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The Philosopher: Conrad and Heraclitus
I met Conrad again during one of my walks in the woods. He is a strong, young Park Ranger, very handsome in his brown uniform, solid hiking boots and large hat. Conrad takes care of animals, trees, and people in the large National Park close to my house in Eastern Ontario, Canada.
"Hi Conrad, what's new?"
"Lots new: the last storm felled several old trees and a few of them plunged into the river and we must take them out before the ice comes. The forest is getting ready for winter, and you know, I was thinking about 'changes' as we talked the other day. You are right, this forest is changing all the time, lots of life and death is going on here, but finally it is always the same forest where I roamed as a kid! And the same tree sprouts out again, the same wildlife renew itself, the river and the ponds are booming with old and new life, it is incredible! Since we talked I have been watching all this more closely and I know that this landscape is thousand of years old. It is just Mother Earth at its best, young and old at the same time!
"Yes, Conrad, this is exactly what Heraclitus of Ephesus said: 'One law rules Cosmic manifestation, the constant fluctuation and the contrast between opposites.'
"He also said: 'I myself, am alive and dead at the same time, I am awake and sleeping, I am young and old; disease makes health desirable, rest is appreciated when we are tired, food taste better when we are hungry; we really appreciate peace when there is war.'
"You see, Conrad, this is the same as you experience in the forest. The fluctuations between opposites compel us always to take decisions. Our life is a constant problem solving exercise. The need to make choices is what develops our intelligence, our intuition, our capacity and willingness to survive and refine our skills!"
"Right on, my lady, some time we think that we have bad luck, but that is just a trick of the Cosmic Powers, so that we catch the right path!"
"I will think about that! Bye now!"
And Conrad disappeared in the woods!
Some of your responses
Howard: Human technology certainly has evolved but human nature - probably not. I suppose the question arises, should it have? Theoretically I suppose we should be learning from history that events are caused by human nature and have developed an awareness of this so that when conflict arises we're sophisticated enough to work around the difficulty. Perhaps that's too big an ask for mere human beings.
Mafran: You ask, should human nature have evolved, independently of technology? Indeed, it has actually evolved. Points: slavery is not acceptable any more, children must be respected, women must be respected, minorities must be respected, we can travel everywhere, we can learn everything. Are there negative evolution points? Yes: big corporations are dominated by fear and greed, the lowest possible animal instincts; religious extremism is on the rise. What does it means? Tendencies, or diseases, before disappearing tend to get worst; it is the typical pre-resolution crisis. The point now is that we can talk about without being burned at the stake. So, there is a positive evolution, but we are still too far away in ethics as compared to the technical development that we have reached. Yes, as you say, we should have learned more from history! More discussion about all this would be great!
Howard: I have the impression that Socrates was condemned to death for a little more than this statement. He was regarded as having a negative influence on the young - to the point of sedition. Undoubtedly the interpretation was incorrect - but nevertheless it was considered that his influence on young Athenians was harmful.
Mafran: Socrates was a strong stimulation factor and therefore not acceptable for the 'establishment' at the time in Athens. He was an intellectual rebel and since that time all rebels have been killed. In our days, they may become 'stars'!
Dave Metzler: Mafran, I like the direction you are taking and the powerful snippets you obviously have embarked upon to dish us up with over time. Your hors d' uvre is tasty and appetising and "on-the-nail." Life, is a gift, a wonderful opportunity, yours is yours entirely to use as you direct! Use it wisely and you live the reward, use it selfishly and live the consequences.
Wisdom, you may interject, is in the interpretation thereof, but you have cleared the mystery by initiating the value base! You have, in my humble yet reasonable opinion, answered the mystery upfront. Live your life with values based on the opposite of robbery, hate and deceit. Live your life with love for yourself and others and bask in the heat of it!
Canada, where you live, is of course an excellent example of first world standards, we in South Africa on the other hand are a well entrenched third world entity. South Africa is wonderful geographic spot on the world atlas, yet fraught with crime and grime. We lead the world in horror. My moral education programme is an attempt to address the total decline in human behavioural standards here: coolvalues.co.za.
Ken: What am I doing wrong to attract unemployment and homelessness?
Mafran: Difficult situation! But then 30 years ago I had a terminal cancer and was supposed to die in 3 months, with all lymph nodes invaded. Yes, difficult situations happen to everybody. There are no simple words. Can you just by a jump in your will decide to feel unconditional Love toward the Universe? You see, that is the test. Just go the opposite way with all your strength. Nothing to lose, nothing you are attached to. You already have lost it all, so this is the right moment to try your real power, cosmic power, vital force, new vibration, put everything upside down! You are in the perfect situation to real greatness. Forget yourself and start helping homeless people, invent new perspectives, create a new universe. Thirty years ago I decided that I would not die of cancer. I did not. I gathered the most wild power of survival, the most elementary force. And I used it patiently for years until I won the battle. Subtle-Force be with you!
Ken: I appreciate the inspiration, and I do understand releasing, extinguishing old thought patterns. You are also right, that I have nothing to lose, so yes, it is a time to foment and unleash real power! Like you, I do not look at my dire circumstances as my destiny!
Mafran: I wish you the best and think about this... Human life is all about 'problem solving,' this is the rule of the big game. In order to truly develop our potential intelligence, consciousness, intuition, we need to be faced with difficult problems that need to be solved. Take it as a gift of Nature, you are free now to create a new something that is just the expression of your full potential! Go for it!
Andy: As to the meaning of life, I'd say it's to do with learning in the moment, to the point where you learn to be connected in every moment and realize that as all things are one it is impossible to be alone. That life as we know it is really an illusion of our own making, and if we don't like it we should change our perspective. As to what happens after we pass on, what is the point in wasting this moment worrying about the future - or the past for that matter - the only time we can do anything about anything is in the present. The fact that regeneration is apparent in nature all around us should give us some clue as all things are moulded on the source - then recycle, regenerate, reincarnate are the natural way of things.
Mafran: You are right, all is an illusion, but most people take it seriously and kill, rob, damage everything, so if we just sit and insist on "the illusion," we also lose the illusion... See what I mean? This not only an illusion, it is both illusion and reality. Similarly, we have two legs and I don't want to have one leg cut off! By the way, what are you doing to survive? Whatever you are doing, try to do it well, I mean really great!
The quality of our life is what counts! At any age! Serenity and tolerance, cooperation, not competition!
Dear friends, thank you! To all of you who sent comments and personal answers to my questions about ancient philosophy. There is much more to come, but at this point I just want to thank you for your cooperation and your inspiring words.
From what you all told me, I understand that there is a common desire for Peace, for inner and outer Peace, at all levels! It is very important that this desire was expressed by many with profound and sincere insights.
The practical method for attaining the desired inner Peace consists in controlling our thoughts. What are we thinking all the time? What are the grey-cells chatting about? Are we vibrating with the joy of Goodness and Beauty? If we are not, then we could try to do so. Our senses should perceive only Beauty, nothing else. We don't want to perceive anything else.
Only Goodness and Beauty exist, only that Cosmic Perfection exists. What is not Goodness and Beauty is produced by the low vibrations of insufficiently developed people. We don't help at all by lowering our vibrations at their level. We can certainly help by elevating our vibrations even more and be patient and wait until people develop. Every human being is destined to evolve to perfection, sooner or later. The whole human race is an important tool for Cosmic Evolution. No human will be left behind. The unique destiny of each of us is Goodness and Beauty. We may need thousands of repeated incarnations to understand this great truth, but there is no doubt that eventually we will 'understand.'
This poem is the beginning of the Isa Upanishad, from the ancient Yajur Veda, a five or six thousand years old Eastern tradition:
Whatever being lives, moves
And breathes on Earth
At every level from atom
To galaxy is absolutely perfect in its place
Precise and choreographed.
Because "That" flows from the Glory of God,
Awareness, Peace, and Love,
And is therefore Perfect.
When you have surrendered your ego To "That"
You will find true happiness.
Never ever envy the place of Any other man or woman."