Our descent into embodiment can be identified as the product of ignorance and desire, these stemming as consequences of our ontological position within the hierarchical chain of being. All things participate from their superiors, but some beings—such as ourselves—do not fixate their conscious cognition upon the whole union of good within which they partake. This primal problem arises from the cognition of identity, whereby “the Self” becomes the first contemplation of consciousness, and then thereafter “the Other” becomes the second contemplation. This begins among the noetic gods who by this are demarcated from the Supreme; the former deriving being from contemplation, the latter beyond being.
This mode of self-identity underpins all conscious life including our own, but our experience of consciousness differs from that of the noetic gods due to our processional ‘lateness’. When the noetic gods turn their vision towards the Other, their sole vision is the Supreme Itself as they are secondary only to the Supreme; It the only extant “Other” for the noetic gods to form their self-identity upon. It is by this immediacy and intimacy with the Supreme that their wisdom is perfected, the noetic gods immediately liberated of any fog of ignorance that could arise from consciousness’ intuitive prioritisation of the Self and cognition of otherness through vision of the Other.
This ‘self-and-other’ schema of identity arises from the very first love: that love expressed by the Gods to the Supreme. It is by their witness of the Supreme and his abundance of goodness that the Gods were driven into creative action. We read from Plato in Timaeus:
“Let me tell you then why the creator made this world of generation. He was good, and the good can never have any jealousy of anything. And being free from jealousy, he desired that all things should be as like himself as they could be. This is in the truest sense the origin of creation and of the world, as we shall do well in believing on the testimony of wise men: God desired that all things should be good and nothing bad, so far as this was attainable.”
The Gods, observant of supreme goodness, were driven by the infinite abundance of the good to seek the maximisation of its reception. As Plato said, being jealous of nothing, they desired to create a generation after them which would share in their reception of the Supreme so that they could be conscious and enjoy the fulfilment they received from the Supreme. This they did, building after them a generation of gods in like to them in consciousness and life, but as this new generation became cognisant via the ‘self-and-other’ schema, they did not simply observe the Supreme like their creators, but rather their first observance was the god who generated them.
It is only after this that they then gaze to the Supreme, capturing a holistic image of goodness but one that has become infinitely more complex compared to that of their superiors, who have a vision of goodness that is pure and without complexity. This is why the first generation of gods are called the unified monad and the second generation the indefinite dyad: the dyadic vision is an indefinite vision of goodness, one that was infinitely more complex than that of the monadic vision and without completion when alone.
Our soul comes far ‘later’ in the hierarchic chain, proceeding after many more generations, and it is by our processional lateness that our self-cognisance entails unique consequences. When our soul establishes self-identity via self-and-other—first taking the Self as priority, then looking to the Other to demarcate identity—she is not greeted with pure noetic vision of the Supreme, nor with a complex yet holistic vision of our priors within the Supreme, but instead she becomes bombarded by an extreme multitude of “others”. The sheer magnitude of prior generations denies her from possessing a simple apprehension of goodness and from this is birthed her ignorance. Thus, we are the last generation of gods, for we are the first gods to lose themselves to the multitude.
We established earlier all outward seeking is driven by love of the Supreme, the source of goodness. The soul first looks inwards to establish the conscious self, but she finds within herself incompletion. She has a ‘divine ancestral memory’ of the goodness from which she was derived, and so by her memory she recalls that her own inner goodness is only a part of a greater whole. Thus, she is driven to look outwards, seeking that ‘Other’ which would fulfil her inner lacking- seeking the Good which she could unify herself to through love.
Psyche’s search for Cupid expresses this journey that the soul undertakes, leading her to scour the whole world for her love, even descending to the Underworld. She nears the end of her quest but gives into the temptation of furthering her own beauty by breaking her promise and opening the box she carried containing the beauty of Proserpina, having her slip into Stygian sleep, i.e. death. It is after she dies that Cupid redeems her, bringing her back to life and drawing her upwards and bringing her into immortality, living the rest of her immortal life among the Gods in Olympus.
We are Psyche searching the depths of the Earth for love, while Cupid is the divine love which restores us to life and delivers us to immortal union with the Gods. For so long we continue to search for love within the Earth, we are mortals, bound to the cycle of reincarnation owed to our soul continually returning to mortal life in search for the divine love. But we breed ignorance within ourselves owing to our incapacity to grasp prior goodness; we find the multitude of goods bewildering and due to its magnitude we forge within ourselves an intense and unshakeable self-identity- an ego, to which we cling due to its familiarity.
By the formation of our ego, we inadvertently subvert the abundant images of goodness from being means towards knowing the divine into being means towards knowing ourselves. We utilise the multitude of goods to further our own self-definition, intensifying our egos and growing our self-identification. Thus it is due to the sheer solidity of our particular egos that our souls have come to identify themselves immanently with their bodies; our souls, intent on establishing its identity and building its differentiation, leads themselves into the realm of bodies wherein differentiation could be best achieved, forging for itself a bodily mode which would carry the soul’s identity.
Hence why we live our peculiar double-life of being both animal and soul at once. We, the last gods, have drawn ourselves into this double-life by compounding our identity and privileging difference over unity. Instead of turning upwards towards the Gods and achieving gnosis of the divine and by this enabling assimilation into the divine and receiving inner fulfilment, the soul turned her contemplation away from the unity of goodness toward its division and became overwhelmed by her cognition of differentiation, lending herself to jealousy and distinction.
By prioritising herself as one within division, she made cognisant within herself an inequality of goodness between each generation. From this brew her jealousy- not necessarily a malicious envy (though some have turned to misotheism), but one where she becomes enthralled with her superiors and through her passion towards them seeks to become them; but owed to her cognition of good as a multiplicative, differentiated hierarchy, her route of becoming is conducted through her seeking the accumulation of goods within herself in thought that by this she would become equal to or greater than the superiors she is emulating (familiar to us in how people emulate famous persons in hope that by emulation they would attract the same success). So, having foregone her assimilation into unity and instead embracing her inner life as the route towards holistic goodness, her pursuit leads her into the realm of infinite division, i.e. the corporeal cosmos, wherein she struggles to become the good she desires.
- the soul looks inwards and finds herself lacking;
- she looks outwards to find her completion, but unlike her priors she contemplates the division of goodness over its unity, witnessing within the unified good a hierarchy of inequalities instead of oneness;
- working to form her identity, the soul neglects her communion within the unified and one good, instead turning to distinguishing herself from her priors through a principle of differentiation by identifying goodness in the others that she does not possess; and
- consequently the soul turns to ignorance and forgetfulness:
- ignorant in the first instance to her extant inner goodness which is already fulfilled when the self is properly known (hence “Know Thyself”) via proper contemplation of the good whereby the self is conjoined with oneness (henosis), and
- thus forgetful in the second instance by her continued and unrelenting ignorance, ever intent towards the inferior goods which she struggles to accumulate within herself across her many mortal lives.
We learn then that the soul’s repatriation and return to the Gods comes through the reversal of this primordial error. We must resolve our ignorance and rekindle our memory, waking from our Stygian sleep, and with eyes reopened we shall turn our vision upwards again, but now free from our ignorance and amnesia, liberated through divine wisdom and memory.
Read more in my other article On Beauty and Love.