isis unveiled: xii (forbidden ground)

“If the doctrines of Aristotle have exercised on the later Neo-platonists such a “dominating influence”, how is it that neither Plotinus, nor Porphyry, nor Proclus ever accepted his theories on dreams and prophetic soul-visions?

While Aristotle held that most of those who prophesy have “diseases of madness” – thus furnishing some American plagiarists and specialists with a few reasonable ideas to disfigure – the views of Porphyry, hence those of Plotinus, were quite the reverse. In the most vital questions of metaphysical speculations Aristotle is constantly contradicted by the Neo-Platonists.

Furthermore, either the Buddhistic Nirvana is not the nihilistic doctrine, as it is now represented to be, or the Neo-Platonists did not accept it in this sense. Surely Mr. Draper will not take upon himself to affirm that either Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, or any other philosopher of their mystic school, did not believe in the soul’s immortality?

To say that either of them sought ecstasy as a “foretaste of absorption into the universal mundane soul”, in the sense which the Buddhist Nirvana is understood by every Sanscrit scholar, is to wrong these philosophers. Nirvana is not, as Mr. Draper has it, a “reabsorption in the Universal Force, eternal rest, and bliss”;  when taken literally by the said scholars, means the blowing out, the extinction, complete annihilation, and not absorption.

No one, so far as we know, has ever taken upon himself to ascertain the true metaphysical meaning of this word, which is not to be found, even in the Lankavatara, which gives the different interpretations of the Nirvana by the Brahmans-Tirthakas. 

Therefore, for one who reads this passage in Mr. Draper’s work, and bears in mind but the usually-accepted meaning of the Nirvana, will naturally suppose that Plotinus and Porphyry were nihilists. Such a page in the conflict gives us a certain right to suppose that either 1, the learned author desired to place Plotinus and Porphyry on the same plane with Giordano Bruno, of whom he makes, very erroneously, an atheist; or, 2, that he never took the trouble of studying the lives of these philosophers and their views.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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