“No Ideal-form can be the victim of disturbances or be in any way affected: it remains in tranquility; only the matter associated with it can be affected by any state or experience induced. … It gives growth, but it does not grow. …
“The nature of an Ideal form is to be, of itself, an activity; it operates by its mere presence: it is as if Melody itself plucked the strings. The affective phase of the Soul or Mind will be the operative cause of all affection; it originates the movement either under the stimulus of some sense-presentment or independently.” ~Plotinus
What Plotinus is calling the “Ideal-form” in the quote is the Divine Soul of man. This soul may be thought of as a being in its own right that is trapped in a prison of matter. This Ideal-form can not be harmed by the activities of the body and mind, or the negative vibrations of the world around them, but it can be prevented from fully functioning.
The Ideal-form seems like a strange name for the Soul, but a truthful one. It is ideal because it is from God, the true God of spirit. It is the ONLY part of us that is the direct creation of God, the part that is “in His image”. Unfortunately for us, this ideal-form of the soul is not visible to us, not detectable by the mind, not measurable by electronic devices.
The Active Soul
Plotinus says this Ideal-form is “an activity”. In other words, Soul is a verb, an action word. That may not be entirely true, but it is close enough. It seems paradoxical. It never changes, yet is in constant motion. The soul doesn’t speak, yet sings the songs of the Angels. Yet in most of us, the soul seems to be non-functional.
The Trapped Soul
The soul (or Ideal-form) seems to be inactive or non-existent because when we are born on the material plane in a material body, it is in a dormant state. Being dormant, it can’t do much, but it is still moving, still living.
Have you ever seen a geode? They look to most of us like an ordinary rock until cracked open to reveal the crystals or gems hidden inside. I was walking through a school yard once where a fresh truckload of stone chips had been dumped in a part of the playground.
I noticed a glint, and went over to see what it was. I found a piece of an amethyst geode that would have been about two inches in diameter before it was broken. Sometimes I wonder if that cave found a few years ago in Mexico filled with crystals the size of buses is actually a giant geode (or a cluster of them).
You might look upon the soul as being like a geode in some ways. It is covered with a protective shell when trapped in matter. If we live a very materialistic life, that shell may just grow thicker and thicker until there is no hope of ever setting that soul free except the death of the person it is trapped in. On the other hand, the Light of the spiritual sun can be thought of as melting that hard stone shell over the soul until it breaks free and can be nourished with that light. Of course, this is an allegorical view, not to be taken literally.
Releasing the Ideal-form
The point is, we can go through life with our soul sleeping and unable to have much effect on us, or we can wake it. We can break off that shell hiding it like opening that geode and revealing the sparkling gems inside. And once it is set free, we can nourish it and care for it as we would clean and care for the gems we get from the geodes. But while those gems and crystals have only limited benefits, the Ideal-form of the soul can lead us to Heaven, if we just let it. So do whatever you can to free and awaken that Ideal-form. It’s worth the effort.
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