Plutarch – The Vision of Aridæus 04
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
ECHOES FROM THE GNOSIS - VOL. III. BY G. R. S. MEAD
THE VISION OF ARIDÆUS - Plutarch
"Of these [three] kinds of correction," he said, "that which is effected by Punishment, while a man is still alive, resembles a method of chastisement in vogue with the Persians, among others, when they strip the clothes and headresses off the culprits and scourge the former, while the latter entreat them with tears to stop. In like manner, punishments by means of loss of goods and bodily suffering do not really probe the disease sharply nor reach vice itself, but for the most part touch only the reputations and sensibilities of the culprits.
"Accordingly whenever a man leaves that world for this unpunished and impure, Justice grips him by the soul just as he is, naked, unable to put anything on, and so hide and cloak his villainy, but every bit of him in full view of every one on all sides.
"And first of all he is shown to his good parents, if such they are, or to his ancestors, as an object of loathing and a disgrace to the family; whereas if his forebears are bad, he has to look on their punishments and they on his; and this continues for a long time, until he has exhausted every one of his evil tendencies in pain and toil, which in extent and intensity as much exceed all suffering in the body, as waking consciousness is more vivid than a dream. And the scars and marks of every one of their evil tendencies more or less remain on all of them.
"Observe," he continued, "the colours of the souls of every shade and sort: that greasy brown-grey is the pigment of sordidness and selfishness; that blood-red inflamed shade is a sign of a savage and venomous nature; wherever blue-gray is, from such a nature incontinence in pleasure is not easily eradicated; innate malignity with envy, causes that livid discoloration in the same way as cuttle-fish eject their sepia.
"Now it is in earth-life that the vice of the soul (being acted upon by the passions and reacting upon the body) produces these discolorations; while the purification and correction here have for their object the removal of these blemishes, so that the soul may become entirely ray-like (augoeid‘ s) and of uniform colour.
"As long as these colours are present, there are relapses into the passions, accompanied with pulsings and throbbings; with some souls faint and soon suppressed, but with others vigorously intensified.
"Of these, some by dint of repeated correction at length recover their proper disposition and condition; others again, by the strength of their intractability and their being nailed down to the love of pleasure, are carried down to the bodies of beasts.
"The former, through weakness of reason and inertia of the contemplative principle, are carried down by the practical element to birth [as men]; while the latter, lacking an instrument for their unbridled lust, long to unite desires to enjoyment and bring these together by means of [any] body,--for out of body there is only an imperfect shadow and dream of pleasure without fulfilment."