Plotinus Beauty

This morning, I was studying Plotinus\’ Enneads 1.6.2. I put together these pieces.

Beauty – something, a quality seen, heard, or sensed or felt and known. We think: beautiful.
Beauty – \”…all the loveliness of the world which comes by communion in Ideal Form.\”
\”…minds that lift themselves above the realm of sense to a higher order are aware of the beauty that derives from Soul.\”
\”This, then, is how the material thing becomes beautiful – by communicating in the thought that flows from the divine.\”

Plotinus leaves the door wide open for the spiritual aspirant. Step through the door. Touch the thought that flows from the divine. This communion is more that what is found in church. Turn off the TV. Put down the drink. Stop. Listen.

Not everyone is a spiritual aspirant. But, if you hear the call:
1. answer it.
2. Reduce the world.
3. Take up a practice.
4. Balance your worldly needs with communion.

I have had a long term interest in self transcendence. Another way to express that is to become beautiful; as in communicating in the thought that flows from the divine.

Somewhere, I heard about the book \”Into the Silent Land\” by Martin Laird. It is about Christian contemplation. It is the sort of book where you can read one paragraph and then shut your eyes and let your spirit soar. \”…Our greatest need is to be silent before this great God….A spiritual practice is not a technique but something that disposes us to allow some thing to take place….God is already the ground of our being. It is a question of realizing this in our lives….why most of us spend our lives ignorant of this….\”

How blessed I am to have entered the spiritual path. I admit it seems to have reduced a family live or sexual relationship or co-habitation. This causes me to see the world differently: not as me and my family but as us.

I simply boil the beans and rice.

I go running. I am actually in training. I own tickets to Calgary and am entered in the 2014 Calgary marathon. My body is different now that before surgery last September. I am up to 10 miles. My task now is to get the weekly mileage up. I think I can. It is wonderful to jog around Seabrook and also El Lago. Now I will go do that.

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Bleakness

Monday. I woke up. Then, I snoozed until the alarm. Then, I sat in the darkness thinking about my stupid life. I felt my bleakness. Again, I don\’t love going to work and there seems no point to my life. These are my first thoughts.

I went downstairs. I began to plow through Plotinus Enneads 1.4.6. My mind was dragged out of its gutter into the realm of inspiration. I so get it that this world holds nothing for me. Yes I have creature comforts with a minimum of distraction, but these are not happiness. But turning toward the spiritual I do feel that higher sense and I feel the contentment in communion with It, Being, as the thing of my life I want.

So, the activity of spiritual study could be the only thing which keeps me alive. Life. I am depressed if I don\’t look up.

On Friday I jogged 8.5 miles in 2h07.
On Saturday, I jogged 4.1 miles plus a bunch of machine aerobics.
On Sunday I jogged 9.3 miles in 2h12.

Not bad for someone who had achilles surgery on September 24, 2013, was non-weight-bearing for 6 weeks, and dealt with more pain and difficulty walking for a few more weeks. But, exercise does bring me endorphins; which I seem to need for well being.

Lesson 7

Lesson 7 is \”I see only the past.\” Meaning that I have past thoughts associated with everything I see. All meaning for me is formed from past thoughts.

Then I also read this morning from the ACIM Text 25.II.1: \”The only value that the past can hold is that you learn it gave you no rewards which you want to keep. For only thus will you be willing to relinquish it.\” This part of the Text goes so far as to remind me that every \”high\” point in my life has ended in disappointment.

Related to Plotinus, the point is also made that this world is a cheap illusion and we need to turn towards The Good instead.

I pondered my 55th birthday coming up. I pondered my ongoing struggle with running and racing. I need to let go of some things. Running gives me much meditation. Racing gives me cheap thrills. But my ego desperately wants to grasp some \”high.\” I study many spiritual authors. It seems that ascendance to Divine Providence does entail renunciation of the cheapness of life, paying attention more and more to The Beyond. I am doing that.

And then, I went for my first post surgery run in El Lago in the early morning. I have been running already several times. But I mean I went out the gate of my village and into El Lago before dawn, o\’dark o\’clock. I was bundled up since it is unheard of cold here on the Gulf coast. But I enjoyed my 26 minutes of jogging.

Plotinus 6.8.15

6.8.15 seems a real gem to me. It pretty much gives me a reality of One.

Where it says, \”Self-presence can hold only in the identity of associated with associating…\”; I thought that perhaps my spiritual seeking is a function which comes already from That, not a failure on my part to find God. If I allow that my seeking is That\’s Self-presence and I am That, then I can be at peace entered consciously into relation with That which I always wanted. The relationship springs automatically into reality.. I know I am not saying anything new, but the way Plotinus explains it, I had a moment of clarity.

Students of A Course in Miracles would recognize the principles of inner peace and real relationship; although the wording is quite different. This means to me that the scribe of ACIM was scribing information which is present in human consciousness and is truth; but it is not new with her. The Self of ACIM (Jesus) has always been so the information is true. The Buddha got this also. Jesus himself got this also. Christianity as it exists today is a corruption of truth.

Then, the whole second paragraph is satisfying. I have the reality explained.

\”And when we say that neither does He absorb anything nor anything absorb Him, thus again we are setting Him outside all happening….Suppose we found such a nature in ourselves; we are untouched by all that has gathered round us subjecting us to happening and chance; all that accruement was of the servile and lay exposed to chance: by this new state alone we acquire self-disposal and free act…When we become This alone, what can we say but that we are more than free, more than self-disposing? And who then could link us to chance, hazard, happening, when thus we are become veritable Life, entered into That which contains no alloy but is purely itself?\”

Valid or not, I feel I can have this stance toward daily life, as in just being Life. My life is that way. I think this is a creation of my seeking; as in my seeking produced a life with the space and time for spiritual seeking in peace. My relationship of oneness with That produces the time for seeking; and we are seeker and sought at the same time. This is the essence and reason for my being. I don\’t need emotional evidence today. I just accept and know.

2014 has the potential to be a record breaking year of peace. I have a charge number and a clear task for the year at work. I live in this one place with very little travel. I have all the workout capability I need and am not entered into any races to I don\’t worry about training. I have a good AA group. I have 650 more pages of Plotinus and a year of ACIM workbook. Beans are easy to cook in the crock pot. Rice is easy to cook on the stove. Spinach is added at the time of eating. ¬†All this peace is only good if I want The Good. Otherwise it would be terribly boring and I\’d have to go out in the world to get a life.

A year of being not doing!

The Father of Lights

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, in Bill\’s Story, starting around page 13, I piece together a theory of living: \”…I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction…I was to sit quietly when in doubt…I must turn in all things to the Father of Light…the moment I fully accepted, the effect was electric. There was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity as I had never known. There was utter confidence. I felt lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through…\”

Lesson 3: I do not understand anything I see.

24.VII: \”Perception can serve another goal…It is given me to make another choice.\”

Plotinus 6.8.14: \”…where there is true being, where things have been brought to reality by that Principle…all that reality is brought about in virtue of something emanating from the divine.\”

And then I stopped to pray silently. What I heard was: allow yourself to be both seeker and sought. It is a mistake to think you are a flawed sinner, hated by God. Any time I sit before the Father of Lights, I feel utter confidence, a great clean wind.

I feel really good today. Included in my morning workout was a one mile/ 11:44 minute Run. And now I am at work and my shoes don\’t hurt. Awesome.

Lesson 2

ACIM workbook 2: I have given everything I see all the meaning it has for me.

Part 1 of the work book is for undoing the way you see now. Part 2 is for acquiring true perception. This is my 5th time through the work book. Seeing things different is why I work on A Course in Miracles.

Plotinus 6.8.13: \”As long as a thing is apart from its good, it seeks outside itself…It may be added that nothing else contains in its essence the principle of its own satisfaction; there will be inner discord: but this hypostasis of The Good must necessarily have self-option, the will towards the self; if it had not, it could not bring satisfaction to the beings whose contentment demands participation in it or imagination of it.\”

Plotinus is a difficult read; especially since I have no philosophical education. However, almost every day, a little gem crosses my mind. What crossed my mind this morning is that we cannot find what we seek outside ourselves and only participation in the Good will bring satisfaction. We have heard this right? It is not the sole domain of Christianity. In fact one could argue that Christianity adopted much from philosophy; that Truth is true no matter who got it first.

\”Not seeking outside myself\” is part of my quandary between monastic practices and the world. It is part of my idea of downward mobility, simplicity, becoming as little as possible, no specialness.

Turn the Page 2013

It is the end of the year. Yesterday my wall looked like this:

Today it looks like this:

A blank wall. Turn the page. Let go of 2 years worth of racing. Let go of last year\’s 12 marathons and 4 half marathons. Let go of the DNS due to a March snow storm in Kansas. Let go of the DNSs due to surgery. Let go of the wasted air fares, entry fees, people not seen, miserable results.

I\’m starting a new position in my company in 2014. I have a new heel. I have a new philosopher to study.

I\’m almost 55 years old, just a few more days. My life should be past its mid-life crisis. You would think that I would have accepted everything. But this morning, the pondering carried on. Few dopamine rewards accrue to the solitary.

When I came into sobriety, I had to admit powerlessness and un-manageability over my life. In the monastery, the act of monastic profession was bound up with the idea of total self gift to God. I really wanted to make my total self gift and have it validated by the religious order and Church. Instead, I got kicked out, so no validation of my gift. This morning, reading Plotinus\’ Enneads, the idea of self disposal came up. Self disposal is true if there is no outside master or compulsion over the act; and it is inwards toward The Good. I realized that I have control over this. I can do it.

I return to my life. 55 years of some interesting events, some dopamine rewards in achievements, but no visible purpose. My ego got nothing but older. But I see that self disposal is true. I have been somewhat solitary for about 10 years. In my somewhat ordinary life, dopamine rewards thwarted by solitude, self disposal is possible. Total self gift becomes real in the surrender, in the admission of powerlessness, in the ongoing spiritual practice with no worldly rewards.

This Christmas, my ego got nothing. I got what I wanted.

Plotinus

Blogger.com bothers me somewhat as every time I post, I get 60 hits from robots. Very few actual people look at this. I like to separate the people from the robots.

A week ago perhaps, I first heard of Plotinus. Now I find myself immersed in this Greek philosopher. I am fascinated to see the underpinnings of western religion without the Christian overlays. I can move on from A Course in Miracles since I see it as the same thing as this earlier philosopher but in a more fanciful mode and with Christian semantics. Plotinus would propose the same principles of The Unity and of humans as thoughts and this world as an illusion and looking within; but in far cleaner prose. Although, without 30 years of spiritual study, I don\’t suppose Plotinus would make any sense to me.

Sunday Musings from 6th Ennead, 9th Tractate:

Section 7 explains the \”preoccupation by the impress of something else, we are withheld under that pressure from becoming aware of The Unity, a mind gripped and fastened by some definite thing cannot take the print of the very contrary.\”

Herein is explained much of what I\’ve tried to do with my life. I went into the monastery seeking contemplation. I came out with tools for contemplation. Out here, I may have to work for a living, but I am much better able to seek solitude during my off hours. In solitude, I look toward The Unity and away from the distraction of the world. That was the purpose of the monastery too.

In section 6, it says The Solitary…. In this, I see that being in solitude as much as possible, I come closer to \”neither knowing nor anything unknown.\” In solitude, I can turn inward. Not looking at the world, I know less about it; and am more like The Solitary towards which I look.

I cook my beans and rice as I always have; knowing nothing of fancier processed foods. My world changes some but I intentionally keep constancy as a divine quality.

But there is a terrible effort to balance. I can\’t leave the world totally. I must interact at points. For the most part, work can be kept in a box. Other interactions are brief and can be seen as like meeting like. I have no family of relationship so I don\’t have the agony I see most others experiencing.

The Truth is true. So reading Plotinus this morning, I became aware of a foundation on which many theologies are built. Religion only goes on to hide the foundation. The Unity is more than a foundation of course, but it is also the thing found by the founders of theologies.

The Yearning

The blog was silent for a number of days, as I had nothing to say. But now I am on a 9 day vacation, in the solitude of my house; and there is now space for thinking beyond work and daily life. In that is disclosed the purpose of the monastery or the hermitage. Monks and Hermits are those with the holy leisure, time to ponder something more than survival in the world.

The past 24 hours, I have been attempting to make sense out of the first 6 pages of Plotinus\’ first Ennead. Plotinus was a philosopher existing around 250 ACE. It occurs to me that 250 ACE was formative for the human mentality. In a sense, the discontinuity of Christ formed and discontinuity in mental evolution. Many of our theories of God and Spirit and Soul were born at this time.

I as a 20th century American have struggled with many of these ideas. I live in an age where access to information is easier than 50 years ago when I was born. This in and of itself explains who I am and my insistence that I satisfy the yearnings of my soul.

Sitting here in Texas, in a cold rain with hot coffee and table lamp, books and journals, I ponder Plotinus. What am I? I feel like St Therese: a little bird which cannot reach the sun.

I answer in my own words. Words not given by Plotinus or A Course in Miracles. Words based in my life and all of its 54 years of experience. The yearning has been with me for a long time. It was a girl on a play ground by herself shooting baskets. A girl walking. A girl riding a bicycle. A girl swimming laps. A girl lieutenant on the traffic squad.

The yearning has been with me forever. And so now I say the I am yearning embodied. I am a yearning principle which lives. All my athletics are yearning. All prayer, all getting out of bed day after day. I accept this state of being. If it me as separate from God that yearns? Or is it Soul that yearns and I am a function of the Soul\’s yearning? Why would Soul yearn? Still, either way, I am yearning itself.

As yearning, I can also call myself love. Yearning is love. If I achieve stillness, I swing the scale of yearning to silent love, Being Itself. And then I am completely coherent. The problem of yearning is solved.

Surly I will have more reflections.