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Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

Our Spiritual Life

The progress of science and technology is essential. But for many of us moderns, it has come at the cost of losing the capacity for awe and for acknowledging forces beyond our comprehension. It has deprived us of the ability to access spiritual stillness and piety.

Are we really to say that a simple peasant who piously believed in God, who worshipped daily in a beautiful cathedral that must have seemed a wondrous glory to the greatness of the Holy Spirit, was worse off than us because he or she lacked our technology? If we told a Zen Buddhist from Japan in the twelfth century that in the future everyone could count on greater wealth and longer lives but that in most cases those gifts would be followed by a feeling of utter purposeless and dissatisfaction, do you think they would want to trade places with us?

Because that doesn’t sound like progress.

In his 1978 commencement address to the students of Harvard, Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke of a modern world where all countries – capitalist and communist alike – had been pervaded by a “despiritualised and irreligious humanistic consciousness.”

“To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging everything on earth – imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which have not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.”

 

From, ‘Stillness is the Key’ by Ryan Holiday.