And life? Life itself? Was it perhaps only an infection, a sickening of matter? Was that which one might call the original procreation of matter only a disease, a growth produced by morbid stimulation of the immaterial? The first step toward evil, toward desire and death, was taken precisely then, when there took place that first increase in the density of the spiritual, that pathologically luxuriant morbid growth, produced by the irritant of some unknown infiltration; this, in part pleasurable, in part a motion of self-defense, was the primeval stage of matter, the transition from the insubstantial to the substance. This was the Fall.
And here she was, an old woman now, living and hoping, keeping faith, afraid of evil, full of anxiety for the living and an equal concern for the dead; here she was, looking at the ruins of her home, admiring the spring sky without knowing that she was admiring it, wondering why the future of those she loved was so obscure and the past so full of mistakes, not realizing that this very obscurity and unhappiness concealed a strange hope and clarity, not realizing that in the depths of her soul she already knew the meaning of both her own life and the lives of her nearest and dearest, not realizing that even though neither she herself nor any of them could tell what was in store, even though they all knew only too well that at times like these no man can forge his own happiness and that fate alone has the power to pardon and chastise, to raise up to glory and to plunge into need, to reduce a man to labour- camp dust, nevertheless neither fate, nor history, nor the anger of the State, nor the glory or infamy of battle has any power to affect those who call themselves human beings. No, whatever life holds in store – hard-won glory, poverty and despair, or death in a labour camp – they will live as human beings and die as human beings, the same as those who have already perished; and in this alone lies man's eternal and bitter victory over all the grandiose and inhuman forces that ever have been or will be.
That night, the Raka conspirators had plenty of news to report, particularly Ochobu. Aly had not known that the mages of the Chain had been laboring to eliminate any mages who had worked magic on the Crown’s behalf. So far they had killed seven of the most powerful.Chelaol would call this count of the dead another ‘good start,’ Aly thought grimly. This crude business of counting up lives taken struck her as a bad idea. It took the horror from death. When Ochobu named four mages on Lombyn who had had been killed in the streets of their towns, it had been about numbers, not lives. Maybe this is how you become a Rittevon, she thought. You get used to the dead being described as numbers, not fathers or daughters or grandparents.She turned to Dove when Ochobu finished, 'don’t ever be like this,' she urged. 'don’t think that it doesn’t matter if you only hear of murder as a number. If you keep it at a distance.
Like the most of you, I was raised among people who knew - who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts. They knew that they had the truth. In their creed there was no guess — no perhaps. They had a revelation from God. They knew the beginning of things. They knew that God commenced to create one Monday morning, four thousand and four years before Christ. They knew that in the eternity — back of that morning, he had done nothing. They knew that it took him six days to make the earth — all plants, all animals, all life, and all the globes that wheel in space. They knew exactly what he did each day and when he rested. They knew the origin, the cause of evil, of all crime, of all disease and death.At the same time they knew that God created man in his own image and was perfectly satisfied with his work... They knew all about the Flood -- knew that God, with the exception of eight, drowned all his children -- the old and young -- the bowed patriarch and the dimpled babe -- the young man and the merry maiden -- the loving mother and the laughing child -- because his mercy endureth forever. They knew too, that he drowned the beasts and birds -- everything that walked or crawled or flew -- because his loving kindness is over all his works. They knew that God, for the purpose of civilizing his children, had devoured some with earthquakes, destroyed some with storms of fire, killed some with his lightnings, millions with famine, with pestilence, and sacrificed countless thousands upon the fields of war. They knew that it was necessary to believe these things and to love God. They knew that there could be no salvation except by faith, and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.Then I asked myself the question: Is there a supernatural power -- an arbitrary mind -- an enthroned God -- a supreme will that sways the tides and currents of the world -- to which all causes bow?I do not deny. I do not know - but I do not believe. I believe that the natural is supreme - that from the infinite chain no link can be lost or broken — that there is no supernatural power that can answer prayer - no power that worship can persuade or change — no power that cares for man.Is there a God?I do not know.Is man immortal?I do not know.One thing I do know, and that is, that neither hope, nor fear, belief, nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is, and it will be as it must be.We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know. We can tell the truth, and we can enjoy the blessed freedom that the brave have won. We can destroy the monsters of superstition, the hissing snakes of ignorance and fear. We can drive from our minds the frightful things that tear and wound with beak and fang. We can civilize our fellow-men. We can fill our lives with generous deeds, with loving words, with art and song, and all the ecstasies of love. We can flood our years with sunshine — with the divine climate of kindness, and we can drain to the last drop the golden cup of joy.
My son, you are just an infant now, but on that day when the world disrobes of its alluring cloak, it is then that I pray this letter is in your hands.Listen closely, my dear child, for I am more than that old man in the dusty portrait beside your bed. I was once a little boy in my mother’s arms and a babbling toddler on my father's lap.I played till the sun would set and climbed trees with ease and skill. Then I grew into a fine young man with shoulders broad and strong. My bones were firm and my limbs were straight; my hair was blacker than a raven's beak. I had a spring in my step and a lion's roar. I travelled the world, found love and married. Then off to war I bled in battle and danced with death.But today, vigor and grace have forsaken me and left me crippled.Listen closely, then, as I have lived not only all the years you have existed, but another forty more of my own.My son, We take this world for a permanent place; we assume our gains and triumphs will always be; that all that is dear to us will last forever.But my child, time is a patient hunter and a treacherous thief: it robs us of our loved ones and snatches up our glory. It crumbles mountains and turns stone to sand. So who are we to impede its path?No, everything and everyone we love will vanish, one day.So take time to appreciate the wee hours and seconds you have in this world. Your life is nothing but a sum of days so why take any day for granted? Don't despise evil people, they are here for a reason, too, for just as the gift salt offers to food, so do the worst of men allow us to savor the sweet, hidden flavor of true friendship.Dear boy, treat your elders with respect and shower them with gratitude; they are the keepers of hidden treasures and bridges to our past. Give meaning to your every goodbye and hold on to that parting embrace just a moment longer--you never know if it will be your last.Beware the temptation of riches and fame for both will abandon you faster than our own shadow deserts us at the approach of the setting sun. Cultivate seeds of knowledge in your soul and reap the harvest of good character.Above all, know why you have been placed on this floating blue sphere, swimming through space, for there is nothing more worthy of regret than a life lived void of this knowing.My son, dark days are upon you. This world will not leave you with tears unshed. It will squeeze you in its talons and lift you high, then drop you to plummet and shatter to bits . But when you lay there in pieces scattered and broken, gather yourself together and be whole once more. That is the secret of those who know.So let not my graying hairs and wrinkled skin deceive you that I do not understand this modern world. My life was filled with a thousand sacrifices that only I will ever know and a hundred gulps of poison I drank to be the father I wanted you to have.But, alas, such is the nature of this life that we will never truly know the struggles of our parents--not until that time arrives when a little hand--resembling our own--gently clutches our finger from its crib.My dear child, I fear that day when you will call hopelessly upon my lifeless corpse and no response shall come from me. I will be of no use to you then but I hope these words I leave behind will echo in your ears that day when I am no more. This life is but a blink in the eye of time, so cherish each moment dearly, my son.
You have to remember one life, one death–this one! To enter fully the day, the hour, the moment whether it appears as life or death, whether we catch it on the inbreath or outbreath, requires only a moment, this moment. And along with it all the mindfulness we can muster, and each stage of our ongoing birth, and the confident joy of our inherent luminosity. (24)
...All who ever died, live; they are reborn and have no end, nor will there ever be an end. All, save you. For you would not have death. You lost death, you lost life, in order to save yourself. Yourself! Your immortal self! What is it? Who are you?""I am myself. My body will not decay and die-""A living body suffers pain, Cob; a living body grows old; it dies. Death is the price we pay for our life and for all life.""I do not pay it! I can die and in that moment live again! I cannot be killed; I am immortal. I alone am myself forever!""Who are you, then?""The Immortal One.""Say your name.""The King.""Say my name. I told it to you but a minute since. Say my name!""You are not real. You have no name. Only I exist.""You exist: without name, without form. You cannot see the light of day; you cannot see the dark. You sold the green earth and the sun and stars to save yourself. But you have no self. All that which you sold, that is yourself. You have given everything for nothing. And so now you seek to draw your world to you, all that light and life you lost, to fill up your nothingness. But it cannot be filled. Not all the songs of earth, not all the stars of heaven, could fill your emptiness.
Reasonableness is a matter of degree. Beliefs can be very reasonable (Japan exists), fairly reasonable (quarks exist), not unreasonable (there's intelligent life on other planets) or downright unreasonable (fairies exist).There's a scale of reasonableness, if you like, with very reasonable beliefs near the top and deeply unreasonable ones towards the bottom. Notice a belief can be very high up the scale, yet still be open to some doubt. And even when a belief is low down, we can still acknowledge the remote possibility it might be true.How reasonable is the belief that God exists? Atheists typically think it very unreasonable. Very low on the scale. But most religious people say it is at least not unreasonable (have you ever met a Christian who said 'Hey, belief in God is no more reasonable than belief in fairies, but I believe it anyway!'?) They think their belief is at least halfway up the scale of reasonableness.Now, that their belief is downright unreasonable might, in fact, be established empirically. If it turned out that not only is there no good evidence of an all-powerful, all-good God, there's also overwhelming evidence against (from millions of years of unimaginable and pointless animal suffering, including several mass extinctions - to thousands of children being crushed to death or buried alive in Pakistan earthquake, etc. etc. etc.) then it could be empirically confirmed that there's no God.Would this constitute a 'proof' that there's no God? Depends what you mean by 'proof'. Personally I think these sorts of consideration do establish beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no all-powerful all-good God. So we can, in this sense, prove there's no God.Yet all the people quoted in my last blog say you cannot 'scientifically' prove or disprove God's existence. If they mean prove beyond any doubt they are right. But then hardly anything is provable in that sense, not even the non-existence of fairies.
Life is not interested in good and evil. Don Quixote was constantly choosing between good and evil, but then he was choosing in his dream state. He was mad. He entered reality only when he was so busy trying to cope with people that he had no time to distinguish between good and evil. Since people exist only in life, they must devote their time simply to being alive. Life is motion, and motion is concerned with what makes man move—which is ambition, power, pleasure. What time a man can devote to morality, he must take by force from the motion of which he is a part. He is compelled to make choices between good and evil sooner or later, because moral conscience demands that from him in order that he can live with himself tomorrow. His moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.
Anyhow, I had found something out about an unknown privation, and I realized how a general love or craving, before it is explicit or before it sees its object, manifests itself as boredom or some other kind of suffering. And what did I think of myself in relation to the great occasions, the more sizable being of these books? Why, I saw them, first of all. So suppose I wasn't created to read a great declaration, or to boss a palatinate, or send off a message to Avignon, and so on, I could see, so there nevertheless was a share for me in all that had happened. How much of a share? Why, I knew there were things that would never, because they could never, come of my reading. But this knowledge was not so different from the remote but ever-present death that sits in the corner of the loving bedroom; though it doesn't budge from the corner, you wouldn't stop your loving. Then neither would I stop my reading. I sat and read. I had no eye, ear, or interest for anything else--that is, for usual, second-order, oatmeal, mere-phenomenal, snarled-shoelace-carfare-laundry-ticket plainness, unspecified dismalness, unknown captivities; the life of despair-harness or the life of organization-habits which is meant to supplant accidents with calm abiding. Well, now, who can really expect the daily facts to go, toil or prisons to go, oatmeal and laundry tickets and the rest, and insist that all moments be raised to the greatest importance, demand that everyone breathe the pointy, star-furnished air at its highest difficulty, abolish all brick, vaultlike rooms, all dreariness, and live like prophets or gods? Why, everybody knows this triumphant life can only be periodic. So there's a schism about it, some saying only this triumphant life is real and others that only the daily facts are. For me there was no debate, and I made speed into the former.
The moon fled eastward like a frightened dove, while the stars changed their places in the heavens, like a disbanding army.'Where are we?' asked Gil Gil.'In France,' responded the Angel of Death. 'We have now traversed a large portion of the two bellicose nations which waged so sanguinary a war with each other at the beginning of the present century. We have seen the theater of the War of Succession. Conquered and conquerors both lie sleeping at this instant. My apprentice, Sleep, rules over the heroes who did not perish then, in battle, or afterward of sickness or of old age. I do not understand why it is that below on earth all men are not friends? The identity of your misfortunes and your weaknesses, the need you have of each other, the shortness of your life, the spectacle of the grandeur of other worlds, and the comparison between them and your littleness, all this should combine to unite you in brotherhood, like the passengers of a vessel threatened with shipwreck. There, there is neither love, nor hate, nor ambition, no one is debtor or creditor, no one is great or little, no one is handsome or ugly, no one is happy or unfortunate. The same danger surrounds all and my presence makes all equal. Well, then, what is the earth, seen from this height, but a ship which is foundering, a city delivered up to an epidemic or a conflagration?''What are those ignes fatui which I can see shining in certain places on the terrestrial globe, ever since the moon veiled her light?' asked the young man.'They are cemeteries. We are now above Paris. Side by side with every city, every town, every village of the living there is always a city, a town, or a village of the dead, as the shadow is always beside the body. Geography, then, is of two kinds, although mortals only speak of the kind which is agreeable to them. A map of all the cemeteries which there are on the earth would be sufficient indication of the political geography of your world. You would miscalculate, however, in regard to the population; the dead cities are much more densely populated than the living; in the latter there are hardly three generations at one time, while, in the former, hundreds of generations are often crowded together. As for the lights you see shining, they are phosphorescent gleams from dead bodies, or rather they are the expiring gleams of thousands of vanished lives; they are the twilight glow of love, ambition, anger, genius, mercy; they are, in short, the last glow of a dying light, of the individuality which is disappearing, of the being yielding back his elements to mother earth. They are - and now it is that I have found the true word - the foam made by the river when it mingles its waters with those of the ocean.' The Angel of Death paused. ("The Friend of Death")
they Whatever can make life truly happy is absolutely good in its own right because it cannot be warped into evil From whence then comes error In that while all men wish for a happy life they mistake the means for the thing itself and while they fancy themselves in pursuit of it they are flying from it for when the sum of happiness consists in solid tranquillity and an unembarrassed confidence therein they are ever collecting causes of disquiet and not only carry burthens but drag them painfully along through the rugged and deceitful path of life so that they still withdraw themselves from the good effect proposed the more pains they take the more business they have upon their hands instead of advancing they are retrograde and as it happens in a labyrinth their very speed puzzles and confounds them