Meeting is happiness – Philosophy in a time of tribulation

All real living is meeting

Meeting is happiness – Philosophy in a time of tribulation

Encounters are an indispensable enzyme for any friendship. Without encounters, without physical proximity, friendship fades.

Meeting is happiness,

is a popular proverb in Macedonia. It seems that the eloquence of such an expression has only grown stronger during the period of distance and limited visits.

That is not so strange anymore. Basic human contact is the main pillar of our well-being and indispensable in the process of personal growth. In fact, encounters can prompt us to embark on a process of change. Carl Gustav Jung wrote on this:

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact between two chemicals: if there is any reaction, both are transformed[1]

Encounters can free us from stubborn prejudices and entrenched ideas; they can thaw our hearts. What used to always have to follow a certain pattern, suddenly turns out to be possible in another way. Encounters can then have a redeeming effect. But we don’t have to idealize it either: sometimes there is no chemistry at all and the meeting turns into a ‘mismatch’.

All real living is meeting[2]

said the philosopher Martin Buber (1878-1965). Our encounters reflect what is growing within us. At and after each stimulating encounter we are given the opportunity to propagate the partly newly developed human state of being. My own experience is that the person I actually meet has in some way something to offer me that is beyond myself, that is greater than myself. That is why I can learn something from him or her, interact with such a person and at the same time realize how enriching such an experience is. Indeed, it is not imprudent to say with Buber that we truly live through the encounter.

There is often a lack of awareness that man cannot exist without the other and that otherwise, his life has no meaning. Man can only measure himself by the other, he can only love by the other; he cannot mirror himself without the other. You have probably had a meeting that put you on a new, shining track.

Such an experience can lead inwardly. Gradually this makes our inner self ripe for the encounter with the deepest core of being within ourselves: the pearl, the spirit spark atom, or the ‘other’. They are indications that fall short of something great, something unspeakable, for something that is essentially different within us.

The remarkable thing is that every person has a certain fear when he has to deal with this. As if he doesn’t dare to confront that imago coelestis, that grandiose image of heaven within himself. This is also known as the ‘first fear’.

That fear can paralyze us, but we can dispel and transcend it through our desire for perfection. Only then do we find rest in a higher form of consciousness. Through the benevolent heart a quality opens by which we can perceive the realm of the mind, the place where eternity and time meet. The true man arises and destroys the domination of the usually so cold forces around us. This moment cannot be described more visually than by the Persian Sufi poet Shabistari:

Each atom hides beneath its veil the soul amazing beauty of the Beloved’s face[3]

And each of these atoms yearns to reunite with the source.



[1] C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933

[2] Martin Buber, Ich und Du [I and Thou], Chapter 10, 1923

[3] Sa’d ud Din Mahmud Shabistari in: The Secret Rose Garden, Azafran Books 2019

[4] This article will appear in the Dutch printed LOGON 2022-1

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Date: March 22, 2022
Author: Dick van Niekerk (Netherlands)
Photo: Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash CCO

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