Ramchal starts off this chapter entitled "Human Responsibility" with a
depiction of the human situation. He does that in order to put the idea of
what we're each responsible for in this world in context.
At bottom, he indicates, each one of us is in the thick of a terrible
conflict, inside and out. Between the various parts of our own being, on the
one hand; and between our beings and the world's demands, on the other.
The way we resolve those conflicts defines who we are in the end.
We'll begin by discussing the inner conflict, and move on from there to
discuss the outer one.
As is well known, we’re each a melange of clashing forces and proclivities.
Between physicality and its "partisans" who want this and that, and
spirituality and its partisans who want that and the other thing.
While sensitive souls are well aware of these incongruities, most of us
simply aren't. We’re *sure* we say what we feel and feel what we say, and
that we consistently move dead-ahead toward our goals. But whether we’re
aware of it or not, we’re each thick in the mire of a subtle, often
intangible war of self definition.
Let it be said from the outset that physicality is at an advantage. For it's
able to assert itself from birth and to gnaw away at spirituality, the
late-comer, our whole lives long.
The greatest, most manifest partisan of physicality we have is our body,
which is always right *there*. While the greatest partisan of spirituality we
have, the soul, is utterly intangible and it only manifests itself in the
mind and its elusive thoughts. Hence, spirituality is once again at a
We have it within us, though, to train the mind (and hence the soul) to have
the upper hand-- despite all odds. And to allow spirituality to come to full
flower. By growing in wisdom and living by its dictates.
For by doing that we allow spirituality and the soul itself to purify
physicality and the body. And we thus deny the body its unfair advantage in
the course of our lives-- to a degree.
But the battle is even mightier than we might have thought. For, again, the
soul isn’t only hampered internally-- it’s also hampered externally. Since
the world itself stresses physicality over spirituality. It requires us to
engage with it; to compete, struggle, and work hard; to garner this, that and
the other thing, etc. in order to get by and be well.
What are we to do, then, in the face of all that-- and given that we humans
have our spiritual responsibilities despite and in the face of all this?
Even if we delve into wisdom as we're told above to do, and manage to
overcome physicality somewhat, it seems we’re still doomed to failure, given
the many loud and rude physical demands the world makes upon us.
Is there somehow or another a way to make use of the world’s physicality to
our spiritual advantage?
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