Friday, July 3, 2009

Neighborhood of the soul...

In a discussion of the virtues, Plotinus speaks of our irrational parts being influenced by the higher impulses from the soul. "The soul" he writes, "will be pure in all these ways and will want to make the irrational part, too, pure, so that this part may not be disturbed; or, if its is, not very much; its shocks will only be slight ones, easily allayed by the neighbourhood of the soul; just as a man living next door to a sage would profit by the sage's neighbourhood, either by becoming like him or by regarding him with such respect as not to dare to do anything of which the good man would not approve..."

But, he continues later, a higher form of virtue is possible...likeness not to men, but to the gods. "For instance," he says, "he (the virtuous person) will not make self control consist in that former observance of measure and limit, but will altogether separate himself, as far from possible, from his lower nature...Likeness to good men is the likeness of two pictures of the same subject to each other; but likeness to the gods is likeness to the model, a being of a different kind to ourselves." Emerson exhorts, "be not virtuous but virtue." I do not dwell on the latter plain but hope and strive to be a good neighbor.

My "neighbourhood of the soul" tends to be focused on a group of Unitarians living around Boston in the 19th century (and it's usually a beautiful day in the neighbourhood) Where is yours? Blessings

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