The Devil depicted in the Temptation of Christ, by Ary Scheffer, 1854.

Taking the devil seriously does not mean going over to his side, or else one becomes the devil.

Rather it means coming to an understanding.

Thereby you accept your other standpoint.

With that the devil fundamentally loses ground, and so do you. And that may be well and good.

Although the devil very much abhors religion for its particular solemnity and candor, it has become apparent, however, that it is precisely through religion that the devil can be brought to an understanding. What I said about dancing struck him because

I spoke about something that belonged in his own domain.

He fails to take seriously only what concerns others because that is the peculiarity of all devils.

In such a manner, I arrive at his seriousness, and with this we reach common / ground where understanding is possible.

The devil is convinced that dancing is neither lust nor madness, but an expression of joy, which is something proper to neither one nor the other. In this I agree with the devil. Therefore he humanizes himself before my eyes.

But I turn green like a tree in spring.

Yet that joy is the devil, or that the devil is joy, has got to worry you. I pondered this for over a week, and I fear that it has not been enough.

You dispute the fact that your joy is your devil.

But it seems as if there is always something devilish about joy.

If your joy is no devil for you, then possibly it is for your neighbors, since joy is the most supreme flowering and greening of life.

This knocks you down, and you must grope for a new path, since the light in that joyful fire has completely gone out for you.

Or your joy tears your neighbor away and throws him off course, since life is like a great fire that torches everything in its vicinity.

But fire is the element of the devil.

When I saw that the devil is joy, surely I would have wanted to make a pact with him.

But you can make no pact with joy, because it immediately disappears.

Therefore you cannot capture the devil either.

Yes, it belongs to his essence that he cannot be captured.

He is stupid if he lets himself be caught, and you gain nothing from having yet one more stupid devil.

The devil always seeks to saw off the branch on which you sit.

That is useful and protects you from falling asleep and from the vices that go along with it.

The devil is an evil element.

But joy?

If you run after it, you see that joy also has evil in it, since then you arrive at pleasure and from pleasure go straight to Hell, your own particular Hell, which turns out differently for everyone.

Through my coming to terms with the devil, he accepted some of my seriousness, and I accepted some of his joy.

This gave me courage.

But if the devil has gotten more earnest, one must brace oneself.

It is always a risky thing to accept joy, but it leads us to life and its disappointment, from which the wholeness of our life becomes. [The Red Book; Page 260-261]

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