Socrates the truth of midwifery

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Socrates the truth of midwifery

Post by greentara » Sat May 18, 2013 6:01 am

"(Oh, and if any person tries to tell me Eat, Pray, Love or anything written by Osho is "wisdom" you are a moron and you deserve to remain dog-paddling in your thimble of self-delusion and pass it onto to your doomed drooling children).

Anyway, to kick off my reading, I thought I'd give Plato's Republic a go because it's been a best-seller since before Jesus was born and has been discussed, dissected and desecrated for more than 2400 years.

What's fascinating about the work is its startling relevance, with one early conversation illustrating to me how little people have changed.

If you didn't know, Republic is actually a reconstruction of the conversations of Plato's teacher Socrates, who was murdered by the Athenian state because he thought too much and the big boys didn't dig the implications of his teachings.

Early in the Republic, Socrates is pretty much bullied into going to party at a dude named Polemarchus's home, where Socrates strikes up a conversation with Polemarchus's old and frail father Cephalus.

Socrates' thing was to ask questions - he didn't actually consider himself a teacher but a "midwife" (like his mother was) to help other people give birth to the correct understanding of things; to bring it out of themselves.

Anyway, Socrates asks Cephalus how old age is treating him, whether it's a difficult time.

"Zeus!" exclaimed Cephalus. "Ill tell you, Socrates, just how it appears to me. Often times a group of us gets together, as most people of a similar age are always supposed to do, and most of the group spends its time moaning about how they miss the pleasures of youth, reminiscing about the sex, the drinking, the parties and everything else that goes with that, and complaining as if they'd lost things that were important.

"But my view is they are blaming the wrong thing. If old age were responsible, I would have been experiencing the same thing as everyone else who has grown old as I have. But, in point of fact, I've encountered others, in the past, who like myself don't feel that way; not the least the poet Sophocles.

"I once witnessed someone asking him, 'Sophocles, how is it with you and sex nowadays? Can you still make love to a woman?' 'Quiet man! he replied. 'It's my greatest delight to have got away from all that, like a slave from the raving of a savage master.'

"I thought even then this was a good answer, and I still do. Old age really does bring a lot of peace from things like sex, a lot of freedom; when our desires slacken off and cease to exercise us, it really is as if we're freed from a whole collection of slave masters, all of them raving mad."

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Re: Socrates the truth of midwifery

Post by Wayfarer » Sat May 18, 2013 8:11 am

I love the Republic, and Platonist philosophy generally. I think it is a deeply spiritual, but in ways that few appreciate.

There is an irony that you should post that particular passage here. I was posting on another forum earlier today on a thread about why early Buddhist texts said that 'sensory desire is a poison'. During that discussion I said I thought that sex is massively over-rated in the modern west. The shock! How could anyone think such a thing? It is just sooooo non-PC to say that.

So I agree with Sophocles, although I'm not there yet, I think I'm younger than he was then....but I definitely see where he's coming from.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Socrates the truth of midwifery

Post by greentara » Sat May 18, 2013 8:56 am

In this culture you can never say that sex is massively over rated. You'd be thought of as puritanical or even (yawn) plain dull. You have to laugh, people are always clamouring for more....more is better.
It's got nothing to do with age. Whe you're ripe the desire naturally falls away. Just pause and think of Indrajala.

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