"If you build a house, build for both parts
it's being – a body and a soul "
The whole set of ideas in the works of Skovoroda, namely, his prose, poems, fables, and even letters to loved ones - is the desire to formulate some universal "rules," observance of which will enable people to achieve happiness and harmony with themselves. The basis of his approach is the love of the philosopher to people.
According to H.Skovoroda, the observance of the Christian commandments is a condition for achieving personal happiness. His convictions are justified on the pages of his works. He often uses a form of the philosophical works a dialogue (as, for example, in an epigraph taken from “A Conversation Among Five Travelers Concerning Life's True Happiness”) or conversation between the characters.
This approach is used with a special intention because it allows you to move away from obtruding generalizing presentation, which may not be very interesting and difficult for readers’ understanding. H. Skovoroda chose to "show" readers how conclusions are made, allowed to witness their formation.
Thus, he did not present ready ideas from the beginning but showed the reader the process of their formation, the complex and meandering ways which lead to the appearance of the nuances that push a person to understanding where to look for and possibly find keys from happiness.
The question may raise, why the title of the report refers to the Quran? H.Skovoroda has never written about Islam and never spoken to Quran’s ayahs using mostly Biblical sources. It sounds paradoxical, but it was the "biblical" background that allowed us to draw a parallel between the ideas of Ukrainian philosopher and Quran’s Revelations. Indeed, the Quran refers to the giving this book by the Almighty God as a "true evidence that was before it": that the God sends to the people the Torah and the Gospel, that "previously" were "a direct path for people" ("Family of Imran": 3 4). With all this going on, the Quran states Jesus’s way (Isa) as a "proof of truth" exiled before the Torah. Also, in Quran’s interpretation, the definition of "direct path and the light" is used in the Torah and the Gospel ("The Table": 44-46). Therefore, in the context of above-mentioned we should consider some philosophical statements made by Skovoroda though the ideas of the Quran.
On faith, thanks to God, prayer and the need for actions in the name of ...
According to the Skovoroda’s concept, the Lord is a "Unit". He is "the staff of life, neither beginning, nor time, nor place, nor gender is restricted, nor name" which refers to the Quran’s definition Allah the One, self-exist, who "gave birth and was not born, and no one was equal to him" ("Clean ": 1-4). Taking into account the fact that the God said to Moses, "I am that I am" (Ex. 3: 14) and thinker, wrote that although the God is invisible, He is "everywhere, always, and in everything." In the text of the Quran, we find the following lines - " And not absent from your Lord is any [part] of an atom's weight within the earth or within the heaven or [anything] smaller than that or greater but that it is in a clear register." ("Jonah": 61), because “And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah.” ("The Cow", 115). H.Skovoroda calls the God "The Tree of Life." The same formulation is recorded in the Quran’s ayah "Glory be to Him Who created pairs of all things, of what the earth grows,” and people and “of what they know not!"("Ya. Sin': 36).
G. Skovoroda makes the Old Testament’s call to the people for living according to the commandments of the God, because in this case, "The Lord will always guide you," "saturate your soul in drought" and "thou shalt be like a spring, whose waters fall not" (Isaiah 58: 10 -11). There is also evidence in the Quran that if "who will lend to Allah a goodly and handsome loan? Then, He (Allah) will increase it many times to his credit, and he will (also) receive a generous reward" ("Iron": 11). It refers to the Lord’s reward for those who believe in Allah and "who worked righteousness" "who were Jews or Christians, or Sabeans will have their reward with their Lord "("The Cow": 62).
At the same time, from the perception of one of his characters, the thinker speaks of the need for the God "who will always be with you." But you can achieve that alone, "if thou shalt with him." Therefore, "listen to your Lord" while "He alone knows what is congenial to you, what is helpful" (one of the most important ideas explained by Skovoroda is the idea of congeniality, congenial work, fulfilling your vocation). According to Skovoroda, the Creator, being "inside of us," in "our heart," admonishes us "for the most useful for you, namely, honesty and nobility" ("The Philosophy of The Heart"). In the Quran this idea is represented as follows, "perhaps what you hate" is "good for you," and maybe “you love a thing while it is evil for you; and Allah knows while you know not."("The Cow ": 216).
In this context, H.Skovoroda quoted a verse from the New Testament: “pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of the God in Christ Jesus for you."(1 Thess. 5: 17-18). This verse is similar to the words of the Quran: "establish prayer" ("The Night Journey": 78), because "I am near; I answer the call of the caller when he calls to Me"; Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me. ("The Cow": 186, 152).
Is it possible to live a life without faith? It is a rhetorical question. Hence, H. Skovoroda puts in the first place the attempts of people "to understand above all the meaning of faith" because "there is nothing more necessary than it." However, "it will not be found anywhere else," until "uncover the flash" inside. But even if a person has a faith no more "than a mustard seed," this person can happily join the "seven pillars house of God’s wisdom" to enjoy "in the rock place the finest mind of the divine word."
H. Skovoroda spoke of that basing on the Gospel statement that when one have faith in a size of "a grain of mustard," you can tell a mounting to move "from here to there 'and it will move because "nothing will be impossible for you" (Mt 17: 20). The same statement about the "mustard seed" is in the Quran. In its ayah is explained the value of this seed during Doomsday "If it were equal to a mustard seed in weight We shall take it" ("The Prophets": 47).
In his works, H.Skovoroda emphasizes the need for true faith that is evidenced by deeds. "You cannot build with a word if the same is ruined with action. This means giving rules for constructing a ship, but in reality make a cart "- he says - continuing this view in the poetic form:
On which thing the house is put:
When it’s stone, a house will stand,
Whereas sand under it, no matter how it stands,
It will be undermined by the dry wind.
(The Garden of Divine Songs, Song 22)
The allusion to the well-known Gospel parable of the house built on the rock and the other one on the sand is evident (Matt. 7: 24), this allegorically refers to the power of faith.
In the Quran, we find the semantic equivalent of this parable – the ayah in which the Creator called for the authenticity of faith: "Oh you who believe! Why say what you do not do? Allah has a great hate when you say you do not "("Ranks": 2); " Is it then he, who laid the foundation of his building on piety to Allah and His Good Pleasure, better, or he who laid the foundation of his building on an undetermined brink of a precipice ready to crumble down, so that it crumbled to pieces with him into the Fire of Hell? ("Repentance': 109).
An amazing thought expressed by Skovoroda, the Gospel, and the Quran, is not it?
Our soul and fight against passion
H. Skovoroda in his philosophical reflections paid attention to the topic of a soul. "I would like to have in my heart so much hardness, that nothing would shake it and could not overthrow," - says one of the characters in his work. "The soul is a mobile perpetuum or continuous motion - emphasizes the philosopher - or it wants something or runs away from something." But if it is at a crossroads, "then it is surprised, doubtful, suffering, here and there our ball wobbles, spins, and throws."
People "the whole life of their toil, rage, collect treasures, and for what, and many did not know" - he says. We "build good houses, plant gardens; we sew gold-cloth," etc., "to make this a pleasant enough eyes and corporal tenderness." And "who does not want to honor, silver, ground?", even though "how many of us were overcome by the abundance, as by the Flood, and why their souls eat themselves?" How much "our labor we lose," often "useless and often harm?" But with all that, "no one wants to get rid of labors and free his heart."
The Quran spoke about the inherent in people love "to the pleasures that bring women, children, gold and silver, beautiful horses, cattle and crops" ("The Family of Imran," 14). But "life in this world is just play and fun," "decorations and boasting among others" because "it is like the rain, after which the crops are amazing the sower," but soon "they wither" ("Iron" 20).
It should be noted that H. Skovoroda calls the "lure" in which there "is a greedy hook" (referring to the vanity of the world). Still, he says, if to resist and "bravely stand" without falling for "the devil," he will "get away from you." Thus, the soul overcomes the "mortal sin," namely, Satan, and becomes a God's garden that "always" gives "flowers" and "fruits." Therefore, the "pacification of the rebellious thoughts is the health of soul and eternal life."
Similarly, the Quran explains that Satan, giving people "promises" only "raises the hope." However, in reality, no one gets "nothing else but temptation" ("Women": 120). Devil "calls for lechery," Allah promises the same God-fearing "his forgiveness and grace" ("The Cow": 268), namely, "Garden of Eternity" that will "reward" for compliance with the Divine postulates.
Both from the Quran and Skovoroda’s thoughts become obvious the idea: people actually choose themselves whom to follow - the Lord or to the devil with his deceptions. And the future depends on this choice. Thus, the philosopher underlines that the enemy of a faithful person is "the essence of your own thoughts that prevail in your heart - "slanderers" and "enemies of the God." But "who with pure thoughts purified his mind" he "is like a caring owner" that dug near his home a spring of living "pure water." And here there is a search of a spark of the "truth of the God" that can light up "our darkness." Where "the shadow had retreated," so there "there was light"; in the absence of "the light in the soul" – there is no "joy of life," and only "fear, rebellion, gehenna."
According to the Quran, Allah, protecting those who believe, "leads them out of darkness (ignorance and disbelief) to the light (the Truth and Faith)" ("The Cow": 257). So those one, who sincerely worship the Lord, will be "the inhabitants of Paradise. They will be there forever "("Hud": 23)."Shelter" of those, who did not answer the Creator, will be Gehenna ("Thunder": 18).
Achieving happiness through inner peace and good doings
H.Skovoroda with this idea approaches the quintessence of his work, his life – how to find a way to the true happiness? We "look for happiness in all directions," - says the philosopher. But it - "everywhere and always with us, like a fish in water, so we are in it, and it is us looking at ourselves."
The philosopher explains that happiness is like the "sunshine: open for it only the entrance to your soul." However, when it "pushes your wall" seeking this entrance, but not finding it because often "your heart is dark" when "darkness fills the abyss."
After the honest self-analysis, we can fully understand that some our inner thoughts, intentions, actions (in some form) can push off the happiness that we are looking for (or, rather, is desired).
We feel that we are "missing something, but what it is, do not understand," after that, he makes a stunning conclusion: "the kingdom of God is present everywhere, and happiness lives in the every creature when you walk into this kingdom under your Creator’s rule." Do we need other special comments? Hardly, because Skovoroda shares with us: "The road to happiness is not short" and is "Life is our way" to it.
Probably these lines should be well considered and felt.
And here comes the Quran, which refers to all thoughts of the Ukrainian writer. Noting that "happy abide in Paradise," the Quran calls it an inexhaustible gift ("Hud": 108)! "Who better fulfills promise than Allah," - notes the book - but rejoice can feel only those who "repent, worship, praise, fast, low-worship, call for encouraged and prohibit abhorred, keep the limits of Allah "("Repentance": 111, 112).
That is what H. Skovoroda means, thinking of the life regarding keeping the Divine Commandments – it is a way to achieving happiness? "The true happiness - he presumes - lives in the inner heart of our world, and the world - in harmony with God. Who is in greater harmony, then has more bliss." Does all mentioned above do not refer to the Quran’s revelation?
It is easy to accept the call of God, represented by H. Skovoroda in a beautiful artistic design, but very difficult to keep. Perform. Make a rule of life. Even with all the sincere perception of the word of God.
Of course, this is not surprising because the road to happiness (to the Truth? It's awareness? Living according to it?) is very winding.
"Could the apple tree be lively and cheerful, if the root is unhealthy? - asks H. Skovoroda - and a healthy root means a strong soul and a peaceful heart." And "if the grain we have sown is good, you will enjoy good fruits (especially in old age)." "A good cause is never made too late" because "there is nothing better than to get a peaceful and quiet heart." "What is a heart, if not a soul?". So he writes "consider our happiness," which "is a peace of soul."
It is stated in the Quran’s parable "of grain, which grew seven ears, and each ear has a hundred of grains" (meaning Allah "gives more to whom wish")? Here further - the voice of the Lord to all us to strive to "vie with one another in good deeds" ("The Cow": 261, 148), because "good deeds remove bad" ("Hud": 114), and the Almighty "loves those who do good "("The Table": 13).
So if you try to compile the Skovoroda’s views on life, we can note the following.
The thinker’s motif in the approach to life is his belief in the need to build your life according to God's commandments. Only adherence to these tenets of the Almighty will allow people to get closer to achieving the true happiness because in fulfilling all proposed by the Lord, they will be able to feel the truth and justice of the Creator. But the accomplishment of this is impossible itself, without our awareness and feeling that this way - the only way to happiness. The other thing, that this way is very difficult because we often face the obstacles of all kinds. However, with each of our internal victory over passion (some might say over the Devil) - we come closer and closer to the desired.
H. Skovoroda came to these conclusions through the Bible, on the basic Christian doctrine. We, on the other side, have decided to follow the ideas expressed by the philosopher to the Quran. Without any artificial exaggeration convinced that the faith can unite people who truly worship the God. And it makes sense because according to the Quran, "monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where God's name is often mentioned" are equal to the Creator. And after this extract in the Quran states that God "will certainly help those who help Him" ("The Pilgrimage': 40).
Probably the sooner we will all realize this truth, the less we will look for external enemies that supposedly hinder our progress. So for all of us, it is much more productive to treat ourselves with self-criticism, trying to understand the twists and turns of our own soul objectively - where, for what and why it is pushing us. Hence, realizing our points of weakness, try to fix them in order to confidently move to the true happiness.
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