On Urge to Withdraw


Andrei Tarkovsky

"I was not made to live anywhere except in paradise.

Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation.

Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound.

Whenever the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved.

I pretended to work like others from morning to evening,

but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries

For solace I escaped to city parks, there to observe

and faithfully describe flowers and trees, but they changed,

under my hand, into the gardens of Paradise.

I have not loved a woman with my five senses.

I only wanted from her my sister, from before the banishment.

And I respected religion, for on this earth of pain

it was a funereal and a propitiatory song."

— Czeslaw Milosz, “Nonadaptation” There's a film by Pawel Pawlikowski. A well - known one, called "Ida". I watched it a long time ago but one scene stood out, because it addressed a certain sentiment I carried as well. In the scene, a young woman who desires to become a nun, but is invited to "try life out" first, to see if she truly wants to die for the world, speaks to her lover after they had made love. He tells her of the many things they will do: buy a house, have children, have a dog, and to each, she responds with: "Then what?" (Watch here; in Polish, no subtitles). She leaves him.


I loved the scene, because, I too, was, and in many ways, still am, Ida. The urge to withdraw has always been stronger in me than the urge to take part in the world in any way. People would often come, with what I deemed, vulgar and profane suggestions, that seemed not to address the core sentiment behind the urge to withdraw - and that is the sentiment that everything is vanity. Children, jobs, marriage, lovers - all a noise, a comfortable attachment to help one pass through existence. "I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind" - Ecclesiastes. There was nothing to gain, nothing to have or strive for. It seemed that I was to be but an animal with verbal skills - animal who can only care for life if it has progeny or property, if it can see a trace of its own self somewhere in the world. It seemed that everything that exists or has existed, had to serve a certain end, and existence of nothing was enough. I thought, if existing or being alone is not enough, then existing or being is meaningless, and everything beyond that is simply a lie, a vanity that must be upheld to make the spectacle of life bearable. The withdrawal from the world - into forests as a mad mystic who plays lute to birds and visits the towns only to scandalise and scare people who were too adapted to the world and its ways, seemed the only way to exit the wheel of samsara. I felt aged - like I've already seen it all, had hundreds of children and husbands and wives, like I've been a criminal, a priest, a queen, a prostitute, and there was nothing left for me to be anymore. All the roles seemed too familiar and already explored and lived. It wasn't nihilism that was behind the urge to withdraw - it was inability to see any evidence of my belief that there had to be more to life than dying with a stomach more full than you started with.

The Unconditional Love


...what nobody seems to understand is that love can only be one-sided, that no other love exists, that in any other form it is not love. If it involves less than total giving, it is not love. It is impotent; for the moment it is nothing.”

― Andrei Tarkovsky


I had never trouble considering that a Higher Reality exists, it was always very self - evident to me. However, I've had troubles believing that I exist. What, in the end, am I but, a result of multiple histories and interactions, and if only one link from that lineage was different and removed, I'd probably not exist. At least not with the ego - consciousness I have now. Yet in a certain way, I also do exists because others do notice me, they do recognise the separation, the difference that exists between them and me. So, I am in possession of individuality that was determined by the previous individualities. I also haven't withdrawn. Rather, I have made a decision to make my thoughts public and available for everyone to see. A wretched traitor of her own principle! That's what the Judge inside of me would say. At one point in life, I had seen the above quoted words of Andrei Tarkovsky. There was something in them that mirrored my own sentiment, yet, without meditating on the words, I could not pin point what was it. But then, one day, it came to me. There was, a degree of comfort in my withdrawal. I expected nothing of the world and world expected nothing of me. We were free from each other. But for me, that state of being is comfortable. I've been at the point in life where I had very little, and if I were uninvolved with world, I wouldn't need any of its garments or luxuries. I could walk the world in a way that I would not be perceivable and be comfortable living in the world's shadow. In the sacrifice of the self, is where I found the unconditional, one - sided love that Tarkovsky speaks of. I once said, that even if God doesn't exist as a Reality, it was good to invent a concept of God, because only a God can be loved with such a love. There is still a little pain every time my desire for withdrawal is sacrificed for that love. Everything I write, every time I write it, feels like barring myself, and I do not like it. Often, I get an urge to delete everything, shut it down and be done with the world. But I don't do it. God suffered in the loneliness of His Non - Manifestation, and from the Divine Compasssion for His own Self, God let out a sorrowful sigh from which everything came. I let out a sorrowful sigh, every time I hit "publish". His sigh is my sigh, and my sigh is His sigh. When I sigh, I manifest the Name which is my Lord, and when the self - obsession and self - consciousness melts in the sigh, there's nothing but the Unity. I play no role, I exist and yet I don't - that was the only thing I have never been. Perhaps, thinking obsessively about vanity is also, vanity.

0 comments

Recent Posts

See All