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Plotinus, c. 204-270 A.D.

A Philosopher and Mystic

Plotinus in the School of Athens by Raphael

Let us let Plotinus introduce himself with the following quote:

What then is our course, what the manner of our flight? This is not a journey for the feet; the feet bring us only from land to land; nor need you think of coach or ship to carry you away; all this order of things you must set aside and refuse to see: you must close the eyes and call instead upon another vision which is to be waked within you, a vision, the birthright of all, which few turn to use.

Plotinus is believed to be born in Lycopolis, Egypt in 204 or 205 AD. He never spoke of his family or early life. In his mid-twenties, the greek speaking Plotinus, traveled to Alexandria led by his interest in philosophy. There he studied under the Greek philosopher Ammonius Saccas. It was here that he was heavily introduced to the Platonic tradition—philosophical ideas and influences that stem back to Plato. After about 10 years, he moved on to Persian and Indian philosophy until the danger of ongoing military atrocities led him to Rome.

Plotinus turned away from what he saw as the outer world's limited possibilities and sought the eternal world of goodness and beauty. The limitations of the physical realm appeared hopeless, and he felt his allegiance was better served in the contemplation of a world of eternal thoughts, ideas and ideals.

Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome

His Philosophy and Teachings

Plotinus taught, that the Soul neither comes into existence nor perishes; it is the indestructible principle of life. His feeling was the individuality does not disappear in the Eternal world; but Spirits are perfectly transparent to one another; that the veil that separates us here, in the temporal realm, will have completely disappeared. Those persons which have committed injustices and error are reincarnated in bodies of a lower order, and are sometimes given corrections by their demon or their Guardian Angel. Since the higher Soul is sinless only the lower soul can fall.

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