The Path 15
-The second paragraph.
-Widening our focus
-Me and You
-A moral imperative
As we know the second paragraph consists of another couplet. If you believe that your life does
not end with death, you must bring into agreement what you think with what you feel and what
you do. All must advance toward coherence, toward unity. The first sentence of this pair is (yet
another) conditional statement and addresses those who believe that death doesn’t stop
everything. That is, someone who feels that even with the death of their own body there is
something that continues (which they care about). It doesn’t specify what they think transcends.
Perhaps it’s their soul, their family and friends, society, the class struggle, life on the Earth; or
something else. And with the affirmation of that continuity, with the fact of that future, it is
incoherent to think one thing, feel another and do a third. Acting coherently is coherent with
acknowledging there is a tomorrow that you care about and that you can, perhaps, influence.
And if that is so you must bring into agreement what you think with what you feel and what you
When we read the second sentence in this second couplet of the Path: Everything must advance
toward coherence, toward unity, shall we understand it only as a way of reaffirming that previous
conclusion, i.e. that I need to create agreement (unity, coherence) in my life? It could certainly
be read that way, but to me it seems like an invitation to shift out of my personal concerns, my
thoughts, my feelings, my actions. It points me to a wider project, or at least reminds me of
something that should have been obvious since the beginning; I do not exist alone. I live with
and among others. And these others are not simply a mass of individuals, any more than they
are a mass of biological material — though of course they are also that. But, each one of us is
also a member of a society, of a particular culture, a given neighbourhood, a specific family, etc.
Each of us is also a member of a specific generation coexisting with other generations in the
same historical moment.
Does my orientation towards unity imply I want everyone to share, agree with, or
copy my feelings, my thoughts, and my actions? Does it imply an interest in
transforming that multi-faceted diversity into a featureless homogeneity? As Silo said
in The Healing of Suffering: There are other forms of violence that are imposed by
the Philistine morality. You wish to impose your way of life upon another; you wish to
impose your vocation upon another. But who has told you that you are an example
that must be followed? Who has told you that you can impose a way of life because it
pleases you? What makes your way of life a model, a pattern that you have the right
to impose on others? This, then, is another form of violence.
We find Silo exploring the idea of “the other” on various occasions and in various ways (as
exemplified in works as varied as the Internal Landscape, and Regarding What is Human). In
Madrid, at the first of the public rallies held in 1981, Silo spoke of the “supreme moral act” of
treating others as we want them to treat us. He pointed out that: “If, as individuals, we want the
best for ourselves, we are required by that moral imperative to give our best to others as well.”
And then he asked: “And who are these ‘others’”? Answering himself he responded. “Others are
those closest to me, and it is there with them that my real possibilities of giving and changing
things lie. And if my possibilities of giving and changing things should span the world, then the
whole world will be ‘those closest to me.’”
Of course, this possibility of extending our reach to a greater world is not a neutral possibility, it is
part of the moral imperative of treating others as we would be treated. It is not helpful to pretend
to be able to do more than we can. But it is not enough to say this is all I can do. The need to
change in order to answer the needs around us (which is for us also a need) is inescapable. It
remains as a task and a challenge to each and is synthesized in the call to Humanize the Earth.
It’s a challenge that is echoed in the last words of chapter XI of the Internal Landscape: “Thus, if
your mission is to humanize the earth, strengthen your hands, hands of a noble laborer.”