I had to add the definite article to the ‘I’ and this has allowed me to destroy the concentration on the self, and the contentment with it. The complete adherence to the self is death itself, since death is the complete separation from others.
Pascal, the great, has realized the danger of the self-love and said, haïssable le moi est, i.e., the ‘I’ is detestable. This is the culmination of the love of power, yet this is even larger, since your attachment to power, to a reasonable extent, leaves a certain space, though little, to others. The sin, that we are reflecting on today, is exclusion in its full sense. Minimally, it is the annulment of relationships, and this is conceivable by the perfect mind and the pathetic heart following it. It is the denial of the Other from all your existence and putting him/[her] to death without a physical execution.
Why is my harsh attack on the ‘I’? Because our philosophical and theological definition of the human being is that he/ [she] is created with [the possibility of] communication, and that not all of his/ [her] center is in him/[her]self. The human being is not one pole. Existence is not the overcrowding of disconnected individuals, each with a closed personality. Those are [rather], what we call in theistic, existential philosophy, persons. We define the person according to his/[her] personality that he/[she] is open, i.e., he/[she] is a recipient of the Other in order that he/[she] might be liberated from isolation and exist forming his/[her] personality with the Other. I am poured in you through love, and you are poured in me, and there is no dissolving in this. There is a unity without accumulation or conjunction. You preserve your inner being and I preserve mine.
Each of the two beings is a language, so that I do not duplicate you and you do not duplicate me. The personality, with its liveliness, uniqueness and splendor, could dissolve to the extent of duplicating [the Other]. However, these all should be consolidated in order that the Other is consolidated and is able to carry him/[her]self and carry me at the same time in a mystery of a union based on duality strengthened by unity.
I am poured out in you to the end and you are poured out in me to the end. Because of this completion in the flow, each of us is consolidated in his/ [her] dignified and delightful ‘I’, which does not imply arrogance, conceit or elimination of the Other. Yes, humility requires elimination, yet, it is the elimination of the self, while the Other exists in one’s self. Thus, it is possible to arrive at the completion of each person [only] through giving. How could you be eliminated and yet exist? This is the mystery of the meeting in love, which alone confirms the personality.
Whenever this meeting of dialogue does not occur sentimentally, in everyday’s work, each of us remains the prisoner of him/[her]self as the people of the Hell in the theology of our Fathers, who said that each of those in Fire is being bound back to back with another person, i.e., he/[she] is unable to meet the Other’s face.
This interprets in human terms the Christian Trinity on the basis of what Christ has said, “I am in the Father and the Father in me” [John 14:10]. The Father remains the Father through the Fatherhood, which gave the Son His sonship. And the Son remains in His belovedness because of what He receives from the Father, and the unity between them is love. The unity of God does not imply that God is one, in whom duality and trinity do not coincide. God is not one in number. “Whoever counts Him, limits Him.” (̓Imām ʻAlī) God is unique. “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). Love is not an attribute of God. It is God’s name, i.e., God’s very being. Whoever says that God is three persons, he/[she] does not count, i.e., there is no calculation in it. God is far above being countable, while the human being might be considered as one in number, yet, not a closed one. He/[she] is one through the love by which he/[she] loves others and the love by which others love him/[her]. Whoever does not know this would be loving his/[her] ‘I’, i.e., he/[she] would be closing all the doors of his/[her] heart, petrified in perceiving his/[her] own self, that is he/[she] would desire an idol of him/[her] for him/[her]self and for others [to worship]. His/[her] love of the self is a self-worship and a request of others’ servitude to him/[her]. Thus, he/[she] calls upon others to make idols of themselves, and therefore they all would be in slavery.
To gather people merely in a family, or a city, or a country, or a school, or a university, or a factory, does not form intimate people, and they do not form a united society, unless under suppression and compulsion. This would be a political society founded on power and endorsement that is imposed from above. However, human reality does not lie in gatherings of people but in the meeting of the hearts. Of course, there are regulations and rules necessary for arranging the societies and ordering the different works; however, these are social bindings, where faults are fewer.
A political society relieves you of harm through a minimum control of the state and its institutions. Such society is oriented toward intellectual and economic output, and with the prominent educated people the minds meet, and thus, the society approaches the paradigm of the conscientious meeting between the ‘I’ and the other ‘I’, each being open to the Other, since each ‘I’ searches for the truth in principle. Whenever you were creative, you aspire to beauty and goodness and you do not envy other creative people. Nevertheless, sin infiltrates sometimes into the intellectual and the artistic elite, and it weakens their conscientiousness.
It is not possible for the closed ‘I’ to be broken other than through renouncement. The love of money here is the biggest calamity, since whenever you love money you get hardened or stiffened and your emotions weaken, and [in this way] you would be closing your ‘I’. Only giving opens it and brings it to the circle of the “we”. Whoever volunteers to some kind of poverty raises the Other to the position of a beloved existence. Some of your things need to abolish in order that you might receive the Other with generosity. The importance of generosity is that through it you experience some privation, and this means that you would feel that the Other accomplishes you.
The money that you possess, and you cling to it, is an obstacle that hinders you from seeing the poor, whom Jesus called His little brothers. Thus, throw away whatever conceals your sight and you know that the means to set forth your authority is money. The authoritative person thinks that he/[she] alone exists and that many draw their existence from him/[her]. This is the possessor, par excellence, of the closed ‘I’. Here comes the image of the tyrannical ruler, whose concern is his/[her] persistence in position, no matter whether the people live or die.
Tyranny is that the ruler deludes him/[her]self that in this way he/[she] is effective. In reality he/[she] is worshipping him/[her]self. In this case, it is possible that the country succeeds in certain domains; however, it fails in the intellectual domain. And whenever fear from authority prevails, then people would fear one another, since they would doubt about the affiliation of others with the tyrannical system.
Theoretically, the state can help the person in order to become a fountain of spiritual life. The state could become humane so that the person might feel that the state is not an instrument for subjugation and that it is a support for the poor. Politics should conquer tyranny and injustice and be supportive of justice.
The enterprise is to transform the civil society to a society of hearts, feeling each other and accepting each other in sincerity and trust.
Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi
Original Text: “الأنا” –An Nahar- 11.06.2011