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Words of Wisdom

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



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Three days prior to his death, Skovoroda went to stay with one of his closest friends. Each day he left the house, and it was discovered that he was digging his own burial place beneath a tree. On the third day, he announced that his time had come, and he simply lay down and passed away. At his request, his epitaph said, “The world tried to capture me, but didn’t succeed.” In recognition of his works and numerous contributions, Hryhorii Skovoroda’s portrait was printed on the second largest banknote in circulation in Ukraine, the 500-hryvnia note.

“The more copiously we dine on mathematics, medicine, physics, mechanics, music, and their ungovernable sisters, the more our heart burns with hunger and thirst. In our coarse stupefaction we fail to realize that all of them are only handmaidens serving a mistress, tails to a head, without which the entire body is ineffective. What is hungrier, more restless and dangerous than a human heart that is attended by these ungoverned helpers? Is there anything it will not dare to undertake?”

“We do not hear David’s ‘free yourself and understand’ or listen to Christ’s ‘seek,’ for every science, every trade, and anything else is dearer to us than that which alone finds us, lost souls, and restores us to ourselves. This is to be happy: to discover, to find oneself.”

“Here is the summit and flower of all your life: inner peace, the heart’s gladness, the soul’s strength. Direct all your deeds towards this. Here is the limit, haven, and end. Cut off anything that is opposed to this haven. Let every word, every action promote this end. Let this be the limit for all your thoughts and desires. How many people are healthy, well fed, well clothed, and at peace in respect to the body, but that is not the peace I am praising– that is a worldly peace, which is known to all and deceives everyone. Here is peace! In the mind’s calmness, the heart’s rejoicing, and the soul’s quickening. This is peace!”
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