Being and Non Being Part 10

In part Being and Non Being Part 9, we closed off looking at movement and rest and whether being can be considered as a state of rest or movement. We still however need to bear in mind that the subject matter remains discovering the art of sophistry and how the sophist plies his trade.

What we have discovered so far about the workings of the Sophist is that they have no real knowledge about anything and can thus argue on any subject with apparent authority. As they charge for their services it follows that they need to win these arguments and to this end they will use bluster, aggression and any means possible to achieve their aim.

Currently in South Africa we are going through a tumultuous time with a faction allegedly aligned to the previous President inciting the largely poor masses to make the country ungovernable by destroying infrastructure and looting etc, with their reward being the spoils of war, so to speak. Pretty much how Vikings waged war on their neighbours and whose warriors claimed the goods looted from the defeated villages.

The sophistry in these actions can be clearly seen where those fanning the flames of the rioting have found what they believe to be a righteous victim for whom they will take up arms. This is sophistry in its most brutal form where these so-called supporters of the victim use bluster and half truths to justify their actions and will claim that their struggle is righteous and just. If you questioned the rioters, they would probably see nothing wrong with their stealing and destruction and as we shall see in the future, the cost of these actions will be felt months even years  later.

Something Socrates, who was Plato’s teacher, said many times over was that it was the leaders of society who fell from grace first and that unless this decline was arrested, and nipped in the bud, the common people would be forced to follow suit in due course, sometimes even thousands of years later. He also said that democracy was one step away from anarchy (which we can now clearly see) and from anarchy comes despotism or the rule of tyranny. The highest form of government is aristocracy (not to be confused with what masquerades as aristocracy currently) or the rule by the wise and sadly it is the wise who precipitate the downfall to Oligarchy, meaning “rule of the few”. This is a form of government whereby power rests with a few powerful people distinguished by nobility, wealth, family, education, religion or military power.

Democracy is defined as rule of the people by the people and is in fact a weak system of government because very few people are really equipped to rule so the job usually goes to the one who makes the most noise or who is the most charismatic and might I add, skilled in the art of sophistry. These leaders just give the people what they clamour for which is in many cases freedom from the cruel treatment of the previous oligarchical rulers who by this time have been forced to retreat to their mansions and to feed the democratic rulers who themselves are unskilled in the real art of running a country or a business.

Because people in a democracy in general, have a poor appreciation as to what is right and wrong, they believe all sorts of nonsense spouted out by their leaders and so-called experts. They are largely irreligious only believing in themselves and have little concern with their neighbour. There is little empathy or social cohesion because democrats are essentially narcissists so an unfortunate outcome of democracies around the world is that they pay little heed to the poor and vulnerable except lip service especially around election time when all sorts of promises are made, very few of which materialise post-election time. And of course, because the leaders in a democracy are skilled sophists, they can get the people to believe anything they say.

Again, as the current situation unfolds in our country with riots and destruction, democracy will deteriorate into anarchy and what follows is despotism or the rule of a tyrant. There is lots of evidence of this transition around the world, but often so-called democracies are in fact already under the rule of a despot or they could be transitioning from an Oligarchy. It is thus clear to see the importance of an education that directs the mind toward to the Truth, service and Justice. This might not halt the slide but at least those educated souls can try and exert some influence because the example of just one wise person is enormous.

Just as a comparison, see below a brief description of the City of Ayodhya as related in the Indian classic the Ramayana. This is how humans should cohabitate under the benefit of a wise and benevolent leader. The difference between this and a democracy is light years apart and demonstrates man’s fall from grace.

Extending along the banks of the River Sarayū was a large and prosperous kingdom called Kośala.  Manu, the first ruler of the earth, had established a city named Ayodhyā in that kingdom. The city had beautifully divided highways  decorated with flowering trees and were sprinkled with water every day.  A king named Daśaratha ruled the land.  He was engaged in the welfare of the people, always improving the city and creating new habitations.  He was like Indra, the King in the heavens.

The city had beautiful arches and gates, and well-laid out markets.  Artisans and craftsmen produced excellent tools and weapons.  Bards and street singers entertained people everywhere, along with singers and dancers. The city was graced with orchards and mango groves made for public use, and was prosperous. A boundary wall curved around the city, which was further protected by a wide moat that made it inaccessible for anyone to intrude.  Hordes of elephants, horses, cows, camels and donkeys wandered around, forming another layer of protection.

The city was built on a plateau.  Houses were compact and well-engineered, made spectacular by multi-storied dwellings located in geometric chessboard subdivisions. The well-structured rows of houses looked like the residences of the siddha, ascetics in the heavens.  The city’s granaries were full with rice and grains, and the water was sweet.  Beautiful men and women adorned in costly ornaments roamed the streets.  Chieftains from the neighbouring principalities came to the city to pay their taxes.  Tradesmen from diverse communities showed up in their local colourful costumes.  Big buildings studded with gems and minerals decorated the cityscape.  Vaults of treasures made the city comparable to Indra’s Amaravati!       

The sounds of lutes, drums, and percussion instruments created an environment of joy and happiness unequalled on the earth.  Warriors were trained to fight with weapons and muscles, and sometimes used wild animals in combat.  They never struck anyone who was alone or without family.  They did not hurt people who could be shouted at!  King Daśaratha lived in the palace, guarded by thousands of warriors on chariots.  He surrounded himself by thousands of scholarly maharṣishi-like brāhmaṇas, who were experts in rituals and were also skilled in the scriptures.

A far cry you would admit from the cesspits we see on earth today. These changes take many thousands of years and it has been suggested that the above description was from the Silver Age. This age was preceded by the Golden Age and followed by the Bronze Age and finally the Iron Age where we currently languish. The given time span of all four ages is 8,4 million years with the Golden Age being the longest and the rest progressively shorter. And it follows that mankind gradually runs down from its inception in the Golden Age and things get progressively less refined and eventually run right down at the end of the Iron Age whereupon the entire creation withdraws into it Self and is reborn again as the Golden Age. A recuring and eternal wheel of existence. Socrates and other proponents of non-duality preach that it is the duty of mankind to rise above the wheel of existence and by a process of Self Realization.

I hope you don’t mind the diversion from our consideration of the Sophist, but I felt it important to firstly demonstrate the importance of appreciating the importance of ethical leadership, and also being able to identify ignorant leadership and lastly to have a picture of what life can be like if ruled by a benevolent King. Bear in mind that this leader/king is both internal and external. One thing is certain though and that is this leader would have to honour the Truth and be trained in and have a love of wisdom. We will continue with out study of the Sophist next week.