Kazantzakis 3 - Vanishing Earth

Curriculum Focus

Relational Truth


Kazantzakis, Nikos, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1960. p 47 - 50.

1) With clarity and quiet, I look upon the world and say: all that I see, hear, taste, smell, and touch are the creations of my mind.

2) The sun comes up and the sun goes down in my skull. Out of one of my temples the sun rises, and into the other the sun sets.

3) The stars shine in my brain; ideas, people, animals browse in my temporal head; songs and weeping fill the twisted shells of my ears and storm the air for a moment.

4) My brain blots out, and all, the heavens and the earth, vanish.

5) The mind shouts: Only I exist!

6) Deep in my subterranean cells my five senses labor; they weave and unweave space and time, joy and sorrow, matter and spirit.

7) All swirl about me like a river, dancing and whirling; faces tumble like water, and chaos howls.

8) But I, the Mind, continue to ascend patiently, manfully, sober in the vertigo. That I may not stumble and fall, I erect landmarks over this vertigo; I sling bridges, open roads, and build over the abyss.

9) Struggling slowly, I move among the phenomena which I create, I distinguish between them for my convenience, I unite them with laws and yoke them to my heavy practical needs.

10) I impose order on disorder and give a facemy faceto chaos.

11) I do not know whether behind appearances there lives and moves a secret essence superior to me. Nor do I ask; I do not care. I create phenomena in swarms, and paint with a full palette a gigantic and gaudy curtain before the abyss. Do not say, Draw the curtain that I may see the painting. The curtain is the painting.

12) This kingdom is my child, a transitory, a human work. But its a solid work, nothing more solid exists, and only within its boundaries can I remain fruitful, happy, and at work.

13) I am the worker of the abyss. I am the spectator of the abyss. I am both theory and practice. I am the law. Nothing beyond me exists.

14) To see and accept the boundaries of the human mind without vain rebellion, and in these severe limitations to work ceaselessly without protestthis is where our first duty lies.

15) Build over the unsteady abyss, with manliness and austerity, the fully round and luminous arena of the mind where you may thresh and winnow the universe like a lord of the land.

16) Distinguish clearly these bitter yet fertile human truths, flesh of our flesh, and admit them heroically: a) the human mind can perceive appearances only, and never the essence of things; b) and not all appearances but only the appearances of matter; c) and more narrowly still: not even these appearances of matter, but only relationships between them; d) and these relationships are not real and independent of us, for even these are our creations; e) and they are not the only ones humanly possible, but simply the most convenient for our practical and perceptive needs.

17) Within these limitations the mind is the legal and absolute monarch. No other power reigns within its kingdom.

18) I recognize these limitations, I accept them with resignation, bravery, and love, and I struggle at ease in their enclosure, as though I were free.

19) I subdue matter and force it to become my minds good medium. I rejoice in plants, in animals, in people and in gods, as though they were my children. I feel all the universe nestling about me and following me as though it were my own body.

20) In sudden dreadful moments a thought flashes through me: This is all a cruel and futile game, without beginning, without end, without meaning. But again I yoke myself swiftly to the wheels of necessity, and all the universe begins to revolve around me once more.

21) Discipline is the highest of all virtues. Only so may strength and desire be counterbalanced and the endeavors of humanity bear fruit.

22) This is how, with clarity and austerity, you may determine the omnipotence of the mind amid appearances and the incapacity of the mind beyond appearancesbefore you set out for salvation. You may not otherwise be saved.

Reflection Questions

What is this entity of the Mind that is being described

What is the First Duty Where do you experience the boundaries of the human mind

Where have you experienced: This is all a cruel and futile game, without beginning, without end, without meaning What are some of the wheels of necessity you use to get your universe in order again

What is the role of discipline in relationship to living a life

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

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

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