Kazantzakis 7 - The Ego

Curriculum Focus

How do I Serve
Struggle of Synthesis
The Mission


Kazantzakis, Nikos, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1960. p 66.

First Step: THE EGO

1) I am not good, I am not innocent, I am not serene. My happiness and unhappiness are both unbearable; I am full of inarticulate voices and darknesses; I wallow, all blood and tears, in this warm trough of my flesh.

2) I am afraid to talk. I adorn myself with false wings; I shout, I sing and I weep to drown out the inexorable cry of my heart.

3) I am not the light, I am the night; but a flame stabs through my entrails and consumes me. I am the night devoured by light.

4) Imperiled, moaning and staggering in darkness, I strive to shake myself free from sleep and to stand erect for a while, for as long as I can bear.

5) A small but undaunted breath within me struggles desperately to vanquish happiness, weariness, death.

6) I put my body through its paces like a war horse; I keep it lean, sturdy, prepared. I harden it and I pity it. I have no other steed.

7) I keep my brain wide awake, lucid, unmerciful. I unleash it to battle relentlessly so that, all light, it may devour the darkness of the flesh. I have no other workshop where I may transform darkness into light.

8) I keep my heart flaming, courageous, restless. I feel in my heart all commotions and all contradictions, the joys and sorrows of life. But I struggle to subdue them to a rhythm superior to that of the mind, harsher than that of my heartto the ascending rhythm of the Universe.

9) The Cry within me is a call to arms. It shouts: I, the Cry, am the Lord your God! I am not an asylum. I am not hope and a home. I am not the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Ghost. I am your General!

10) You are not my slave, nor a plaything in my hands. You are not my friend, you are not my child. You are my comrade-in-arms!

11) Hold courageously the passes which I entrusted to you; do not betray them. You are in duty bound, and you may act heroically by remaining at your own battle station.

12) Love danger. What is most difficult That is what I want! Which road should you take The most craggy ascent! It is the one I also take: follow me!

13) Learn to obey. Only s/he who obeys a rhythm superior to her/his own is free.

14) Learn to command. Only the one who can give commands may represent me here on earth.

15) Love responsibility. Say: It is my duty, and mine alone, to save the earth. If it is not saved, then I alone am to blame.

16) Love each person according to his/her contribution in the struggle. Do not seek friends; seek comrades-in-arms.

17) Be always restless, unsatisfied, un-conforming. Whenever a habit becomes convenient, smash it! The greatest sin of all is satisfaction.

18) Where are we going Shall we ever win What is the purpose of all this fighting Be silent! Soldiers never question!

19) I stoop and listen to this war cry within me. I begin to discern the face of my Leader, to distinguish this voice, to accept harsh commands with joy and terror.

20) Yes, yes, I am NOT nothing! A vaporous phosphorescence on a damp meadow, a miserable worm that crawls and loves, that shouts and talks about wings for an hour or two until its mouth is blocked with earth. The dark powers give no other answer.

21) But within me a deathless Cry, superior to me, continues to shout. For whether I want to or not, I am also, without doubt, a part of the visible and the invisible Universe. We are one. The powers which labor within me, the powers which goad me on to live, the powers which goad me on to die are, without doubt, its own powers also.

22) I am not a suspended, rootless thing in the world. I am earth of its earth and breath of its breath.

23) I am not alone in my fear, nor alone in my hope, nor alone in my shouting. A tremendous host, an onrush of the Universe fears, hopes and shouts with me.

24) I am an improvised bridge, and when Someone passes over me, I crumble away behind. A Combatant passes through me, eats my flesh and brain to open up roads, to be free from me at last. It is not I but this One who shouts.


Reflection Questions

Read one of the lines from this reading that caught your attention or that you personally found most offensive.

Read 1 5. What is going on in this introductory section What is the message the author is attempting to convey and how can any of us illustrate these dynamics with real life examples

Read 6. What is the paradox that is embodied in the body

Read 7. What is the role of the brain

Read 8. What is the role of the heart What is the secret this line suggests for managing the heart

Alternate readings of 9 18. What is this Voice within, this Cry and what is it not What am I and what am I not to do

Where and how have you experienced this Voice or this Cry within your own life Where or how do you experience it now

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