More Texts on the Descent of the Soul

This is a slightly different arrangement of Plotinian texts which includes some new material along with some of the same texts quoted in Plotinus in a Nutshell:

“The soul of each of us is dispatched hither for the same reason: if the realm of sense is to be complete, it is necessary that it contain as many kinds of living beings as does the intelligible realm.” IV.8.1 (O’Brien 63)

“In directing itself to what is lower than itself, [The Soul] orders, administers, and governs. . . . individual souls [also possess] a power over the realm of sense much in the way that sunshine, although attached to the sun above, does not deny its rays to what is below. If the souls remain in the intelligible realm with The Soul, they are beyond harm and share in the Soul’s governance. They are like kings who live with the high king and govern with him and, like him, do not come down from the palace.” IV.8.3,4 (O’Brien 65-66)

“But there comes a stage at which they descend from the universal to become partial and self-centred; in a weary desire of standing apart they find their way, each to a place of its very own. . . .

“This state long maintained, the soul is a deserter from the All; its differentiation has severed it; its vision is no longer set in the Intellectual; it is a partial thing, isolated, weakened, full of care, intent upon the fragment; severed from the whole, it nestles in one form of being; for this, it abandons all else, entering into and caring for only the one [form of being], for a thing buffeted about by a worldful of things: thus it has drifted away from the universal and, by an actual presence, it administers the particular; it is caught into contact now, and tends to the outer to which it has become present and into whose inner depths it henceforth sinks far.” IV.8.4 (MacKenna 338 – cf. O’Brien 66).

“There are two wrongs the soul commits. The first is its descent; the second, the evil done after arrival here below. The first is punished by the very conditions of the descent. Punishment for the second is passage once more into other bodies [and possibly] more severe penalties administered by avenging daimons. . . .

“By voluntary inclination it plunges into this sphere. If it returns quickly, it will have suffered no harm, thus learning of evil and what sin is, in bringing its powers into manifest play, in exhibiting activities and achievements that [needed to be actualized].” IV.8.5 (O’Brien 67-68).

“[The ugly soul] is dissolute, unjust, teeming with lusts, torn by inner discord, beset by craven fears and petty envies. It thinks indeed. But it thinks only of the perishable and the base. In everything perverse, friend to filthy pleasures, it lives a life abandoned to bodily sensation and enjoys depravity. . . . For the life it leads is dark with evil, sunk in manifold death. It sees no longer what the soul should see. It can no longer rest within itself but is forever being dragged towards the external, the lower, the dark…. It has bartered its Idea for a nature foreign to self.” I.6.5 (O’Brien 38, 39).

“Yet its higher part remains. Let the soul, taking its lead from memory, merely ‘think on essential being’ and its shackles are loosed and it soars.” IV.8.3,4 (O’Brien 66).

“It is not in the soul’s nature to touch utter nothingness; the lowest descent is into evil and, so far, into non-being: but to utter nothing, never. When the soul begins again to mount, it comes not to something alien but to its very self; thus detached, it is not in nothingness but in itself; self-gathered it is no longer in the order of being; it is in the Supreme.” VI.9.11 (MacKenna 548 — cf. O’Brien. 88).

–> Neoplatonic Symbolism in the Tarot Suits

[See also my Compendium of Texts from Plotinus’ Enneads (PDF)]