I am alone.
I need solitude: to feel, to think, to be me.
I am seriously intense and potent.
It is all part of it.
Today is the first day before tomorrow,
And the last day before the past.
There is bliss, I have felt it.
There is also pain (who hasn’t felt that)
To be whole and alive I need to read and write.
It beats the hell out of sleeping (I need that too.)
I can love or feel it for longer than most people do it.
I feel too much. I think too much. I need to be alone too much for your average care bear.
In this dialogue, the student is learning to be a philosopher. To love wisdom, is a way of being and it requires passion and reason. The philosopher is showing the student the ways to learn in order to find the best ways to apply the knowledge to being a student. At this point, the student has been a teacher for many years. But the philosopher is the real old boy. Even though the student has good understanding of teaching, he does not know how to be a philosopher. The frustration the student feels is muddying his ability to learn. So, the philosopher is showing him how to clean his mind and practice being a philosopher.
Student: I have gone to school for many years. And I have been a teacher for just as long. I am even beginning to see how and why I must give up knowledge and power to become a philosopher. But why must I keep all this wisdom to myself?
Philosopher: I must still be a student, teacher and keep all this wisdom to myself. What do you want to know?
S: Epictetus is a great Stoic. He never wrote down a word, but he shared his knowledge and wisdom. He had power. Why can’t I do as he did?
P: You are not Epictetus. He learnt using the great Socratic method. Can you do that method and still be a philosopher?
S: You teach me using riddles. What do you mean? Speak plainly, tell me the truth.
P: I do not know the truth. You might answer this question yourself, if you were not ready to throw in the towel. All those great philosophers and all the history of their ways allow us to find a method that works for us. At some point, the fact and experience will allow the willing to give up power and knowledge to become a philosopher.
S: Yes, I understand I must apply the principles to my own experience, but why must I give up power and wisdom?
P: Just for one minute a day, try giving it up. This is how another great philosopher learnt to put principles into practice.
S: You make it sound like a history lesson. You are just a leached out old grandfather trying to tell me how to live the good life.
P: Yes, and you are tired of giving up your power and wisdom.
S: No I’m not, you keep telling me to do it.
P: I’m going to stop. You must walk your own way. Hold on to power and wisdom for one minute each day and keep at it for a whole month, if you can. But at the same time, give up power and wisdom for a minute at another convenient time on the same day, compare the two, try it for a whole month. See if you can tell which one leads to the truth. However, if you can learn to practice being a philosopher everyday, you may just become like the ‘leached out old grandfather’.
In this dialogue, the myth of a better way is exploited by the two principle players. Yet, as with the idea of the old cliché, sometimes it is more important to do than to believe. Each of us has a body and mind to guide us on this journey we call life. It is not always proper to spell out the differences based on what we say and do. It is easy to be mislead by belief, desires, and even passion. But they all influence our choices, actions, and even belief. It may seem simplistic to say each to their own, but the truth does not lie. And somewhere in there we can begin to be a better person.
History: One must have a laser focus and use the best method.
Herstory: What do you mean? Tell me, or show me, if you must.
His: Aristotle had some amazing ideas, but until Ptolemy and other Aristotle disciples can see past their noses, I can not see anyone progressing much beyond this ‘fire and brimstone’ way of being.
Hers: Being human is a messy business. We fight over life itself. We must live, love, laugh?
His: I propose a reexamining of history based on the method used by the great philosophers. This way, we can stay the course till we find a firm footing on belief or way.
Hers: I believe you (I believe you believe you). In which method, there are many methods or at least there are more methods than we use at present.
His: I realize the scientific method has sent us too far down the road. One needs compassion, the east has shown us that we need manners and methods and compassion.
Hers: These seem to go out the window during a fight. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
His: A good fight wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Hers: War? Peace? Pestilence?
His: Morals and ethics?
Hers: There lies the rub. What is the solution?
In this dialogue, it is important to note that Alexander the Great had passed away and many of his mighty generals were fighting over power, property, and politics. As many riches were being used to forge forms out of great ideas. Many individuals awakened to ideas and resources, as if the treasures of the world had suddenly materialized. The banquet begins with a group of philosophers attending lectures at the two great schools. And in their midst’s, grow other fine schools described by the teachers.
Skeptic: As the latest newcomer, I have many questions. I shall leave no stone unturned, because knowledge is power. And we believe to know is to understand which will build the mind, body and use of everything else. This method creates a journey and the proper use of impressions. Yet, did not Plato mean the same truth when he and others questioned living the good life?
Forms: I’m afraid, my friend the skeptic is just a division of another of Plato’s forms. There are other way’s to question. We now see many schools in Athens: Plato, Aristotle, Epicurean, Stoic, Cynic and Skeptic. These I call schools but they are ways to live the good life or so they all claim.
S: Yes, I agree these schools compete in Athens. Today we all crave fame and fortune. We all claim to know how to live the good life. But have we defined our terms of reference? Are each of us, as individuals, able to live the good life in our own way? In this way, could we have all found the way? Look to the east, are there not ways that work for many people?
F: Many people need terms or definitions: religion, philosophy, ideas, poetry, and more. We leave the system open, closed and in degrees of these two extremes. We all seek answers, knowledge, power, wealth, materials. Some of us more than others. There is too many variables to define even one way.
S: Yet, we have joined together to practice universality in our schools. We explore many more ways to reach a better way. Our answers we use to build a mind in ourselves to be better people, governments, institutions; we are creating information and technology.
F: We chase our tails and we invent toys. We fight intellectually. We even fight to find ourselves. Like our friends the Cynics, who give up all possessions to find their true selves. They are truly philosophical and homeless. And yet, freedom, equality, and many fine ideas are here to stay. We build great cities.
S: I want to have the ultimate answer. But like Plato, I realize it will not unveil itself to me in this body. I must die. I must be as good as I can be. We all struggle for peace. The stoic says not to dwell on pleasure. The Epicurean says not to dwell on pain. Plato’s school tries to build the heaven on earth. Aristotle’s school tries to let each individual do his best. The Cynic takes it to the finest degree as you have said about the homeless philosopher. And I, as a skeptic, will question all these ways and build my own. Who is right?
F: I insist Plato is right. But we all insist we are right. More people will find more ways. It is an epic story that will build institutions, governments, philosophies, information, technology and some semblance of peace and prosperity.
In this dialogue, me and my future are at stake in the real drama of my life. Everyone of us stand beside ourselves and choose which way to live. In a real sense we are athletes that exercise our brains to have more of what works in our day to day lives. In this conversation, a time traveler pleads for help: simplicity, compassion and patience.
Me: How are you doing old boy?
Old Boy: You certainly sound chipper!
M: What happened to your leg?
OB: Broke it in a biking accident.
M: Looks lame.
OB: Yup. Do you ride?
M: Yup. And I wouldn’t give it up for nothin.
OB: Could ya slow down?
M: What’s the fun in that?
OB: Is it worth it?
OB: Can you prevent an accident? Would you want to try?
M: Ofcourse I would.
OB: Slow down.
M: Train your Brain, the best way, mindful, knowing yourself. I wish I’d spent more time allowing myself to discover the wonderful nature of my mind.
OB: It’s not to late. Who knows, small steps every day will add up. Either to a broken lame leg or a better one.
M: Like changing a brain can save lives? You must be joking?
OB: No, I am a safety first kinda guy. But start with yourself first. You can’t help anyone if you don’t help yourself.
M: What no ‘love your neighbor ‘?
OB: Ya, train your brain, train your body, train your family and friend and your neighbor. Maybe, tip the world to go in a better direction. But start at the source. Use a little simplicity, compassion and patience. Your choice.
In this dialogue, two famous philosophers talk about societal problems as acceptable male behaviour. Why do we need to hear it? Because it shows the extreme poverty that culture has had in the past. It also explains the need for treating people better, wiser, with sanity: a charter of human rights is essential.
Plato: none of them are Greek therefore none of them are fit for serious study.
Aristotle: Yes, if future generations see our chauvinism as bad what would they think of us condoning paedophilia treating women as subordinate or slavery?
P: I do not chase boys or harass women but a slave is the treaty question.
A: We mostly tolerate these bad habits of our Greek upper class but what of it. Doesn’t every culture have bad habits.
P: Socrates would say these habits are better left unpracticed.
A: Do you agree?