The Child to The Man

In Nietzsche’s three metamorphoses, the final form is the child, manifested as the sacred yea to life. One could be completely selfless, spontaneous, and non-dual. And the child could be the state that one could enter the kingdom of heaven.

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3

Such childish innocence is the key to the heavenly condition; however, it shouldn’t be the same as so-called childish ignorance, even though both look similar at a glance.

In the following verse, the child is the state of ignorance, while the man is the state that one could put away one’s childish ignorance, which is the realization of the love of agape (ἀγάπη).

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11

What does it mean in saying, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child”?

When and if we are full of self-will, such childish ignorance controls us all the way. Even with our best intentions and efforts, we could never get out of this ignorance.

Self-will can never remove itself by self-will. It is our self-will that keeps us from the love of agape (charity in this translation).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

With all these attributes, perhaps our childish ignorance would think we could be perfect and flawless, feeling like God lives us.

Paul the Apostle, however, tells us we are nothing if we lack the love of agape. Giving our body to be burned looks like the extreme selfless act; nevertheless, Paul tells us it is nothing if we don’t have the love of agape.

Indeed, there is such a paradoxical state that we can be selfishly selfless and selflessly selfish. Why do we fall into such a state?

In human histories, a lot of people sacrificed their lives due to their self-wills such as pride, honor, affections, even belief, creed, and doctrine, dreaming their happiness and salvation in heaven. We still see such suicide acts.

Paul tells us it is nothing without love.

Our selfish passion and perfectionism would lead us to such extremism, fundamentalism, narcissism, separatism, and self-indulgence. Ironically, in these states, we are full of self-will, being far from the love of agape.

What is the love of agape (or charity) on earth?

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

With all attributes, it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. It embraces everything; no exception at all. How is it possible?

It is impossible.

In this realization of impossibility, we’ve come to know that this charity, the love of agape is nothing but God’s love. It is God’s love to the extent that He died on the Crucifixion as a vulnerable human body.

When we were a child, we thought we could perfectly love like God. We thought we perfectly follow God. We thought we could even love and die like Jesus Christ. When we were a child, we thought everything was possible.

Becoming the man, however, we would realize all these things were merely the products of our self-will; the result of our narcissism, except for one impossibility, which is the love of agape, God’s love. Everything would vanish away with our self-indulgent efforts. It’s only God’s love that stands forever.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

1 Corinthians 13:8

What we see is partial. Despite all our efforts, it is inevitably, impossibly, forever partial. Only when we come to know what is complete and perfect, we would truly see our partiality, and such impossibility.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

1 Corinthians 13:9-10

Becoming the man, therefore, we would recognize the infinite gap between the man and God. Filling this infinite gap, there must be the infinite love (love of agape). That is, God alone can love us with His true Sacrifice and Resurrection.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Have we removed the dark glass to see Him face to face? Yes and no. It’s gone, realizing His infinite love. And yet, it still does exist, knowing the infinite gap between God and us, the Cloud of Unknowing.  

Thus, we must abide by faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is His infinite love.

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