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Archetype of Man and Platonic Recollection

“It is now generally agreed that the Platonic doctrine of anamnesis was derived from the Pythagorean tradition. But with Plato it is no longer a matter of personal recollection of personal lives, but of a kind of ‘impersonal memory’ buried deep in each individual, made up of the memories of the time when the soul was directly contemplating the Ideas. There can be nothing personal in these recollection; … we remember only the Ideas. …

“In this Platonic doctrine of Ideas, Greek philosophy renewed and re-valorised the archaic and universal myth of a fabulous, pleromatic illud tempus1, which man has to remember if he is to know the truth and participate in Being. The primitive, just like Plato in his theory of anamnesis, does not attach importance to personal memory: only the myth, the exemplary History is of importance to him.” ~Mircea Eliade

Platonic Recollection

It is popular today among those interested in spiritual things to seek to know about past lives. They do past life regression to find out who they were in the past. But whether yo believe in reincarnation or not, Plato didn’t concern himself or his students with their personal past, if any, but with man’s past. Specifically, Plato wanted us to look back to the beginning, to archetypal man and woman. Why? Because it was their goal to return to that person. They didn’t want to become an ancestor, whether that ancestor was a king or a turnip farmer, they wanted to go back to the beginning: to the perfection of the archetype.

Adam the Archetype

The tale of Adam and Eve is taken too literally by some and laughed at by others. Both those who take it as historical fact and those who consider it complete fantasy are wrong. The story is essentially true, but as an allegorical tale of the archetype of man rather that a literal story of historical facts. That does not make it fantasy. Allegorical tales are just as real as literal ones, but on a different level of consciousness.

Man Has to Remember

It is not so much that man has to remember the archetype in order to “know the truth and participate in Being,” It is that man has to have a path to follow to awaken, develop his spiritual self, and get to the truth. You hear on social media all the time that “everyone’s path is different,” and we all have “our own path to follow”. Nonsense. Yes, we are all starting in different places, but the destination is the same for all of us.

If you want to fly to London, England, which flight you take will not be the same if you start in New York rather than in Paris, France. But in both cases, if you randomly jump on a plane or train with the hope of someday getting to London, the chances of it happening are slim. You need to travel a path that goes in the right direction and towards the destination. That destination is represented by Adam, the archetype of Man. That destination is spirit, not matter, so programs that help the physical body may be useful, but they won’t put you on the path. The goal is to save the soul, not the body, so only a spiritual being can be the archetype of man. That is what Plato wanted his students to understand.

1 – A return to the time of a golden Age of wisdom.

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Plato, Gnosticism, and the Soul

“In this Gutenberg translation, Timaeus summarizes Plato’s own thoughts:
As I said at first, all things were originally a chaos in which there was no order or proportion. … Of the divine, He Himself was the author, but he committed to his offspring the creation of the mortal. From Him they received the immortal soul, but themselves made the body to be its vehicle, and constructed within another soul which was mortal, and subject to terrible affections: pleasure, the inciter of evil; pain, which deters from good; rashness and fear, foolish counselors; anger hard to be appeased; hope easily led astray. These they mingled with irrational sense and all-daring love according to necessary laws and so framed man.
“Plato then sets out the rationale behind the physical body in very understandable terms and warns:
The truth concerning the soul can only be established by the word of God.”

~Bernarrd Simon in The Essense of the Gnostics

Plato and Gnosticism

What Mr. Simon is telling us first of all is that many of the Gnostic concepts and beliefs that many associate with the Christian Gnostics actually were well known centuries before the birth of Jesus. He gives some examples from the writings of Timaeus regarding the teaching at the academy of Plato (which sadly lies in ruins today and is now a public park in Athens, Greece.) Now let’s look at what Plato was teaching. Continue reading “Plato, Gnosticism, and the Soul”


A World of Shadows

The gold chalice and the wooden one cast identical shadows. Those people who see only shadows, and live their lives accordingly, will find it nearly impossible to recognize that one chalice is worth far more than the other. The shadow of smoke plumes from a forest fire look much like the shadow of a cloud bringing rain that can put out the fire. How can you tell which is which if you only see the shadows? If you can only see the shadow, how do you know that you are walking toward the rain and away from the fire? Shadows can be ShadowPuppets800px-Wayang_Pandawadeceptive in many ways. This photo of a Javanese shadow play shows shadows that are somewhat human, but they have been stylized according to the art of that country. If one saw this as reality rather than as a play, he might think he was seeing strange alien creatures (are you listening channel H2?).

Shadows can also be deceptive by making the object appear in a different shape than it really is. I recently saw a photo that illustrated this. A simple length of tube or pipe had a light shinning at one end creating a round shadow on the wall and another light shining on the length of the tube creating a rectangular shadow on the wall (unfortunately, I could not fine the photo to include in this post.) If a person saw only the round shadow, he might conclude that the object was a sphere, while the person who saw the other shadow would think it was a rectangular block, and the third person who say both shadows would think there were two separate objects! Continue reading “A World of Shadows”


On the Nature of Soul

“Of the nature of the soul, though her true form be ever a theme of large and more than mortal discourse, let me speak briefly, and in a figure. And let the figure be composite—a pair of winged horses and a charioteer. Now the winged horses and the charioteers of the gods are all of them noble and of noble descent, but those of the other races are mixed; the human charioteer drives his in a pair; and one of them is noble and of noble breed, and the other is ignoble and of ignoble breed; and the driving of them of necessity gives a great deal of trouble to him.” ~Plato (in Phaedrus)

Chariot1Plato uses an interesting allegory when talking about the soul of man being represented by two horses pulling a charioteer (in a chariot, we can assume). This has been a tale of some discussion among those who seek to understand philosophy. To those who approach it from a viewpoint of mystical spirituality or Gnosticism, its meaning is clearer. The two horses represent the two souls of man: the mundane soul and the Divine Soul.

When Plato refers to one of the souls/horses as of noble descent, he means the most noble descent possible; descent from God. That noble soul, therefore, is the Divine Soul, which is, sadly, inactive in most of us. If that is true, then it should be obvious where the other soul comes from. The mundane soul that Plato calls “ignoble” is the soul that deals with the world of matter and comes from the fallen angels. When people talk about helping the soul by feeding the poor, or reading good books, or listening to pleasant music, it is generally this mundane soul that they are dealing with. While there is nothing wrong with this mundane soul, the Divine Soul is much greater and of much more importance to you and your immortality. So when spiritual teachers and spiritual schools advise us to awaken our souls, it is this Divine Soul they are talking about. Continue reading “On the Nature of Soul”