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Full text of "I And Thou"

The ante-natal life of the child is one of purely
natural combination, bodily interaction and flowing
from the one to the other. Its life's horizon, as it
comes into being, seems in a unique way to be, and yet
again not to be, traced in that of the life that bears it.
For it does not rest only in the womb of the human
mother. Yet this connexion has such a cosmic
quality that the mythical saying of the Jews, " in the
mother's body man knows the universe, in birth he
forgets it," reads like the imperfect decipherment of
an inscription from earliest times. And it remains
indeed in man as a secret image of desire. Not as
though his yearning meant a longing to return, as those
suppose who see in the spiritóconfusing it with their
intellectóa parasite of nature, when it is rather (though
exposed to diverse illnesses) nature's best flower. But
the yearning is for the cosmic connexion, with its true
Thou, of this life that has burst forth into spirit.
Every child that is coming into being rests, like all
life that is coming into being, in the womb of the great
mother, the undivided primal world that precedes form.
From her, too, we are separated, and enter into personal
life, slipping free only in the dark hours to be close to
her again; night by night this happens to the healthy
man. But this separation does not occur suddenly
and catastrophically like the separation from the
bodily mother ; time is granted to the child to exchange
a spiritual connexion, that is, relation, for the natural
connexion with the world that he gradually loses. He
has stepped out of the glowing darkness of chaos into
the cool light of creation. But he does not possess
it yet; he must first draw it truly out, he must make
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