“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
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.