Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"Strive to give back the Divine in yourselves to the Divine in the All." - Plotinus (205-270)

My last semester in college I took a Religions of the East course. I had already had two other religion courses at school - Introduction to Christianity I and Introduction to Christianity II. (These classes don't preach Christianity, they teach the history of the religion.) At the time of these classes I didn't label myself as belonging to any certain religion or philosophy. In fact, I just didn't think about it. I took the classes because in order to get my math degree I needed so many electives. When I took the Religions of the East course, I started to feel something emerging from within myself, especially when we discussed Hinduism and Buddhism. I found out about the idea that we all form a great big "One". Basically, that I am you and you are me. In other words, there is a part of you in me and a part of me in you. We are each other. Thinking that we are separate entities is only an illusion.

To make a long story short, when this was brought-up in class and we began to study it, I started to feel a sensation of familiarity. I felt, "This is it! I believe this!" I couldn't help but smile to myself because I finally felt something real and believable, something that connected me to the rest of the universe.

It was at that point that I became interested in philosophy. Off and on from December of 2001 I dabbled a bit in Buddhism. In fact, if asked, I was a "Buddhist" for about three years. I liked knowing that I belonged to something. Only I didn't realize that this in itself was an attachment - something that Buddhists strive against. Buddhists believe that attachments get in the way of Nirvana, or enlightenment.

Last night I "met" a philosopher who I really like. His name is Plotinus, and he founded Neoplatonism. Central to Plotinus' work is the idea of this "One", from which we all emanate like sparks from a fire. Plotinus was a mystic and had several successful attempts at merging with God, or the One.

I have attempted quite a few times to have this experience myself, through meditation or astral projection. I wonder if the phenomenon known as "astral projection" is really a form of mysticism in which the soul merges with the Universe. I have not had any luck, yet, and I've been trying for months. This is one of the reasons I seek a teacher. I believe with a teacher I can learn the necessary techniques to reach this level of ascent.


Change said...

You're impatient, Stacey. Take time.

Nobody can teach you techniques that will help you in your quest. It is not that easy. You, yourself has to be prepared.

One way to follow may be to read the original of The Symposium, and try to see what Plotinus derived from this work. Thereafter I suggest that you read the works of Porphyry (Plotinus' disciple and biographer).

It may be that you get a lot wiser.

Blow'n in the wind said...

If we are all 'one', where is it that you are trying to go?

If you know that, why do you need a technique or a vechicle to transport you? A rocket is useful for travelling to the moon but what is required to transport one to oneself?

Is it possible that you are already there, but just don't recognize it yet?

...the other term for enlightment is, 'awareness' :)

Sophia said...

Hi Change,

Yes, I'll admit to being impatient. And that may very well be my problem. I think one of the big points is to relax, and I just can't seem to do that. It's all those expectations, again.

My next reading item is The Symposium, which I hope to get to after Mexico. Then I'll check out Porphyry.

By the way, I read that Porphyry had to edit the writings of Plotinus because Plotinus' handwriting was atrocious and he didn't care much about spelling or grammar and sometimes put words together.

Sophia said...

Hi Blow'n in the Wind,

I want to feel the experience of being one in a mystical way. I read of so many experiences of mystics that I want to feel it for myself. To see and to know the truth.

Blow'n in the wind said...

I hear you...
and only you will know when you have seen it...

Rob said...

I try to make contact with my true self rather than dwell on the idea that we are all one. In my opinion the task of connecting with my true self is as easy or difficult as I want to make it.In as much as I am sincere I will achieve it - however in practice I often allow myself to be sidetracked by the multifarious distractions so readily on offer.
I believe one needs a teacher to help one maintain this contact with the true self (as opposed to having occasional glimpses of a higher reality). If you would like the name of my teacher then please let me know.
As a matter of fact there are well known techniques for achieving Enlightenment: I believe some people refer to them as Raj Yoga.

utenzi said...

We differ on that one, Stacey. I've never liked neoplatonism at all. Plato, on the other hand, I admire very much and think he was probably one of the most gifted thinkers to have ever lived. Unfortunately I can't agree with his conclusions but I do wish I could.

Castor said...

Finally I had this dream again. But this time I can't remember what really happened. I just knew it was very pleasurable. Better than flying and roller-coasters.
Like I was just waves of energy!
Something to do with the Dancing Wu Li Master?
Wu Li in Chinese can mean several different things at the same time.
It can mean enlightenment, reality, or nonsense depending on how you say it. My memory is terrible this days; it could be due to the mental chatter called blog-hopping.
I think this dream comes when
I stay up late and can't sleep.
When I'm finally in bed lying down not trying to fall
asleep, just letting go and letting be.
Sometimes I get the idea that being tired is the doorway to reality.

Castor said...

You just reminded me of my days at the university, when I was a
freshman. I took up Asian Civilization, and Speculative Thoughts, as required units in my syllabus which included 3 courses in Calculus and Analytical Geometry, 3 courses in Physics, 2 courses in Chemistry, 3 courses in
Freshman English, which I hated very much, among other things, as part of my general education, before making it to the College of Engineering. I remember it was really my introduction to Chinese philosophy that really fascinated me. It sounded all very logical to me at that time.
I was trying to discuss William James' Theory of Truth and Pragmatism, which I never really understood at that time and still now. Something like what works is true. Or what is true should work?
Being a stupid freshman I said something very simple and really
matter-of-factly to my professor, being very unsure of myself. He replied that what I was saying wasn't necessarily true. He pointed to some people outside the building, who he claimed really believed they didn't exist.
Duh! How could this be? I remember that this people were really Hare Krishna or Ananda Marga people. Well, just bits
of memory, I've almost forgotten
I had.
Anyway, it was the time I tried everything, almost. Like Biblical Christianity as preached by C. S. Lewis, meditation
as taught by Roy Masters, and Pentacostalism.

Marshall said...

You don't need a teacher. It is possible entirely by yourself, think simple. Look into the NEW (new energy ways) or a book called mastering astral projection by robert bruce. I have been outside my body and look forward to subsequent trips :)

Sophia said...

Hi Marshall, I actually have that book. It's the really thick one, right? If so, I've tried to read it but it's too complicated. I don't know, I just can't get into the rhythm of reading it.

For a while I tried the Gateway Experience, but I quit after a few sessions because I got distracted by other things. Someday I'll get back into it.

I haven't posted to this blog in.... almost two years? I'm surprised to see your comment here. I have another blog now. You can get to it by the red link at the top right of the page.