Simone Weil on Suffering and Transformation

Simone Weil, who died on this date in 1943 at the age of 34, was one of the most audaciously creative writers and earnest spiritual seekers of the past century.

In her aphoristically-styled Gravity and Grace, she has these words about suffering and affliction:

Suffering: superiority of man over God. The Incarnation was necessary so that this superiority should not be scandalous.

I should not love my suffering because it is useful. I should love it because it is.

[…]

Suffering, teaching and transformation. What is necessary is not that the initiated should learn something, but that a transformation should come about in them which makes them capable of receiving the teaching.

Pathos means at the same time suffering (notably suffering unto death) and modification notably transformation into an immortal being).

These are subtle, yet insightful distinctions.

Through studying liberal arts, we can learn to love knowledge for its own sake.

Through the suffering we endure in life, we can learn to love reality for its sake.

Too utilitarian a view toward education and work may lead a person to too utilitarian a view toward suffering.

For this reason, philosophers throughout the ages have suggested that to philosophize is to learn to die.

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