Kazantzakis 14 - The Action: Part II

Curriculum Focus

What is Reality
Struggle of Synthesis
The Last Battle


Kazantzakis, Nikos, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1960. p 103 - 108.

THE ACTION The Relationship Between God and Man Part II

25) Let us stoop down to our hearts and confront the Abyss valiantly. Let us try to mold once more, with our flesh and blood, the new, contemporary face of God.

26) For our God is not an abstract thought, a logical necessity, a high and harmonious structure made of deductions and speculations.

27) S/he is not an immaculate, neutral, odorless, distilled product of our brains, neither male nor female.

28) S/he is both man and woman, mortal and immortal, dung and spirit. S/he gives birth, fecundates, slaughtersdeath and eros in oneand then s/he begets and slays once more, dancing spaciously beyond the boundaries of a logic which cannot contain the antinomies.

29) My God is not Almighty. S/he struggles, for s/he is in peril every moment; s/he trembles and stumbles in every living thing, and s/he cries out. S/he is defeated incessantly, but rises again, full of blood and earth, to throw himself/herself into battle once more.

30) S/he is full of wounds, her/his eyes are filled with fear and stubbornness, her/his jawbones and temples are splintered. But s/he does not surrender, s/he ascends; s/he ascends with her/his feet, with her/his hands, biting her/his lips, undaunted.

31) My God is not All-holy. S/he is full of cruelty and savage justice, and s/he chooses the best mercilessly. S/he is without compassion; s/he does not trouble herself/himself about people or animals; nor does s/he care for virtues and ideas. S/he loves all these things for a moment, then smashes them eternally and passes on.

32) S/he is a power that contains all things, that begets all things. S/he begets them, loves them, and destroys them. And if we say, Our God is an erotic wind and shatters all bodies that s/he may drive on, and if we remember that eros always works through blood and tears, destroying every individual without mercythen we shall approach her/his dread face a little closer.

33) My God is not All-knowing. Her/His brain is a tangled skein of light and darkness which s/he strives to unravel in the labyrinth of the flesh.

34) S/he stumbles and fumbles. S/he gropes to the right and turns back; swings to the left and sniffs the air. S/he struggles above chaos in anguish. Crawling, straining, groping for unnumbered centuries, s/he feels the muddy coils of her/his brain being slowly suffused with light.

35) On the surface of his heavy, pitch-black head s/he begins with an indescribable struggle to create eyes by which to see, ears by which to hear.

36) My God struggles on without certainty. Will s/he conquer Will s/he be conquered Nothing in the Universe is certain. S/he flings herself/himself into uncertainty; s/he gambles all her/his destiny at every moment.

37) S/he clings to warm bodies; s/he has no other bulwark. S/he shouts for help; s/he proclaims a mobilization throughout the Universe.

38) It is our duty, on hearing her/his Cry, to run under her/his flag, to fight by her/his side, to be lost or to be saved with her/him.

39) God is imperiled. S/he is not almighty, that we may cross our hands, waiting for certain victory. S/he is not all-holy, that we may wait trustingly for her/him to pity and to save us.

40) Within the province of our ephemeral flesh all of God is imperiled. S/he cannot be saved unless we save her/him with our own struggles; nor can we be saved unless s/he is saved.

41) We are one. From the blind worm in the depths of the ocean to the endless arena of the Galaxy, only one person struggles and is imperiled: You. And within your small and earthen breast only one thing struggles and is imperiled: the Universe.

42) We must understand well that we do not proceed from a unity of God to the same unity of God again. We do not proceed from one chaos to another chaos, neither from one light to another light, nor from one darkness to another darkness. What would be the value of our life then What would be the value of all life

43) But we set out from an almighty chaos, from a thick abyss of light and darkness tangled. And we struggleplants, animals, people, ideasin this momentary passage of individual life, to put in order the Chaos within us, to cleanse the abyss, to work upon as much darkness as we can within our bodies and to transmute it into light.

44) We do not struggle for ourselves, not for our race, not even for humanity.

45) We do not struggle for Earth, nor for ideas. All these are the precious yet provisional stairs of our ascending God, and they crumble away as soon as s/he steps upon them in her/his ascent.

46) In the smallest lightning flash of our lives, we feel all of God treading upon us, and suddenly we understand: if we all desire it intensely, if we organize all the visible and invisible powers of earth and fling them upward, if we all battle together like fellow combatants eternally vigilantthen the Universe might possibly be saved.

47) It is not God who will save usit is we who will save God, by battling, by creating, and by transmuting matter into spirit.

48) But all our struggle may go lost. If we tire, if we grow faint of spirit, if we fall into panic, then the entire Universe becomes imperiled.

49) Life is a crusade in the service of God. Whether we wished to or not, we set out as crusaders to freenot the Holy Sepulcherbut that God buried in matter and in our souls.

50) Every body, every soul is a Holy Sepulcher. Every seed of grain is a Holy Sepulcher; let us free it! The brain is a Holy Sepulcher, God sprawls within it and battles with death; let us run to her/his assistance!

51) God gives the signal for battle, and I, too, rush to the attack, trembling.

52) Whether I straggle behind as a deserter or battle valiantly, I know that I shall always fall in battle. But on the first occasion my death would be sterile, for with the destruction of my body my soul would also be lost and scattered to the winds.

53) On the second occasion, I would descend into earth like a fruit brimming with seed. Though my breath abandon my body to rot, it would organize new bodies and continue the battle.

54) My prayer is not the whimpering of a beggar nor a confession of love. Nor is it the trivial reckoning of a small tradesman: Give me and I shall give you.

55) My prayer is the report of a soldier to her/his general: This is what I did today, this is how I fought to save the entire battle in my own sector, these are the obstacles I found, this is how I plan to fight tomorrow.

56) My God and I are horsemen galloping in the burning sun or under drizzling rain. Pale, starving, but unsubdued, we ride and converse.

57) Leader! I cry. S/he turns her/his face toward me, and I shudder to confront her/his anguish.

58) Our love for each other is rough and ready, we sit at the same table, we drink the same wine in this low tavern of life.

59) As we clink our glasses, swords clash and resound, loves and hates spring up. We get drunk, visions of slaughter ascend before our eyes, cities crumble and fall in our brains, and though we are both wounded and screaming with pain, we plunder a huge Palace.


Reflection Questions

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

What are the concepts of God in this section that run contrary to the popular culture of humanity on the concept of a deity Read the line that reveals.

Read 41. How do you experience this reality in your own life

Read 52 53. What are the two different life postures outlined How do you experience this in your own life

Read 58 59. What kind of life is this to lead How does this have anything to do with us

What question of this material would you like to discuss with the author for further clarification or guidance .(How would anyone else address this question)

How might I live my life differently because of the awareness provoked in this material

What personal practices might be indicted from the encounter with this material

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