Monday, August 4, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn on Benefits of Suffering

"It was granted to me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts.... That is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: “Bless you, prison!” I...have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: “Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!” (The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956, Vol. 2, 615-617)


Zach said...

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"--Jeremiah 17:9

What an amazing revelation to have arrived at, through it all!

Amazing quote.

I pray I may learn this well without much suffering!

Tom Atkins said...

I loved the line... "I have nourished my soul there." That is so hard to do in times of suffering. yet nearly all the great souls I know have managed to do just that in their own times of suffering. A powerful lesson .