Kazantzakis 13 - The Action: Part I

Curriculum Focus

What is Reality
Relational Truth
Personal Identification


Kazantzakis, Nikos, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1960. p 99 102.

THE ACTION The Relationship Between God and Man Part I

1) The ultimate most holy form of theory is action.

2) Not to look on passively while the spark leaps from generation to generation, but to leap and to burn with it!

3) Action is the widest gate of deliverance. It alone can answer the questionings of the heart. Amid the labyrinthine complexities of the mind it finds the shortest route. No, it does not findit creates its way, hewing to right and left through resistances of logic and matter.

4) Why did you struggle behind phenomena to track down the Invisible What was the purpose of all your warlike, your erotic march through flesh, race, man, plants, and animals Why the mystic marriage beyond these labors, the perfect embracement, the bacchic and raging contact in darkness and in light

5) That you might reach the point from which you beganthe ephemeral, palpitating, mysterious point of your existencewith new eyes, with new ears, with a new sense of taste, smell, touch, with new brains.

6) Our profound human duty is not to interpret or to cast light on the rhythm of Gods march, but to adjust, as much as we can, the rhythm of our small and fleeting life to this One.

7) Only thus may we mortals succeed in achieving something immortal, because then we collaborate with One who is Deathless.

8) Only thus may we conquer mortal sin, the concentration on details, the narrowness of our brains; only thus may we transubstantiate into freedom the slavery of earthen matter given us to mold.

9) Amid all these things, beyond all these things every man and nation, every plant and animal, every god and demon, charges upward like an army inflamed by an incomprehensible, unconquerable Spirit.

10) We struggle to make this Spirit visible, to give it a face, to encase it in words, in allegories and thoughts and incantations, that it may not escape us.

11) But it cannot be contained in the twenty-six letters of an alphabet which we string out in rows; we know that all these words, these allegories, these thoughts, and these incantations are, once more, but a new mask with which to conceal the Abyss.

12) Yet only in this manner, by confining immensity, may we labor within the newly incised circle of humanity.

13) What do we mean by labor To fill up this circle with desires, with anxieties, and with deeds; to spread out and reach frontiers until, no longer able to contain us, they crack and collapse. By thus working with appearances, we widen and increase the essence.

14) For this reason our return to appearances, after our contact with essence, possesses an incalculable worth.

15) We have seen the highest circle of spiraling powers. We have named this circle God. We might have given it any other name we wished: Abyss, Mystery, Absolute Darkness, Absolute Light, Matter, Spirit, Ultimate Hope, Ultimate Despair, Silence.

16) But we have named it God because only this name, for primordial reasons, can stir our hearts profoundly. And this deeply felt emotion is indispensable if we are to touch, body with body, the dread essence beyond logic.

17) Within this gigantic circle of divinity we are in duty bound to separate and perceive clearly the small, burning arc of our epoch.

18) On this barely perceptible flaming curve, feeling the onrush of the entire circle profoundly and mystically, we travel in harmony with the Universe, we gain impetus and dash into battle.

19) Thus, by consciously following the onrush of the Universe, our ephemeral action does not die with us.

20) It does not become lost in a mystical and passive contemplation of the entire circle; it does not scorn holy, humble, and daily necessity.

21) Within its narrow and blood-drenched ditch it stoops and labors steadfastly, conquering easily both space and time within a small point of space and timefor this point follows the divine onrush of the entire circle.

22) I do not care what face other ages and other people have given to the enormous, faceless essence. They have crammed it with human virtues, with rewards and punishments, with certainties. They have given a face to their hopes and fears, they have submitted their anarchy to a rhythm, they have found a higher justification by which to live and labor. They have fulfilled their duty.

23) But today we have gone beyond these needs; we have shattered this particular mask of the Abyss; our God no longer fits under the old features.

24) Our hearts have over brimmed with new agonies, with new luster and silence. The mystery has grown savage, and God has grown greater. The dark powers ascend, for they have also grown greater, and the entire human island quakes.

Reflection Questions

Read one of the lines from this reading that caught your attention.

Read 1 3. What is this section about What is action Where in your own life do you find yourself being caught in the labyrinthine complexities of the mind

Read 4 5. Where have you revisited a place in your lifetime that, in the return encounter, revealed how much you had changed and grown

What is the profound duty we are asked to embrace in #6.....And what is our profound duty not How might we live our lives differently if we were to take this duty seriously

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