[What is Neo-Platonism? – Manly P. Hall]

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[The Lie]

“There are no devout men left,
fidelity has vanished from mankind.
All they do is lie to one another,
flattering lips, talk from a double heart…
those who say, ‘In our tongue lies our strength,
our lips have the advantage;
who can master us?'” (from Psalm 12)

“The two basic qualities, on which the common life of humans rests, well-wishing or the good will—that is, the readiness to fulfil for the other what he may expect of me in our relationship with one another—and loyalty or reliability—that is, a responsible accord between my actions and my explicit mind—have gone. They have disappeared so completely that the basis of the common life of humans has been removed. The lie has taken the place, as a form of life, of human truth, that is of the undivided seriousness of the human person with himself and all his manifestations.” (Martin Buber, Good and Evil, p. 9)

“Where semblance [or imitation] originates from the lie and is permeated by it, the interhuman is threatened in its very existence. It is not that someone utters a lie, falsifies some account. The lie I mean does not take place in relation to particular facts, but in relation to existence itself, and it attacks interhuman existence as such. There are times when a man, to satisfy some stale conceit, forfeits the great chance of a true happening between I and Thou…Whatever the meaning of the word ‘truth’ may be in other realms, in the interhuman realm it means that men communicate themselves to one another as what they are. It does not depend on saying to the other everything that occurs to him…but on his granting to the man to whom he communicates himself a share in his being.” (“Elements of the Interhuman,” in The Knowledge of Man, p. 77)

[“What I am not, God is.”]

“To lose consciousness of oneself, to become conscious of God. To become conscious of the nothing that I am in order to have consciousness of everything that is God. One does not take a step toward God without this preliminary negative. What I am not, God is.

Man makes himself like God in the measure in which he is no longer man, that is, when his transparency, in the absolute sense, is such that God passes through him. This is the deification of man, not human imperfection arrogantly divinized—a haughtiness absolutely outside the place in life that leads to God—but man annulled, abolished, dissipated, so that God alone is because God alone is God and no god is god except God.”

— Guido de Giorgio

via Gornahoor

[To be free is to be intelligent. To be intelligent is to be real.]

(This post is continued from a previous post, here.)

“A high level of free will must employ a combination of these three levels thus: an idea or value or ideal in the intellective sphere must arouse an appropriate emotional response in the animic sphere, and that in turn must trigger a corresponding outward action. Where activity is consistently directed on this basis, the person in question is said to be an authentic being. (This is also a major example of the universal action of ‘vertical causality’, as opposed to the physical kind, acting here in the individual person, and so is under his or her direction.)

The converse of this is the case where the contents of the intellective sphere have little impact on the animic, whose emotional responses are nearly always triggered instead by whatever stimuli happen to be present. In this case, the contents of sense-perception, including the inclinations of other persons, are the causes of one’s actions because of their unopposed access to the animic sphere which prompts action. Where this condition is dominant, it is that of the inauthentic being, who is failing to exercise free will in any significant manner…

…The difference between the authentic and inauthentic person can also be understood in terms of the soul’s representation of its world. In the former case, the soul has full awareness owing to the conscious relations it has both to the intellect and to the senses, whereas in the latter, self-awareness is stifled by the soul’s habitual confusion of itself with the sense-content of its world. Such failures to realize the difference in degree of being between the self and its world reduce the power of free will. When the self puts itself on the same level as that of its own mental contents, or even lower, it is committing the fundamental confusion which I have already called the ‘cosmic illusion’, because in this case the individual cannot distinguish himself from his ‘cosmos’, or see himself as anything other than an item in the system which depends on his conception of it. All things under the headings of sins and crimes and vices result inevitably from this confusion. Such things are obviously failures to realize values in practice, because the nodal point or fulcrum of value, the difference in degree between the person and his perception, has been lost from his awareness.”

Source: Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit, pp. 93-4,95

[“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”]

“We have spoken of those who are on the right, that is, the saved. What of those on the left, the damned? Hell might seem to need some explanation because on the one hand the Quranic descriptions of the sufferings of Hell are unsurpassably terrible, yielding nothing in this respect to the Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian descriptions of Hell, but on the other hand the Qur’an insists that whereas every good deed is rewarded ten-fold each sin is punished only with its equivalent (6:160). How then is it possible to deserve Hell? But before trying to answer this question we must first interrogate ourselves. We may think we are capable of assessing sinful acts such as murder or theft, and we hear not infrequently today of crimes so appalling and indicative of such a horrible state of the soul that we might say no punishment but Hell is bad enough for this, until we remember that Hell is not just for a day or a week but seemingly endless. We will come back later to this question of duration; but are we capable of assessing the gravity of sins which are states lived without respite from one year’s end to another like the sin of atheism to which we may add agnosticism? The Creator says in the Qur’an: I did not create jinn and men except that they should worship Me (51:56). What makes man human is that he should reach beyond this world. The man who fails to worship is subhuman—not merely that, as the Qur’an points out, but even lower than the animals (25:44). In short, man was created as representative of God on earth endowed with immense privileges such as no other earthly creature enjoys. In a very early Meccan revelation the Qur’an affirms: We created man in the fairest rectitude. Then cast We him down to be the lowest of the low, except for those who believe and who do the good deeds that piety demands (95:4-6).

The greatest of God’s gifts to man at his creation is his power to conceive the Transcendent, nor does it begin in this life. The Qur’an stresses that at the creation of Adam every human being later to be born into this world was imbued with the knowledge of the Divine Lordship. In other words every human being has in the depth of his nature a sense of the Absolute. According to the Qur’an the sin of sins is turning one’s back on the Transcendent in order to give all one’s attention to this world, not as the representative of God but as a parody of God, a would-be independent tyrant out for an unrestrained and undirected exploitation of all the resources of the earthly state. This is the great betrayal of trust, and if Hell seems to have a touch of the Absolute it is because this betrayal is in relation to the Absolute. But Hell is not Absolute and cannot be Eternal for that is the prerogative of the Hidden Treasure alone. It is true that the Qur’an speaks of the people of Hell as abiding therein forever, but this forever has to be understood in a relative sense, for there is one very explicit passage in which a double limitation is put on the everlastingness of Hell (11:103-8). Its inmates are described as abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure except as God wisheth. Verily God is ever the doer of what He will. The first of the two limitations, so long as the heavens and the earth endure, can be interpreted ‘until the Creator reabsorbs the created universe back into Himself.’ As to the second limitation, it clearly refers to the possibility of Divine intervention, and this is explained in a well-known saying of the Prophet that after the Judgement, when the wretched are in Hell and the blessed are in Paradise, God will call together the Angels and the Prophets and the believers and bid them intercede for those in Hell, and in consequence a multitude of souls are released until finally He orders the release of all those in whom there is any good so that only those who have no good to their credit are left in Hell. Then He will say: ‘The Angels have interceded and the Prophets have interceded and the believers have interceded and none is left to intercede save the Most Merciful of the Merciful.’ And He will take out of Hell all who are left and will throw them into the River of Life at the entrance to the Gardens of Paradise.

The passage in the Qur’an on which this is a commentary goes on to describe the blessed in Paradise as abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure except as God wisheth. Apparently there is the same double limitation on the everlastingness of Paradise as on that of Hell, but this is not so, for Paradise, unlike Hell, is as it were open to the Absolute, in virtue of the highest Paradise, that of the Essence, which is the Absolute Itself. Thus in the Qur’an immediately after what we have quoted there comes the reassuring promise in the definition of Paradise as a gift that shall not be taken away. The Prophet’s explanation of this whole Quranic passage continues: “After the last people have been taken out of Hell God will turn to the people of Paradise and say: ‘Are ye content?’ And they will say: ‘How should we not be content?’ and He will say: ‘I will give you better than this.’ And they will say: ‘What thing, O Lord, is better?’ and He will say: ‘I will enfold you in My Ridwan (God’s good pleasure).'”

This is something which the highest Saints already know as we have seen. But the lower Paradises belong to the created universe which in the end also returns to the Creator on the day when We shall roll up the heavens as at the rolling up of a written scroll (21:104). So Paradise is a gift that shall not be taken away because although in fact it is taken away it is replaced by the incomparably greater felicity of the Supreme Paradise which is no less than the Infinite Eternal Beatitude of the Hidden Treasure from which all creation proceeds and to which it all returns.

In Christianity we can recall the words of Christ when he appeared to St. Juliana of Norwich  who was greatly troubled by thoughts of the sufferings in Hell: ‘But all shall be well’ to which, when he saw that she was not altogether satisfied he added: ‘All manner of thing shall be well.’

It could not be otherwise, for it must always be remembered that man is made in the image of God, and this means that it is not legitimate to attribute to Divine Providence anything that violates the God-given human sense of values, which includes the sense of responsibility. God knows that the worst sinner in Hell are totally innocent of one thing, namely their own existence, for which He alone is responsible. Thus the Qur’an continually affirms that everything finally will be brought back to Him. In other words He is bound to reabsorb into the indescribable Felicity of His Own Essence everything which He manifested from it. God’s is the Sovereignty over the heavens and the earth; and unto God is the ultimate becoming (24:42).”

Source: Martin Lings, A Return to the Spirit: Questions and Answers, Chapter 6, pp. 74-77

[The Capacity for Freedom]

This post is continued from a previous one here.

“[The] interior complexity of man means that each person has the means to unite himself or herself in an equally natural way to either the Providential or the Fatidic order. However, we do not apply the term ‘free will’ to both of these options, because what we understand by freedom does not belong to nature, where all is subject to efficient causality, but rather to Providence which comprises the archetypes or formal causes of all that belongs to nature. This is said to be free because it comprises the essential realities of the world as they are ‘before’ being instanced in material form and so subjected to all kinds of constraint.

The soul which aligns itself with Providence, and therefore with freedom, will thus be the one which realizes the possibilities of the spiritual nature to the fullest extent possible for the individual concerned. This involves an orientation of the whole person which is not to be confused with the divisive effects of an unintegrated intellectuality which is made an end in itself, and so denies its spiritual and sacramental role. On the contrary, it applies to the body as well, by its participation in the soul, which in turn participates in intellect; it too is spiritualised in its own way, therefore. Concerning the effect of this union, Guénon says: ‘In uniting itself to Providence and consciously collaborating with it, the human will can become a counter-balance to destiny and finally neutralize it.’ In the words of Fabre d’Olivet,

The harmony of the Will and Providence constitutes Good; Evil is born of their opposition. Man has received three forces adapted to each of the three modifications of his being…and the unity which binds them [these forces], that is to say Man, is perfected or depraved, according as it tends to become blended with the Universal Unity or to become distinguished from it.

In other words man approaches either perfection or depravity depending on which of the two poles of manifestation he gravitates towards: the pole of unity or the pole of multiplicity.

This also makes it easier to see how each soul can choose its own destiny, since the inward relations it makes with its material, psychical, and spiritual possibilities are in effect the formal causes of its relations to the external conditions under which it lives and develops. In other words, it is not so much a matter of the person being modified by a set of conditions as of a soul gravitating to a set of conditions which corresponds to its interior relations, and under which the latter will be best able to realize their potential. This leads to certain questions about the will which are hardly ever treated theoretically, particularly concerning the distinction between the things we do and the things we suffer. If the movement of the will is based on the component wills of Instinctive, Animic, and Intellectual principles, it can be seen that the adverse wills which confront us need only be the counterparts of unintegrated acts of volition within us.

Like wills can only connect with like, but if the whole person is harmonized in relation to the intellective principle, the will must be free, and so not liable to attract adverse volition to itself, having none within. The choice of freedom and free will outlined above is implicitly obedience to the will of God, where the universal Divine will can be discerned by means of the threefold constitution of the being. Its implication is that each person is born with a destiny to develop as much as possible through the Instinctive, Animic, and Intellective levels, with the grace of sacred tradition.”

Source: Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit, pp. 79-81