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Words of Wisdom

God is Nature, Knowing God is Happiness: Excerpts from the Writings of Hryhorii Skovoroda (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

2021-04-21
Language:English

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Hryhorii Skovoroda was an 18th century philosopher, poet, and composer of religious music. A number of his writings can be found in his songs, several of which have been adapted to Ukrainian folk music. Skovoroda’s work contributed to the culture of both Russia and Ukraine. He has been called “Socrates,” both as a moralist and one whose Socratic style is intended to stimulate thought and self-introspection. At the same time, Skovoroda’s writings are imaginative, witty, and dramatic, with themes that highlight happiness and appreciation of life.

“Most merciful Nature has opened the path to happiness to all souls without exception.... Each and every one is born into the world for a good end. And a good end means happiness. How can one say that Nature, our universal Mother, has not opened the path to happiness for every creature that breathes?”

“‘Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name,’ God says to Moses, ‘if through the darkness of matter thou canst glimpse what everywhere was, is, and will be– that is my name and my nature?’ The name is in the nature and the nature is in the name; the one does not differ from the other. Both are the same; both are eternal. ‘He who sees me through the darkness with the eye of faith knows my name. But he who seeks to know my name knows neither me nor my name, for both are the same. My name and I are one.’ ‘I am he who is. I am that I am.’ If one knows God, then whatever name one’s worshipful heart gives Him is true and good.”

“Good heavens, what is there that we cannot do! But the sad thing is that, in all this, greatness is lacking. Something is missing that we cannot even name; we know something is missing, but we do not know what it is. We are like an infant that cannot yet talk: it only cries and feels only frustration without being able to know or to say what it needs. Does not our soul’s evident dissatisfaction suggest that all of our sciences cannot satiate our minds? You see the sciences filling the soul’s abyss.”
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