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Words of Wisdom

Excerpts from The Six Enneads by Plotinus (vegetarian) - On True Happiness, Part 2 of 2

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“‘The sage,’ we shall be told, ‘may bear such afflictions and even take them lightly but they could never be his choice, and the happy life must be one that would be chosen. The sage, that is, cannot be thought of as simply a sage soul, no count being taken of the bodily-principle in the total of the being: he will, no doubt, take all bravely... until the body’s appeals come up before him, and longing and loathing penetrate through the body to the inner man.

Such a state, of bliss self-contained, is for the Gods; men, because of the less noble part subjoined in them, must needs seek happiness throughout all their being and not merely in some one part; if the one constituent be troubled, the other, answering to its associate’s distress, must inevitably suffer hindrance in its own activity. There is nothing but to cut away the body or the body’s sensitive life and so, secure that self-contained unity essential to happiness.’”

“There can be no such thing as ‘willing’ the acquirement of necessaries, if will is to be taken in its strict sense, and not misapplied to the mere recognition of need. It is certain that we shrink from the unpleasant, and such shrinking is assuredly not what we should have willed; to have no occasion for any such shrinking would be much nearer to our taste; but the things we seek tell the story as soon as they are ours.”

“Then why are these conditions sought and their contraries repelled by the man established in happiness? Here is our answer: These more pleasant conditions cannot, it is true, add any particle towards the sage’s felicity: but they do serve towards the integrity of his being, while the presence of the contraries tends against his being or complicates the term: it is not that the sage can be so easily deprived of the term achieved, but simply that he that holds the highest good desires to have that alone, not something else at the same time, something which, though it cannot banish the good by its incoming, does yet take place by its side.”
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