The Fire of Truth in Many Places

“It is the natural beating of our heart to want to conquer the world. This has to be purified, so we conquer by love” [St Maximos].

“Blessed be Yahweh my strength, which teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight” [Psalms, 144, 1].

“And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth..” [1 Samuel, 7, 31]. David’s reply to Goliath’s incredulity, and taunting= ‘Yahweh has trained me for battle.’

“They asked him, ‘when does a man become a man?’ He said, when he knows the mistakes of his self and he busies himself in correcting them” [Abu Yazid Bustami].

“How few there are who have courage enough to own their own faults, or resolution enough to mend them” [Ben Franklin].

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare” [Mark Twain].

“Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of truth” [Mahatma Ghandi].

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again” [Mahatma Ghandi].

Abba Elias speaks of the dark night of the soul in Eros= “Whoever loves tribulation will obtain joy and peace later on.” St Isaac of Syria speaks more Daemonically= When someone has no more “hope of life”, then “no one is more daring than he, no foe can face him, no ..affliction can weaken his purpose, for he has resolved to accept death for himself.”

The theme of ‘taking a stand’ is important, because it implies making a declaration that is socially visible. You tell others what your stand is, what your intention in a situation is, and this is the converse of hiding away, going behind people’s backs, sneaking round corners, keeping your head below the ramparts, etc. By making this declaration, you become an inspiration to some, a rebuke to others, a threat to still others. But everyone knows, this is your sticking point. They know, you won’t be moved from this place where you stand.

This is very powerful, because it cuts right in the face of all the mutual manipulation people usually engage in, bending each other. To stand does away with the social embarrassment and the shyness that freezes people, but even more radically, it declares you won’t be seduced, intimidated, bent out of shape, in order to ‘play ball.’ You won’t give away what you are standing up for, just to fit in and be accepted. Thus passion breaks ranks with the herding together of people in society, it stakes out a more principled, a more profound, a more loving, basis for action, than simply kow towing and going along with what the majority of people do together, in collusion, precisely to avoid any and all of the issues passion raises and puts right on the table, in everyone’s face.

This is why many cultures regard passion as ‘wild.’ A stand from within, sparked by something that matters to the person without, is unpredictable, and you cannot stop it. The only way to stop real passion is to make a martyr out of the person moved by it. A person ‘staked to the ground’ declares they are not leaving their sticking place unless dead. This ups the ante in social situations, and cuts like a sword through all the endless social lies and evasions. It comes from a place of moral integrity, and of self-transcendence, which ‘serves’ something greater than the self. Thus you cannot use threats to the self to stop it, change it, snuff it out. No one knows ‘how far passion will go.’ The implication is, it will ‘go all the way down the line’, and will put itself ‘on the line’ to do so. This makes passion the ‘wild card’ in the jaded deck of conformist social cards..