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I’ve just come in from the garden constructing raised beds ready to plant vegetables in the Spring. I postponed writing this email so I could finish it. I just thought that it was a perfect time. The sun was out and the air was warm. Seeing the heavy wooden frames all bolted up and filled with earth was most satisfying. There is a great pleasure to be had in getting close to the soil with the thought that this substance is brimming with life and will bring forth life. The earth is all around us, and yet we hardly ever give it a second thought. It’s great to just, on occasion, make a proper connection with something so essential. In fact it’s great to make a full connection with anything, just stop, watch, listen, touch and smell, connect mind with the senses.
I’m using a poem by Edward Thomas in my class this week. It’s called Digging and starts with these lines:To-day I think only with scents, - scents dead leaves yield. As the word yield suggests there’s so much out there ready to give if we were but ready to receive. To do that we must fine tune our senses. The more we do that the more there is to appreciate. More we appreciate the more life yields. What we’re talking about here is what the great German poet and thinker, Goethe called self transformation. Self transformation isn't so much a matter of adding anything, but appreciating that we have it all already, and what is needed is only a bit of demolition, to rid ourselves of all the things that somehow possess the mind, thoughts that cut us off from all that life yields.
With all my best wishes, William
PS Talking of being cut off, a good number of you didn’t receive your email last week. People wrote in and I made contact with Dom, the technical wiz that helps me out. He soon discovered what the problem was, and hopefully we’re back in business. Knowing that we have something other than social media in common, he sent me a delightful montage of photos of autumn flowers from his garden. Thought you might like to see them too.
WERE THE EYE NOT OF THE SUN
Goethe, made this interesting observation about our eyes:
Were the eye not of the sun,
How could we behold the light?
If God’s might and ours were not as one,
How could His work enchant our sight?
Goethe fully emphasized the significance of Bildung, or self transformation, in his thinking. He saw the human being as constantly engaged in this process of self formation. He talks of light giving rise to the organ of perception which allowed light to be recognised.
The eye may be said to owe its existence to light, which calls forth as it were, a sense that is akin to itself; the eye, in short, is formed in reference to light; the inner light corresponding to the light without.
He doesn’t stop there. He also talks of those organs of cognition that allow us ‘to see natural laws’, the development of organs capable of intuitive insight, but he claimed if the possibility of insight is discounted in our thinking there is no way that the organs of intuition will develop within us. He believed that the purpose of art is to draw the mind to the eternal principles and in the process help develop the organs of insight that might appreciate those principles.
Analysis was done on Einstein’s brain. In the process it was discovered that a certain part of his brain was 15% larger than the average. This, however, was not so unexpected. The expansion of his brain was in that area associated with mathematical manipulation. Violinists have enlarged brains in the area connected with the manipulation of the hands. The body, as one might imagine, is entirely responsive to the use that is made of it. Regardless of what the mind picks up or lays aside, the body will naturally follow. When we speak of people being open minded or big hearted perhaps we are not speaking in entirely metaphorical terms. Perhaps we can develop not only the subtle organs of insight and compassion but also their associated physical organs.
Develop the capacity for insight by opening the heart and mind and looking again and again. Connect mind with the senses. Look at what lies before you, really look. See what is presented on the surface and then look beyond. Practice this in all situations. Practice this particularly in your relationships.
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