Last Meeting at Plato's Academy  

Posted by Plato Greybeard

What is the secret of birth and death of ideas, beliefs and life itself?  

Posted by Plato Greybeard

Everything in our physical and mental worlds is somewhere in a cycle from origin through growth to termination before a new beginning. Seeds sprout, flourish and wither after generating new seeds; governments are established, function and pass into oblivion, only to be replaced by another form of governance.

The secret of stability during this inevitable course is to maintain balance throughout the process.

Ideas: Ideas spring into mind when an individual is physically and mentally prepared and there is a trigger of inspiration. They may be developed or discarded depending on their perceived merit, and once they pass from consciousness, the mind is again open to new ideas. Balance is required between becoming single-mindedly fixated on a single concept and being as flighty as a butterfly, skipping from one idea to the next without developing any.

Beliefs: Beliefs are born of experience, and stubbornly remain to determine thoughts, feelings and behaviors until changed or replaced by new and different experiences. Balance in beliefs is implicit in the adage: “Be not the first by which the new is tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”

Life Itself: Life begins at conception and continues through several stages of development both prior to and after birth before the physical body eventually passes to become once again a part of the dust of the earth. We are survived, some believe, by a soul or spirit that finds a new home; but, be this so or not, what we leave behind in the form of progeny and how we have influenced the next and future generations could certainly be considered as a new beginning for the mind that was once a unique individual.

Balance in life itself during our time on earth comes from the extent to which we embrace the opportunities presented to experience the wonder, grandeur and awesomeness of the night sky, to dwell on the beauty we are capable of seeing in nature up close, to participate in the enjoyment to be derived from our accomplishments and to continually strive to expand the love we give and receive in relationships. Afterlife or no, we clearly have this one, and it is our rare opportunity and privilege to enjoy to the fullest.

Why and how do we deceive ourselves?  

Posted by Plato Greybeard

When we lie to others, it is in an effort to protect ourselves, gain something that we would not otherwise have, increase in the esteem and admiration of others or avoid being judged or condemned. If lying to others will relieve our own pain or anxiety, a lie is likely to be forthcoming.

And we deceive ourselves for exactly the same reasons.

We do this quite easily and perhaps without even being aware of the process. We do so when we “rationalize” a behavior such as downloading copyrighted music or other material and justify it by saying to ourselves, “Its ok, everybody does it.” By extension, we rationalize every time we “justify” any behavior that we know to be illegal or against our own moral standards.

If I think more highly of myself than is warranted, I am lying to myself. In one study, 90% of the college professors surveyed considered themselves to be in the top half of their profession. Mathematically, 40% had to be lying to themselves! If I considered myself to be God’s gift to women, I would not only be lying to myself, I would be out and out delusional! (Not about being so attractive to women, but about there being a God who dispenses favors.)

When a court of justice calls a defendant to account, it is expected that one guilty of the crime allegedly committed will lie, so proof is required in order to render judgment. The same is true of the individual faced with judgment from family, friends, society…or self! Lying will become the name of the game. I can easily convince myself that it was the other guys fault when an impartial observer would conclude that it was actually my own behavior that caused the accident.

Corporations lie all the time through advertising and an annual reports in order to attract new customers, improve the bottom line and increase the value of their stock. Don’t we do essentially the same thing if we attempt to improve our self-concept by donating to charity, helping a friend in need or writing a letter to the editor denouncing the latest example of governmental graft and dishonesty?

A friend of mine once had a severe pain in her toe. The pain developed suddenly in the situation in which she found herself: she had to walk around all day to accomplish errands that she did not want to do, so her toe developed a severe pain (a very real pain) to tell her to stop walking. The toe pain was a lie to herself in an effort to relieve a stressful situation. The instant she realized what was going on, the pain stopped and she completed her tasks, efficiently if not happily.

Why is it problematic to lie to ones’ self when there are so many reasons for doing so?

What would happen in society if everyone always told the whole truth and nothing but the truth?