Metropolitan Anthony Of Sourozh. In a world of chaos, death, suffering, evil, incompleteness...

The modern world confronts us with the challenge, and the modern world each generation at any time of life. But sometimes it's worth thinking about what such a challenge and in the face of any challenge we stand.

Each generation is faced with change. For some, the change means in some degree of confusion: what is was self-evident, that seemed reliable, is slowly disintegrating or being questioned, often very radically, violently. For others, the change affects a different kind of uncertainty: youth included in the changing world and does not know where it will lead. Thus, both groups — those who think that the old world is crumbling, disappearing, changing beyond recognition, and those who finds himself in a world which is itself in formation, the appearance of which they can not understand, can not see clearly, still facing the challenge, but in different ways. And I would like to introduce you to two or three images and own conclusions, because the only thing you can do about your life, is to share what they have learned or what you read as the truth.

We all usually expect that everything in life should be happily, harmoniously, peacefully, without problems, what life must be like growing from seed healthy plant: light seed in the shelter gradually reaches full flowering. But we know from experience that it does not happen. It seems to me that God is the God of storms to the same extent as He is the God of harmony and peace. And the first image that comes to mind is a story from the Gospels about how Christ is at sea amid storms and Peter tries to walk to Him across the waves (MT 14:22-34).

Leave aside the historical aspect of the story. What happened here, what does this tell us? First: Christ did not calm the storm with one fact of Their presence. And it seems to me important because all too often, when a storm catches us, whether it is small or great, we tend to think, the storm broke — it means that God is not here, it means that something is not right (usually with God, at least — with us). And since Christ can be in the middle of the storm and not to hover, not to be broken, destroyed, that means He is at the point of equilibrium. And in a hurricane, a tornado, a storm at any point of stability, the point where the face of mutually uravnoveshivanie, all the raging power of the elements, in the core of the hurricane; and here also is God. Not on the edge, not where He could safely go ashore until we are drowning in the sea, It's there, where the situation is worse, where the eruption, the confrontation.
If you remember the story on how Peter walked on the water, we see that his impulse was right. Peter saw that he was in mortal danger. The small boat in which he may drown, it can break the waves, flip over the raging wind. And in the middle of the storm, he saw the Lord in His wonderful peace, and realized that if only I can reach this point, he will also be at the core of the storm — and yet in unspeakable peace. And he was ready to leave the safety of the boat, which was protection from the storm, even fragile, but still the protection (the other disciples were saved in it), and go out in a storm. He failed to reach the Lord, because he remembered that can drown. He began to think about himself, about the storm, that has never walked on the waves, he asked himself and could not follow him. He lost the safety of a boat and has not found complete safety of the place where the Lord was.

And I think that when we think about ourselves in the modern world (and, as I said, the modern world from generation to generation, there is no moment when the world is not the same storm, only to each generation it appears in a different guise), we all face the same problem: a small boat is some protection around all fraught with danger, in the center of the storm — Lord, and the question is: am I ready to go to Him? This is the first image, and I call on everyone to respond to it yourself.

The second image that comes to my mind is an act of creation. About the creation of the world mentioned in the first line of the Bible: God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) — that's all. When I think about it, that's what I think. God, the fullness of all, harmony, beauty, calls by name all the possible creature. He calls, and each creature rises from obscurity, from the full, radical absence, rises in a primordial harmony and beauty, and the first thing she sees — the full, perfect beauty of God, the first thing she sees — a complete harmony in the Lord. And the name of this tune — love dynamic, creative love. This is what we Express when we say that a perfect image of the relationship of love found in the Trinity.

But if you think about the following lines, or rather, about the second half of the phrase, we see something that ought to make us think about our situation. It says that the first call of God created what in Hebrew is called chaos, the confusion, the chaos from which God causes the objects shape reality. In the Bible used different words, when referred to the primary act of creation of this chaos (what I now will try to determine) and when said further creation. In the first case, the word that speaks of creation out of nothing what was not, and the second is the creation of something from, so to speak, already existing material.

About the chaos we always think of as the messy, unorganized existence. We think about the chaos in our room, implying that the room needs to be tidied up, and we all turned to her. When we think about the chaos in the larger scale of life, in the world, we imagine the city, the victim of the bombing, or a society where the face of opposing interests, where the love had faded away or vanished, where nothing is left but greed, self-centeredness, fear, hatred, etc. We understand chaos as a situation where what should be in harmony lost harmony lost harmony and we strive to compartmentalize, that is, every chaotic situation to lead to the harmony and sustainability. Again, to use the image of the raging sea, for us the way out of this chaos would be to freeze the sea, that it was motionless — but not as God works in these situations.

Chaos, by reference to which the Bible begins, it seems to me, is something else. It's all potential, all possible reality that has not yet assumed its form. It is possible to speak in such terms about the mind, about emotions, about the mind and heart of the child. You can say that they are still in a chaotic state, in the sense that they are all, all of this, but nothing is revealed. They are like the kidney, which contains all the beauty of a flower, but still should be disclosed, and if it will not be revealed, nothing will be revealed.

Primal chaos of the Bible, it seems to me, is the infinite, the unimaginable fullness of possibilities that contains everything — not only what it might be, but it may be now and in the future. It's like a kidney, which can lead to grow forever. And what the Bible describes as the creation of the world, is the act whereby God brings one opportunity after another, waiting for her to Mature, was ready to birth, and then gives her the appearance, shape and put into life and into reality. I think these images are important because the world in which we live, is still in a state of chaos, a creative chaos. This creative chaos had not yet manifested in all its possibilities, he continues to create new reality and each reality due to its novelty scary old world.

There is a problem of mutual understanding between generations, there is the problem of how to understand the world in a certain era, if you was born and raised in a different era. We can be a surprise what we see twenty or thirty years after they themselves had reached maturity. Maybe we'll face a world that needs to be understood and loved, because that is inhabited by our descendants, our friends, and however became almost incomprehensible to us. In this case, again, we tend to "organize" the world. This is what did all dictators: they caught the world in formation, or a world that has slipped into disarray, and gave him form, but man-made, in the measure of a man. Chaos frightens us, we fear the unknown, we are afraid to look into the dark abyss, because they do not know what will emerge from it and how we will be able to handle it. What will become of us if there is something or someone or some situation that we do not understand?

That is, I think, the situation in which we find ourselves all the time, from generation to generation, and even within my own life. There are moments when we fear that happens to us, what we are becoming. I don't mean the elementary level, when you can come in horror, realizing that the collapse from drunkenness, from drugs, what kind of lifestyle they lead, or from external conditions. I say that rises in us, and we find out something that could not have existed. And again, we believe that the easiest way to suppress, to try to destroy something that rises and frightens us. We are afraid of creative chaos, fear gradually emerging opportunities and try to get out of the situation, turning back, betraying a new earth, bringing all into a frozen equilibrium.

Creative people easily find the exit, projecting what is happening in them, in painting, in sculpture, or in music, or acting. These people are in an advantageous position, because the artist — assuming that he is a true artist, expresses itself through more than even he realizes. He will find that he expressed on canvas, in sound, in the lines or colors, or forms, what he does not see me, it's a revelation for him himself, on this basis, the psychologist can read the painting that the artist created, not realizing that it creates.

I'm not a connoisseur of painting, but I had an experience that still amazes me, the key I got from one old lady. Thirty years ago he came to me a young man with a huge canvas and said, "I was sent to you, saying that you can interpret me that cloth." I asked him why. He said: "I undergo psychoanalysis, my psychoanalyst can not understand this picture, I can't either. But we have a common friend (same woman), who said, "you Know, you're absolutely insane, you need to go to the same as you," and sent me to you." I found it very flattering and looked at his picture and saw nothing. So I was asked to leave the canvas and I have lived with him for three or four days. And then I started to see something. After that, I visited him once a month, saw his works and interpreted them to him, until he went easily to read the pictures as you read his poems or any of his work with understanding.

It can happen to anyone at some point in life — sometimes from the side it is easier to understand a person than he himself realizes. We need to be able to face modern life in the same way. God is not afraid of chaos, God is in his heart, causing chaos from the entire reality, a reality that will open up a novelty, that is scary for us, until things reach their fullness.

When I said that I believe that God is the Lord of harmony, but the Lord of storms, I had in mind something even greater. The world around us is not the primal chaos is fraught with possibilities that are still not opened, still do not carry in itself evil, yet, so to say, not spoiled. We live in a world where that was due to being terribly distorted. We live in a world of death, suffering, evil, incompleteness, and in this world there are both sides of chaos: the primary source of opportunities, potentials, and distorted reality. And our task harder because we can't just contemplate, to look at what arises out of nothingness, or gradually grows more and more perfect, like a baby in the womb, like a fetus needs to grow into the fullness of the being (human or animal). We have to face destruction, evil, distortion, and here we have a role to play, a crucial role.

One of the problems that I see now, maybe more clearly than in his youth (maybe age feel that the past is more harmoniously and reliably than the present), is that the call is not accepted, most people would want the challenge was taken up by someone else. Believer, whenever there is a challenge or a danger, or tragedy, turns to God and says, "Breaker, I'm in trouble!". Member of the society appeals to those in power and says: "You must ensure my well-being!". Someone drawn to philosophy, one makes a single stock. But with all this, I don't think we realize that each of us is called to make responsible, thoughtful participation in facing our problems. Whatever our philosophical persuasion, we are sent into the world, set in this world, and whenever we see his ugliness or disharmony, it's our job to look into these things and to put yourself the question: "What can be my contribution to the world is indeed harmonious?", not conventionally harmonious, not just decent, not just this world in which to live. There are times when, to reach a situation where you can live, you have to go through impossible, it would seem that the chances, as may be necessary surgery, or how a thunderstorm clears the air.

It seems to me that the modern world poses a double challenge, and we need to look into it, and not try to divert the gaze, and many of us would prefer not to see certain aspects of life, because if you can't, you're largely free from responsibility. The easiest way to ignore that people are starving that they are being persecuted, that people suffer in prison and die in hospitals. It is self-deception, but we're largely glad to be deceived or seek to self-deception, because it would be much more convenient, much easier to live if I could forget about everything except what is good in my own life.

So we need much more courage than we are willing to show commonly: it is very important to look tragedy in the face, to accept the tragedy, as if the wound in the heart. And then the temptation to avoid the wounds, turning the pain into anger, because the pain, when it is thrust upon us adopted when we suffer, in a sense — passive state. And anger is my own response: I can be sharp, can angry, can act — not very much, usually, and, of course, this does not solve the problem because, as it says in the message, the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (Jas 1:20). Nevertheless, getting angry easily, and is very difficult to accept suffering. The highest expression of the second I see, for example, to how Christ accepts His suffering and crucifixion: how the gift of self.

And the second: it is not enough to meet the event, to discern the essence of things, to accept suffering. We are sent into this world to change it. And when I say "change", I think of diverse ways of what can be changed the world, but less about the political or social reconstruction. The first thing that needs to happen is a change in ourselves that will allow us to be in harmony — a harmony that can be transferred, to spread around us.

This, I think, more important than any changes we can try to make around itself in a different way. When Christ says that the Kingdom of God is within us (LK 17:21), this means that if God does not reign in our lives, if we have not the mind of God the heart of God, not the will of God, not eyes of God, everything we try to do or create, it will be disharmonious and to some extent incomplete. I don't want to say that each of us is able to achieve all of this in entirety, but to the extent that we have achieved this, it's spreading around us harmony, beauty, peace, love, and changing everything around us. The act of love, the manifestation of sacrificial love, it does something for everyone, even for those people who don't know about it, not notice it immediately.

So, we should put ourselves questions about how we are able to courageously face the things, and the courage always involves a willingness to forget yourself and to look, first, at the situation and, secondly, on the need of the other. Until we focus on ourselves, our courage will break, because we will fear for our body, our mind, our emotions, and we will never be able to risk everything, even life and death. This question we have set ourselves constantly because we are timid, cowardly, we doubt. Us the question and we go around it and give a vague answer, because it's easier than giving a straight answer. We need to do something and I'll do this much, the rest later, etc. And we need to educate ourselves to become those people who are sent to bring the world harmony, beauty, truth, love.

In the translation of the New Testament Moffat is the expression: "We are the vanguard of the Kingdom of Heaven"177. We're the ones who should be understanding of the divine perspective, who is set to expand and deepen the vision of others, to make it light. We are not called to be a community of people who are nice mutual fellowship who enjoy hearing from each other wondrous words, and waiting for the next chance to be together. We must be those who God will take in His hand, sow so that we will take the wind, and somewhere we will fall into the soil. And there we have to put down roots, to give the sprout, albeit with some price. Our mission is together with other people to participate in the construction of the city, hail human, Yes, but such that this city could correspond to the city of God. Or in other words, we should build the castle of man who would have such capacity, such depth, such Holiness, that One of its nationals could be Jesus Christ the Son of God made Son of man. Everything that is not in this measure, anything less, is not the castle of man, a decent Man — I do not say: worthy of God — it is too small for us. But we have to accept the challenge, to look him in the face, for starters — become a face-to-face with ourselves, to achieve the desired level of peace and harmony and to be on the inside of this harmony or to Shine around ourselves because we are called to be a light to the world.

The answers to the questions

Don't you think that our world is in such a state that it is too late to think about changing, correcting him?

No, I don't think it's too late. First, to say that it's too late, means to condemn oneself to inaction, to let go and only add to the stagnation, decay. And secondly, the world is surprisingly young. I'm not talking about chimps and dinosaurs, but if you keep in mind the human race, we are very young, we downright newcomers, the recent settlers. We have a lot of time to mess around, but overall we are very young.

Also, as far as I can tell — I'm not a historian, but from what little I know, it is clear that the world constantly goes through UPS and downs, through crises, through the dark periods and light periods. And the people of this generation for the most part I feel that when the situation slid into chaos, it must all end. Now, experience shows or ought to show us that every time there is some kind of upgrade, so I believe that there is still time. Of course, I am not a prophet in that sense, but I think as long as I live, I will act. When you die, the responsibility is no longer mine. But I'm not just going to snuggle up in a chair and say, "I don't understand the present world." I will continue to say what I believe to be true, I will try to share what I consider beautiful, and what happens is none of my business.

But sometime comes the end of all? Whether or not you believe in it?

I believe that there will come a time when all will dramatically collapse, but I think that we have not yet reached this point. I remember during the revolution in Russia, when still allowed debate and dissent, someone asked a Christian preacher, баптиста178 whether he thinks of Lenin, the Antichrist, and he replied: "No, he's too shallow for that." And when I look around, I think that all those who sometimes call evil incarnate, is too small, this image is not one of them. I think we're not ready to end the tragedy. But in this sense I am an optimist, because I'm not afraid and of the last tragedy too.

But unless factors such as nuclear weapons, have not changed qualitatively whole situation in the world?

The existence of atomic bombs, nuclear weapons, etc., of course, introduced another dimension — a dimension which was not quantified before. We can not exclude evil will or an accident. But I don't remember who said that the decisive factor is not the fact that nuclear weapons exist, the decisive factor is whether the person or group of people willing to use such weapons. I think that's the main thing I feel about it. Peace, security, etc. — all this must begin with ourselves, in our environment. You can destroy all nuclear weapons and nevertheless lead a destructive war and destroy each other. Without nuclear weapons can destroy life on earth. Can cause hunger, which will carry millions of people can kill so-called conventional weapons until and to the extent that our planet is depopulated. So the problem is in us, not in the guns. You know, back in ancient times, St. John Cassian, speaking about good and evil, said that very few things are good or evil, the greater part of them are neutral. Take, for example, he says, the knife. In itself it is neutral, the problem is, who has it in his hands and what they will do. And here. The fact is that we humans treat the world in which you live with reverence, treated each other with respect. It is not destructive means — it all depends on the fear, hatred, greed, kachestvami in us.

Still, nuclear weapons cannot be perceived as something as neutral as a knife. Shouldn't we try to fight this danger with all his strength, to participate in the struggle for peace?

What we are talking about nuclear energy probably were experienced and expressed in other eras on other occasions. When gunpowder was invented, he's just as afraid of people as frightens us today is nuclear energy. You know, I can be very insensitive, but when I was fifteen, my great passion was reading the Stoics and remember, read the Epictetus where he says that there are two kinds of things: those than can do and those with nothing to do. Where unable to do something —do it, forget about the rest. Maybe I look like an ostrich that hides its head in the sand, but I just live day by day, even without thinking about what the world could be destroyed by a nuclear energy, or that I can move the car, or that the temple can climb the robber. For me it is important as people who will go anyway. That's what we are, relative to what we may have something to do: to help people to realize that compassion and love are important.

In the peace movement, in the struggle for peace confuses me is this: this movement is largely motivated by the argument: "You see, what we are in danger!". What matters is not that it's dangerous, scary — it is important that there is no love. We should be the peacemakers not out of cowardice, should change our attitude to one's neighbor. And if so, it must begin not with the ban on nuclear power plants, it must begin with us, beside us, everywhere. I remember in the beginning of the war was the RAID on Paris, and I went down to the shelter. There was a woman with great vehemence talking about the horrors of war and said, "Unimaginable that in our time there are monsters like Hitler! People who don't like your neighbor! Getting it in my hands, I would prod him with needles to death!". I think the mood in our days is very common: if you could destroy all the villains! But in that moment, when you kill the villain you're making an equally destructive act, because it is not about the quantity but the quality of what you did.

One French writer in романе179 there is a story about a man who visited the Islands in the Pacific ocean and there learned spells and magic to bring to life all that I can still live, but withered, faded. He returned to France, buys a piece of bare rocky earth and sings her love song. And the earth begins to give life to sprout beauty, plants, and animals from all over the neighborhood come to live in the community of friendship. Only one beast comes to the Fox. And this man, monsieur Cyprien, sick heart: a poor Fox doesn't understand how she can be happy in this recreated Paradise, and he calls Fox, calling, beckoning — but Fox is not! Moreover, from time to time the Fox drags the Paradise chicken and eats it. The sympathy of monsieur Cyprien is replaced by impatience. And then he comes to the idea: if it were not for Fox, heaven would include all and he kills the Fox. He returned to his heavenly piece of land: all the plants withered, all animals ran away.

I think that's a lesson for us in this respect, this happens with us, in us. I don't want to say that completely insensitive attitude to what can happen when disaster, nuclear or any other, but this is not the worst evil, the worst evil in the human heart.

If we assume neutral all can give good or bad result, it turns out that fear is our subjective reaction? And then: where is our faith?

I'm not so naive as to think that fear is only a subjective condition caused by a lack of faith. Yes, anything can be devastating that threatens to destroy the man, his body, to destroy the world in which we live, including ourselves, or to destroy the moral people, carries with it the fear. But I think throughout history we have repeatedly faced with the fact that it carries a risk and fear, and learned to tame these things since fire, floods, lightning. Was defeated a number of diseases, such as plague, smallpox, in the last decade tuberculosis. When I was a medical student, there were whole branches dying from tuberculosis, he is now generally considered a mild illness, it is curable. And our role, I think, to be trainers. We will have to deal with phenomena causing terror, man-made or natural, and our task is to learn how to meet them, to handle them, to curb and, eventually, use. Even used for smallpox vaccinations. Fire use is extremely wide, and also water, these elements conquered. There are moments when the humanity of carelessness forgets its role as a handler, and then tragedy happens. But even if we leave aside the man-made, manmade horrors, have to tame more.

Of course, such a thing as nuclear energy, more intimidating, I would say, not because of the fact that she is deadly — it's that simple: end all, but because of side effects. Therefore, humanity must clearly understand their responsibility, and I think it is a challenge that humanity must face, because it is a moral challenge, its not loose, just the fact that we give up nuclear energy. In our time the sense of responsibility in General is very poorly developed. In this case, we are faced with a direct question: "are you Aware of your responsibility? Are you ready to take it on yourself? Or are you willing to destroy their own people and other Nations?". And I think if we take this as a challenge, we should take it very seriously, as well as many centuries ago people had to face with respect to fire, when they were not able to make a fire, but knew that the fire would burn their homes and destroy everything around them; the same applied to the water etc.

In this case, how can we, in imitation of Peter, "get out of the boat"? How it should be expressed in practice?

You know, I find it hard to answer this because I'm hardly ever myself out of the boat! But I think we have to be ready to break away from all that as it is for us the safety, security, protection, and to look at the face of the complexity and sometimes the horror of life. It does not mean to look for trouble, but we don't have to hide, to throw into the boat, to seek asylum in a sacred place, etc., and must be willing to stand up and greet event face to face.

Second: in a time when we have lost the old security, some time we are bound to experience a feeling of recovery, though, because that will feel like a hero. You know, something that will not make for virtue, will make of vanity. But the conceit does not go far. At some point you feel that under my feet there is no solid ground, then you can act on the determination. You can say: I made a choice, and as much as I was scared I would not give up. This happens, for example, in war: you volunteered for the job and be in the dark in the cold and hunger, soaked to the bone, around the danger, and so want to be in hiding. And you can either run away or say: I decided not to stay... Maybe you're disheartened, fail, and there is nothing dishonest — none of us is patented as a hero. But this is because the suddenly remember that it can happen to you, instead of thinking about the meaning of his actions or about where you're going. There can support the idea of how important and significant the ultimate goal, and that you yourself, your life, your physical integrity or your happiness is very much insignificant compared to the goal.

Give you an example. I taught at the Russian gymnasium in Paris, and in one of the Junior classes was a girl who during the war went to relatives in Yugoslavia. It was nothing special — an ordinary girl, sweet, kind, whole nature. During the bombing of Belgrade, the house where she lived, was defeated. All tenants ran out, but when they began to look around, saw that one sick old woman could not get out. And the girl not thinking, she stepped into the fire and remained there. But the impulse, the thought that the old woman should not die, burn alive, was stronger than the instinctive movement to escape itself. Between right and courageous thought and action she made a brief instant, which allows all of us to say: "do we really need?". No, there should be no gap between thought and action.

In the story of Peter is another encouraging point. It starts to sink, notices your insecurity, your fear, your lack of faith, is conscious of what he remembers about himself more than he remembers about Christ, Christ Who loves, and from Which however later recanted, despite the fact that truly loves Him, and cries out: "Die, save me", and is on the shore. And I think it's impossible to just say, "I get out of the boat, will the waves reach the core of the hurricane will be saved!". We must be willing to step up and out into the sea, which is full of dangers, and if you think about the sea of human, we find ourselves surrounded by dangers of all kinds, large or small. In some moments you will escape: "I Have no more strength, I need some support or help!". So look for help and support, because if you decide "No, I'll heroically stand up to the end", it is possible to break. So you have to have the humility to say, "No, it was — alas! all what I can do!". And in that moment, salvation will come in response to your humility.

© Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Foundation

Published in the book Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. Works. Volume 2. Moscow, Izd-vo Practice

P. S. And remember, just changing your mind — together we change the world! ©



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