Monday, June 18, 2012

Brothers Karamazov, excerpt

'Paradise', he said, 'is hidden in every one of us. It is hidden in me too, now, and I have only to wish and it will come to me in very truth and will remain with me for the rest of my life.' He was speaking with great feeling and looking mysteriously at me, as though questioning me. 'And as for every man being responsible for evry other man and for evrything, apart from his sins, you were perfectly right about that and it's remarkable how you could have grasped the idea in all its implications. And it is indeeed true that when people grasp this diea the Kingdom of Heaven will become a reality to them and not just a dream'.

'But', I cried bitterly, 'when will that come to pass, and will it ever come to pass? Isn't it just a dream?'

'Oh', he said, "I can see you don't believe it. You preach it and you don't believe it yourself. Know then that this dream, as you call it, will undoubtedly come to pass - you can be sure of that, but not now, for every action has its own law. It's a spiritual and psychological process. To transform the world it is necessary that men themselves should suffer a change of heart. Until you have actually become everyone's brother, the brotherhood of man will not come to pass. People will never be able to share their property and their rights fairly as a result of any scientific advance, however much it may be to their advantage to do so. Everything will be too little for them and they will always murmur, envy and destroy each other. you ask me when will it come to pass? It will come to pass, but first the period of human *isolation* will have to come to an end.'

'What sort of isolation do you have in mind?' I asked.

'Why', he replied, 'the sort of isolation that exists everywhere now, and especially in our age, but which hasn't reached its final development. Its end is not yet in sight. For today everyone is still striving to keep his individuality as far apart as possible, everyone wishes to experiece the fullness of life in himself alone, and yet instead of achieving fullness of life, all his efforts merely lead to the fullness of self-destruction, for instead of self-realisation they relapse into complete isolation. Fo rin our age all men are separated into self-contained units, everyone crawls into his own hole, everyone separates himself from his neighbour, hides himself away and hides away evrything he possesses, and ends up by keeping himself at a distance from people and keeping people at a distance from him. He accumulates riches by himself and things how strong he is and how secure, and he does not realise, madman that he is, that the more he accumulates the more deeply does he sink into self-destroying impotence. For he is used to relying on himself alone and has separated himself as a self-contained unit from the whole. He has trained his mind not to believe in the help of other people, in men and mankind, and is in constant fear of losing his money and the rights he has won for himself. Everywhere today the mind of man has ceased, ironically, to understand that true security of the individual does  not lie in isolated personal efforts but in general human solidarity. But an end will most certainly come to this dreadful isolation of man, and everyone will realise all at once how unnaturally they have separated themselves from one another. Such will be the spirit of the time, and everyone will be surprised at having remained so long in darkness and not having seen the light. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens.....'

'But till then we must still keep the banner flying and, even if he has to do it alone, a man has to set an example at least once and draw his soul out of isolation and work for some great act of human intercourse based on brotherly love, even if he is to be regarded as a saintly fool for his pains. He has to do that so that great idea may not die...'

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