Issue 712
This week's practice

 

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Dear Friends,

It's been a long time since I was last in touch.  This wasn't because I'd given up on you, or, as some feared, life had given up on me.  The fact of the matter is that although I'm still undergoing treatment, it's very much to act as an insurance policy.  My consultant is so pleased with the experimental treatment he used on me that he is setting up large scale trials, which, if prove generally successful, is likely to completely change the treatment of the kind of leukaemia I had.

No, it's not me, it's the company that Wisdom Works is registered with that has caused the problem.  They 'upgraded' their systems and in the process mislaid Wisdom Works in the entrails of their computers.  Four of us have been on their case for weeks and at last the company - ironically enough called Easily - has sorted the problem out and we're back on line .  Then it's been a question of reregistering everybody, and so it’s gone on.

I’ve looked upon it as a good test of my philosophic resolve. I don’t know if I’ve altogether succeeded.  We all know from the semifinals how agonising extra time can be, but that hasn’t been the case for me in my life.  A friend asked me what it felt like being granted a new lease of life, and strangely enough I hadn’t given it much thought, or so I thought, but I do remember that after the initial heavy duty chemo hadn’t killed me off wondering what I would like to do if I pulled through.  I decided that what I wanted was to write some short courses called Philosophy as a Way of Life in which I would blend the Stoicism, Neo Platonism I had been studying with Advaita in a simple and practical way that people could use and apply for the benefit of themselves and others.

I’ve started writing the course notes.  Now all I need is for Wisdom Works to be fully functioning in order to promote the course.  I’ve learnt so much from direct experience in the last 18 months.  To be given the opportunity to pass that on would be wonderful, and the truth is, none of us know how long we’re granted.  One of the Stoic practices is not only to look upon life as if for the first but also as if for the last.  It certainly makes you value what you’ve been given and a determination to make full use of what the present has to offer, at least that’s my experience.

With my very best regards, William

This week's reflection

Live not as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours. Marcus Aurelius

The present is a potent time.  It's where everything lives.  We think about past , present and future as being the same sort of thing.  The truth is that our perception of the present is quite different from that of past and future.  The past is a recreation of what once existed, the future a speculative assessment of what might be.  Unlike these two, the present is not an imaginative exercise.  It's what actually is.  If we could but free ourselves from unnecessary concerns about the other two and make contact with the present and all that it offers, we would make contact with a reality that the other two do not have the power to possess.

The present is where the act of creation takes place.  For us to act creatively we should therefore make every effort to visit as much as possible.  This is our opportunity and we shouldn’t put it off.
 


 

We look back at the past, often with regret - time past.  We may often try to recreate the past in a more favourable sort of way, indulging ourselves in an 'if only' exercise, which is bound to be full of regrets and recriminations.  Likewise we may endeavour to look into the future in an attempt to divine what it holds in store.  Driven by desire, we often fill our minds with fearful expectation.  Cool reassessment of the facts and the creation of well laid plans do have their validity as long as it is appreciated that the longer we live in the past and future the longer we are missing out on real time : the time of opportunity.  When the ego becomes all demanding, the present must be coloured by ideas we have about ourselves, which by necessity are carried from the past to be projected onto the future, that time where we hope to gain something of what we desire and avoid what we fear.

The present is ours, but there is that part of us which is happy to put things off.  ‘We’ve got time.’  The truth is that we may not have the time we imagine, and even if there is time, the truth is the only time we truly possess is NOW.


 

Practice:

Discover this present time - the only time - In all its originality and particular power.

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Plato Forum

Expand Your World INNOVATION/COMMUNICATION/CREATIVE THINKING Sunday March 2nd 10am-5pm understand what life is asking of you. Tickets including tea and coffee available in advance from the office - 15

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