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Re: Rumi's Mathnawi

Sep 10, 1995 00:51 AM
by jrcecon


I've not read the Rumi text you mention, but the Enneads of
Plotinus are perhaps my single favorite spiritual text - the one book
I'd take to a desert island if I could only take one ... and I'd love
to see them discussed on the list. Plotinus was perhaps the last great
philosopher of the classical Greek tradition, and within the Enneads
(written by him mostly for his students) is not only a remarkably
complex picture of spiritual life and spiritual reasoning, but Plotinus
also wrote philosophy in a fashion that (IMO) merged the philosophical
with the poetic - and there are times when the writing reaches points
of almost breathtaking beauty ...

I would recommend the translation by Stephen MacKenna - he was
both a self-taught Greek translator, and an Irish poet ... and I believe
to really capture Plotinus the skills of both translator and poet
working together are probably necessary.

A quote ... for the sake of the beauty within it:

"Withdraw into yourself and look - and if you do not find yourself

"Withdraw into yourself and look - and if you do not find yourself
beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made
beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter,
this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you
also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked,
bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make all one glow of beauty
and never cease chiselling your statue, until there shall shine out on you
from it the godlike splendour of virtue, until you shall see the perfect
goodness surely established in the stainless shrine.

When you know you have become this perfect work, when you are
self-gathered in the purity of your being, nothing now remaining that
can shatter that inner unity, nothing from without clinging to the
authentic man, when you find yourself wholly true to your essential
nature, wholly that only veritable Light which is not measured by space,
not narrowed to any circumscribed form ... ever measurable as something
greater than all measure and more than all quantity - when you perceive
you have grown to this, you are now become very vision: now call up all
your confidence, strike forward yet a step - you need a guide no longer -
strain, and see."

[From Ennead I.6.9]


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