TO THE MUSES
That light uplifting, light of men, I sing,
Nine sweet-voiced daughters of the All-Mighty King,
Who souls ensnared, that life's abysses bind,
By sacred rites from books that rouse the mind,
From earth-born fateful woes draw up and save;
Who teach to hasten o'er deep Lethe's wave,
Keep the true way, seek, pure, their native star
Whence they have strayed, whence fallen deep and far
To generation's shore, where madness runs
To its inheritance of dust. 0 Heavenly Ones,
Quench in my heart this agitated fire,
With Wisdom's pure noeric words inspire.
Let none seduce to superstition's sway
From the all-fruitful, gleaming, sacred way.
From generation's clamorous mazy night
Draw up my wandering soul to purest light;
Grant from ambrosial books deep-laden store
Of Wisdom and that glory evermore
Bestow - heart-soothing eloquence. 0 hear,
Ye who the barque of sacred Wisdom steer,
Who souls of men that touch the uplifting flame
(Made pure by hymns and rites that none may name,
And soaring from the dark profound abyss)
Restore to immortality and bliss.
Hear, Mighty Saviours! Bend your holy light
From sacred books, and put these mists to flight;
That I Immortal Gods and men may know.
Ne'er 'neath the gliding waves of Lethe's flow
May dćmon work my soul disastrous ill
And keep me from the Gods far distant still.
Let no chill Fury overlong enslave
My unwilling soul that in the icy wave
Of generation's flood long since did fall,
Nor with constraining bonds my life enthrall.
But ye who are bright Wisdom's Hierophants
All glorious Nine, 0 hear. My spirit pants
Upon the path that leadeth to the height -
Unveil the mysteries of the Words of Light.
Hymn of Proclus (Translated by the Editors of " The Shrine of Wisdom ")
EXCERPTS FROM CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA
Clement of Alexandria, or Titus Flavius Clemens (c.202 AD) was a fellow-citizen of Plotinus and is said to have attended the lectures of the God-taught Ammonius Saccas, founder of Neoplatonism. He is usually described as a Christian-Platonist, but his writings represent not so much the Christian tradition as the atmosphere of learned and cultured thought of Alexandria at that period. His three principal works outline three successive stages in a philosophical presentation of Christian ethics in its early form.
The modes of philosophy are various that lead to the path of truth. Faith is the way.
Faith is defined as a uniting assent to an unseen object, for assuredly the proof of an unknown thing depends upon an evident assent to it.
If then it be choice, being desirous of something, the desire is in this respect intellectual. And since choice is the beginning of action, faith is discovered to be the beginning of action, being the foundation of rational choice in the case of anyone who exhibits to himself the previous demonstration through faith.
Voluntarily to follow that which is useful is the first requisite to the attainment of understanding. Unswerving choice, then, gives considerable momentum in the direction of Knowledge. The action of faith directly becomes Knowledge, reposing on a sure foundation.
Knowledge, accordingly, is defined by the sons of philosophy as an aptitude which cannot be overthrown by reason.
Faith is the ear of the Soul.
We must possess a healthy mind which is fixed on the pursuit of the Good.
For, bound in this earthly body, we apprehend the objects of sense by means of the body; but we grasp intellectual objects by means of the reasoning faculty. But if one expects to apprehend all things by the senses, he has fallen far from truth.
Real Science (Epistéme), which we affirm that the Gnostic or Mystic alone possesses, is a sure comprehension, leading up through true and sure reasons to the Knowledge of the First Cause.
Ruling, then, over himself, and what belongs to him, and possessing a sure grasp of divine science, the Mystic makes a genuine approach to the truth. For the knowledge and apprehension of intellectual objects must necessarily be called certain scientific knowledge, the function of which, in reference to divine things, is to consider what is the First Cause and what that is "by whom all things are made and without whom nothing was made"; and what things, on the other hand, are pervasive and what comprehensive, what are conjoined and what disjoined; and what is the position which each one holds and what power and service each one contributes. And, again, among human things, what man himself is, and what he has naturally and what preternaturally; and how it becomes him to do or to suffer, and what are his virtues and what his vices: and about things good, bad, and indifferent: and also about fortitude and prudence and self-restraint, and the virtue which is in all respects complete, namely, righteousness.
Further, he employs prudence and righteousness in the acquisition of wisdom: and fortitude not only in the endurance of circumstances, but also in restraining pleasure and desire, grief and anger, and, in general, to withstand everything which either by any force or fraud entices him from the path.
Pain is found to be beneficial in the healing art and in discipline and in purgation: by it man's manners are corrected to their advantage. Forms of fortitude are endurance, magnanimity, high spirit, liberality, and grandeur. And for this reason he neither receives the blame or the bad opinion of the multitude, nor is he subject to opinions or flatteries. But in the endurance of toils and at the same time in the discharge of any duty, and in his manly superiority to all circumstances, he appears truly a man among the rest of human beings.
And, on the other hand, maintaining prudence, he exercises moderation in the calmness of his soul, is receptive to what is commanded, as to what concerns him, entertains aversion to what is base, as alien to him; he becomes decorous and supra-mundane, does all things with order and dignity, and transgresses in no respect.
Rich is he in the highest degree, in desiring nothing, as having few wants, and being in the midst of abundance of all good, through the knowledge of the good. For it is the first effect of his righteousness, to love to spend his time for and with those of his own race both in earth and heaven. So also he is liberal of what he possesses: and being a lover of all men, he is a hater of evil, and entertains a complete aversion to all inordination. He is faithful both to himself and to his neighbours and obedient to the commandments.
And he who, not through the commandments, but through knowledge, is already pure in heart, is the friend of God.
This is the true Athlete - he who in the great stadium, the fair world, is crowned for the true victory over all passions.
The mystic makes his prayer for the truly good things which appertain to the Soul, and prays - he himself also contributes his efforts - to attain to the habit of goodness, so as no longer to have things that are good as certain lessons belonging to him, but to be good.
Prayer is, to speak more boldly, converse with God.
But if voice and expression are given to us for the sake of understanding, how can God not hear the Soul itself and the mind, since assuredly Soul hears soul, and mind mind? Prayer, then, may be uttered without the voice, by concentrating the whole spiritual nature within, on expression by the mind, in undistracted turning towards God.
The true Mystic asks for the permanence of the things he possesses, for adaptation to all the events of life, and for the eternity of those things which he shall receive.
And the things which are really good, the things which concern the Soul, he prays that they may be his and may remain with him. So he desires not anything that is absent, being content with what is present. For he is not deficient in the good things which are proper to him, being already sufficient for himself through divine grace and knowledge.
But knowing the sovereign will, and possessing as soon as he prays - being brought into close contact with the almighty power and earnestly aspiring to the spiritual - through boundless love he is united to the Spirit.
Thus he, being magnanimous, possessing through knowledge that which is most precious of all, being quick in applying himself to contemplation, he retains in his Soul the permanent energies of the objects of his contemplation, that is, the perspicacious keenness of knowledge.
In all circumstances, therefore, is the Soul of the mystic strong, in a condition of integral health and strength, like the body of an athlete. For he is prudent in human affairs, in judging what ought to be done by the just man.
He possesses all the potentialities necessary for the attainment of the great end and realizes that everything depends upon the use he makes of them. Those events or accidents which are called terrible by the unenlightened, are not formidable to him, because they are not evil to him.
For the Mystic is never, on the occurrence of an emergency, dislodged from the habit peculiar to him.
When, therefore, such a one is righteous, not from necessity nor out of fear or hope, but from free choice, this is called the royal road, which only the royal race travel.Such is the mystic labourer, who has the mastery of worldly desires, even while still in the flesh; and who, in regard to to things future and still invisible which he knows, has a sure persuasion, so that he regards them as more present than the things that are within reach.
© The Shrine of Wisdom 2000