Episode 18 - Plotinus and Neoplatonism


Main Sources

  • April DeConick – The Gnostic New Age: How a Countercultural Spirituality Revolutionized Religion from Antiquity to Today
  • Chris Hedges – I Don’t Believe in Atheists: The Dangerous Rise of the Secular Fundamentalist
  • Chris Hedges – American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America
  • Hans Jonas – The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity
  • Eric Perl – PLOTINUS Ennead V.1: On the Three Primary Levels of Reality
  • Eric Perl – Thinking Being: Introduction to Metaphysics in the Classical Tradition
  • Paul Tillich – The Courage to Be

Key Ideas

  • Plotinus presents a grand unified theory of ancient spirituality. He integrates Plato’s spirituality and the idea of anagoge, Aristotle’s theory of knowing and of the structure of the world, and from the Stoics the whole therapeutic project of overcoming modal confusion.
  • Plotinus proposes that the more “one” something is, the more real it becomes. “As we try and find the deeper underlying principles that integrate things together, we become more integrated together and we become more real.”
  • For Aristotle living beings are more in-formed because their form has agency. Humans are even more in-formed because they are self-moving in their thoughts. Plotinus integrates this idea by proposing that this marks a journey to self-transcendence and realization that is driven by the desire to deepen one’s connection with reality. This is Plato’s idea of anagoge and the stoic idea of self-improvement that culminates in Gnosis. And “you can only have Gnosis of the one by being one.”


Welcome back to awakening from the meaning crisis. So last time we were taking a look, at a group of people. as I said before, the Gnostic shouldn’t be understood as forming like their own community or group. Although there might have been some Gnostic churches, we should think of them more like we think of existentialism or fundamentalism.

You can be a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim or Jew, et cetera. It’s more about a style, a way of being a way of understanding and interpreting, and that it was pervasive, during. As early Christianity and the two are interacting with each other. In fact, as we’ll see, many Gnostics, thought of themselves as Christians. So we were taking a look at how to go about interpreting, Gnosticism. Why are we doing this? We’re doing this because the Gnostic movement can be understood as the axial revolution within the axial revolution. It’s taking the revolution to its culmination in many important ways, that I think have direct relevance for us today in order to do that, I’m presenting to you.

Something like the cognitive science of what Gnosis actually is. And in order to do that, we’ve been making use of some important work by Harry Frankfurt and Paul Tillich. The basic idea is that we can talk about people being existentially trapped. And that, that is a result of them being existentially stuck there. They do not know how to engage the anagoge in order to make a worldview viable to them. And they are, existentially indecisive. They are existentially stupefied, because they’re facing a deep transformative experience and they don’t know how to reason their way through it.

They don’t know if they should do it. And that existential entrapment, can be very, very, damaging. It can fragment your world and tear apart your agency. And so people can suffer from this in a profound way, which means Gnosticism as Hans, Jonas and other people have seen, is directly relevant to a lot of, the modern confrontation with meaninglessness and nihilism.

And the meaning crisis people also similarly feel deeply existentially trapped. So what is needed? What is needed, I argued is, a recovery of serious play, through the engagement in ritual behavior. This ritual play and now, allows one. I as affords an individual to engage in active analogy so that they can get into that liminal state in which they can in a perspectival and participatory manner bridge in a very apt way between the world and the self that they are now and the world and the self they want to viably become, that enacted ritual should also afford.

And anagoge, it should afford the trans framing, the reciprocal and a gnostic process, by which self and world are transformed such that we can go through the sensibility transcendence, which will make a worldview, a viable to us that. Combination that ritual combination of and knack did in allergy and inactive.

Anagoge is empowered by the cognitive flexibility brought on by an altered state of consciousness, hopefully a higher state of consciousness that gives us a sense of the, the increased. Realness, the more realness of the world that we are trying to move into. So that higher state of consciousness, as we’ve talked about before, motivates us to go through this radical transformative experience.

Now, of course there are dangers associated with all of this. When we are engaging in this kinds of radical transformation of our salient landscape, when we are putting ourselves and our world at risk, when we are inducing altered States of consciousness, there is a significant chance that we will fall prey to parasitic processing, to bullshitting ourselves, to deceiving ourselves.

Therefore it is very important, and this is also part of what, was going on with gnosticism to build up a community, a shared mythology, a shared set of tight psycho technological practices, a shared social network of distributed cognition, to provide sappy essential feedback, guidance, correction, and encouragement, for people when they are endeavoring to go through.

The kind of transformation that will release them from this existential entrapment. So you have some higher state of consciousness, hopefully that has some aspects of being a higher state of consciousness. And that is going to be set within a ritual framing that I’ve been talking about. And then you want that in turn set within a supportive community that is teaching you all kinds of the relevant skills by which one can bring wisdom, the ability to overcome self deceptive, self destructive behavior to bear upon this transformation. When all of that is the case, and this is what Gnosticism it’s this. Kind of deeply transformative, deep part, a perspectival participatory, knowing that is ritually and framed and embedded with a sappy essential and supportive community.

So what do we have going on here is. A project that was addressing the domicide, that it was still, in existence, persisting from the Hellenistic domicide that we were spoken about to also, as I mentioned, one of the reasons why Christianity took root cause while the Roman empire offered a sociopolitical solution to some of the problems of the ancient world, it didn’t have a viable answer on its own to the meaning crisis, the domicide of the Hellenistic period.

Things like stoicism had been generated, but Christianity is a significant response. And at the same time, this movement, this Gnostic movement arises. Now these Gnostics, many of them, not all of them saw themselves as Christians. They interpreted Jesus as somebody who had brought them gnosis and for them, the important thing was not to believe in Jesus, but as much as possible to become like Jesus to go through. That’s the kind of radical transformation to be at one with God, the way Jesus was now, whether or not we believe in that particular mythology, two things we need to note for our purposes in this course. We need to know that, Gnosticism and Christianity are deeply talking to each other and informing each other, even though in many ways, they’ll have an oppositional relationship.

Well, we’re going to see that both Gnosticism and Christianity are also in a very important dance and intermeshed moment, with Neoplatonism. Then I put it out with the examples of therapy and martial arts. Right? Many people are seeking Gnosis today, because. Gnosis is the kind of thing you need in order to bring about a release from the existential entrapment that we’re finding in the meaning crisis. Now what’s interesting about the Gnostics is they create a mythology for all of this. And I think the best, because if you just read their stuff, it’s like, man, it’s like, if you were strung out on an incredible acid trip and everybody was speaking in reverse, it is so hard. Their stuff is so bizarre and weird and strange, but I think.

If you pay attention to some of the main themes of the mythology, you can see how it is a mythological scaffolding for bringing about Gnosis. A book I would recommend to you is April DeConick’sThe Gnostic New Age. In that she does some good work at bringing out some of the central themes of this movement.

And she also points out how much Gnosticism is prevalent in our culture today, mythologically. And you may say, what do you mean by that? Well, many movies and she chose this, in the book actually have a Gnostic theme. The mythology of the movie and movies are where we go to, play with a lot of our mythology. actually our. They are pretty clear versions of this Gnostic mythology. So what is this myth? This mythology. So the Gnostics have an idea and you can see part of it comes from Plato. There’s an influence from Plato. So if you remember, Plato has this idea. About the everyday world, right? Is there there, the, the everyday world is a world like the shadows and the echoes.

These things are not fully real. This table, this wall, this pen they’re in a, in a, in a profound sense images, right. They participate in, the forms. You remember those patterns of intelligibility and realness. So Plato had, a problem, which is the forms are basically eternal. So if you think of something like, you know, equals MC squared, right?

That’s not an event it’s sort of timeless and spaceless. And then how does this, how do these eternal forms, how do they express themselves in the temporal things? The things that are changing here. So basically how do time and eternity intersect. And so Plato proposed a mythological answer. He closed it. There was a figure. He called the figure, the craftsmen, the Demi Ergas, the dummy urge and what the damage is, is he can sort of become aware of these cause he’s rational agent. And then what he does is he shapes. Things in space and time in order to, make the world of becoming have some reality to it. And so it has some important similarities to the eternal world, and that means that by pay attention, by paying attention to temporal events, we can become aware of these eternal principles, sort of what science does right now. Now whether all of that, Is true. I think in an important sense, it’s not true. There’s a mythological point here. Plato is trying to understand mythologically the relationship. He’s trying to give us a way in imagery and story of understanding the relationship between eternity and time. Now, the Gnostics were. Influenced by this, but they took this notion and they did something very interesting to it because they said the temporal world, the everyday world we’re in is a world of very significant suffering. So remember they’re there after the Hellenistic domiciles. There are during a period, both where the Hellenistic domicide is still in existence in the Roman empire has caused massive pain and suffering throughout the world. So they’re looking at the everyday world and they’re seeing all this suffering, they’re feeling deeply trapped within it, existentially trapped, and the way we’ve been talking about.

So for them, that was very clear evidence that whoever had created this world was either stupid or evil or both. They were looking around the world and saying, look at how much we suffer. Look at how much pain we’re in. Look at how much we’re trapped and therefore, what is, what whatever is creating. The structures that we’re living in is both stupid and evil.

So they in Plato, the demiurge is basically, a beneficence BA, but in here, the demiurge very often becomes something like an evil overlord.

Wow what’s going on here? Well, what they’re trying to do is articulate again, the sense of being trapped. And that the socioeconomic socio-cultural political economic structures that they find themselves in are actually war warranting them. And now when I say it that way, it’s like, Oh, maybe that’s a mythological way of talking about something that you might be experiencing your ex you’re experiencing existential entrapment. And then when you look out at the patterns of your culture, the patterns, right, or the market patterns, the political patterns, you don’t feel like they are shaping a world that is going to help alleviate your attachment. Instead, you feel that they are stupid and evil. And then I know from a lot of the research we did for the book on zombies, with the work I did with Chris and Philip, more and more people view their ma their, their myths, their deep leave, repeated cultural, political, socioeconomic patterns, not as helping them, but as affording.

Their efforts to be free from their existential entrapment, adding to their fragmentation and their suffering. So whether or not we believe in, in the Gnostics super naturalistic way of talking about this, which I don’t, we can nevertheless understand what they are articulating. We have this existential entrapment and we have.

Sociopolitical socio-cultural patterns that are designed to further that entrapment further ourself deception, further self destruction. Keep us a mashed in modal confusion, or keep us a Washington parasitic processing, keeping us trapped, stuck and stupefied. So for the Gnostics, right. They needed to try and link this to existing mythologies. And here’s where they did something that is radical.

They identified all the existing gods, whether it’s the God of the Jews or the God of the Romans, instead of seeing these gods as divine beings. They saw these gods as basically the guards of our prison. So they see everything else that people had thought of as previously sacred all the gods as actually. Things imprisoning us. Even Paul was talking about this, in the Bible where he talks about powers and principalities that keep us imprisoned. Now I want you to stop and pause because this is a radical idea. This is an idea that there has been something common to all of these gods that must now be challenged. So up until now, right? The relationship between us and them was one of servitude, often bordering on notions of slavery. We were the slaves or the servants of the God.

The Gnostics want to invert that they want to tell you that instead of worshiping these gods. Instead of idealizing these gods instead of giving in to these powers and principalities, these patterns that are pervasive and profound in the way they entrap us, instead of thinking how we should serve and fit into them. Think of this again, remember the axial revolution, don’t try and fit in to the everyday world. You want to transcend it instead of serving and fitting in, we have to transcend them all. They are not divine. They are, are prison guards. They may be powerful. But instead, what we need to realize is that there is something in us.

They thought of it as a divine spark that will actually carry us above to the God beyond all gods. Which sounds like a contradiction because of course that’s what they’re trying to get at. The idea here can be expressed using some of the Christian mythology that they were quite willing to. Well, it depends who you’re talking to.

If you’re an Orthodox Christian, you see the Gnostics as perverting your mythology. If you’re a Gnostics, you see yourself as disclosing by transformation. What’s actually available in the mythology. So for the Gnostics, this God is the God of the old Testament. Evil jealous vindictive, right? Who threatens and, and bullies people is authorized as genocide.

He shows favoritism for no moral reason, is, is just in. And I mean, think about, think about he, he, you know, he says, the God of the altar, I’m a jealous God, you don’t, you dare, we’re worshiping anybody other than me. Right. And if you do, I’ll kill you and I’ll kill your kids and I’ll kill your kids’ kids and all this horrific stuff.

And then that God is compared to the God of the new Testament, the God of a God pay the God of light and love. And the idea is that God. It was the God beyond all gods does not want our worship wants us to reunite with him. He wants us to, or she wants us to fully participate. I have to say he and she’s petition specifically for the Gnostics is one of the things they also challenged was the difference between the genders in the ancient world.

They’re famous for that. I’m thinking women are as equally capable of a spiritual life as men. So we are radically not at home because this, this, our capacity for a Gothic love means we have a Gnostic potential. We have the power, the potential to remember, to know that we belong here. We can sense that we don’t belong here. We can sense. That we belong somewhere else. We know there’s something fundamentally wrong here.

And then the idea is this, this God beyond all gods, this absolute fullness of being sends individuals down into the world of suffering to bring us the Gnosis, to bring us this kind of transformative knowledge. That will set us free. And what the Gnostic Christians did is they said, Jesus was this individual. So the Gnostics don’t put a huge emphasis on the person of Jesus and his crucifixion. Instead, the teachings of Jesus are much more important to them because what the, what is going to happen here is Jesus is going to bring us. The way of knowing Gnosis and anagoge so that we can free ourselves from this. So the Gnostics, therefore don’t, don’t see the purpose of Christianity as doctrine or dogma. The purpose of it is to give us a mythology. That will free us from our existential suffering and allow us to experience this transcendence of the gods. Now this, this inversion, right? This radical inversion, it’s like, this is what I mean.

It’s the culmination. It’s the actual revolution that is finally applied to even to the whole mythological framework of the ancient world. And what it means is that the Gnostics have a very, and this is one of the things that their, their critics often leveled against them. The Gnostics keep churning out new gospels and new stories and new myth, because for them, it’s not about having a final Orthodox story.

A final Orthodox set of principles. It’s about having engaged in participated in a process of creating the enacted analogies, the enacted anagoge. That’s what matters. That’s what actually matters.

Now, this idea that. Spirituality is ultimately about transcending the gods rather than serving the gods. It’s very, it’s very, both pertinent to us today and very radical for its time because you have basically the challenging of a, not even a belief. It was just an, An unquestioned presupposition that our relationship to the gods was one of servitude and slavery getting transformed into no, no.

The sense, the core of spirituality is not worship. The core of spirituality is self-transcendence healing and freeing people from existential entrapment. And they’re suffering and that our mythology and our practices should always be in service of us, reuniting to who and what we are now. We’ve we, we. We loved this story. Notice how, first of all, it’s still got all the platonic elements. Here are the people trapped in the cave. They’re bound. They get the secret and the knowledge, right. That frees them so that they can return to and see the light. Right. But of course, for Plato, you come back down into the cave, the cave for the Gnostics, you try to spread the message to as many people as you can.

So it has the Platonism. It, of course has a way of connecting that Platonism to Christianity by reinterpreting Jesus as the embodiment of Gnosis, rather than as a sacrifice in whom we should have faith. Jesus is a teacher who provides us with something. Like what the Shamans did and what our therapist does provides us with the keys to unlocking, right.

Unlocking all the ways in which these patterns, these socio-cultural political economic patterns, ways of thinking and being are just permeated into layers of our psyche and ways of being in the world that they just exacerbate our suffering. Are existential entrapment and the way it is fragmenting our world and ripping apart our agency. So we longed for that. Now this was Hunter. Jonah’s great insight. We long for that now. So we go to movies that show this right. So the clinic goes through several movies that are basically modern portrayals of this Gnostic mythology of course famously.

And it brings both, it brings all of these elements in the Christian, the platonic and the Gnostic. If, of course there’s the matrix, right? Because the matrix is this. You are entrapped in a world of illusion. There are evil overlords who are trying to keep you in trap. So you don’t ever discover who you truly are. Right. But, you know, remember there’s a scene in the movie. You said you’d like, you know, like a splinter in your mind that there is something wrong and you don’t belong. Right. That’s the matrix. Or you can see a movie star, Jim Carrey, the Truman story. Notice of course the play on words there. Right. True mind, trimming, discovering who you really are.

And he grows up in a world right within an overlord that has manufactured it to keep him from ever actually getting his true agency, finding true love, et cetera. And what he has to do is got the knowledge in order to get beyond this. God, we keep telling this story. Because it’s a myth because it keeps pointing us to patterns that are pervasive and profound and powerful, and we can’t quite articulate them and we can’t quite know them, but the myth at least gives us a moment of right. At least narrative and symbolic recognition of our suffering. so the Gnostics are offering a radical form of the XO revolution. Now it carries with it a dark side. They keep showing you with all of this stuff that the light side and the dark side of Christianity. Right. And you probably could see how there’s a Gnostic element. Also within star Wars, you trapped within the empire with the evil overlord, the emperor, and you have to get free and you need to have the knowledge of the force that will set you free and blah, blah, blah, blah. Like we love this and we keep wanting to do it. That’s great. What’s the dark side of the Gnostic vision, the dark, the dark side of the Gnostic vision. Is it. Can it doesn’t have to. And many of the, not many of the original Gnostic writers that I’ve read it, it’s not the case, but it can do this. Okay. This is ultimately a conspiracy theory. This is a grand conspiracy theory that behind look, one of the reasons why this is comforting is behind all the apparent. Chaos and suffering. There actually is some evil overlord. I mean, one of the things that would make evil so much more tractable for us is if it was in sconce within an individual, but this is the ultimate conspiracy theory. There’s a whole system that is keeping you from realizing the truth and who you truly are, the true man that you are and how you belong elsewhere and living another way. And now you say, Oh, well, conspiracy, well, stop and think, look, what are the Gnostic saying? This evil overlord. Some of them say not all of them. It’s the same as the God of the old Testament, who are the people that worshiped the God of the old Testament, the Jews, here’s an idea. That’s now being sewn into Western culture. The Jews are part of a conspiracy. To keep us from realizing our true heritage, that if it’s going to turn out to be an extraordinarily dangerous and bloodthirsty idea Nazi-ism is a twisted and other people have pointed this out. And I see it not to use them as not primarily a political or even a socioeconomic movement. Nazi-ism is a twisted Gnostic response. Of the meaning crisis that was being magnified in the Weimar Republic of Germany. So the, there is a dark side to Gnosticism, so we should have an ambivalent attitude towards it in order to understand it. We must think of how we can extricate. Gnosis from Gnosticism. How can we salvage Gnosis from Gnosticism? Just like, how can we salvage the agape from Christianity? How can we salvage wisdom from the ancient, normal logical order?

So on one side, right? You can see the dangerous. Why did this happen? It’s a long, complicated story, but part of the problem. Part of the reason is the emerging Orthodox church. It wasn’t even an Orthodox church at that time. It called itself the apostolic church, the church that thought Jesus was absolutely unique, right. And the point was to worship him. and that faith is what was crucial faith in the sense of believing in him as a sacrifice persecuted. Okay. And I mean that literally persecuted the Gnostic form of Christianity and drove it underground. And as underground, it became a mashed with any type of group that was trying to challenge the established order.

And that’s how it tends to surface again and Nazi, as we’ll see, there are more things that feed into Nazi-ism. But that’s all we need for right now, Gnosticism of course is also deeply influential in some very important people. So here are three people we’re going to start talking about more and more.

You’ve already heard me talk about Tillich. Tillich is one of the great theologians. Tillich talks about the meaning crisis in a classic book that I highly recommend to you called “The courage to be”. And he talks about that. The response to that is a way of discovering and it’s clear because of how he talks about symbols. And he talks about transformation, although he does not use the term, but he’s talking about Gnosticism. He’s talking about that. The response to the meaning crisis is the gnosis of the God beyond the God of theism. That, what we need to do is discover the God who of course is not a God, because it’s the God beyond the God of theism as the meaning crisis destroys the mythology, right?

The theistic myth, the mythology of God, can we discover rediscover sacredness? In a way that liberates us from our existential suffering. This is the core. Now Tillich thought that Christianity could play a significant role in that. And one of my friends and colleagues, Jonathan, Pasho thinks that Christianity will in fact go through this kind of self-transformation so that it can move beyond the meaning crisis.

I’m not convinced of this, but I do respect these points. Many of you have heard me already mentioned. Jung basically is to Gnosticism, what you know, cognitive behavioral therapy is to stoicism. Jung is basically a transformation into psychotherapeutic context, the Gnostic mythology, and you should understand why that is not a coincidence.

The Gnostic mythology is a way, right. Of giving us a scaffolding for inactive analogy, inactive and a Gaga, which of course are so central to therapeutic processes. The person you haven’t heard me mentioned, and I’ll talk about more later is Corbin. Corbin was very much about trying to recover. This kind of knowing, because his great concern was that we had lost this kind of knowing.

And therefore we had lost our capacity for the transformation and the liberation that it can bring about. And we can get trapped in these historical patterns that fragment our world and tear apart our agency. So. Because they represent the radicalization of the actual revolution. There is much to learn from Gnosticism, but I do not, I am not advocating and attempt to resurrect it or bring it back.

What we need to do is understand. And that’s what these individuals represent and notice that at least one of them was one of the things. Most courageous opponents of the Nazis Telic was the first non-Jewish academic to be fired from the Nazis because from the very beginning and consistently he identified them and resisted them. So keep this whole framework in mind. Can we salvage from Gnosticism Gnosis and. Some of it’s radical message about how we can reconfigure, how we can have a non-theistic non-super naturalistic understanding of sacredness. Can we do that and avoid the conspiratorial way of thinking? It can be so damaging and has been. See, one of the things we, that Gnosticism can quickly allied into, right. Is that those utopian. Oh, they’re so enticing, right? Those utopian ideologies that give you the great conspiracy theory and tell you that you belong to the chosen few, the chosen race or the chosen class.

Right. And that what and violence is acceptable because the system is evil and must be destroyed. Alright. I point you to the work of Chris Hedges because he’s criticized both sides, right? He wrote a book or American fascist about fundamentalist Christianity, and it’s pervasive, right. Portrayal of a grand conspiracy, but he also wrote a book on the, the new atheist and how they also represent a utopic perfectionism that sanctions violence.

And if you don’t believe me, take a look at Hitchens and Harris and the proposals for nuclear first strikes against the Islamic world, et cetera. So I’m suggesting to you, and I’m trying to give you an argument for it, how we should have an ambivalent attitude towards Gnosticism. Let’s put it back in the historical picture. Cause I told you about the, the, the, the three that are crucial and how they’re intermixed with each other. We have the emerging Christianity. We’ve seen this by taking a look at right. Jesus and John and Paul. And we’ve seen how it’s interacting with Gnosticism. We’ve already seen how Gnosticism is influenced and influence in Platonism and particular. I want to look at Neoplatonism. Because it is also deeply immeshed with Christianity. This triangle is going to be necessary for understanding the final elements of the orders of meaning the grammar of you as I’ve put it before of meaning we’ve got the normal logical order. Sorry, we’ve got the normative order and I want to bring out the narrative order and the Noma logical order. What is Neoplatonism? by the way. Neoplatonism is also why the main character in the matrix is called Neo for Neoplatonism. And he’s often referred to as the one, because the one is the central thing within Neoplatonism. Again, there’s a reason why all of these mythological patterns keep. Being so attractive to us. So plus, or minus, let me give you an analogy. I think this is a helpful analogy. Scientists right now are trying to integrate quantum mechanics and relativity the two great theories. And if they, if they come up with it, they’ll have the grand unified theory. Einstein tried and failed. Many people think they’ve had an answer and then it collapses. By analogy Plotinus is the grand unified field theory of ancient spirituality because what does he do? Well, he takes Plato’s spirituality. it takes the whole idea of Anna Gaga, right? From Plato. He takes Aristotle’s theory, the whole Aristotle worldview, the theory of knowing, right? The theory of the structure of the world. We’ve talked about that and you takes from the Stoics.

That whole therapeutic project, right? Overcoming modal confusion. And what he does is he integrates them together.

He integrates them together in a powerful way. How does he do that? Yeah, well, he talks about, first of all, he says, well, well, let’s the thing. Well, you can start anywhere. You can start in any one of these places in Plotinus writing and then get to the other two. It’s it is such a powerfully integrated system. And when you’re reading platonic, it’s not like when you’re, you’re not just reading.

An argument. You’re also undergoing a spiritual exercise that is trying to transform your state of consciousness in your cognition. So what’s the main theory here. Let’s start here. So if you remember what you have, Aristotle’s conformity theory, we know something, right. Remember this by conforming to it, by sharing the same structural functional organization with it.

Right. And then the tightest says, Oh, wait a sec. Aristotle also has sort of levels of being, and we talked about this, we talked about at the lowest level, right? There’s pure potentiality. And at the highest level, there’s pure actuality and we don’t need to get into the metaphysics, but here’s the idea. There are levels of reality, levels of realness. as we know, and this doesn’t mean intellectual as we like this is participatory. This is very much like Gnosis and he’s in discussion with Gnosis. We know that Latinas have, has Gnostic students. He’s also critical of them, but right. But this is not just intellectual, knowing this is deeply participatory, knowing as we make these and think, listen to my language, as we make these levels of reality, viable to us. As they become livable to us, right. We conform to them and we change. And this is Eric Pearl’s brilliant idea. Right? He, all of his stuff is so good. Right. As we conform and make this level of reality real to us, we’re conforming to it. And we’re also moving to a higher level of the self. As we conform, we’re also altering and this is the Anna Gaga played. All right. We’re altering what level the self is at. And of course, as we alter the level that the self is at, we’re more capable of living in that higher level of reality. What this does for us is it helps us deeply remember the being mode who we really are. Let me try and do, put this all together with an example.

What is it that makes something real. Let me think about this. Think about Socrates here, right? Socrates. Like what do you mean by real? We, we care about whether or not things are real with like, it really matters to us. Look at the word, really. It really matters to us. And yet, what is it that makes something real? How much time have you put into that?

Because if you are driven by a pursuit of realness and you don’t understand what it is, if you, if it’s something you’re pursuing and you don’t understand, remember what that is, that’s the gap of bullshit.

Okay. So what makes something real well? And, and notice for and again, Eric Pearl make, especially in his book “Thinking Being”, just a fantastically brilliant book, can’t recommend it enough. Right? What, it’s not what makes something real is how, how do we also sense it as real? So it’s both what structurally functionally organizes it to be real two sides of the worldview.

And what makes, how do we sense it? How does it make us be able to sense it as real? And here’s the answer and it, in some sense it’s basic, but another sense it’s, it’s, it’s profound. What makes something real is how one it is, how integrated it is, how much it is structurally functionally organized. So we treat the object is more real than the shadows because it’s more structurally functionally organized.

That’s talking about the object. When is, what is it to understand something? Well, here’s a bunch of separate things. And when I understand them, I find how they’re all one how they can all be integrated together. When I understand some thing, I understand how all of its parts are integrated together. And then what we do is, okay, these things have been integrated here and then.

Oh, and I can integrate these here and I can, and this is more real. What’s one behind all of these various things. And then I can of course find what’s underneath all of this and what’s underneath this and what’s underneath this things become more real to us as we integrate them together. And they’re more real as things as they are integrated together.

So. As we try and find the deeper underlying principles that integrate things together, we become more integrated together and we, we, we become more real. We are realized it’s it’s, it’s, we’re the object we’re getting to. What’s more real. And we, as we become more integrated, more actualized are becoming more real. I’m becoming more integrated and you can see this as Plato’s anagoge right. The inner conflict within me is being reduced. I’m becoming more real as I’m becoming more integrated. And that is allowing me to make viable and real, these more integrated, deeper levels of reality. And then the whole thing spins and anagoge.

And what I have is I moved from where things are only potential. They don’t have much form. I can Aristotle all the way up to as having the greatest structural, functional organization they can. And all of this, isn’t just, it’s not just a theory. It’s a change in my existential mode. I am becoming more real. That’s why I use the word realization. It’s simultaneously I’m making more real of the world and me and becoming more aware of what’s more real, but what, what is it? What’s down here or up, depending on which way you want to draw these lines. What’s then what’s here. Well, it’s gotta be like, it’s gotta be right. The principal that makes everything else real, the integrates, everything together. It can’t in any way. It’d be multiple. So fluffiness calls this the one, he doesn’t mean the single.

This is that by which. Reality is realized and our mind realizes reality.

Socrates has used the metaphor of light, just like light is itself invisible and makes everything seeable. The one is not anything we can ever know. Can’t know the one, because it is that by which everything is known, it is out by which everything is. So, how do you ever reunite with it? If you can’t know it? If it is beyond all possible thought, because thought breaks things apart. If it’s beyond all possible, how do you know it? You can’t know it. You can’t have it. You can’t have it. Even in fog. You can’t have it. Even in the most beautiful theory, you can’t have it. The stuff you can only be.

You can only have Gnosis of the one by being one. So at the pit, at the height of the Plotinus system it is a higher state of consciousness and awakening experience. But notice it’s completely integrated with the best science and the best scientific psychotherapy of the time. There is no deep division in between spirituality, science and therapy.

They are all beautifully mutually supporting interwoven and meshed together.

It’s the culmination of everything. From the Greek axial age. Next time I want to talk about how all of these currents Christianity, Gnosticism and Neoplatonism are going to be taken up by Augustine. Thank you very much for your time and attention.