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Plotinus – Is “The One” really God?

Plotinus

Plotinus – Wikipedia

Plotinus (205-70 CE) was an ancient Greek speaking philosopher thought to have been born in Egypt. He established a branch of philosophy that, since the Renaissance, has been called Neoplatonism.

At Rome in 244 CE he became a prominent teacher of asceticism, encouraging the introspective life. Later, he founded a short-lived community in Campania, based on an ideal society outlined in Plato‘s Republic.

Plotinus’ works were edited by his disciple Porphyry and put into six groups of nine, called the “Enneads.”

Perhaps Plotinus’ most important contribution to the history of ideas is his notion of the One. For Plotinus, the One is Goodness and Beauty existing before, and the ultimate source of all observable differences found in, our world of becoming. Our world emanates from the One, this process setting up a complicated and hierarchical series of arrangements, or dyads, all leading back up to the One.

Psycho-spiritual liberation is best found in personal union with the One, described as an ephemeral experience of pure, insurmountable delight. According to Porphyry, Plotinus had four of these ecstatic experiences during the time these two men knew each other.

Plontinus’ work has been widely influential. The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung mentions the term “Word Soul” (anima mundi) when speaking of the archetype of the self. And New Age and Gnostic circles have adapted his legacy in countless ways. Artists, musicians and poets have also tried to capture or develop the essence of his thought.¹

Plotinus

An anachronistic portrait of Plotinus – Wikipedia

Basically, Plontinus believes we can become one with God. By way of contrast, most monotheistic religions believe that we can have a relationship with God but never actually be the same as God.

This difference is key and, I think, could influence how we understand and experience our world.

Consider an analogy: If an ant falls into a sugar jar it might eat tons of sugar and become totally absorbed with the sweet substance. For the ant, this is Heaven on Earth and nothing is greater.

Likewise with some people. One experience of extreme absorption and they assume they have found the ultimate. This could be unfortunate because that presumption might prevent them from encountering even greater perspectives and experiences.

¹ Although Elton John’s 1992 song “The One” is really about meeting a soulmate, I think one could argue that Plotinus’ ideas, along with the notion of chakras, have an indirect influence. See https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/eltonjohn/theone.html

Plotinus – Wikipedia

Oct 6 2017  Highlights with LINER

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His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of Pagan, Islamic, Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics

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Plotinus had an inherent distrust of materiality (an attitude common to Platonism), holding to the view that phenomena were a poor image or mimicry (mimesis) of something “higher and intelligible” [VI.I] which was the “truer part of genuine Being”. This distrust extended to the body, including his own; it is reported by Porphyry that at one point he refused to have his portrait painted,

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From all accounts his personal and social life exhibited the highest moral and spiritual standards.

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Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent “One”, containing no division, multiplicity or distinction;

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Plotinus identified his “One” with the concept of ‘Good’ and the principle of ‘Beauty’.

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The “less perfect” must, of necessity, “emanate”, or issue forth, from the “perfect” or “more perfect”. Thus, all of “creation” emanates from the One in succeeding stages of lesser and lesser perfection. These stages are not temporally isolated, but occur throughout time as a constant process.

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The One is not just an intellectual concept but something that can be experienced, an experience where one goes beyond all multiplicity.

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Plotinus writes, “We ought not even to say that he will see, but he will be that which he sees, if indeed it is possible any longer to distinguish between seer and seen, and not boldly to affirm that the two are one.”

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Plotinus never mentions Christianity in any of his works.

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Henosis is the word for mystical “oneness”, “union”, or “unity” in classical Greek. In Platonism, and especially Neoplatonism, the goal of henosis is union with what is fundamental in reality: the One (Τὸ Ἕν), the Source, or Monad.

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As is specified in the writings of Plotinus on Henology,[note 1] one can reach a state of tabula rasa, a blank state where the individual may grasp or merge with The One.

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For several centuries after the Protestant Reformation, Neo-Platonism was condemned as a decadent and ‘oriental’ distortion of Platonism.

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Plotinus seems to be one of the first to argue against the still popular notion of causal astrology. In the late tractate 2.3, “Are the stars causes?”, Plotinus makes the argument that specific stars influencing one’s fortune (a common Hellenistic theme) attributes irrationality to a perfect universe, and invites moral turpitude.[clarification needed] He does, however, claim the stars and planets are ensouled, as witnessed by their movement.

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One of his most distinguished pupils was Pico della Mirandola, author of An Oration On the Dignity of Man. Our term ‘Neo Platonist’ has its origins in the Renaissance.

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Plotinus was the cardinal influence on the 17th-century school of the Cambridge Platonists, and on numerous writers from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to W. B. Yeats and Kathleen Raine.

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Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Ananda Coomaraswamy used the writing of Plotinus in their own texts as a superlative elaboration upon Indian monism, specifically Upanishadic and Advaita Vedantic thought.

 Elton John is the muse for Gucci’s latest maximalist mille-feuille collection (telegraph.co.uk)

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Arjuna

Arjuna's Chariot

Arjuna’s Chariot (Photo credit: code_martial)

Arjuna is a renowned Indian culture hero and Krishna‘s charioteer in the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna arguably has the status of a demigod among of much the Hindu-Indian populace. In the Gita he is prodded by the god Krishna to fight kith and kin.

Despite his initial reluctance, Arjuna overcomes the chronic procrastination that Shakespeare‘s Hamlet cannot—that is, the crippling fear, self-doubt and excessive thinking that can lead to inaction.

Krishna philosophical rationalization for killing can be summed up as follows: He instructs Arjuna that the body dies but the soul is immortal. Moreover, the sacred duty (dharma) appropriate to Arjuna’s kshatriya caste demands that he fight.

According to a literal interpretation of the Gita, it is better to do one’s dharma – even if it means killing – than to ignore it.

Today the Gita is cherished for its psychological and spiritual value. Arjuna’s “killing” is usually interpreted as the death of negative attitudes and actions which otherwise would bind the eternal soul (atman) to worldly pleasures and desires.

Politically, however, the Gita may be taken as similar to the Christian idea of the Just War and the Muslim idea of Jihad. Most religions, even Buddhism, try to justify “unavoidable” war somewhere within their teachings. For this and other reasons, religion in general has been challenged by some pop stars (e.g. Elton John and John Lennon) and by other prominent figures throughout history.¹

¹ See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_religion


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Lady Diana

Lady Diana

Lady Diana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the Princess of Wales, Lady Diana Spencer (1961-1997) arguably became an enduring type of mythological figure. While critical media hype discredited her public persona as a mere chimera, another perspective sees her as an inspirational role model for human kindness, honesty and noble humility.

Diana took an active interest in AIDS victims and worked with the International Red Cross. Early in the Royal marriage, Lady Diana quickly overshadowed Prince Charles in the public eye. Charles’ princely decorum was eclipsed by her straight from the heart charm.

Apart from all the media attention surrounding Diana’s untimely death by car accident, one scholar claims she is a mere “footnote” in human history.

Sir Elton John was a close friend of Lady Diana. He and Bernie Taupin recast their song Candle in the Wind (formerly written for Marilyn Monroe on the 1973 lp Goodbye Yellow Brick Road) with new lyrics appropriate for Lady Diana’s televised funeral. The reimagined single is the best selling single record of all time. Sir Elton John has vowed never to play the song in public again, unless requested by Diana’s children.

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Sir Elton John

Elton John live, 1975

Elton John live, 1975 (via Wikipedia) by tony morelli at http://flickr.com/photos/43328299@N00/1352803363

Sir Elton John (1947- ) is a British pop music star.

Elton John’s original name was Reginald Kenneth Dwight. Born in Pinner, Middlesex, Reginald played songs by ear on the piano at the age of 4 and took formal training at the Royal Academy of Music when 11.

As Elton John, his collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin flowered in the 1970’s with chart toppers like ‘Your Song’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Daniel’, ‘Honky Cat’, ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.’

With a keen interest in Rugby, Elton at one time owned a British Football Club, eventually selling his shares to become its Life President.

He apparently began life as a shy person. Most biographers say his glamorous 1970’s stage image compensated for his inherent sensitivity. Others suggest he was hiding behind various – at that time outlandish – costumes and wigs while fighting an inner battle with drug addiction.

Likely both factors came into play. Elton apparently came close to suicide, at which time the journeyman musician Long John Baldry convinced him to quit drugs (‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’).

After achieving international stardom, Elton publicly admitted to being bisexual, an admission that hurt his career for a while. But despite scathing comments from the press, he kept making albums. These didn’t do quite as well commercially until a comeback in 1992 with the album The One.

His remake of ‘Candle in the Wind’, performed with revised lyrics at Princess Diana‘s funeral, was the largest selling single in history one month after its release (The original 1973 song was about Marilyn Monroe).

He continues in the spotlight as an artist and icon for gay liberation, particularly since his much publicized same sex marriage to a long-time companion. Like Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, he was knighted by the Queen of England in 1998 for  “services to music and charitable services.” However, he’s shown marked distaste for organized religion.

More recently, Sir Elton John seems comfortable not having his new singles on the top 10 charts. He says his approach to making cds is more about an album concept instead of going for a hit. In other words, a slow burn instead of fireworks.


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Mind Abuse

John Lennon bronze sculpture with his current ...

John Lennon bronze sculpture with his current removable glasses via Wikipedia

Mind Abuse is a fairly recent term relating to a wide variety of phenomena where a person or institution psychologically manipulates a victim or victims into accepting beliefs and performing actions that a third party or parties, representing the moral majority, deems unhealthy and destructive to the victims’ true character and, perhaps, his or her greater society.

Standard examples would be so-called cults and suicidal spiritual movements.

However, some like John Lennon and Elton John make the case that all organized religion exemplifies mind abuse by deflecting pressing concerns about this world to another world (Lennon), or by encouraging hateful discrimination (John).

Organized religion could also be seen as a kind of mind abuse if upper level officials in a religious hierarchy had knowledge of unsavory practices within that hierarchy but withheld that knowledge from tithing believers and lower ranking clergy (who, in this scenario, would invest their lives in a lie or partial lie).

The idea of “mind abuse” is potentially useful for bona fide victims but also problematic in some cases. For instance, what if the status quo sees something as “abusive” when, in fact, it’s liberating for a believer? Clearly, some kind of social value judgment is involved here. Whether or not this value judgment is always correct is occasionally open to debate.

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