No man is an island


How much do I want to read more? 9/10

A spiritual book that make you think about the fundamental of life. He dissect different possibilities. To love oneself, to love others, or to do for others in order to love oneself. But he comes to the conclusion of this paradox. That's deep. Touching the roots.
Religion becomes the core belief that direct our life. How we think about anything at its core, and how we act on it. How we live our lives.

Those are the thoughts and questions I have been asking myself when I was young, and here they are in all their clarity.
I just need to read this. And reflect. It might change the way I see life.


Author's Note

I consider that the spiritual life is the life of man's real self, the life of that interior self whose flame is so often allowed to be smothered under the ashes of anxiety and futile concern.
The spiritual life is oriented toward God, rather than toward the immediate satisfaction of the material needs of life, but it is not, for all that, a life of unreality or a life of dreams. On the contrary, without a life of the spirit, our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory.
puts us in the fullest possible contact with reality.
It does so by making us aware of our own real selves.

previous volume called Seeds of Contemplation.
it goes back to cover some of the ground that was taken for granted before. This book is intended to be simpler, more fundamental, and more detailed. It treats of some of the basic verities on which the spiritual life depends.

Prologue: No Man Is an Island

No matter how ruined man and his world may seem to be, and no matter how terrible man's despair may become, his very humanity continues to tell him that life has a meaning.
If he could without effort see what the meaning of life is, and if he could fulfill his ultimate purpose without trouble, he would never question the fact that life is well worth living.
Part of the meaning still escapes us. Yet our purpose in life is to discover this meaning, and live according to it.
The process of living, of growing up, and becoming a person, is precisely the gradually increasing awareness of what that something is. This is a difficult task.

the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself."
If he persists in shifting this responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence. You cannot tell me who I am, and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?
That is something you yourself can only discover from within.

That brings us to a second problem. Although in the end we alone are capable of experiencing who we are, we are instinctively gifted in watching how others experience themselves.
we are too prone to welcome everybody else's wrong solution to the problems of life.

What every man looks for in life is his own salvation and the salvation of the men he lives with. By salvation I mean first of all the full discovery of who he himself really is. the fulfillment of his own God-given powers, in the love of others.
the discovery that he cannot find himself in himself alone, but that he must find himself in and through others.
"If any man would save his life, he must lose it," and, "Love one another as I have loved you."
"We are all members one of another."

We become ourselves by dying to ourselves. We gain only what we give up, and if we give up everything we gain everything. We cannot find ourselves within ourselves, but only in others, yet at the same time before we can go out to others we must first find ourselves.
We must forget ourselves in order to become truly conscious of who we are. The best way to love ourselves is to love others, yet we cannot love others unless we love ourselves.

The only effective answer to the problem of salvation must therefore reach out to embrace both extremes of a contradiction at the same time. Hence that answer must be supernatural. That is why all the answers that are not supernatural are imperfect: for they only embrace one of the contradictory terms, and they can always be denied by the other.

1/ The more goods I keep for my own enjoyment, the less there are for others.
I must learn to deprive myself of good things in order to give them to others.

2/ to destroy ourselves for love of the other.
The only value is love of the other. Self-sacrifice. we will give up our life or even our soul to please him.

3/ "Other people—that's hell!"
It is the love that is mortally wounded by its own incapacity to love another.
Even in its solitude this Eros is most tortured by its inescapable need of another, for its own fulfillment.

All these three answers are insufficient. The third says we must love only ourselves. The second says we must love only another. The first says that in loving another we simply seek the most effective way to love ourselves.

The true answer, which is supernatural, tells us that we must love ourselves in order to be able to love others, that we must find ourselves by giving ourselves to them. The words of Christ are clear: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
This is not merely a helpful suggestion, it is the fundamental law of human existence.

Man is divided against himself and against God by his own selfishness, which divides him against his brother. This division cannot be healed by a love that places itself only on one side of the rift. Love must reach over to both sides and draw them together. We cannot love ourselves unless we love others, and we cannot love others unless we love ourselves. But a selfish love of ourselves makes us incapable of loving others. The difficulty of this commandment lies in the paradox that it would have us love ourselves unselfishly, because even our love of ourselves is something we owe to others.

This truth never becomes clear as long as we assume that each one of us, individually, is the center of the universe. We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others.
desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others. The modern world is beginning to discover, more and more, that the quality and vitality of a man's life depend on his own secret will to go on living.

It is therefore of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others. When we do this we will be able first of all to face and accept our own limitations.
these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us.
each one making up in himself for the lack in another.

Only when we see ourselves in our true human context, as members of a race which is intended to be one organism and "one body," will we begin to understand the positive importance not only of the successes but of the failures and accidents in our lives. My successes are not my own. The way to them was prepared by others. The fruit of my labors is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another. Nor are my failures my own. They may spring from the failure of another, but they are also compensated for by another's achievement.
Therefore the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my own achievements. It is seen only in the complete integration of my achievements and failures with the achievements and failures of my own generation, and society, and time.

Every other man is a piece of myself, for I am a part and a member of mankind.
What I do is also done for them and with them and by them. What they do is done in me and by me and for me. But each one of us remains responsible for his own share in the life of the whole body.
Charity cannot be what it is supposed to be as long as I do not see that my life represents my own allotment in the life of a whole supernatural organism to which I belong.
Nothing at all makes sense, unless we admit, with John Donne, that: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."


1. LOVE CAN BE KEPT ONLY BY BEING GIVEN AWAY

A happiness that is sought for ourselves alone can never be found: for a happiness that is diminished by being shared is not big enough to make us happy.