Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gravitating


Self-knowledge reveals to the Soul [psychê/ emotions, feelings and thinking faculty] that its natural motion is not in a straight line, but circular, as around some inner object, about a centre, the point to which it owes its origin. If the Soul knows this it will move around that centre from which it came, it will cling to it, commune with it, and indeed all soul should, but only divine souls do. This is the secret of their divinity, for Divinity consists in being attached to the centre. One who withdraws from it, becomes an ordinary man or an animal (Plotinus, Ennead VI, 9).
Do we want to be truly human? What is that essential “centre of gravity”? How to find it? What role should it play in our daily life?
So distracted we tend to be in ordinary life, that we miss a whole flow of inner wealth that answers many unsolved questions. When one turns the attention towards the own body, perception and inner space during the day, one notices that the body has unnecessary tensions, the heart is sometimes contracted, filled with anxiety and negativity, while the mind tends to have aversion towards physical discomfort, unpleasant circumstances of life, certain manifestations of other people, and so on. Yet, all that, as a whole, seems to be part of a movement, a longing for something that is rarely found because the monkey mind is not patient enough to watch in silence, it simply jumps from one object to another, saturated with noises.
Those who believe that the world of being is governed by luck or by chance and that it depends upon material causes, are far more removed from the divine and from the notion of The One.  It is not such people as these that we address, but such as those who admit the existence of a world other than the corporeal and at least acknowledge the existence of the Soul [psychê, as source of the body].  These people should apply themselves to the study of the Soul, learning among other things that it proceeds from the Intelligence [the self-contemplation of the Noûs or Higher Mind] and attains virtue by participating in the reason  [lógos] that proceeds from the Intelligence.  Next, they must realize that the Intelligence is different from our faculty of reasoning [ordinary thinking], that reasoning implies, as it were, separate steps and movements.  They must see that knowledge consists in the manifestation of the rational forms [Eide, Ideas] that exist in the Soul and come to the Soul from the Intelligence, the source of knowledge.  After one has seen the Intelligence, (...) one must think of it as a quiet, unwavering movement, embracing all things and being all things (...) the intelligible realm, is near The One (...)  It is nevertheless not the Supreme because it is neither one nor simple. (Ennead VI, 9. Note: the highlighting and the parenthesis are ours).

This text of Plotinus might seem a confusing manifestation of “rationalistic mysticism”, but it really grasps details that may shed light upon the wealth of our inner world. We rarely question our “values”, “thoughts” and “feelings”, wondering where they come from. Some have even come to believe that subtle Ideas such as "Vitality", “Light”, “Being”, “Beauty”, “Justice”, “Oneness” are but a conceptual product of the brain, when the truth is that they are real qualities that inherently belong to a more subtle level from which both the inner serenity, conscious love, the psyche and the body emerge, from where everything flows, since the last Big Bang. 
Yet, as Plotinus points out, the Light-Intelligence, is in no way the One towards which all things gravitate, even though some dual traditions seem to believe so. "The Supreme Good, The One beyond oneness”, “The Pathless Path”, is still the greatest accomplishment, or rather, the greatest and most mysterious non-accomplishment. But let´s leave that to ponder, for a future post on Non-Duality. Until the next time, eyes back to the body and psyche together.

(Anyone interested in juicy texts of Plotinus may find them in the compilation The Essential Plotinus, with translation by Elmer O´Brien)

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