|Blissful baby smiling|
I have no real right or qualification to talk about meditation and philosophy as a chicken-keeping, dog-walking, sometime parent and grandparent, not having had a job of paid work since I started in this domestic state, with no degree in philosophy and the only degree I do have, a poor one in English. And yet about 50 years ago I woke up to two things. First, that life, although giving many moments of happiness, is full of suffering and as life progresses along, this becomes clearer and clearer. Walking along the street of any small town, you see it, old people suffering from the ailments of the old, young from all sorts of other things. Visiting people in hospital, it is writ even larger, joy and suffering are there hand in hand. When I was a new mother I met a woman who became my great friend I was struck by her beautiful way with children and her calmness. Luckily she was a neighbour with children the same age as min and it is no exaggeration to say that she woke something indefinable up in me, she woke my innermost person. And we also had a determined and extraordinary vicar in our local Church, determined that we should wake up to what he had to offer through his own faith. I hadn't met people who were motivated in any sort of spiritual way. I still have a lot of waking up to do but in that beginning of waking up, I knew that there was a truth and many people had found it, great and amazing people but ordinary and determined people so there might be a chance for me. Now, I have been writing a lot about babies and clearly I have been spending a lot of time around one new tiny one which has given me a chance to observe babies closely. It is clear that babies live in two worlds, the world they have come from and the world they have arrived in. The world they came from is maybe what we call heaven, it is that heavenly blissfulness that babies bring which make us fall in love, a purity which we can't resist. But they have come into this world and to keep that vision alive is much more of a challenge. But you see, I didn't deserve it but see what happened to me and what might happen to anyone.
|Bettany Hughes and Socrates|
I followed my new friend into a School of Philosophy. I didn't really get a lot of it but I knew I liked being there, I liked the people and felt strangely at home. The years passed, all of nearly 50 and during that time gradually gradually I began to wake up. I met people who had studied ancient philosophy, I started to meditate, I discovered that whatever God was, he or she had sent person after person into the world to make this Truth known. One of them was Socrates and he is getting really popular again. Have you listened to or heard of Bettany Hughes or maybe watched her on BBC 4 recently presenting Genius of the Ancient World talking about Socrates? And of course it was Plato who wrote down what Socrates did and what he meant. Socrates brought philosophy at its highest level into an Athens which was degenerating. The Athenians, being threatened, put him to death but Plato made him live just as Bettany Hughes makes him live for us. She has said that if she had her way "there would be a philosopher sitting round the table on every committee and in every boardroom,only then, as well as discussing the what and the how, would there be someone to ask the why? Why are we doing this? Is it for the common good?" I think she is right and my goodness we need one or two now.