Plotinus

Plotinus
c. 205
c. 270

Greek Philosopher, Theorized three principles: the One, the Intellect and the Soul

Author Quotes

We need to assign the Senior Beauty, which is identical with the well and which derives the Intelligence which is beautiful in itself.

We should be spectators of murders, and all deaths, and takings and sackings of cities, as if they were on the stages of theatres, all changes of scenery and costume and acted wailings and weepings. For really here in the events of our lives it is not the soul within but the outside shadow of man which cries and moans and carries on in every sort of way on a stage which is the whole earth? Doings like these belong to a man who knows how to live only the lower and external life and is not aware that he is playing in his tears, even if they are serious tears.

What is this vision like? How is it attained? How will one see this immense beauty that dwells, as it were, in inner sanctuaries and comes not forward to be seen by the profane? Let him who can arise, withdraw into himself, forego all that is known by the eyes, turn aside forever from the bodily beauty that was once his joy. He must not hanker after the graceful shapes that appear in bodies, but know them for copies, for traceries, for shadows, and hasten away towards that which they bespeak. For if one pursue what is like a beautiful shape moving over water ? Is there not a myth about just such a dupe, how he sank into the depths of the current and was swept away to nothingness? Well, so too, one that is caught by material beauty and will not cut himself free will be precipitated, not in body but in soul, down into the dark depths loathed by The Intelligence where, blind even there in Hades, he will traffic only with shadows, there as he did here. ? We must close our eyes and invoke a new manner of seeing, a wakefulness that is the birthright of us all, though few put it to use. ?

When [we] see the beauty in bodies [we] must not run after them; we must know that they are images, traces, shadows and hurry away to that which they image.

When we look outside of that on which we depend we ignore our unity; looking outward we see many faces; look inward and all is one head. If a man could but be turned about, he would see at once God and himself and the All.

There is thus a converse in virtue of which the essential man outgrows Being, becomes identical with the Transcendent of Being. He that knows himself to be one with This, has in himself the likeness of the Supreme; if from that heightened self he can pass higher still? image to archetype? he has won the term of all his journeying.

Wherever it lies, under earth or over earth, the body will always rot.

Therefore must we ascend once more towards the Good, towards there where tend all souls. Anyone who has seen it knows what I mean, in what sense it is beautiful. As good it is desired and towards it desire advances. But only those reach it who rise to the intelligible realm, face it fully, stripped of the muddy vesture with which they were clothed in their descent....Those who have witnessed the manifestation of divine or supernatural realities can never again feel the old delight in bodily beauty.

Which will be an object of thought to the intellect, but in itself it will be neither thinker nor object of thought in the proper, authentic sense; for the object of thought is object for something else, and the intellect has its intellectual effort empty of content if it does not grasp and comprehend the object which it thinks.

Therefore we must ascend again towards the Good, the desired of every Soul. Anyone that has seen This, knows what I intend when I say that it is beautiful. Even the desire of it is to be desired as a Good. To attain it is for those that will take the upward path, who will set all their forces towards it, who will divest themselves of all that we have put on in our descent: ? so, to those that approach the Holy Celebrations of the Mysteries, there are appointed purifications and the laying aside of the garments worn before, and the entry in nakedness ? until, passing, on the upward way, all that is other than the God, each in the solitude of himself shall behold that solitary-dwelling Existence, the Apart, the Unmingled, the Pure, that from Which all things depend, for Which all look and live and act and know, the Source of Life and of Intellection and of Being.

World Soul and Individual Souls: There must be something prior to Soul because Soul is in the world and there must be something outside a world in which, all being corporeal and material, nothing has enduring reality: failing such a prior, neither man nor the Ideas would be eternal or have true identity. These and many other considerations establish the necessary existence of an Intellectual-Principle prior to Soul.

Therefore, since a rational principle came to be in something which was not rational, but an indefinite impulse and as obscure expression, what it produced was something not complete or sufficient, but defective, since it came into being from an indefinite impulse and a sufficient rational principle. So Eros is not a pure rational principle, since he has in himself an indefinite, irrational, unbounded impulse; for he will never be satisfied as long as he has in him the nature of the indefinite.

Wrong-doing from man to man is wrong in the doer and he is not to be absolved from responsibility; but as belonging to the established order of the universe is not a wrong even as regards the innocent sufferer; it is a thing that had to be, and if the sufferer is good, the issue is to his gain. For we cannot think that this ordered combination proceeds without God and justice, even though the reasons of things elude us, and to our ignorance the scheme presents matter of censure.

Things here are but signs that show to the wise how the Supreme God is known; the enlightened sage reading the sign may enter the holy place and make the vision real. This Term, attained only by those that have overpassed all, is the All-Transcending.

This All is universal power, of infinite extent and infinite in potency, a god so great that all his parts are infinite. Name any place, and he is already there.

This is the life of gods and of godlike and blessed men? liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth? a flight of the alone to the Alone.

To make the existence and coherent structure of this Universe depend upon automatic activity and upon chance is against all good sense.

True fortitude is not to fear death; for death is nothing more than a certain separation of soul from body, and this he will not fear, who desires to be alone.

We are left wondering whence it came, from within or without; and when it has gone, we say, ?It was here. Yet no; it was beyond!? 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.

We must not run after it, but we must fit ourselves for the vision and then wait tranquilly for it, as the eye waits on the rising of the Sun which in its own time appears above the horizon and gives itself to our sight.

Let us define the nature of the Good as far as our immediate purpose demands. The Good is that on which all depends, towards which all existences aspire as to their source and need, while Itself is without need, the measure and term of all, giving out from Itself Divine Mind and Being and Soul and Life and all intellective act.

So 'we' is used in two senses, either including the beast or referring to that which even in our present life transcends it. The beast is the body which has been given life. But the true man is different, clear of these affections.

The soul of each one of us is sent, that the universe may be complete.

Life is the flight of the alone to the alone.

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 down going path: she is of perfect judgment 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.

Author Picture
First Name
Plotinus
Birth Date
c. 205
Death Date
c. 270
Bio

Greek Philosopher, Theorized three principles: the One, the Intellect and the Soul