Wednesday, June 29, 2016


The sieve of time, it's said, will sift
Which writers' work is set to last:
Who has a true, enduring gift,
Who's history when their moment's passed.

But from this sieving who's to say
This later verdict will be just?
Which residue will new scales weigh--
The solids or the filtered dust?

~Bill Webster

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The One

Rob Gonsalves (via John Magee)
The experience of transcendence and the concept of "Oneness" is largely attributed to Eastern religious and philosophical traditions, but there is a long Western mystic tradition that began in ancient Greece with the transcendent Idealism of Plato and developed over subsequent centuries. The most famous neo-Platonist was a 3rd Century philosopher born in Egypt named Plotinus. His work had a huge influence on the development of Christian theology. In the following passage Plotinus explains why we find the experience of "the One" so elusive.
Plotinus (born c 205 - died 270)
"The chief difficulty is this: awareness of The One comes to us neither by knowing nor by the pure thought that discovers the other intelligible things, but by a presence transcending knowledge. When the soul knows something, it loses its unity, it cannot remain simply one because knowledge implies multiplicity. The soul then misses The One and falls into number and multiplicity. 
"Therefore we must go beyond knowledge and hold to unity. We must renounce knowing and knowable, every object of thought, even Beauty, because Beauty, too, is posterior to The One and is derived from it as, from the sun, the daylight. That is why Plato says of The One, ‘It can neither be spoken of nor written about.’ If nevertheless we speak of it and write about it, we do so only to give direction, to urge towards that vision beyond discourse, to point out the road to one desirous of seeing.  
"As The One does not contain any difference, it is always present and we are present to it when we no longer contain difference. The One does not aspire to us, to move around us; we aspire to it, to move around it. Actually, we always move around it; but we do not always look.  We are like a chorus grouped around a conductor who allow their attention to be distracted by the audience. If, however, they were to turn towards their conductor, they would sing as they should and would really be with him. We are always around The One. If we were not, we would dissolve and cease to exist. Yet our gaze does not remain fixed upon The One. When we look at it, we then attain the end of our desires and find rest. Then it is that, all discord past, we dance an inspired dance around it.
"In this dance the soul looks upon the source of life, the source of The Intelligence, the origin of Being, the cause of the Good, the root of the Soul."