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Clarice Lispector


excerpt from The Passion according to G.H.

at The Spirit and Flesh World Religion and Spirituality Online Library: uniting seemingly opposed ideologies and vibrations into the true, pristine harmony of cosmic oneness.




"I keep looking, looking. Trying to understand. Trying to give what I have gone through to someone else, and I don't know who, but I don't want to be alone with that experience. I don't know what to do with it, I'm terrified of that profound disorganization. I'm not sure I even believe in what happened to me. Did something happen, and did I, because I didn't know how to experience it, end up experiencing something else instead? It's that something that I'd like to call disorganization, and then I'd have the confidence to venture forth because I would know where to come back to: to the prior organization. I prefer to call it disorganization because I don't want to ground myself in what I experienced- in that grounding I would lose the world as it was for me before, and I know that I don't have the capacity for another one. ...


"Oh, hand that holds me, if I had not needed so much of myself to form life, I would have had life!"

But on the human plane that would have been destruction: living life instead of living one's own life is forbidden. It is a sin to go into divine matter. And that sin has an inexorable punishment: the person who dares go into that secret, in losing her individual life, disorganizes the human world. I could have left my solid construction in the air, even knowing that it was dismantleable...if it hadn't been for temptation. And temptation can keep on from getting to the other shore. ...


"Give me your hand again, I still don't know how to console myself about truth."

But- sit here a moment with me- the greatest disbelief in the truth of humanization would be to think that truth would destroy humanization. Wait for me, wait: I know that later on I'll learn how to fit all that into daily practice- don't forget that I too need daily life!


But look, love of mine, truth can't be bad. The truth is what it is- and precisely because it is immutably what it is, it had to be our great security, just as desiring our father or our mother is to inevitable that it has to have been our basis. That is it, then, the way, do you understand? why should I be afraid of consuming good or evil? if they exist it is because that is what exists.

Wait for me, I know that I am moving toward something that hurts because I am losing other things- but wait for me to go on a little farther. From all this, who knows, a name may be born! a name without word, but one that will perhaps set the roots of truth in my human formation.

Don't be afraid like I am afraid: it can't be bad to have seen life in its very plasma. It is dangerous, it is sinful, but it can't be bad, because we are made of that plasma.

"Listen, don't be afraid: remember that I have eaten the forbidden fruit and was nonetheless not struck down by the orgy of being. Listen, then: that means that I shall save myself even more than I would have saved myself if I hadn't eaten of life....Listen, it is because I dove into the abyss that I am beginning to love the abyss I am made of. Identity can be dangerous because of the intense pleasure that may become mere pleasure and nothing more. But I am now accepting love for the thing."

It isn't dangerous, I swear it isn't dangerous.

For the state of grace exists permanently: we are always saved. The whole world is in a state grace. A person is smitten by sweetness only when she perceives that she is in the state of grace, to sense when you are in grace is itself the gift, and few take the risk of recognizing that in themselves. But there is no danger of perdition, I know that now: the state of grace is inherent.

"Listen, I was accustomed only to transcending. Hope, for me, had been deferral. I had never left my soul free, and I had quickly organized myself into a person because it is to risky to lose form. But now I see what was really happening to me. I had so little faith that I had merely invented the future, I believed so little in what exists that I had deferred nowness for a promise and for a future."

But now I discovered that it isn't even necessary to have hope.

It is much more serious. Oh, I know that I am getting involved again in dangerous matters and that I ought to leave off speaking to myself. One shouldn't say that hope isn't necessary, for that could end up being changed, since I weak, into a destructive weapon. And for you, it could end up being changed into a useful weapon of destruction.

I might not understand and you might not understand that doing way with hope ...in fact implies action, and right now. No, it isn't destructive- wait, let me understand us. It's a forbidden topic not because there's anything bad about it but because we put ourselves at risk.


I know that for me to abandon what was a life completely organized by hope, I know that abandoning all that- in favor of that wider something that is just being alive- abandoning all that hurts like separating from a yet-unborn child. Hope is a yet-unborn, only promised child, and that is crushing.

But I know that at one and the same time I want and don't want to hold myself back anymore. It's like being in a death agony: within death something wants to get free and simultaneously is afraid to leave the safety of the body. I know that it is perilous to speak about lack of hope, but listen- there is a profound alchemy taking place inside of me, and it was forged in the fire of Hell. And that gives me the greater right: the right to err.

Listen without fright or suffering: God's neutrality is so great and vital that I, because I could not bear God's cell, I had humanized it. I know that it is horribly dangerous to discover now that God has the power of impersonality ...because I know, oh, I know! that it is as if that meant the destruction of entreaty!

It is as if the future stopped emerging. And we can do nothing about it, we are deficient.

But listen a minute: I'm not speaking of the future, I'm speaking of a permanent nowness. And that means that hope doesn't exist because it is no longer a deferred future, it is now. Because God doesn't promise. He is much greater than that: He is and never ceases being. It is we who cannot bear this ever-now light, and so we promise it for later only so we do not have to feel it right now, today. The present is God's today face. The horror is that we know that it is right in life that we see God. It is with our eyes truly open that we see God. And if I put the face of reality off until after my death- it is through guile, for I prefer to be dead at the time of seeing Him, and so I think I won't really see Him, just as I have courage really to dream only when I am sleeping.

I know that what I am feeling is serious and has the power to destroy me. Because- because it is as though I were telling myself that the kingdom of heaven is now.

And I don't want the kingdom of heaven, I don't want it, I can bear only it's promise! The message I am getting from myself sounds cataclysmic to me, and once again close to the diabolical. But that is only for fear. It is fear. For doing away with hope means that I have to begin to live and not just to promise myself that I will. And that is the greatest fright I can have. Before, I waited. But God is now: His kingdom has just begun.

And His kingdom, my precious, is also of this world. I didn't have the courage to stop being a promise, and I promised myself, like an adult who doesn't have the courage to see that she has become an adult and keeps promising herself maturity. ...


And that's how I knew that the divine promise of life is now being fulfilled, and that it has always been fulfilled. Previously, only from time to time was I reminded, in a vision instantaneous and then suddenly remote, that promise is not only for the future, it is yesterday and it is permanently today: but that was jarring for me. I preferred to keep on entreating, without the courage to have, now.  ...


It isn't for us that cows' milk comes forth, but we drink it. Flowers weren't made for us to look at or for us to smell, and we look at them and smell them. The Milky Way doesn't exist for us to know its existence, but we know. And we know God. And what we need of Him, we get out of that. (I don't know what it is I'm calling God, but it can be called that.) If we know but very little about God, it is because we need little: we have of Him only what is destined to sustain us, we have of God what fits in us. (Nostalgia is not for the God who is missing to us, it is a nostalgia for ourselves, for we do not sustain ourselves; we miss our impossible grandeur- my unreachable nowness is my paradise lost.)

We suffer because we have so little hunger, although our small hunger is still enough for us to feel the profound loss of the pleasure we could have if we had a greater hunger. Milk people drink only as much as the body needs, and flowers we see only as far as the eyes reach and their fullness skims. However much more we need, the more God exists. However much farther we reach, that much more of God shall we have.

He enables us. (He wasn't born for us, nor were we born for Him, we and He are, at the same time.) He is uninterruptedly occupied in being, like all things are being, but He doesn't keep people from joining Him and, with Him, being occupied in being, in an interchange of living. He, for example, He uses us totally, for there is nothing in each of us that He, whose need is absolutely infinite, doesn't need. He uses us, and doesn't keep people from making use of Him. The ore in the earth isn't responsible for not being used.

We are very far behind and have no idea of how to take advantage of God in an interchange- as though we still hadn't discovered that milk is for drinking. A few centuries ago, or a few minutes ago we may perhaps say, in alarm: and to think that God was always there! the one who was there very little was I- just as we would say of oil that people finally needed enough to learn how to extract it from the earth, just as one day we will lament those who have died of cancer without using the cure that is at hand. Surely we still don't need to die of cancer. Everything is at hand. (Perhaps beings on another planet already know these things and already live in an interchange that is natural for them; for us, now, that interchange would amount to "holiness" and would completely confound our lives.)

Cows' milk we drink. And if the cow doesn't let us, we have recourse to violence. (In life and in death anything goes, living is always a life-and-death question.) With God too you can make your way through violence. He Himself, when he especially needs one of us, He chooses us and violates us. ...


But my violence toward God has to be a violence toward myself. I have to do violence to myself so I can need more. So that I become so desperately greater that I become empty and needy. I shall thus have touched the root of needing. The great emptiness in me will be where I exist; my extreme poverty will be a great will. I have to do violence to myself until I have nothing and need everything; when I need then I will have, for I know that it is only just to give more to the one who asks for more, my demand is my size, my emptiness my measure. You can also do violence directly unto God, with a love full of anger.

And he will understand that that furious, murderous avidity of ours is in fact our sacred, vital fury, our attempt to violate ourselves, the effort to eat more than we can so as to increase our hunger artificially- in the demand for life everything is legitimate, even the artificial, and the artificial is often the great sacrifice that is made to get to the essential.

But, since we are little and therefore need but little, whey is little not enough for us? Because we sense pleasure. Like blind me who feel their way along, we have presentiments of the intense pleasure of living.

And if we have presentiments, it is also because we feel that we are being alarmingly used by God, we feel alarmingly that we are being used with an intense and uninterrupted pleasure- moreover, up to now our salvation has been one of being at least so used, we are not useless, we have been made intense use of by God; body and soul and life are for that: for someone's interchange and ecstasy. Disquieted, we feel that we are being used every minute- but that awakens in us the disquieting desire to use as well.

And He not only allows but needs to be used, being used is a way of being understood. (In all religions God demands to be loved.) For us to have, all we need is to need. To need is always the supreme moment. Just as the most daring happiness between a man and a woman comes when needing becomes so great that it is felt in agony and wonder: without you I will be unable to live. Love's revelation is a revelation of lacking- blessed be the poor of spirit for the sundering realm of life is theirs.

If I abandon hope, I am celebrating my lack, and that is the greatest solemnity of living. And because I have taken up my lack, life is at hand. Many have been those who have abandoned everything they had and set out in search of a greater hunger.

Oh, I have lost timidity: God is now. We have already been proclaimed, and it has been my own errant life that has proclaimed me to the right one. Beatitude is the continuous pleasure of the thing, the process of the thing is made of pleasure and of contact with what is gradually needed more and more. My whole fraudulent struggle came from my not wanting to assume the promise that can be fulfilled: I didn't want reality.

For to be real is to take up the promise itself: to assume innocence itself and take up again the taste we were never aware of: the taste of the living.  ...


Finally, finally, my husk had really broken, and I was, without limit. By not being, I was. To the edge of what I wasn't, I was. What I am not, I am. Everything will be within me, if I am not; for "I" is merely one of the world's instantaneous spasms. My life doesn't have a merely human sense, it is much greater- it is so much greater that, in relation to human sense, it is senseless. Of the general organization that was greater than I, I had till now perceived only the fragments. But now I was much less than human... and I would realize my specifically human destiny only if I gave myself over, just as I was doing, to what was not me, to what was still inhuman.

And giving myself over with the confidence of belonging to the unknown. For I can pray only to what I do not know. And I can love only the unknown evidence of things and can add myself only to what  I do not know. Only that is a real giving of oneself.

And such a giving of myself is the only surpassing that doesn't exclude me. I was now so much greater that I no longer saw myself. As great as a landscape in the distance. I was in the distance. More perceptible in my last mountains and in my remotest rivers: simultaneous nowness did not frighten me anymore, and in the most ultimate extremity of myself I could finally smile without smiling in the least. I finally extended beyond my own sensibility.

The world interdepended with me- that was the confidence I had reached: the world interdepended with me, and I am not understanding what I say, never! never again shall I understand what I say. For how will I be able to speak without the word lying for me? how will I be able to speak except timidly, like this: life is itself for me. Life is itself for me, and I don't understand what I am saying. And, therefore, I adore... "

(by Clarice Lispector, excerpted from The Passion according to G.H.)

























































































































































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