The Sacred as the Foundation of All Things

21 02 2008


Later in the Commentary on the Parmenides, Proclus gives a more philosophical account of the journey to God.  The ultimate reality is the single transcendent God.  However, the One cannot be the sole form of divinity.  If it were, the universe would be left devoid of God’s proximate presence.  For Neo-Platonists, this would be totally catastrophic.  Divinity is not simply a religious entity: it is the foundation of every existent, from cosmic forces to mortal creatures and inanimates, like stones.  Unity is the centre of being. 

-Lucas Siorvanes, Proclus: Neo-Platonic Philosophy and Science

All things are suspended from the gods, some irradiated by one god, some by another, and the series downwards to the last orders of being…’all things are full of gods,’ and from the gods each derives its natural attribute. 

-Proclus, The Elements of Theology


Of course, to the modern eye, this seems pantheistic and smacks of New Age mumbo-jumbo, but for this rationalist age, a little exaggeration wouldn’t hurt. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, with the deaf you have to yell, and with the blind you have to paint with broad and sloppy strokes of the brush. It’s the only way that anyone will understand.



One response

22 02 2008

“Of course, to the modern eye, this seems pantheistic and smacks of New Age mumbo-jumbo”

Not at all. Consider the following prayer to the Holy Spirit, used often in the Byzantine Rite:

“O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save, our souls, O Good One.”

What Proclus missed, of course, was the unity and identity of the Divine Essence as both trascendent and immanent (and Tri-personal, but that is not directly relevant here).

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