one’s own mind
is a difficult art. One
must juggle with the uncontrolled power of ideas, the tyranny of
imagination, the empire of reason, the excesses of imitation, and
the mind to reality.
must also consider the conformation of the
soul’s desire to her
true end. The soul is basically a mystery to herself.
How could she unravel mysteries far from her attainment, when she is
to understand herself, or to escape the grip of her drifting
myth, it seems,
may be for the
soul an alternative
path of research. It is one way to escape the tyranny of the déjà
vu and its consequences. A
way to set her
free, while giving in to her
Here is an example.
In the Timaeus, Plato describes the power that the soul exerts over the body, and in the Phaedrus, he deals with the soul liberated from the body.
the one hand, the soul is in charge of the body into which it has
descended. On the other hand, the soul freed from the body travels
through the heavens
and governs the world. So doing, she
binds herself to
Her liberation is
accompanied by frankly enigmatic phenomena:
« Where does it
come from that the names of mortal and also immortal
are given to the living, that is what we must try to say. Every soul
takes care of everything that is devoid of a soul and, on the other
hand, circulates throughout the whole universe, presenting herself
there sometimes in one form and sometimes in another. However, when
she is perfect and has her wings, it is in the heights that she
walks, it is the whole world that she administers. »i
The soul « has
her wings » and is called to administer the « whole world ».
What does that mean?
By commenting on
this passage, Marsilio Ficino brings it closer to another text by
Plato which states in a rather obscure way:
« The need for
intelligence and the soul united to intelligence exceeds all
requires an explanation.
When the soul is
liberated, that is, when she leaves the body, she takes advantage of
this freedom to unite herself « necessarily » to the
intelligence. Why « necessarily »? Because in the spiritual
world there is a law of attraction that is analogous to the law of
universal attraction in the physical universe. This law is the law of
the love that the free soul « necessarily » feels for the
When she unites with
the ‘intelligence’, the soul becomes « winged ». She can
do anything, including « administering the whole world ».
doesn’t explain much, actually.
Why is the « perfect »
soul, « winged », called to « administer the whole
In reality, the
mystery is thickening. The Platonic myth only opens doors to other,
more obscure questions.
Two thousand years
after Plato, Marsilio Ficino proposed an interpretation of these
souls possess an upper part, spiritual, an intermediate part,
rational, a lower part, vital. Intermediate power is a property of
the soul. Spiritual power is a ray of higher intelligence projected
on the soul, and in turn reflected on the higher intelligence. The
vital power is also an act of the soul reflecting on the body and
then repercussions on the soul, just as sunlight in the cloud is,
according to its own quality, a light, but as it emanates from the
sun, is ray, and as it fills the cloud, is whiteness.”iii
The thicker the
mystery gets, the more images multiply!
Ray, light and
whiteness represent different states of intelligence mixing with the
mind (the ray becomes light), and of spirit mixing with the world and
matter (light becomes whiteness).
We may also
understand that the « ray » is a metaphor of the (divine)
intelligence, that the « light » is a metaphor of the power
of the (human) spirit, and that whiteness is a metaphor of the vital
power of the soul. These images (ray, light, whiteness) have a
general scope, – which applies to the world as well as to the mind.
So is the myth.
The myth is like a
« light », generated by a « ray » striking the mind,
and generating « whiteness » in it (i.e. revelation).
The « ray », the “light”, the “whiteness” are images, metaphors, for the Word (Logos), the Myth (Mythos), and Reason (Logos, again), as various degrees of illumination.
this explanation enlightening
If not, you will
have to learn to fly, without wings, radar and GPS, in the nights and
fogs of the world.
i Phaedrus 246 b,c
iiiMarsilio Ficino Platonic Theology, 13,4