Before, I wrote on the famous Henri Bergson, a notable modern French philosopher. At this time, I felt an impulse to write something on him again, so I am taking up my pen. That is, when people inquire of me on various matters or when I talk about something, there are very few who easily understand what I say. It is usually something quite simple, so people should have no difficulty in understanding, but this seldom happens. Many of those whom I talk with are well-educated, but they struggle to understand what I say. It is only after I bring up many examples and analogies, talking to them at great length, that they finally comprehend what I say. Whenever this kind of thing happens, Bergson’s philosophy comes to mind.
Why can’t people understand something so simple? It is because they do not become what Bergson refers to as “‘I’ of the instantaneous moment.” Well, I suppose people aren’t even aware of this. According to his theory, once people reach the age of discretion, they start to hear a variety of things and are crammed with folklore and fixed ideas. So when they come of age, all of that knowledge forms something of a “rod” in their minds. This prevents any new ideas—ideas that do not conform to the rod—from reaching their minds, because the rod obstructs that from happening. Of course, if one’s mind is empty, that is, without any rod, one can easily accept new ideas without any trouble. We often talk about the importance of clearing your mind and this is true indeed, yet almost no one realizes that there is a rod in their mind. So to those who are reading this, I suggest you become an “‘I’ of the instantaneous moment” from now on. When you see or hear something, there is a spark, if you like; it is the feeling you have right at that moment—this is what “‘I’ of the instantaneous moment” is. You should not allow any time for the rod to obstruct you; you have to be just like a child. We are often impressed by what children say in response to questions from an adult; this is because children are not obstructed by the rod.
Bergson also called this the “philosophy of intuition.” It means to observe something straightly and squarely, without distorting it, because that is the right way to see things. I believe this is something to supplement his theory on “‘I’ of the instantaneous moment.” There is also the idea of “the perpetual flux of things” in his philosophy, and I find it quite interesting, too. It means that all things are always evolving without a moment’s rest. For example, when you compare last year with this year, everything should be different in some way—the world should be different, society should be different, and one’s mind and environment should be different, too. Or rather, there should be something different between the present you and the yesterday you or even between the present you and the five-minutes-ago you. This must be the reason why we say that we never know what is going to happen next. In this way, everything—absolutely everything—is in a state of flux without a moment’s pause.
When this theory is applied to humans, it must mean this: When you are faced with an issue, the way you see and understand it should be different from that of a year ago. Look at the complete difference between how we were before WWII and after it; the changes that took place in such a short span of time are truly astounding. Unfortunately, many continue to hold on to the way of doing things that has not changed for centuries or to the way of thinking that they held for the last few decades. From generation to generation, from ancestors to descendants, they inherit these ways of doing things or ways of thinking, that is, they inherit the rod. This makes it impossible for them to grasp the present moment correctly. This must be the meaning of expressions like “feudalistic” or “old-fashioned thinking.” Everything is always moving, is in a state of flux, but some people do not change, being motionless like mud. It is these people who will be left behind from society or whose life ends in misery.
“On Bergson again”
July 18, 1951
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3–2:5
Published in Glory, no. 31, August 1, 2022