Friday, April 13, 2012

Channeling Socrates - My Mentor and Teacher


When the metaphysical and natural worlds collide.

It's Friday the 13th, a bewitching day.  I'm now convinced no one knows the truth about anything anymore, particularly the so called news media.  As near as I can tell about 75% of all news content is manufactured, whether lame street, main street, cable or blogger news.

So today, I'm going out on a limb into the metaphysical world for news we can use from afar.  I decided to channel Socrates, my favorite Greek philosopher.  If you don't know channeling it is reaching out to someone dead for contact and for guidance on what the hell is going on in the world.

And that brings me to Socs, my source for channeling Socrates.  Socs is a quite handsome groundhog who lives in my shed.  He reminds me of Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, so I called him Socs for short.  The way he stands on his hind feet so regally, as if all the wisdom in the world was his.  Maybe it is?

When I see the old boy I like to channel the real Socrates through him.  Haven't we all channeled someone in our life?  Why not Socrates?  And why pay someone else to channel him?  Besides, what else are you going to do with a groundhog that hangs around your backyard and lives in your garage?

Socrates is considered one of the greatest thinkers of all time. This was not because he was the most intelligent, it was because he knew he didn’t know everything. He enjoyed questioning people and getting them to think deeper and he would consider other’s opinions.

I told him I was thinking about the sorry state of affairs in the world and asked him why if almost half the world claim to be Christians and Muslim and the Bible and the Qur'an say we should love, respect and care for everyone, why is there so much hatred, contempt, prejudiced and envy in the world?

Old Socs looked at me for a long time, then said:

"Back in the Classical Greek period (Socrates lived from 469 BC to 399 BC) when I was responsible for civilized people there were no Christians or Muslims and Jesus and Mohammed weren't even born, that would come hundreds of years later.

But we were civilized.  Some say it was the golden age of mankind.  Maybe the fact Christianity and Islam didn't exist explains the problem of today."

[That might have been an attempt by the wily old philosopher at humor.  It is hard to tell when I'm channeling a stoic groundhog.]

Then again he might be right.  Even before Christianity and Islam people still had problems with morality and every now and then God or Allah or someone would bring down the Walls of Jericho or turn some lady into a pillar of salt.

For a time good people would prevail then things would slip back into what we find today.

So I asked Socs if we were heading into a good time or bad.

"Over the last 2,500 years there have been plenty of good times and bad.  Yet after 10,000 years of civilization we are no closer to truth, love or freedom for people.  If the core is corrupt then the cancer will continue to spread.

Fear, greed and similar human maladies are the result of a breakdown in morality and ethics.  I used to teach Plato and Aristotle and the others about these virtues and they wrote some pretty good accounts of my teaching, but nothing much has changed the last 2,600 years."

Why didn't you ever write books like your students?

"Look, when you have the brightest philosophical minds in history in your class it is all you can do to keep them learning.  I mean we had no cell phones or computers, not even typewriters.  When we did write it took giant parchments and lots of time which I didn't have.

Besides, that was long before copyrights and royalties.  Back then being prolific meant teaching others, not lining one's own pockets with gold.  We were taken care of as teachers but none of us became rich."

So what about books about Atlantis by Plato and the Odyssey and Iliad about Greek mythology?  Were they attempts at Greek fantasy?

"Who said they were fantasy?  If you accept the nature of man to embellish, to not understand some of what he saw, and his desire to be revered as a storyteller, then you might accommodate a bit of a stretch of the truth in these stories.

So my approach was always allow the writer a little latitude but search for the truth in all that is written.  The only reason you might mistake a truth for a fantasy is if you have such a narrow range of definition to eliminate the possibility of truth.

Truth is in all things."

What is the truth about our world today?

"Now that is a challenging question, proposition or theory.  Perhaps I should consult Zeus?  Short of that, I must say the obsession of mankind to know the absolute truth and to take ownership of that truth is among the most hypocritical tasks ever undertaken.

There is light, the truth, and dark, the fear.  Mankind is nothing if not both and finding the proper balance between them is the goal of every generation, as our ancient Chinese brothers would say.

In Chinese culture, Yin and Yang represent the two opposite principles in nature. Yin characterizes the feminine or negative nature of things and yang stands for the masculine or positive side. Yin and yang are in pairs, such as the moon and the sun, female and male, dark and bright, cold and hot, passive and active, etc. But yin and yang are not static or just two separated things. The nature of yinyang lies in interchange and interplay of the two components. The alternation of day and night is such an example.

The concept of yinyang has a long history. There are many written records about yinyang, which can be dated back to the Yin Dynasty (about 1400 - 1100 BC) and the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 - 771 BC). Yinyang is the basis of Zhouyi (Book of Changes), the jing part of which was written during the Western Zhou. Yinyang became popular during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC) and the Warring States (475 - 221 BC).

The principles of yinyang are an important part of Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine), the earliest Chinese medical book, written about 2,000 years ago. They are still important in traditional Chinese medicine and fengshui today.

Here is a summary of the characteristics of yinyang. Yin and yang are opposite in nature, but they are part of nature, they rely on each other, and they can't exist without each other. The balance of yin and yang is important. If yin is stronger, yang will be weaker, and vice versa. Yin and yang can interchange under certain conditions so they are usually not yin and yang alone. In other words, yin can contain certain part of yang and yang can have some component of yin. It is believed that yinyang exists in everything."

Does that mean we might be out of balance?

"Unfortunately it is hard, very hard, to find any time when you were in balance.  Look around you.  Do you see balance?  Are people respected regardless of their personal views?  Of course not, they are condemned by those who assume the role of the Gods and judge people.

Do you serve the people because it is right or because the government has something you want?  Do you serve out of humility or greed, for grace or profit?

Throughout our history health care and medicine were always provided by holy people, Druids, Shamans, Indigenous Medicine people, Chinese doctors, Chinese herbologists, Chinese acupuncturists from the oldest of days to the present.

For thousands of years highly educated and sometimes mystical people provided these services at no cost to the people.  Once you introduced Western Medicine with medical fees and started regulating drugs you stopped healing people and now had an incentive to keep them sick.

Now even the ancient healing techniques and disciplines are discouraged from use because they are not covered by health insurance.  Ancient herbs cannot be patented therefore they are being forced off the market by pharmaceutical companies.

There is excessive and unnecessary testing of patients to generate fees and over prescription of drugs to generate kickbacks.  Is that yinyang?

Do you really think you are in balance?"

But if we seek the balance and the truth as you say, what does it get us?  Does it help people?  Does it make life easier?

"For Helen of Troy's sake don't ask me.  Look what it got me.  My government turned on me, arrested me and killed me.  What kind of treatment is that for what you call the greatest philosopher in history?

[Socrates was arrested, tried and found guilty of impiety (not worshipping the gods the state worships), corruption of the youth (infusing into the young persons the spirit of criticism of Athenian society), among other accusations.

His sentence was death by poisoning but they gave him a chance to avoid death by accepting exile from Greece.  The philosopher was taken to the near-by jail where his sentence would be carried out. Athenian law prescribed death by drinking a cup of poison hemlock. Socrates would be his own executioner.]

So what do you want to tell me?

"First don't kill teachers just because you don't agree with what they teach.  The rest was left long ago for you.

We wrote the book on a single deity, or God as you say.  The same with ethics, morality, mathematics and literature.  In fact we gave you what might have been the greatest period of cultural evolution in our history, the classical Greek period.

A treasure chest of priceless lessons and knowledge were left to you but you don't even have time to open the chest to see what is inside.

At the same time the Chinese were leaving other information in health, medicine, herbology and acupuncture to guide you through life with a healthy body, spirit and soul.

That was 2,500 years ago.  Look at what you did with the insights."

Anything else Socs?

I'll have to think about it and get back to you.  Oh, don't worry about the Mayan End Times thing.  We took a vote up here in the Magic Kingdom and decided ending it all was to easy on you.  First you have to clean up the mess you made."

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