Καζαντζάκης Parts from “Askitiki” (Ασκητική) - exercises for the soul...

…the preparation:
A command rings out within me: "Dig! What do you see?"
"Men and birds, water and stones."
"Dig deeper! What do you see?"
"Ideas and dreams, fantasies and lightening flashes!"
"Dig deeper! What do you see?"
"I see nothing! A mute Night, as thick as death. It must be death."
"Dig deeper!"
"Ah! I cannot penetrate the dark partition! I hear voices and weeping. I hear the flutter of wings on the other shore."
"Don't weep! Don't weep! They are not on the other shore. The voices, the weeping, and the wings are YOUR OWN HEART."

…the ego:
I AM NOT good, I am not innocent, I am not serene. My happiness and unhappiness are both unbearable; I am full of inarticulate voices and darknesses; I wallow, all blood and tears, in this warm trough of my flesh.
I am afraid to talk. I adorn myself with false wings; I shout, I sing and I weep to drown out the inexorable cry of my heart.
I am not the light, I am the night; but a flame stabs through my entrails and consumes me. I am the night devoured by light.

…the race:
Where are you going? How shall you confront life and death, virtue and fear? All the race takes refuge in your breast; it asks questions there and lies waiting in agony.
You have a great responsibility. You do not govern now only your own small, insignificant existence. You are a throw of the dice on which, for a moment, the entire fate of your race is gambled.
Everything you do reverberates throughout a thousand destinies. As you walk, you cut open and create that river bed into which the stream of your descendants shall enter and flow.

…the mankind:
What is our duty? To raise our heads from the text a moment, as long as our lungs can bear it, and to breathe in the transoceanic song.
To bring together all our adventures, to give meaning to our voyage, to battle undauntedly with men, with gods, with animals, and then slowly, patiently, to erect in our brains, marrow of our marrow, our Ithaca.

…the earth:
I gaze upon Earth with her muddy brain, and I shudder as I relive the peril. I might have sunk and vanished amid these roots that suck at the mud blissfully; I might have smothered in this tough and many-wrinkled hide; or I might have twitched eternally within the bloody, dark skull of the primordial ancestor.
But I was saved, I passed beyond the thick-leaved plants, I passed beyond the fishes, the birds, the beasts, the apes. I created man,
I created man, and now I struggle to be rid of him.
"I am cramped and crushed! I want to escape!" This cry destroys and fructifies the bowels of the earth eternally. It leaps from body to body, from generation to generation, from species to species, becoming always stronger and more carnivorous. All parents shout: "I want to give birth to a son greater than I!"

…the action:
Die every day. Be born every day. Deny everything you have every day. The superior virtue is not to be free but to fight for freedom.
Do not condescend to ask: "Shall we conquer? Shall we be conquered?" Fight on!

…the silence:
THE SOUL OF MAN IS a flame, a bird of fire that leaps from bough to bough, from head to head, and that shouts: "I cannot stand still, I cannot be consumed, no one can quench.
I BELIEVE…

By Nikos Kazantzakis (translation: Kimon Friar)