I lived, particularly in childhood but with lessening intensity right on to middle age, in a world that was peculiarly and intimately my own, scarcely to be shared with others or even made plausible to them. I habitually read special meanings into things, scenes and places — qualities of wonder, beauty, promise, or horror — for which there was no external evidence visible or plausible to others. My world was peopled with mysteries, seductive hints, vague menaces, “intimations of immortality.”
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
Pleasure, most often delusive, may be born of delusion. Pleasure, herself a sorceress, may pitch her tents on enchanted ground. But happiness (or, to use a more accurate and comprehensive term, solid well-being) can be built on virtue alone, and must of necessity have truth for its foundation.
With the endless cycle of sunrise and sunset, life shortens. Engrossed in mundane tasks, man fails to notice the passage of time. Nor anxiety is felt at witnessing birth, advance of years, suffering and finally death. Oh, the world becomes intoxicated after drinking the wine of delusion.
Whether a person desires to be an artist, the first in his profession, or a tyrant m his home, to hold converse with God or humiliate other people; whether he regards his suffering as the most important thing in the world to which everyone must show obeisance, whether he is chasing after unattainable ideals or old deities, over stepping all limits and norms, at every part of his way he is guided and spurred on by his longing for superiority, the thought of his godlikeness, the belief in his special magical power.
What if I should discover that the poorest of the beggars and the most impudent of offenders are all within me; and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved — what then?
It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going.