The reader of the English translation of Freedom and the Spirit is hit between the eyes from the very first words of the Introduction:

As Léon Bloy has well said in Le Pélerin de l’Absolu, “Souffrir passe, avoir souffert ne passe jamais” (“Suffering disappears, but the fact of having suffered always remains with us.”). This is a remarkable aphorism demanding the broadest possible interpretation. Victory may indeed be achieved over what has been experienced, and yet that experience is still in our possession as a permanent enhancement and extension of the reality of our spiritual life. What has once been lived through cannot possibly be effaced. That which has been continues to exist in a transfigured form. Man is by no means a completely finished product. Rather he moulds and creates himself in and through his experience of life, through spiritual conflict, and through those various trials which his destiny imposes upon him. Man is only what God is planning, a projected design. (Nicolas Berdyaev, Freedom and the Spirit, 3rd ed., trans. Oliver Fielding Clarke, 1944, p. vii)

There is much more to this remarkable passage but I don’t want to throw too much text here right now. More in another post.

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