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Third Century A.D.


The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment

Last Revised: 3 January 2005

Enlightenment Teachings and Experiences

Details of bibliographic acronyms are available here .

Subject: Plotinus
Dates: 205-270 A.D.
Tradition: Philosopher (often called a Neo-Platonist)

Temperance, courage, every virtue -- even prudence itself -- are purifications. (EP, 39.)

For what is temperance, rightly so called, but to abstain from the pleasures of the body, to reject them rather as unclean and unworthy of the clean? (EP, 39.)

The good and the beauty of the soul consists in its becoming godlike because from the divinity all beauty comes and all the constituents of reality. (EP, 40.)

The Soul ... is author ... of bodily beauty. (EP, 40.)

Only those reach [the Good] who rise to the intelligible realm, face it fully, stripped of the muddy vesture with which they were clothed in their descent ... and enter in nakedness, having cast off in the ascent all that is alien to the divine. (EP, 40.)

With what love and desire for union one is seized -- what wondering delight! (EP, 41.)

[One who has seen God] loves with a true love, with desires that flame. All other loves than this he must despise and all that once seemed fair he must disdain. (EP, 41.)

It were well to cast kingdoms aside and the domination of the entire earth and sea and sky if, by this spurning, one might attain this vision. (EP, 41.)

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. ... Withdraw into yourself and look. ... Do as does the sculptor of a statue that is to be beautified: he cuts away here, he smoothes it there, he makes this line lighter, this other one purer, until he disengages beautiful lineaments in the marble. Do you this, too. Cut away all that is excessive. straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labor to make all one radiance of beauty. Never cease "working at the statue" until there shines out upon you from it the divine sheen of virtue.... Have you become like this? Do you see yourself, abiding within yourself, in pure solitude? Does nothing now remain to shatter that interior unity, nor anything cling to your authentic self? Are you entirely that sole true light which is not contained by space, not confined to any circumscribed form, not diffused as something without term, but ever immeasurable as something greater than all measure and something more than all quantity? Do you see yourself in this state? Then you have become vision itself. Be of good heart. Remaining here you have ascended aloft. You need a guide no longer. Strain and see. (EP, 40-3.)

Only the mind's eye can contemplate this mighty beauty. But if it comes to contemplation purblind with vice, impure, weak, without the strength to look upon brilliant objects, it then sees nothing even if it is placed in the presence of an object than can be seen. For the eye must be adapted to what is to be seen, have some likeness to it, if it would give itself to contemplation. No eye that has not become like unto the sun will ever look upon the sun; nor will any that is not beautiful look upon the beautiful. Let each one therefore become godlike and beautiful who would contemplate the divine and beautiful. (EP, 43.)

If one is a born lover with an innate philosophical bent, one will get there. Such a one labors to realize beauty. To the beauty of the soul he turns his attention -- to virtue, knowledge, noble deeds, law. He then goes higher still to the source of this loveliness of the soul and to what is beyond it, the uttermost limit, Beauty itself. At this point, and not before, all sufferings cease. (EP, 47.)

Within us ... the objects we contemplate and that which contemplates are identical -- both are thought. (CC, 122.)

Purify your soul from all undue hope and fear about earthly things, mortify your body, deny self - affections as well as appetites -- and the inner eye will begin to exercise its clear and solemn vision. (CC, 122.)

This sublime condition is not of permanent duration. It is only now and then that we can enjoy this elevation (mercifully made possible for us) above the limits of the body and the world. I myself have realized it but three times as yet. (CC, 123.)

Each being contains in itself the whole intelligible world. Therefore All is everywhere. Each is there All, and All is each. Man as he now is has ceased to be the All. But when he ceases to be an individual, he raises himself again and penetrates the whole world. (PP, 5.)

Then the soul neither sees, nor distinguishes by seeing, nor imagines that there are two things; but becomes as it were another thing, ceases to be itself and belong to itself. It belongs to God and is one with Him, like two concentric circles: concurring they are One; but when they separate they are two. ... Since in this conjunction with Deity there were not two things, but the perceiver was one with the thing perceived, if a man could preserve the memory of what he was when he mingled with the Divine, he would have within himself an image of God. ... For then nothing stirred within him, neither anger, nor desire, nor even reason, nor a certain intellectual perception, nor, in short, was he himself moved, if we may assert this; but, being in an ecstacy, tranquil and alone with God, he enjoyed an unbreakable calm. (ECST, 426.)

The union with transcendent deity is not so much knowledge or vision as ecstasy, coalescence, contact. (ESO, 16.)

To reach the ultimate goal, thought itself must be left behind; for thought is a form of motion, and the desire of the soul is for the motionless rest which belongs to the One. (ESO, 16.)

The state [of ecstasy] will not be permanent until our union with God is irrevocable; here, in earth life, ecstasy is but a flash. ... Man can cease to become man, and become God; but man cannot be God and man at the same time. (ESO, 17.)

Now I seek to lead back the Self within me to the All-self. (ESO, 21.)

The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment

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