Martin Buber on existentialism, fulfillment, and becoming native
If we had power over the ends of the earth, it would not give us the fulfillment of existence which a quiet devoted relationship to nearby life can give us. If we knew the secrets of the upper world, they would not allow us so much actual participation in true existence as we can achieve by performing, with holy intent, a task belonging to our daily duties. The people we live with or meet with, the animals that help us with our farm work, the soil we till, the materials we shape, the tools we use, they all contain a mysterious spiritual substance which depends on us for helping it toward its pure form, its perfection. If we neglect this spiritual substance sent across our paths, if we think only in terms of momentary purposes, without developing a genuine relationship to the beings and things in whose life we ought to take part, as they in ours, then we shall ourselves be debarred from true, fulfilled existence. The highest culture of the soul remains basically arid and barren unless, day by day, waters of life pour fourth into the soul from those little encounters to which we give their due; the most formidable power is intrinsically powerlessness unless it maintains a secret covenant with these contacts, both humble and helpful, with strange, and yet near, being. –excerpts from “The Way of Man”, by Martin Buber, Citadell Press, New York, 1964. Thanks for sharing, Mom!