January 22, 2010 at 12:26 AM Leave a comment

In the first place, I cannot allow that the soul is capable of a failure of memory; because he has conceded to it so large an amount of divine quality as to put it on a par with God. He makes it , which single attribute I might apply as a sufficient attestation of its perfect divinity; he then adds that the soul is immortal, incorruptible, incorporeal-since he believed God to be the same-invisible, incapable of delineation, uniform, supreme, rational, and intellectual. What more could he attribute to the soul, if he wanted to call it God? We, however, who allow no appendage to God (in the sense of equality), by this very fact reckon the soul as very far below God: for we suppose it to be born, and hereby to possess something of a diluted divinity and an attenuated felicity, as the breath (of God), though not His spirit; and although immortal, as this is an attribute of divinity, yet for all that passible, since this is an incident of a born condition, and consequently from the first capable of deviation from perfection and right, and by consequence susceptible of a failure in memory. This point I have discussed sufficiently with Hermogenes. But it may be further observed, that if the soul is to merit being accounted a god, by reason of all its qualities being equal to the attributes of God, it must then be subject to no passion, and therefore to no loss of memory; for this defect of oblivion is as great an injury to that of which you predicate it, as memory is the glory thereof, which Plato himself deems the very safeguard of the senses and intellectual faculties, and which Cicero has designated the treasury of all the sciences. Now we need not raise the doubt whether so divine a faculty as the soul was capable of losing memory: the question rather is, whether it is able to recover afresh that which it has lost. I could not decide whether that, which ought to have lost memory, if it once incurred the loss, would be powerful enough to recollect itself, Both alternatives, indeed, will agree very well with my soul, but not with Plato's. In the second place, my objection to him will stand thus: (Plato, ) do you endow the soul with a natural competency for understanding those well-known of yours? Certainly I do, will be your answer. Well, now, no one will concede to you that the knowledge, (which you say is) the gift of nature, of the natural sciences can fail. But the knowledge of the sciences fails; the knowledge of the various fields of learning and of the arts of life fails; and so perhaps the knowledge of the faculties and affections of our minds fails, although they seem to be inherent in our nature, but really are not so: because, as we have already said, they are affected by accidents of place, of manners and customs, of bodily condition, of the state of man's health-by the influences of the Supreme Powers, and the changes of man's free-will. Now the instinctive knowledge of natural objects never fails, not even in the brute creation. The lion, no doubt, will forget his ferocity, if surrounded by the softening influence of training; he may become, with his beautiful mane, the plaything of some Queen Berenice, and lick her cheeks with his tongue. A wild beast may lay aside his habits, but his natural instincts will not be forgotten. He will not forget his proper food, nor his natural resources, nor his natural alarms; and should the queen offer him fishes or cakes, he will wish for flesh; and if, when he is ill, any antidote be prepared for him, he will still require the ape; and should no hunting-spear be presented against him, he will yet dread the crow of the cock. In like manner with man, who is perhaps the most forgetful of all creatures, the knowledge of everything natural to him will remain in-eradicably fixed in him,-but this alone, as being alone a natural instinct. He will never forget to eat when he is hungry; or to drink when he is thirsty; or to use his eyes when he wants to see; or his ears, to hear; or his nose, to smell; or his mouth, to taste; or his hand, to touch. These are, to be sure, the senses, which philosophy depreciates by her preference for the intellectual faculties. But if the natural knowledge of the sensuous faculties is permanent, how happens it that the knowledge of the intellectual faculties fails, to which the superiority is ascribed? Whence, now, arises that power of forgetfulness itself which precedes recollection? From long lapse of time, he says. But this is a shortsighted answer. Length of time cannot be incidental to that which, according to him, is unborn, and which therefore must be deemed most certainly eternal. For that which is eternal, on the ground of its being unborn, since it admits neither of beginning nor end of time, is subject to no criterion. And that which time does not measure, undergoes no change in consequence of time; nor is long lapse of time at all influential over it. If time is a cause of oblivion, why, from the time of the soul's entrance into the body, does memory fail, as if thenceforth the soul were to be affected by time? for the soul, being undoubtedly prior to the body, was of course not irrespective of time. Is it, indeed, immediately on the soul's entrance into the body that oblivion takes place, or some time afterwards? If immediately, where will be the long lapse of the time which is as yet inadmissible in the hypothesis? Take, for instance, the case of the infant. If some time afterwards, will not the soul, during the interval previous to the moment of oblivion, Still exercise its powers of memory? And how comes it to pass that the soul subsequently forgets, and then afterwards again remembers? How long, too, must the lapse of the time be regarded as having been, during which the oblivion oppressed the soul? The whole course of one's life, I apprehend, will be insufficient to efface the memory of an age which endured so long before the soul's assumption of the body. But then, again, Plato throws the blame upon the body, as if it were at all credible that a born substance could extinguish the power of one that is unborn. There exist, however, among bodies a great many differences, by reason of their rationality, their bulk, their condition, their age, and their health. Will there then be supposed to exist similar differences in obliviousness? Oblivion, however, is uniform and identical. Therefore bodily peculiarity, with its manifold varieties, will not become the cause of an effect which is an invariable one. There are likewise, according to Plato's own testimony, many proofs to show that the soul has a divining faculty, as we have already advanced against Hermogenes. But there is not a man living, who does not himself feel his soul possessed with a presage and augury of some omen, danger, or joy. Now, if the body is not prejudicial to divination, it will not, I suppose, be injurious to memory. One thing is certain, that souls in the same body both forget and remember. If any corporeal condition engenders forgetfulness, how will it admit the opposite state of recollection? Because recollection, after forgetfulness, is actually the resurrection of the memory. Now, how should not that which is hostile to the memory at first, be also prejudicial to it in the second instance? Lastly, who have better memories than little children, with their fresh, unworn souls, not yet immersed in domestic and public cares, but devoted only to those studies the acquirement of which is itself a reminiscence? Why, indeed, do we not all of us recollect in an equal degree, since we are equal in our forgetfulness? But this is true only of philosophers! But not even of the whole of them. Amongst so many nations, in so great a crowd of sages, Plato, to be sure, is the only man who has combined the oblivion and the recollection of ideas. Now, since this main argument of his by no means keeps its ground, it follows that its entire superstructure must fall with it, namely, that souls are supposed to be unborn, and to live in the heavenly regions, and to be instructed in the divine mysteries thereof; moreover, that they descend to this earth, and here recall to memory their previous; existence, for the purpose, of course, of supplying to our heretics the fitting materials for their systems.

We, the younger ones, prefer catsup and a …

Forasmuch as this doctrine is vindicated even on the principle of judicial retribution, on the pretence that the souls of men obtain as their partners the kind of animals which are suited to their life and deserts,-as if they ought to be, according to their several characters, either slain in criminals destined to execution, or reduced to hard work in menials, or fatigued and wearied in labourers, or foully disgraced in the unclean; or, again, on the same principle, reserved for honour, and love, and care, and attentive regard in characters most eminent in, rank and virtue, usefulness, and tender sensibility,-I must here also remark, that if souls undergo a transformation, they will actually not be able to accomplish and experience the destinies which they shall deserve; and the aim and purpose of judicial recompense will be brought to nought, as there will be wanting the sense and consciousness of merit and retribution. And there must be this want of consciousness, if souls lose their condition; and there must ensue this loss, if they do not continue in one stay. But even if they should have permanency enough to remain unchanged until the judgment,-a point which Mercurius Aegyptius recognised, when he said that the soul, after its separation from the body, was not dissipated back into the soul of the universe, but retained permanently its distinct individuality, "in order that it might render," to use his own words, "an account to the Father of those things which it has done in the body; " -(even supposing all this, I say, ) I still want to examine the justice, the solemnity, the majesty, and the dignity of this reputed judgment of God, and see whether human judgment has not too elevated a throne in it-exaggerated in both directions, in its office both of punishments and rewards, too severe in dealing out its vengeance, and too lavish in bestowing its favour. What do you suppose will become of the soul of the murderer? (It will animate), I suppose, some cattle destined for the slaughter-house and the shambles, that it may itself be killed, even as it has killed; and be itself flayed, since it has fleeced others; and be itself used for food, since it has cast to the wild beasts the ill-fated victims whom it once slew in woods and lonely roads. Now, if such be the judicial retribution which it is to receive, is not such a soul likely to find more of consolation than of punishment, in the fact that it receives its from the hands of most expert practitioners-is buried with condiments served in the most piquant styles of an Apicius or a Lurco, is introduced to the tables of your exquisite Ciceros, is brought up on the most splendid dishes of a Sylla, finds its obsequies in a banquet, is devoured by respectable (mouths) on a par with itself, rather than by kites and wolves, so that all may see how it has got a man's body for its tomb, and has risen again after returning to its own kindred race-exulting in the face of human judgments, if it has experienced them? For these barbarous sentences of death consign to various wild beasts, which are selected and trained even against their nature for their horrible office the criminal who has committed murder, even while yet alive; nay, hindered from too easily dying, by a contrivance which retards his last moment in order to aggravate his punishment. But even if his soul should have anticipated by its departure the sword's last stroke, his body at all events must not escape the weapon: retribution for his own crime is yet exacted by stabbing his throat and stomach, and piercing his side. After that he is flung into the fire, that his very grave may be cheated. In no other way, indeed, is a sepulture allowed him. Not that any great care, after all, is bestowed on his pyre, so that other animals light upon his remains. At any rate, no mercy is shown to his bones, no indulgence to his ashes, which must be punished with exposure and nakedness. The vengeance which is inflicted among men upon the homicide is really as great as that which is imposed by nature. Who would not prefer the justice of the world, which, as the apostle himself testifies, "beareth not the sword in vain," and which is an institute of religion when it severely avenges in defence of human life? When we contemplate, too, the penalties awarded to other crimes-gibbets, and holocausts, and sacks, and harpoons, and precipices-who would not think it better to receive his sentence in the courts of Pythagoras and Empedocles? For even the wretches whom they will send into the bodies of asses and mules to be punished by drudgery and slavery, how will they congratulate themselves on the mild labour of the mill and the water-wheel, when they recollect the mines, and the convict-gangs, and the public works, and even the prisons and black-holes, terrible in their idle, do-nothing routine? Then, again, in the case of those who, after a course of integrity, have surrendered their life to the Judge, I likewise look for rewards, but I rather discover punishments. To be sure, it must be a handsome gain for good men to be restored to life in any animals whatsoever! Homer, so dreamt Ennius, remembered that he was once a peacock; however, I cannot for my part believe poets, even when wide awake. A peacock, no doubt, is a very pretty bird, pluming itself, at will, on its splendid feathers; Jut then its wings do not make amends for its voice, which is harsh and unpleasant; and there is nothing that poets like better than a good song. His transformation, therefore, into a peacock was to Homer a penalty, not an honour. The world's remuneration will bring him a much greater joy, when it lauds him as the father of the liberal sciences; and he will prefer the ornaments of his fame to the graces of his tail! But never mind! let poets migrate into peacocks, or into swans, if you like, especially as swans have a respectable voice: in what animal will you invest that righteous hero Aeacus? In what beast will you clothe the chaste and excellent Dido? What bird shall fall to the lot of Patience? what animal to the lot of Holiness? what fish to that of Innocence? Now all creatures are the servants of man; all are his subjects, all his dependants. If by and by he is to become one of these creatures, he is by such a change debased and degraded he to whom, for his virtues, images, statues, and titles are freely awarded as public honours and distinguished privileges, he to Whom the senate and the people vote even sacrifices! Oh, what judicial sentences for gods to pronounce, as men's recompense after death! They are more mendacious than any human judgments; they are contemptible as punishments, disgusting as rewards; such as the worst of men could never fear, nor the best desire; such indeed, as criminals will aspire to, rather than saints,-the former, that they may escape more speedily the world's stern sentence,-the latter that they may more tardily incur it. How well, (forsooth), O ye philosophers do you teach us, and how usefully do you advise us, that after death rewards and punishments fall with lighter weight! whereas, if any judgment awaits souls at all, it ought rather to be supposed that it will be heavier at the conclusion of life than in the conduct thereof, since nothing is more complete than that which comes at the very last-nothing, moreover, is more complete than that which is especially divine. Accordingly, God's judgment will be more full and complete, because it will be pronounced at the very last, in an eternal irrevocable sentence, both of punishment and of consolation, (on men whose) souls are not to transmigrate into beasts, but are to return into their own proper bodies. And all this once for all, and on "that day, too, of which the Father only knoweth; " (only knoweth, ) in order that by her trembling expectation faith may make full trial of her anxious sincerity, keeping her gaze ever fixed on that day, in her perpetual ignorance of it, daily fearing that for which she yet daily hopes.


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Trish Ward is passionate about helping committed individuals find food and lifestyle habits that work specifically for their unique bio chemistry, so they can live symptom-free, with abundant energy and joy. She calls herself 'the Soulful Nutritionist', because she firmly believes that merging Soul and Science is where the magic of life is. In her years of practice, she has seen time and time again that both one's physiology and psychology need to be in alignment to find true health.