Le Temps Revient...

Poetry, Music, Art & Ideas for the Archaic Recurrence...

sábado, 5 de diciembre de 2015

Plotinus: Enneads

Selected passages from the first volume of Plotinus' Enneads...

On Virtues:

Plato, when he speaks of "likeness" as a "flight to god" from existence here below, and does not call the virtues which come into play in civic life just "virtues," but adds the qualification "civic," and elsewhere calls all the virtues "purifications," makes clear that he postulates two kinds of virtues and does not regard the civic onnes as producing likeness.

What do we mean when we call these other virtues "purifications," and how are we made really like by being purified? Since the soul is evil when it is thoroughly mixed with the body and shares its experiences and has all the same opinions, it will be good and possess virtues when it no longer has the same opinions but acts alone - this is intelligence and wisdom - and  does not share the body's experiences - this is self-control - and is not afraid of departing from the body - this is courage - and is ruled by reason and intellect, without opposition - and this is justice.

Η επειδη κακη μεν εστιν η ψυχη συμπεφυρμενη τω σωματι και ομοπαθης γινομενη αθτω και παντα σθνδοξαζοθσα, ειη αν αγαθη και αρετηνεχοθσα, ει μντε σθνδοξαζοι, αλλα μονη ενεργοι - οπερ εστι νοειν τε και φρονειν - μητε ομοπαθης ειη - οπερ εστι σωφπονειν.

As the spoken word is an imitation  of that in the soul, so the word in the soul is an imitation of that in something else: as the uttered word, then is broken up into parts as compared with that in the soul, so is that in the soul as compared with that before it, which it interprets.

There is no sin in anything of this sort for a man, but only right action. Our concern, though, is not to be out of sin, but to be god.

Εστι μεν ουν ουδεν των τοιουτων αμαρτια, αλλα κατορθωσις ανθρωπω αλλ η σπουδη ουκ εξω αμαρτιας ειναι, αλλα θεον ειναι.

But when he reaches higher principles and different measures he will act accordingly to these - for instance, he will not make self-control consist in that former observance of measure and limit, but will altogether separate himself, as far as possible, from his lower nature and will not live the life of the good man which civic virtue requires. He will leave that behind, and choose another, the life of the gods: for it is to them, not to the good men, that we are to be made like. Likeness to good men is the likeness of two pictures of the same subject to each other, but likeness to the gods is likeness to the model, a being of a different kind to ourselves.

Well Being Increases with Time:

It is ones inner state which produces both well-being and any pleasure that results from it. To place well-being in actions is to locate it in something outside virtue and the soul; the activity of the soul lies in thought, and action of this kind within itself, and this is the state of well-being.

η γαρ εωεργεια της ψυχης εν τω φρονησαι. Και τουτο το ευδαιμονως.

On Beauty:

What is this kind of glorifying light on all the virtues? Would you like to take the opposites, the uglinesses in soul and contrast them with the beauties? Perhaps a consideration of what ugliness is and why it appears so will help us to find what we are looking for. Suppose, then, an ugly soul, dissolute and unjust, full of all lusts, and all disturbance, sunk in fears by its cowardice and jealousies by its pettiness, thinking mean and mortal thoughts as far as it thinks at all, altogether distorted, loving impure pleasures, living a life which consists of bodily sensations and finding delight in its ugliness: Shall we not say that its ugliness came to it as a "beauty" brought in from outside, injuring it and making it impure and mixed with a great deal of evil.

Εστω δη ψυχη αισχρα, ακολαστος τε και αδικος, πλειστων μεν επιθυμιων γεμοθσα, πλειστης δε ταραχηςεν φοβοις δια δειλιαν, εν φθονοις δια μικροπρεπειαν, παντα φρονοθσα α δη και φρονει φνητα και ταπειωα, σκολια πανταχου, ηδονων ου καθαρων φιλη, ζωσα ζωην του ο τι αν παθη δια σωματος ος ηδυ λαβοθσα αισχος.

For, as was said in old times, self-control, and courage and every virtue, is a purification, and so is even wisdom itself. This is why the mysteries are right when they say riddlingly that the man who has not been purified will lie in mud when he goes to Hades, because the impure is fond of mudby reason of its badness; just as pigs with their unclean bodies like that sort of thing. For what can true self-control be except not keeping company with bodily pleasures, but avoiding them as impure and belonging to something impure? Courage, too, is not being afraid of death. And death is the separation of body and soul, and a man does not fear this if he welcomes the prospect of being alone. Again greatness of soul is despising the things here: and wisdom is an intellectual activity which turns away from the things below and leads the soul to those above.

Εστι γαρ δη, ως ο παλαιος λογος, και η σωφροσθνη και η ανδρια και πασα αρετη καθαρσις και η φρονησις αυτη.

Η δε ανδρια αφοβια θανατου. Ο δε εστιν ο θανατος χωρις ειναι την ψυχην του σωματος.

So we must ascend again to the good, which every soul desires. Anyone who has seen it knows what I mean when I say that it is beautiful.

Αναβατεον ουν παλω επι το αγαθον, ου ορεγεται πασα ψυχη, Ει τις ουν ειδεν αυτο οιδεν ο λεγω, οπως καλον.

On What Are Evils:

Plato himself explains somewhere about separating or not separating oneself; but being "among the gods" means "among the beings of the world of intellect;" for these are immortal.

το δε χωρισαι και μη δηλον που αυτος ποιει, το δ'εν θεοις ειναι, εν τοις νοητοις. ουτοι γαρ αθανατοι.

Now it is necessary that what comes after the First should exist, and therefore that the Last should exist; and this is matter, which possesses nothing at all of the Good. And in this way too evil is necessary.

Εξ αναγκης δε ειναι το μετα το πρωτον ωστε και το εσχατον. τουτο δε η θλη μηδεν ετι εχοθσα αυτου. και αθτη η αναγκη του κακου.

sábado, 28 de noviembre de 2015

New Testament Greek

Here are some curious observations upon reading the New Testament in its original Koine Greek form.

εν αρχή ην ο λόγος, και ο λόγος ην προς τον θεόν, και θεός ην ο λόγος. Ιωάννης 1:1

In the beginning was the logos or conscious mind which categorised the chaos into a world. God did not create the universe which is clear in other creation myths such as Hesiod's Theogony. There was primal chaos which God put into order. We can thus understand God's creation as the human mind's particular habit of categorising the things out there in the phenomenal world into neat intelligible groupings which enable us to make sense of our environment. When a baby is born it lacks a symbolic order or way to understand its new experiences. It slowly learns to form "a world" out of all the chaotic information which its senses receive. In this sense God is an allegory for our own consciousness' attempt at coming to an understanding of the surroundings in which we find ourselves. The Greek word logos (usually translated as "word") here becomes a lot clearer in its meaning. In the beginning was the human mind giving names to all the random objects in its immidiate experience in order to give itself a sense of meaning. This is also seen in the old Testament where Adam is found giving names to all the other animals and "creeping things". This is further explored in the philosophic branch of ontology. The "logos of things" or science of what really exists out there in the physical world.

This is further shown by the experience of autistics who lack this basic skill of organising the primordial chaos into a coherent "world". It is commonly the case that autistics cannot focus on a particular thing as everything seems to hit them at once.

ήδη καθαροί έστε δια τον λόγον. Ιωάννης 15:3

The logos or word of God, is a basic concept from Greek philosophy, particularly in Plato, Heraclitus' fragments and Neoplatonists such as Plotinus who influenced Gnosticism and Christianity. The affinity between the New Testament and Greek philosophy may not be immediately obvious when reading either in translation, yet it is clearly apparent upon reading the these texts in their Greek originals (not Hebrew) that they are using the same vocabulary and philosophical terminology, as well as dealing with the same themes explored by the earlier Greek philosophers. Themes such as the logos comes straight from Heraclitus. The plurality & oneness dualism continues from where Parmenides began. The need for the higher mind to control the lower animal self is taken directly out of both Plato and later Platonist philosophers.

Πάτερ ημων ο εν τοις ουρανοις. Μαθθαιος 6:9

The sun above us in the sky is our father through its creation of the solar system.

τότε οι δίκαιοι εκλαμψουσιν ως ο ήλιος. Μαθθαιος 13:43

The righteous shine like the sun. A direct reference to the deity being solar in origin.

Εγγίζει ο καιρός των καρπών. Μαθθαιος 21:34

δια τι μετά των αμαρτωλών εσθίετε και πίνετε; Λουκάς 5:30

δια τι μετά των τελωνων και αμαρτωλών εσθίει ο διδάσκαλος; Μαθθαιος 9:11

Why does Jesus hang out with sinners? The Greek word αμαρτια is always translated as "sin" as though we had something inherent in our being to feel bad about. However hamartia really just means to "miss the point". Precisely what the translators of the New Testament have done with this word! Thus most people miss the point of life when they remain in the lower passions of eating and drinking.

δαιμόνιον έχεις. Ιωάννης 7:20

Socrates' daemonia. Demon originally meant the part of the psyche that tells us what is right or wrong, in other words, the conscience. Personal responsibility for our ethics was taken away when our daemonia was "demonised".

ου βάλλουσιν οίνον νέον εις ασκούς παλιούς. Μαθθαιος 9:17

The New Testament is full of agricultural metaphors, many associated with wine. This is hardly surprising as religion originated in practical needs to understand the world for the sake of the harvest and survival. 

οι μαθηται είπαν αυτω, Δια τι εν παραβολαις λαλείς αυτοις; Μαθθαιος 13:10.

Those who read the bible literally are just like those who didn't understand Jesus when he spoke to them in parables. What most "believers" miss is that Jesus' parables indicate that the Jesus story itself is meant to be taken as just such a parable as those he relates. One of self overcoming which all can aspire to. Jesus spoke to the people in parables and they understood him not. It seems that people taking spiritual ideas literally is nothing new. Jesus himself had to deal with the same sort of simple mindedness that still goes for religious literalism even to this day.

ουκ επίσπευσαν οι Ιουδαίοι ότι ην τυφλός και αναβλεψεν. Ιωάννης 9:18.

Τυφλός: Just as Odysseus blinds the Cyclops, Jesus restores sight to a select few of the ignorant masses. In fact what Jesus does here is no different to the technique used by Roman emperor Vespasian to make the blind see. Both Vespasian and Jesus used spittle which seems designed to convince the masses that Jesus had such powers to match any earthly ruler. Such miracles were common imperial propaganda. 

There is another way of looking at this passage to see what deeper meaning the parable might have for the more discerning reader. The verb used is αναβλέπω: The Greek verb to "gain sight" means simply to "look up". This is how Jesus "restores sight" to the blind by showing us something we hadn't bothered to notice before. After all, we are all the blind when trapped going about our daily lives and not thinking of more elevated notions. We need to look upwards in order to remember the true wonder of living. Born again Christians speak of seeing the light and in this sense Jesus really does help to enlighten us, encourage us on the path towards understanding the world better and initiate us into its deeper mysteries, something which modern science is further doing.

εγώ εβαπτισα υμας υδατι, αυτός δε βαπτίσει υμας εν πνεύματι αγιω. Μάρκος 1:8.

Βαπτίζω: Baptise means to dip. Πνεύμα: Spirit means the breath. Coming up from under water we realise how special it is to be able to breathe. We are thus "baptised" in the "Holy Spirit".

εστιν αληθώς ο προθήτης. Ιωάννης 7:40

The New Testament seems to be obsessed with convincing the people of its time that Jesus is the prophet mentioned in the Hebrew scriptures by continually making such overstatments.

ει ο Χριστός ο υιός του θεού. Μαθθαιος 16:16

The name Christ means the annointed one or refers to somebody who has been initiated into a deeper understanding of things. Jesus can be said to be an annointed one therefore as he has passed beyond the realm of the body into that of the mind/ psyche/ soul. Interestingly enough the Buddha was known by the exact same title and could also be considered to have undergone the same "initiation".

αγγελος δε κυρίου ηνοιξε τας θύρας της φυλακής. Acts 5:19

Αγγελος: What does the word angel mean? In the older attic Greek it meant quite straight forwardly messenger, and did not have any supernatural connotations.

ιδού εγώ αποστέλλω υμας ως πρόβατα εν μέσω λύκων. Μαθθαιος 10:16

I send you out like sheep amidst wolves. The word αποστελλω means to send or deliver which is exactly what Jesus does with his followers sending them out into the wider world to preach the word. This is where we get the name "Apostle" which is quite frequently mixed with the term μαθεται which meant students and is where we get our word mathematics.

και οι άνεμοι και η θάλασσα αυτω υπακούουσιν. Μαθθαιος 8:27