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'The Love of God and Affliction' by Simone Weil

Deborah A. Morrison is an internationally recognized author and transformational life coach from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Simone Weil

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 desirous that their union doesn't 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 and Greater Than Suffering

After thoroughly perusing The Love of God and Affliction, one can only conclude that Simone Weil considers affliction 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 of 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 lose 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 loses 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

Simone Weil quote

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.

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 affliction 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 necessary 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.

© 2014 Deborah Morrison


Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on February 29, 2016:

Yes, and i was approached by a Quaker friend after the meeting who told me that it is not only the men that can perform courageous feats but women can also even though its not expected of them.

Deborah Morrison (author) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on February 22, 2016:

Wonderful idea to deliver a ministry on Simone Weil!

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on December 16, 2015:

Having again re visited this site and carefully re read the topic in it's entirety i raise the further points. I wonder why we were never taught about Simone Weil when we certainly had a lot of other 'free thinkers' in the curriculum. Perhaps her philosophy was not widely available. Oh boy! Do i certainly have afflictions? They come in the form of 'bad luck' and silly dreams that you'd swear are fact. I can live with this. The Hindi word for a slave is daas which also means a servitor and a pupil or student whilst we in the west regard the same word as pertaining to chattel. The existentialist Neitzhe wrote a thesis on the master/slave relationship which is too complicated for my feeble mind and i would never serve as a slave to any man. I do surrender to the 'God head' regardless of my afflictions, follow Christ's teachings and obey my spiritual master. Regarding the cross, here in where our word 'excruciating' derives from. They must have been some sick society to get off on the pain of others. Although i don't have family or friends i am going to deliver a ministry on Simone Weil at the next Quaker meeting i attend.

Deborah Morrison (author) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on November 26, 2015:

There are many biblical characters who were tested by divine power with various afflictions. As I recall, Job had an extreme run of bad luck, yet patiently kept the faith. Also, God commanded Abraham to bind Isaac, his own son, and sacrifice him by death at the altar. Last minute an angel of God commanded Abraham to stop and the angel said "now I know you fear God." Perhaps God was testing Abraham as a test of loyalty. However, early Rabbis interpret God as demanding only a symbolic "sacrifice." Most certainly there is much room for "interpretation" of biblical theological statements, what the statements mean, and how to apply these statements in day to day life

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 26, 2015:

I recall rather vaguely affliction occurring in scripture quite often. Leprosy was rife in those days and many biblical characters were tested by divine power with various afflictions. Two in particular come to mind namely; where the man has an intolerable run of bad luck yet patiently keeps the faith then also the man about to slaughter his son on an altar but then prevented from doing so as a test of obedience.

Deborah Morrison (author) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on November 24, 2015:

I am most intrigued with Simone Weil's 'human values' in face of extreme adversity in life. Most certainly growing up in a stable family situation has a significant posititve influence upon all involved. How very troubling that even though Simone Weil was a pacifist, she was selected for S.O.E. training in 1942. Perhaps the fact that she took ill and died prematurely was a blessing for her. Thanks for sharing your insights into the life of Simone Weil. I look forward to reading your future writings about affliction.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 24, 2015:

I just checked briefly on Simone Weil's biography, omitting her early life though i'd warrant her coming from a stable family situation and i am simply astonished why we didn't learn of her in school as we were taught of other great women in literature and also 'human values' too. I can name two right now renown for the courage displayed by Madamaselle Weil because i often see the statues in their honour. In Charing Cross (St Martin's in the fields) is a memorial surmounted by a bust of Nurse Edith Cavell who was executed in Belgium for assisting allied airman to escape in 1917. The caption reads 'It is not enough that i serve humanity, i must hold no hate for anyone'. On the other side of the river further upstream is the memorial dedicated primarily to Violette Szabo but to all the women who served in the Special Operations Executive behind the lines. Although a pacifist Simone Weil was selected for S.O.E. training in 1942 however she took ill and died prematurely. She is interred in Ashford Kent. More on 'affliction' to follow!

Deborah Morrison (author) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on November 23, 2015:

Welcome back to Hubpages. It's wonderful to know that this topic will be kept very close to your heart. Yes, sometimes we all need to be 'off line' for awhile.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on November 18, 2015:

I'm back on the hub pages after a period of being 'off line' and i intend to keep this topic very close to my heart.

Deborah Morrison (author) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on June 27, 2014:


Thank you for sharing your experience. A Shamanic cleanse is great to re-balance your environment to be more harmonious, peaceful and uplifting, while creating an Angelic influence.

Also, prayer, meditation, energetic healing, etc. There are many approaches to energetic enhancement of your environment and rejunvenation of your well being.

That being said, I would suggest that everyone tune into their own inclinations and higher guidance and connect with an approach that resonates with the unique individual that you are.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on June 21, 2014:

I've had my lodging room 'shamanic' cleansed by two mediums. Maligne house spirits do exist (especially here in olde London towne). Since that event i feel certain that Angels and daemons are amongst us.


Deborah Morrison (author) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on May 29, 2014:

Limpet, thank you for sharing some of your most interesting life experiences. I have also sat in on a local Quaker meeting a couple of times. From what I understand, there is a focus on going into the 'silence' and only speaking when truly 'inspired' by the Divine.

Here's my perspective on ideas of Oneness, polarity, Divine masculine/feminine ... I feel that polarity is contained within Oneness and Oneness is contained within polarity ... & that the Divine contains masculine & feminine ... and that masculine & feminine contains the Divine ... and that masculine contains masculine & feminie aspects ... and feminine contains masculine & feminine aspects ... that the Divine Eternal One is the many ... and that the many are the One ... and yet the One that is inherent in the many is simultaneously also beyond the many ... and that the Divine exists within each unique, individual person as that unique, individual person as the Divine within ... and that there is unity in diversity ... and that there are many paths to the One Truth ... :) ...

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on May 29, 2014:

Good morning Deborah (London time)

Well said. I'm for the Godhead.

Several months ago i sat in wuth a discussion group, half of whom were Quakers (Religious society of Friends)and other faiths and of the six who actually spoke each of us had an entirely different interpretation of the 'supradivine'. A Lady in Holland whom i regard as a mentor to me, uses the title 'Magisterine' and Her Deity is in the Feminine form but She prefers to be addressed as 'Magistra' (masculine form). Nothing wrong with that though it is called polarity.

Deborah Morrison (author) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on May 28, 2014:

I appreciate your comments limpet, especially since your words are from your direct life experience.

With affliction, one's situation may become extemely restricted in terms of choices. However, Simone Weil's primary point is that one always has the free choice to turn their 'eyes', thought, heart, faith toward God ... or not! This most important freedom always exists, no matter what the circumstance.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on May 28, 2014:

Yes. Deborah, it has been some time since i have seen the correct spelling of the name Deborah (means bee). Reading the hub a second time has given me a greater insight having attended various existential lectures at the Royal Society that being confused about the vast amount of philosophy to absorb one lecturer summed it up as 'so what!

But here it grows deeper as 'Divine Love' must be some mighty awesome power. I was educated in the school of hard knocks and the university of life but still feel many reasons to be grateful i am alive. A psychic once told me that in my previous life i was a serf who committed suicide at 29 due to my wretched condition, whether true or not suicide is no way out! Before leaving my lodging room today i read from the thoughts of the theologian Spurgeon 'memory is the slave of despondecy'


Deborah Morrison (author) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on May 27, 2014:

Thank you for your comment limpet. Yes, it is unfortunate. And, it is possible that affliction may occur in anyone's life. From my own personal perspective, I would say that right action is always compassion.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on May 27, 2014:

This topic came to me as a pleasant surprise but i will have to read over once more to add any valid comment. It is most unfortunate that some of us have got to endure afflication. There are a great number of historical persons that have undergone adversity which could inspire us all.