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John Michell Mysteries


Archive for Thursday 23rd May 2002 - From ignorance to bliss
Part Two on the Philosopher's Stone

Last week's mystery was the Philosopher's Stone, what it means and where to find it. This sounds like a treasure-hunt, and in a way it is. When King Solo mon acquired the Stone, he became very rich and enjoyed the pleasure of 700 wives plus concubines. But his real wealth - the source of all his happiness and the prosperity of his kingdom - was his wisdom. With the Stone came knowledge. It was not just book-learning, but knowledge of the universe and the source of goodness and order in it.

According to Plato, who is my guide in these matters, there are four stages in the ascent towards this knowledge. At the bottom is ignorance. When you are in that state, you do not know there is anything worth knowing, and you despise people who want to rise above it.

Above ignorance is the level of opinion. That is when you start to take an interest in life, to discuss and argue. On that level you can enter journalism or politics.

The next stage is study and learning. You become tired of opinions and look for the facts that everyone is arguing around. This is a state of maturity and good judgement.

The fourth and last stage is the mystical one. It lies beyond reason and learning, and the only way into it is through personal experience. If you rise to that level you are said to have found the Philosopher's Stone. Next week we shall look further into that prospect

John Michell

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