Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Ascetic Makarios and Nikos Kazantzakis

In his autobiography Report to Greco, Nikos Kazantzakis describes his forty day sojourn on Mount Athos in 1914 with the poet Angelos Sikelianos. It is at this time that he had the following conversation with the ascetic Makarios:

Kazantzakis: "You live a difficult life, my elder. I also wish to be saved. Is there no other way?"

Makarios: "More convenient?" said the ascetic as he smiled with compassion.

"More human, my elder.

"Only one way."

"How do they call it?"

"Ascent. You must climb a ladder; from satiety in food to hunger; from satiety in drink to thirst; from joy to pain. At the peak of hunger, thirst and pain sits God. At the peak of good times sits the devil."

"I am still young. The earth is good. I have time to choose."

The ascetic stretched out his five bony fingers, squeezed my knees, and nudged me.

"Wake up, my child, wake up, before death wakes you up."

I shuddered.

See also: Ascent: The Spiritual Trajectory of Nikos Kazantzakis
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