I picked up Plotinus again today; right where I left off, 5.1.10. For a few week, I was reading \”A History of God\” by Karen Armstrong, along with my ongoing A Course in Miracles study.
I have to say, I immediately felt inspired and seemed to understand what I was reading. At least, I felt the hope in inspiration and the value of a life of contemplation without any worldly ambition or achievement. Since I live partially in the world, I continually feel the pull towards achievement instead. I fight the draw towards \”more\” but am not always successful.
But Plotinus gives me again the idea of contemplation of The One (first), Being (second), Soul (third). And then I right now achieve inner peace.
Why is it such trouble to turn inward? I struggle at work because the company is always wanting people to have a \”career ladder\” and to be achieving. I see others being promoted and feel jealousy. No really. I see that I don\’t want to do those things but I need to give my ego something instead. So accepting hope from Plotinus allows me to rest. Surprisingly, spirituality is one thing I have control over.
It is Sunday and I stubbornly and rebelliously stayed in bed a long time, even though I more or less woke up quite early. I loathe going outside and I fooled myself into saying I would stay inside for my workout. But as I type this, I have on my heat gear shirt and am planning to go for a walk. The walk will be in some trees and be a slow as necessary; but I know I am going outside. Selah!
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.
Thus our soul, too, is a divine thing, belonging to another order than sense; such is all that holds the rank of soul, but [above the life-principle] there is the soul perfected as containing Intellectual-Principle with its double phase, reasoning and giving the power to reason. The reasoning phase of the soul, needing no bodily organ for its thinking but maintaining, in purity, its distinctive Act that its thought may be uncontaminated- this we cannot err in placing, separate and not mingled into body, within the first Intellectual. We may not seek any point of space in which to seat it; it must be set outside of all space: its distinct quality, its separateness, its immateriality, demand that it be a thing alone, untouched by all of the bodily order. This is why we read of the universe that the Demiurge cast the soul around it from without- understand that phase of soul which is permanently seated in the Intellectual- and of ourselves that the charioteer\’s head reaches upwards towards the heights.
The admonition to sever soul from body is not, of course, to be understood spatially- that separation stands made in Nature- the reference is to holding our rank, to use of our thinking, to an attitude of alienation from the body in the effort to lead up and attach to the over-world, equally with the other, that phase of soul seated here and, alone, having to do with body, creating, moulding, spending its care upon it.
If your thirst is whetted, here is 5.1.12:
12. Possessed of such powers, how does it happen that we do not lay hold of them, but for the most part, let these high activities go idle- some, even, of us never bringing them in any degree to effect?
The answer is that all the Divine Beings are unceasingly about their own act, the Intellectual-Principle and its Prior always self-intent; and so, too, the soul maintains its unfailing movement; for not all that passes in the soul is, by that fact, perceptible; we know just as much as impinges upon the faculty of sense. Any activity not transmitted to the sensitive faculty has not traversed the entire soul: we remain unaware because the human being includes sense-perception; man is not merely a part [the higher part] of the soul but the total.
None the less every being of the order of soul is in continuous activity as long as life holds, continuously executing to itself its characteristic act: knowledge of the act depends upon transmission and perception. If there is to be perception of what is thus present, we must turn the perceptive faculty inward and hold it to attention there. Hoping to hear a desired voice, we let all others pass and are alert for the coming at last of that most welcome of sounds: so here, we must let the hearings of sense go by, save for sheer necessity, and keep the soul\’s perception bright and quick to the sounds from above.