Loving Oneness Now

SOCRATES, PLATO, ARISTOTLE AND ALEXANDER-THE-GREAT

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[NOTE: The following accounts of the lives of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Alexander are as accurate as I can make them. Understand that only anecdotal accounts have survived from more than 2300 years ago, but just because they are popular stories does not discount the likelihood of them having happened. Anyway, please read the following account, not as strict history, but rather for its inspirational content and spiritual message.]

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Three wise Beings were enjoying a long spell between lifetimes. Then, around 470 BC, at the request of their Creator they turned their attention to Europe and the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Greece had already produced some knowledgeable  philosophers, such as the mathematical/musical philosopher Pythagorus and “physicists” like Anaximenes and Democritus who spoke of indestructible matter/energy and atoms. The group decided Athens would be the most advantageous spot to introduce a course in advanced philosophy to the human race.

The Being who initiated the process, was already an ethicist so he arranged to be born near Athens in 470 BC. His name was Socrates. For some fifty years Socrates taught his philosophical truths to those citizens of Athens who cared to listen. Even as a child Socrates would hear a voice in his head, an endowment considered a gift in his time (today he would be diagnosed schizophrenic). This voice was, of course, his Guide, who often channeled all kinds of warnings, information and truths to him. On one occasion when his close friend Chaerephon asked the Oracle at Delphi if there was anyone alive who was wiser than Socrates, the Oracle replied, “No."  If that is the case, thought Socrates, it is a sad comment on the state of the human race. During another visit, Socrates asked the Oracle this question.

“Oracle, tell me, what is the wisest advice I can ever give to anyone?”

Know thy Self,” answered the Oracle with the faintest of smiles.

Socrates soon had a considerable following of people who were fascinated with his wit, his knowledge and the superb clarity of his reasoning. Time and again Socrates proved, quite logically that, “Evil is only ignorance of the Truth, while he who has True Knowledge must always act in terms of True Goodness,” a sentiment which would again be expressed on a cross some 470 years later.

A bright young lad in his audience was entranced by Socrates’ new philosophies, his intellectual skills and sparkling wisdom. Socrates was already 54 when Plato, aged 12, first stopped to really listen. Plato was, in fact, the second Being of the three to incarnate.

As an adolescent and a young man, Plato would make succinct notes on his writing tablet of Socrates’ discussions, then would rush home and expand these jottings into concise, reconstructed discourses. Thus over a period of some 12 years Plato was able to record, condense, edit and polish these philosophical conversations into a crystal-clear synoptic set of Socrates’ most renowned dialogues. The listening crowd always became enthralled as the two great masterminds sought to unravel the truth, especially in terms of universal definitions or Ideas such as Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

Plato was shocked when Socrates, at 70 years of age, was arrested for corrupting the youth of Athens and for neglecting the Greek "gods." Socrates treated his fellow citizens' democratic trial with disdain refusing to defend himself seriously. One month later, having been condemned to death, Socrates spent his last day with his two friends Cebes and Simmias discussing the immortality of the Psyche (Soul-Mind) before drinking the hemlock which would poison him. So died Socrates, a man, “who was the best of all his time… and, moreover, the most wise and just.” Will ego ever stop persecuting Knowledge and Wisdom?

It was 399 BC and, to avoid a possible “witch hunt,” Plato and a few other “corrupted” followers got out of town. Several years later, when it was safe to return to Athens, Plato decided to teach, and so he opened his famous Academy, where he taught philosophy in all its forms for some 45 years. It was, perhaps, the world’s first fledgling university. While there Plato taught and “published” the dialogues of Socrates and others, but he also taught, wrote and “published” his own theories, especially about justice, ideas, education, science, government and the law. His most renowned work was “The Republic.”

One Socratic concept Plato extended, with his Guide's (and now Socrates') help, was the theory of Forms or Ideas. To illustrate the theory Plato likened the inhabitants of Terra to immobile spectators sitting in a cave (a kind of Theater of the Dreamtime) facing and watching a projected play of shadows on the wide, flat, back wall. The shadows are cast by real objects being paraded across and in front of powerful firelight, the fire itself being located just outside the cave entrance. The spectators sitting in the darkness of the inner cave see only the moving shadow play of those real objects, mingled with their own shadows. They think the shadows and the play are real. But for Plato it is the Light of Reality represented by the fire which is Real. The “objects” in that Eternal Light are also Real, being Ideas or Forms brought to Life by the Light of the Real Mind which, for Plato, was the origin of Ultimate “Goodness.” Plato pointed out that any individual in the cave who turned away from the play of shadows and went outside would discover the Source of the Light as well as the True Ideas or Knowledge it lighted up. He also pointed out that if such a man went back inside the cave to tell the others they were being deluded by the dark play of shadows, they would execute him as a false witness and a troublemaker who did not respect traditional beliefs. Plato, of course, had the condemnation and death of Socrates in mind when he wrote this. Plato did, however, portray the plight of Terra’s population quite accurately in that the “objective” shadows earthlings see and experience in their earthly lives, are no more than projected illusions of Reality, warped by their own egoic shadow-play.

When Plato was 61, a fresh faced young student of 17 enrolled at the Academy and it soon became apparent to Plato that this young man had a destiny, one which would change the world in many ways. Aristotle (the third Being) came from Stagira in Northern Greece where he was born in 384 BC. His father was physician to the King of Macedonia so as a child Aristotle had spent much time at court. This “brain of the Academy" as Plato dubbed him, studied and taught there for some 20 years, until Plato died in 347 BC by which time Aristotle was 37 years old, and already an accomplished scientist. One could say he was the first Doctor of Philosophy.

He was studying marine biology on the Greek Island of Lesbos when, in 342 BC, King Philip of Macedonia asked Aristotle to return there to educate his son Alexander who was 13. The two became very close during the next seven years as Aristotle opened the mind of the self-assured, but brilliant youth who was actually another powerful incarnated Being in human costume. From Aristotle, Alexander received not only a rigorously trained mind but also an education in how to apply his knowledge of logic, philosophy, natural science and political science to the arts of kingship. The opportunity to set these skills in motion came sooner than expected when Philip II of Macedonia was killed leaving his son to inherit the first true European nation that was much more than a mere city-state (see below). One of King Alexander’s first acts was to endow his tutor with a fortune so he could found his own school, the Lyceum, on his return to Athens.

Aristotle, while exploring every branch of knowledge, was especially interested in the empirical sciences. He had his students dissect animals, observe insects and study astronomy. If Plato’s Academy was the first attempt to establish a school of higher learning, Aristotle’s Lyceum was the first diversified university and scientific institute combined. A wide variety of authoritative books were written by Aristotle and others, including his son Nicomachus who later edited several of them. The School even kept records of the winners at the Olympic and Pythian Games and of the dramas playing in Athens.

Although Aristotle established a separate school, his work and contribution to knowledge balanced Plato’s, complementing it and broadening it into the wider perspective of pragmatic knowledge.  

One of Aristotle's major contributions to philosophy and science was his Doctrine of the Four Causes, which states that any object, article, concrete situation or thing has FOUR discrete causes, not one. Let us take a house as an example.

The Efficient Cause of the house is the person who requisitioned it, who need not be the eventual owner.

The Formal Cause of the house is the design or plan (the shapes and forms) drawn up by the architect.

The Material Cause of the house is the physical material of which it is fabricated as well as the builder.

The Final Cause of the house is its final implicit purpose or designated future use, say, by a family.

Most arguments throughout history arise from one party hammering at the topic in terms of their favorite cause, while the other party thumps the table by looking at the topic from one of the other four causes. It is time we realized all four causes are valid whether we are discussing a house, or a universe, a flower or a planet -- or our own bodies!

Aristotle admitted he was primarily concerned with material causes but he did acknowledge God. For him, God was the First Unmoved Mover who was Intelligence or Thought. This Prime Mover was not a personal God to be worshipped or prayed to. God was a “Thought of Thought” who knows only Himself. The earth and cosmos were, for Aristotle, the work of lesser gods—and he got that one right, at least from the co-creator point of view.

Alexander had been trained by his father in a new military strategy, a re-formed type of Greek phalanx. In 336 BC Philip II was murdered, most likely by his wife Olympias who secretly wanted her son on the throne. After being proclaimed King (as mentioned above), Alexander over a period of 13 years conquered the lands of the Mediterranean and Asia all the way to India. When his loyal soldiers who had already marched over 18,000 kilometers did not want to go further, he reluctantly led them back to Babylon where in 323 BC he succumbed to a fever. His final resting place was a majestic marble tomb in his own (at that time Greek) city of Alexandria in Egypt.

For three hundred years the Greek language, learning and culture dominated the known world as a direct result of Alexander’s conquests. He had truly fulfilled his mission to spread this knowledge, universally.

Aristotle left democratic Athens in that same year, 323 BC, after he had been accused, like Socrates, of impiety. He was not going to let them “twice sin against philosophy,” so he went to the island of Euboea where a year later he died at age 62. Although the work of the four greatest Greeks (I know, Alexander was Macedonian) ever to live was over, their influence, which would continue for millennia, had only just begun. And all Spiritual Beings well knew the sequential teacher-to-student relationship of all four men was no accident.

 

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Loving Oneness Now -- Copyright © 2007 Alexander Bannatyne, PhD

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