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sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022

ENÉADA II. 9. 18
(Armstrong   Selection and Translation)

[To revile the visible universe and deny its goodness, and to refuse to admit kinship with the cosmic Soul and the souls of the stars, is no way to attain spiritual freedom, which we gain by practising virtue while remaining in the body and fully accepting our embodied condition as long as it endures.]

But perhaps they [the Gnostics] will maintain that their teaching makes men escape right away from the body in their hatred of it, but ours holds the soul down to it. This is like two people living in the same fine house, one of whom criticizes the building and the architect but stays there all the same; the other does not criticize, but says the architect has built it with the utmost skill, and waits for the time to come when he will go away and not need a house any longer. The first might think he was wiser and readier to depart, because he knows how to say that the walls are built of soulless stones and timber and are far inferior to the true dwelling-place, and does not know that he is only distinguished by not being able to bear what he must — unless he is just making a pretence of discontent, and has a secret affection for the beauty of the stones. As long as we have bodies we must stay in our houses, which have been built for us by a good sister soul which has great power to work without any toil or trouble. Or do these people think it right to call the lowest of men brothers, but refuse, in their Sibylline ravings, to call the sun and the stars of heaven brothers and the Soul of the universe sister? It is not right to bind oneself in brotherhood to the bad, but only to those who have become good and are not bodies, but souls in bodies, able to live in them in such a way that they are very close to the dwelling of the Soul of the All in the body of the universe. This means no clashing with or paying attention to the pleasures and sights which rush upon us from outside, and not being disturbed by any hardship. The Soul of the All is not troubled; it has nothing that can trouble it. We, while we are here, can repel our troubles by virtue and make some of them become less by greatness of mind and others not even troubles because of our strength. As we draw near to the completely untroubled state we can imitate the Soul of the universe and the souls of the stars and, coming to a close likeness to them, hasten on to the same goal and have the same objects of contemplation, being ourselves, too, well prepared for them by nature and training (but they have their contemplation from the beginning). Even if the Gnostics do say that they alone can contemplate, that does not make them any more contemplative, nor does it if they claim to go out of the universe when they die while the stars do not, but adorn heaven for ever. They say this through complete lack of understanding of what ’being outside’ really means, and how ’Universal Soul governs all that is soulless’. So one can be without affection for the body and pure, and despise death, and know what is better and pursue it, and not show ill-feeling against others who can and do always pursue it, as if they did not: there is no need to be like the people who think the stars do not move because their senses tell them they stand still. In the same way these people do not think that the natures of the stars see what is outside the material universe because they do not see that their souls come from outside.