Against your will you live; against your will you die.
Ethics of the Fathers 4:22
The flame knows no rest, for it lives in perpetual conflict between two opposite tendencies. On the one hand, it is attached to its wick, drinking thirstily of the oil that fuels its existence. At the same time, it surges upward, seeking to tear free of its material tether. It knows that such disengagement would spell the end of its existence as a manifest, illuminating flame; nevertheless, such is its nature.
This is the paradox of the flame’s life: its attachment to wick and fuel sustains both its continued existence and its incessant striving for oblivion.
Man, too, is torn between these two contrasting drives. On the one hand, he tends towards self, towards life and existence. At the same time, he yearns for transcendence, to tear free from the confining involvements of physical life, to reach beyond his material self. The tension created by these conflicting drives is the essence of the human experience.
The desire to escape the trappings of physical life is what separates the human from the merely animal; but the escapist nature of man is counterbalanced by the compulsion to be, a compulsion that binds him to the material reality. Back and forth, back and forth runs the cycle of life, from being to transcendence and back again.
Reprinted by permission of Meaningful Life Learning Center