I have been spending a lot of time in the library, retrieving books, journal articles, and papers. The library is very new (2009 or 10). The dead body is that of a young man. He’s been there for about 1700 years (Well, he’s actually only been in the library for about 4 or 5 years) and was found when they did the archaeological work before they built.
There is also a display of some other random shards of pottery and a small stash of coins, all dating from the late Roman period, dug up at the same time as he was and are now on display in the lobby of the library. He is actually quite close to where he was found. I often make a point of stopping by to visit him when I am there.
I have been reading a dense paper by a French philosopher (uh-oh) who is working with 10th century Persian texts. It has been a bit of a slog, but in the end inspiring. It seems to have had an affect on my meditation practice, making the experience much more intense. It will be interesting to see if it lasts.
It is not “reasonable” and it’s okay that it’s not reasonable. We are not trying to be reasonable. There is a place for both the reasonable and the unreasonable/intuitive. As I write this, I realize that I have written this before. Perhaps many times. I am too easily drawn back into the need to be scientific and rational; to have a “sensible” (ie: perceptible as real or material) worldview and to discount my own experience(s).
The Middle Pillar on the Tree of Life is a useful allegory (or anagogy) here – to know the extremes and keep to the middle, to understand from where on the tree you are perceiving/understanding. It is okay to be soft. It is okay to set aside my humorous, cynical, ironic armour. It will still be there when I need it.
I have been alone here now for a little over a week. It feels strange to live alone again for the first time in many years. Because I am trying to live as simply as I can while I do this, I tend to have a lot of silence around me. I find this stimulating for thinking.
The course is run as a series of weekend intensives, with a seminar mid-week. There is a massive amount of reading to absorb, as well as concepts and ideas. Last weekend we did a breakneck journey through philosophy from Plato to The Enlightenment, as well as thinking about the methods that we will be using as scholars. The lesson I think I came away with is that we always have a lens through which we look at the world around us as well as ideas we encounter. The most important thing is to know (and communicate) what your lens (or lenses) is (are). That and “We can not escape The Enlightenment.” It is the lens of our entire western culture. I struggle with being a Pagan practitioner, believing in the gods and knowing that it could possibly just all be brain chemistry. I think I know how Jacob felt.
Jacob Wrestling with The Angel
It was a rich and intense weekend, with a lot of different insights into a lot of different ways of thinking about metaphysics. Much thinking will be done.
I arrived in Canterbury on a late fall day. The air is still warm in the pale sunshine and the nights are cool and damp. I am looking at this year as a kind of retreat – I am leaving behind a very busy life, and going into a fairly structured environment where I will be required to think deeply on topics that have to do with what it means to be a spiritual being in a scientific age, without my regular distractions. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be alone with my self and my thoughts.
My new (allegedly furnished) flat is quite Spartan. There is a bed, table and chairs, loveseat, chair, and a kitchen with a stove top and oven. What more does one need really? This first week has been taken up with the mundane tasks of minimally furnishing my flat (Can I make do with only one wooden spoon? Much as I like sitting in cafés, do I really want to be without reliable Wi-Fi? One pot or two? Etc.) So far, I am enjoying thinking of what I can do without. I deeply appreciate G coming with me to help set up during this first week. It would have been much more time consuming, as well as more technically difficult without him. Tonight we had our first dinner cooked at home.
The flat itself is in a plain, fairly modern building. From my window on the 4th floor, I look down onto a small well tended garden, with a brick path leading up to a thickly wooded bank. There is a tempting sign at the foot of the bank. An omen, perhaps?
A notice on the road to wisdom? We shall see….
This is a test post on my new blog!