“But the life in the Cosmos, the life which carries the leading principle of the universe, still needs elucidation; does it operate without calculation, without searching into what ought to be done?
“Yes: for what must be stands shaped before the Cosmos, and is ordered without any setting in order; the ordering things are merely the things that come to be; and the principle that brings them into being is Order itself. …
“The leading principle of the universe is a unity—and one that is sovereign without break, not sometimes dominant and sometimes dominated. … And this governing unity must always desire the one thing; [unity].” ~Plotinus
Cosmos and Universe
It is not clear when Plotinus speaks of the universe and the cosmos if he means them as two different things, or as two words that mean the same thing. A hint is found, however, in the fact that he writes Cosmos with a capital “C,” and universe with a lower-case “u”. This indicates to me that he thinks of them as different, and the Cosmos is the more important of the two. I will assume, therefore, that when he says “Cosmos,” he means the spiritual realms, and when he says “universe,” he means the dimensions of matter. Still, some of what he says about the Cosmos applies more to the universe, and vice-versa.
The first few lines of the quote may seem confusing to some. Essentially, Plotinus is asking if the Cosmos had to be put into order by some intelligent force or being after it was created. His own reply is “No,” because the order is built in. In other words, God didn’t create a random, chaotic Cosmos, then try to apply order to it. He created it as ordered creation. He created with Cosmic order. And all that he creates is created with that same Cosmic Order.
So God doesn’t have to spend much of his time keeping the spiritual Cosmos in order. It runs on its own build in order. Just as we don’t have to remember to breath or make our heart beat, God doesn’t have to remember to continuously guide the Cosmos as if driving a car. It’s like a self-driving car that never runs down, never breaks.
The Universe of Matter
The material universe is another thing. While it was probably the intent of the Demiurge to also create an ordered and self-governing universe, his limited knowledge resulted in a universe that doesn’t quite live up to that ideal. In the Cosmic Order of the spiritual dimensions, there is no disease and no death. As we all know, there is plenty of those things in the realm of matter. The Cosmic Order of the spiritual worlds means that the being who dwell their do not have to eat other beings to survive. That error exists only on the level of matter. Most of all, there is no space and no time in the Cosmic Order of spirit. That is because those things are used to measure change, which is something found only in matter. In the spiritual worlds, there is no birth, no death, no getting old and infirm. Spiritual beings were simply created outside those limitations, and are not governed by them. The only thing spirits “eat” is the Light send from God. We here can do the same by turning to the Light of the Spiritual Sun.
Cosmic Order and Unity
If you think about it, you will realize that unity and order go together. You simply can’t have unity and chaos at the same time. If every being is doing his “own thing” rather than contributing his part to the Whole, we have chaos and we do not have unity. When cells in our material bodies behave like that, we have cancer. Cancer is not a desirable state on any level. So if we truly desire to start forming a world where all live together in peace, harmony, and order, than we need to start thinking more about what is good for the Cosmic Order, rather than what we think is good for ourselves. In truth, the greater good for each of us is to live as part of that Cosmic Order.