Eric Voegelin: Lasting & Passing

“What lasts and passes, to be sure, is existence, but since existence is partnership in being, lasting and passing reveal something of being. Human existence is of short duration, but the being of which it partakes does not cease with existence. In existing we experience mortality; in being we experience what can be symbolized only by the negative metaphor of immortality. In our distinguishable separateness as existents we experience death; in our partnership in being we experience life. But here again we reach the limits that are set by the perspective of participation, for lasting and passing are properties of being and existence as they appear to us in the perspective of our existence; as soon as we try to objectify them we lose even what we have. If we try to explore the mystery of passing as if death were a thing, we shall not find anything but the nothing that makes us shudder with anxiety from the bottom of existence. If we try to explore the mystery of lasting as if life were a thing, we shall not find life eternal but lose ourselves in the imagery of immortal gods, of paradisiacal or Olympian existence. From the attempts at exploration we are thrown back into the consciousness of essential ignorance. Still, we “know” something. We experience our own lasting in existence, passing as it is, as well as the hierarchy of lasting; and in these experiences existence becomes transparent, revealing something of the mystery of being, of the mystery in which it participates though it does not know what it is. Attunement, therefore, will be the state of existence when it hearkens to that which is lasting in being, when it maintains a tension of awareness for its partial revelations in the order of society and the world, when it listens attentively to the silent voices of conscience and grace in human existence itself. We are thrown into and out of existence without knowing the Why or the How, but while in it we know that we are of the being to which we return. From this knowledge flows the experience of obligation, for though this being, entrusted to our partial management in existence while it lasts and passes, may be gained by attunement, it may also be lost by default. Hence the anxiety of existence is more than a fear of death in the sense of biological extinction; it is the profounder horror of losing, with the passing of existence, the slender foothold in the partnership of being that we experience as ours while existence lasts. In existence we act our role in the greater play of the divine being that enters passing existence in order to redeem precarious being for eternity.”

(Order & History Vol 1)


Also reminds me of Dan’s poem Big Red.

Eric Voegelin: The Community of Being

“We move in a charmed community where everything that meets us has force and will and feelings, where animals and plants can be men and gods, where men can be divine and gods are kings, where the feathery morning sky is the falcon Horus and the Sun and Moon are his eyes, where the underground sameness of being is a conductor for the magical currents of good or evil that will subterraneously reach the superficially unreachable partner, where things are the same and not the same, and can change into each other”

(Order & History Vol 1)