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About Plotinus



Plotinus (205 AD – 270 AD) was a major Hellenistic philosopher who lived in Roman Egypt. In his philosophy, described in the Enneads, there are three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas, who was of the Platonic tradition. Wikipedia

References:   Encyclopaedia Britannica  |   Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

  

Quotes by Plotinus

Plotinus (quotes)

  • Withdraw into yourself and look.
  • The world is finite, harmonious, and good.
  • We’re beautiful when we’re truly ourselves.
  • One jests because one wants to contemplate.
  • The world is knowable, harmonious, and good.
  • Life is the flight of the alone to the alone.
  • There is one and the same soul in many bodies.
  • Knowing demands the organ fitted to the object.
  • The soul that beholds beauty becomes beautiful.
  • How is this to be accomplished? Let all else go!
  • It is in virtue of unity that beings are beings.
  • We are not separated from spirit, we are in it.
  • Act is determined by the higher phase of the Soul.
  • Each one of us is part of the soul of the universe
  • Mankind is poised midway between the gods and the beasts.
  • Knowledge, if it does not determine action, is dead to us.
  • What do you experience on perceiving yourselves lovely within?
  • To set oneself above intellect is immediately to fall outside it.
  • Fear must be entirely banished. The purified soul will fear nothing.
  • Knowing ourselves, we are beautiful; in self-ignorance, we are ugly.
  • More quotes by other insightful Neoplatonic Philosophers and Mystics
  • Beauty is established in multitude when the many is reduced into one.
  • Attention to trifles is inconsistent with great genius of every kind,
  • The Soul of each one of us is sent, that the universe may be complete.
  • Wherever it lies, under earth or over earth, the body will always rot.
  • As translated by Stephen Mackenna and B. S. Page unless otherwise noted.
  • This cause, therefore, of all existing things cannot be any one of them.
  • I am striving to give back the Divine in myself to the Divine in the All.
  • If a fire is to warm something else, must there be a fire to warm that fire?
  • You can only apprehend the Infinite by a faculty that is superior to reason.
  • Next to this, we must consider the soul receiving its beauty from intellect,
  • It is by participation of species that we call every sensible object beautiful.
  • What, then, must be the condition of that being, who beholds the beautiful itself?
  • How great that all his parts are infinite. Name any place, and he is already there.
  • It is precisely because there is nothing within the One that all things are from it.
  • One principle must make the universe a single complex living creature, one from all.
  • All teems with symbol; the wise man is the man who in any one thing can read another.
  • Life here with the things of the earth is a sinking, a defeat, a failing of the wing.
  • Beauty is rather a light that plays over the symmetry of things than that symmetry itself.
  • Being is desirable because it is identical with Beauty, and Beauty is loved because it is Being.
  • All things are filled full of signs, and it is a wise man who can learn about one thing from another.
  • The purification of the Soul is simply to allow it to be alone; it is pure when it keeps no company.
  • God is not external to anyone, but is present with all things, though they are ignorant that He is so.
  • We ourselves possess Beauty when we are true to our own being; ugliness is in going over to another order.
  • Bad men rule by the feebleness of the ruled; and this is just; the triumph of weaklings would not be just.
  • It has not deserted its creation for a place apart; it is always present to those with strength to touch it.
  • The One is, in truth, beyond all statement; whatever you say would limit It; the All-Transcendent has no name.
  • Those incapable of thinking gravely read gravity into frivolties which correspond to their own frivolous nature.
  • Every participant partakes of the power of Being in its entirety, while Being is unchanged and undivided. 
  • Nature is but an image of wisdom, the last thing of the soul; nature being a thing which doth only do, but not know.
  • Everyone therefore must become divine, and of godlike beauty, before he can gaze upon a god and the beautiful itself.
  • Pleasure and distress, fear and courage, desire and aversion, where have these affections and experiences their seat?
  • Let us, therefore, re-ascend to the good itself, which every soul desires; and in which it can alone find perfect repose.
  • If someone with the right conduct tries to attain to something that lies outside of it, is his goal not the right conduct.
  • And this is the life of the Gods, and of Godlike men, a life without love of the world, a flight of the Alone to the Alone.
  • It is That which is the truly Existent. … It is the Source from which all that appears to exist derives that appearance. …
  • iPerceptive is centred around the wisdom of history and the empowerment of consciousness through direct experience and mysticism.
  • We must close our eyes and invoke a new manner of seeing, a wakefulness that is the birthright of us all, though few put it to use.
  • There exists no single human being that does not either potentially or effectively possess this thing we hold to constitute happiness.
  • To make the existence and coherent structure of this Universe depend upon automatic activity and upon chance is against all good sense.
  • The proof of the mightiest power is to be able to use the ignoble nobly, and given formlessness, to make it the material of unknown forms.
  • Never stop working on your statue until the divine glory of virtue shines out on you, until you see self-mastery enthroned upon its holy seat.
  • The One, perfect in seeking nothing, possessing nothing and needing nothing, overflows and creates a new reality by its superabundance. 
  • Never did eye see the sun unless it had first become sun-like, and never can the soul have vision of the First Beauty unless itself be beautiful.
  • Perhaps, the good and the beautiful are the same, and must be investigated by one and the same process; and in like manner the base and the evil.
  • At this there would be a Socrates as long as Socrates’ soul remained in body; but Socrates ceases to exist, precisely on attainment of the highest.
  • Diversity within the ONE depends not upon spatial separation, but sheerly upon differentiation; all Being, despite this plurality, is a Unity still.
  • If life and soul survive death, then there will still be good, and the more so now that soul acts purely according to its nature, unimpeded by body.
  • The sensitive eye can never be able to survey, the orb of the sun, unless strongly endued with solar fire, and participating largely of the vivid ray.
  • We must enter deep into ourselves, and, leaving behind the objects of corporeal sight, no longer look back after any of the accustomed spectacles of sense.
  • This All is universal power, of infinite extent and infinite in potency, a god so great that all his parts are infinite. Name any place, and he is already there.
  • It is bad enough to be condemned to drag around this image in which nature has imprisoned me. Why should I consent to the perpetuation of the image of this image?
  • For man, and especially the Proficient, is not the Couplement of Soul and body: the proof is that man can be disengaged from the body and disdain its nominal goods
  • T he All-Transcendent, utterly void of multiplicity, is Unity’s Self, independent of all else… It is the great Beginning, wholly and truly One. All life belongs to It.
  • Soul in its unity is not extended by fragmentation into bodies, but is entirely present where it is present, and omnipresent and undivided throughout the universe. 
  • This Absolute is none of the things of which It is the Source; Its nature is that nothing can be affirmed of It not existence, not essence, not life-It transcends all these.
  • Those who believe that the world of being is governed by luck or chance and that it depends upon material causes are far removed from the divine and from the notion of the One.
  • Everywhere one and whole, It is at rest throughout. But, … in Its very non-action It magnificently operates and in Its very self-being It produces everything by Its Power.
  • H e that has the strength, let him arise and withdraw into himself, foregoing all that is known by the eyes, turning away forever from the material beauty that once made his joy.
  • The First, then, should be compared to light, the next [Spirit or Intellect] to the sun, and the third [soul] to the celestial body of the moon, which gets its light from the sun.
  • The souls are apart without partition; they are no more hedged off by boundaries than are the multiple items of knowledge in one mind. The one Soul so exists as to include all souls.
  • Every evildoer began by despising the Gods; and one not previously corrupt, taking to this contempt, even though in other respects not wholly bad, becomes an evildoer by the very fact.
  • True satisfaction is only for what has its plentitude in its own being; where craving is due to an inborn deficiency, there may be satisfaction at some given moment but it does not last.
  • A dogma recognized throughout antiquity… (that) the soul expiates its sins in the darkness of the infernal regions and… afterwards… passes into new bodies, there to undergo new trials.
  • We may treat of the Soul as in the body — whether it be set above it or actually within it — since the association of the two constitutes the one thing called the living organism, the Animate.
  • In this state of absorbed contemplation, there is no longer any question of holding an object in view; the vision is such that seeing and seen are one; object and act of vision have become identical
  • From the Soul using the body as an instrument, it does not follow that the Soul must share the body’s experiences: a man does not himself feel all the experiences of the tools with which he is working.
  • Self-knowledge reveals to the soul that its natural motion is not, if uninterrupted, in a straight line, but circular, as around some inner object, about a center, the point to which it owes its origin.
  • The source is not fragmented into the universe, for its fragmentation would destroy the whole, which would not longer come to be if there did not remain by itself, distinct from it, its source. 
  • All things and events are foreshown and brought into being by causes; but the causation is of two Kinds; there are results originating from the Soul and results due to other causes, those of the environment.
  • But humanity, in reality, is poised midway between gods and beasts, and inclines now to the one order, now to the other; some men grow like to the divine, others to the brute, the greater number stand neutral.
  • The stars are like letters that inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky. Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together.
  • When one has achieved the object of one’s desires, it is evident that one’s real desire was not the ignorant possession of the desired object but to know it as possessed–as actually contemplated, as within one.
  • W e dare not keep ourselves set towards the images of sense, or towards the merely vegetative, intent upon the gratifications of eating and procreation; our life must be pointed towards the divine Mind, toward God.
  • The One is all things and yet no one of them. It is the source of all things, not itself all things, but their transcendent Principle… So that Being may exist the One is not Being, but the begetter of Being. 
  • We must not run after it, but we must fit ourselves for the vision and then wait tranquilly for it, as the eye waits on the rising of the Sun which in its own time appears above the horizon and gives itself to our sight.
  • When we look outside of that on which we depend we ignore our unity; looking outward we see many faces; look inward and all is one head. If a man could but be turned about, he would see at once God and himself and the All.
  • No doubt we should not speak of seeing, but instead of seen and seer, speak boldly of a simple unity. For in this seeing we neither distinguish nor are there two. The man … is merged with the Supreme … one with it. 
  • Thus, with the good we have the bad: we have the opposed movements of a dancer guided by one artistic plan; we recognize in his steps the good as against the bad, and see that in the opposition lies the merit of the design.
  • In the divine Mind itself, there is complete identity of knower and known, no distinction existing between being and knowing, contemplation and its object, [but] constituting a living thing, a one Life, two inextricably one.
  • Now from this relation, from the Soul using the body as an instrument, it does not follow that the Soul must share the body’s experiences: a man does not himself feel all the experiences of the tools with which he is working.
  • He who has not even a knowledge of common things is a brute among men. He who has an accurate knowledge of human concerns alone, is a man among brutes. But he who knows all that can be known by intellectual energy is a God among men.
  • W hat is meant by the purification of the soul is simply to allow it to be alone. [It is pure] when it keeps no company, entertains no alien thoughts; when it no longer sees images, much less elaborates them into veritable affections.
  • The power of the One, as Plotinus speaks of it, is to be understood as the only adequate description of the “manifestation” of a supreme principle that, by its very nature, transcends all predication and discursive understanding. Edward Moore
  • Clearly, either in the Soul alone, or in the Soul as employing the body, or in some third entity deriving from both. And for this third entity, again, there are two possible modes: it might be either a blend or a distinct form due to the blending.
  • Like a seed at rest, the nature-principle within, unfolding outwards, makes its way towards what appears a multiple life. It was Unity self-contained, but now, in going forth from Itself, It fritters Its unity away; It advances to a lesser greatness.
  • But if Soul is sinless, how come the expiations? Here surely is a contradiction; on the one side the Soul is above all guilt; on the other, we hear of its sin, its purification, its expiation; it is doomed to the lower world, it passes from body to body.
  • The soul in its nature loves God and longs to be at one with Him in the noble love of a daughter for a noble father; but coming to human birth and lured by the courtships of this sphere, she takes up with another love, a mortal, leaves her father and falls.
  • The sphere of sense, the Soul in its slumber; for all of the Soul that is in body is asleep and the true getting-up is not bodily but from the body: in any movement that takes the body with it there is no more than passage from sleep to sleep, from bed to bed.
  • What else could true moderation be but to avoid association with bodily pleasures, and to shun them as impure affections of a thing impure? . . The soul when purified becomes pure form and formative power, all disembodied and intellective, and wholly within the Divine.
  • Being is desirable because it is identical with Beauty, and Beauty is loved because it is Being. We ourselves possess Beauty when we are true to our own being; ugliness is in going over to another order; knowing ourselves, we are beautiful; in self-ignorance, we are ugly.
  • In advancing stages of contemplation, rising from contemplation of Nature, to that in the soul, and thence again to that in the divine Mind, the object contemplated becomes progressively a more and more intimate possession of the contemplating being, more and more one with them.
  • Knowledge has three degrees – opinion, science, illumination. THe means or instrument of the first s sense; of the second dialectic; of the third intuition. To the last I subordinate reason. It is absolute knowledge found on the identity of the mind knowing with the object know
  • Once we know our own soul rising still higher, we sing the divinity of the Mind [which produced it], and above all these, the mighty King of that dominion (the Absolute), who, while remaining as He is, yet creates that multitude, all dependent on Him, existing by Him and from Him.
  • A gang of lads, morally neglected, and in that respect inferior to the intermediate class, but in good physical training, attack and throw another set, trained neither physically nor morally, and make off with their food and their dainty clothes. What more is called for than a laugh?
  • Every living thing is a combination of soul and body-kind: the celestial sphere, therefore, if it is to be everlasting as an individual entity must be so in virtue either of both these constituents or of one of them, by the combination of soul and body or by soul only or by body only.
  • Time was not yet; … it lay … merged in the eternally Existent and motionless with It. But an active principle there … stirred from its rest; … for the One contained an unquiet faculty, … and it could not bear to retain within itself all the dense fullness of -its possession.
  • A bolder course would be to abandon the duality of seer and seen, and count both as one. In that vision the seer does not see or distinguish, or even imagine, two; he is changed, no longer himself nor owning himself there, but belongs to God, one with him, centre joined with centre. 
  • The One will debar all telling and knowing except that it may be described as transcending Being – for if there were nothing outside all alliance and compromise, nothing authentically one, there would be no Source. Untouched by multiplicity, it will be wholly self-sufficing, an absolute First
  • Often I have woken to myself out of the body, become detached from all else and entered into myself; and I have seen beauty of surpassing greatness, and have felt assured that then especially I belonged to the higher reality, engaged in the noblest life and identified with the Divine. 
  • Beauty is established in multitude when the many is reduced into one, and in this case it communicates itself both to the parts and to the whole. But when a particular one, composed from similar parts, is received it gives itself to the whole, without departing from the sameness and integrity of its nature.
  • If you accurately distinguish the intelligible objects you will call the beautiful the receptacle of ideas; but the good itself, which is superior, the fountain and principle of the beautiful; or, you may place the first beautiful and the good in the same principle, independent of the beauty which there subsists.
  • No: the body has acquired life, it is the body that will acquire, with life, sensation and the affections coming by sensation. Desire, then, will belong to the body, as the objects of desire are to be enjoyed by the body. And fear, too, will belong to the body alone; for it is the body’s doom to fail of its joys and to perish.
  • B ut possess yourself of It by the very elimination of [individual] being, and you hold a marvel! Thrusting forward to This, attaining, and resting in Its content, seek to grasp It more and more, understanding It by that intuitive thrust alone, but knowing its greatness by the beings that follow upon It and exist by Its power.
  • I am made by a God: from that God I came perfect above all forms of life, adequate to my function, self-sufficing, lacking nothing: for I am the container of all, that is, of every plant and every animal, of all the Kinds of created things, and many Gods and nations of Spirit-Beings and lofty souls and men happy in their goodness.
  • Mathematics, which as a student by nature he will take very easily, will be prescribed to train him to abstract thought and to faith in the unembodied; a moral being by native disposition, he must be led to make his virtue perfect; after the Mathematics he must be put through a course in Dialectic and made an adept in the science.
  • Cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make all one glow of beauty and never cease chiselling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendour of virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness surely established in the stainless shrine.
  • This universe is a single living being embracing all living beings within it, and possessing a single Soul that permeates all its parts to the degree of their participation in it. Every part of this sensible universe is fully participant in its material aspect, and in respect of soul, in the degree to which it shares in the World Soul. 
  • Not even a God would have the right to deal a blow for the unwarlike: the law decrees that to come safe out of battle is for fighting men, not for those that pray. The harvest comes home not for praying but for tilling…we have no right to complain of the ignoble getting the richer harvest if they are the only workers in the fields, or the best.
  • If he remembers who he became when he merged with the One, he will bear its image in himself. He was himself one, with no diversity in himself or his outward relations; for no movement was in him, no passion, no desire for another, once the ascent was accomplished. Nor indeed was there any reason or though, nor, if we dare say it, any trace of himself.
  • There is one identical Soul, every separate manifestation being that Soul complete. The differentiated souls issue from the Unity and strike out here and there, but are united at the Source much as light is a divided thing on earth, shining in this house and that, and yet remains one. One Soul [is] the source of all souls; It is at once divided and undivided.
  • Pleasure and distress, fear and courage, desire and aversion, where have these affections and experiences their seat?Clearly, either in the Soul alone, or in the Soul as employing the body, or in some third entity deriving from both. And for this third entity, again, there are two possible modes: it might be either a blend or a distinct form due to the blending.
  • A sympathy pervades this single universe, like a single living creature, and the distant is near… Like parts lie not in contact but separated, with other parts between, yet by their likeness they feel sympathy . . and in a living and unified being there is no part so remote as not to be near, through the very nature that binds the living unity in sympathy. 
  • Besides this purest Soul, there must be also a Soul of the All: at once there is another Love – the eye with which this second Soul looks upwards – like the supernal Eros engendered by force of desire. This Aphrodite, the secondary Soul, is of this Universe – not Soul unmingled alone, not Soul, the Absolute, giving birth, therefore, to the Love concerned with the universal life
  • Our thought cannot grasp the One as long as any other image remains active in the soul . . To this end, you must set free your soul from all outward things and turn wholly within yourself, with no more leaning to what lies outside, and lay your mind bare of ideal forms, as before of the objects of sense, and forget even yourself, and so come within sight of that One. 
  • W e ought not to question whence it [the experience of Unity] comes; there is no whence, no coming or going in place; it either appears [to us] or does not appear. We must not run after it, but we must fit ourselves for the vision and then wait tranquilly for it as the eye waits on the rising of the Sun which in its own time appears above the horizon and gives itself to our sight
  • There must be something prior to Soul because Soul is in the world and there must be something outside a world in which, all being corporeal and material, nothing has enduring reality: failing such a prior, neither man nor the Ideas would be eternal or have true identity. These and many other considerations establish the necessary existence of an Intellectual-Principle prior to Soul.
  • Hence, as Narcissus, by catching at the shadow, plunged himself in the stream and disappeared, so he who is captivated by beautiful bodies, and does not depart from their embrace, is precipitated, not with his body, but with his soul, into a darkness profound and repugnant to intellect (the higher soul), through which, remaining blind both here and in Hades, he associates with shadows.
  • Beauty addresses itself chiefly to sight, but there is a beauty for the hearing too, as in certain combinations so words and in all kinds of music; for melodies and cadences are beautiful; and minds that lift themselves above the realm of sense to a higher order are aware of beauty in the conduct of life, in actions, in character, in the pursuits of the intellect; and there is the beauty of the virtues.
  • The perception of Beauty and the awe and the stirring of passion towards it are for those already in some degree knowing and awakened: but the Good, as possessed long since and setting up a natural tendency, is inherently present to even those asleep and brings them no wonder when some day they see it, since it is no occasional reminiscence but is always with them though in their drowse they are not aware of it.
  • We may treat of the Soul as in the body – whether it be set above it or actually within it – since the association of the two constitutes the one thing called the living organism, the Animate.Now from this relation, from the Soul using the body as an instrument, it does not follow that the Soul must share the body’s experiences: a man does not himself feel all the experiences of the tools with which he is working.
  • All is transparent, nothing dark, nothing resistant; every being is lucid to every other; inwardly and in every respect, light runs through light. Each being contains all within itself, and at the same time sees all in every other; so that everywhere there is all, and all is all and each all. Each of them is great, the small is great, the sun, thither, is all the stars, and every star is all the stars and sun. 
  • Before we had our becoming here, we existed There, men other than now; we were pure souls. Intelligence inbound with the entire of reality, not fenced off, integral to that All. […] Then it was as if One voice sounded. One word was uttered and from every side an ear attended and received and there was an effective hearing; now we are become a dual thing, no longer that which we were at first, dormant, and in a sense no longer present.
  • Intellect can veil itself from the world and concentrate its gaze within, and though it sees nothing, it will behold a light – not an external light in some perceived object, but a solitary light, pure and self-contained, suddenly revealed within itself… We must not enquire whence it comes, for there is no “whence”… He does not come as one expected, and his coming knows no arrival; he is beheld not as one who enters but who is eternally present.
  • W hen there enters into it a glow from the Divine, the soul gathers strength, spreads true wings, and, however distracted by its proximate environment, speeds its buoyant way to something greater; … its very nature bears it upwards, lifted by the Giver of that love. … Surely we need not wonder that It possesses the power to draw the soul to Itself, calling it back from every wandering to rest before It. From It came everything; nothing is mightier.
  • Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer. … Cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labor to make all one glow or beauty and never cease chiseling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendor of virtue.
  • For at this point one would arrive at the act of thinking of it (evil, i.e. κακως) as if to be disproportion in regards to proportion, and limitlessness in regards to limit, formlessness in regards to the one-shaping-the-forms, always wanting in self-sufficiency, always indefinite, no where having a place to situate itself, wholly passive, insatiable absolute poverty; and these things above have not been corresponding to it, but as if the true essential being of it is these things, and what is it but all these things.
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  • The One is, in truth, beyond all statement; whatever you say would limit It; the All-Transcendent has no name. [It] is That which is the truly Existent. … It is the Source from which all that appears to exist derives that appearance. Everywhere one and whole, It is at rest throughout. But, … in Its very non-action It magnificently operates and in Its very self-being It produces everything by Its Power .This Absolute is none of the things of which It is the Source; Its nature is that nothing can be affirmed of It not existence, not essence, not life-It transcends all these.
  • There, our Self-seeing is a communion with the Self, restored to purity. No doubt we should not speak of “seeing,” but, instead of [speaking of] “seen” and “seer,” speak boldly of a simple unity. For in this seeing we neither see, nor distinguish, nor are there, two. The man is changed, no longer himself nor belonging to himself; he is merged with the Supreme, sunken into It, one with It; it is only in separation that duality exists. This is why the vision baffles telling; for how could a man bring back tidings of the Supreme as something separate from himself when he has seen It as one with himself?
  • S uppose the soul have attained; the Highest has come to her, or rather has revealed Its presence; she has turned away from all about her and has made herself apt, beautiful to the utmost, brought into likeness [with the Divine] by the preparings and adornings known to those growing ready for the vision. She has seen that Presence suddenly manifesting within her, for there is nothing between, nor are they any longer two, but one; for so long as the Presence remains, all distinction fades. It is in this way that lover and beloved here [in this world], in a copy of that [Divine] union, long to blend their being.
  • W ithdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful; he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also; cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is in shadow; labor to make all one glow of beauty and never cease chiseling your statue until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendor of virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness established in the stainless shrine.
  • Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make all one glow of beauty and never cease chiselling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendour of virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness surely established in the stainless shrine.
  • When the soul has descended into generation (from its first divine condition) she partakes of evil, and is carried a great way into a state the opposite of her first purity and integrity, to be entirely merged in which, is nothing more than to fall into a dark mire. …The soul dies as much as it is possible for the soul to die: and the death to her is, while baptized or immersed in the present body, to descend into matter, and be wholly subjected by it; and after departing thence to lie there til it shall arise and turn its face away from the abhorrent filth. This is what is meant by falling asleep in Hades, of those who have come there.
  • Many times it has happened: Lifted out of the body into myself; becoming external to all other things and self-encentered; beholding a marvelous beauty; then, more than ever, assured of community with the loftiest order; enacting the noblest life, acquiring identity with the divine; stationing within It by having attained that activity; poised above whatsoever within the Intellectual is less than the Supreme: yet, there comes the moment of descent from intellection to reasoning, and after that sojourn in the divine, I ask myself how it happens that I can now be descending, and how did the soul ever enter into my body, the soul which, even within the body, is the high thing it has shown itself to be
  • Perhaps, the good and the beautiful are the same, and must be investigated by one and the same process; and in like manner the base and the evil. And in the first rank we must place the beautiful, and consider it as the same with the good; from which immediately emanates intellect as beautiful. Next to this, we must consider the soul receiving its beauty from intellect, and every inferior beauty deriving its origin from the forming power of the soul, whether conversant in fair actions and offices, or sciences and arts. Lastly, bodies themselves participate of beauty from the soul, which, as something divine, and a portion of the beautiful itself, renders whatever it supervenes and subdues, beautiful as far as its natural capacity will admit.
  • That One, therefore, since it has no otherness is always present and we are present to it when we have no otherness; and the One does not desire us, so as to be around us, but we desire it, so that we are around it. And we are always around it but do not always look to it; it is like a choral dance: in the order of its singing the choir keeps round its conductor but may sometimes turn away, so that he is out of their sight, but when it turns back to him it sings beautifully and is truly with him; so we too are always around him – and if we were not, we should be totally dissolved and no longer exist – but not always turned to him; but when we do look to him, then we are at our goal and at rest and do not sing out of tune as we truly dance our god-inspired dance around him
  • The power and nature of Soul encompasses heaven and guides it according to its will. To all this vast expanse, as far as it extends, it gives itself, and every interval, both large and small, is filled with Soul… Soul enlivens all things with its whole self and all Soul is present everywhere… And vast and diversified thought this universe is, it is one by the power of soul and a god because of soul. The sun is also a god, because ensouled, and the other stars, and if we ourselves partake of the Divine, this is the cause. Nothing is detached or severed from its prior, so that the higher soul seems to extend as far as plants; and in a way it does so extend, because the life in plants belongs to it. Not that soul is wholly within plants, but only to the extent that they are the lower limit of its advance, another level of existence created by its decline towards the worse. 
  • The sensitive eye can never be able to survey, the orb of the sun, unless strongly endued with solar fire, and participating largely of the vivid ray. Everyone therefore must become divine, and of godlike beauty, before he can gaze upon a god and the beautiful itself. Thus proceeding in the right way of beauty he will first ascend into the region of intellect, contemplating every fair species, the beauty of which he will perceive to be no other than ideas themselves; for all things are beautiful by the supervening irradiations of these, because they are the offspring and essence of intellect. But that which is superior to these is no other than the fountain of good, everywhere widely diffusing around the streams of beauty, and hence in discourse called the beautiful itself because beauty is its immediate offspring. But if you accurately distinguish the intelligible objects you will call the beautiful the receptacle of ideas; but the good itself, which is superior, the fountain and principle of the beautiful; or, you may place the first beautiful and the good in the same principle, independent of the beauty which there subsists.
  • What measures, then, shall we adopt? What machine employ, or what reason consult by means of which we may contemplate this ineffable beauty; a beauty abiding in the most divine sanctuary without ever proceeding from its sacred retreats lest it should be beheld by the profane and vulgar eye? We must enter deep into ourselves, and, leaving behind the objects of corporeal sight, no longer look back after any of the accustomed spectacles of sense. For, it is necessary that whoever beholds this beauty, should withdraw his view from the fairest corporeal forms; and, convinced that these are nothing more than images, vestiges and shadows of beauty, should eagerly soar to the fair original from which they are derived. For he who rushes to these lower beauties, as if grasping realities, when they are only like beautiful images appearing in water, will, doubtless, like him in the fable, by stretching after the shadow, sink into the lake and disappear. For, by thus embracing and adhering to corporeal forms, he is precipitated, not so much in his body as in his soul, into profound and horrid darkness; and thus blind, like those in the infernal regions, converses only with phantoms, deprived of the perception of what is real and true.
  • It is by participation of species that we call every sensible object beautiful. Thus, since everything void of form is by nature fitted for its reception, as far as it is destitute of reason and form it is base and separate from the divine reason, the great fountain of forms; and whatever is entirely remote from this immortal source is perfectly base and deformed. And such is matter, which by its nature is ever averse from the supervening irradiations of form. Whenever, therefore, form accedes, it conciliates in amicable unity the parts which are about to compose a whole; for being itself one it is not wonderful that the subject of its power should tend to unity, as far as the nature of a compound will admit. Hence beauty is established in multitude when the many is reduced into one, and in this case it communicates itself both to the parts and to the whole. But when a particular one, composed from similar parts, is received it gives itself to the whole, without departing from the sameness and integrity of its nature. Thus at one and the same time it communicates itself to the whole building and its several parts; and at another time confines itself to a single stone, and then the first participation arises from the operations of art, but the second from the formation of nature. And hence body becomes beautiful through the communion supernally proceeding from divinity.
  • It is now time, leaving every object of sense far behind, to contemplate, by a certain ascent, a beauty of a much higher order; a beauty not visible to the corporeal eye, but alone manifest to the brighter eye of the soul, independent of all corporeal aid. However, since, without some previous perception of beauty it is impossible to express by words the beauties of sense, but we must remain in the state of the blind, so neither can we ever speak of the beauty of offices and sciences, and whatever is allied to these, if deprived of their intimate possession. Thus we shall never be able to tell of virtue’s brightness, unless by looking inward we perceive the fair countenance of justice and temperance, and are convinced that neither the evening nor morning star are half so beautiful and bright. But it is requisite to perceive objects of this kind by that eye by which the soul beholds such real beauties. Besides it is necessary that whoever perceives this species of beauty, should be seized with much greater delight, and more vehement admiration, than any corporeal beauty can excite; as now embracing beauty real and substantial. Such affections, I say, ought to be excited about true beauty, as admiration and sweet astonishment; desire also and love and a pleasant trepidation. For all souls, as I may say, are affected in this manner about invisible objects, but those the most who have the strongest propensity to their love; as it likewise happens about corporeal beauty; for all equally perceive beautiful corporeal forms, yet all are not equally excited, but lovers in the greatest degree.
  • Let us, therefore, re-ascend to the good itself, which every soul desires; and in which it can alone find perfect repose. For if anyone shall become acquainted with this source of beauty he will then know what I say, and after what manner he is beautiful. Indeed, whatever is desirable is a kind of good, since to this desire tends. But they alone pursue true good, who rise to intelligible beauty, and so far only tend to good itself; as far as they lay aside the deformed vestments of matter, with which they become connected in their descent. Just as those who penetrate into the holy retreats of sacred mysteries, are first purified and then divest themselves of their garments, until someone by such a process, having dismissed everything foreign from the God, by himself alone, beholds the solitary principle of the universe, sincere, simple and pure, from which all things depend, and to whose transcendent perfections the eyes of all intelligent natures are directed, as the proper cause of being, life and intelligence. With what ardent love, with what strong desire will he who enjoys this transporting vision be inflamed while vehemently affecting to become one with this supreme beauty! For this it is ordained, that he who does not yet perceive him, yet desires him as good, but he who enjoys the vision is enraptured with his beauty, and is equally filled with admiration and delight. Hence, such a one is agitated with a salutary astonishment; is affected with the highest and truest love; derides vehement affections and inferior loves, and despises the beauty which he once approved. Such, too, is the condition of those who, on perceiving the forms of gods or daemons, no longer esteem the fairest of corporeal forms. What, then, must be the condition of that being, who beholds the beautiful itself?
  • When they write incantations, and utter them as to the stars, not only to [the bodies and] souls of these, but also to things superior to soul, what do they effect? They answer, charms, allurements, and persuasions, so that the stars hear the words addressed to them, and are drawn down; if any one of us knows how in a more artificial manner to utter these incantations, sounds, aspirations of the voice, and hissings, and such other particulars as in their writings are said to possess a magical power. …They likewise pretend that they can expel disease. And if, indeed, they say that they effect this by temperance and an orderly mode of life, they speak rightly, and conformably to philosophers. But now when they assert that diseases are daemons, and that they are able to expel these by words, and proclaim that they possess this ability, they may appear to the multitude to be more venerable, who admire the powers of magicians; but they will not persuade intelligent men that diseases have not their causes either from labours, or satiety, or indigence, or putrefaction, and in short from mutations which either have an external or internal origin. This, however, is manifest from the cure of diseases. For disease is deduced downward, so as to pass away externally, either through a flux of the belly, or the operation of medicine. Disease, also, is cured by letting of blood and fasting. …The disease …[is] something different from the daemon. …The manner, however, in which these things are asserted by the Gnostics, and on what account is evident; since for the sake of this, no less than of other things, we have mentioned these daemons. …And this must every where be considered, that he who pursues our form of philosophy, will, besides all other goods, genuinely exhibit simple and venerable manners, in conjunction with the possession of wisdom, and will not endeavour to become insolent and proud; but will possess confidence accompanied with reason, much security and caution, and great circumspection.