Archive for the ‘man's search for transcendence’ Category

Thought constitutes man’s greatness…Man is a thinking reed

November 9, 2009

Thought constitutes man’s greatness…Man is a thinking reed. It is not from space that I seek my dignity, but from the government of my thought. I shall have no more if I possess worlds. By space the universe encompasses and swallows me up like an atom; by thought I comprehend the world. So man’s greatness comes from knowing that he is wretched, for a tree does not know it is wretched.

Blaise Pascal

I can’t justify it, but it was a deep and sincere prayer – a prayer for strength to subdue my instincts

October 13, 2009

Despite being a critic of religion,  Bertrand Russell’s biographer, Ray Monk, writes that he once prayed on his knees to God in the San Zeno Maggiore, Verona. He was struggling to control his sexual passions. Russell wrote:

I can’t justify it, but it was a deep and sincere prayer – a prayer for strength to subdue my instincts.

Clearly his rationalism wasn’t of much help at that time.

The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain – a curious wild pain – a searching for something beyond what the world contains

October 13, 2009

The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain – a curious wild pain – a searching for something beyond what the world contains, something transfigured and infinite – the beatific vision – God…I can’t explain it or make it seem anything but foolishness.

Bertrand Russell, in Bertrand Russell, Ray Monk, vol.1, p.317

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you

October 7, 2009

The human heart is never satisfied.

Chinese saying

There is a god-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man.

Pascal

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

St. Augustine, Confessions, Bk.1.1.1

The fallen duplicity of man is that he simultaneously seeks after God his Maker and flees from God his Judge

October 7, 2009

…religious activity…gives us the illusion of having met and satisfied (God). (Man’s) religiosity is a subtle escape from the God he is afraid and ashamed to meet. The fallen duplicity of man is that he simultaneously seeks after God his Maker and flees from God his Judge.

Christopher J. H. Wright, “The Christian and Other Religions: The Biblical Evidence,” Themelios 9:2 (1984): 5

I have been striving to attain moksha

September 21, 2009

What I want to achieve, what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years, is self- realization, to see God face to face, to attain moksha.*

Gandhi

* moksha is the Hindu idea of escape/release from the wheel of rebirth/reincarnation and to attain mystical union with God/Brahman.

People are driven to act by their worldview.

To extract the skylark’s song out of granite rock

September 10, 2009

And meaning, what is that? Have you ever pondered meanings? We talk of the import or
meaning of this thing or that, the meaning of a poem, the meaning of a scientific concept, of a political event. Where are these to be found in nature? Only in us. They cannot be exhumed or distilled out of material movements. As well endeavor to extract the skylark’s song out of granite rock, or honey from the salt seas. They are not resident in physical things, or to be expressed in the terminology of the laboratories. Meanings are the exclusive property of conscious selves and continuing selves. “Though the universe encompasses me,” wrote Pascal, “by thought I encompass the universe.” What are we to understand by this? Despite its stupendous immensity, the universe is not aware either of me or of itself. I, in my insignificance, am aware of myself and of the world. Is it possible, this paradox, this preposterous, unbelievable thing? For it declares that you and I possess a supreme talent denied to the universe. We are awake as nothing else in creation is awake. The
most enigmatical, indescribable, undeniable attribute of the self is its awareness. How can such an awakening ever at all or anywhere come about? Can material things, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, water, lead, stone, electrons or protons, or any combinations of such things become conscious of themselves? Can the stream rise above its source or the result outsoar its cause? Can carbon recognize itself as carbon, or say “Ah, here is hydrogen”? If not, beside them we are as gods, looking down from the Olympian battlements of consciousness upon the
senseless nonentities which neither know nor care to know what they are or what they do.
Before you dismiss the self as irrelevant you will do well to ponder this, its aristocratic prerogative, which makes all else by comparison a negligible cipher.

W. Macneile Dixon, The Human Situation

The loss of God and human personality

September 10, 2009

I believe that with the loss of God, man has lost a kind of absolute and universal system of coordinates, to which he could always relate anything, chiefly himself. His world and his personality gradually began to break up into separate, incoherent fragments corresponding to different, relative, coordinates.

Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, dissident, later President

Man is by his constitution a religious animal

September 8, 2009

Man is by his constitution a religious animal; atheism is against not only our reason, but our instincts.

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

But his religion may not be the true religion…

Football is our religion

Sky TV advert

That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget

September 6, 2009

That God does not exist, I cannot deny, That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget.

Jean-Paul Sartre