Tuesday, 20 February 2007


I've just come across the aphorisms of Georg Christophe Lichtenberg.

I am fond of aphorisms, in their compressed way they shine a thin focussed beam that cuts into the inconscient. They have a high specific gravity; they are the gold of speech.

In the old city of Jerusalem you may see a man carrying 23 chairs on his back or a large fridge. In Paris as told in 'The Piano Shop on the Left Bank'(by T.E.Carhart) you can hire a man who will carry a grand piano up the stairs of a courtyard apartment. There are the steps, there is the harness, there is the grand piano, you must find that perfect point of balance then swing and move. For this service there is an acolyte who guides the nose of the piano and prevents the swing of it from unbalancing the porter.

All that prose. Poetry has a stronger back. I can understand how Shankara wrote most of his Upadesa Sahasri in verse because its constraints force one to get past the normal cliches that spring effortlessy.

"A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out. We have no words for speaking of wisdom to the stupid. He who understands the wise is wise already."
(Lichtenberg from Notebook E 49: 1775 1776)

Wednesday, 10 January 2007


Is there such a thing as wisdom. Could someone be so connatural with wisdom that everything they do and say has that virtue.
"But in all such matters that which appears to the good man is thought to be really so." (i.e. that which appears good to him) Aristotle,'Nichomachean Ethics' Bk.10.chap.V.

Wisdom and Truth can often be connatural with persons who know nothing of abstruse philosophy and ethical theory. The only explanation is that they are it. A Nisargadatta or a Ramakrishna is more impressive than a hyper educated Brahmin but of course 'it' can land anywhere.

From War and Peace:
"Oh, well, of course, folks are different. One man lives for his own wants and nothing else, like Mituh, he only thinks of filling his belly, but Fokanitch, is a righteous man. He lives for his soul. He does not forget God."
"How thinks of God? How does he live for his soul?" Levin almost shouted.
"Why, to be sure, in truth, in God's way. Folks are different. Take you now, you wouldn't wrong a man ......"
"Yes, yes, good-bye!" said Levin, breathless with excitement, and turning round he took his stick and walked quickly away towards home. At the peasant's words that Fokanitch lived for his soul, in truth, in God's way, undefined but significant ideas seemed to burst out as though they had been locked up, and all striving towards one goal, they thronged whirling through his head, blinding him with their light.