Recently I was in an online discussion over the relative merits of the Iliad vs. the Odyssey. If you think about it, you probably have a preference for one or the other–mine of course is for the latter. Anyway, in the course of one of the exchanges someone used the phrase “Philosophizing is easy,” going on to say that dealing with the “nitty-gritty” is tougher. And of course that’s what most people seem to think, but on further reflection, I would beg to differ.
Philosophizing, that is “loving wisdom,” is perhaps the toughest thing one can do. The “real world” tells you that you are of a certain race, and gender, and nationality, even a certain age. But wisdom teaches that you are none of these. You are the One, and paradoxically so is everyone else. As George Harrison says, “Not too many people can see we’re all the same.” That people should go to war with each other in the name of religion is perhaps the most extreme example of this–it would be funny if there weren’t so much pain involved.
The back story of the Iliad is that it was caused by Eris, goddess of Strife, resulting in Paris (Alexandros) wanting to “own” Beauty, in the form of Helen. Wisdom would have told him that it can’t be owned; it is, as Plato says, and Ideal that stands behind all individual expressions of it. But of course if he had been a philosopher, there would be no Iliad, and even I would think that was a loss to the world. But Beauty is as much in us as it is anywhere else, and until we realize that we will always look for it outside, always think we are less than the One.