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Plotinus - The Enneads - But if soul is sinless, how come the expiations

Identifier

002860

Type of spiritual experience

Background

Plotinus is trying to explain here the distinction between the Higher spirit and the soul consisting of the Conscious and the subconscious.  The so called Essential soul is the Higher spirit [I think there have been things lost in translation to English here, the translator clearly had difficulty finding a word to match] There is also a description of what happens on death – the ‘sundering of every alien accruement’ – lovely phrase!

A description of the experience

Plotinus – The Enneads

But if soul is sinless, how come the expiations?  Here surely is a contradiction; on the one side the Soul is above all guilt; on the other, we hear of its sin, its purification, its expiation; it is doomed to the lower world, it passes from body to body.

We may take either view at will; they are easily reconciled.

When we tell of the sinless Soul we make Soul and Essential Soul one and the same; it is the simple unbroken Unity.

By the Soul subject to sin we indicate a groupment, we include that other, that phase of the Soul which knows all the states and passions; the Soul in this sense is compound, all inclusive; it falls under the condition of the entire living experience; this compound it is that sins, it is this and not the other, that pays penalty.

It is in this sense that we read of the Soul; 'We saw it as those others saw the sea-god Glaukos' 'And' reading on 'if we mean to discern the nature of the Soul we must strip it free of all that has gathered about it, we must see into its love of wisdom, examine with what Existences it has touch and by kinship to what Existences it is what it is'

Thus the life and activities of the Soul are not those of the Expiator.  The retreat and sundering, then must be not from this body only, but from every alien accruement

The source of the experience

Plotinus

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities