Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Human Self, One, Irreplaceble

"I would know you in order to know myself."

The word person has great significance. "Today our way of thinking about people is defined in many thousands, millions...yet there is always one, human person indivisible." That person is unique, irreplaceable, the creation of which remains a metaphysical mystery.
Persons may be described and regarded as form, physical bodies, not unlike other bodies, both animate and inanimate. However in the individual a development takes place. The development of thought, knowledge and intellect takes place on a deeper level in the person.
All are on the developmental plane as persons. Even the least gifted person whom we may meet belongs to this great human reality of the person in development.

Is each human person really created in the image and likeness of God, the Creator? While man may not deny his link to nature, and resemblance to the world known in past times as the animal world, it is not possible to integrate all that a person possesses without recognition of the "something more" that defines him.
The something more which defines him may be called the conscience. A person is, in the view of theologian and philosopher, Karol Wotjyla in fact, conscience. The conscience provides the definitive structure which differentiates the person from other elements in the created world. It is the basis of the definitive and unrepeatable I.

A story that comes out of the World War II era, one from a Polish concentration camp, recounted by Max Kolbe regarding his own execution by a camp executioner. Both he and the executioner were human beings, each presumably with a conscience. On one hand, one is one admired and esteemed for his faith and courage in horrible circumstances; the other is a person to be rejected by others of every faith, scorned and repudiated.

The greatness or smallness of a person is first developed within his conscience. When considering this notion, we must look to the ends of its development, that is in death. Is then death the full ends of a person? Is it in fact a defining reality? The materialism of the world sees death as an end, so much so that a person's life is a steady progression towards its inevitable end in death, beyond which there is nothing.
The Judeo-Christian tradition teaches in the Tanakh or Old Testament book, Genesis, "You are dust, and to dust you will return."
But if death is really the final end, then what happens to lead one to a final heroic act of faith and courage, and another to play the part of executioner, halting a life?
What about good and evil?
The French thinker and writer, Jean Paul Sartre wrote that man aspires to that which he defines as God, "even if this is an empty word, so that it is a useless passion." Yet persons are multidimensional. They develop slowly, unevenly; they develop judgment and wisdom over time. That development is the beginnings of eternal life.
In the course of a person's development he comes to know that there is a tree, if you like, of good and evil; he finds that at any turn he may choose good or evil. This knowledge, these decisions, and actions are of value. They present a person with either the good, or the evil as value.
Indeed human life is lived between good and evil. Human beings are great because they can freely choose, they possess what Augustine of Hippo called, free will.
 Despite the will and the ability to choose, man, in knowledge, has chosen evil; he has played the executioner. In a certain sense, the ability to choose evil testifies to man's greatness in freedom.

Yet freedom calls, requires something of the chooser. It exacts a price. In evil we are cut off from the source of life, from love, from co-union with the Creator. The created are then exceeded in the bounds of the "tree."
The God of the Bible remains steadfast in regard to his creations. He does not cut himself off from them; he is more like the story of a lover seeking his beloved, the Song of Songs, his lost child. He looks everywhere for him.
His first and last thoughts are for the Beloved, his creation. The precepts of the Bible, of the Buddha, have come into the world to lead the Way to our redemption, our enlightenment, to our peace, our joy, our rest in the One.
--paraphrased from The Way to Christ by Karol Wojtyla

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