7.1   Diotima’s Directness

“Hi Lisa, I_” Pete paused when he saw that the beautiful, luminous angel had company.

“Hi Pete, good to see you,” said Lisa warmly.
“Oh… Pete! Did it never occur to you to knock before entering a room?” The speaker was an austere Greek woman in her mid-forties, with her hair severely tied back. She was clad in a white toga over which was an orange cloak fastened with an ornate broach. Pete looked around Lisa’s lecture theatre awkwardly.

“Um, sorry I just put the ECG cap on, start-up Phaethon and materialise here. Maybe with some work to the source code_”

“My friend is teasing you Pete,” smiled Lisa, she glanced at her companion whose face was still a mask of indignation, “I… think. Anyway, allow me to introduce Diotima of Mantinea an ancient Greek prophetess and philosopher” Diotima’s face softened and she held out a hand.

“Hello Pete,” she said stiffly, “it’s alright, we have been expecting you.”

“Nice to meet you,” said Pete. So you’re a prophetess and a philosopher? Isn’t that a contradiction?”

“Oh… Pete!” Diotima paused patiently as the young man before her wilted from her upper-middle class scorn. “What is a prophet?”

“Well, someone who predicts the future?”

“How, dear boy?”

“Um, I don’t really know”

“By contact with a divine being. Now, what is philosophy?”

“Well, it literally means love of wisdom.” Diotima nodded curt approval.

“From where does this wisdom come?”

“Well, the intellect?”

“What is the intellect?”

“Um…”

“The basis of the intellect is not um dear boy. It is a wormhole to the divine, to the world of thoughts… the world of forms. So both the prophetess and the philosopher hone and focus their intellect to the point that it becomes a conduit with the divine. Just like a civil engineer may bring an entire lake to the disposal of a single tap with the right design, as above, so below.”
“Remarkable. But I’m here because I don’t know how to help people actually see the divine, like I can with Phaethon. Very few are prepared to take my word for it.” Diotima was smiling smugly to herself.

“The white light is creation itself, all colours contained in one, the origin of all information within the universe. Everything we see in the universe is showing us the way back to heaven, the sun reminds us of God and so on.”

“Oh… Pete! You took long enough to come out with it. That’s why I’m here, waiting for you.”

“Thanks Diotima,” Lisa interjected in her husky tones. She bore the demeanour of someone trying to be herself whilst being kind to two very different but loved friends. “Why don’t you tell Pete about your main idea?”

“Hmm. Well alright then,” said Diotima, “the ladder… of love,” she announced grandly. Pete rubbed his chin.

“I’ve never heard of that.”
“Oh… Pete! I know for a fact that you have, let me show you.” The lecture theatre dimmed and the simple sitting room of a remote Welsh stone cottage replaced it. A dim light was supplied by the embers of a log fire crackling. Beside the fire, in threadbare armchairs sat two long-haired men in leather jackets. One was idly playing an acoustic guitar whilst another wrote carefully in a note book.

“That sounds like, Stairway to Heaven,” said Pete excitedly, “so this must be Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin,” he breathed reverently. Diotima who was warming herself by the fire glanced up.

“That’s right Pete, they’re writing it.”

“But why are we here?”
“Oh… Pete! Please think about it before asking questions like that.” Pete thought for a minute.

“Well, your main idea was a ladder of love, they’re writing Stairway to Heaven… Oh.” Diotima nodded brusque approval.

“Well done, dear boy. You see we all have access to unlimited truth, we just need to focus to tap into it.”

“So love, heaven are…”

“The concept of eternal one-ness, they’re the same thing.”

“But these guys aren’t prophets surely? I’ve seen a picture of Jimmy Page upending a bottle of Jack Daniels before a gig and…” Diotima held up a hand.

“Tonight, these men are prophets. Look over Robert’s shoulder.” Pete did so and gasped at what he saw in spidery handwriting on the beer stained page.

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all

“It’s so beautiful, I was always distracted by the music to really take the lyrics in when I heard the song.”

“It’s beautiful because it’s true.” Lit by flashes of firelight, Pete saw a different Diotima, her face softened in reverence. “The road they are talking about is the path through samsara, the path back to God. Shadows taller than our soul, show the unfathomable distance we have come through previous lifetimes to be who we are. The lady shining white light is_”

“Mother nature, Mary, the universe itself…” Diotima smiled gently at Pete her eyes thankful that someone else understood.

“Yes Pete, that’s good. The white light is creation itself, all colours contained in one, the origin of all information within the universe. Everything we see in the universe is showing us the way back to heaven, the sun reminds us of God and so on. When Plant talks of everything turning to gold, he means that all souls eventually become perfect and eternal like gold in God, like the sacrament of alchemy. As I said earlier, prophets have to focus their mind to see true reality, the true dance of eternal forms which is creation, hence Plant says if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last. The tune is the Tao, it is God’s grace it is so many things. As Plant puts it, it is when all are one and one is all…” Diotima paused and swallowed hard. Pete gently but cautiously put his arm around her. Unexpectedly Diotima allowed this.  “I’m sorry Pete, it’s just so beautiful, seeing a man in tune with creation like that.”

“You make it seem beautiful, explaining the lyrics in that way,” said Pete gently, “so that’s why it’s routinely seen as the best rock song ever written?” The moment was gone, Diotima took her head from Pete’s chest and stood up suddenly. “Correct, dear boy. Without them knowing it, the song taps deeply into everyone who hears it and is not shut off to the truth.”

“So rock songs have profound meanings, who knew…” mused the young man.

“Oh… Pete! That’s a very broad-brush conclusion. All that talk of…” Diotima wrinkled her brow with distain as she thought of examples, “love guns, and the shaking of… money makers? You know what Robert Plant also said?” The words sounded out of place as Diotima recited in the dutiful but disdainful manner of a well-to-do witness being asked in court to repeat language heard in the runup to a street brawl. ‘Hey, hey, momma said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove.’” Pete smirked.

“Yes, but with the right music that does sound pretty_” he glanced at Diotima and wisely amended his sentence. “Pretty unacceptable.”

“Most rock is nothing but debased hogwash, but like anything it has moments of sublime brilliance, like Stairway to Heaven.”

“But how did Plant know all that stuff?

“That’s the remarkable thing Pete, he didn’t. He just opened up his mind and let the truth flow. As far as he’s concerned, they’re just great lyrics. He claims his inspiration was the beauty and remoteness of rural Britain. But deep meanings can exist in apparently unintended things.” As if in answer, Plant glanced up.

“Pub, Jim?” The two men zipped up their jackets and sauntered out of the cottage.

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