Our lives are lived, in actual fact, among changing, varying realities, subject to the casual play of external necessities, and modifying themselves according to specific conditions within specific limits; and yet we act and strive and sacrifice ourselves and others by reference to fixed and isolated abstractions which cannot possibly be related either to one another or to any concrete facts…
We have to endure the discordance between imagination and fact. It is better to say, “I am suffering,” than to say, “This landscape is ugly.
Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.
Simone Weil. On this quote, Stephen Mitchell made this comment:
“I love that. I think that could be as close as someone can get to a wonderful definition of prayer. In that sense, prayer has nothing spiritual or religious about it. A mathematician working at a problem or a little kid trying to pick out scales on the piano is a person at prayer. She’s not saying prayer is absolute unmixed attention; it’s the other way. The attention itself is the quality that she wants to call prayer. So whatever context you’re putting it in, whether it’s inside a church or inside a toy box, that’s the quality that is the sacred one.”
(Ah! Thank you, dhammanovice)
We must force this insatiable desire within us, which is always oriented towards outward things and has its domain in an imaginary future, to close in on itself and bring its main thrust round to the present.
Arbor cognationis spiritualis (Spiritual tree of bonds), 14th century; from L’arbre: Histoire naturelle et symbolique de l’arbre
“Stars and blossoming fruit trees: Utter permanence and extreme fragility give an equal sense of eternity.”
—Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
Thank you, Woolgathersome.
Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but it is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link.
There is something else which has the power to awaken us to the truth. It is the works of writers of genius. They give us, in the guise of fiction, something equivalent to the actual density of the real, that density which life offers us every day but which we are unable to grasp because we are amusing ourselves with lies.
If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire.