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Angela Joyce H.



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Long Journey Home Chapter 7: Is There a Why?

Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish scientist and writer, was one of the three returning survivors
in a group of six hundred and fifty Italian Jews. He eventually got married, had children, wrote
books, and won literacy prizes. His core mission was to serve as a witness to the truth, a guardian
of the memory. His only thought was to survive and tell, Primo Levi said that “Auschwitz left its
mark on me, but it did not remove any desire to live. On the contrary, the experience increased my
desire, it gave my life purpose, to bear witness, so that such a thing should never occur again.” But
on April 11, 1987, Primo Levi plunged to his death down the stairwell.

To all appearances, Primo Levi lacked an adequate sense of faith and meaning with which
to interpret and handle his harrowing wartime experiences. The dark combination of Auschwitz
and atheism kept closing on him. He quoted in his book. If This Is a Man, “I find no solution to
the riddle. I seek, but I do not find it.” This statement proves that you need the three essentials to
live a fulfilling life, Clear sense of personal identity, a strong sense of purpose and mission, and a
deep sense of faith and meaning.

According to Nietzsche “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how” this
shows why Primo Levi took his own life, he had no answer strong enough to carry the weight of
his existence. Seekers are driven by questions and unconsciously pursue answers.

Some people say that weighing of answers is unnecessary because all beliefs at their core
are the same, other say that search for answers is impossible simply because there are too many
beliefs to investigate. But seekers are driven by their own quest. The answers we find are the
closest we come as human beings to unriddling life.

This chapter portrays how having a fulfilling life means to seek and find. It starts when we
would question our own existence and purpose. This will feed our willingness to continue life and
search for our own meanings. We must have this constant fire in our souls to continue living.
Long Journey Home Chapter 8: Nirvana Is not for Egos

Siddhartha Gautama renounced power and worldly pleasures and went into homelessness.
He led a privileged and pampered life, shielded from all sorrow and suffering. This made
Siddhartha a seeker with questions about suffering. He had three experiences that triggered his
questions. One was his mother’s death upon giving him birth. It left him a heartache he could not
escape. Next was when he was nine at the annual Sakya plowing festival, the young sensitive
prince saw the ground gashed open, insect and worms being cut in pieces and eaten by birds. He
felt the suffering in his soul. Third was when Siddhartha set out to see the world in a beautiful
chariot and decorated route made for him by his father to show him only the beauties and pleasures
in life. Along the way he saw a sick man then a corpse. By then Siddhartha realized that the life
he was living was all an illusion. Since then his goal was to have no self and become the Tathagata.
He was known later known to the world as Buddha or the enlightened one. His story shows the
journey from privileged to disillusionment, to asceticism and finally to enlightenment.

This chapter is all about Hinduism and Buddhism’s point of view about suffering. In both
Hinduism and Buddhism, suffering is seen as basic to human life. They rather choose to pursue
salvation through sacrifices and eventually pursue the goal of Nirvana. In Buddha’s Four Noble
Truths, there’s dukkha, samudaya, nirodha, and marga. Buddhism itself is one grand response to
suffering. Hindu minority and majority of Buddhists pursue the goal of Nirvana which
extinguishes not only suffering but attachment, desire, and the individual who desires also known
as “the great deathless lake of Nirvana”.

It was described that the Eastern family of faiths are world denying whereas the modern
world is essentially world-affirming. Neither traditional Hinduism nor traditional Buddhism shows
the slightest concern about human rights. Each seeker must decide which is right and which is
wrong for himself. One contrast provides an opportunity to underscore how differences make a
difference. Human rights are an illusion Another contrast highlights the difference between
examining the eastern religion on their own terms and diluting the Eastern religions to make them
palatable for western consumption. Our real problem is existence itself, it isn’t what we do but
who we are.
Long Journey Home Chapter 9: I Do It My Way

Bertrand Russell’s “A Free Man’s Worship” had unlikely beginnings. But as soon as it was
published it was hailed as a powerful, lyrical, impassioned statement of live without God on planet
earth. It was celebrated as the leading manifesto of humanism in the twentieth century. Russell’s
loneliness was made all the bleaker by observing Bernard Berenson’s devotion to his wife, a
legendary are historian and critic. Berenson had married Mary after a passionate affair. Russell
found himself locked in a loveless marriage that was tearing him apart. Russell’s repeated use of
religious language in describing his love life, conversion, Gods and so on points to the fact that his
search for love was closely linked to his loss of faith. In the essay Russell admitted that his way of
working out the shock that made him suddenly and vividly aware of the loneliness in which most
people live, and passionately desirous of finding ways of diminishing the tragic isolation. He wrote
that Man is the product of causes which had no previsions of the end they were achieving.
According to him man’s origin, growth, hopes and fears, love, beliefs are none but the outcome of
accidental collocations of atoms and therefore no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and
feeling can preserve an individual life beyond the grave. A;; the inspiration and brightness of
human genius are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system. HE concluded that
only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely

There are different accounts of the rise of humanism from the religious humanism of the
renaissance through the enlightenment but secular humanism became prominent and dominant in
educated circles since then. In the nineteenth century the central place of God in the world has
been taken over by humanity and made man the measure of all things. An all-out anti-God
campaign by Algernon Swinburne’s made “Hymn of Man: Glory to Man in the highest! For Man
is the Master of Things.”. John F. Kennedy declared that “Human knowledge worked over by
human imagination is seen as the basis to human understanding and belief, and the ultimate guide
to human progress. All man’s problems were created by man and can be solved by man”.

Humanism’s all-decisive claim is that, since there is no God, there is no revealed meaning.
Meaning isn’t disclosed or even discovered it is created.
Long Journey Home Chapter 10: People of the Crossed Sticks

Father Zossima explains that “Love in action is harsh and dreadful thing compared with
love in dreams.” Baroness Caroline Cox is descried to be “love in action” in human form. Often
when she arrives people greet her with words “Thank God you’ve come, We thought the world
has forgotten us.”. She was asked about her worst and best moments during all her journey for
mercy. She described her worst was like to enter a Dinka Village after Sudanese government-
backed soldiers had left, laden with human loot. She said that death was overpowering. More than
a hundred corpse lay where the had been savagely butchered. While her best moment came right
after the worst, a few women still alive were pulling themselves together and their first instinctive
act was to make tiny crosses out of sticks lying on the ground and to push them into the earth.
Lady Cox explained that the crudely formed crosses were not grave markers but symbols. They
were acts of faith, as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, they served a God whom they believed knew
pain as they knew pain, they still stacked on the conviction that there was one who knew and cared.
They were not alone

The biblical family of faiths opens a lot of questions. Like about how bifocal their beliefs
are. The world must always be understood simultaneously from the perspective of creation and the
perspective of the fall. Neither one lens nor the other provides focus by itself; only the two together
bring clear sight. In my opinion the world we live in represents something that should have been
otherwise. People either care too much or not at all at dilemmas. People care too much about death
like it’s not a natural thing, we try to find something to hate on and blame for something so natural.
Personally, I would prefer a God who is close and willing to intervene. We can face and fight evil
because God himself both cares and comes to the aid of those who look to him.

The biblical vision is characteristically bifocal. The world must always be understood
simultaneously from the perspective of creation and the perspective of fall. Neither one lens or the
other provides focus by itself only the two together bring clear sight. The Christian faith ahs a track
record of being world affirming and world denying at the same time. Samuel Beckett asserted that
the major sin is the sin of being born. Blaming suffering to man existence rather than human action.

Judaism and the Christian faith have largely given rise to the modern world. The Christian
faith was the most studied and the most persecuted faith in the world.
Long Journey Home Chapter 11: Roadblocks and Reality

“Perhaps nothing in itself is right or good or just. We just manipulate others to think so.”

A guy named Bob was a respected politician and a business leader. Is a friendly,
handsome, articulate, a natural leader, a born politician, keenly interested in all that was going on
in the world. These characteristics catapulted him on a quest for meaning that was as strong and
restless as he was. With an activist p[passion at Harvard, he gave a speech on the topic to a group
of students and professors He told them you were on the side of peace, justice , love and the human
race; if you opposed rent control, you were basically against everything good. IT fired up Bob’s
passionate rhetoric. But Bob was appalled, he felt a sickening realization. He had just manipulated
a group of “supposedly very bright people into believing something simply by his use of all those
clever adjectives and clever associations. Now he transferred the strength of his passion to
searching for a new foundation-if there was one.

Bob traveled, soon enough a Christian teacher in Switzerland challenged him to live
consistently with his convictions. The more Bob pressed, the less he found. Some people saw no
meaning in the universe and reduced everything to biochemical response. Bob values love,
compassion, justice and human dignity, but on the basis of his philosophy these things has no
meaning. He was coming ot a conclusion that unless the biblical world-view was true, everything
was meaningless. “No matter how hard I had tried to live as though life was absurd and meaning
less, what I came up against again and again was meaning, I simply couldn’t live as though life
had no meaning, because it did powerfully and beautifully. He realized that biblical faith was true.
His search took on new seriousness and a new direction.

Bob’s quest raises issue that are at the heart of the third phase in the quest of meaning, a
time for evidence. It’s the simple process of checking it out or verification. The evidence we find
in his stage does not create faith it confirms it or disconfirms it. Claims to truth have always been
controversial. Truth is one of our simplest and most precious gifts. Without it we could not handle
reality and negotiate life.
Long Journey Home Chapter 12: Biography as Philosophy

Vincent van Gogh, a famous Dutch painter and Friedrich Nietzsche, a German
philosopher. Passed through two different roadblocks to faith. They went through pain
and loneliness. However, they have different reactions to their challenges. Vincent van
Gogh, despite the griefs experienced, chose to believe in God till the end. While, Friedrich
Nietzsche said that “never experienced anything disagreeable or frustrating from that
direction” terminating the idea of God. The two different roadblocks were discussed in
this chapter. First is the skepticism born of old wounds which is mainly psychological in
origin, and another is the skepticism born of bad experiences inflicted by people of faith.

The theory of projection depicts how the distinctions of their response towards their
accomplished challenges which influenced their confidence towards God. Freud's theory
of projection is the possibility that religious convictions are all hallucinations. Paul Virtz
said that most atheists have weak, dead, or abusive father. This reality mirrored the failure
atheists feel towards God. Nonetheless, this theory was later expelled in light of the fact
that it clung more to the possibility of skepticism and no observational confirmations were
given to additionally guard the case. Dismissal of religious conviction moving along
without any more examining proof is unreasonable.

The second sort of objection is the skepticism in view of bad experiences inflicted
by people of faith. Samuel Steward encountered a weak, abusive, or absent father.
Consequently, his convictions toward a picture of a decent dad is influenced, which
additionally influenced his convictions toward a God. The activities of Christians in spite
of the lessons of Christ are insufficient proof to reject our confidence. Subsequently, the
unambiguous inquiry of whether to reject or include proof our mission of confidence isn't
about the inadequacy of professors in sticking to their convictions yet whether those
convictions are valid.