Kazantzakis 4 – The Nave Peasant

Curriculum Focus

  • Infinite Addiction

Material

Kazantzakis, Nikos, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1960. p 50-54.

1) I will not accept boundaries; appearances cannot contain me; I choke! To bleed in this agony, and to live it profoundly, is the second duty.

2) The mind is patient and adjusts itself, it likes to play; but the heart grows savage and will not condescend to play; it stifles and rushes to tear apart the nets of necessity.

3) What is the value of subduing the earth, the waters, the air, of conquering space and time, of understanding what laws govern the mirages that rise from the burning deserts of the mind, their appearance and reappearance

4) I have one longing only; to grasp what is hidden behind appearances, to ferret out that mystery which brings me to birth and then kills me, to discover if behind the visible and unceasing stream of the world an invisible and immutable presence is hiding.

5) If the mind cannot, if it was not made to attempt the heroic and desperate breach beyond frontiers, then if only the heart could!

6) Beyond! Beyond! Beyond! Beyond humanity I seek the invisible whip which strikes us and drives us into the struggle. I lie in ambush to find out what primordial face struggles beyond animals to imprint itself on the fleeting flesh by creating, smashing, and remolding innumerable masks. I struggle to make out beyond plants the first stumbling steps of the Invisible in the mud.

7) A command rings out within me:
Dig! What do you see
People and birds, water and stones.
Dig deeper! What do you see
Ideas and dreams, fantasies and lightning flashes!
Dig deeper! What do you see
I see nothing! A mute Night, as thick as death. It must be death.
Dig deeper!
Ah! I cannot penetrate the dark partition! I hear voices and weeping. I hear the flutter of wings on the other shore.
Dont weep! Dont weep! They are not on the other shore. The voices, the weeping, and the wings are your own heart.

8) Beyond the mind, on the edge of the hearts holy precipice, I proceed, trembling. One foot grips the secure soil, the other gropes in the darkness above the abyss.

9) Behind all appearances, I divine a struggling essence. I want to merge with it.

10) I feel that behind appearances this struggling essence is also striving to merge with my heart. But the body stands between us and separates us. The mind stands between us and separates us.

11) What is my duty To shatter the body, to rush and merge with the Invisible. To let the mind fall silent that I may hear the Invisible calling.

12) I walk on the rim of the abyss, and I tremble. Two voices contend within me.

13) The mind: Why waste ourselves by pursuing the impossible Within the holy enclosure of our five senses it is our duty to acknowledge the limitations of humanity.

14) But another voice within mecall it the Sixth Power, call it the heartresists and shouts: No! No! Never acknowledge the limitations of humanity. Smash all boundaries! Deny whatever your eyes see. Die every moment, but say: Death does not exist.

15) The mind: My eye is without hope or illusion and gazes on all things clearly. Life is a game, a performance given by the five actors of my body.

16) I look on avidly, with inexpressible curiosity, but I am not like the nave peasant to believe what I see, clambering on the stage to meddle with the blood-drenched comedy.

17) I am the wonder-working fakir who sits unmoving at the crossroads of the senses and watches the world being born and destroyed, watches the mob as it surges and shouts in the multicolored paths of vanity.

18) Heart, nave heart, become serene, and surrender!

19) But the heart leaps up and shouts: I am the peasant who jumps on the stage to meddle with the course of the world!

20) I dont keep checks and balances, I dont seek to adjust myself. I follow the deep throbbing of my heart.

21) I ask and ask again, beating on chaos: Who plants us on this earth without asking our permission Who uproots us from this earth without asking our permission

22) I am a weak, ephemeral creature made of mud and dream. But I feel all the powers of the universe whirling within me.

23) Before they crush me, I want to open my eyes for a moment and to see them. I set my life no other purpose.

24) I want to find a single justification that I may live and bear this dreadful daily spectacle of disease, of ugliness, of injustice, of death.

25) I once set out from a dark point, the Womb, and now I proceed to another dark point, the Tomb. A power hurls me out of the dark pit and another power drags me irrevocably toward the dark pit.

26) I am not like the condemned man whose mind has been deadened with drink. Stone sober, with a clear head, I stride along a narrow path between two cliffs.

27) And I strive to discover how to signal my companions before I die, how to give them a hand, how to spell out for them in time one complete word at least, to tell them what I think this procession is, and toward what we go. And how necessary it is for all of us together to put our steps and hearts in harmony.

28) To say in time a simple word to my companions, a password, like conspirators.

29) Yes, the purpose of Earth is not life, it is not humanity. Earth has existed without these, and it will live on without them. They are but the ephemeral sparks of its violent whirling.

30) Let us unite, let us hold each other tightly, let us merge our hearts, let us createso long as the warmth of this earth endures, so long as no earthquakes, cataclysms, icebergs or comets come to destroy uslet us create for Earth a brain and a heart, let us give a human meaning to the superhuman struggle.

31) This anguish is our second duty.

 

Reflection Questions

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

  2. Describe the heart as Kazantzakis portrays it in this section

  3. Where have you experienced this force (the heart) in your own life

  4. Where have you encountered steps of the Invisible in the mud (6) of your own life Where have you looked backwards and observed guidance or direction

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

  6. Where or how have you experienced the paradox of having been made of mud and dream (22)

  7. What is the anguish and the objective Kazantzakis is pointing to in verses 30 and 31 How would we articulate this message today

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