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Out in my garden there are the signs of spring despite the battering of the rain and wind of recent days. Pan is the best known of the Greek nature gods. He’s also god of spring, playing upon his pipes to herald new life.
In Plato’s dialogue the Phaedrus. Socrates, at the end of an afternoon in nature discussing Beauty, says to his friend, "Do we need anything else, Phaedrus? I believe my prayer is enough for me." To which Phaedrus replies, "Make it a prayer for me as well. Friends have everything in common."
This is the prayer:
Oh dear Pan and all the other gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside. Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within. May I consider the wise man rich. As for gold, let me have as much as a moderate man could bear and carry with him.
The idea of sharing things in common is very much at the heart of our philosophy course which is starting this week and the creative morning to be held next Sunday.
With my vert best regards, William
INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY
I mentioned reflection, but what exactly is reflection? What is reflecting in what? In so many of the great philosophical traditions there is the concept of ‘the mirror of the mind’ or ‘the mirror of the soul’, and in this mirror is reflected both the forms of creation and the light of consciousness - that fundamental power which allows us to recognise anything . The light of consciousness is, in the normal run of things, sucked into all those concerns that captivate our minds. We are usually so involved with them that we forget the light which illuminates it all, the light of consciousness. When we reflect, however, we are taking our attention away from all those possessing concerns to rest in this inner light.
This light is cool and clear, calm and all embracing. This light of consciousness is the very substance of love. Although it illuminates everything that arises in all our minds as individuals, this is not an individual consciousness. Consciousness has no limits. Therefore, when in a reflective state we act from this consciousness, it is the sense of unity that we experience, and although we see creation in all its variety, perhaps more vividly than we normally experience it, there is also an awareness that underlying the variety is unity.
The following is an extract from Wordsworth, writing as he often does, reflectively, he speaks of consciousness as ‘the mighty being’:
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free;
The holy time is quiet as a nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in tranquillity;
The gentleness of heaven is on the sea.
Listen! the mighty being is awake
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder - everlastingly.
Times like this have their appeal. Many desire to experience the greater depth and happiness that are associated with such times.
Are there not moments in all our memories just as vivid as this, moments that contain in their way, more than a touch of bliss?
According to Plato it is the function of both poetry and philosophy to awaken memory, memory of the supreme happiness which transcends time and place. He claims that although the soul has journeyed forth and finds her home in time and space, she always carries with her the memory of her own innate reality. It is not for nothing that Wordsworth called the collection of poems from which this extract was drawn, ‘Intimations of Immortality’. By reflection we may illuminate those eternal principles of beauty, love and joy, and by so doing allow them to become our reality.
Adopt a more reflective state of mind. Constantly come to yourself. Rest in the light of your own inner consciousness rather than being sucked into the next big involvement. Treat life as a journey of self discovery, not a soap opera, or if you like soap operas enjoy them as spectacles, remembering that reality lies elsewhere.