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Posted 22 December 2012 - 11:42 AM
The goal then is to essentially stop the souls constant return to this material world, and instead achieve a kind of unity with the one. This is done through a combination of actions, but the essential practice is based upon virtue, asceticism, and ecstatic contemplation.
From reading about it, it seems to actually encompass a number of ideas similar to Buddhism, the emphasis on meditative practice and achieving a kind of cessation of this material existence. However the ideas are founded largely in the Platonic dialogues. It's also been as of late been receiving something of a revival, with a lot more people being interested in it, so I was curious if you guys had any sort of opinion on it.
Posted 22 December 2012 - 01:27 PM
Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:03 PM
"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." --Lao Tzu
Posted 22 December 2012 - 09:56 PM
Posted 23 December 2012 - 07:31 AM
Posted 23 December 2012 - 09:11 PM
There definitely aren't a lot of contemporary followers, and most of the interest is rooted in academia, however there are some people I've met who claimed to be practitioners of the religion, and there's definitely been a resurgence of queries and discussions about it online. My main exposure to it came from some poster on a Buddhist discussion list who argued that modern Buddhism was filled with corrupted ideology, and Neoplatonism actually encompassed a lot of the same ideals while remaining purer, and in my reading on it, there does seem to be some validity to the idea as a lot of modern theory is based upon bizarre interpretations of the Pali canon, or upon post-canonical sources. The only issue with it, imho, is that the main source text 'The Enneads' is rather dense and difficult to read and interpret, compared to the texts for many other faiths/philosophies which are considerably more approachable. It took me awhile to understand why Plotinus(author of the 'Enneads') was trying to say, but I can see comparisons between it and the dharmic faiths easily enough.
That is something a bit hard to wrap my head around. I had never heard of it but your explanation is a good one, thanks!
It does really sound like a combination of several very old concepts and it makes me wonder how many folks follow this and where are they located.
Another important consideration as well is that it had an influential effect on other religions. Origen one of the early church fathers was very clearly influenced by it, as were the gnostics most likely. In addition many scholars believe that certain elements of Sufism, namely Islamic Mysticism, are drawn from Neoplatonism. So it's influence really goes beyond itself, and bleeds into other world religion.
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