I imagine that all readers will be familiar with the expression, "you live and learn". Nearing the end of a longish life, I am persuaded that we live to learn, and that we learn chiefly from making mistakes, particularly from those mistakes which have disturbing, and perhaps painful, consequences — whether immediately or in the long term.
Should anyone wish to "remember me" after I have relinquished my earthly body, I should like the following poems to be read, whether quietly in solitude or aloud in any gathering whether for an educational or for any funereal purpose.
In The Law, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850-1915, expresses a living philosophy which I commend to my family and friends.
In both the parent/child and the teacher/pupil situations, I have (rather slowly!) come to learn for myself that learning is not all one way and that both parties can make mistakes. Some of these may be painful for both at the time, but reflection upon them often has beneficial consequences in making both better people.
In The Toys, Coventry Patmore, 1823-1896, poignantly expresses an aspect of this truth.
If learning makes people "better", the betterment cannot be confined to a bodily shell which has a limited lifespan. Hence the ultimate object of learning must be to improve the "quality" of an immortal soul which rules the body, determines its actions in life, and carries the influence of its learning forward into its next body.
Such an optimistic belief encourages us to hope that through a succession of generations of souls of ever-increasing "quality", humankind shall eventually overcome the weaknesses of its animal instincts and become more "godlike".
This is the sentiment expressed in this Hymn by John Addington Symonds, 1840-1893.
However, we must not lose consciousness of the fact that a body is necessary if the soul is to learn anything at all. Hence I associate myself with the sentiments expressed in this poem by Cosmo Monkhouse, 1840-1901
Any Soul to Any Body
The Holistic Philosophy I have tried to express in this website is well summarised by Alexander Pope, 1688-1744, in his Universal Prayer.