Past Worshipful Master, BUCOVINA Lodge No.69, Suceava
For me, the experience was stimulative. An experience lived with eyes wide open. I listened to the visions of those scientific and technological personalities about the world that was to come, a world whose principal vectors are technological and scientific evolution. In fact, a preface to a new technological revolution based on internet and communications, that was to changed to an important extent the fate of mankind.
But it is not the first time when we have to face a technological revolution. We have had others in the course of history.
It is about one of these that I want to speak today.
In one generation, the people of Israel had a dramatic and amazing transformation, that made of this nation a great power in Asia Minor.
A man by the name of David came to the throne and king David became one of the great leaders of his generation. He was an immense leader, favored of the will of God, a brilliant poet, philosopher, writer, soldier of genius, having used strategies in battle and conflict that people are still studying today.
Two centuries before David, the Hitites, an old people inhabiting the high plateaus in Anatolia, with a history and legends that are deserving themselves of a symposium, discovered the secret of smelting and working iron. The craft spread slowly, and this did not permit Jews to know it and make use of it.
But David changed all that and introduced the age of iron into Israel. The Old Testament says that David founded great workshops for the working of iron. Contemporary archaeologists have rediscovered them in the territory of Palestine together with other testimony belonging to that generation.
In the place of the rudimentary tools made of wood and stone, Israel now had durable and efficient agricultural tools, iron arms and military accessories and, in only one generation’s time, the kingdom of Israel changed completely. One could say that the introduction of iron at that time had a similar effect to the introduction of microchips in our own lifetime.
But David understood that there are many problems that technology cannot solve, that, after all these enormous technological transformations, there are many problems still to be solved. And equally unsolved they have remained for us, and I have never yet heard anyone speak of a solution to these problems. I would like to mention them and to invite you to attempt to the answer this question:
How do we solve the 3 problems yet unsolved?
- The first, that David did not solve, is the evil in men.
Whence it comes, how can we solve it?
In his Psalms, considered some of the most beautiful chapters of the Holy Book, David described the evil in the human species. Not finding solutions to the evil within himself, he asked for the help of his Creator, saying: “You, God, deliver my soul!”
Let us return to ourselves. You cannot even imagine how contradictory we are! On the one hand, we can penetrate the deepest secrets of the universe. We may force dramatically the barriers of technology. We can study the depths of the seas down thousands of feet. We can scrutinize galaxies situated hundeds or millions of light-years away.
But, one the other hand, something is not right.
Even as we are speaking here, warships, armed soldiers ready to fight are aligned behind frontiers, ready to go to war in Irak, Iran, or anywhere else.
Why is this happening?
Why do we have these wars each generation, in each part of the world, and dozen other bloody revolutions each century?
Racism, injustice, violence are spreading everywhere in the world, bringing tragic consequences, suffering, and death. Even the more sofisticated among us seem to be powerless in the attempt to break this vicious circle. The geniuses of mankind, including the technological ones, are preoccupied with these problems or at the very least we would like them to be. As a last measure, we would sometimes want to question the Oracle as to how we could break this spiral of unsavory evolution.
In fact, the question raised is: How can man change? How can we make it so that he not lie, not deceive, the papers not be filled with histories of business fraud, social fraud, or sports fraud.
The Holy Book says that the problem is within us. In our hearts and souls. The problem is that we have separated ourselves and estranged ourselves from our Creator, whom we named God, or the Great Architect of the Universe. We need our souls delivered, but this things only God can do.
Bertrand Russell, (1872-1970), illustrious British philosophy, logician, mathematician, historian, social reform activist, a pacifist that, not being a religious person, affirmed that the evil dwels in our heart and from our heart it must be cast out.
Albert Einstein, a physicist and thinker of genius. Brilliant professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University, Einsten was once asked by newspaper articles, why he still did not have a PhD. He answered humorously: “I have not yet found anyone sufficiently qualified to give it to me!”
Coming back to the them of our discussion, Einstein, from the height of his qualification, said the following: “It is easier to disintegrate Plutonium than to disintegrate the spirit of evil from man”.
I am convinced that many of you have thought of all these. We see men benefitting from the evolutions of technology that use these to slow down its evolution. I have seen brilliant minds, specialists in the technology of information that work many years day and night to create computer viruses that would bring down the systems created by the same technology.
The terrorist attacks in NY, Madrid, London are again examples of the horrible use of technology.
But the problem is not technology, the problem is the person or persons utilizing it.
King David said that he knows the depths of his soul, but could liberate himself from his personal problems, from the evil in his soul, including homicide and adultery. Asking God for forgiveness, he said:“Only you can deliver my soul.”
Thus, we are more than body and mind. We are soul. And there exists something within us that is beyond our understanding the soul is that part of ourselves that gives life direction and meaning. It is the part of us that looks for detachment from evil, redemption, in fact, divinity.
We have met all of us people seeking for something, something they did not know what it was. Everywhere, the questions these people ask are: “Whitther do we come, why are we here, whereto are we going, what is life, who am I here and now?”
Thomas Edison said: “Knowing what happens in the world of science and studying attentively the evolution of the universe, I find ithard to deny the existence of the Great Creator at the rudder”.
- The second problem that king David understood that he cannot solve is the problem of human suffering.
It is written in the Book of Job: “Man gives birth to his own suffering, as vultures rise in the air, by their own power”.
Yes, certainly, men of science have done much to do away with the various sufferings of man. We are grateful to medicine, biology, micro-engineering that have been able to alleviate ours or our fellows’ suffering or to keep us in a good or relatively good medical condition. But, unfortunately, even in the most advanced societies of the world do we have poverty, families with self-destructive habits, treacherous friends, and over us press psychological pressures that are sometimes unbearable. I have never met even one person that had not one problem or at least worry.
Why do we suffer? This is a legitimate question, but one we cannot answer properly.
- The third problem David could not solve is death.
In a way, we recognize, death is a tabu subject of our generation.
Many men live as if they will never die. Technology projects the myth of control over death. All known figures of cinematography, for example, are as present in our conscience as when they lived.
But death is inevitable. There are men that fight one another for a lifetime: politicians, military men, newpaper men, neighbors, relatives even. All these men ought to know that, on whatever side they are, there is something they have in common whether they are on the left or right, weak or powerful, or whatever else separates them. Each and every one of them will die one day. And all of us have this in common.
It is often difficult, expecially for young men, to understand that sooner or later, they die.
As Ecclesiastes says: “As there is a time for birth, so there is a time for death; there is a time to sow, and there is a time to reap”.
I asked professor Nemeș, in the last part of his life, when the signs of the passing to the Eternal Orient were mixed with the hopes of life:
-“What is the greatest surprise of your life?”
-“The greatest surprise is that my life is that…. Life is so short. That it went by so quickly!”
In one of his writings, Alexander Soljenitin describes a man who dies saying to those gathered around his bed: “A man, under the imminence of death, feels a terrible regret. How can someone live without feeling the regret of leaving this world?”
Blaise Pascal had exactly the same question in seventeenth-century France. Pascal is considered the architect of modern civilization. He was a brilliant scientist, working at the frontier of mathematics even as an adolescent. He is considered the founder of probability theory and of the first theoretical model of a computer.
And, of course, many of you have heard of the computer programming language named after him, PASCAL.
Pascal explored in depth the human dilemma of evil, suffering and death. He was amazed at this paradox: even the men who reach extraordinary heights in art, science, or other human enterprises are at the same time filled with hate, hipocrisy, and egotism. Perhaps that is why in Blaise Pascal’s work we find such a remarkable blend of genius and disillusionment.
On November 23, 1654, Pascal had a profound spiritual experience. He wrote in his journal these lines: “I kneel today, absolutely and humbly, before the authority of the Creator”. Pascal understood not only that love and divine grace may bring it back to harmony, but he believed that his sins and mistakes can be forgiven. And that when you die, you go to a place called the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, his spiritual experience went beyond scientific observation and reason.
He, Pascal, was the one who said the famous words: “The heart has reasons reason knows nothing of.“
For Pascal, scientific knowledge paled in the face of the knowledge of God. When he died, aged 39, he was ready to meet his Creator.
King David lived to be 70, an advanced age for that age and in his own turn when he had to face death he wrote the following words to God: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
We find thus king David serene, with peace in his soul, prepared for the great passing.
- These are the three great dilemmas of man that have crossed the times and the consciences of man for over three millennia.
We do not have answers to them yet, but the technology proved then as now incapable.
Let us return thus our gaze to our spirituality, trying to understand the meaning and destiny of our soul. This introspection may offer us hope for the future.
But the soul offers no answers, but only landmarks among which our body and mind makes its way.
And this road is called DESTINY.
I will close with a tribute to Hebrey thought, a text from the Talmud:
„Be mindful of your thoughts | For they will become words | Be mindful of your words | For they will become actions | Be mindful of your actions | For they will become habits | Be mindful of your habits | For they will become your character | Be mindful of your character | For it will beocme your soul | Bemind ful of your soul | For it will be your destiny”.