“The souls of men, seeing their images in the mirror of Dionysus as it were, have entered into that realm in a leap downward from the Supreme: yet even they are not cut off from their origin, from the Divine Intellect. … Though they have descended to earth, yet their higher part holds forever above the heavens.
“Their initial descent is deepened since that mid-part of theirs is compelled to labor in care of the care-needing thing into which they have descended. And thus the cosmic content is carried forward to its purpose, everything in its coordinated place, under only one Reason-Principle operating alike in the descent and return of souls and to every purpose of the system.” ~Plotinus
Plotinus makes is sound as if souls chose to descend from spiritual realms into the physical world, because, as he puts it, they saw their image there. Since a Divine Soul is a spiritual being and a being of Light, I don’t know how it could possibly see it’s image in the realm of matter. Yet we do have souls despite being on this low level of existence.
The general explanation of this descent is that God sent souls into the primitive creatures we had become when we descended to Earth. He did that so we may one day be redeemed. That seems to make sense, but not completely.
If God wished to save the fallen, why didn’t he just pull them back to the spiritual level rather than sending souls down to be trapped here and possibly corrupted as well? And if that which descended was not already souls, than what dis descend?
So it makes more sense to say, as Plotinus did, that the souls are the very thing that descended to this low level of being. But why?
It happened because the fallen angels, led by Lucifer, wanted to create a realm where they could rule. It creating it, they had to include intelligent beings to dwell in this place, otherwise it would serve no purpose. So souls did enter the dimension of matter, but not really by choice. And we are the offspring of those who fell, so our souls are likewise trapped here. But trapped only if we accept it and don’t try to go back to higher realms.
It’s All God’s Fault
Plotinus, like many others, seems to think that the Great Descent happened because God wished it. There logic is that nothing can happen that God doesn’t approve of, because He’s God. But that denies the concept of free choice. God has free choice, and he gave that to His angels as well. Though their freedom to choose may be more limited than God’s, they still have a large degree of it. But in order for free choice to be really free, it must allow them to choose things contrary to the desires of God. That is exactly what they did when the Great Fall happened and the realms of matter were created.
Some argue that if God created the angels, then anything they do is what God wants them to. Further, that anything they do can be considered the will of God, because they did it as His creations. That is like saying the guy who made the paint is responsible for the masterpiece the artist paints.
God gave angels and souls free will so they would follow him by choice rather than force. That a few misused that freedom is not God’s choice, nor should he be blamed for it. Some will say then that if God didn’t want the Fall to happen, why doesn’t he reverse it. They answer it that He wants us to make that choice. He is waiting for Man, collectively, to decide he has had enough of playing in the mud, and is ready to take a bath and return home (allegorically speaking). As we still have a certain degree of free choice, God wants us to make the choice. But time is running out and that choice must be made soon.