(38) Abandonment 38

Poverty, poverty,
False rumors of relief;
No protection from the chief.

We need others with whom we can get some affirmation of each others' vision of reality. When we share a common "subjective" reality, we feel safe, like being back in the womb of our mother:


Once Science suggested
That a new-born infant
Be kept from his mother's milk
Or animal milk
Or nurturing
To improve his appetite
For Science's soybean formula.
He was to cry
For 15 minutes
Before feeding
From cold glass
Rubber nipple
And improved his appetite
For nurturing
But was denied it,
Abandoned for 15 minutes
Of crying.
He would learn to be independent
Now, at the age of 34
He experienced nurturing
Like being back in the womb
From the womb
Of a woman he loved
More than any other.
Perfect ecstatic bliss.
Now he cries
For more than 15 minutes
And there's no voice
Or womb
To comfort him.
Like the child he once was
And still is,
He's afraid
He will

Song of Songs:

"I would lead you to my mother's house,
Bring you to the chamber of her who bore me."

The problem with seeking God in one another is that one cannot help but fall into a veritable abyss of alienation when the beloved (who, after all, is human) suddenly stops seeing your reality and misunderstands you. The more emotionally dependent you are, the greater this problem can be. Maybe, the only way to cope with this problem is to seek God in yourself even while you are seeking Him in your lover. However, misunderstandings could also be the result of what Martin Buber sees as the result of the inevitable shift in the relationship of the "I - Thou" to the "I - It."

For Buber, "I - Thou" is a primal word which describes the relationship of an individual to another in respect to each other's being and not their function or use:

Only silence before the Thou - silence of all tongues, silent patience in the response - leaves the Thou free, and permits man to take his stand with it in the reserve where the spirit is not manifest, but is. Every response binds up the Thou in the world of It. That is the melancholy of man, and his greatness.1

The Thou occupies the whole attention of the I just like a child might see his/her teddy bear. The bear becomes the child's whole reality while the rest of the environment is seen as a fringe around it. The following poem describes that kind of feeling for my beloved:

My World

You are the world in which I exist.
I gaze along the horizon of rolling hills and gentle crevices.
How I love to explore my world
And kiss the ground on which I tread.
I love to dive deep into you oceans
And drink their holy waters,
Or dance in your forests while caressing the trees.
I slide across your desert plains
Lapping up the moisture that seeps to the surface.
You, my world, provide me all I need to live and be happy.
Without you, I no longer exist.

Buber states that it is inevitable that every "I - Thou" relationship leads to the "I - It" which is about how relationships are experienced and used. Lovers begin to create expectations of each other and those expectations (based in the "I - It") leads to many disappointments.

In marriage, it is common for the lovers to fall into predefined roles and thus become functional objects for each other. Buber says:

Further, institutions of the so-called personal life cannot be given new life by freely feeling (though indeed not without it). Marriage, for instance, will never be given new life except by that out of which true marriage always arises, the revealing by two people of the Thou to one another. Out of this a marriage is built up by the Thou that is neither of the I's. This is the metaphysical and metaphysical factor of love to which feelings of love are mere accompaniments.

He also states:

True public and true personal life are two forms of connection. In that they come into being and endure, feelings (the changing content) and institutions (the constant form) are necessary, but put together they do not create human life: this is done by the third, the central presence of the Thou, or rather, more truly stated, by the central Thou that has been received in the present.

Being in the present has little to do with expectation. A problem that still remains is that a relationship described by Buber as the "I - Thou" can become an object in itself in that one can covet it (or the experience of it) just like any other object in an "I - It" relationship.2 It seems that even wanting or seeking it can destroy it:

Song of Songs:

"I adjure you, Jerusalem girls,
By the gazelles or hinds of the Steppe
That you neither incite nor excite
Love until it is eager."

Therefore , the "I-Thou" relationship is very fragile and must either come to one, as from God, or must be approached as delicately as one might approach a wild deer.

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