I’ve near completed my translation of Plato’s Phaedo and am going to be posting the entire work here on this blog. I’ll be posting in sections, over time. This, I feel, is the best way to share Plato for now. My hope is that you can find some gems in his work that resonate with your journey, and to appreciate the beauty and the power one of the greatest and last Western spiritual writers of our time. The west unfortunately has, since the Roman empire and its understanding of Greek text, slowly chipped away at the spirituality of the Western human spirit. This culminated into the proverbial nail in the coffin, when Descartes declared: I think, therefore I am. That was a great turning point in Western spiritual history. It is when Western spirituality become dominated by mind and the systems of mind, abandoning the great mystery, being, and all that is present before us. We have, as a result, reached a tipping point where we are now reaping what we have sowed.

Plato’s Phaedo is a remarkable dialogue that is unusual, as far Platonic dialogues go. The reason is that most dialogues take place during Socrates’ life and allow us to interact with the philosopher in a way that helps us increase our awareness of the nature of life, the nature of mind, and the nature of being. The Phaedo however, takes place after Socrates’ death, and is instead presented as a story designed to show us how Socrates completed his life. The word that Plato uses for completion means more than death. It means perfection, in the spiritual sense. It is the equivalent of Nirvana in Buddhism, of Emptiness in Zen Buddhism. However, Plato’s dialogue, which is an inquiry into the nature of Socrates’ death/completion will be a journey into exploring how the mind cannot comprehend Nirvana or emptiness, how it fears it, how that fear is the source of all human suffering.

Before reading the Phaedo – or any Platonic dialogue for that matter – it’s important to understand that, for Plato, philosophy is the love of wisdom, and so is the love of seeing the truth. In modern terms, we would call this the seeking of enlightenment, or the attempt to become more aware. Plato, in this sense, is no different from Zen Buddhism or any other sect that attempts to achieve profound enlightenment. It is unfortunate, but an interesting challenge that philosophy has been hijacked by academics, scientific method, and logical analysis functions of mind that are not philosophy per se, but are at best, a means towards discovery of what philosophy is not. This is why Socrates is shown as someone who doesn’t take money for his “teachings”. It is not because he loved poverty – he was apparently not poor at all – but it was because he had nothing to teach. Many see this as some clever teaching ploy, but the truth is and always will be that the teacher of philosophy, the teacher of the way or the Tao, is the teacher of no ways at all. Such a teacher would never require money. The reason is that the way is the way of YOU and so is your way, not his. He has no right to charge you a fee. Anyone who charges fee for spiritual guidance are truly more similar to the devil at the crossroads, than angel of the light. I know that sounds harsh, but it is the truth. That doesn’t mean that such teachers don’t have some things to teach you. They most certainly do, but it may not be what you think it is. So much of our journey on earth – the majority of it – is learning, through triggering, pain, and confusion, what is not “me” and so, by default, what may be me. It is truly a journey of hope.

I posted this first part of the dialogue a while back. I have since revised it with a new introduction. The subsequent parts will continue that format, with introduction and translation. I hope you enjoy them.

Plato’s Phaedo: Phaedo and Execrates (57α – 59c)

eu prattein (Fare well),
Anastasia

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