Issue 859
This week's practice

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Dear Friends,

Mona Siddiqui was on Thought For the Day this morning.  She’s always worth listening to.  On this occasion she was talking about how we prove our worth as human beings in our relationships.  It’s here that we put into practice our values.

Primary amongst those values are reason and love.  These are the two that not only hold relationships together but society as a whole.  When those two are ignored then there is an inevitable break down, break down in the family, break down in society, conflict amongst nations.  It easily leads to vicious hatred of all kinds.  There is an alternative and that is the spirit of unity.

That spirit of unity was expressed in that beautiful letter penned by England's manger, Gareth Southgate.

Believe me. But, the reality is that the result is just a small part of it. When England play, there’s much more at stake than that.

Southgate is bemused as to why a person would racially abuse a footballer

 

GETTY
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Southgate is bemused as to why a person would racially abuse a footballer

“It’s about how we conduct ourselves on and off the pitch, how we bring people together, how we inspire and unite, how we create memories that last beyond the 90 minutes. That last beyond the summer. That last forever."

When the Danish footballer, Christian Ericson collapsed on the pitch in the first round of the Euros his side gathered round him so that he had privacy when he was being treated, but it wasn’t just that.  It was an expression of their unity and support, but that sense didn’t stop there.  It was expressed throughout the stadium with the crowd united in their care for Eriksen, Finnish fans chanting ”Christian!” and Danish fans responding with “Eriksen!”  In the face of potential tragedy it was a beautiful moment of solidarity.  The prompt medical intervention saved his life, but that outpouring of love from all supporters must have been healing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYmHefh0M3Q

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said:“At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong, and he and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone. I heard of fans of both teams chanting his name. Football is beautiful and Christian plays it beautifully.”

As it is said in Plato’s Symposium, beauty heals.

All the very best, William

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This week's reflection

BEAUTY HEALS

In Plato’s ‘Symposium’, the physician philosopher, Eryximachos. says:

Medicine must, indeed be able to make the most hostile elements in the body loving and friendly towards one another.  It was by means of knowing how to introduce ‘Eros’ and harmony in these that, as the poets say, and I also believe, our forefather Asclepios established this art of ours.



 

This was why in the ancient Greek health resorts of Asclepios exposure to beauty was an essential part of the treatment, and that included theatre like the beautiful one at Epidaurus.  From the text above you can see why.  It's a matter of using beauty to bring the mind and body back into harmony.  It wasn't for nothing that before Asclepios, Apollo, the leader of the muses, was also the god of healing.


 

These myths have within them the understanding that harmony of body follows harmony of mind, and harmony of mind is encouraged by the appreciation of beauty.  That beauty may manifest in many different ways, and people will inevitably possess their own appreciation, but without that sense of aesthetic pleasure being consciously developed in some way, both with what we see with our eyes and work upon with our minds and hands, the nourishing power of beauty will not have its effect.

To celebrate means to perform publicly in due form, to solemnize, to honour and extol.  All this has the effect of making known the inner qualities, their goodness and their beauty.  If the spiritual life is strong, the beauty that is found in the spiritual realm forces its way to the surface and finds expression.  When this happens it not only nourishes those immediately involved in its first creation, but it spreads and will be remembered.  A moment like the crowds response to the collapse of Christian Ericson will be remembered and so it should be.  It was a celebration of a kind of the beauty of the player himself but of the true nature of football, ‘the beautiful game'.


 

Plato's  Symposium is a record of a conversation about the nature of beauty and love.  It is one of the most famous of all philosophical works.  It's famous because it continues to be just as valid today as it was when it was written.  When we open ourselves to beauty and love we cannot help but be nourished, harmonised and healed.  Just like a community, an individual who is without these features has lost something essential about himself.  That has its inevitable effect.  Things become soulless and disjointed.  This is why it’s so vital to be aware of beauty and carry things of beauty with you as a reminder.  This is particularly important when you are feeling disconnected and discordant.

Practice:

Bring body and mind back into harmony
by consciously seeking beauty and harmony around you. 
Carry something of beauty with you as a constant reminder.

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