Despite being drafted in World War II, suffering the loss of his library and manuscripts, and being banned from publishing by the Communist regime from onwards and forced to earn his living as an unskilled worker until his retirement, his spirit was unbowed and he continued to write and translate; some of his work circulated in samizdat. His post writings were not published until after the fall of communism. Analysing the spiritual crisis of his age, Hamvas read extensively in the metaphysical tradition, the collective spiritual knowledge of humanity enshrined in sacred books. Christianity, —64 , which appeared in He felt a particular kinship with the writer John Cowper Powys, with whom he corresponded. It is like other trees, yet in its glorious individuality it is inimitable and unique.
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Despite being drafted in World War II, suffering the loss of his library and manuscripts, and being banned from publishing by the Communist regime from onwards and forced to earn his living as an unskilled worker until his retirement, his spirit was unbowed and he continued to write and translate; some of his work circulated in samizdat.
His post writings were not published until after the fall of communism. Analysing the spiritual crisis of his age, Hamvas read extensively in the metaphysical tradition, the collective spiritual knowledge of humanity enshrined in sacred books.
Christianity, —64 , which appeared in He felt a particular kinship with the writer John Cowper Powys, with whom he corresponded. It is like other trees, yet in its glorious individuality it is inimitable and unique.
This, of supreme import to the ancients — the absolute spirit, which always was and always will be the same — and of utmost import today — personality, that never was nor ever will be — this and only this unique instance exists, only here and only now, nowhere else and at this moment, and it is not like anything else.
The spirit of the absolute has always been at the ready, and remains always ready and complete; man receives it whole and that is what is grand about the spirit of the absolute. But this is not right. The spirit of the absolute simply is; personality is grand. In the ancient past the measure of existence was the spirit of the absolute; today it is personality. Measured by the spirit of the absolute the human is eccentric and exotic, ephemeral and instantaneous, dream and dazzlement.
Yet personality is grand, because it is to do not with the spirit of the absolute, but with origin. It is not architecture, it is sound. It is to do not with creation but with the creator. What is European exists not in the spirit of the absolute but in the grandeur of personality.
We are becoming more and more personal and non-unique, and our encounters increasingly occur uniquely in the realm of the personal, where everyone is different, and not where everyone is the same. The spirit of the absolute is suprapersonal. What it bespeaks is revelation. It is recognised by its unmoving and immutable nature. It does not do anything; it simply is. Here are located the creatures on the higher echelons of the hierarchy: the cherubim, the seraphim, the statues of ancient Egypt, the Buddhas, the mosaics of Byzantium, the icons.
This unmovingness is rarely realizable. We know that peace of mind can be achieved only through decades of practice and unimaginable effort. But if you have not mastered these techniques you are helpless and doomed to movement even in your sleep — for you dream. You can never stop. Where you stop, that is no longer life, it is being. Unmovingness cannot be realized here on earth. We sense perhaps only negatively what is outside history and time, what is beyond our epoch and eternaly present, what is certainty and the abolute and knowledge.
We are immersed in time, in relativity, and only in the moment do we act and move; we do not know, we merely recognize; we do not reach anywhere, we only search and search. And shaped without movement, and what is shaped is ourselves; and we change.
The spirit of the absolute is not an active force. The spirit of the absolute sees. And it radiates this seeing. In Hebrew tradition the world that sees all and which radiates this seeing is called olam ha-atsiluth , the world of emanations. The closer the spirit is to stillness and to seeing and to radiating this seeing, the closer it is the absolute. And that is eternal and it is knowledge and it is certainty. Behold the cedar. Here it stands unmoving, like the cherub in the olam ha-atsiluth, and sees everything, and radiates.
It dreams no more. This is not living; it is being. It is being like the being of Egyptian statues and the mosaics of Byzantium. It stands like an archangel, who does nought but just is. The personality makes itself absolute by cutting itself off from everything and everyone. Absolutized by isolation , as Huxley has it.
The person acts and moves and works and realizes. It matters not how. In the end it does just one thing: it realizes its own sacrosanct personality. The perfect person is the one who resembles no one in any wise. The spirit of the absolute thinks in terms of analogies, because for him everything is connected and there is nothing that does not correspond to something else.
The personality thinks in terms of differences and chooses always only what he and no none else can choose. What is for the spirit of the absolute: analogy is for the personality: dharma. Dharma , in the personal destiny of man is the law of sacred unrepeatableness. The Hindu holds that the crippled beggar who fulfils his destiny is worth more than any wise, powerful, and rich ruler who fails to fulfil his. The person is, in his sacrosanct individuality, one among many.
He is unpredictable in his ways and in time eternal, and in the moment, in his place, here, in space and time, now, in his people, in his religion and in his language and in his loyalty to the soil and to his destiny. There is no other like it. It has made itself absolute in its isolated uniqueness.
It is like no one else and like nothing else. It is possessed of its own time and place, it stands here, embedded in the world and in its people and its religion, loyal in its sacral oneness to its earth and to its destiny. The wicker chair of Van Gogh, too, is uniquely absolute and absolutely unique. But the wicker chair is more humane and sociable and approachable than the cedar. It hears but it does not stir.
The wicker chair wills, the cedar is. The wicker chair dreams and suffers, the cedar sees. The wicker chair moves me, it makes me want to go over and help it, to touch it or console it, or hold its hand. Julia and Peter Sherwood.
Books by Béla Hamvas
The family moved to Pozsony Bratislava in , where Hamvas completed his basic studies in After graduation, like his classmates, he entered voluntary military service and was sent to the front in Ukraine. He was sent back to Budapest for hospital treatment due to severe traumatic shock, but just after recovery, he was drafted to the front line in western Italy. He never reached the battlefield, as his train was hit by a shell, wounding Hamvas, who was discharged. In his father refused to take an oath of allegiance to Czechoslovakia , whereupon his family was expelled from Bratislava.