Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ancient Consciousness

Eternity and time, we say, are two different things, the one belonging to the sphere of the nature which lasts forever, the other to that of becoming and of this universe; and at once, and as if by a fairly continuous application of our concept of them, we think that we have a clear and distinct experience of them in our own souls, as we are always speaking of them and using their names on every occasion.

When we try to concentrate on them and so to speak get close to them, we find again that our thought runs into difficulties; we consider the statements of the ancient philosophers about them, who differ from one another, and perhaps also different interpretations of the same statements, and we set our minds to rest about them and think it sufficient if we are able, when we are asked, to state the opinions of the ancients, and so we are satisfied to be freed from the need of further research about them.

Plotinus wrote those thoughts in the 3rd century. Plotinus had a major impact on the Western World. He is considered the founder of Neo-Platonism. Neo-Platonism influenced Christian thinkers like Augustine, Bonaventure, Boethius and Pseudo-Dionysius. Islamic and Jewish thinkers like Maimonides and Abu Nasr al-Farabi also used Neo-Platonism. They found it in Greek and Arabic texts.

Trying to explain consciousness is like trying to part an eyelash. The first thought is to separate it. We like to separate things. The ego separates things for the conscious mind. We like to limit the conscious mind so we can understand it and assign a definition to it. We use that process to understand time, space and everything else that is hard to put in our box of facts and figures. Just like the air, we know consciousness exists, but we have no idea how to describe it. It surrounds us, and infiltrates every aspect of the self, but we can’t adequately define it even though we absorb and express it.

It is easier to let the ancients define consciousness for us. But the consciousness of the ancients is not the same as the consciousness we are aware of now. Consciousness is energy in action and that action creates expansion of the self who is experiencing individual as well as mass consciousness. Consciousness is a whole within a whole and as the whole expands we find a group of selves traveling within infinite boundaries of consciousness.

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