Plotinus 205-70

Kabbalah, Sufism, Gnosticism and other forms of mysticism rooted in Christianity, Judaism, Islam
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Nicholas
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Plotinus 205-70

Post by Nicholas » Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:23 pm

A brilliant pagan Platonist; his Enneads are still worthy of much study and practice. Here is a little from V.1 - Guthrie translation. Other good versions are by S. Mackenna and A.H. Armstrong.
FIFTH ENNEAD, BOOK ONE.

The Three Principal Hypostases, or Forms of Existence.

AUDACITY THE CAUSE OF HUMAN APOSTASY FROM THE DIVINITY.

1. How does it happen that souls forget their paternal divinity? Having a divine nature, and having originated from the divinity, how could they ever misconceive the divinity or themselves? The origin of their evil is "audacity,"216 generation, the primary diversity, and the desire to belong to none but themselves.217 As soon as they have enjoyed the pleasure of an independent life, and by largely making use of their power of self-direction, they advanced on the road that led them astray from their principle, and now they have arrived at such an "apostasy" (distance) from the Divinity, that they are even ignorant that they derive their life from Him.

Like children that were separated from their family since birth, and that were long educated away from home finally lose knowledge of their parents and of themselves, so our souls, no longer seeing either the divinity or themselves, have become degraded by forgetfulness of their origin, have attached themselves to other objects, have admired anything rather than themselves, have like prodigals scattered their esteem and love on exterior objects, and have, by breaking the bond that united them to the divinities, disdainfully wandered away from it. Their ignorance of the divinity is therefore caused by excessive valuation of external objects, and their scorn of themselves. The mere admiration and quest after what is foreign implies, on the soul's part, an acknowledgment of self-depreciation. As soon as a soul thinks that she is worth less than that which is born and which perishes, and considers herself as more despicable and perishable than the object she admires, she could no longer even conceive of the nature and power of the divinity.
216 By virtue of which, according to the Pythagoreans, the dyad "dared" to issue from the unity.

217 That is the desire which leads souls to separate themselves primitively from the divinity, and to unite themselves to bodies.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Re: Plotinus 205-70

Post by Nicholas » Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:29 pm

MacKenna's translation continues:
Admiring pursuit of the external is a confession of inferiority; and nothing thus holding
itself inferior to things that rise and perish, nothing counting itself less honourable and less
enduring than all else it admires could ever form any notion of either the nature or the
power of God.
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 dishonour of the
objects which the Soul holds here in honour; 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.
These two paths are basic to all Dharma Paths. 1) Renunciation of worldliness - sensory cravings and self-cherishing and 2) faith in, and meditation on, the real nature within us, which is Divine or buddha-like.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Nicholas
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Re: Plotinus 205-70

Post by Nicholas » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:11 pm

A better Greek text now exists which Armstrong & Mackenna did not have to consult. So Cambridge came out with an overpriced hardback, but excellent version of the Enneads. The paperback will come out in May of 2019; also an e-book version is available:

https://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/s ... ?format=PB
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: Plotinus 205-70

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:16 pm

Nicholas wrote:
Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:23 pm
A brilliant pagan Platonist; his Enneads are still worthy of much study and practice. Here is a little from V.1 - Guthrie translation. Other good versions are by S. Mackenna and A.H. Armstrong.
FIFTH ENNEAD, BOOK ONE.

The Three Principal Hypostases, or Forms of Existence.

AUDACITY THE CAUSE OF HUMAN APOSTASY FROM THE DIVINITY.

1. How does it happen that souls forget their paternal divinity? Having a divine nature, and having originated from the divinity, how could they ever misconceive the divinity or themselves? The origin of their evil is "audacity,"216 generation, the primary diversity, and the desire to belong to none but themselves.217 As soon as they have enjoyed the pleasure of an independent life, and by largely making use of their power of self-direction, they advanced on the road that led them astray from their principle, and now they have arrived at such an "apostasy" (distance) from the Divinity, that they are even ignorant that they derive their life from Him.

Like children that were separated from their family since birth, and that were long educated away from home finally lose knowledge of their parents and of themselves, so our souls, no longer seeing either the divinity or themselves, have become degraded by forgetfulness of their origin, have attached themselves to other objects, have admired anything rather than themselves, have like prodigals scattered their esteem and love on exterior objects, and have, by breaking the bond that united them to the divinities, disdainfully wandered away from it. Their ignorance of the divinity is therefore caused by excessive valuation of external objects, and their scorn of themselves. The mere admiration and quest after what is foreign implies, on the soul's part, an acknowledgment of self-depreciation. As soon as a soul thinks that she is worth less than that which is born and which perishes, and considers herself as more despicable and perishable than the object she admires, she could no longer even conceive of the nature and power of the divinity.
216 By virtue of which, according to the Pythagoreans, the dyad "dared" to issue from the unity.

217 That is the desire which leads souls to separate themselves primitively from the divinity, and to unite themselves to bodies.
Vāseṭṭha, you have different births, names, and clans, and have gone forth from the lay life to homelessness from different families. When they ask you what you are, you claim to be ascetics, followers of the Sakyan. But only when someone has faith in the Realized One—settled, rooted, and planted deep, strong, not to be shifted by any ascetic or brahmin or god or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world—is it appropriate for them to say: ‘I am the Buddha’s true-born child, born from his mouth, born of principle, created by principle, heir to principle.’ Why is that? For these are terms for the Realized One: ‘the embodiment of truth’, and ‘the embodiment of holiness’, and ‘the one who has become the truth’, and ‘the one who has become holy’.

There comes a time when, Vāseṭṭha, after a very long period has passed, this cosmos contracts. As the cosmos contracts, sentient beings are mostly headed for the realm of streaming radiance. There they are mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the sky, steadily glorious, and they remain like that for a very long time.

There comes a time when, after a very long period has passed, this cosmos expands. As the cosmos expands, sentient beings mostly pass away from that host of radiant deities and come back to this realm. Here they are mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the sky, steadily glorious, and they remain like that for a very long time.

2. Solid Nectar Appears
But the single mass of water at that time was utterly dark. The moon and sun were not found, nor were stars and constellations, day and night, months and fortnights, years and seasons, or male and female. Beings were simply known as ‘beings’. After a very long period had passed, solid nectar curdled in the water. It appeared just like the curd on top of hot milk as it cools. It was beautiful, fragrant, and delicious, like ghee or butter. And it was as sweet as pure manuka honey. Now, one of those beings was reckless. Thinking, ‘Oh my, what might this be?’ they tasted the solid nectar with their finger. They enjoyed it, and craving was born in them. And other beings, following that being’s example, tasted solid nectar with their fingers. They too enjoyed it, and craving was born in them.

3. The Moon and Sun Appear
Then those beings started to eat the solid nectar, breaking it into lumps. But when they did this their luminosity vanished. And with the vanishing of their luminosity the moon and sun appeared, stars and constellations appeared, days and nights were distinguished, and so were months and fortnights, and years and seasons. To this extent the world had evolved once more.

Then those beings eating the solid nectar, with that as their food and nourishment, remained for a very long time. But so long as they ate that solid nectar, their bodies became more solid and they diverged in appearance; some beautiful, some ugly. And the beautiful beings looked down on the ugly ones: ‘We’re more beautiful, they’re the ugly ones!’ And the vanity of the beautiful ones made the solid nectar vanish. They gathered together and bemoaned: ‘Oh, what a taste! Oh, what a taste!’ And even today when people get something tasty they say: ‘Oh, what a taste! Oh, what a taste!’ They’re just remembering an ancient traditional saying, but they don’t understand what it means.

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Nicholas
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Re: Plotinus 205-70

Post by Nicholas » Fri May 10, 2019 9:58 pm

For an excellent introduction to Plotinus & his Enneads, study The Heart of Plotinus compiled & edited by the late Algis Uzdavinys. Here is a little from the Foreword by Bregman:
The American Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, included
Plotinus (204-270 C.E.) and Porphyry (235-305 C.E.) in “the high
priesthood of pure reason, the Trismegisti . . . of the old religion . . .
which makes the sanctities of Christianity look parvenus and popular.”
Ironically, the Neoplatonic version of religious Hellenism
has had a seminal influence on Christianity, most notably on the
works of Augustine of Hippo in the Latin West and Dionysius
the Areopagite in the Greek East. A Neoplatonic underground,
as it were, continued this tradition in Byzantium and the Middle
Ages, and openly re-emerged in the Christian Neoplatonism of
the Renaissance through such figures as Marsilio Ficino and Pico
della Mirandola. The Romantic Movement was also significantly
Neoplatonic, Plotinus being one of its major sources.

In England, the isolated Thomas Taylor translated their works,
and even tried to revive their non-Christian Hellenic religion.
Plotinus, though more interested in philosophy than cultic worship,
was nevertheless a religious philosopher primarily concerned
with the soul’s origin in, and return to, the divine First Principle...
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Nicholas
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Re: Plotinus 205-70

Post by Nicholas » Sat May 11, 2019 7:59 pm

A sample from the new Gerson edition which shows the nice intro & summary before each ennead. The number in parens is the chronological placement among the total of 54. Porphyry preferred to try a topical arrangement.
1.1 (53)
What Is the Living Being and What Is the Human Being?

Introduction

In this very late treatise, Plotinus considers the relation between the
person or self and the human being, composed of body and soul. He is,
as always, trying to follow Plato as he understands him but also, especially
here, to draw on Peripatetic insights. Plotinus will identify the
true self with the immortal, undescended intellect and the embodied
subject of psychical activities as its image. This distinction between
immortal and mortal kinds of soul, drawn from Timaeus, will provide
the basis for his explanation of punishment and moral responsibility: it is
only the embodied self that can be held responsible.
This treatise is placed first by Porphyry since in a way the entire
structure of Plotinus’ philosophy begins with our personal reflections
on identity.

Summary

§1. What is the subject of embodied states and activities?
§2. What is the soul? Is it itself a composite or is it form?
§3. The various ways in which the soul has been conceived of as
related to the body.
§4. The soul imparts life to the body without being mixed with it.
§5. How can the states of the body be transmitted to the soul?
§6. In what sense is the soul actively involved with the body and in
what sense is it impassive?
§7. It is not the soul itself that endows the body with life, but its
activity.
§8. Relation of the embodied soul to Intellect.
§9. Vice is attributed to the living being, not to the soul itself.
§10. The ambiguity of ‘we’ between embodied and disembodied self.
§11. The psychical status of children and animals.
§12. Moral responsibility belongs only to the embodied self, the
image of the true self.
§13. In Again, the ambiguity in the reference to the subject of
intellectual activity.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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