Schopenhauer, Arthur - The World as Will and Idea - Power, nature and contemplation
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The World as Will and Idea – Arthur Schopenhauer
But the impression becomes even more powerful, if, when we have before our eyes the struggle of the raging elements on a large scale; when in these surroundings the roar of the waterfall makes it impossible for us to hear the sound of our own voice; or, when we are standing beside the sea when it is lashed by storm, where the waves, high as houses, rise and fall, are driven violently against steep cliffs, toss their foam high into the air; the storm howls, the sea roars, the lightning flashes from the black clouds and the thunder claps are louder than the storm and sea.
Then in the person who can watch this without being shaken by it, the ambivalence of his consciousness becomes very clear. At one and the same time he feels he is an individual, the will’s frail phenomenon, which the slightest impact of these energies can demolish, that he is helpless against powerful nature, dependent, vulnerable to chance, an infinitesimal dot in relation to stupendous powers; and he feels also that he is the eternal, tranquil, knowing subject which as the condition of the object is therefore the supporter of this same world, and that nature’s terrifying struggle is only his idea; the subject itself free and untouched by all desires and necessities, in the tranquil comprehension of the Ideas.
This is the complete impression of the sublime, here induced by a glimpse of a power incomparably superior to the individual, a power threatens him with annihilation.