Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governedmy life: the
longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the
suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and
thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very
verge of despair.
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy--ecstasy so great that
I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy.
I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness--that terrible loneliness
in which one shiveringconsciousness looks over the rim of the world into the
cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the
union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the
heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it
might seem too good for human life, this is what--at last--I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the
hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to
apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A
little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the
heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain
reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors,
helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of
loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I
long to alleviate the evil, but I can’t ,and I too suffer.