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5123#5123 – New book: Letters to My Grandson

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  • Jerry Katz
    Dec 27, 2013
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      The Nonduality Highlights - Friday, December 27, 2013

      #5123 – New book: Letters to My Grandson

      Editor: Jerry Katz

      LETTERS TO MY GRANDSON
      why the unexamined life is not worth living

      P D Goldsmith

      Non-Duality Press

      Table of Contents
      Introduction…………………………………………………………… 1
      Letter One: The Body and the Physical World……………. 3
      Letter Two: Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs………………… 14
      Letter Three: Healing the Body…………………………….. 17
      Letter Four: Character………………………………………….. 21
      Letter Five: Culture………………………………………………. 46
      Letter Six: Your Role in Society…………………………….. 57
      Letter Seven: The Nature of Men and Women…………. 73
      Letter Eight: Relationships…………………………………… 77
      Letter Nine: Sex…………………………………………………. 91
      Letter Ten: Family and Fatherhood…………………………96
      Letter Eleven: Religion……………………………………….. 101
      Letter Twelve: Philosophy and the Spiritual Search…..110
      Appendix……………………………………………………………141

      - INTRODUCTION -

      My dear Sebastian,
      I am sitting in a wonderful Italian resort overlooking the
      sea at Santa Maria Sebastian di Castellabate and I decided,
      with considerable help and support from Laura, to start
      on a series of letters to you to express some of the possible
      wisdom that I have accumulated over my sixty-seven years.
      That is not an arrogant or egotistical statement; it is simply
      a matter of fact that as one gets older one does accumulate
      some wisdom, whether by exploration of oneself or simply
      through the experiences of life. These can be happy or
      painful at times, but actually are always rather interesting.
      Nobody knows how long each person has upon this earth.
      One may think that one is in good health and everything is
      going swimmingly, but it does not stop the possibility that
      a disaster could strike at any time, as happens in so many
      places in the world. I hope my time on this earth will be a
      lot longer so that I can know you when you are older, but
      no one can predict how long one has and it is probably a
      blessing that that is so.

      This series of letters is a distillation of the essence of
      my experiences on subjects which I hope you will find
      interesting in due course. Some you may not fully understand
      until you are quite a bit older, but at least you will
      have them before you.

      You may well ask, and no doubt your parents will, why
      these are letters to you rather than to your sisters Olivia and
      Claudia. I hope what I have to say will be useful to them as
      well, but because I am a man what I say will inevitably have
      a male slant in the writing and may have more relevance to
      you than to them.

      I should add one thing at the outset. There may or
      may not be some good advice in these letters. But nothing
      in them should be regarded as totally prescriptive. I have
      simply set things out as I see them. And some of what I
      have said may even, perish the thought, be wrong! So do
      not worry if you do not agree with any of what I say.
      So to the letters. There is a generally held view that
      there are three aspects of knowledge: the spiritual, the
      emotional and the physical. In truth, I do not think one can
      make such a differentiation and I will come on to that in
      a later letter; but for the sake of practicality, I propose to
      start with the physical, then move on to the mind, then to
      the emotions, and end up with arguably the most important
      – the spiritual.

      So let us make a start.
      Your loving Grandfather.

      - Letter Twelve -

      Philosophy and the Spiritual Search

      My dear Sebastian,
      In my last letter on religion we concluded that it was important
      to consider the questions about the meaning of life and
      who we are.

      Whilst fatherhood may be an extremely rewarding and
      enriching experience, and a man’s employment may also
      give him some satisfaction, these may not be enough. And
      when these things no longer satisfy and there is an existential
      ache within him, he may turn to consider the great
      philosophical questions.

      Traditionally, there are three questions which provide
      the basis for the start of the search. These are: ‘Who am
      I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘What is my relationship to society
      and to the creation?’ These are very deep questions and
      cannot be answered simply. However, as Socrates said, ‘The
      unexamined life is not worth living’ and in this, my final letter
      to you, I propose to consider these questions and to offer
      certain pointers.

      The subject of philosophy is an ancient one and has
      existed in all cultures from time immemorial. A philosopher
      means, in the Greek, a lover of wisdom, and this
      search, in my view, is the sole real function that a man has.
      Without this search he is simply playing with toys all his
      life or re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
      When I was about twenty-one, I saw a poster on the
      underground, with the title ‘Philosophy’ which resonated
      within me, and I went along to the course in London and
      stayed there for thirty years. Initially the course was based
      upon the ideas of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky and, if you only
      have time to read two books on these extraordinary philosophers,
      read In Search of the Miraculous by P D Ouspensky,
      which looks at the time he spent with Gurdjieff, and
      Meetings with Remarkable Men by G Gurdjieff, which charts
      his journey to discover the truth by visiting various teachers
      and gurus. Gurdjieff’s ideas were radical and revolutionary.
      He believed that man was fundamentally asleep even
      though apparently awake whilst carrying out his daily life.
      To quote briefly from Ouspensky’s book, he reported
      Gurdjieff to have said:

      ‘All people think they can do, all people want to do,
      and the first question all people ask is what they can
      do. But actually nobody does anything and nobody
      can do anything. This is the first thing that must be
      understood. Everything happens… And it happens
      in exactly the way rain falls as a result of a change of
      temperature in the higher regions of the atmosphere
      or the surrounding clouds, as snow melts under the
      rays of the sun, as dust rises with the wind.
      Man is a machine. All his deed, actions, words,
      thought, feelings, convictions, opinions, and habits
      are the results of external influences, external
      impressions. Out of himself a man cannot produce
      a single thought, a single action. Everything he says,
      does, thinks, feels – all this happens….
      But no one will ever believe you if you tell him
      he can do nothing. This is most offensive and the
      most unpleasant thing you can tell people. It is particularly
      unpleasant and offensive because it is the
      truth, and nobody wants to know the truth.’

      Strong stuff! I read this book one term after I joined the
      school of philosophy in 1966, and it had a profound effect
      on me; it was as though the scales had fallen from my eyes.
      In In Search of the Miraculous, Ouspensky is very taken
      by Gurdjieff’s teaching that there were higher levels of
      consciousness that could be attained through something
      called ‘self-remembering’. He decides that he will attempt
      to remember himself and be aware for a certain period
      of time as he sets off down a road. Several hours later he
      has a slight feeling that he has forgotten something that he
      was supposed to remember, and wakes with a shock to the
      fact that he was supposed to remember himself. He traces
      back in his mind the journey that he took and remembers
      being aware of himself right up until the point that he
      went into a tobacconist and asked for some cigarettes. This
      also had a profound effect on me, as it really demonstrated
      the clear nature of sleeping man, but also the possibility of
      waking up to a different level of reality.

      What is so powerful about these books is that they
      radically shake up one’s ideas about the nature of reality.

      ~ ~ ~

      Read the rest of the chapter

      Order from Non-Duality Press