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Friday 11th September 2015
I drove to Hampshire to meet Stephen Gough, the so-
We sat on logs in a glade and ate pork and mushroom rolls I had prepared and coffee from my flask.
We talked for hours.
His favourite philosopher is John Stuart Mill – a utilitarian – but he doesn't like that Mill thinks everything can be known. Stephen believes that there are parts of us that are unknowable. We cannot, therefore, really know who we are.
So a man should strive to live as himself, and yet he cannot know fully who he is?
And Stephen agreed that the part of our mind that knows the difference between truth and falsehood is not actually observed by our conscious mind, so we make decisions and then put reasons to those decisions after the event.
He said that a man can use the method of observation where he can see a thing and therefore determine that it is not him. He sees his body and knows that that is just a body, it is not him. He sees his thoughts and knows that that is not him.
And so he is the observer that sees all that.
And that observer is everyone too.
But I asked him how he made that leap, from the personal; that he is the observer of his body and his mind – to the universal; that this observer is everyone and everything not just Stephen.
Stephen said that it was from experience that he knows this.
E.g. When he was a street performer he would get into a flow where Stephen no longer mattered – he was un-
Stephen said that he was depressed once – for about a week. He could not get out of bed or do anything.
So he looked for the thought that had brought this on.
He remembered having a ride in a car and the man in the back was talking about how he treated his children and how good they were and Stephen was thinking ' the man in the back of the car is a better father than I am '. Which led him to think that he was worthless. Which led to the depression.
But once he had seen that this was the cause, the depression lifted. There was no longer a foundation for it to stand on, so it disappeared.
When Stephen feels down or angry or anything, he writes on a piece of paper what thoughts he has that are making him feel like that. He asks ' Is this true? ' And then he will see that it isn't true and the mood will dissipate.
So when there are unpleasant feelings or emotions or experiences, we just have to step back from them. Ask ' Is this true? '
Then the misery and displeasure with the feelings, emotions and experiences evaporates.
But this is not ' doing ' something.
Because that is you. It isn't an action.
It's like the most ' not doing ' you can ever do – because it is when you have actually stopped doing anything. You have stopped being miserable and displeased. You have also stopped identifying with the feelings, emotions, experiences.
You are not ' being ' -
You are just you.
Why Stay Naked in Custody?
If he wears clothes in prison for comfort or to make his life easier so he can have visitors, exercise, meals with the others, then he fears that if he appears in court naked they will consider his nakedness merely a ' front ', a ' provocation ' (we searched for the word he wanted at this point, but couldn't come up with one. It is a long word used by legal people). So he remains naked in prison.
Being True to Yourself and Privation
Being true to yourself can appear hard on yourself. E.g. you may get up early in the morning and go running, forcing yourself to go further and faster than before. You do this to make yourself fitter, stronger and so you will live longer. But it is hard. It requires self-
But being true to yourself is worth certain privations.
Augustus Stephens -
Plato’s Republic -
Here is what I talked about (that seems relevant to a wider audience) with the Naked Rambler Stephen Gough on Friday 11 September 2015, the day of his arrest outside Twyford in Hampshire, for breaching his ASBO.
It is not terribly coherent. The point of view alters.
I can hardly include any actual quotes of his. Sometimes what I have written has gone beyond what he said into thoughts and learnings of my own, but I think I know where he is coming from.
Yours, Augustus Stephens..
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