Today, something happened. Something that changes everything. With it, I discovered in me a most heartfelt clarity of purpose and a tremendous aggressive energy. The fire of my soul is burning like never before.
I mark this day as a new beginning. I declare this task as my great struggle. Hereby, I testify before my burning will that I shall completely devour this task or perish in the act. I’d rather die than lose this. This, my friends, is a battle cry.
It is important to make the distinction between the pleasure that which is passive and that which is heroic. The distinction corresponds to that between two opposite attitudes. Passive pleasure is marked by passivity toward the world of impulses, instincts, passions, and inclinations. It is that which is tied to the satisfaction of desire in terms of a momentary dampening of the fire that drives life onward. Heroic pleasure, on the other hand, is that which accompanies a decisive action that comes from the core of being, from the plane superior to that of conditioned life.
It would be wrong to imagine heroic pleasure as inhabiting an arid, abstracted, and soulless climate. There, too, can be fire and vigor, but of a very different kind, with the constant presence of the higher, calm, and detached principle. It is also important in this context not to confuse the inner significance of an action with its contents. There is no object of passive pleasure that cannot in principle be also the object of heroic pleasure, and vice versa. It is a matter of a different dimension.
Finally there is a parallel between heroic pleasure and that which accompanies any action in its perfection, when its style shows a greater or lesser degree of diligence and integrity. Everyone has experienced the particular pleasure obtained from the exercise of an acquired skill, when after the necessary efforts to develop it (without being driven by the idea of passive pleasure), it becomes an ability, a spontaneity of a higher order, a mastery, a sort of game.”
With the recognition of “one’s own nature” and the making of “one’s own law,” the problem is only resolved partially. That is the plane of individuation, which furnishes one with an adequate base for controlling one’s conduct in any circumstances. But this plane has no transparency for one who wants to get to the bottom of things; absolute meaning is not yet to be found therein. When the situation remains at this stage, one is active in wanting to be oneself, but not with regard to the fact of being thus and not otherwise. To a certain type, this can seem like something so irrational and obscure as to set in motion a crisis that endangers everything he has hitherto gained. It is then that he must undergo the second degree of self-proving, which is like an experimental proof of the presence within him, in greater or lesser measure, of the higher dimension of transcendence. This is the unconditioned nucleus that in life does not belong to life’s sphere, but to that of Being.
It depends on this last trial to resolve, or not to resolve, the problem of the ultimate meaning of existence in an ambience lacking any support. After the whole superstructure has been rejected or destroyed, and having for one’s sole support one’s own being, the ultimate meaning of existing and living can spring only from a direct and absolute relationship between that being (what one is in a limiting sense) and transcendence. This meaning is not given by anything extrinsic or external, anything added to the being when the latter turns to some other principle; it can only be given by the transcendent dimension directly perceived by man as the root of his being and of his “own nature.” Moreover, it carries an absolute justification, an indelible and irrevocable consecration, which completely destroys the state of negativity and the existential problem. …
This unity with the transcendent is also the condition for preventing the process of self-unification from taking a regressive path. There is in fact a possibility of a pathological unification of the being from below, as in the case of an elementary passion that takes over the whole person, organizing all his faculties to its own ends. One must consider this possible reduction to absurdity of “being oneself” and of the unity of the self. This is a further reason to require our particular type of man to undergo the trial of self-knowledge at the second degree, which concerns, as we have said, the presence of the unconditioned and the supra-individual as his true center. …
In a meaningless world, the absolute sense of being depends almost exclusively on this experience. If it has a positive outcome, the last limit falls away; transcendence and existence, freedom and necessity, possibility and reality coincide. A centrality and invulnerability are realized without restriction in any situation, be it dark or light, detached or apparently open to every impulse or passion of life. Above all, the essential conditions are thereby created for adapting, without losing oneself, to a world that has become free but left to its own devices, seized by irrationality and meaninglessness.”