Issue 734
This week's practice


 

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Dear Friends,

I had a meeting last week with people who have been attending the Stoicism course.  Because of their enthusiasm they wanted to help spread to an ever increasing number the benefits of what they have received.  They love Wisdom Works but think that a version of it should be put out on social media.  I had a certain reluctance to do this because I didn’t want to turn the whole thing into an exercise in self promotion.  But I haven’t dismissed the idea of using social media and am now thinking of how it might be done in a way that avoids this.

In addition to these people, I met up with a man I hadn’t seen for about ten years.  He had attended another of these five week courses at the end of which I had encouraged the class that, because of the obvious need, we should all think of ways of encouraging others to adopt the reflective life that we had been exploring on the course.


 

Taking me at my word he started running short mindfulness/philosophy sessions at his work.  He then got a job at John Lewis/Waitrose.  Members of the Upper Management saw him in action and he now runs weekly sessions of what he calls Mindful Mondays where they practise the Pause together and explore philosophic thinking.  

It’s ironic, but only natural, that something that encourages stillness should produce such an enthusiastic and exuberant response.

With my best regards, William

This week's reflection

EXUBERANCE FROM STILLNESS

Your happiness depends on three things, all of which are within your power: your will, your ideas concerning the events in which you are involved, and the use you make of your ideas. Marcus Aurelius

There is this concern which is sometimes expressed that adopting a reflective way of living means the end of life that is full of vibrancy and vitality.  Does it mean that the brilliance of life is to be turned into a rather dull affair, a vacancy even?  Some philosophers have tried to assert that the final reality is a void, but, regardless of this view, life has a wonderful way of asserting itself, making itself known.  There is a delightful statement by Proclus, the Platonic philosopher, about the nature of the gods:

The laughter of the gods must be defined to be their exuberant energy in the universe, and the gladness of all mundane creatures.


Life has this sense of undeniability.  It forces itself upon us.  Find yourself in a room of five year olds and you will know all about exuberance.  This is the will to live expressing itself at full power.  We might ask ourselves what does it take to live with all the exuberance of the gods.  This isn't such a farfetched question.  Think about the times when you feel really alive.  What are the qualities associated with those times?  What do you experience?

Beauty is the real aspect of things when seen aright and with the eyes of love.

These are the words of the poet Kathleen Raine, and the following was said by the painter Samuel Palmer of his friend, the poet William Blake:

To walk with Blake in the country is to perceive the soul of beauty through the forms of matter.

 

This is beauty known by those awake to the power of the present.  All three of these people are known for their power to connect fully with life.  There is no doubt that with a rise in consciousness we rise out of the normal experience of life to become part of an entirely new expression of life, new because it's living now, and the nature of this life is beauty and love.

But this can only be discovered through the process of continual renewal, by returning back to stillness and space.

This involves us stepping out of the play into the light that illuminates that play, the still light of consciousness.  A description of such a step was formulated thousands of years ago in Kashmir. It provides advice on the art of 'Centring'.

Enter space, supportless, eternal, still.



 

The fully perfected circle can only be achieved by constantly holding in mind the circle's still centre.  This is true of any circle.  It is certainly true of the soul's perfected circle.  

Practice:
 
Find the stillness and space
from which arises action which is
clear, articulate and beautifully measured to the need.

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