“To say it once more: throughout human history, the ravages caused by excesses of individual self-assertion are quantitatively negligible compared to the numbers slain ad majorem gloriam out of a self-transcending devotion to a flag, leader, a religious faith or political conviction. Man has always been prepared not only to kill, but also to die for good, bad, and completely hare-brained causes….the tragedy of man originates not in his aggressiveness but in his devotion to transpersonal ideals.”
Heisenberg’s autobiographical account of modern physics was called Der Teil und das Ganze but appeared in English as Physics and Beyond! The Part and the Whole are the cornerstone of Koestler’s take on the cosmos…a self-assertive tendency along with a Janus like opposite, a integrative tendency…in all things…from the inner life of cells to the movements of solar systems. The Part/Whole dynamic operates independently as discrete units, but at the same time as part of a greater whole…and that whole is a part of…part of, part of, and on and on it goes…physics, biology, sociology, history, our psychological states with the reptilian “self-interest” and “drives” crossing paths with our “higher” desire to integrate and merge and sense transcendence.
See NYTimes “37.2 Trillion Galaxies or Human Cells”
Left Wien April 1, 1926, arrived in Haifa a month later. Arrived in Jerusalem in Sept 1927–after 18 months. Age 22. Rented a room at 29 Street of the Prophets, east of Jaffa Gate. Interviewed Abdullah of Transjordan. Visited our only 20th century Jewish Messiah, Moshe Guibbory, at the Sanhedria Tombs north of the city. Koestler also became “secretary” to the extraordinary Jabotinsky.
Left Palestine in June 1929. “I had gone to Palestine as a young enthusiast” but instead of Utopia, I had found reality, an extremely complex reality, which attracted and repelled me. In the end revulsion trumped attraction.”
Arthur Koestler’s original story filed with the German press is here: “Besuch beim ‘Messias‘” Neue Freie Presse, January 29, 1928. He also has an extended and fascinating account of this remarkable visit with Guibbory in his autobiography, Arrow in the Blue (New York: Macmillan, 1952), pp. 195-198.
So in the silence of the soul I listen for the still small voice, which is God’s call to each of us to engage in the work of love and creativity, to bring new life into the world, and to care for it and nurture it during its years of vulnerability. And whenever I see people engaged in that work of love, I sense the divine presence brushing us with a touch so gentle you can miss it, and yet know beyond all possibility of doubt that this is what we are called on to live for, to ease the pain of those who suffer and become an agent of hope in the world. That is a meaningful life. That is what life is when lived in the light of God’s presence, in answer to his call”
Our deepest sense of value and meaning in this world are not an anomaly or fluke, projected onto an otherwise uncaring universe. This inner sense of self is not somehow “outside” reality, and thus unreflective of its fundamental nature. Our capacities of self-consciousness, our sense of time, our existential becoming, is emergent from the “ground of being,” that nameless process rooted in the most fundamental reality. Our best clue as to the deeper nature of nature is our inner selves, reflective of the inherent capacities of reality–defined simply as “what is.” Cogito, ergo sum is not a bad beginning, if one can excise the dualism of Western language and assumptions. Whitehead called it panentheism.
When I heard Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, I knew there was joy at the heart of the universe.