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Fragment IV (Morning Song)

Fragment IV

On Confronting One’s Sins

What a man can do when all inhibitions are removed, when moral norms evaporate and good and bad are replaced by pleasure and frustration—-that man will not believe what he can do. And then when he is restored to his proper state of mind—-then he will know it all too well. The benefit of sin is that it exposes the darker parts of one’s soul. The consequence is that it damages one’s soul. And while the cultivation of virtue may heal it, the scar tissue of one’s history will forever remain. What is he to do, then? If his sins continue to harm others, he must make it right. If all there is to do is move forward, he must do that and face the consequences of his actions with humility and a determination to learn. In the end, only God’s grace can atone for our sins.


Guilt

Man is ultimately responsible for every choice he makes and every action he performs, and in each moment he is judged by God. To remember one’s better nature in each moment is the path to virtue. In the present moment rests eternity, and it is through the present moment that the self can be created and defined. That moral choice he makes in each moment creates his self before God.

When one chooses wrongly, he carries his sin like Adam. Only atonement washes away my sin, and until I do that, I exist as a damaged self, and this jail of a self is my own Hell. Every sin is punished in the moment that it is committed.

The self must be created anew in a moment of decisive significance, inspired by a willful act against one’s own personal advantage and according to the will of God. Only then can the sinful self be dissolved and the guilt relieved.


The Warning

I must beware the illusions and deceptions, because what seems good is often bad, and what really is good is so simple as to seem a waste of time. I am still young and foolish, and most of my life has transpired in my own head. Though I have tried, I have not yet emptied my mind, but it is emptier now. Now, I must refuse entry that that which tries to fill it, whether from within or without. In stillness, I am aware of myself and that which I come from.

Days often go by without clarity, and this is sin. To act against God is to only see what one wishes to see and to relate everything to oneself. Guilt follows and sinks the sinner deeper into sin so that one’s vision becomes so obscure as to block his awareness of which way is up and which is down. So that he who is deepest in sin is confused as to whether he is righteous or evil, and only God may save him.


Confessions

2 PM, on a sunny, warm day. About 63 degrees outside

There is no rational reason to believe in God. There are only experiences, both of the mind and the world, that inspire in a person so certain a belief in God and an awareness of his presence in every person and every living thing that the individual no longer seeks validation, and a sensation of the divine is even felt in the air. My wife gave birth to a daughter yesterday, and we named her Iliana, after her grandmother who died on almost the same date nine years ago. There are some phenomena in life that no amount of scientific insight can work to explain, forces that can only be learned by living. Why there exist in a cold universe living beings that are so aware of their situations and are able to communicate and embrace one another and do great wrong or great goods to one another and themselves, that are able to love each other and are at times compelled to love one another. That it is within an individual’s control to renounce the world and leave behind those who care about him, or to give oneself wholly to others and perhaps live to see one’s grandchildren. The love I felt upon glimpsing my daughter for the first time is enough for me to know that there is much more to this world than we can perceive.

I have worried in the past that I deceive myself with love by taking an aspect of human existence that feels transcendent and deifying it without any reason other than it gives meaning to life.

But I know now that love is not a deception: it is a real force that acts outside of and within humanity as a fundamental principle of the universe. I cannot prove it, and if somehow I could prove it, then it would not be transcendent—or “fundamental.” It must be above and below human reason, human language, for it to matter at all.

I do not know if “love” is God. There may be other forces at work in the universe, and they may be as powerful as love—such as chaos—but I am of the conviction that love is the only one that leads to peace. Love is the cause of all things that are good in themselves, and I think of love and goodness as the same thing.

The fabric of reality has no qualities; what we perceive is formless essence manipulated into space, into ever-changing parts bound to finitude. Love is the only thing in this universe that does not change.


Fourth of July

The “G” and the “d” in God carry such heavy consonance—can we not use another term? And can we not forget about grammar and punctuation, and all things taught in adolescence—-for now? Can I give up the pretense of my own intelligence? Can I stop seeing my own reflection in your face, and instead see you? Because I care about myself it matters to me that I do not ignore how much I care about you, and how I want to do right by you.

I have all the time in the world, with nothing and everything to do, and so I want no more (n)or no less in this life, and I can say that I am very happy without trying to convince you or myself. I look back on my life with warmth, too—by the time I was twenty-two I had already experienced so much life, and I was not afraid of the world. During the summers I used to walk over to the beach with some drinks and friends and we would bring our Pascal and Kierkegaard and talk for hours, and sometimes we would smoke something that let the knots in our minds loosen a bit.


A Declaration in Late August

I want to be righteous, but I cannot think myself into righteousness. When I was younger and the greater part of my days was spent with a book in front of my face or a pen in my hand, I believed self-realization hinged on a realization that would come all at once when all the right insights were present in the right relation. Eventually, I matured, and when I became a professor I began to believe that it is feeling that transforms an individual into an “enlightened” person. But to be good, the individual must follow the ideal of goodness, the force that manifests itself in good deeds and good events in the world. I can see the self I want to become and that the good in this universe means for me to become, but no one can become who they are meant to be without action. Following the ideal of goodness requires performing good acts, and it is only through risk and faith that an individual can bring their ideal selves into reality.




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