What follows is an attempt to understand the universe and our unique place within it. I have no doubt that in the future the human psyche will reach its full potential in discovering the reasons for its existence. Meanwhile we must find solace in speculation based on what is given, and hope for greater understanding about this elusive mystery. While science seems to be giving us all the answers about whom we are and the universe around us, the question of what we are doing here in the first place remains unanswered. Mind is ever at the center of human inquiry, yet seems isolated in studies of the brain, so we must extrapolate to what mind reveals of itself through the beauty of its own manifestations.
This treatise takes shape through great ideas that have marked important milestones in the advance of human thought. Hopefully, it will yield a common thread pointing to logically consistent views of reality at work behind its meaning and purpose. Any system considered metaphysical, that is, any belief system that emphasizes spirit, soul, mind, divinity, or God, goes back to Platonic philosophy for its Ideological support. Astrology falls into that category; it is not an empirical science, nor is it pure mysticism. Astrology operates essentially as an interface between the mental and physical realms. Science continues to reveal secrets of the physical world, but mysticism has always been here, still virtually unknown, yet holding truths to be discovered within its own domain.
The system of Plotinus is not often clearly understood by people with little knowledge of philosophical expositions describing so-called reality. Even the term Reality is vague and confusing depending on who is using it for what purpose. For the scientist, a hypothesis that can be proven, or the deductive logic of mathematics, best describes reality. For many philosophers, reality is defined through mental constructs that explain our world of experience. It is mental phenomena based on an apprehension of what we come to understand about life, nature, and the universe. They believe creation presupposes the Idea that gave rise to it, which our own reality demands to explain the meaning of existence.
Plotinus understood the mental structure of reality better than the physical. In describing his metaphysical system he alludes intuitively to the physical system that modern science is slowly beginning to understand as a common feature of the universe. He doesn't call it astrological, but he doesn't have to as long as we understand his implicit reference to what we have come to know as the solar system.
If Plotinus is correct in his inner perceptions, then it is highly possible that what we call God and man are in essence the same, but exist in different, or over-lapping realities, which the three hypostases do describe. If a Creator and man co-exist in different realities physically, then they ought to share in the same spiritual system as described by Plotinus. Physical man lives in the world of matter as a mental-spiritual being, and the ONE as a spiritualmental entity would by necessity be grounded in some aspect of the real universe, or physical reality. Thus, Plotinus took what he had experienced within his Soul, and projected it upon the heavens, the result was the system in which all reality participates, at least that's what he thought since he had no way to judge distance or fixed reference points in the cosmos. It is now possible to show how his system might work in light of current theories in cosmology, and our expanding knowledge of the universe.
The problem with Plotinus' system, as he understood it, is that it doesn't seem to conform to anything out there that we have come to understand about the makeup of our universe. Plotinus lived way before the advent of the telescope, and people would still be debating whether the world was round or flat for another thousand years. They had come to distinguish between the planets that were observed to move, and the fixed stars that didn't. If nothing else, it was the home of the blessed Gods. Plotinus, nor anyone of his time, knew about galaxies or solar systems. The universe is teeming with a multitude of objects both seen and unseen, but there doesn't seem to be any center or source that would account for everything else. So where would Plotinus' ultimate principle the ONE fit into this hodgepodge? It is well known that the solar system is a very small piece in a very large puzzle that's still full of mysteries, and from our perspective on this planet the solar system is immense. Plotinus couldn't have imagined the size and complexity of the universe, much less the solar system, and it wasn't until the sixteenth century when Copernicus showed that the sun does not orbit the earth that the idea of a solar system became acceptable.
Whether we accept or reject Plotinus' system, he deserves credit for allowing us to look into his inner revelations, or mystical experiences, and his attempt to explain them through the opportunity of seeing inwardly what appeared to him to be a reflection of outer reality. It is as though in being able to apprehend his Soul, or the spiritual ground of his being, as a logically organized structure, he at once recognizes the outer form of a much greater Spiritual source, and identifies with it as creation, and the ONE, or God.
One of the questions that enter the minds of serious thinkers is the relationship between the inner revelatory experiences of one person versus the actual make up of a spiritual universe. The answer is that many people have had mystical experiences, but through personal, cultural, and religious differences, the languages used and distinctions cited are often too blurred to form any coherent theory. Plotinus, being trained in philosophical thinking and dialogue, has had a measure of success in outlining what his inner perceptions have shown him. There are places in his words that describe the motion of objects around a central source, a powerful shining source. Plotinus equates this with the ONE; not only in an intellectual sense, but also as a profoundly moving revelation that the God without is manifest within as the source of his being, and that this source embodies a distinct solar form.
What Plotinus seems to be saying is that within the environs of the sun and planets, whether it be magnetic fields, gravitational forces, cosmic rays, or Dark Matter, there is a mental element associated with these massive bodies that we are totally unaware of, and it's likely not unique to our own special place in the universe. All we can ever know about the mind is from our own perspective, which is connected to organs of perception that convey information about the physical world. We've been taught that mind is an element of the brain, and that without the brain, thought is not possible. If this were true, then death of the organism would be death of the psyche; along with the psyche would go belief in an afterlife, heaven and hell, and even God would be out of a job.
I believe science has discovered this vast spiritual realm, but doesn't know how to go about studying it, although several experiments are in the works. It came with the discovery that galaxies would fly apart were it not for some unseen, unknown matter holding it together. They've come to the astounding conclusion that this strange matter makes up ninety to ninety nine percent of the mass of the universe. I call it the aether, the fifth element after earth, air, fire and water; others have called it the quintessence, but it is generally just called Dark Matter. Is this the reality that Plato taught us, and that Plotinus experienced so long ago?
It has been said that the loftiest pursuit of the human species is the quest for knowledge; without it progress falters and civilizations fall or wither away. The mystic understands that within the Godhead infinite wisdom is backed up by powers that stagger the imagination; they appear to us as tiny points of light in the heavens. If stars generate life, and Spirit the source, then it becomes easy to say that: Wisdom Powers the Universe.
The Philosophy of Astrology is for everyone, but directed to astrologers seeking the truth in what they believe. It provides a basis for understanding this ancient art by presenting a new look at old ideas, and linking them with modern theories. This effort represents a beginning and is far from over. As ideas become more refined, hopefully so will the finished product.
Simple ideas are often the most difficult to grasp, but that is where we must begin or nothing else could follow. We will begin with a philosophical background, and proceed to establish a philosophical point of view. With that foundation in place, we'll go on to build a structure of thought conceived by the philosopher Plotinus. This will be followed by an attempt to show how this ancient system of thought embraces the structure of the heavens we know today as the solar system.
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