|The Way of Return in Plotinus|
|Written by Avery Solomon|
|Monday, 31 October 2011 11:49|
PLOTINUS: MYSTICAL PHILOSOPHER PAR EXCELLENCE
Plotinus has been called “the mystical philosopher par-excellence.” Standing at the crossroad of eastern and western thought, he epitomizes Alexandria where he learned philosophy from his dock-worker teacher Ammonius. His inspired writings The Enneads synthesize over 600 years of Platonic thought with his own deep experiences of Reality—as intimate and as ultimate. In this talk we introduce you to his view and methods, and invite you to explore this treasure for yourself.
Plotinus learned at the crossroads of culture, east and west, in Alexandria, Egyp, studying for some years with little known dock worker Ammonius Sacchus (and probably influence from India). After the death of Ammonius, he moved to Rome and held seminars for interested students, placing the traditional philosophy handed down in the context of his own mystical and metaphysical experience. As Newton said, he saw further for seeing from the shoulders of giants. His heirs are generations of Sufi and Christian masters (Ibn Arabi, Eckhart), and later western philosophers such as Emerson.
Plotinus began writing his essays in response to questions which came up in the class discussions which were his usual mode of sharing ideas with a dozen or so students. He had poor eyesight, and over the course of 20 years wrote these essays almost without revision. After his death his student Porphyry edited and arranged the essays into six groups of nine “tractates”--The Enneads (nines). But really there is no development in the essays. [see one suggested order of reading next page.] In many tractates Plotinus moves us from our present situations in life, and then follows a dialectical method of shifting our viewpoint to that of Reality as ultimate and intimate. These essays are a beautiful and inspiring, as well as vast and the most comprehensive view of reality in the West. They require our thoughtful consideration.
Why study Plotinus? Are these adventures only for the ancients? If you find the words resonate, you will find inspiration for your heart, and transformation of your mind. Plotinus provides us with perhaps the most comprehensive view of Reality of any other writer. Plotinus considered Plato his teacher, and many of his essays quote Plato, but he goes further than “the master” bringing his own unique vision of reality. He is more akin to Advaita or Shaivism than to recent western philosophers.
Plotinus continually points out clues for the ascent or deepening of soul into realizing ultimate reality. You find pointers which come from his inner mystical experience. Three main questions motivate much of his writing: how can we adjust our thinking to the vast and unified reality? How from such as unity can anything arise, universes or individuals? How can we realize this reality for, in, as ourselves? Often, a tractate is a kind of scaffold, using thought to bring us to the edge of reality, from which we can jump off.
Plotinus provide a landmark non-denominational mystical philosophy, which even today, with the great wealth of modern nondual teachings and ancient wisdom of Dzog-chen and Advaita and Zen, provide daring insights into the vastness of Reality hardly touched on anywhere else. In his great work Astronoesis, Anthony Damiani shows how Plotinus provides the background for cosmology, and hints that we can portray Plotinus’ thought as a sacred mandala, with which to juxtapose many other philosophic views.
“after all the greatest joy that a human being can have is to try to fathom the unfathomable. When he gets to the point where he gives up then he gets enlightened -- but he better try real hard in the beginning.” (Anthony Damiani, class transcript 3/12/82)
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND ORDER OF TRACTATES
TRANSLATIONS OF THE ENNEADS
His writings are also difficult reading even in the Greek original. We have two good complete English translations--
Plotinus: The Enneads. Translated Stephen Mckenna. Larson Publications. More poetic translation.
Has comparisons to other translations on key points, and an Appendix with diagrams.
Plotinus: The Enneads. Translated AH Armstrong. Loeb Classical Library. More literal translation.
Has Greek original too.
ON THE ENNEADS
John Deck. Nature, Contemplation, and the One: Beautiful elaboration of tractate on Contemplation.
Anthony Damiani. Astronoesis. Creative, and advanced, juxtaposition of the philosophy of Plotinus with Cosmology/Astrology.
Avery Solomon: www.averysolomon.com has essays on Plotinus;
Avery Solomon: Appendix to Plotinus’ Enneads in Larson Mckenna translation. (email me for a copy).
*I haven’t read the following, but they look interesting:
Brian Hines. Return To The One: Plotinus's Guide To God-Realization:
Linda Johnsen. Lost Masters: The Yoga of the Ancient Greeks
Avery’s suggested order of tractates to read:
5.1 The Way of recollection: and the three primal principles.
3.8 Way of Contemplation: The purpose of life is Contemplation: a seeing which lives. Nature too contemplates.
1.6 The Way of Beauty: If you do not find yourself perfect, then make yourself into a likeness of reality: never did eye see sun unless it was first sunlike.
1.1 The Animate: from the emanating consciousness of soul, and organized body, forms the “person.”
1.4 Happiness: happiness is to be ever in recognition of the Good: does not come from outside.
4.1/ 4.2 On the essence of Soul: we must accept that soul is inviolable and becoming, impartible even while experiencing the universe of multiplicity.
5.5 On the Good: we must not run after the Good, but stationing ourselves in contemplation await its arising, like the Sun at dawn.
5.3 Way of self-knowing (nous): our way is to teach the Soul how the divine Mind has self-knowing. That which is to be taught is that in soul which already has aptitude.
5.2 Order of principles from the first: seeking nothing, lacking nothing, possessing nothing, reality “overflows.”
6.7 On the Ideal Forms: Soul unites with Nous to know the One through Love. This is the grand learning: knowing the One. By the Good we assert identity without affirming being.
6.8 Free will and the will of the One: The One is the way it waked itself to be, an eternal wakening without awakener. A self-originating self-tendence, at once act and repose.
6.9 On the One: The One is infinite in fathomless depths of power. One is ever present with us, and we with it when we look that way. Alone to the Alone (6.9.9)
Tractate 5.1 On the Primal Principles
START WHERE YOU ARE: REMEMBERING
5.1.1 Whatever is it that can have made souls forget their divine origin, and be unknowing of their nature which is divine, ignorant of themselves and of the divine?” [tr. R. Schmidt:]
When something begins to awaken in us, we ask what every human will eventually ask: “What can it be that has made us forget our authentic nature?” We have given higher value to what appears, than to ourselves, whose nature is the source of this experience, even of the entire universe.
Plotinus puts forth a two-fold path, which is two dimensions of one path:
A double discipline must be applied if human beings in this pass are to be reclaimed, and brought back to their origins, lifted once more towards the Supreme and One and First.
There is the method, which we amply exhibit elsewhere, declaring the dishonor of the objects which the Soul holds here in honor; the second teaches or recalls to the Soul its race and worth; this latter is the leading truth, and, clearly brought out, is the evidence of the other.
Dishonor means to stop giving all our attention to the contents of experience, disentangling our consciousness, and purifying the stickiness and fear/aversion: i.e. to hold oneself in calm and clear mind (sophrosyny). Whether they are inner thought and feeling contents, the ego, `or outer sense contents. This is the path of discrimination (viveka) and calm witnessing (vairagya).
The leading method is reminiscence, recalling the soul to their true value. Forgetting is a state or situation of consciousness. Action will not save us, but self-knowledge will. In the second mode, we simply re-calls us to our true nature: we are already divine. The sage tells us: you really ARE. Can we take this in? If our heart is not big enough to recognize this, we need to work on ourselves, and in several tractates Plotinus tells us how to do this. In fact, almost every tractate of Plotinus is about Realization: recognition and remembering our true nature.
PHASES OF DEEPENING REALIZATION:
In the next part of the tractate, Plotinus follows three stages into reality, which he calls Soul, Nous and One or Good. As you will see, this four-fold is not only a schema of “reality,” but also is the outline of a way to realization--a Diving Board to jump into Reminiscence
returning the person to soul;
returning soul to Intelligence;
returning intelligence to Reality.
a. RETURNING THE PERSON TO SOUL; 5.1.2
“let each soul take to heart that soul is the manifestor of the universe”
“each separate life lives by the Soul entire, omnipresent in the likeness of the engendering father, entire in unity and entire in diffused variety.”
Right from the start, Plotinus assumes, and asks you to look for yourself, that you have a sacred divine dimension. As he says earlier, the recollection only makes sense if we already have this dimension of reality. So we read in 1.1.7 that the person, which he calls the “animate” or “couplement” is a union of a “ray of the soul” and “organized body.” You are not body only. You are embodying consciousness. You are soul: “consciousness appearing as a person.” In other words: a conscious, living being.
This is soul, which is omnipresent life/consciousness embracing and expressing itself as the universe. Soul is the life-energy of reality, the author, the energy, but not originally self-cognizant. Soul is a paradox: “we must accept that it is both divisible and indivisible: remaining indivisible and present in each particular act of experience.” 4.1.1
b. RETURNING SOUL TO INTELLIGENCE (NOUS); 5.1.3, 5.1.4
Soul, for all the worth we have shown to belong to it, is yet a secondary, an image of the Intellectual-Principle: reason uttered is an image of the reason stored within the Soul, and in the same way soul is an utterance of the Intellectual-Principle: it is even the total of its activity, the entire stream of life sent forth by that Principle to the production of further being; it is the forthgoing heat of a fire which has also heat essentially inherent.
Thus its substantial existence comes from the Intellectual-Principle; and the Reason within it becomes Act in virtue of its contemplation of that prior;
5.1.4. But there is yet another way to this knowledge:
Admiring the world of sense as we look out upon its vastness and beauty and the order of its eternal march, thinking of the gods within it, seen and hidden, and the celestial spirits and all the life of animal and plant, let us mount to its archetype, to the yet more authentic sphere: there we are to contemplate all things as members of the Intellectual--eternal in their own right, vested with a self-springing consciousness and life--
As Soul, you are a particle of the Nous, a divine Idea. The self-knowing nature of reality is called Nous: intelligence which is at once knowing and being. Soul enters self-knowing when it knows itself the way it is known to Nous: this is the Way of contemplation. “to know without images is to be” 6.5.7 “our way it to teach the soul how Nous has self-knowledge” 5.3.6 “What the soul cannot get directly, it hopes to come to by the circuit” 3.8.6: “rising in levels of contemplation from nature, to soul to nous to One. That is, through the universal dynamical intelligence, soul is brought to self-contemplation, and to unfolding its divine qualities. It is a seed of God.
Many lives may be required to “complete the vision” the contemplation, inherent in the Divine Mind: to know ourselves the way Nous knows us.
Nous is the entirety of the knowability of reality, and this includes infinite variety of manifestation, and what is intrinsically eternal archetypal divine Idea-intelligence. Each Idea-Being is a “special and unique form of Intelligence entire.” Soul itself, can come to know itself, but is in the end a facet of this infinite intelligence, Nous. And then, this seeming ultimate, entirety of knowing-being, is itself the emanating Light, Life, determination of all that is knowable, within the vastly ineffable One or Good.
c. JUMPING INTO THE ONE 5.15 – 5.1.12
5.1.5 Bringing itself close to the divine Intellect, becoming, as it were, one with this, it seeks still further: what Being, now, has engendered this God, what is the Simplex preceding this multiple; what the cause at once of its existence and of its existing as a manifold; what the source of this Number, this Quantity?
Plotinus portrays the ascent to the ultimate reality similarly to Vedanta: there is the universe, there is the subtle life consciousness of the soul, there is the Universal intelligence which is the paradigm and source of all, and there is the Fourth: beyond, ineffable, infinite.
The One itself is active as well as passive perfection, and its “emanation” goes nowhere outside. The Divine Mind is the entirety of the knowable, in the vastness of the ineffable. Here Plotinus expounds the primary Platonic teaching of emanation/participation. The reasoning, as he says, is beyond the finite, logical doxa—this mind cannot understand how soul-consciousness can be “entire in each act of perception; indivisible in its divisibility.” Or, how “soul is closer to the One, than knowing to its object.” The One, ultimate reality, is also intimate. “though it is nowhere, nowhere is it not.” But we don’t look that way. We have been dis-membered and need to be re-membered. We have ignored reality, fascinated as we are with what emanated. We have forgotten. So Plotinus points a way back.
How, from such a unity as the One, does anything arise? (5.1.6)
But how and what does the Intellectual-Principle see and, especially, how has it sprung from that which is to become the object of its vision?
The mind demands the existence of these Beings, but it is still in trouble over the problem endlessly debated by the most ancient philosophers: from such a unity as we have declared The One to be, how does anything at all come into substantial existence, any multiplicity, dyad, or number? Why has the Primal not remained self-gathered so that there be none of this profusion of the manifold which we observe in existence and yet are compelled to trace to that absolute unity?
Plotinus’ addresses this question in many tractates. Reality includes Power, active perfection as well as passive. Reality for Plotinus is not only transcendent stillness; it is infinite in depths of power. (6.9.6) In this way, he is parallel more to the Shaivite traditions of Siva and Shakti, than the strict monism of Vedanta. . It is the nature of reality to “overflow.” “seeking nothing, lacking nothing, possessing nothing, the One is perfect, and has overflowed.” This overflow of the ineffable is the Nous: parallel to “the Word” discussed in John 1.
But in another, more profound way, nothing “comes from” the One, for nothing is outside it. The One is present to all, but it is up to us to recognize its omni-presence.
At the end of tractate 5.1 Plotinus summarizes the grand Scheme--also the phases of realization.
5.1.10. We have shown the inevitability of certain convictions as to the scheme of things:
There exists a Principle which transcends Being; this is The One, whose nature we have sought to establish in so far as such matters lend themselves to proof. Upon The One follows immediately the Principle which is at once Being and the Intellectual-Principle. Third comes the Principle, Soul.
Now just as these three exist for the system of Nature, so, we must hold, they exist for ourselves. I am not speaking of the material order--all that is separable--but of what lies beyond the sense realm in the same way as the Primals are beyond all the heavens; I mean the corresponding aspect of man, what Plato calls the Interior Man.
Although we seem to go through a series of stages, it is also true that there is no real hierarchy. Rather we have that :
Plotinus is speaking of degrees of apprehension of reality, not degrees in reality.
Plotinus wants us to appreciate the fullness of being before he pushes us off the edge. The fuller our appreciation of the vastness of being, the more startling and complete the fall into beyond being.
Plotinus assumes in all his tractates the Good is already and always present. There is no doubt of the Omnipresence of the One, and nothing to be fabricated.
These phases can be seen as different perspectives, or dimensions, of a single unific reality.
Disentangling of reality from appearance is parallel to integrating reality and appearance. Simplicity the other side of complexity is everything…
POINTERS ON THE GOOD/ THE ONE in the ENNEADS
All these words are pointers, not literal, as Lao Tzu points out: words may be true or false, but words are not truth. Still, we read in passages about the One: although we cannot know it as we know other things, still “it is the grand learning.” (6.7.38) And “even to have heard about this reality is a kind of initiation.” (1.3.1) Moreover, there is value in knowing THAT it is: it inspires us to seek.
Plotinus asks: How do we adjust our mental processes to the One? (6.9.5)
Even to say (of the Good) "It Is" does not truly apply: Ultimate Reality has no need of Being: even "it is good" does not apply since it indicates Being: the "is" should not suggest some characteristic applying to another thing; it is to state identity. The word "good" used of it is not a predicate asserting its possession of goodness; it conveys an identification. It is not that we think it exact to call reality either good or The Good: it is that sheer negation does not point so well; we use the term The Good to assert identity without the affirmation of Being.
“Knowing of the One is the grand Learning.” --Plotinus Enneads 6.7.38.
Something there must be supremely autonomous, all transcending, beyond even Being itself. 6.7.17
It is as it waked itself to be, as it willed itself to be: an eternal wakening. 6.8.18
Self-originating self-tendence. At once act and repose. 6.8.16
Infinite in fathomless depths of power. 6.9.6
It is always presence, but we don’t look that way. 6.9.8
Because there is nothing in it, everything is from it. Seeking nothing, possessing nothing, lacking nothing, One Overflows. 5.2.1
Though the One is nowhere, nowhere is it not... 5.5
THE GOOD : my essay for “The Dream of the Good” innovative education program
For Plotinus Reality was the Good. What did he mean by Good?
Plato used the sun as a metaphor for the good. The sun shines on everything and everyone indiscriminately. In a similar way the inner sun of the good shines in all of us, and lights up everything we experience. It’s not opposed to anything, is Good-ness beyond good and evil. Just like the sun, a person who has found the Good doesn’t need anything: and doesn’t need to make an effort to do good acts. They simply are good by the natural radiance of their being which shines forth and meets everyone.
“Seeking nothing, lacking nothing, possessing nothing, in our metaphor the Good is perfect, and overflows.” 5.2.1
The good is the wholeness – holiness- of life. It is to be in harmony, in balance, to reunite with oneself. The good is to be yourself, to rest in your own being, to be self-sufficient. We are good enough, just as we are. When we know ourselves in that way, we realize that everything and everybody is good as it is. The Good includes the seeds of wisdom and compassion in the heart: the intelligence. Nothing is left outside.
We are all dreaming the good: we are all being dreamed by the Good: “a dream made of love.” Of course it is a powerful dream, and we have in us the power to dream the Good.
We do not exactly become good. The Good is present, and beyond the opposites of good-bad. We can, however, dissolve that which prevents us from recognizing the Good, in order to realize what we are. We can say that realization is the state in which that goodness in you recognizes itself. Then we become aware of a timeless dimension of our experience, which makes it possible for us to live in freedom and peace. This life of Good is “the natural state,” in which all arises as Good. In ancient Tibetan writings too, reality is described as the the all-good.
The Good is our essential nature, not a far off goal. It is what we really ARE. It is the essence of everything and everyone. You can try this for yourself: everywhere you read about the One or Good or Supreme, let it be something extremely intimate: your deepest, closest, beloved nature.
EXCERPTS OF TRACTATES ON THE WAY
THE WAY OF BEAUTY 1.6.8-9
8. But what must we do? How lies the path? How come to vision of the inaccessible Beauty, dwelling as if in consecrated precincts, apart from the common ways where all may see, even the profane?
What then is our course, what the manner of our flight? This is not a journey for the feet; the feet bring us only from land to land; nor need you think of coach or ship to carry you away; all this order of things you must set aside and refuse to see: you must close the eyes and call instead upon another vision which is to be waked within you, a vision, the birth-right of all, which few turn to use.
9. And this inner vision, what is its operation?
Newly awakened it is all too feeble to bear the ultimate splendour. Therefore the Soul must be trained--to the habit of remarking, first, all noble pursuits, then the works of beauty produced not by the labour of the arts but by the virtue of men known for their goodness: lastly, you must search the souls of those that have shaped these beautiful forms.
But how are you to see into a virtuous Soul and know its loveliness?
Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make all one glow of beauty and never cease chiselling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendour of virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness surely established in the stainless shrine.
When you know that you have become this perfect work, when you are self-gathered in the purity of your being, nothing now remaining that can shatter that inner unity, nothing from without clinging to the authentic man, when you find yourself wholly true to your essential nature, wholly that only veritable Light which is not measured by space, not narrowed to any circumscribed form nor again diffused as a thing void of term, but ever unmeasurable as something greater than all measure and more than all quantity--when you perceive that you have grown to this, you are now become very vision: now call up all your confidence, strike forward yet a step--you need a guide no longer--strain, and see.
This is the only eye that sees the mighty Beauty. If the eye that adventures the vision be dimmed by vice, impure, or weak, and unable in its cowardly blenching to see the uttermost brightness, then it sees nothing even though another point to what lies plain to sight before it. To any vision must be brought an eye adapted to what is to be seen, and having some likeness to it. Never did eye see the sun unless it had first become sun-like, and never can the Soul have vision of the First Beauty unless itself be beautiful.
Therefore, first let each become godlike and each beautiful who cares to see God and Beauty. So, mounting, the Soul will come first to the Intellectual-Principle and survey all the beautiful Ideas in the Supreme and will avow that this is Beauty, that the Ideas are Beauty. For by their efficacy comes all Beauty else, by the offspring of Being and of the Intellectual-Principle. What is beyond the Intellectual-Principle we affirm to be the nature of Good radiating Beauty before it. So that, treating the Intellectual-Cosmos as one, the first is the Beautiful: if we make distinction there, the Realm of Ideas constitutes the Beauty of the Intellectual Sphere; and The Good, which lies beyond, is the Fountain at once and Principle of Beauty: the Primal Good and the Primal Beauty have the one dwelling-place and, thus, always, Beauty's seat is There.
WAY OF CONTEMPLATION: 3.8 Nature, Contemplation, and the One
For Plotinus, the universe is a “contemplation”: and expression of and within contemplation. contemplation implies a “Divine Mind” which is contemplating. Even Nature contemplates. The purpose of life is Contemplation:
1. Supposing we played a little before entering upon our serious concern and maintained that all things are striving after Contemplation, looking to Vision as their one end--and this, not merely beings endowed with reason but even the unreasoning animals, the Principle that rules in growing things, and the Earth that produces these--and that all achieve their purpose in the measure possible to their kind, each attaining Vision and possessing itself of the End in its own way and degree, some things in entire reality, others in mimicry and in image--we would scarcely find anyone to endure so strange a thesis. But in a discussion entirely among ourselves there is no risk in a light handling of our own ideas.
Well--in the play of this very moment am I engaged in the act of Contemplation?
Yes; I and all that enter this play are in Contemplation: our play aims at Vision; and there is every reason to believe that child or man, in sport or earnest, is playing or working only towards Vision, that every act is an effort towards Vision; the compulsory act, which tends rather to bring the Vision down to outward things, and the act thought of as voluntary, less concerned with the outer, originate alike in the effort towards Vision.
6. Action, thus, is set towards contemplation and an object of contemplation, so that even those whose life is in doing have seeing as their object; what they have not been able to achieve by the direct path, they hope to come at by the circuit. ***
Thus once more, action is brought back to contemplation: …
This vision achieved, the acting instinct pauses; the mind is satisfied and seeks nothing further; the contemplation, in one so conditioned, remains absorbed within as having acquired certainty to rest upon. The brighter the certainty, the more tranquil is the contemplation as having acquired the more perfect unity; and--for now we come to the serious treatment of the subject--
In proportion to the truth with which the knowing faculty knows, it comes to identification with the object of its knowledge.
8. …In the advancing stages of Contemplation rising from that in Nature, to that in the Soul and thence again to that in the Intellectual-Principle itself, the object contemplated becomes progressively a more and more intimate possession of the Contemplating Beings, more and more one thing with them; and in the advanced Soul the objects of knowledge, well on the way towards the Intellectual-Principle, are close to identity with their container.
Hence we may conclude that, in the Intellectual-Principle itself, there is complete identity of Knower and Known, and this not by way of domiciliation, as in the case of even the highest soul, but by Essence, by the fact that, there, `Being and Knowing are identical'; we cannot stop at a principle containing separate parts; there must always be a yet higher, a principle above all such diversity.
The Supreme must be an entity in which the two are one; it will, therefore, be a Seeing that lives, not an object of vision like things existing in something other than themselves: what exists in an outside element owes its life to that element; it is not self-living.
Invite The Gods 5.8
Let us, then, make a mental picture of our universe: each member shall remain what it is, distinctly apart; yet all is to form, as far as possible, a complete unity so that whatever comes into view, say the outer orb of the heavens, shall bring immediately with it the vision, on the one plane, of the sun and of all the stars with earth and sea and all living things as if exhibited upon a transparent globe.
Bring this vision actually before your sight, so that there shall be in your mind the gleaming representation of a sphere, a picture holding all the things of the universe moving or in repose or (as in reality) some at rest, some in motion. Keep this sphere before you, and from it imagine another, a sphere stripped of magnitude and of spatial differences; cast out your inborn sense of Matter, taking care not merely to attenuate it: call on God, maker of the sphere whose image you now hold, and pray Him to enter. And may He come bringing His own Universe with all the gods that dwell in it--He who is the one God and all the gods, where each is all, blending into a unity, distinct in powers but all one god in virtue of that one divine power of many facets. V.8.3
11. Similarly any one, unable to see himself, but possessed by that God, has but to bring that divine-within before his consciousness and at once he sees an image of himself, himself lifted to a better beauty: now let him ignore that image, lovely though it is, and sink into a perfect self-identity, no such separation remaining; at once he forms a multiple unity with the God silently present; in the degree of his power and will, the two become one; should he turn back to the former duality, still he is pure and remains very near to the God; he has but to look again and the same presence is there.
Dialectic: even to reason about it is an initiation 1.3.1
What art is there, what method, what discipline to bring us there where we must go?
Self-Knowing Of Nous 5.3.4, 5.3.6
Are we to suppose that all we can do is to apply a distinct power of our nature and come thus to awareness of that Intelligence as aware of itself? Or may we not appropriate that Intelligence--which belongs to us as we to it--and thus attain to awareness, at once, of it and of ourselves? Yes: this is the necessary way if we are to experience the self-knowledge vested in the Intelligence. And a person becomes Intelligence when, ignoring all other phases of his being, he sees through that only and sees only that and so knows himself by means of the self--in other words attains the self-knowledge which the Intelligence possesses.
To Know Without Images Is To Be: Turn Around 6.5.7
To Real Being we go back, all that we have and are; to that we return, and to its first offshoot (Soul). Of what is There we have direct knowledge, not images or even impressions; and to know without image is to be; by our part in true knowledge we are those Beings; we do not need to bring them down into ourselves, for we are There among them. Since not only ourselves but all other things also are those Beings, we all are they; we are they while we are also one with all: therefore we and all things are one. 6.5.7
PUT ASIDE NON-BEING 6.5.12
But supposing you do thus `seek no further', how will you ever be convinced of attainment?
In that you have entered into the All, no longer content with the part; you cease to think of yourself as under limit but, laying all such determination aside, you become an All. No doubt you were always that, but there has been an addition and by that addition you are diminished; for the addition was not from the realm of Being--you can add nothing to Being--but from non-Being. It is not by some admixture of non-Being that one becomes an entire, but by putting non-Being away. By the lessening of the alien in you, you increase. Cast it aside and there is the All within you; engaged in the alien, you will not find the All. Not that it has to come and so be present to you; it is you that have turned from it. And turn though you may, you have not severed yourself; it is there; you are not in some far region: still there before it, you have faced to its contrary. 6.5.12
WAY OF PRESENCE/ INTO THE ONE
reality is present and recognize that: “it is always here. I am That.” A direct immediate taste of stillness, intrinsic self-cognition primordial awareness (Aprarokshanubhuti:).
RECOGNITION (6.9.8, 6.9.9, 5.1.12)
Thus the Supreme as containing no otherness is ever present with us; we with it when we put otherness away. It is not that the Supreme reaches out to us seeking our communion: we reach towards the Supreme; it is we that become present. We are always before it: but we do not always look: thus a choir, singing set in due order about the conductor, may turn away from that centre to which all should attend: let it but face aright and it sings with beauty, present effectively. We are ever before the Supreme- cut off is utter dissolution; we can no longer be- but we do not always attend: when we look, our Term is attained; this is rest; this is the end of singing ill; effectively before Him, we lift a choral song full of God. 6.9.8
We have not been cut away; we are not separate, what though the body-nature has closed about us to press us to itself; we breathe and hold our ground because the Supreme does not give and pass but gives on for ever, so long as it remains what it is. 6.9.9
IT DAWNS ON YOU 5.5., what must we do to attain the vision of the Good? Whence does it come to us?
But we ought not to question whence; there is no whence, no coming or going in place; now it is seen and now not seen. We must not run after it, but fit ourselves for the vision and then wait tranquilly for its appearance, as the eye waits on the rising of the sun, which in its own time appears above the horizon- out of the ocean, as the poets say- and gives itself to our sight.
The Principle, of which the sun is an image, where has it its dawning, what horizon does it surmount to appear?
This advent, still, is not by expectation: it is a coming without approach; the vision is not of something that must enter but of something present before all else… 5.5.8.
SOUL LOVING GOES BEYOND BEING 6.7.34-36
6.7.34 Suppose the soul to have attained: the highest has come to her, or rather has revealed its presence; she has turned away from all about her and made herself apt, beautiful to the utmost, brought into likeness with the divine by those preparings and adornings which come unbidden to those growing ready for the vision- she has seen that presence suddenly manifesting within her, for there is nothing between: here is no longer a duality but a two in one; for, so long as the presence holds, all distinction fades: it is as lover and beloved here, in a copy of that union, long to blend; the soul has now no further awareness of being in body and will give herself no foreign name, not "man," not "living being," not "being," not "all"; any observation of such things falls away; the soul has neither time nor taste for them; This she sought and This she has found and on This she looks and not upon herself; and who she is that looks she has not leisure to know. Once There she will barter for This nothing the universe holds; not though one would make over the heavens entire to her; than This there is nothing higher, nothing of more good; above This there is no passing; all the rest, however lofty, lies on the downgoing path: she is of perfect judgement and knows that This was her quest, that nothing higher is. Here can be no deceit; where could she come upon truer than the truth? and the truth she affirms, that she is, herself; but all the affirmation is later and is silent. In this happiness she knows beyond delusion that she is happy; for this is no affirmation of an excited body but of a soul become again what she was in the time of her early joy. All that she had welcomed of old-office, power, wealth, beauty, knowledge of all she tells her scorn as she never could had she not found their better; linked to This she can fear no disaster nor even know it; let all about her fall to pieces, so she would have it that she may be wholly with This, so huge the happiness she has won to.
35…Intellectual-Principle, thus, has two powers, first that of grasping intellectively its own content, the second that of an advancing and receiving whereby to know its transcendent; at first it sees, later by that seeing it takes possession of Intellectual-Principle, becoming one only thing with that: the first seeing is that of Intellect knowing, the second that of Intellect loving; stripped of its wisdom in the intoxication of the nectar, it comes to love; by this excess it is made simplex and is happy; and to be drunken is better for it than to be too staid for these revels.
As for soul, it attains that vision by- so to speak- confounding and annulling the Intellectual-Principle within it; or rather that Principle immanent in soul sees first and thence the vision penetrates to soul and the two visions become one.
The Good spreading out above them and adapting itself to that union which it hastens to confirm is present to them as giver of a blessed sense and sight; so high it lifts them that they are no longer in space or in that realm of difference where everything is root,ed in some other thing; for The Good is not in place but is the container of the Intellectual place; The Good is in nothing but itself.
The soul now knows no movement since the Supreme knows none; it is now not even soul since the Supreme is not in life but above life; it is no longer Intellectual-Principle, for the Supreme has not Intellection and the likeness must be perfect; this grasping is not even by Intellection, for the Supreme is not known Intellectively.
36. We need not carry this matter further; we turn to a question already touched but demanding still some brief consideration.
Knowledge of The Good or contact with it, is the all-important: this- we read- is the grand learning, the learning we are to understand, not of looking towards it but attaining, first, some knowledge of it. We come to this learning by analogies, by abstractions, by our understanding of its subsequents, of all that is derived from The Good, by the upward steps towards it. Purification has The Good for goal; so the virtues, all right ordering, ascent within the Intellectual, settlement therein, banqueting upon the divine- by these methods one becomes, to self and to all else, at once seen and seer; identical with Being and Intellectual-Principle and the entire living all, we no longer see the Supreme as an external; we are near now, the next is That and it is close at hand, radiant above the Intellectual.
Here, we put aside all the learning; disciplined to this pitch, established in beauty, the quester holds knowledge still of the ground he rests on but, suddenly, swept beyond it all by the very crest of the wave of Intellect surging beneath, he is lifted and sees, never knowing how; the vision floods the eyes with light, but it is not a light showing some other object, the light is itself the vision.
EXCERPTS FROM ANTHONY DAMIANI: ASTRONOESIS
The cosmos is the expression of Divine Mind. The symbolism of astrology, signs and planets, mathematizes the cosmos Therefore, the symbolism of astrology can be used to represent the features of the Divine Mind, the primal hypostases and the system of Nature. Here are some excerpts from Astronoesis, and classes on these topics where Anthony Damiani combined cosmic symbolism with the philosophy of Plotinus. .
"The ancients spoke of the realm beyond the constellations as the World of Ideas.
These ideas ...were mythologically represented by the constellations. ..the signs are the paradigms of all living forms or species symbolized by the archetypal zodiac or inerratic sphere, which represents the immutability of the ideas. In this sense the stars are a theophany of radiating intelligences, distributing their presence and informing the universe through patterns of intellectual energy.
An individual soul in its own right, our Sun comprehends the nature of these intelligences through its intellect and proceeds to unfold this prodigiuous intelligence.
"The evolving world idea of our solar logos, our Sun, in its totality, is the stage upon which the soul's unfoldment occurred, the womb within which the gestation and birth of the sage is finalized." [Astronoesis]
PURPOSE of experience is contemplation: What the soul can’t get directly it comes to by the “circuit” (3.8.6)
Plotinus goes on to say that the purpose of the journey through the cosmic circuit is to acquire some good. What possible good could this be? It is the acquisition of those ideas by the mind--the second soul--to complete the vision resident in the logos. So it is rather a straightforward affair to discern that the purpose of all this activity is to ultimately possess the object of contemplation, the ideas or reason principles that are being manifested by life. This understanding will eventuate in the fulfillment, the peaceful smile of a Buddha. [Astronoesis]
The World Idea is what's teaching the Soul; it's educating the Soul. And it does so in a very precise and exact way, by the kinds of experiences that are going to come to you and the way you're going to respond to those experiences; [class transcript January 1984]
We say that the mind becomes the world that you experience. And in the process of the mind becoming the world, it assimilates a certain wisdom which is inherent in the world that it is going to manifest. In that process of assimilating the World Idea and consequently assimilating the wisdom which is inherent in that, you can see that the mind, is also, let's say, incarnating that wisdom. the individual mind is the burning focus in which the ideas get manifested and reveal the world given to it. [class transcript January 1984]
PARADOX OF SOUL: Extraordinarily beautiful: inviolable and becoming (4.1 and 4.2)
Each Unit Soul has an inviolable sanctity. But that it can be individuated and determined and fulfill a certain potential which is in the Mind of God, I think the conception is extraordinarily beautiful. [class transcript 1/6/84]
On the one hand, we speak about the transcendent aspect of Soul as abiding in serene tranquility, an undifferentiated consciousness.
On the other hand, we say this consciousness has the power to project from itself a unit of life, or a stream of life which can be included in the world circuit and experience the World-Idea. . . .
traversing through the realms of Nature is what's going to develop that and unfold that consciousness, bring it out more and more. In other words, the very experience of the world forces the consciousness of an individual to evolve, so the faculties get developed.
Now these two together, on the one hand, the soul as transcendent, on the other hand the emanant from that transcendent soul, these two together Plotinus refers to as the “We.” [class transcript 3/9/84]
The diagram will aptly illustrate our two-fold viewpoint. We may look upon the circle as a symbol of the One itself--all and everything is included. Again, we can look at the divisions within the One as those principles that emanate from the One. These two points of view are simultaneous in the chart. Astronoesis
we can see that when we are speaking about the One, or the simplicity of the One, it's going to be the most complicated and complex thing that we could deal with. The complexity of Unity is unfathomable.
It is so complex in Its undifferentiated simplicity as to include all and everything within It. Ultimately we’ll have to find that everything comes from the One. And yet, although everything comes from the One, the One remains intact. That's the paradox. [class transcript 03/12/82]
“Each mansion is an idea—a logos of the father. This is the Intellectual Principle. Associated with each idea is a ruler (planet) which esentializes the idea. We can think of the ideas as Intellect and the rulers as the object of Intellect. The totality of ideas intellective Act, the object of intellect as distinct from that act as the rulers. This permits us to conceive it as both a unity and a manifold.”
Fathom the unfathomable
after all the greatest joy that a human being can have is to try to fathom the unfathomable. When he gets to the point where he gives up then he gets enlightened -- but he better try real hard in the beginning. [class transcript 03/12/82]