Return to the One

Return to the One   Plotinus’s Guide to God-Realization A Modern Exposition of an Ancient Classic, The Enneads of Plotinus   written by Brian Hines

Return to the One

Plotinus’s Guide to God-Realization
A Modern Exposition of an Ancient Classic, The Enneads of Plotinus

Brian Hines

“The soul loves the Good [the One] because, from the beginning, she has been incited by the Good to love . . . The soul which has this love . . . she is constantly searching.”

Plotinus, the third-century Greek philosopher and mystic, considered himself a devoted follower of Plato. He has since been recognized as the ultimate Platonist and the embodiment of hundreds of years of Greek thought. As scholars have pointed out, Plotinus shed new light on Plato’s philosophy minus the political and social elements. In other words, Plotinus dealt with the inner life, the life of the soul, and gave little attention to the worldly. This in itself is most telling of Plotinus’s philosophy, which many have described as an expansion of Plato’s mysticism.

As Brian Hines describes it, “Plotinus taught that no matter what we’re doing with our lives, it’s all pretty much worthless if we’re not yet in touch with our genuine beings.” And being in touch with our genuine beings has nothing to do with our outward identities or even the knowledge we accumulate over our lifetime. It has to do with the attention we give to the attainment of inner wisdom.

Plotinus believed that all of the urges we experience as human beings – to love, to create, to be moral – even to find our way as spiritual beings – are manifestations of the same primal yearning to “return to the One” – to be reunited with our true source, the source of all. As Hines makes clear, Plotinus’s philosophy, which was a germinating force in major world religions, was in perfect alignment with the original root meaning of “religion”– religare – “to bind back to God.”

For those who wish to understand the spiritual teachings of Plotinus, Brian Hines’s Return to the One makes the “mystic Plato” thoroughly accessible. He explains Plotinus’s ideas about the nature of spirit, about the soul as the essence of identity, about the power of a contemplative life. He also sheds light on the enormous role Plotinus and Greek philosophy have played in the formation of religious and spiritual thought throughout the world. He even explains why The Enneads, the writings Plotinus left behind, are impenetrable for those of us who have not spent years in deep study. Plotinus wrote solely for his inner circle of disciples who were already deeply versed in his philosophy. He did not anticipate that one of those students, Porphyry, would one day publish The Enneads in their raw, unedited form.

Return to the One is a complete and inspiring introduction to Plotinus. One comes away from it with a deep sense of Plotinus’s philosophy, his unique presence in the evolution of spiritual thought, and the great value of his ideas for every seeker of wisdom.

The Gleam of Light Team

Return to the One
Brian Hines
2004, Adrasteia Publishing

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