Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my 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 here and there, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
I have lived a thousand lives and I have loved a thousand loves. I have walked on distant worlds and seen the end of time.
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 your Consciousness looks over the rim of the World into the cold lifeless abyss.
I have sought it finally, because in the union of Love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the vision of 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 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 in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people, and the whole World of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I can not, and I too suffer.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.
I have enjoyed earthly happiness, I have lived and loved. – Friedrich Schiller
I have lived and I have loved;
I have waked and I have slept;
I have sung and I have danced;
I have smiled and I have wept;
I have won and wasted treasure;
I have had my fill of pleasure;
And all these things were weariness,
And some of them were dreariness;
And all these things, but two things,
Were emptiness and pain:
And Love – it was the best of them;
And Sleep – worth all the rest of them,
Worth everything but Love to my spirit and my brain.
But still my friend, O Slumber,
Till my days complete their number,
For Love shall never, never return to me again!