Tuesday, 27 November 2007
A Doctorine Hanging in the Void
… Once more let me repeat. Every Oriental philosophy that would make us indifferent to happiness is a blasphemy against life. And they are refuted once for all by every plant that drinks the rain, by every animal that eats the grass, by every infant that is suckled by its mother , by every lover who embraces his mistress, by every girl who picks flowers in a field. “Let us bear the pain as well as we can, for the sake of enjoying the pleasure.” This is the cry of life itself , life’s one and only cry; life’s cry when it is born, life’s cry when it comes to die.
How, in a world like this – a world calling upon us to respond to so much pain, to so much pleasure – can any being imagine in its mystical folly, that it has made the best of life, when at its death it can only exclaim, “ I have learnt to be indifferent to both happiness and suffering”! Such a last word is the utmost confession of abysmal defeat. And to this defeat, to this blasphemy against life, to this monstrous death-cult, all those Oriental metaphysicists tend who deny the breathing, quivering, vibrating, bleeding difference between happiness and unhappiness, between pleasure and pain.
The doctrine that life could not exist without this dualism of pleasure and pain is a doctrine that no man can prove. It is a doctrine hanging in the void. Surely it is not inconceivable that the First Cause, which is responsible for this dualism, might, by using Its freewill, have managed to reduce the pain of the world to a kind of minimum – just enough of it to break up the paradisic monotony! Instead of allowing the balance on the good side to be no greater than it is? Why could not the First Cause almost overcome, if not quite overcome, the evil in Its own nature? Well, there it is! It is not much help to ask such a question. The First Cause remains, just as we and the universe of all souls remain, with something - a considerable shade, a moiety a fringe, a margin – left over, wherein the good does have an advantage over the evil…
In Defense of Sensuality
John Cowper Powys
Victor Gollancz Ltd 1930