Action, dear inactive master, action; there is no other salvation.
The imperishable force which transforms matter into spirit is divine. Each man has within him an element of the divine whirlwind and that is how he can convert bread, water and meat into thought and action. Zorba was right: "Tell me what you do with what you eat and I will tell you who you are! Some men turn their food into fat and manure, some into work and good humor, and others, I'm told, into God."
Two equally steep and bold paths may lead to the same peak. To act as if death does not exist, or to act thinking every minute of death, is perhaps the same thing.
I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else. And all that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.
The good master desires no greater recompense than this: to form a pupil who surpasses him.
"Life is trouble," Zorba continued. "Death, no. To live-do you know what that means? To undo your belt and look for trouble!"
For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.
Art is, in fact, a magic incantation. Obscure homicidal forces lurk in our entrails, deadly impulses to kill, destroy, hate, dishonor. Then art appears with its sweet piping and delivers us.
The universe for Zorba, as for the first men on earth, was a weighty, intense vision; the stars gilded over him, the sea broke against his temples. He lived the earth, water, the animals and God, without the distorting intervention of reason.
"The world's much faster than we think. We travel, crossing whole countries and seas and yet we've never pushed our noses past the doorstep of our own home."
God changes his appearance every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises.
Little by little, everything around me, without changing shape, became a dream. I was happy. Earth and paradise were one. A flower in the fields with a large drop of honey in its center: that was how life appeared to me. And my soul, a wild bee plundering.
I felt deep within me that the highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and despairing: Sacred Awe!
"We are little grubs, Zorba, minute grubs on the small leaf of a tremendous tree. This small leaf is the earth. The other leaves are the stars you see moving at night. We make our way on this little leaf examining it anxiously and carefully. We smell it; it smells good or bad to us. We taste it and find it edible. We beat on it and it cries out like a living thing. Some men-the more intrepid ones-reach the edge of the leaf. From there we stretch out, gazing into chaos. We tremble. We guess what a frighting abyss lies beneath us. In the distance we can hear the noise of the other leaves of the tremendous tree, we feel the sap rising from the roots to our leaf and our hearts swell. Bent thus over the awe-inspiring abyss, with all our bodies and all our souls, we tremble with terror. From that moment begins..." I stopped. I wanted to say, "from that moment begins poetry," but Zorba would not have understood. I stopped. "What begins?" asked Zorba's anxious voice. "Why did you stop?" "....begins the great danger, Zorba. Some grow dizzy and delirious, others are afraid; they try to find an answer to strengthen their hearts, and they say: 'God!' Others again, from the edge of the leaf, look over the precipice calmly and bravely and say: "I like it."
"I think, Zorba-but I may be wrong-that there are three kinds of men: those who make it their aim, as they say, to live their lives, eat drink, make love, grow rich, and famous, then come those who make it their aim not to live their own lives but to concern themselves with the lives of all men-they feel that all men are one and they try to enlighten them, to love them as much as they can and to do good to them; finally there are those who aim at living the life of the entire universe-everything, men, animals, trees, stars, we are all one, we are all one substance involved in the same terrible struggle. What struggle?...Turning matter into spirit."
When everything goes wrong, what a joy to test your soul and see if it has endurance and courage!
Luckless man has raised what he thinks is an impassable barrier round his poor little existence. He takes refuge there and tries to bring a little order and security into his life. A little happiness. Everything must follow the beaten track, the sacrosanct routine, and comply with safe and simple rules. Inside this enclosure, fortified against the fierce attacks of the unknown, his petty certainties, crawling about like centipedes, go unchallenged. There is only one formidable enemy, mortally feared and hated: the Great Certainty. Now, this Great Certainty had penetrated the outer walls of my existence and was ready to pounce upon my soul.
Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba The Greek