Ran Lahav reads an inspiring passage from Henri Bergson’s philosophical book Time and Free Will. (The text is abridged.)

  from Time and Free Will by Henri Bergson

 New York: Harper and Row, 1960

Text is abridged, taken from pages 132-136 and pages 169-170

 

In the case of deep feelings… we feel a thousand different elements which dissolve into one another without any precise outlines … An idea which is truly ours fills the whole of our self. Not all our ideas, however, are thus incorporated in the fluid mass of our conscious states. Many float on the surface, like dead leaves on the water of a pond ... Among these are the ideas which we receive ready made, and which remain in us without ever being properly assimilated into us… The self develops a kind of surface, and on this surface independent growths may form and float… Here will be found, within the fundamental self, a parasitic self which continually encroaches upon the other. Many live this kind of life, and die without having known true freedom.

 

When our most trustworthy friends advise us to take some important step, the sentiments which they utter with so much insistence remain on the surface of our ego and there get solidified. Little by little they will form a thick crust which will cover up our own sentiments. But then, at the very minute when we are about to perform the act, something may revolt against it. It is the deep self rushing up to the surface. It is the outer crust bursting, suddenly giving way to an irresistible thrust. Hence in the depths of the self, below these most reasonable pieces of advice, something else was going on—a gradual heating and a sudden boiling over of feelings and ideas, not unperceived, but rather unnoticed…We wish to know the reason why we have made up our mind, and we find that we have decided without any reason, and perhaps against every reason. But, in certain cases, that is the best of reasons. Because the action which we had performed does not express some superficial idea, almost external to ourselves, distinct and easy to account for: rather, it agrees with the whole of our most intimate feelings, thoughts and aspirations, it agrees with that particular conception of life which is the equivalent of all our past experience, in a word, with our personal idea of happiness and of integrity.

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