up rational boundaries beyond which man does not dare to go.  But his second duty is to the heart, which admits of no boundaries, which years to pierce beyond phenomena and to merge with something beyond the mind and matter.  His third duty is to free himself from both mind and heart, from the great temptation of the hope which both offer of subduing phenomena or of finding the essence of things.  A man must then embrace the annihilating abyss without any hope, he must say that nothing exists, neither life nor death, and must accept this necessity bravely, with exultation and song.  He may then build the affirmative structure of his life over this abyss in an ecstasy of tragic joy.

A man is now prepared to undertake a pilgrimage of four stages.  At the start of his journey, he hears an agonized cry within him shouting for help.  His first stage is to plunge into his own ego until he discovers that it is the endangered spirit (or “God”) locked within each man that is crying out for liberation.  In order to free it, each man must consider himself solely responsible for the salvation of the world, because when a man dies, that aspect of the universe which is his own particular vision and the unique play of his mind also crashes to ruin forever.  In the second step, a man must plunge beyond his ego and into his racial origins; yet among his forefathers he must choose only those who can help him toward greater refinement of spirit, that he may in turn pass on his task to a son who may also surpass him.  The third step is for a man is to plunge beyond his own particular race into the races of all mankind and to suffer their composite agony in the struggle to liberate God within themselves.  The forth step is to plunge beyond mankind and to become identify with all the universe, with animate and inanimate matter, with earth, stones, sea, plants, animals, insects, and birds, with the vital impulse of creation in all phenomena.  Each man is a fathomless composite of atavistic roots plunging down to the primordial origins of things.  A man is now prepared to go beyond the mind, the heart, and hope, beyond his ego, his race, and mankind even, beyond all phenomena and plunge further into a vision of the Invisible permeating all things and forever ascending.

 

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