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There is a fundamental difference between mystical escapism and mystical altruism. In the first case, the man is interested only in gaining his own self-realization and will be content to let his endeavours stop there. In the second case, he has the same aim but also the keen aspiration to make his achievement, when it materializes, available for the service of mankind. And because such a profound aspiration cannot be banished into cold-storage to await this materialization, he will even sacrifice part of his time, money, and energy to doing what little he can to enlighten others intellectually during the interval. Even if this meant doing nothing more than making philosophical knowledge more easily accessible to ordinary men than it has been in the past, this would be enough. But he can do much more than that. Both types recognize the indispensable need of deliberately withdrawing from society and isolating themselves from its activities to obtain the solitude necessary to achieve intensity of concentration, to practise meditative reflection upon life, and to study mystical and philosophical books. But whereas the first would make the withdrawal a permanent, lifelong one, the second would make it only a temporary and occasional one. And by "temporary" we mean any period from a single day to several years. The first is a resident of the ivory tower of escapism, the second merely its visitor. The first can find happiness only in his solitariness and must draw himself out of humanity's disturbing life to attain it. The second seeks a happiness that will hold firm in all places and makes retirement from that life only a means to this end. Each is entitled to travel his own path. But at such a time as the present, when the whole world is being convulsed and the human soul agitated as never before, we personally believe that it is better to follow the less selfish and more compassionate one.


-- Notebooks Category 20: What Is Philosophy? > Chapter 4: Its Realization Beyond Ecstasy > # 222

-- Perspectives > Chapter 20: What Is Philosophy? > # 54






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