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Ghislain
04-13-2012, 06:01 AM
I was trying to gather information to distinguish the difference between Mind, Body, Spirit and Soul.
Below were extracts that I had pulled from some Wiki pages to summarise later...

This grew and grew and I hadn't even touched on the original question...it seemed a little evasive. :confused:

This has sat on my desktop and life has been getting in the way, so I had to decide what to do with it.,

Store it away, as I have done with so much other material, where it becomes out of sight out of mind, or post it.
I decided on the latter and so the extracts below are just a formulation of my thread following.

I am not advocating anything written below, and although a bit disjointed it is still interesting.


Monism

In philosophy Monism can be defined according to three kinds:

1. Idealism, phenomenalism, or mentalistic monism which holds that only mind is real.
2. Neutral monism, which holds that both the mental and the physical can be reduced to some sort of third substance, or energy.
3. Physicalism or materialism, which holds that only the physical is real, and that the mental or spiritual can be reduced to the physical.

Pantheism

Pantheism is the view that the Universe (or Nature) and God (or divinity) are identical. Pantheists thus do not
believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek (pan) meaning "all"
and the Greek (theos) meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a
process of relating to the Universe. Although there are divergences within Pantheism, the central ideas found
in almost all versions are the Cosmos as an all-encompassing unity and the sacredness of Nature.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4e/Panth%C3%A9isme.JPG

There is no official universal symbol for all types of Pantheism, but one icon is used by the World Pantheist
Movement (WPM): the spiral as seen in the curves of the nautilus shell, or in the spiral arms of a galaxy,
showing the link between the cosmic physical and the biological. The spiral represents a variety of things: it
means evolution, eternity, spirituality, growth. Sometimes the Nautilus spiral alone is used; it embodies the
Fibonacci series and the golden ratio. In Pantheism, God is identical with the universe, but in Pantheism
God lies within and also beyond or outside of the universe.

Pantheists held that there were four Categories:

1. Substance

The primary matter, formless substance, that things are made of.

2. Quality

The way matter is organized to form an individual object; in Stoic physics, a physical ingredient (pneuma: air
or breath), which informs the matter

3. Somehow Disposed

Particular characteristics, not present within the object, such as size, shape, action, and posture

4. Somehow Disposed in Relation to Something

Characteristics related to other phenomena, such as the position of an object within time and space relative to other objects

Dualism

Dualism was first seen implicitly in Egyptian Religious beliefs by the contrast of the Gods Seth (disorder, death) and Osiris (order, life).
The first explicit conception of dualism came from the Ancient Persian Religion of Zoroastrianism around the mid-fifth century BC.
Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion that believes that Ahura Mazda is the eternal creator of all good things. Any violations of Ahura Mazda's
order arise from druj, which is everything uncreated. From this comes a significant choice for humans to make. Either they fully participate in
human life for Ahura Mazda or they do not and give druj power. Personal dualism is even more distinct in the beliefs of later religions.

Dualism can mean the tendency of humans to perceive and understand the world as being divided into two overarching categories. In this sense,
it is dualistic when one perceives a tree as a thing separate from everything surrounding it, or when one perceives a "self" that is distinct from the
rest of the world. In traditions such as classical Hinduism, Zen Buddhism or Islamic Sufism, a key to enlightenment is "transcending" this sort of
dualistic thinking, without merely substituting dualism with monism or pluralism.


Pluralism

Pluralism is a term used in philosophy, meaning "doctrine of multiplicity", often used in opposition to monism
("doctrine of unity") and dualism ("doctrine of duality"). The term has different meanings in metaphysics and
epistemology.

In metaphysics, pluralism is a doctrine that many basic substances make up reality, while monism holds
existence to be a single substance, often either matter (materialism) or mind (idealism), and dualism believes
two substances, such as matter and mind, to be necessary.

In epistemology, pluralism is the position that there is not one consistent set of truths about the world, but
rather many. Often this is associated with pragmatism and conceptual and cultural relativism.




Taoism

The opposition and combination of the universe's two basic principles of yin and yang is a large part
of Chinese philosophy, and is an important feature of Taoism, both as a philosophy and as a religion.
Yin and yang is also discussed in Confucianism, but to a lesser extent.

Some of the common associations with yang and yin, respectively, are: male and female, light and
dark, active and passive, motion and stillness. The yin and yang symbol in actuality has very little
to do with Western dualism; instead it represents the philosophy of balance, where two opposites
co-exist in harmony and are able to transmute into each other.

In the yin-yang symbol there is a dot of yin in yang and a dot of yang in yin. This symbolizes the
inter-connectedness of the opposite forces as different aspects of Tao, the First Principle. Contrast is
needed to create a distinguishable reality, without which we would experience nothingness.
Therefore, the independent principles of yin and yang are actually dependent on one another for
each other's distinguishable existence.
The complementary dualistic concept in Taoism represents the reciprocal interaction throughout
nature, related to a feedback loop, where opposing forces do not exchange in opposition but instead
exchange reciprocally to promote stabilization similar to homeostasis.

An underlying principle in Taoism states that within every independent entity lies a part of its
opposite; within sickness lies health and vice versa. This is because all opposites are manifestations
of the single Tao, and are therefore not independent from one another, but rather a variation of the
same unifying force throughout all of nature.

The Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia emphasizing the
spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more
than 200 countries and territories.

In the Bahá'í Faith, religious history is seen to have unfolded through a series of divine messengers, each of
whom established a religion that was suited to the needs of the time and the capacity of the people. These
messengers have included Abraham, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and others; and most recently the Báb
and Bahá'u'lláh.

In Bahá'í belief, each consecutive messenger prophesied of messengers to follow, and Bahá'u'lláh's life and
teachings fulfilled the end-time promises of previous scriptures. Humanity is understood to be in a process of
collective evolution, and the need of the present time is for the gradual establishment of peace, justice and
unity on a global scale.

The Seven Valleys

The Seven Valleys was written around 1860 in Baghdad after Bahá'u'lláh had returned from the
Sulaymaniyah region in Kurdistan. The work was written in response to questions posed by Shaykh Muhyi'd-
Din, a judge, who was a follower of the Qádiríyyih Order of Sufism. About the time of writing to
Bahá'u'lláh, he quit his job, and spent the rest of his life wandering around Iraqi Kurdistan

The Valley of Search

The valley of search is described as the first step that a seeker must take in his path. Bahá'u'lláh states that
the seeker must cleanse his heart, and not follow the paths of his forefathers. It is explained that ardour, and
patience are required to traverse this valley.

The Valley of Love

The next valley is the "Valley of Love" and in this valley the seeker is compared to a moth who has found a
flame. Bahá'u'lláh writes that the heart of the seeker is touched, and the seeker has fallen in love with God.

The Valley of Knowledge

The knowledge referred to in this valley is the knowledge of God, and not one based on learning; it is
explained that pride in one's knowledge and accomplishments often disallows one to reach true
understanding, which is the knowledge of God. It is explained that the seeker, when in this valley, begins to
understand the mysteries contained within God's revelation, and finds wisdom in all things including when
faced with pain and hardship, which he understands to be God's mercy and blessing. This valley is called the
last limited valley.

The Valley of Unity

The next stage is the valley of unity, and it is explained that the seeker now sees creation not by its
limitations, but sees the attributes of God in all created things. The seeker, it is written, is detached from
earthly things, is not concerned with his own self and has no ego; instead he praises God for all of creation.

The Valley of Contentment

The next valley for the seeker is the valley of contentment, where it is explained, that the seeker becomes
independent from all things, and even though he may look poor or is subjected to suffering, he will be
endowed with wealth and power from the spiritual worlds and will inwardly be happy. Happiness is
explained to be the attribute of the true believer, and it cannot be achieved by obtaining material things, since
material things are transitory.

The Valley of Wonderment

In the valley of wonderment the seeker, it is written, is struck dumb by the beauty of God; the seeker
becomes conscious of the vastness and glory of creation, and discovers the inner mysteries of God's
revelation. Being led from one mystery of creation to the next, it is explained that the seeker continues to be
astonished by the works of God.

The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness

The final valley is the valley of true poverty and absolute nothingness and it is the furthermost state that the
mystic can reach. The seeker, it is explained is poor of all material things, and is rich in spiritual attributes. It
is explained that it is the state of annihilation of self in God, but not an existential union: the essences of
God's self and the mystic's self remain distinct, in contrast to what appears to be a complete union in other traditions.

Below are some quotations from major Stoic philosophers, selected to illustrate common Stoic beliefs:

Seneca the Younger, 4 BCE – 65 AD:

• "The point is, not how long you live, but how nobly you live."
• "That which Fortune has not given, she cannot take away."
• "Let Nature deal with matter, which is her own, as she pleases; let us be cheerful and brave in the face of everything, reflecting that it is nothing of our own that perishes."
• "Virtue is nothing else than right reason."

Epictetus, AD 55 – AD 135:

• "Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men's desires, but by the removal of desire."
• "Where is the good? In the will. Where is the evil? In the will. Where is neither of them? In those things that are independent of the will."
• "Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them."
• "If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone."
• "I am formed by nature for my own good: I am not formed for my own evil."
• "Permit nothing to cleave to you that is not your own; nothing to grow to you that may give you agony when it is torn away."
• “Philosophy does not promise to secure anything external for man, otherwise it would be admitting something that lies beyond its proper subject-matter. For as the material of the carpenter is wood, and that of statuary bronze, so the subject-matter of the art of living is each person's own life. ”

Marcus Aurelius, 121 – 180 AD:

• "Get rid of the judgement, get rid of the 'I am hurt,' you are rid of the hurt itself."
• "Everything is right for me, which is right for you, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early or too late, which comes in due time for you. Everything is fruit to me which your seasons bring, O Nature. From you are all things, in you are all things, to you all things return."
• "If you work at that which is before you, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure, as if you were bound to give it back immediately; if you hold to this, expecting nothing, but satisfied to live now according to nature, speaking heroic truth in every word which you utter, you will live happy. And there is no man able to prevent this."
• "How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life!"
• "Outward things cannot touch the soul, not in the least degree; nor have they admission to the soul, nor can they turn or move the soul; but the soul turns and moves itself alone."
• "Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also"
• "Or is it your reputation that's bothering you? But look at how soon we're all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of those applauding hands."


In the case of Plato’s Cave ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_cave); when the man is taken from the wall to see the things that were casting the shadows how can he be aware that he is not seeing a different set of
shadows formed from what is real albeit from another perspective?

How deep is this rabbit hole?

Ghislain

zoas23
04-13-2012, 06:10 AM
I was trying to gather information to distinguish the difference between Mind, Body, Spirit and Soul.


The book that made me understand this fourfold division in a clear way was the Enneads by Plotinus. I am always suggesting it to everyone.
It's not that it says something specially different than what hundreds of other books say, it's just that he's very clear, very detailed.

Awani
04-13-2012, 09:05 PM
I also have had a problem with the difference between Mind, Spirit and Soul. I never know which word to use... aren't they all really the same?

:cool:

Seth-Ra
04-13-2012, 09:20 PM
I also have had a problem with the difference between Mind, Spirit and Soul. I never know which word to use... aren't they all really the same?

:cool:

Ive ran into that before also. For me personally, i see it as:

Soul: the God-image side, the True and Higher Self, the crown chakra; that which empowers the Mind.

Mind: Consciousness, the 3rd-eye chakra; that which purposefully steers the Spirit.

Spirit: Life itself, the emotion and fire that radiates from the heart chakra - that which courses through all bodies and forms, the very breath of life and its meanings; what gives physicality to the Soul via the the Order of the Mind, so that the spirit may flow and structure matter according to its Will.

Of course, in the unity of All, as you said, they are the same thing - the same One thing. Its mostly a thing of vibrational signature, where its at when its acted on (heart, 3rd eye, or crown etc...) :)


Ghislain, thats a nice bit of information ya compiled there, i enjoyed the read. :)




~Seth-Ra

Awani
04-13-2012, 09:26 PM
Yes that is pretty good and kind of the way I see it, but I also see them as one and the same. And yes maybe when they are all happening at the same time you have truly reached an enlightened state?

I once talked to a Christian about Pantheism. I said that I saw God and Nature as one and the same and I figured this Christian person would partly agree with me, after all he believed in God and that God created Nature, but to my surprise the Christian did not agree at all. I mean if I was a Christian I don't see a problem with this concept... is Nature not good enough to be part of God or what?

:cool:

MarkostheGnostic
04-13-2012, 10:07 PM
I also have had a problem with the difference between Mind, Spirit and Soul. I never know which word to use... aren't they all really the same?

:cool:

It's a metaphysical conundrum, language, that is. It depends upon which system one enters into, from ancient times to modern. The Bible expresses that human beings ARE a living soul, a psychosomatic mind-body. The New Testament seems to imply that a transcendental third, the Holy Spirit, is something that is only 'added' by initiation, which takes place at baptism. Meanwhile, later theologians said that while Psyche expresses all of our invisible attributes (e.g., self-consciousness, will, memory, emotions, thinking, etc.), there is a more rarified aspect of the Psyche ('soul,' or 'butterfly' [due to its symbolism in Greek]), which was called Nous. This term derived from the Pagan Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus, for whom Nous was roughly equivalent to the Logos (or Word, or Son) in Christianity. So like the Unmanifest Father, Plotinus had The One, for the Son, he had Nous, and for the Holy Spirit, Plotinus had the World Soul. Much of Catholic and Orthodox theology is Neoplatonic in nature.

Jumping to post-modern times, Jung's theory was 'the only game in town,' with regard to spirituality in religion, for a long time, but Jung failed to acknowledge a Superconsciousness, and regarded the Collective Unconscious to constitute the "Transcendent Function." When Jung was in India in 1950, shortly before the death of Ramana Maharshi, he was asked if he wanted to meet the great Jnana Yogi. Jung replied dismissively, "I know the type." Please! Spare me the cliches. Sri Ramana was the real deal, and if you've ever read his Sat-Dharshana Bhashya, one can see how HE would've been Jung's better with regard to the continuum of consciousness. Jung's ego could not take that kind of criticism 11 years before his own demise. Advaita metaphysics and psychology would also address the issue of how the tripartite human being can be subdivided (i.e., physical, astral, mental, causal 'sheaths'). Yoga is exquisitely analytical in this regard. For that matter, so is the Abhidharma Philosophy/Psychology in Vajrayana Buddhism).

As far as the simple tripartite division, the Gnostics had their ontological categories and personality types way before W.H. Sheldon, or the creators of the Enneagram. The Gnostics saw the worldly man as a Hylic or Sarkic (Sarx means flesh), who lived essentially in his body and senses. The Christian man of 'faith,' was the Psychic type, the soulful type, who entertained the existence of the Spirit, but who did not identify himself with it. It was 'beyond,' or 'future,' although a Psychic Christian could develop into the highest level or Pneumatic by an experience of Gnosis - mystical Knowledge in which, like Sat Chit Ananda means a 'Knowledge' in which Knower-Knowledge-Known, are one. This tripartite distinction corresponds nicely with the alchemical Salt ("Salt of the Earth" - Matthew 5:13-15), Sulphur, and Mercury as Body-Soul/Mind-Spirit. This European description corresponds almost exactly to the Ayurvedic/yogic Gunas: Tamas-Rajas-Sattva. Mind and Body have been polarized since Descartes, but reunited in the Hegelian 'Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis.' The Christian Trinity is a basis for the esoteric nature of man's tripartite being. The Christian Trinity has its parallels in the Hindu Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, but is derived from various Egyptian themes, perhaps the latest of the ancient kingdom's Osiris-Horus-Isis (Father-Son-Holy Mother).

I hope this wasn't too boring. I love comparative religion and mythology, especially when the ancients address the very same questions that I have struggled with. These intellectual curiosities are more often than not solved only by a higher level of consciousness. In other words, trans-rational mystical experiences eliminate the rational mind's need for a logical and linear answer, because there are no answers to questions about Ultimate Reality. Nevertheless, I have read all the famous Augustinian and Dionysian theologies which explain the Life of the Divine Economia - what goes on in the Essence of the Godhead. Great reading for someone like me who is no longer interested in reading comic books, but equally fanciful. How presumptuous to 'explain' the Incomprehensible! How foolish to translate Transcendental Reality into systematic thought, UNLESS the system has the practical value of initiating a transcendental experience, which will put an end to the machinations of mental masturbation.

- MtG

Seth-Ra
04-13-2012, 10:26 PM
Yes that is pretty good and kind of the way I see it, but I also see them as one and the same. And yes maybe when they are all happening at the same time you have truly reached an enlightened state?

I once talked to a Christian about Pantheism. I said that I saw God and Nature as one and the same and I figured this Christian person would partly agree with me, after all he believed in God and that God created Nature, but to my surprise the Christian did not agree at all. I mean if I was a Christian I don't see a problem with this concept... is Nature not good enough to be part of God or what?

:cool:

That does not surprise me at all. lol There is a big thing of spiritual ignorance among people as a whole, and especially with mainstream christianity. I am a christian, and i have no problem seeing God in Nature - He said "I AM" - Nature IS (exists) = God has his thumbprint on it, and is part of it. This goes for everything that exists. God is in it to some extent, or it would not be.

Oh, and yes, youre are correct that they are One - its all Life-energy, God-energy/breath/word/light etc...etc... and yes, to get all 3 happening at once (to have all the chakras opened and activated, consciously - especially those 3 main points) does allow one to reach an enlightened state. :) Its about getting the All (individual vibrational patterns) to merge and come together (activate) in one harmonious burst/song/state of being - thus creating the "Light Body" - as it all merges into One - You. :)




~Seth-Ra

Ghislain
04-14-2012, 12:49 AM
I wasn’t sure whether or not to start a different thread on Spirit and Soul, but as this one has kicked off I
will stay with the momentum.

I am fairly non-committal when talking on subjects such as this, but at this moment in time I have to say
that I have a monistic pantheist approach to my train of thought. This view I cannot shake as everything I
see and relate to fits within this. IMO there are no words that explain what I believe to be true, but some
come close.

There are many explanations of the spirit and soul, some confusing and some clarifying. Below are just a
few I picked from random Google pages from the search “difference between soul and spirit”.


There are some who don't believe there is a difference. This is due to the fact that the Hebrew word
for soul is nephesh which means literally "life". It is also used for animals (Gen 1:20-24) and man as a
whole person (Joshua 2:13, Exodus 21:23). The Hebrew texts denotes the spirit as "ruach" and refers
to it as only the immaterial part of man (Num 16:22).

The spirit is always referred to as the immaterial part of man. Man is not a spirit, he has a spirit. I
believe the soul (psyche) is just what the Greek word implies... the makeup of man. You are different
from every other person. The thing that makes you you is the soul. The soul is how you relate to
others and how you understand yourself. The spirit is how you relate to God. When you are reborn,
you are born of spirit (John 3:5-6). The spirit is part of the soul, much like the mind is part of the soul.
It is the soul, though, that comprises who you are.

Animals don't have a spirit per se- they don't seek God. Plants have a body, animals have a body and
soul (they are capable of relating to man and other animals), but only man has a spirit. Both the soul
and spirit pass when man dies, thus you will be recognizable as you in the coming resurrection (ref
Matt 17:3) and you will as a believer forever be able to fellowship with God. You will be given a new
body (1 Cor 15:51-55), but you will be you.
Source: (http://www.comereason.org/theo_issues/theo070.asp)


The soul and the spirit are the two primary immaterial aspects that Scripture ascribes to humanity. It
can be confusing to attempt to discern the precise differences between the two. The word “spirit”
refers only to the immaterial facet of humanity. Human beings have a spirit, but are we not spirits.
However, in Scripture, only believers are said to be spiritually alive (1 Corinthians 2:11; Hebrews
4:12; James 2:26), while unbelievers are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 2:13). In Paul's
writing, the spiritual was pivotal to the life of the believer (1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:1; Ephesians 1:3;
5:19; Colossians 1:9; 3:16). The spirit is the element in humanity which gives us the ability to have an
intimate relationship with God. Whenever the word “spirit” is used, it refers to the immaterial part
of humanity that “connects” with God, who Himself is spirit (John 4:24).

The word “soul” can refer to both the immaterial and material aspects of humanity. Unlike human
beings having a spirit, human beings are souls. In its most basic sense, the word “soul” means “life.”
However, beyond this essential meaning, the Bible speaks of the soul in many contexts. One of these
is humanity’s eagerness to sin (Luke 12:26). Humanity is naturally evil, and our souls are tainted as a
result. The life principle of the soul is removed at the time of physical death (Genesis 35:18;
Jeremiah 15:2). The soul, as with the spirit, is the centre of many spiritual and emotional experiences
(Job 30:25; Psalm 43:5; Jeremiah 13:17). Whenever the word “soul” is used, it can refer to the whole
person, whether alive or in the afterlife.
Source: (http://www.gotquestions.org/soul-spirit.html)


Spirit: The ancient Hebrews noticed that the big difference between a being that was alive and one
that was dead was that one breathed and the other didn’t. They came up with the analogy of spirit
and respiration (notice that the two words come from the same root). When God created the first
human being (in Hebrew ha'adam, the person), God gave the human life by breathing into its nostrils
(Gen. 2:4). Even earlier in the book of Genesis, we hear (in the Hebrew) that the Spirit of God
breathed over the chaos that existed before humans were created (Gen. 1:2). The spirit, in other
words, is that little spark of God within us that keeps us alive: Namasté.

Soul: The ancient Hebrews had no conception of the soul; that is an idea the ancient Greeks came up
with. For millennia it was thought that when one died, one’s spirit (breath) went to an underground
place called Sheol, or in Greek Hades, where it had a sort of shadowy half-existence devoid of
thought, sensation, or anything much at all. In a late addition to the Nicene Creed, we are told that
Jesus descended not into Hell — an invention of the Middle Ages — but into Hades. When in the
myth Orpheus went down to Hades to bring his beloved Eurydice back from death, she didn’t want
to leave the blessed freedom from fear, insecurity, and worry. When Saul had a medium conjure up
the spirit of Samuel to get his advice, the spirit of Samuel was irritated as hell (so to speak) at having
his rest interrupted (1 Samuel 28:7-20).

Here is an analogy that may help you understand the various distinctions: the human mind
comprises the brain and all its workings — memory, perception, reason, the stew of hormones that
results in our emotions. It is, in other words, the “hardware” of human existence. The human soul is
what governs the human hardware — the “software” of human existence, our very own “operating
system,” unique to each of us. The human spirit is the “electricity” that animates us.

Source (http://www.extremelysmart.com/insight/theology/soul&spirit.php)

Now This ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx0WOxENz_Q

I can't believe I found this...So simple and yet so amazing.

Ghislain

zoas23
04-14-2012, 02:47 AM
It's a metaphysical conundrum, language, that is. It depends upon which system one enters into, from ancient times to modern.

Exactly! Just like the tree of life, that divides the whole in 10 sephiroth... it would be possible to create an identical tree with 15 sephiroth, dividing the whole in 15 parts instead of 10.
It is important to learn about the continuum, but it is also important to learn to divide it as to understand it.
It is an artificial division, but the fact that it's artificial doesn't make it unworthy.

Also, the words "Soul" and "Spirit" are often very confusing whilst reading different texts in our modern languages (English, Spanish, etc), because quite often they switch their meaning and what one texts calls "soul", another text calls "spirit" and viceversa.


iThis term derived from the Pagan Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus, for whom Nous was roughly equivalent to the Logos (or Word, or Son) in Christianity. So like the Unmanifest Father, Plotinus had The One, for the Son, he had Nous, and for the Holy Spirit, Plotinus had the World Soul. Much of Catholic and Orthodox theology is Neoplatonic in nature.

Oh! Yes! As I've said above, it is hard to explain this fourfold division better than Plotinus. I think of him as the most obvious "must-read" on the subject.
As for your opinion that much of Catholic and Orthodox theology is Neoplatonic... YES! This is actually true for Christianism as a whole.
This isn't something that begun with Plotinus, it is fascinating to read Philo of Alexandria, who was contemporary of the Historical Jesus and find out that he simply mixed Neo-Platonism with the Jewish Religion and arrived to the core ideas of Christianism by uniting both (and the Gospel of John has a very obvious influence of Philo of Alexandria).


How presumptuous to 'explain' the Incomprehensible! How foolish to translate Transcendental Reality into systematic thought, UNLESS the system has the practical value of initiating a transcendental experience, which will put an end to the machinations of mental masturbation.

I think systematic thought is important. Our divisions of the whole are artificial, but it's a bit like the logic of Solve et Coagula... if we don't divide, then we are often unable to understand... and finally unite it all.
The "All is One" logic is beautiful, but if we don't draw dividing lines in this "One", then we won't understand it.

MarkostheGnostic
04-14-2012, 04:25 AM
Yes. John took his Pro-logos from Philo. We have writings by Philo, nothing by Jesus.
I am reading Christ in Egypt http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Egypt-The-Horus-Jesus-Connection/dp/0979963117/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334376554&sr=8-1 and this astrotheological take reifies Freke & Gandy's conclusion, and Albert Schweitzer's turn-of-the-century view, that Jesus is a collage of several Wisdom teachers, but not a historical person. This was held by some of the Gnostics in different ways, but even they did not make him a pure myth, but ascribed a 'phantom body,' as did the Docetists. I have also read up on the historical James, who was supposed to take over the Church at Rome, rather than Peter. James is supposed to be the biological brother of Jesus. So, there remains the historical notion for the most part.

There may well be a mystic who provided the kernel upon which the heavily mythologized Jesus was based. Christ in Egypt is densely documented with material that leaves little doubt that the personified Sun was equated to the Horus child at dawn (Ra at noon, Osiris at sunset). The Isis cult which proliferated throughout the Greco-Roman world - Isis suckling Horus - was the paradigm for the much later Madonna and Child. Isis was called Isis-Mery - Beloved Isis. Meri-Mary-Miriam-Mother-Mater-Matter-Matrix - the Divine Feminine. Rev. John Shelby Spong demythologized Jesus for me better than Karl Barth. Freke & Gandy gave one extreme position. Biblical Christianity portrayed the story-line that Spong deconstructed. It matters not if there was a historical Jesus, because even if there was, the appellation "Son of God" takes on a completely different meaning between the Hebrew title for all kings, and the Egyptian astrotheology which relegates personifications to astronomical events. The Ideal portrayed in the canonical and extra-canonical writings with regard to Isa-Y'shu-Iesous are sufficient to make Jesus the aim of human development as far as I am concerned.

The different words reflect a movement from the most densely physical self to the various social and psychological selves that comprise the personality, and thus the 'soul.' When one rises from the existential realm of the senses in Malkuth (Salt) to the Astral Triangle Hod-Yesod-Netsach, one is in the lunar soul (Sulphur) in which individuality is characteristic, but where Pre-personal drives may dominate the robotic common man. Rising to the Ethical Triangle, true individuality emerges as the transcendental "I AM," which derives its universality from the Supernal Triangle 'above,' and which transcends the lunar with the solar Heart, the Spirit, Ruach, Christ, Horus (apparently). Symbolized by the Hexagram, the divine fire from 'on high' intersects the watery unconscious realm below. It is the "living water" of the gospels, and probably its realization is the highest meaning of The Philosopher's Stone - that Jewel in the Lotus of the Heart, the Diamond Body of Eternal Consciousness, or perhaps Consciousness of Eternity - a subtle difference.

III
04-14-2012, 05:52 AM
Intersting. While I find myself understanding things in way consistant with a non-dualist Jnana metaphysics in general, I use a much more modern vocabulary and language using ideas, like virtual holodeck and fractals Patanjali and Vivekananda never had vocabularies to be able to describe. I also tend to describe things in the way that I see them, not the way I "think" they should be.

So I see each of our "souls" as a unique fractal form contained within a range on an n-dimensional "fractal tree of life" in which we tend to migrate upwards as we grow and evolve. As we go up the rabbit hole, I mean tree, our consciousness expands and grows with our soul. This description doesn't in any way affect a non-dualist Jnana metaphysics. Our minds are the projection of consciousness through the template of our souls, or something like that.

I see a lot of overlap and similarity in so many of the descriptions but with many permutations of language.

zoas23
04-15-2012, 03:17 AM
. It matters not if there was a historical Jesus,

I agree 100% with this idea!!!!
Almost every single non-Gnostic Christian finds it impossible to understand it.

Two books I really love:
"The Cave of the Nymphs" by Porphyry... As far as I know, the very first text that openly discusses if the "Odyssey" by Homer is a history book or a metaphor for something else. Porphyry's point of view is very clear: it's not history and not every word there is about something that actually happened... and yet his conclusion is that it's a tale that teaches by far more things than a history book.
It's also a masterpiece on the study of symbolism.
"The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz"... if the Fama and the Confessio could have lead people to a literal interpretation, the Wedding clearly has to be understood as fiction. I never knew of someone who actually believes that a person known as Christian Rosenkreutz literally went to a wedding in which a Queen and a King were beheaded whilst he was talking to a baby with wings that could fly and his name was cupid.... but I knew more than a few persons that actually spend time discussing if Jesus actually walked on the water or not.

MarkostheGnostic
04-15-2012, 03:29 AM
I bought Porphyry's biography of Plotinus last year. Just a pamphlet, and 36 years after reading the Enneads in a one-on-one with Dr. David Leahy (http://www.amazon.com/Novitas-Mundi-Perception-History-Being/dp/0814749933/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1334460463&sr=8-10) It's refreshing and just plain GREAT to know someone who even knows who Porphyry was. :)

zoas23
04-15-2012, 01:57 PM
I bought Porphyry's biography of Plotinus last year. Just a pamphlet, and 36 years after reading the Enneads in a one-on-one with Dr. David Leahy (http://www.amazon.com/Novitas-Mundi-Perception-History-Being/dp/0814749933/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1334460463&sr=8-10) It's refreshing and just plain GREAT to know someone who even knows who Porphyry was. :)

Here's an English translation of the book I have mentioned by Porphyry (online):
http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/porphyry_cave_of_nymphs_02_translation.htm

Some time ago, Isha, my girlfriend, was knitting a scarf and she asked me to read her a book about the symbolism of knitting or the symolism of the waters. I thought about reading her something related to the Greek Moirai, then I thought about the Odyssey (obviously, because of Penelope... because of the travels across the Ocean, etc), but we had mostly heard the Odyssey a thousand times. This is actually very literal; Isha had downloaded an audio-book of the Odyssey and we used to play it every night before sleeping.
I finally thought about Porphyry's book on the Cave of the Naiades of Homer's Odyssey... and it became a fascinating experience to read this book to a woman who was knitting and listening.

The book is very simple, Porphyry takes only 14 verses of Homer's Odyssey:

"High at the head a branching olive grows
And crowns the pointed cliffs with shady boughs.
A cavern pleasant, though involved in night,
Beneath it lies, the Naiades delight:
Where bowls and urns of workmanship divine
And massy beams in native marble shine;
On which the Nymphs amazing webs display,
Of purple hue and exquisite array,
The busy bees within the urns secure
Honey delicious, and like nectar pure.
Perpetual waters through the grotto glide,
A lofty gate unfolds on either side;
That to the north is pervious to mankind:
The sacred south t'immortals is consign'd."

And after a brief comment in which he explains that none of the persons that went to Ithaca has been able to locate this cave with nymphs inside, with a gate opened in the north and another one in the south and so on... He explains that Homer was obviously not writting about a Cave that exists in Ithaca and that the ones who read the book in a literal way as if it was a history book were missing the symbols. And then he explains the symbolism of the cave, the symbolism of knitting, the bees, honey, the waters, the South and the North, etc... every word that Homer wrote in those 14 verses in explained.
What Porphyry explains there about these 14 verses is exactly the same thing that another classic explains: the Golden Chain of Homer.


It is necessary, therefore, that souls, whether they are corporeal or incorporeal, while they attract to themselves body, and especially such as are about to be bound to blood and moist bodies, should verge to humidity, and be corporalised, in consequence of being drenched in moisture. Hence the souls of the dead are evocated by the effusion of bile and blood; and souls that are lovers of body, by attracting a moist spirit, condense this humid vehicle like a cloud. For moisture condensed in the air constitutes a cloud. But the pneumatic vehicle being condensed in these souls, becomes visible through an excess of moisture. And among the number of these we must reckon those apparitions of images, which, from a spirit coloured by the influence of imagination, present themselves to mankind. But pure souls are averse from generation; so that, as Heraclitus says, "a dry soul is the wisest." Hence, here also the spirit becomes moist and more aqueous through the desire of generation, the soul thus attracting a humid vapour from verging to generation. Souls, therefore, proceeding into generation are the nymphs called naiades. Hence it is usual to call those that are married nymphs, as being conjoined to generation, and to pour water into baths from fountains, or rivers, or perpetual rills.

LOL... I am simply quoting this small part of the book trying to convince more people to read it... but also because it brings ideas which are very related to this thread.
Afain, if anyone liked the Golden Chain of Homer, then you will also love this one, I can promise that.

As fot what you've said about Plotinus and Porphyry... YES! I am glad to find someone who loves them too.
I once told Isha that if I could travel in time, the first thing I would do would be to travel back in time to meet Porphyry, I would high five him and tell him: "You rock!"... and only then I would consider other possible travels!
Indeed, we all have a lot of names for the western mystery traditions and we use words like Hermeticism, Alchemy, Gnosticism... and so on.

I am convinced that there's a simple secret name that unites them all and is the true name of our Tradition(s): neo-platonism. And that it is very much a duty (actually a pleasure, not a real "duty") for anyone who studies the western mystery tradition(s) to read books by Philo of Alexandria, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Plutarch, Dionysus Areopagite, Origen, Nicholas of Kues, Gemistos Pletho, Ficino, Pico dela Mirandolla.... and, of course, Plato. A very important part of OUR history is written in those books.

solomon levi
04-20-2012, 11:55 AM
Intersting. While I find myself understanding things in way consistant with a non-dualist Jnana metaphysics in general, I use a much more modern vocabulary and language using ideas, like virtual holodeck and fractals Patanjali and Vivekananda never had vocabularies to be able to describe. I also tend to describe things in the way that I see them, not the way I "think" they should be.

So I see each of our "souls" as a unique fractal form contained within a range on an n-dimensional "fractal tree of life" in which we tend to migrate upwards as we grow and evolve. As we go up the rabbit hole, I mean tree, our consciousness expands and grows with our soul. This description doesn't in any way affect a non-dualist Jnana metaphysics. Our minds are the projection of consciousness through the template of our souls, or something like that.

I see a lot of overlap and similarity in so many of the descriptions but with many permutations of language.


Years ago I was studying sanskrit and i was surprised how it/they had words for things in consciousness
that the english language doesn't. :) I can't think of an example now, but i recall being struck by their
language/vocabulary - some middle place between english and hieroglyphics maybe. :)

I'm also glad to see an interest in Plotinus and Porphyry etc.
I also like the stoics.