The Love of God and Affliction by Simone Weil
Affliction As A Necessary Component of Divine Love
Simone Weil further describes affliction as a necessary component of Divine Love. Weil draws an analogy between friendship and Divine Love, that highlights her ideas in relation to affliction. Friendship is described as having two forms:
'...meeting and separation. Both of them contain some good, and this good of
friendship is unique, for when two beings who are not friends are near each other,
there is no meeting, and when friends are far apart there is no separation. As both
forms contain the same good thing, they are both equally good.'
Similarly, in God's love there is infinite nearness and infinite distance. Lovers/friends are described as being desirous of becoming one, and also that their union would not diminish even if great distance were between them. Even though painful, for those who love, separation is good because it is love. Weil illuminates what affliction is, within the context of the two forms of friendship:
'God can never be perfectly present to us here below on account of our flesh.
But he can be almost perfectly absent from us in extreme affliction.'
As a result, joy and suffering are two equally precious gifts, and parallel a person's being infinitely close to or distant from the Divine. This universe in which humanity lives, is the distance created by God's love. God has provided that:
'when His grace penetrates to the very center of a man and from there
illuminates all his being, he is able to walk on the water without violating
the laws of nature.'
Affliction is Something Deeper & Greater Than Suffering
After a thorough perusal of The Love of God and Affliction, one can only conclude that Simone Weil associates affliction as an essential aspect of Divine Love. In this article I will provide an analysis and critique of Simone Weil's understanding of affliction as a necessary component to Divine Love.
Simone Weil describes affliction as something deeper and greater than suffering. Affliction is said to take possession of the Soul and marks the Soul with slavery. Simone Weil further describes slavery as:
'A man loses half his soul the day he becomes a slave'
Physical suffering is inseparable from affliction. The absence or death of someone we love is akin to physical suffering. Yet, affliction is not just physical suffering, but encompasses much more. The uprooting of a life is an affliction that can reduce one to the equivalent of death. Social degradation or the fear of it is another aspect of affliction. Interestingly, the same event can cause one person to be afflicted and not another. The afflicted loose all sense of compassion. Moreover, affliction is the great enigma of human life.
Aspects of Affliction
- Affliction is deeper than suffering
- Affliction is greater than suffering
- Affliction takes possession of the Soul
- Affliction marks the Soul with slavery
- In slavery a person looses half their Soul
Overview of Affliction
- Affliction is something deeper and greater than suffering
- Affliction is a necessary component of Divine Love
- Divine Love triumphs over infinite separation
- There is only one freedom when a person is afflicted
Simone Weil - Quote -
Who is your favourite writer of quotes?
Divine Love Triumphs Over Infinite Separation
Even in infinite distance or affliction, the pure effect of Divine Love triumphs over infinite separation. One can only accept the existence of affliction by considering that:
'God created through love and for love. God did not create anything except
love itself, and the means to love. He created love in all its forms. He created
beings capable of love from all possible distances.'
In this light, affliction is the infinite distance, it is the agony beyond all others and thus it is the marvel of Love. Affliction occurs by chance, and the only choice humanity has is to keep or not to keep their eyes turned toward God.
Simone Weil - Affliction - Suffering - and Attention
A Person Has Only One Freedom When Afflicted
From my own personal perspective, Simone Weil is successful in presenting her ideas on the love of God and affliction. Affliction is defined as distinct from suffering. The element of chance brings the descent of affliction on innocent people. When afflicted, a person is at an infinite distance from God. After having made this distinction, Weil effectively continues her argument with the next forward, progressive movement. The movement is from this pivotal point of infinite distance from God. God is love. Infinite distance and infinite nearness compose the totality of God as love. Weil next asserts that if this is so, then what proceeds is the understanding of affliction as a necessary aspect of Divine Love. A person is left with only one freedom (when afflicted), only one choice. The choice is whether or not to keep one's eyes turned toward God. Interestingly, by following the progression of the argument, one becomes ever more conscious of the paradoxical and yet illuminating presence of affliction in the context of Divine Love.
Affliction And The Cross
Next, Weil's argument successfully progresses with one final movement forward. An analogy surfaces, between afflction and the Cross. Even though one may be afflicted, one's Soul (without leaving its physical body) can transcend space and time, into the very presence of God. The Cross is symbolic of the intersection of creation and Creator. The analogy of one's turning toward God, even through affliction, is symbolized in the Cross.
Progressive Analysis of Affliction
- Simone Weil advocates that affliction is a necessay aspect of Divine Love.
- Simone Weil describes affliction as anonymous, and consequently seizes
the very Souls of the innocent
- The source of affliction is the evil that dwells in the heart of the criminal
without being felt there
- infinite nearness and infinite distance are necessary aspects of God's love
Life and Philosophy of Simone Weil
© 2014 Deborah Morrison