Friday, December 6, 2013

Silence, Obedience and Happiness

The Lily of the field and the bird in the air is a little Danish book written by Søren Kierkegaard . In Danish the book is called Lilien paa Marken and Fuglen under Himlen. Tre gudelige Taler. The book was published in May 1849, at the same time as Either - Or (Enten-Eller) was printed in the second edition. The theme concerning the lily and the bird was one of Kierkegaard's favorites. He has written extensively on this topic in Opbyggelige Taler i forskjellig Aand (1847) and Christelige Taler (1848). The book was printed in 525 copies by publishing bookseller CA Reitzel. Kierkegaard 's fee for the book was a little over 31 rd. The book was well received and was reprinted again in 1854.

In particular, three factors that are important to me in this book : Silence, Obedience and Happiness. All three are crucial factors in my own life and Kierkegaard has helped me to find words to describe them.

"The clue is to be silent ," write Kierkegaard . This art of being silent is a beginning. This is not a beginning where one starts, but a a place one comes to, and it 's a start one comes to walking backwards. It is a challenge to understand such thoughts. It requires that we acknowledge our own despair. It is silence that allows us to be present in the Moment, and the silent Moment of the Dialogue is the key point. To arrive at this Moment requires that we take one step at a time, we must be prepared for relapse and to learn from what we thought was forgotten. We must be willing to recognize our despair. It is our despair that makes us silent and able to be in the Moment. Being in the Moment is not the same as "living now" which is about being in the present rather than in the past or future. The Moment for Kierkegaard is what establishes our past, present and future. The Moment is where time and eternity meet each other. The Moment is possible because humans have an eternity dimension. It is when we are in this Moment that we can live out our eternity in time. Kierkegaard writes extensively about this in the book Begrebet Angest (1844).

It's not just about being silent in order to arrive at the beginning, the Moment, but how we are silent is also important. It 's about which attitude we have towards life. For Kierkegaard it´s all about being silence passionately, meaning to be in the Truth. It's about responding to the situation we live in. Lilies bloom and the birds sings. We all have a task to perform in relation to the conditions under which we live. We all have different abilities, but regardless of the individual abilities we have, it is our duty to obey our task. This has several important consequences. Being obedient to our task in life leads to happiness (see below) and it means that we find the Moment. As mentioned above, this demands that we are willing to meet our own despair. This despair is all about being something other than what we are or willing to be something other than what they are. By meeting our despair with obedience, we find ourselves and face with the task about being oneself. Being oneself is about being in a certain situation. We all have a " situated consciousness ," says Jean Paul Sartre (1943). Failure to accept the situation we are in and be obedient to it, is about to we, in a desperate way, not willing to be in our situation. Being obedient is about having an attitude where we no longer despair, but be who we are. Obedience is thus the opposite of despair.

Kierkegaard writes that by being silent and obedient we experience happiness. What is happiness? Happiness is to be oneself in the present today. This "being " argues Kierkegaard is about "being unconditionally happy today." Happiness is unconditional. We are often happy under certain conditions.  I'm happy if others are happy, if I do not have financial problems, if I am healthy, etc. This is what Kierkegaard describes at being "conditionally happy." Being " unconditional happy" is not to be happy about something in particular. Happiness, for Kierkegaard, is not dependent on anything in particular, but is original and immediate. Happiness is being in the Moment, being in the situation we are in today.

Kaare T. Pettersen
Cappelørn, Niels Jørgen, 2006. Kommentarer til Lilien paa Marken og Fuglen under Himlen. Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter. Bind K11, s.35-56. København: Gads Forlag

Grelland, Hans Herlof, 2007. Tausheten og øyeblikket. Kierkegaard - Ibsen - Munch. Kristiansand: Høyskoleforlaget.

Kierkegaard, Søren, 2006/1849. Lilien paa Marken og Fuglen under Himlen. Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter. Bind 11, s.7-48. København: Gads Forlag.

Sartre, Jean-Paul 1993/1943. Væren og Intet (Being and Nothingness). Oslo: Pax Forlag

No comments:

Post a Comment