Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Simone Weil

We live in a world of unreality and dreams. To give up our imaginary position at the center, to renounce it, not only intellectually but in the imaginative part of our soul, that means to awaken to what is real and eternal, to see the true light and hear the true silence. A transformation then takes place at the very roots of our sensibility, in our immediate reception of sense impressions and psychological impressions. It is a transformation analogous to that which takes place in the dusk of evening on a road, where we suddenly discern as a tree what we had first seen as a stooping man; or where we suddenly recognize as a rustling of leaves what we thought at first was whispering voices. We see the same colors; we hear the same sounds, but not in the same way. To empty ourselves of our false divinity, to deny ourselves, to give up being the center of the world in imagination, to discern that all points in the world are equally centers and that the true center is outside the world, this is to consent to the rule of mechanical necessity in matter and of free choice at the center of each soul. Such consent is love.

When we have learned to look at perfect purity, the shortness of human life is the only thing to prevent us from being sure that unless we play false we can attain perfection here on earth. For we are finite beings and the evil that is within us is finite too. The purity that is offered to our eyes is infinite. However little evil we were to destroy at each look, we could be certain, if our time were unlimited, that by looking often enough, one day we should destroy it all. . . . It is however then that the act of looking is almost impossible. All the mediocre part of the soul, fearing death with a more violent fear than that caused by the approach of death of the body, revolts and suggests lies to protect itself.

There are people who try to raise their souls like a man continually taking standing jumps in the hopes that, if he jumps higher every day, a time may come when he will no longer fall back but will go right up to the sky. Thus occupied he cannot look at the sky. We cannot take a single step toward heaven. It is not in our power to travel in a vertical direction. If however we look heavenward for a long time, God comes and takes us up. He raises us up easily. As Aeschylus says, “There is no effort in what is divine.” There is an easiness in salvation which is more difficult to us than all our efforts.

From Waiting for God

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