Chapter 18. Eudaemonia, or the True Success

The last subject remaining for discussion is in relation to true success. <sup>1</sup> Thou hast put intricate problems with regard to it, namely: first, observations upon certain subjects: next, matters of doubt: and after these, questioning. We will accordingly place thy questions in their order, each and every one of them, and will answer these in due course in reference to them.

Thou askest “whether there is not some other path to true success apart from the gods.” <sup>2</sup> What different way upward can there be, “entirely apart from the gods” that is reasonable? For if the essence and perfection of every good are comprised in the gods, and their primary power and authority are with us (priests), <sup>3</sup> and with those who are in like manner possessed by the superior divinities, and have come genuinely into union with them – and in short, if the source and end of goodness are earnestly pursued: in such case, there are present accordingly, the Spectacle of Truth and the initiation into spiritual knowledge. And with the knowing of the gods, the turning around to our own selves and the knowing of ourselves. follow together.
 

To no purpose, therefore, thou proposest the doubt “whether it is necessary to pay any regard to human opinions.” For what leisure has the person whose mind and thought are with the gods to look down for approval from human beings? Nor in what follows dost thou speak to the purpose: “whether the Soul does not now and then form grand conceptions.” For what principle of fanciful creations has a place in those who have real being? Is not the faculty of imagination in us the former of eidola? But when the spiritual life is perfectly active, there is nothing of the imagination awakened. Does not the truth in its essence coexist with the gods? At least, is it not established with rational principles harmoniously? It is in vain, then, that thou and others whisper such things.

Nevertheless, these things about which certain mountebank priests and fortune-tellers calumniate those who minister at the worship of the gods, and thou hast spoken in the same way – are none of them at all connected with genuine theology and theurgy. Yet if, in some way, certain things of such a character shoot out as excrescences beside the knowledges of the things that are good, as evil arts sprout up with other arts, these very knowledges are actually more opposed by them than anything else. For that which is evil is more hostile to the good than to that which is not good.
 

I desire after this to go curiously over other remarks which misrepresent the divine foreknowledge. Thou comparest with it “other methods for obtaining premonitions of what will take place.” For to me, although a certain aptitude of nature aids in the signifying of what is to occur, just as the foreknowing of earthquakes, or of winds, or of storms happens to animals, it does not seem worthy of our veneration. For such an inborn faculty of divining accompanies acuteness of sense – or sympathy, or some other commotion of the natural faculties, and has nothing about it worshipful and supernatural. Nor if any one by human reasoning or systematic observation determines from symptoms those things of which the signs are indicative, as physicians from the systolê of the pulse prognosticate a coming fever, he by no means appears to me to possess anything honorable and good. For he likewise sets himself to it humanly, and infers logically by our reasoning faculty in relation to things which confessedly occur in the order of nature and he makes his diagnosis not very far away from the corporeal order of things. Accordingly, if there is in us any natural perception of the future, the faculty is clearly shown in activity as in everything else, but in having this nothing that is very happy is possessed. For what can there be of the qualities implanted in us by nature in the realm of generated existence that is a genuine, perfect and everlasting benefit?
 

The divine endowment of divination <sup>4</sup> alone, therefore, being conjoined with the gods, imparts to us the divine life and likewise making us participants of the divine foreknowledge and the divine thoughts, renders us truly divine. It causes us to be genuinely the possessors of goodness, because the most blessed thought of the gods abounds with every good. Hence, “they who possess the endowment of divining,” do not, as you surmise, “foresee and are not really successful,” for all divine foreknowledge is seemingly good. Nor do they “foresee future events, and not know how to make use of the foresight properly for themselves.” On the contrary, with the foreknowledge, they receive beauty itself and order that are at once true and becoming, and there is with it that which is profitable. For the gods give them also the power of protecting themselves against direful calamities from the realm of nature: and when it is necessary to exercise courage and the uncertainty of the future contributes to this, they keep the things hidden that are to be, in order to make the soul better. Yet when uncertainty does not bring any help for this purpose, and the foreknowledge is advantageous to souls, for the sake of saving them and leading them upward, then the gods implant in their inmost beings the foreknowledge inherent in the inspired communications.
 

But why am I prolonging these discourses? I have abundantly shown before by the many explanations which I have made in them, the superiority of the inspiration over human divination. Better, therefore, is what you ask from us: “To make plain to you the path to success, and in what the essence of it consists.” For from this the truth is then to be found, and all the difficulties may thus be at once easily resolved. I say, therefore, that the divine person gifted with intuition, having, in a former condition of being, been participant of the oneness, by the spectacle of the gods, comes at a later period to another soul (or psychic condition) which is adjusted to the human ideal of figure, and through this becomes involved in the bond of Necessity and Fate. <sup>5</sup> Now then it is necessary to consider how he may be unloosed and set free from his bonds. There is no other way except the knowing of the gods. For the ideal or success is the apperceiving of the Good, just as the ideal of badness happens to be forgetting of what is good and deceit in relation to what is bad. The former, therefore, joins with the Divine nature: but the latter, an inferior destiny, is inseparable from the mortal. <sup>6</sup> The former seeks the intellectible essences by the sacred paths: <sup>7</sup> but the latter, having swerved from the first principles, yields itself to the measuring out of the ideals of the corporeal environment. The former is the knowing of the Father: <sup>8</sup> but the latter is the going aside from him and a forgetting of God, the Father, first in Essence and sufficient for himself. The former preserves the genuine life and brings it back to its Father, but the latter brings the man ruling in the realm of generated existence down to the world which is never permanent but always changing. <sup>9</sup>

Let, then, this superior path to true success, which is the spiritual completing of the union of souls to the divine nature, be cognized by thee. But the sacerdotal and theurgic gift of true success is called the Door <sup>10</sup> to the Creator of the Universe, or Supreme Goodness. In the first place it possesses the power of chastity of soul which is far more perfect than chastity of the body: afterward, the preparing of the understanding for the participation and vision <sup>11</sup> of the Good and its release from everything of a contrary character: and after these, oneness with the gods the givers of all things good.
 

After the theurgic discipline has conjoined the soul individually with the several departments of the universe, and with all the divine powers that pervade it, then it leads the soul to the Creator of the world, places it in his charge, and frees it of everything pertaining to the realm of matter, uniting it with the Sole Eternal Reason (Logos).

What I am saying is this: That it unites the soul individually to the One, Father of himself, self-moving. He who sustains the universe, spiritual, who arranges all things in order, who leads it to the supreme truth, to the absolute, the efficient, and other creative powers of God: thus establishing the theurgic soul in the energies, the conceptions and creative qualities of those powers. Then it inserts the soul in the entire Demurgic God.

This, with the Egyptian Sages, is the end of the “Return” as taught in the Sacred Records.
 

The Good itself, they consider on the one side as absolute Divinity; the God subsisting before thought: but on the other as human, who is a unity with him. Bitys has explained this from the Hermaic Scrolls. This, therefore, is not “passed over” by the Egyptian priests, as thou dost suggest, but is handed down by them in a style worthy of the divine being. Nor do the Theurgists “call upon the Divine Mind” in relation to “trivial matters,” but on the other hand it is in regard to matters appertaining to the purifying of the soul, its release and salvation. Nor do they “employ themselves diligently with things that are difficult: but of no use to human beings”; but on the contrary, such as are the most profitable of all to the soul. Nor are they imposed upon by a “vagabond” daemon, who have in every instance not only contended successfully with the deceitful daemonian nature, but have exalted themselves to the realm of mind and divinity.
 

Notes:

  • 1. Greek, eudaimonia. This term was employed by Plato and Aristotle to denote true and complete happiness. Its derivation from eu or well, and daimôn, a divinity, a good genius, good fortune, indicates its true signification, as the condition favored by the good genius; hence, it denotes felicity, good fortune, prosperity, success-as being in favor with God and man.
  • 2. Porphyry here refers to the gods that were invoked in the theurgic rites.
  • 3. The Oracle had, before the time of Porphyry, assigned to the Egyptian priests the finding of the path to felicity. Hence Herodotus declared them the first to institute the Sacred Rites.
  • 4. Greek, mantike, the art of divining: prophecy, inspiration. This is the term which has been generally translated as divination. But divination as described by Grecian writers was the same as prophecy, and implied intimate communion with divinity.
  • 5. This is a similar account of that given by Plato in the Phaedros. The souls while in the eternal region are described as beholding the thea or vision of the gods, and accompanying them in their journey in their planetary orbits in the sky, having been initiated and become epoptai or Beholders of the Mysteries of that world. This, the philosopher explains, was “while we possessed our nature in its entirety and did not suffer the molestations of evil which were awaiting us in the future time, when we were free and not invested with the body to which we are bound as an oyster to the shell.” After this came the “descent into the realm of generated existence,” and investiture with the “mortal soul” and its conditions. See Timaeus and Plutarch's treatise on The Face in the Orb of the Moon, 28.
  • 6. PLATO: Theatetus 84, Sokrates. “It is not possible that evil should be destroyed; for it is necessary that there should be always something contrary to good; nor can it be seated among the gods, but of necessity moves around this mortal nature and this region. Wherefore we ought to fly hence as quickly as possible; and this flight consists in being assimilated to God as much as possible, and this assimilating is the becoming just and holy with wisdom.”
  • 7. By the Sacred or hieratic paths, Abammon evidently means the theurgic discipline. The ancient Oriental faiths all made the service of the guru, or spiritual teacher, an essential in the matter of knowing the truth.
  • 8. Compare Gospel according to John, xvii, 3: “This is the eternal life (the life of the eternal world), namely: that they know thee the God only true.”
  • 9. The philosopher Herakleitos held that “change” is the “only persisting” condition of things. He taught that the Supreme Being is fire – not mere physical heat, but an aetherial principle; and that it acted on matter producing motion and creative activity.
  • 10. In the former years of the nineteenth century there arose a teacher in Persia, who was designated the “Bab” – gate or door. He promulgated a mystic doctrine somewhat in analogy to that of the Sufis, with many features of the later Platonism and Gnosticism and Parsism Zoroastrianism. He was afterward executed, but his disciples still constitute a numerous body.
  • 11. Greek thea, a vision, contemplation. The term is used to signify the Spectacle exhibited at Initiatory Rites.