6.5. Of Accident and Destiny

Whether it accords with our philosophical disposition or not, most of us have had some sort of an experience of destiny for example, we have (perhaps unwillingly) felt that a horrific accident or dramatic change in fortune or a significant personal encounter was somehow "prepared" for us. What we met on these occasions seemed to be ourselves, or something that belonged to us. The events were "fated," answering as if by some hidden intention to a need or potential of ours.

In other words, the accidents did not seem really to be accidents; they were integral to our lives. But, at the same time, we could not feel ourselves reduced to these strokes of destiny, for we also stood apart from them; it was we who chose how to make them into material for further development. If they were part of us, it was because they presented us with the opportunity to exercise exactly the capacities that needed strengthening. All such events shape us, but they do so most crucially by giving us the opportunity to transcend them.

The prevailing, scientifically informed culture leaves little room for any very significant reading of these unusually freighted experiences. Nevertheless, given that the purpose of sound science is to elucidate experience and not merely to dismiss it, our inattention to these inklings of destiny is much more problematic than the effort to bring them into greater clarity.

But my purpose now is not to argue such matters either way. Rather, it is merely to point out that, without a strong sense of human destinies, Camphills would not exist. What is true of the "external" events of our lives, Camphill workers will tell you, is also true of your and my bodies as physical instruments for the expression of our selves: the i nstrument of my earthly existence is not an accident; it belongs to me. But at the same time, I am not just the instrument. There are many ways I can use it, and in the using I can to one degree or another grow beyond its limitations grow by means of its limitations.

It is not hard for us to realize that the crushing, outward circumstances of life may have kept hidden from us some of the most powerful, ingenious, and significant personalities ever to inhabit the earth a Mozart, perhaps, who never laid hands on a piano, a Gandhi whose crippling accident and unenlightened society left him in institutional darkness.

What you will find among many Camphill workers is a sense that this same truth applies to those individuals coping with the severe constraints of a defective physical organism. The self whose destiny it is to wrestle with such daunting limitations may be a self whose hidden resources and powers of development far exceed those of its helpers. The close connection between genius and the breakdown of normal function is well known. We are not just our handicaps. We are not just our symptoms.

Devices of the Soul. Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines
Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines
ISBN: 0596526806
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2007
Pages: 122
Authors: Steve Talbott

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