Kazantzakis 11 - The Vision: Part I

Curriculum Focus

What is Reality


Kazantzakis, Nikos, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1960. p 87-91.


1) You heard the Cry and set forth. From battle to battle you passed through all the war service of militant humanity.

2) You fought within the small tent of your body, but behold, the battle arena seemed too narrow; you felt stifled and rushed out to escape.

3) You pitched your camp on your race, you brimmed with hands and hearts as with your blood you first revived the dread ancestors and then set forth with the dead, the living, and the unborn to give battle.

4) Suddenly all races moved with you, the holy army of humanity was arranged for battle behind you, and all earth resounded like a military encampment.

5) You climbed to a high peak from which the plan of battle branched out amid the coils of your brain, and all opposing expeditions united in the secret encampment of your heart.

6) Behind you the plants and animals were organized like supply troops for the front-line battling armies of humanity.

7) Now entire Earth clings to you, becomes flesh of your flesh, and cries out of chaos.

8) How can I besiege this dread vision with words I stoop over chaos and listen. Someone is groaning and climbing up a secret, dangerous slope.

9) S/he struggles and agonizes stubbornly to ascend. But s/he finds a contrary force that impedes him/her: Someone is hurriedly climbing down a secret and easy downward slope.

10) Within the descending sluggish stream the Spirit is dismembered and whirled about, and for a momentthe duration of every lifethe two opposing desires are balanced.

11) This is how bodies are born, how the world is created, how among living things the two antithetical powers find equilibrium.

12) For a moment the One ascending is entwined by a beloved bodyhis/her own bodyand is retarded in his/her climbing. But quickly, with love, with death, s/he escapes it, and then continues to plod on.

13) S/he tramples on inorganic matter, s/he shapes the plant and fills it. S/he encamps in it with her/his whole being. By her/his whole being is meant together with the longing and the power to escape.

14) S/he emerges a little, breathes with difficulty, chokes. S/he abandons to the plants as much heaviness, as much stupor and immobility as s/he can and, thus disburdened, leaps, with her/his whole being again, farther and higher still, creating the animals and encamping in their loins.

15) Again, with her/his whole being means together with the longing and the power to escape.

16) The bodies breathe, feed, store up strength, and then in an erotic moment are shattered, are spent and drained utterly, that they may bequeath their spirit to their sons and daughters. What spirit The drive upward!

17) S/he purifies her/himself slowly by struggling amid their bodies, and abandons to the animals as much passion, as much slavishness, as much impotence and darkness as s/he can.

18) Then once more s/he rises slightly, a bit lighter, and rushes to escape. It is this drive toward freedom, this strife with matter, which slowly created the head of humanity.

19) And now we feel with terror that s/he is again struggling to escape beyond us, to cast us off with plants and animals, and to leap farther. The moment has comeO great joy and bitterness!when we, the vanquished, must also be cast away among the reserve troops.

20) Behind the stream of my mind and body, behind the stream of my race and all humankind, behind the stream of plants and animals, I watch with trembling the Invisible, treading on all visible things and ascending.

21) Behind his/her heavy and blood-spattered feet I hear all living things being trampled on and crushed.

22) His/her face is without laughter, dark and silent, beyond joy and sorrow, beyond hope.

23) I tremble. Are you my God Your body is steeped in memory. Like one locked up in dungeons for many years, you have adorned your arms and chest with strange trees and hairy dragons, with gory adventures, with cries and chronologies.

24) Lord, my Lord, you growl like a wild beast! Your feet are covered with blood and mire, your hands are covered with blood and mire, your jaws are heavy millstones that grind slowly.

25) You clutch at trees and animals, you tread on humanity, you shout. You climb up the endless black precipice of death, and you tremble.

26) Where are you going Pain increases, the light and darkness increase. You weep, you hook onto me, you feed on my blood, you grow huge and strong, and then you kick at my heart. I press you to my breast, and I fear you and pity you.

27) It is as though we had buried Someone we thought dead, and now hear her/him calling in the night: help me! Heaving and panting, s/he raises the gravestone of our soul and body higher and still higher, breathing more freely at every moment.

28) Every word, every deed, every thought is the heavy gravestone s/he is forever trying to lift. And my own body and all the visible world, all heaven and earth, are the gravestone which God is struggling to heave upward.

29) Trees shout, animals and stars: We are doomed! every living creature flings two huge hands as high as the heavens to seek help.

30) With her/his knees doubled up under her/his chin, with her/his hands spread toward the light, with the soles of her/his feet turned toward her/his back, God huddles in a knot in every cell of flesh.

31) When I break a fruit open, this is how every seed is revealed to me. When I speak to people, this is what I discern in their thick and muddy brains.

32) God struggles in every thing, her/his hands flung upward toward the light, what light Beyond and above every thing!

Reflection Questions

Read one of the lines from this reading that caught your attention and that you would like the group to discuss or illustrate with personal examples [First time around, just read the quotes. Second time around, take time to discuss and ground.]

What other line or concept would you like to have the group explore with grounding experiences

What is the Vision that is being acknowledged in this section

What are screens or filters you look through in order to see Universal Life

Back to Text Study
Subscribe and Stay Connected!
Top menu-circlecross-circle