“There is a doctrine uttered in secret that man is a prisoner who has no right to open the door of his prison and run away; this is a great mystery which I do not quite understand. Yet I, too, believe that the gods are our guardians, and that we are a possession of theirs. Do you not agree ?”
—from PHAEDRUS by Socrates
It has been said that, after the Bible, Plato’s dialogues are the most influential books in Western culture. Of the dialogues, the Symposium is the most delightful and accessible, requiring no special knowledge of ancient Greek philosophy or customs. Dramatizing a party in fifth-century B.C. Athens, the deceptively unassuming Symposium introduces—in the guise of convivial after-dinner conversation—profound ideas about the nature of love. In Phaedrus, here published together with the Symposium, Plato discusses the place of eloquence in expounding truth. In both dialogues, Socrates plays the leading role, by turns teasing, arguing, analyzing, joking, inspiring, and cajoling his followers into understanding ideas that have remained central to Western thought through the centuries. READ more here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/131792/symposium-and-phaedrus-by-plato/
To regard any suffering with satisfaction, save it be sympathetically with its curative quality, comes of evil, is inhuman because undivine, is a thing God is incapable of. His nature is always to forgive, and just because he forgives, he punishes. Because God is so altogether alien to wrong, because it is to him a heart-pain and trouble that one of his little ones should do the evil thing, there is, I believe, no extreme of suffering to which, for the sake of destroying the evil thing in them, he would not subject them. A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant; but there is no refuge from the love of God; that love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing.
– George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons
The key is that the treatment is medicinal. There is no medicine a parent would withhold from his child, who is dying of cancer. A extreme treatment or cure would be preferable to the loss of the life of the child. But the good news is that we ourselves can be a part of that treatment, and begin to work alongside it, and so lessen the need for the severity of the curative tonics. And when we are on board, and know that the treatment (pain, or consequences of our erroneous actions) is for the healing of our souls, then we can consent to the treatment plan, and it will be less painful. Knowledge and understanding changes so much- it makes the agonies easier to bear.
THOU art of this world, Christ. Thou know’st it all;
Thou know’st our evens, our morns, our red and gray;
How moons, and hearts, and seasons rise and fall;
How we grow weary plodding on the way;
Of future joy how present pain bereaves,
Rounding us with a dark of mere decay,
Tossed with a drift Of summer-fallen leaves.
Thou knowest all our weeping, fainting, striving;
Thou know’st how very hard it is to be;
How hard to rouse faint will not yet reviving;
To do the pure thing, trusting all to thee;
To hold thou art there, for all no face we see;
How hard to think, through cold and dark and dearth,
That thou art nearer now than when eye-seen on earth.
Have pity on us for the look of things,
When blank denial stares us in the face.
Although the serpent mask have lied before,
It fascinates the bird that darkling sings,
And numbs the little prayer-bird’s beating wings.
For how believe thee somewhere in blank space,
If through the darkness come no knocking to our door?
If we might sit until the darkness go,
Possess our souls in patience perhaps we might;
But there is always something to be done,
And no heart left to do it. To and fro
The dull thought surges, as the driven waves fight
In gulfy channels. Oh! victorious one,
Give strength to rise, go out, and meet thee in the night.
Wake, thou that sleepest; rise up from the dead,
And Christ will give thee light.” I do not know
What sleep is, what is death, or what is light;
But I am waked enough to feel a woe,
To rise and leave death. Stumbling through the night,
To my dim lattice, O calling Christ! I go,
And out into the dark look for thy star-crowned head.
– George MacDonald.
“A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul.”