Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.
» Contents of this EnneadII: 69 pages - You are on Page 51
THE SOUL’S DESCENT INTO BODY.
1. Many times it has happened: Lifted out of the body into myself; becoming external to all other things and self-encentered; beholding a marvellous beauty; then, more than ever, assured of community with the loftiest order; enacting the noblest life, acquiring identity with the divine; stationing within It by having attained that activity; poised above whatsoever within the Intellectual is less than the Supreme: yet, there comes the moment of descent from intellection to reasoning, and after that sojourn in the divine, I ask myself how it happens that I can now be descending, and how did the soul ever enter into my body, the soul which, even within the body, is the high thing it has shown itself to be.
Heraclitus, who urges the examination of this matter, tells of compulsory alternation from contrary to contrary, speaks of ascent and descent, says that “change reposes,” and that “it is weariness to keep toiling at the same things and always beginning again”; but he seems to teach by metaphor, not concerning himself about making his doctrine clear to us, probably with the idea that it is for us to seek within ourselves as he sought for himself and found.
Empedocles — where he says that it is law for faulty souls to descend to this sphere, and that he himself was here because he turned a deserter, wandered from God, in slavery to a raving discord — reveals neither more nor less than Pythagoras and his school seem to me to convey on this as on many other matters; but in his case, versification has some part in the obscurity.
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