The door to the deeper level
Sometimes the events that surround us feel impossible – unbearable. After all, as has been said, we can only take so much of reality at any one time. And yet within ourselves lies the door to the deeper levels of reality that give us the only possible approach to existence itself.
In the memoir of Raissa Maritain which is called We Have Been Friends Together she writes of her early search for truth, a search which she describes as a metaphysical anguish which going down to the very roots of the desire for life is capable of becoming a total despair and ending in suicide.
I find her writing so relevant in our contemporary world where the sense of anguish and the false notion of progress have becomes so painful. Raissa Maritain talks about the disillusionment of the soul which believes it’s been deceived by having had faith in humanity and by having believed in the triumphant power of truth and justice, of goodness and of pity – and of all that which we know to be the good.
When she met her future husband Jacques Maritain they shared their need to find a truth that would allow them to think and act with dignity. As Raissa describes it, she wanted to know whether existence is an accident, a blessing or a misfortune – at that time she believed herself an atheist and was giving up the hope of finding any meaning for the word truth and yet without truth how was it possible to live humanly. She said she would have accepted a sad life but not one that was absurd, so she and Jacques made a pact, a solemn decision that they would search for the truth but if after a few years the experiment was not successful the solution would be suicide – in other words they would kill themselves in preference to living meaningless lives.
As it was they found an idea of the truth through the works of Henri Bergson and it was through his lectures on philosophy that both Raissa and Jacques were inspired in their thinking. Bergson acted as the catalyst in their spiritual and philosophical development. He deepened their receptiveness and began their process and their pilgrimage towards conversion. The door to the deeper level of reality became gradually opened so it was understood that thankfully life was more than surface…. A deeper reality existed and the reality that is open and available to all who want to open the door.