Issue 795
This week's practice

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Dear Friends,

Speaking as one of those on the NHS endangered species list, it is undoubtedly true, these are difficult times we are living through, but there is isolation and isolation.  You may be in physical isolation but the mind doesn’t have to be locked up. 

And speaking of freedom, I read that the government is shifting policy away from so called personal freedom towards community awareness.  Maybe it’s something like Corona Virus that makes us aware of what we hold in common.  Three quarters of million volunteering, 20,000 retired nurses and doctors returning to the NHS, there is no doubt the spirit of community rises to the fore at times of crisis.

 

 

And that gives rise to an outpouring of gratitude for those on the front line of this emergency.  We all know people: our neighbour runs the A and E at St Thomas’s, a relation is an A and E nurse at Guy's, the same hospital as my own consultant.  If nothing else the current situation gives final proof of the ultimate worth of the NHS.

Nature bore us related to one another … She instilled in us a mutual love and made us compatible … Let us hold everything in common; we stem from a common source. Our fellowship is very similar to an arch of stones, which would fall apart, if they did not reciprocally support each other. Seneca

 

Hierocles’s expanding circles of compassion spells this out.  I was in conversation with friends in New Mexico on Face Time yesterday.  A text came in this morning from Sao Paulo.  We continue Philosophy As a Way of Life on Zoom.  We have been joined by a past class member now living in Boston.  Technology certainly gives us the means to stay in touch, but staying in touch means not only reaching out but also turning in.  The other thing that this time provides is the opportunity to reflect renew and reinvigorate in order that we might give ourselves all the more.

 

Harry Billings, a D Day veteran who received the MBE from the Queen earlier this month, was asked about what it's like being isolated, he says: "I don't mind. My mind is free."  

With all my best wishes, William

This week's reflection

LOVE IS THE PRICE OF LOVE

In a state of separation it is extremely difficult to give and to receive.  We are bound within a confine of our own making. 

All that we speak of in these emails is devoted to opening the heart and mind to a possibility, the possibility of a life lived in the spirit of love, where every encounter we have with life, positive or negative, may be looked upon as an opportunity to practise the law of love.  It is a life in which our fundamental ambition is to seek a greater opportunity for love’s expression - remembering always that it is not the greatness of the deed that counts but the spirit in which it offered.  There is one requirement in all this, an awareness of the need, not our need, but what events demands of us.  Love is not love when it places on the situation a personal demand.

If we hold ourselves as an individual to be all important, then that which the individual values - namely his own separate existence - must rule our experience of life.  This is, inevitably, a life of separation and division.  On one side lies Me and on the other lies the Rest, and our actions must be entirely ruled by this fundamental divide.  It is full of personal desire and frustration, and on every situation is inevitably placed a personal requirement. 

 

All this not only has the effect of cutting us off from a full and proper appreciation of the world around us but also from the divine qualities that lie within.  These divine qualities have their peculiar expression, and we are the only ones that can express them in our own peculiar way, but they are by nature universal, and, paradoxically, it is only by giving up the personal, that the universal can come to imbue the personal with all its magnificent qualities.  To rise out of a state of separation and to unite with those divine principles of beauty, love and joy, we must firstly accept they exist, deliberately bring them to mind, seek out evidence of their presence, and, in the process of embracing the universal, abandon petty and selfish concerns.

With thoughts of these principles constantly in mind, look again and again at what is presenting itself now.  Think how you might serve the situation rather than taking from it.  When we love something we can’t help but serve it.  Likewise, when we offer selfless service, love must follow from it.

Love is the gift of oneself, and in giving we receive.  Love is the true price of love, and therefore if we wish to receive love we must first seek the means of giving it.

PRACTICE:  

Each of us has our own personal way of making our offering.  Seek it out.  And having found the opportunity pay for it with love, for love is the price of love.  When one opportunity has come, many may follow after.  This is to discover the abundance of life, for in giving we receive. 

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Plato Forum

Expand Your World INNOVATION/COMMUNICATION/CREATIVE THINKING Sunday March 2nd 10am-5pm understand what life is asking of you. Tickets including tea and coffee available in advance from the office - 15

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