Another inspiring philosophy class last night. During the second part we were discussing a piece of writing by Marsilio Ficino (1433 – 1499).
Some background on Ficino; he is considered one of the most influential minds at the time of the Renaissance and was the first to translate the works of Plato from Greek into Latin. The particular quote we were dissecting was:
Know yourself, offspring of God in mortal clothing. I pray you, uncover yourself. Separate the soul from the body, reason from sensual desires; separate them as much as you can; and your ability depends upon your endeavour. When earthly grime has been removed you will at once see pure gold, and when the clouds have been dispersed, you will see the pure sky. Then, believe me, you will revere yourself as an eternal ray of the divine sun and, moreover you will not venture to contemplate or undertake any base or worthless action in your own presence.
(Volume 1 Letter 110)
A beautiful, poetic piece. The group was engaging in a very thought provoking, dare I say, challenging debate – undressing our immortal selves. I had to interject (as opposed to giggling to myself like the class nutter) as we discussed the idea of our divine nature, purpose and outlook, because the words on the page suddenly sprung to life in my mind – in the form of Spandau Ballets’ immortal classic ‘Gold’.
Whilst William asked me to remind the group of the lyrics I didn’t hazard an attempt at singing them. Reaching into my memory to stretch passed the first declaration of the chorus “You are gold” I was encouraged by my friend Sue who helped me complete the lines which include “Always believe in your soul, you’ve got the power to know, you’re indestructible, always believe it”. The similarity to the ancient text was undeniably apparent. The moment was finished off nicely by Sue as she added ‘Good old Tony’.
We continued our chat on the way home after class. She posed the question – was Tony Hadley (Spandau’s singer and assumed lyricist in this instance) a philosopher? Whilst it could be taken in jest (Socrates and synthesisers in the same sentence?), it again reinforces the new way of thinking we have adopted after completing nearly a year’s worth of practical philosophy classes. Aren’t we all?
Being present, conscious and aware of the whole – not singling ourselves out, all this is leading us into the light in our own lives. In turn that makes us radiant beings, potentially spreading that light to those around us. A wonderfully warm thought.
Good old Tony indeed.