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The cure for our modern affliction of alienation and meaninglessness would be to open ourselves up to encounter, in particular to open ourselves up for encounter with the eternal You, God. We glimpse the possibility of encountering God through all our other encounters which are fleeting and do not satisfy our desire for relation. In each of these fleeting encounters, we glimpse that there is something more possible, an absolute relation that is not transient. This permanent relation is that with God.
To encounter God, one must ready one's soul. Once the soul is ready for this encounter, it will inevitably occur. The way to get ready for encounter with God is primarily to want with all of one's being to encounter God. In addition, one must 'concentrate one's soul.' In concentrating the soul, man brings together all of his contradictory parts of his personality and existence and holds them together as a unity. He holds together, for example, the I of experience and the I of encounter.
This process of readying oneself is obviously not passive but requires an active decision: you must decide that you want to encounter God and you must actively take steps to concentrate your soul. Buber calls this decision 'man's decisive moment.' The decision to enter the absolute relation is not an easy one. To leave behind the world of experience is terrifying because the world of experience is predictable, understandable, and easily manipulated, while the world of encounter is none of these things. To ready oneself for encounter, then, one must also shed one's drive toward self-affirmation, the drive toward self-protection and the need to feel that you are in complete control of yourself and the world around you.
Ace your assignments with our guide to I and Thou!