Tiferet: Plotinus on Beauty

fire dove

Beauty: I see it in flaming sunsets, soaring raptors, astonishing works of art. I want those experiences to last forever; they seem to activate a special quality of life. Roman philosopher Plotinus calls it the essence of beauty. But where, he wonders, does the essence really live? Are the objects themselves beautiful? If so, what is the beauty they have? Thinking of beautiful human faces and beautiful sculptures, some answer: symmetry. But according to that […]

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Tree of Incomparable Beauty

tree pendant

Recently, a new artisan storefront opened near my Main Street home. As I like to support local artisans, I wandered in for a look. “Our name is Just Jewellery,” said the salesperson. “We specialize in silver and semiprecious stones, featuring the work of several local artists…” But I could not focus on her words. Instead, images of divinity overwhelmed me. I saw Ganesh, Hindu god of wisdom, carved in jade; […]

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Gevurah: Aristotle on Judgment

vitruvian man

Virtue is a state of character concerned with choice of the mean between two extremes, i.e., a mean relative to us governed by a rational principle. (Aristotle) For those counting the Omer, this is the week of gevurah, often translated as “judgment.” As the philosopher Aristotle teaches, judgment is an essential ingredient of every human virtue. A virtuous person, i.e., a person of good character, exercises good judgment. Such a person avoids […]

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Chesed: Plato on Love

Sefirot love

Do you know the wise woman Diotima, a fictional character in Plato’s dialogue Symposium? Six learned, drunken men discuss their lyrical, illogical philosophies of love  — until Socrates redirects them by teaching Diotima’s philosophy. Love, says Diotima, is developmental. The human capacity to love must mature. First a young lover is enamoured of one beautiful body; next the lover appreciates all beautiful bodies; then the lover learns to value people’s souls; then […]

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Hope: Spring’s Multifaith Gift

Interfaith symposium on hope four speakers

Passover, Easter, Spring: seasons of hope for Jews, Christians, and everyone in our planet’s northern hemisphere. This might be just the right week to share some reflections on hope. Recently, four local faith leaders visited the Iona Pacific Inter-Religious Centre at the Vancouver School of Theology to discuss the topic of hope. Each was asked: What spiritual resources does your tradition offer to cultivate hope in troubled times? Here are excerpts from their answers. […]

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