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Words of Wisdom

Excerpts from The Six Enneads by Plotinus (vegetarian) – How to be Happy, Part 1 of 2

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Plotinus was one of the most influential philosophers in antiquity after Plato and Aristotle. In his philosophy, there are three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. Long before his physical departure from this world, the philosopher entrusted two of his closest disciples, Porphyry and Amelius, with the extensive task of collecting, revising, and compiling his writings. Thus, “The Six Enneads” was published to share Plotinus’precious insights with countless generations. Today, we would like to present excerpts from the Fourth Tractate of The First Ennead which expounds on how we can attain happiness in all life situations.

Section 12 “The pleasure demanded for the life cannot be in the enjoyments of the licentious or in any gratifications of the body - there is no place for these, and they stifle happiness. It can be only such pleasure as there must be where good is, pleasure that does not rise from movement and is not a thing of process, for all that is good is immediately present to the Sage and the Sage is present to himself: his pleasure, his contentment, stands, immovable. Thus, he is ever cheerful, the order of his life ever untroubled: his state is fixedly happy and nothing whatever of all that is known as evil can set it awry - given only that he is and remains a Sage. If anyone seeks for some other kind of pleasure in the life of the Sage, it is not the life of the Sage he is looking for.”

Section 14 “For man, and especially the Sage, is not the couplement of soul and body: the proof is that man can be disengaged from the body and disdain its nominal goods. It would be absurd to think that happiness begins and ends with the living-body: happiness is the possession of the good of life: it is centred therefore in Soul, is an Act of the Soul - and not of all the Soul at that: for it certainly is not characteristic of the vegetative soul, the soul of growth; that would at once connect it with the body. A powerful frame, a healthy constitution, even a happy balance of temperament, these surely do not make felicity; in the excess of these advantages there is, even, the danger that the man be crushed down and forced more and more within their power. There must be a sort of counter-pressure in the other direction, towards the noblest: the body must be lessened, reduced, that the veritable man may show forth, the man behind the appearances.”
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