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LIFE, A HUGE STRUGGLE TO REACH GOD: HUMAN VALUE IN N KAZANTZAKIS WORKS

KALATHAKI MARIA
Ph.D., Med, School Advisor for Secondary Science Teachers of West Crete, Greece
Kalathakimaria.edu@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
According to Earth Charter (2000), we urgently need a shared vision of basic
values to form the basis of morality of the new world that is emerging. The respect and care
for life in a sustainable community is to ensure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and
future generations. "When life managed with the daily struggle to beat the round enemies,
natural forces and beasts, hunger, thirst, disease, ever happen to the excess power. This
power asks to waste playing. Civilization begins from the moment the game begins”.
In this didactic intervention, it was attempted by a group of students the approach of
notion of ‘Life’ in the course of Biology through the literature texts’ reading. Some works of
the writer N Kazantzakis constituted the educational-research material.
Nikos Kazantzakis, in his works, has set many philosophical, existential queries concerning the
dipole God-Human, such as what is the human in relationship with God, how close to Him we
are, how can reach to Him, what we ask of Him etc. The total human life is dedicated to the
search of the Higher, the God. During our life we strive to reach God, in a huge struggle.
This paper is a limited anthology of Kazantzakis quotes, extracted from some works,
approaching the issues of life, the struggle of life, the way of living toward God by setting the
queries “How we realize God? What is human in relationship with the God? How close to Him
we are? How can reach to Him?”

INTRODUCTION
Ethics, as a set of rules of human behavior in social coexistence, is the second major
branch of Philosophy that seeks to identify the moral lifestyle of the people, whether there
can be a common ethical code of conduct, a universal moral life form all people (Pelegrinis.,
1999). Socrates believed that moral integrity is the highest index of human dignity "(in
Pelegrinis, 1999).
ESD has a fundamental relationship with the values. According to the UNECE Strategy
for ESD (2005), the Education for Sustainable Development promotes common values of
peoples, countries, and generations, such as responsibility, solidarity, equality, mutual
respect, the dependence of future generations of the oldest and modern and the
environment. Seeks to respect the dignity and human rights of all people around the world
and a commitment to social and economic justice for all and for future generations, together
with a commitment of responsibility towards them. Fosters respect for cultural diversity and
terrestrial ecosystems that includes protection and remedies, also the obligation to build a
culture of tolerance, peace, locally and globally.
Information for N Kazantzakis life and works is written on N Kazantzakis Museum’s
website. He was born in Megalo Kastro (Heraklion), the capital of Ottoman-occupied Crete, in
1883. On the outbreak of the final Cretan rebellion, N Kazantzakis family settled on Naxos two
years, where he studied at the French Mercantile School of the Holy Cross, which was run by
Franciscan friars. There he learnt French and Italian and began to acquaint himself with
European literature, and above all came into contact with Western culture.
He travelled a lot in the world for approximately 8 years. From each journey he
gathered images, ideas and experiences which he incorporated into the subsequent reworking
of the Odyssey. He had visited the Soviet Union, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt and the
Sinai Desert, and stayed for extended periods at Gottesgab in Czechoslovakia.
He worked at a feverish pace, writing film scripts and poetry, composing plays and
drawing up novels in French, compiling encyclopedias, dictionaries and schoolbooks,
contributing to Greek and Russian newspapers and translating major works of literature as
well as children’s books. N Kazantzakis became famous during the last years of his life, with
the works, among the others, Zorba the Greek (Βίος και Πολιτεία του Αλέξη Ζορμπά-Vios kai
politeia tou Alexi Zorba), The Last Temptation of Christ (Ο Τελευταίος Πειρασμός-O teleftaios
peirasmos), Freedom and Death (Ο Καπετάν Μιχάλης-O Kapetan Mihalis), The Greek Passion-
Christ is Recrucified (Ο Χριστός Ξανασταυρώνεται-O Hristos ksanastavronetai), and his
autobiography Report to Greco (Αναφορά στο Γκρέκο-Anafora ston Greco).
In this didactic intervention, a group of students approached the notion of ‘Life’ in the
course of Biology through the literature texts’ reading. They extracted some quotes from N
Kazantzakis works and by making a synthesis of them, they realized that ‘Life’ is humans’
struggle for progress, an evolutionary procedure to achieve higher quality in the human
existence.

METHOD
The author with a group of students of Meleses Lyceum, in 2010, tried a literature
reading as a project in the frame of the course of Biology of B class with the aim to approach
the notion of ‘Life’ from a pedagogical view. It was chosen this way of approaching the notion
of ‘Life’ as more attractive and different from those usually used in everyday school teaching,
It was highlighed aspects of the writer N Kazantzakis on the ‘Life’ as a huge struggle of human
beings to reach the Highest, the God. It was chosen N Kazantzakis works as more familiar to
the students whom villages are close to the writer’s family house. The used methodology was
concentrated in extracting quotes from N Kazantzakis works that are useful to the pedagogical
guidance of the future scientists and active citizens. The findings of the literature texts were
read through the prism of ESD documents (UNECE, 2005; Europe 2020, 2010).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
N Kazantzakis, by himself, in his prologue to Zorba book says the influences accepted
by Homer, Buddha, Nietzsche, Bergson, Christ. Also Pantelis Prevelakis, the most authoritative
N Kazantzakis interpreter, calls Nietzsche, Christ, Buddha, Lenin 'prophets' who conquered
Kazantzakis. In the end, he even deny and Lenin, and his hero, pattern throughout his likeness,
or "parallel", will be Odysseus. (Politis, 1980).
Kazantzakis recognized by the researchers as an intellectual who theologizes more
than all his Greek peers, but little has been written on the individual philosophical and
metaphysical reflections of the writer as the prevailing idea of social Christianity, the good and
evil coexistence problem, the interaction God and the world, the problem of theodicy.
(Tsinikopoulos). There are not sufficiently answered the roots of religious ideas reflected in
his works, such as religious iconoclasm, his doubts towards the clergy (“Religion is opium for
the masses”), his anti-dogmatism, or Kazantzakis meta-Christianity.
Kazantzakis, in his works, has set many philosophical, existential queries concerning
the dipole God-Human, such as what is the human in relationship with God, how close to Him
we are, how can reach to Him, what we ask of Him etc. The total human life is dedicated to
the search of God. During our life we strive to reach God, in a huge struggle.
Following is a limited anthology of Kazantzakis quotes, extracted from some works,
approaching the issues of ‘Life’, the struggle of ‘Life’, the way of living toward the God:
How we realize God? “How ought we to love God, Father?" he asked in a whisper. ‘By
loving humans, my son’ ‘And how ought we to love humans?’ ‘By trying to guide them along
the right path’ ‘And what is the right path?’ ‘The one that rises’ (Christ Re-crucified).
What is the human in relationship with the God? “Well, poor human, he said loudly.
You can move mountains, you can do miracles, and you sink in the manure, the laziness and
unfaithfulness! God you have inside you! God carry and you do not know it!! You learn it while
you die, but it’s too late. Let's roll up and drag, may hear us! "(Fratricides). “The freedom is
not intended. Neither is in the earth - in the earth is only the struggle for freedom. We fight
for what we cannot conquer, and that's why the humans ceased to be animal”.
How close to Him we are? “…‘You said it: Human is a wild beast,’ he told himself. ‘Yes,
he does what he chooses. If he chooses to take a road, he takes it. The gate of Hell and the
gate of Paradise are close together, and he goes in at whichever he chooses… The Devil can
only go into Hell, and the angel only into Paradise, but humans into whichever they choose!”.
“Maybe, in the bottom of Hell, my God, is the door of Paradise?”. "Therefore, can a human
overcome the human?’ wonders priest Yiannaros. ‘He can, he can!’ he replied, ‘but only for
an hour, for two hours, maybe for a whole day, but enough - this means God’s Fire, which
ordinary people call Paradise." (Fratricides). “Christ is not the end, is the beginning, not the
‘Welcome’, Is the ‘Bon voyage’” (Report to Greco)
How can reach to Him? “I know well that death is not defeated, but the value of a
person is not to win, but the struggle for the victory. And I know this, even the hardest: there
is no the struggle for victory, the human value is only this: to live and to die bravely and not
deign fee. And yet the third, even more difficult: the certainty that there is no reward, that
not cuts your livers but only fills you joy, pride and bravery” (Report to Greco). “For one I was
sure my whole life: that one road, only one leads to God, the uphill. Never the downhill, never
the smooth road, the ascent only” (Report to Greco). “If they were to ask me what road leads
to heaven, I would answer them: the most difficult!”. “Even though I was sure that I would go
to Paradise, I would ask God to let me go from the most distant way ...” (Report to Greco). “In
this world, he cogitated, you may be lamb or wolf - if you are lamb, they eat you, if you are
wolf, you eat! My God, is there a third animal, better, stronger "? And a voice inside replied:
there is, there is, priest Yiannaros, be patient! Thousands years till now began to arrive, to
become human -has not yet arrived. Are you in a hurry? ‘God does not in a hurry, priest
Yiannaros’” (Fratricides). “The crucifixion is the only way to resurrection. Another way does
not”. “We have but a single moment at our disposal. Let us transform that moment into
eternity. No other form of immortality exists”.

EPILOGUE
According to Earth Charter (2000), we urgently need a shared vision of basic values to
form the basis of morality of the new world that is emerging. The respect and care for life in
a sustainable community is to ensure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future
generations. "When life managed with the daily struggle to beat the round enemies, natural
forces and beasts, hunger, thirst, disease, ever happen to the excess power. This power asks
to waste playing. Civilization begins from the moment the game begins”.

REFERENCES
Earth Charter (2000) http://earthcharter.org/discover/the-earth-charter/
Europe 2020 (2010) Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, European
Commission, Brussels, 3.3.2010, COM (2010) 2020
Kazantzakis Museum (2015), N Kazantzakis, his life and works, available
http://www.kazantzaki.gr/index.php?level=2&lang=en
Pelegrinis T. (1999) Principles of Philosophy. School Book of C Class of Lyceums, Organization
for Publishing School Books, Athens
Politis L (1980) History of Modern Greek Literature", Educational Foundation of the National
Bank, printing press "Manutius" Athens
Tsinikopoulos D. The spiritual fathers of Nikos Kazantzakis, available 040216
http://www.tsinikopoulos.org/el
UNECE (2005) UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, the High-Level
Meeting of Environment and Education Ministers, Vilnius, March 17-18