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everything. Faust's ambition enters into one, universal desire, - a horror of one's own prison cell. One throws off one's hair shirt, and one would fain gather the whole of nature into one's arms and heart. O ye passions, a ray of sunshine is enough to rekindle you all! The cold black mountain is a volcano once more, and melts its snowy crown with one single gust of flaming breath. It is the spring which brings about these sudden and improbable resurrections, the spring which, sending a thrill and tumult of life through all that lives, is the parent of impetuous desires, of overpowering inclinations, of unforeseen and inextinguishable outbursts of passion. It breaks through the rigid bark of the trees, and rends the mask on the face of asceticism ; it makes the monk tremble in the shadow of his convent, the maiden behind the curtains of her room, the child sitting on his school bench, the old man bowed under his rheumatism.
'O Hymen, Hymenæe l' 24th April 1869. — Is Nemesis indeed more real than Providence, the jealous God more true than the good God ? - grief more certain than joy? - darkness more secure of
victory than light? Is it pessimism or optimism which is nearest the truth, and which — Leibnitz or Schopenhauer — has best understood the universe ? Is it the healthy man or the sick man who sees best to the bottom of things ? which is in the right?
Ah! the problem of grief and evil is and will be always the greatest enigma of being, only second to the existence of being itself. The common faith of humanity has assumed the victory of good over evil. But if good consists not in the result of victory, but in victory itself, then good implies an incessant and infinite contest, interminable struggle, and a success for ever threatened. And if this is life, is not Buddha right in regarding life as synonymous with evil, since it means perpetual restlessness and endless war ? Repose according to the Buddhist is only to be found in annihilation. The art of self-annihilation, of escaping the world's vast machinery of suffering, and the misery of renewed existence, — the art of reaching Nirvâna, is to him the supreme art, the only means of deliverance. The Christian says to God : Deliver us from evil. The Buddhist adds : And to that end deliver us from finite existence, give us back to nothingness! The first believes that when he is enfranchised from the body he will enter upon eternal happiness; the second believes that individuality is the obstacle to all repose, and he longs for the dissolution of the soul itself. The dread of the first is the Paradise of the second.
One thing only is necessary, — the committal of the soul to God. Look that thou thyself art in order, and leave to God the task of unravelling the skein of the world and of destiny. What do annihilation or immortality matter? What is to be, will be. And what will be, will be for the best. Faith in good, perhaps the individual wants nothing more for his passage through life. Only he must have taken sides with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno, against materialism, against the religion of accident and pessimism. Perhaps also he must make up his mind against the Buddhist nihilism, because a man's system of conduct is diametrically opposite according as he labours to increase his life or to lessen it, according as he aims at cultivating his faculties or at systematically deadening them.
To employ one's individual efforts for the increase of good in the world, - this modest ideal is enough for us. To help forward the victory of good has been the common aim of saints and sages. Socii Dei sumus was the word of Seneca, who had it from Cleanthus.
30th April 1869. — I have just finished Vacherot's 8 book (La Religion, 1869), and it has set me thinking. I have a feeling that his notion of religion is not rigorous and exact, and that therefore his logic is subject to correction. If religion is a psychological stage, anterior to that of reason, it is clear that it will disappear in man, but if, on the contrary, it is a mode of the inner life, it may and must last, as long as the need of feeling, and alongside the need of thinking. The question is between theism and non-theism. If God is only the category of the ideal, religion will vanish, of course, like the illusions of youth. But if Universal Being can be felt and loved at the same time as conceived, the philosopher may be a religious man just as he may be an artist, an orator, or a citizen. He may attach himself to a worship or ritual without derogation. I myself incline to this solution. To me religion is life before God and in God.
And even if God were defined as the universal life, so long as this life is positive and not negative, the soul penetrated with the sense of the infinite is in the religious state. Religion differs from philosophy as the simple and spontaneous self differs from the reflecting self, as synthetic intuition differs from intellectual analysis. We are initiated into the religious state by a sense of voluntary dependence on and joyful submission to the principle of order and of goodness. Religious emotion makes man conscious of himself; he finds his own place within the infinite unity, and it is this perception which is sacred.
But in spite of these reservations I am much impressed by the book, which is a fine piece of work, ripe and serious in all respects.
13th May 1869. - A break in the clouds, and through the blue interstices a bright sun throws flickering and uncertain rays. Storms, smiles, whims, anger, tears, - it is May, and nature is in its feminine phase ! She pleases our fancy, stirs our heart, and wears out our reason by the endless succession of her caprices and the unexpected violence of her whims.