“I will show you a philtre without potions, without herbs, without any witch’s incantation – if you wish to be loved, love.” — Seneca
One of the reasons I like aphorisms so much is demonstrated perfectly by this one, from our old friend Seneca, whose contributions to historical wisdom frequently grace these pages. Without fuss, without bother, and with great clarity, he delivers one short, pithy statement, that serves to provide the reader with a piece of knowledge that will serve them well their entire life, if they are able to absorb it, meld it into their own beliefs, and use it as a guide for moral, ethical, or merely honorable behavior…. In other words, good advice in a few words…..
It isn’t as simple, or as easy as it appears; I know, I’ve tried…. I’ve come up with a few, but, I’ve noticed that even those are a matter of recycling knowledge that has been part of human lore for generations. There is good reason behind the old adage about “nothing new under the sun”…. I find countless examples of statements from historical figures, like Seneca, or Plutarch, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, or any of their contemporaries, where the same idea has been re-stated, sometimes in a better way, others not so much….
But, no matter who said it, or how well it was said, many of these sages gave us pearls, of Real wisdom, that have proved their worth by their survival into the present, with the same degree of truth and relevance they held when they were first uttered. They also demonstrate another point that comes up here at ECR regularly, which is how little human nature has changed over the centuries since mankind first began making observations about himself as a species….
Each of the names I mentioned above, at one time or another, has given us some statement that describes a problem they faced in their society, usually from the pre-Christian era, which makes it well over 2000 years ago. I find that virtually every kind of issue that was described as being a problem for them remains as troublesome today, for us, as it was for them….
Mostly, those things are involved with how people get along, or not, i.e. the results of how they treat each other…. It seems we’ve always been plagued with a certain percentage of assholes in the demographics of our populations, whether we were living in caves, or in magnificent cities….. The assholes have always been with us, and have always made their presence known in such a way that we still hear about it today….
This is the primary reason for my own skepticism about the future; if we haven’t been able to find any viable, permanent solutions to the actions of those few of us who don’t give a shit about the others in the 5000 years or more we’ve been talking about it, then what makes us think we’ll be able to solve those issues now? Well, nothing, really…. I don’t think we will be able to solve that issue, and I don’t think we’re going to make it, in the long run…. not without making some major changes, and I don’t see any way that will happen….
All of this, I suppose, was a long winded, ranty sort of way to try to find something interesting to write about for an opening…. I didn’t really intend to come to such a moribund, morbid conclusion, at least, not so early, and not without some more lucrative ranting (lucrative in terms of venting more angst than this mild-mannered outburst could ever provide….), but, I suppose logic dictated the outcome more than desire, so, we’ll just have to deal….
I note, however, with some small degree of pride and satisfaction that yes, we DO have enough to call this an intro, even if it really doesn’t resemble one much at all…. For today, it’s the best I’ve got, and it will have to do…. I’ll try to be a bit more optimistic in what comes after, okay?…. More like the original pearl from Seneca….
Shall we Pearl?….
“Those whom true love has held, it will go on holding.” — Seneca
It’s going to be an “interesting” day…. I can feel it in my bones, which are, this morning, quite sensitive, almost radar-like in their ability to sense the tenor of the near future…. Of course, that may just be a side effect of the spinal degeneration I suffer from, but, hey, I like to think positively…. Well, I like to TELL myself that a lot, anyway, even if it isn’t so…. Regardless of all that, I’ve made another unilateral decision about the structure of today’s effort….. We’re going to go old-school here in section one, saving the final section for whatever today’s designated ranting session may produce….
I DID, unfortunately, possibly blunt any such ranting that may occur, what with the depressive little meander through the intro, down the lane of logic to that maudlin, if all-too-realistic conclusion….. But, we’ll see how it goes…. The mood I’m in, anything could happen…. For now, I’ll let Smart Bee have his head to pick out some likely-looking pearls for you to chew on this morning with your granola, and, hopefully, coffee…. If you’re at all like me, NOTHING happens without coffee, first…. Any who, let’s dive….
“Why, when no honest man will deny in private that every ultimate problem is wrapped in the profoundest mystery, do honest men proclaim in pulpits that unhesitating certainty is the duty of the most foolish and ignorant? Is it not a spectacle to make the angels laugh?We are a company of ignorant beings, feeling our way through mists and darkness, learning only be incessantly repeated blunders, obtaining a glimmering of truth by falling into every conceivable error, dimly discerning light enough for our daily needs, but hopelessly differing whenever we attempt to describe the ultimate origin or end of our paths; and yet, when one of us ventures to declare that we don’t know the map of the universe as well as the map of our infinitesimal parish, he is hooted, reviled, and perhaps told that he will be damned to all eternity for his faithlessness…” — Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), “An agnostic’s Apology”, — Fortnightly Review, 1876
“Death is just the ultimate expression of radical solipsism.” — Smart Bee
“Except for our thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.” — Descartes
“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” — Jerry Garcia (1942-1995), Musician, the Greatful Dead — Rolling Stone magazine, (November 30, 1989)
“If you shut up truth, and bury it underground, it will but grow.” — Emile Zola
“Archimedes had stated, that given the force, any given weight might be moved; and even boasted that if there were another earth, by going into it he could remove this.” — Plutarch (46-120 AD) — Life of Marcellus
“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.” — Edmund Burke (1729-1797) — Reflections on the Revolution in France, — Letter i, On a Regicide Peace, Vol. v, p. 331
“The best measure of a man’s honesty isn’t his income tax return. It’s the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.” — Arthur C. Clarke
“It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.” — C. W. Leadbeater
See? I told you today would be “interesting”…. This is a very good pearl, all in all, but, as you can see, it took NINE pearls to reach the point it was trying to make….. I knew that if I let SB have his head, it would work out fine, and, well, I was right…. Yay….
I’m including this poem today for the simple reason that I enjoy this format for poems…. I’ve seen about a half dozen of these ‘trilogy’ poems, with three complete poems in one (Each side, by itself, is one poem, making two; together, they make another complete poem, which completes the trilogy….); each time, I am impressed by the discipline and creativity of the authors….. This one is a bit shorter than others I’ve seen, but, nonetheless, is quite as amusing as any I’ve read…. I hope you find it as interesting as I do….
How doth the little busy bee How skillfully she builds her cell!
Improve each shining hour, How neat she spreads the wax!
And gather honey all the day And labours hard to store it well
From every opening flower! With the sweet food she makes.
I would be busy too; Let my first years be passed,
For Satan finds some mischief still That I may give for every day
For idle hands to do. Some good account at last.
~~ Isaac Watts (1674-1748) ~~
Divine Songs, Song xx
My searches through the archives of old Pearls turned up this little discussion of the Tao, which, in the mood I’m in today, will serve to complete the day’s effort, much better than if I tried to use my current state of mind to create something fresher….. If nothing else, it’s less morbid than any ranting I could do, and therefore, fits in with our pledge to try to be more positive today….
Besides, as we all know, I’m lazy, and don’t much feel like working up the energy to rant…. This morning, I’m more in the mood to blow off the day altogether, so, completing this pearl, even WITH the archived material, will allow me to at least SAY that I disciplined myself, as much as I intend to do at all…..
In other words…. Here, read this, and enjoy…. because, it’s what I’ve got, and it will have to do….
“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right actions arises by itself?” — Lao Tzu
Ever since being first exposed to the precepts of Taoism, back when I was in college in the late 60’s, it has always appealed to my sense of rightness, because, as a philosophy, it makes the closest approach to what I personally believe about the Universe at large.
Not the mystical parts, those that catered to the religious order of the time, when the concept was first was clarified by Lao Tzu, but, rather, the essence of the concept of reality, as being both within our perception, and unknown to us as beyond our understanding. We may not possess the necessary sense to be capable of receiving such information, whether about reality or fantasy, and if we assume the omnipotence of a god, then we would not be able to comprehend their existence, lacking the tools to perceive them with our five or six senses…..
This knowledge, however, is tempered by the deduction that, as a physical part of the universe, we are connected to it, and to every other part, if only by sharing that existence. The connection, intuitively, is deeper than merely the physical; it extends somehow into the spiritual plane, which, though not tangible, is nonetheless a proven part of our mental reality. (What IS the mind?)
It is this very lack of the ability to explain by which we may know the connection exists, as it echoes the nature of reality itself, which cannot be explained in words. Goodness knows why I’m trying, to be sure…. this is getting pretty esoteric, although, so far, it is consistently rational, if not entirely illuminating.
“Since everything in life is but an experience perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst out in laughter.” — Long Chen Pa
What better way to acknowledge, and celebrate, the perfection that we can see, or hear, feel, smell, taste, or imagine?…… Laughter is certainly preferable to a long, dusty discussion of esoteric concepts, and will encourage enlightenment just as efficiently, if not quite so verbally. In some way, I’m always looking for the perfect quote, the ultimate aphorism, that delivers that cosmic truth we are all seeking in one swell foop…. The above line from Long Chen Pa comes very close to it, especially when considered in the light of what we were able to conclude, from considering the answers to the first two questions today. As a Westerner who has learned to appreciate what the East brings us, the following resonates very well….
“Somehow, in the midst of their horrid history, the best among the “gaijin” learned a wonderful lesson. They learned to distrust themselves, to doubt even what they were taught to believe or what their egos make them yearn to see. To know that even truth must be scrutinized, it was a great discovery, almost as great as the treasure we of the East have to offer them in return, the gift of harmony.” — David Brin – Dr. Pak’s Preschool
There’s the key, ffolkes, right there in front of you…. Even Truth must be scrutinized, or the universe will have its way with you, and you may never find the gift of harmony that is also there for the taking….. There, not so esoteric, after all…. not too shabby, eh what?…..
“The ancient Taoist sages were poised…. like ice on the verge of melting.” — Taoist proverb
Having already been treated to more discussion of my mood than is either healthy or wise, I’ll forgo any further references to that, and just say this in response to all of the above….. Hmm….
That being said, I’m outta here….. See y’all tomorrow, providing fortune continues to smile upon us….
Y’all take care out there,
and May the Metaphorse be with you;
Blessed Be, dearest Carole, Mark, and Theresa…
and everyone else, too…
When I works, I works hard.
When I sits, I sits loose.
When I thinks, I falls asleep.
Which is Why….
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.
gigoid the dubious