Iamblichus (242?-325?)

Kabbalah, Sufism, Gnosticism and other forms of mysticism rooted in Christianity, Judaism, Islam
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Nicholas
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Iamblichus (242?-325?)

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From his Exhortation to Philosophy translated by Thomas M. Johnson an American Platonist of 19th century.
I Of Pythagoras and the life in accordance with his doctrines, and of the Pythagoreans, we treated sufficiently in our first book [Life of Pythagoras: we will now explain the remaining part of his system, beginning with the common preparatory training prescribed by his school in reference to all education and learning and virtue; a training which is not partial, only perfecting one in some particular good of all these but which, to speak simply, incites his cognitive powers to the acquirement of all disciplines, all sciences, all beautiful and noble actions in life, all species of culture – and, in a phrase, every thing which participates of the Beautiful. For neither without an awakening, caused by exhortation, from the natural lethargy, is it possible for one to apply himself suddenly to beautiful and noble studies; nor immediately to proceed to the apprehension of the highest and most perfect good, before his soul has been duly prepared by exhortation [which arouses his impulses to higher things, purifies his thoughts, and directs his actions].
From The Collected Works of Thomas Moore Johnson, Prometheus Trust 2015.
Last edited by Nicholas on Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Nicholas
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Re: Iamblichus (242?-325?)

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But just as the soul gradually advances to the greater from the less, passing through all beautiful things, and finally reaches the most perfect goods, so it is necessary that exhortation should proceed regularly, beginning from those things which are common. For exhortation will incite to philosophy itself and to philosophizing in general, according to every system of thought, no particular school being expressly preferred, but all being approved according to their respective merits, and ranked higher than mere human studies, by a certain common and popular mode of exhorting.

After this we must use a certain mediate method which, though neither entirely popular nor Pythagorean, is not wholly distinct from each of these modes. In this mediate course we will arrange the exhortations common to all philosophy, which are not deduced from the Pythagorean teaching and are therefore different from it; but we will add the most suitable and peculiar opinions of the Pythagoreans, in order that there may be a Pythagorean exhortation according to this mediate mode of discoursing.

From which we will gradually, as is reasonable, departing from the exoteric conceptions, pass to and become familiar with the special and technical demonstrations of the Pythagorean school, ascending by means of these as by a certain bridge or ladder as it were from a depth to a great height. And, lastly, we will interpret the exhortations peculiar to the Pythagorean school, which are strange and mystical in a certain respect, if they are considered in relation to other systems of philosophic culture.
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Nicholas
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Re: Iamblichus (242?-325?)

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II We will begin from those things which for our instruction are primary. These are perspicuous and evident to all, and though they do not apprehend the power and essence of virtue, yet according to common conceptions about virtue they awaken our desire for good through certain aphorisms, familiar to many, expressed in accordance with the visible images of real beings. These are thus set forth:

(1) As we live through the soul, it must be said that by the virtue of this we live well; just as, since we see through the eyes, it is by the virtue of these that we see well.
(2) It must not be thought that gold can be injured by rust, or virtue tainted by baseness.
(3) We should betake ourselves to virtue as to an inviolable temple, in order that we may not be exposed to any ignoble insolence of the irrational element of the soul.
(4) We should confide in virtue as in a chaste wife, but trust fortune as we would a fickle mistress.
(5) It is better that virtue should be received with poverty, than wealth with vice; and frugality with health, than abundance with disease.
(6) As much food is injurious to the body, so is much wealth pernicious to the soul evilly inclined or disposed.
(7) It is equally dangerous to give a sword to a madman, and power to a depraved man.
(8) Just as it is better for a purulent part of the body to be burned than to remain diseased, so it is also better for a depraved man to die than to live.
(9) The theorems of philosophy are to be enjoyed as much as possible, as if they were ambrosia and nectar; for the pleasure arising from them is genuine, incorruptible and divine. Magnanimity they are also able to produce, and though they cannot make us eternal beings, yet they enable us to obtain a scientific knowledge of eternal natures.
(10) If vigour of the senses is desirable, much more should prudence be sought; for it is as it were the sensitive vigour of our practical intellect. And as by the former we are protected from deception in sensations, so through the latter we avoid false reasoning in practical affairs.
(11) We shall worship the deity rightly, if we render our intellect pure from all vice, as from a certain stain or disgrace.
(12) We should adorn a temple with gifts, but the soul with disciplines.
(13) As prior to the greater mysteries the lesser are delivered, so a disciplinary training must precede the study and acquisition of philosophy.
(14) The fruits of the earth are indeed annually imparted, but the fruits of philosophy at every part of the year.
(15) Just as land must be specially cultivated by him who wishes to obtain from it the best fruit, so the soul should be most carefully and attentively cultivated, in order that it may produce fruit worthy of its nature.
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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