Plotinus on the Eidolon

“Plotinus holds that all souls must be separable from bodies, with the sole exception of the universal soul from the universal body;for all bodies are in flux and perish able, except the one body of all, in its totality, which is eternal. What then in respect of souls, he asks (vi. 4, 16), is the meaning of the popular phrase going to Hades or being in Hades ? Let Hades be taken to mean the Invisible. It is not the soul that goes any where; for it itself is not moved, but is rather the cause or principle of movement. But just as we say the soul is there, in that place where the body is, so when it is separated from the physical body, but has still attached to it the subtle image, it may be said to go to, or be in, what he calls the inferior place, where the impure spirit is. Even in the case of a soul set free by philosophy from a separate body or embodiment of any kind, and so abiding in purity in the intelligible state, or spiritual world proper in the highest sense of the term, the image still persists for a certain time in Hades. This is an ancient notion concerning the heroes, or daimonic souls, Plotinus thinks Homer appears to admit this doctrine in the case of
Hercules, speaking of his image as being in Hades, while he himself is among the Gods. The image, or eidolon, is intimately connected with the irrational soul, which is poetically said to be the shadow cast by the shining of the rational soul on the body (i. 1. 2). The irrational soul is also said to be the image of the rational plunged into the obscurity of sensible life (iv. 3. 27). Elsewhere (ii. 2. 2), speaking of a certain sphere-like or spherical psychical element, Plotinus avers that, whereas the proper movement of life is circular, as is most clearly seen in the heavenly bodies, the movement of our physical bodies is rectilinear. But there is also a circular or sphere-like body in us. It has, however, become terrestrial or obscure, and is no longer light as in the case of heavenly bodies. The nature of the movement of the spirit is probably of this kind. The spirit is the element that moves circle-wise in us. It is originally as it were an aery or igneous body, the inner clothing or attachment of the soul before it descends into a terrestrial body (iv. 3. 9, 15). This view of the meaning of going to Hades, or being in Hades, Porphyry also expounds in his summary of Plotinian doctrine Thus he tells us that in the same way as being on earth is for the soul, not its moving about on earth, as physical bodies do, but having control of a body that moves about on earth, so also being in Hades for the soul is when it has attached to it the management of an image or spirit which has its existence in space, or whose nature it is to be in a place. This image, in the case of the unpurified, is of a dark or cloudy nature. Accordingly, if Hades is the underworld, and therefore an obscure state of existence compared with the celestial spheres, the soul may be said to go there so long as it has such a darkened image attached to it. By being in Hades is then meant that the soul is in the state of its invisible and darkened nature (physis). It is owing to the propensity of the
partial reason of the soul towards such and such a body, owing to its habit, or its habitual relationship to a certain body on earth, that a certain form or type of phantasy or imaging is impressed upon the spirit after death, the spirit itself having no special form.1 But what is the meaning of going beneath the earth, to the subterrene or under-world? Porphyry assumes that the impure spirit may be so heavy, or watery, as he calls it, that it can be said to go to the under-world. But he reiterates that the essence or life or consciousness of the soul itself cannot be said to change place or be in a place, but only that it contracts the habits of bodies whose nature is to change place and occupy space. For as is the disposition of the soul, so does it obtain a body conditioned in rank and properties. Just as the soul can be kept earth only by means of the earthy shell, so can it be kept in Hades only by its attachment to the image or moist spirit. According to ancient physics the down ward elements are the earthy and moist (the moist being supposed originally to extend below the earth) and the upward the airy and fiery. The soul has thus the humid or moist element attached to it as long as it wills to associate with, or has its attention fixed on, things in generation. The idea that the moist principle was that which conditioned all genesis, generation, or birth-and-death, that it, so to say, constituted the ocean of animal and plantal life, the state of perpetual flux, or everbecoming, was a general dogma of the school. Indeed, it seems to have been a leading notion of ancient mystic lore in general. Thus we find Porphyry elsewhere explaining the Egyptian symbolism of the boats or barques of the daimones as being intended to represent not solid bodies, but the vehicles in which they ” sail on the moist.” This applied to all grades, from the soul of the sun-god to all souls that descend into genesis. And with regard to the latter Porphyry cites the logoi of Heraclitus : ” For souls to become moist is delight or death,” delight consisting in their falling into generation ; and : ” We live their [the souls ] death, and they live our death.” Elsewhere in the same treatise Porphyry tells us that, according to the Stoics, souls who love the body attract a moist spirit to them, and condense it like a cloud (for the moist being condensed in air constitutes a cloud). That when the spirit in souls is condensed by a superabundance of the moist element, they become visible. Of such are the apparitions of images of the deceased that are occasionally met with ; the spirit being furthermore coloured and shaped by phantasy, that is the imagination”.

what old philosophers call “the idea”

You have spoken of “first patterns”- of images without existence save in the soul of the carver, but which he transmutes into matter, making them visible. So that before long such a carver’s shapes can be seen, and so obtain their formal reality, they are there already as forms within his soul. And this same “first pattern” -this shape- is to a hair, what old philosophers call “the idea”.
~ Hermann Hesse ‘Narziss and Goldmund’

“a manifestation of the eternity of the eternal will and mind”

“As a human mind acts and moves the thoughts and senses from the highest to the lowest, and comprehends and commands by the thoughts from the highest to the lowest, so the eternal mind has manifested itself from the highest majesty, even to the lowest, to the greatest darkness. And this world with the sun, stars, and elements and with every creaturely being, is nothing else but a manifestation of the eternity of the eternal will and mind”.

~ Jacob Boehme

‘truth is neither the child of nature nor of man’

“If the mind is merely a reflection of nature, then man is not simply the student, but the production of nature, he is just what nature makes him. On the other hand, if nature is but an induction of thought, it is nothing more than what we make it, a phantom we are at liberty to annihilate…I believe that truth is neither the child of nature nor of man. Truth exists by itself, but it is found in me as well as in nature…”

~ Victor Cousin “The Philosophy of the Beautiful”

‘If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived’

“If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him.”

– Bahá’u’llah

‘turn the mirror of your spirits heavenwards’

“The meditative faculty is akin to the mirror; if you put it before earthly objects it will reflect them. Therefore if the spirit of man is contemplating earthly subjects he will be informed of these. But if you turn the mirror of your spirits heavenwards, the heavenly constellations and the rays of the Sun of Reality will be reflected in your hearts, and the virtues of the Kingdom will be obtained”.

– ‘Abdul Baha

“All beings proceed from One First Cause”

“All beings proceed from One First Cause. For either there is no cause of any being, or the causes of all finite things revolve in a circle, or the as­cent (progression) is to infinity, and one thing is the cause of another, and the presubsistence of essence (cause) will in no respect cease. If, however, there is no cause of beings, there will be neither an order of things second and first, of things perfecting and perfec­ted, of things adorning and adorned, of things generat­ing and generated, and of agents and patients, nor will there be any science of beings. For the knowledge of causes is the work of science, and we are then said to know scientifically when we know the causes of things”.

~ Proclus  ‘Metaphysical Elements”

“unity of existence”

“…what is meant by unity of existence is not this commonly perceived existence, but that real Existence which is sanctified and exalted above all expression, an Existence through which all things are realized. This Existence is one; it is that One through which all things—such as matter, energy, and that common existence which is conceived by the human mind—have come.”

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

“Just as Man Progresses, Evolves, and is Transformed”

“Just as man progresses, evolves, and is transformed from one form and appearance to another in the womb of the mother, while remaining from the beginning a human embryo, so too has man remained a distinct essence—that is, the human species—from the beginning of his formation in the matrix of the world, and has passed gradually from form to form”.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

‘A New Universal Cycle Begins’

“Each of the luminous bodies of this limitless firmament has its cycle of revolution, that period wherein it completes the full circuit of its orbit before beginning a new one. The earth, for example, completes a revolution every 365 days, five hours, forty-eight minutes and a fraction, and then begins anew along the same orbit. In the same way, the entire universe, whether with respect to the realm of nature or the realm of man, proceeds through cycles of major events and occurrences.When a cycle comes to a close, a new one is inaugurated, and the previous cycle, on account of the momentous events which transpire, vanishes so entirely from memory as to leave behind no record or trace. Thus, as you are aware, we have no record of twenty thousand years ago, even though we established before through rational arguments that life on this earth is very ancient—not one or two hundred thousand, or even one or two million years old: It is ancient indeed, and the records and traces of ancient times have been entirely obliterated.Each of the Manifestations of God has likewise a cycle wherein His religion and His law are in full force and effect. When His cycle is ended through the advent of a new Manifestation, a new cycle begins. Thus, cycles are inaugurated, concluded, and renewed, until a universal cycle is completed in the world of existence and momentous events transpire which efface every record and trace of the past; then a new universal cycle begins in the world, for the realm of existence has no beginning. We have previously presented proofs and arguments concerning this subject, and there is no need for repetition”.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

“if you seek the cause of simple multiplicity elsewhere than in the One, you will greatly err”

“…if you seek the cause of simple multiplicity elsewhere than in the One, you will greatly err. For where do you wish multiplicity itself to start from? If it be from another multiplicity, you will fall multiplicity into infinite regress. If it be from no cause, then multiplicity is the first cause of creation and there will be no union and no order within creation”.

~ Marsilio Ficino