Brian’s Reflection: Monday, February 8, 2010
For sin is just this, what [humankind] cannot by
its very nature do with [its] whole being. It is
possible to silence the conflict in the soul, but it
is not possible to uproot it. (Brackets mine, to be inclusive)
Martin Buber, German Jewish religious philosopher.
He was born on this date, 1878
But first: another quote from Buber.
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
This has absolutely been true in my Life. As a Gay lad, I “fled” from Canada at age 21. On the basis of pure Intuition. To be a monk. In a community in which, without words, I knew that this community existed in which, as a Gay person, I could Become. (Have you heard of Gaydar? Take my word for it: it works!) It was a blessing. What is the message here? The message is: our Intuition can be trusted to lead us to the position where we can be Ourself. Where we can know the Freedom God wishes for us. This has been true for me since then and until my present situation: If you listen to your Intuition, it will lead you to Freedom.
Now: what I love about the other quote is this: it holds to a “high” doctrine of Humanity. It assumes that “Humanity” knows, in its deepest center, what will lead to its Destiny. I agree with that as a philosophical, theological, and emotional position.
Our present-day murders, suicide bombers, abortion clinic killers, and theological extremists have “silenced the conflict of the soul”. This is dangerous.
What I value about the initial quote is that it assumes a “high doctrine” of Humanity. It assumes that we are God-like. That we can choose to act in love for our fellow human beings. Even at the expense of our self-preservation. This is essentially “Christ-like” – which has nothing to do with Christianity per se, but with the universal longing for freedom from the power of sin and death to prevent us fulfilling from our calling as a human person.
For me, people like Judas and Hitler fall into the same category: they have “silenced the conflict of the soul”, but they have not “uprooted it”. Both Judas and Hitler committed suicide, because they came to understand the Truth. As Buber articulated, uprooting our true nature is impossible. We cannot ultimately alienate our true Selves. Should we come to understand that we have betrayed ourself, despair can lead to self-annihilation, literally or psychologically.
What a discipline! To examine every action in the light of this deepest truth of the soul!
Give it a try! We must do the best we can.