Thursday, 18 January 2018

Through the Gates of Gold - Chapter 2 – The Mystery of Threshold - Part 3


Part 3 presents some basic considerations that demonstrate that the Gates of Gold are a reality that exist within the plan of nature, and so ends chapter 2:
”When once one has considered the meaning of those Gates, it is evident that there is no other way out of this form of life except through them. They only can admit man to the place where he becomes the fruit of which manhood is the blossom.”
”Nature is the kindest of mothers to those who need her; she never wearies of her children or desires them to lessen in multitude. Her friendly arms open wide to the vast throng who desire birth and to dwell in forms; and while they continue to desire it, she continues to smile a welcome. Why, then, should she shut her doors on any? When one life in her heart has not worn out a hundredth part of the soul’s longing for sensation such as it finds there, what reason can there be for its departure to any other place? Surely the seeds of desire spring up where the sower has sown them”

”On the mental steps of a million men Buddha passed through the Gates of Gold; and because a great crowd pressed about the threshold he was able to leave behind him words which prove that those Gates will open.”

Relevant passages from Light on the Path:

This raising of himself into an individual power does in reality identify him with the nobler forces of life and make him one with them. For they stand beyond the powers of this earth and the laws of this universe. Here lies man's only hope of success in the great effort; to leap right away from his present standpoint to his next and at once become an intrinsic part of the divine power as he has been an intrinsic part of the intellectual power, of the great nature to which he belongs.(Comment 2)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Moses Cordovero's Kabbalistic Eightfold Path (The Palm Tree of Deborah)

M
Tomer Devorah (The Palm Tree of Deborah) by Moses Cordovero
trans. Louis Jacobs, New York Sepher-Hermon Press, 1960
Moses ben Jacob Cordovero, aka the Ramak, one of the most profound and systematic exponents of the teachings of the Zohar and a leading figure in the circle of mystics for which sixteenthcentury Safed in Palestine was renowned. The Ramak was born in 1522 and died at the age of 48, in 1570. First published in Venice in 1588, the little book Tomer Devorah is an ethical commentary on the ten sefirots in a true theosophical spirit.

Chapter II: Attaining the Qualities of Keter
For man to resemble his Creator according to the secret of the Supernal Crown he must possess, too, many of the chief qualities of the divine providence.

I) The quality of humility includes all qualities, for it belongs to the Crown, which is the highest attribute. It does not raise nor exalt itself upwards; on the contrary, it descends to look downwards at all times. For this there are two reasons. The first is that it is ashamed to gaze at its Source[1], but the Cause of its emanation looks continually into it to give goodness to it while it looks down to those beneath. So, too, man should be ashamed to gaze proudly upwards, but he should ever look downwards in order to abase himself as much as possible. This quality depends chiefly on the head, for the proud man lifts his head upwards while the poor man lowers his head. Behold, there is none so patient and so humble as our God in His quality of Crown. For there is perfect mercy before which there can enter no flaw, sin, judgment nor any other quality to prevent it providing and flowing with goodness at all times. So, too, should man behave, that no cause whatsoever prevent him doing good to others and any sin or the misdeeds of unworthy persons be barred entrance in order to prevent him doing good to all who need it at all times and in every moment. As He provides from the horned buffalo[2] to the brood of vermin despising no creature (for if He were to despise His creatures because of their insignifigance they could not exist even for one moment), showing mercy to them all, so man should be good to all creatures, despising none, that even the most insignifigant assumes importance in his eyes and he be concerned with it. And he should do good to all in need of his goodness. This quality depends on the Crown according to the secret of the head as a whole[3].

II His thoughts should resemble the thoughts of the Crown. Just as wisdom never ceases from thinking good thoughts, not allowing evil to enter, for it is perfect mercy and there is no judgment and nothing at all harsh there, so, too, man's mind should be free from every ugly thing. And just as it accords with the secret of the Supernal Wisdom, the Pre-existent Torah[4], and no secret of Torah is lacking there, so man should not turn his mind to any thoughts apart from those of Torah and the contemplation of God's majesty and goodness and the way to do good and so forth. In short: nothing strange nor negative should be present in his thoughts. This was the elevated state pf R. Simeon and his group. Behold how R. Simeon rebuked R. Jose (as recorded in the Zohar[5], section Vayakhel) when the latter separated his thought in some small measure from the Torah.

III His forehead should have no hardness whatsoever but should resemble at all times the forehead of the Will and he should be pleased to accept everyone. Even when he meets with provokers he should appease them and quiet them with good will. For the forehead of the Will constantly accepts and appeases the divine powers and perfects them. So man, too, should appease those whose anger prevails and he should lead them on in good will, drawing on great wisdom to weaken their anger that it does not overstep its boundaries and cause harm, God forfend. He should behave as the Supernal Will, which proceeds from the wonderful wisdom in the forehead of the Ancient One[6] which accepts all creatures. He should derive, too, the power to be pleasant to all creatures. For if in some respect his character is harsh to men he will not succeed in the quality of acceptance. This is the reason for the teaching of the Mishnah[7] that he in whom the spirit of his fellows takes delight the spirit of the All-Present takes delight.

IV That his ears be ever open to hear good but an evil or ugly report be barred from entering them, according to the secret of Supernal Listening; for no cry of judgment nor the flaw of evil talk is allowed entry there. So he, too, should listen only to good and useful things; and other things which cause anger to prevail should recieve no hearing whatsoever. Just as the serpent, his words and his speech have no entry above so no ugly thing should be allowed to enter man's ear. This is the meaning of 'Thou shalt not bear[8] a false report'; how much more other ugly things. These should in no way enter his ear, which should listen only to good things.

V His eyes should not gaze at any ugly thing. They should, however, be ever open to notice and show mercy to sufferers as much as possible. He should in no way close his eyes when he sees the sufferings of the poor but give as much thought to their predicament as lies in his power and awaken the pity of Heaven and of humans upon them. He should be far removed from noticing evil, just as the Supernal Eye is ever open to look immediately at the good.

VI As for his nose[9], there should be no anger in him whatsoever. But there should be at all times vitality, good will and great patience even to the unworthy. He should desire at all times to fulfil everyone's desires, to grant every request, and to revive every sufferer. From his nose there should proceed forgiveness of sin and pardon of iniquity. He should not be angry with those who offend him but he should be constantly willing to be appeased and desire to do kindness so as to please all.

VII His face should shine constantly, so to welcome all men with good countenance. For with regard to the Supernal Crown it is said: 'In the light[10] of the king's countenance is life.' Neither redness[11] nor any judgment enters there. So, too, the light of his face find there only joy and good humour; and no cause should in any way disturb him in this.

VIII His mouth should produce nothing but good, his spoken word should be constantly Torah and the fulfillment of good will. He should never allow an ugly thing nor a curse nor anger nor frivolous talk escape from his mouth. His should resemble that Supernal Mouth which is never closed, never being silent from sounding the good at all times. He should, therefore, speak well of all and constantly make of his words goodness and blessing.

Behold, these are eight good qualities, all of them under the banner of humility, all of which are in the higher worlds in the Crown among the Supernal Limbs. Whenever man wishes to draw near to the higher worlds to resemble Him so as to open the heavenly sources of blessing to those beneath it is necessary for him to be well-versed in these two chapters. Of course, we know that it is impossible to conduct oneself in obedience to these qualities continually for there are other qualities in which a man has to be well-versed, namely the lower qualities of Power, as we shall explain. But there are days when the Powers do not function and when men have no need of them, for in these days Crown reigns, or it is a time when Crown is required. Then it is necessary to resort to all the qualities we have mentioned.
1. its Source 'En Soph.
2. the horned buffalo A reference to the Talmudic saying that God feeds the whole world from the horned buffalo to the brood of vermin, A.Z. 3b
3. the head as a whole i.e., as distinct from the organs of the head, the eye, ear and so forth, to be described later.
4. The Pre-existant Torah The Rabbinic teaching that the Torah preceded the creation of the world (Gen. R. VIII) is mystically interpreted as referring to the Sephirah of Wisdom, the secret source of the Torah, v. Zohar I, 15b, II, 200a
5. In the Zohar 'At this point R. Simeon noticed R. Jose meditating worldly matters. Said he: "Jose, arise and complete your image, inasmuch as you are short of one letter." R. Jose then rose up and joyously absorbed himself in the expositions of the Torah. R. Simeon then looked at him again, and said: "R. Jose, now you are whole before the Ancient of Days, and your image is complete,"' II, 217b
6. the Ancient One. The appellation of Crown
7. the teaching of the Mishnah. 'Aboth III, 11.
8. Thou shalt not bear Rabbinic interpretation of Ex. XXIII. 1, v. Pes. 118a.
9. nose 'Anger' in Hebrew is harah 'aph, lit. 'snorting with the nose,' hence the nose symbolises anger and its opposite good will.
10. In the light Prov. XVI. 15, cf. 'Aboth I, 15.
11. redness In Kabbalistic symbolism the color of judgment (Gevurah)

Friday, 15 December 2017

Astrology: Winter Solstice, December 21 2017


Fables of the Reconstruction
The previous quarter experienced its share of expected turmoil, there was for example the horrible Las Vegas shooting, many forest fires, the Korean Missile crisis, the American consulate in Jerusalem affair, and the revolts in Catalan and Zimbabwe. With this chart we can see that the difficult aspects related to the Jupiter-Uranus-Pluto T-Square that marked almost all of 2017 have faded and a new configuration is emerging, giving us a much lower level of friction overall than we have seen in several years (providing us a good two year breather before the Saturn-Pluto conjunction re-shuffles the deck in a big way). As Barry Perlman notes: “Once Jupiter moves into Scorpio on Oct 10, no other slower-moving planet will re-trigger the square between Uranus and Pluto as it continues to separate, allowing its life-altering impact to only further decline until it's just a speck in our rear-view mirrors. This ushers in an early shift in the outer-planet backdrop… one which becomes more pronounced once Saturn departs Sagittarius for Capricorn in late December, then heightens further as Uranus crosses from Aries to Taurus starting in mid-'18, two big astrological developments which swap out a fiery vibe for greater emphasis on the earth element.”

Jupiter in Scorpio Steals the Show
Jupiter moved from Libra to Scorpio on October 10, 2017 (until November 8, 2018) Jupiter and Scorpio are both ambitious and intense; this could give a deep, generous altruism with possible harsh reprisals and a certain freakiness, the most obvious manifestation being the recent and numerous revelations (Jupiter extraversion) of the plague that is sexual harassment (Scorpio perversion). Steven Forrest notes:“That transit boils down to the emergence into the collective consciousness of much that has been taboo or hidden.” Mars is also in Scorpio in a loose conjunction with Jupiter which adds a very dynamic, active, positive, emotional, but also a critical, conflictual, frustrated energy. Jupiter (and Mars) Trine Neptune, a water (emotion) aspect, brings good intuitive, optimistic, idealistic, humanitarian and spiritual energy (with a tendency for over-optimism and risky gambling). According to Perlman: “This Jupiter-Neptune trine is the single most notable outer-planet aspect being formed in this next year… and, considering it's an 'easy' harmonious angle between two boundary-diffusing bodies, this is quite a shift from where we've been…With Jupiter-trine-Neptune's help, we imagine a better world… and we paint it, draw it, write it, sing it, dance it, act it into being. We see the best in another person, despite their glaring flaws, and we lend them our support in rising to it. In doing so, we also risk our avoidant self-serving comfort by calling out the inconvenient and potentially distressing truths which stand in the way—of them becoming their best, and of us becoming ours.”
Jupiter (and Mars) sextile Pluto gives a very dynamic, ambitious, self-confident outlook (with aggressive, domineering tendencies). According to Astology King: Jupiter sextile Pluto is the major planetary aspect occurring in 2018...Transiting Jupiter sextile Pluto brings success through positive change. You do not have to force change or have to react to unexpected change. This is a natural development in your life associated with increased power and influence, spiritual and personal growth, wealth creation and professional advancement.
Since Pluto is the dispositer of Scorpio, the Plutonian energy remains quite prevalent. This aspect will go exact in January, April and September in 2018. The Moon in idealistic, unconventional Aquarius is square to Jupiter (and Mars) giving an insecure, irritable, suspicious, moody vibe.
Saturn Entering Capricorn Will Not Be Upstaged

The other major change in the picture is that of Saturn shifting from Sagittarius to Capricorn (just two days prior-lasting until March 21-22, 2020) making it the second planet, along with Neptune, to be in its ruling sign. “Saturn in Sagittarius from 2015 to 2017 urged us to take control of our excesses, to question our faith, and to better understand our belief systems”(Café Astrology). Saturn in Capricorn is all about realism, responsibility, hard work, and conventional, conservative values. “For the next three years, there will be a collective focus on the re-definition of morality, integrity, and personal honor” (Steven Forrest) Adding to the synchronicity is the conjunction with the Solsticial Sun (as well as with Venus in adventurous Sagittarius). This spells hard work, perseverance, determination, organizing with some gloom, although Venus adds a happy, warm, generous feel, brightening the stern, serious Saturn-Sun combination. The Sun, Venus and Saturn are also trine Uranus bringing logical, rapid decisions, creativity, caution, strong will and patient working towards change, waning by December 25, another indication of the comprehensive shift in energies occurring at this time.
Combining the two above transits, Forrest remarks: “as Saturn-in-Capricorn enters the picture, its interaction with Jupiter-in-Scorpio promises to be spectacular. Little can remain hidden under this combination of influences. Scorpio always reveals that which has been long-buried, while Capricorn tells us that the karma has now ripened and will manifest materially. The conjoined theme, in other words, will be “the karmic consequences of secrets revealed.” And with Saturn in the mix, the results are likely to be immediate, concrete, and obvious.”
Note that Mercury is retrograde but goes direct the following day, perhaps indicating that one would do well to avoid rushing into the new cycle by reflecting on the previous cycle and planning one’s future projects in an organized manner. Moreover, with Mercury in adventurous Sagittarious, squaring Neptune, one`s thinking could be rather fuzzy and confused. But Mercury going direct is another sign of how this Solstice will kick like a poney.
The Passion of Chiron Square Saturn, Sun and Venus
With Chiron situated in Pisces, close to the Spring equinoctial point, thus in strong aspect to the Sun at all the points on the annual cross, the Christ-like connotations of the Healer/Martyr Chiron seem even more pronounced at the Winter Solstice. The image of Christ on the cross exclaiming “My God, why have you forsaken me?” is an image that comes to mind. But now we also have Mars and Jupiter trine Chiron bringing optimal healing energy and confidence. The great kabbalist J. Ralston Skinner interpreted the previous quote as “My God, how you glorify me” the differences possibly indicating a transmutation process, comparable to the difference between being passively dominated by the Super Ego and conscious submission to the Higher Self (sse Blavatsly`s The Crucifixion of Man). Some themes of Chiron square Saturn are: “Avoiding responsibility, agonizing over old hurts, letting resentment brew, self-punishing behavior, over-sensitivity, escapism to avoid pain, martyrdom. “Some themes of Jupiter trine Chiron are: “Recognizing the need to heal, no-nonsense attitudes toward self-care, letting go of the past, taking appropriate responsibility, taking an objective view of one’s challenges, volunteering, mentoring”(Dena DeCastro). Sun square Chiron is more related to fragile ego and identity issues.
We must not forget the omnipresent Uranus-Pluto square (which will fade at the end of 2018). According to Bill Herbst: The Uranus–Pluto alignment is far and away the most important astrological factor for the entire decade of the 2010s— head and shoulders above all the other outer-planet-cycle activations.” He briefly describes it as:” the Uranian impulse toward sudden and revolutionary change is combined with the Plutonian tendency toward radical, ruthless, and extreme use of power.”
Basically the fiery chart of this past year has turned into a more watery, earthy one. This could be a good period to consolidate all the changes and upheavals of that previous phases of dissolution brought and begin to roll up one’s sleeves and work at building new structures and projects for the new directions that have hopefully emerged. Although the inner planets aspects have some cranky, confused energy, the outer planets, with the fading Saturn trine Uranus paving the way for the upbeat Jupiter trine Neptune and Jupiter sextile Pluto aspects set the tone for a more idealistic, ambitious, and positive energy for 2018, with Saturn bringing some serious, realistic, practical, productive energy.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Theosophy Basics: The Microcosm-Macrocosm Homology


According to Antoine Faivre, there are four basic principles in any esoteric system, and two secondary principles:
1) Correspondences between the symbolic and real and between the visible and invisible cosmos (“As above so below.”). Two types of correspondences exist:
a) those in nature (between microcosmic and macrocosmic entities such as the planets and parts of the body or those that exist in astrology) and
b) those that exist between revealed texts (and history) and Nature such as the correspondence between the Bible and Nature as represented in the Kabbalah. (Antoine Faivre, Access to Western Esotericism, 10-15 (Albany: SUNY, 1994)
This concept can be found in Eastern traditions as well, for example in India and China:
The universe consists of a Mahābrahmānda, or grand Cosmos, and of numerous Brhatbrahmānda, or macrocosms evolved from it. As is said by the Nirvāna- Tantra, all which is in the first is in the second. In the latter are heavenly bodies and beings, which are microcosms reflecting on a minor scale the greater worlds which evolve them. “As above, so below.” The mystical maxim of the West is stated in the Viśvasāra-Tantra as follows: “What is here is elsewhere; what is not here is nowhere” (yadhihāsti tadanyatra yannehāsti na tatkvacit). …
The witness within is the purusa without, for the personal soul of the microcosm corresponds to the cosmic soul (hiranyagarbha) in the macrocosm. (Arthur Avalon, Mahanirvana Tantra, Introduction, 22, 1913)
In the interpretation of the following translation, it is of value to say a few more words about the foundations of the Weltanschauung on which the method depends. This philosophy is, to a certain extent, the common property of all Chinese trends of thought. It is built on the premise that cosmos and man in the last analysis obey common laws; that man is a cosmos in miniature and is not divided from the great cosmos by any fixed limits. The same laws rule for the one as for the other, and from the one a way leads into the other. The psyche and the cosmos are related to each other like the inner and outer worlds. Therefore man participates by nature in all cosmic events, and is inwardly as well as outwardly interwoven with them. Tao, then, the meaning of the world, the way, dominates man just as it does invisible and visible nature (Heaven and Earth). (Richard Wilhelm, Discussion, 2, 11 The Secret of the Golden Flower, 1931)

Blavatsky describes this notion as follows:
Man is a little world — a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a foetus, he is suspended, by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macrocosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth, his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. He is in it, as it is in him, for the world-pervading element fills all space, and is space itself, only shoreless and infinite. (Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 212)
The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards. As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth; and man — the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm — is the living witness to this Universal Law, and to the mode of its action. We see that every external motion, act, gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by internal feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind. As no outward motion or change, when normal, in man’s external body can take place unless provoked by an inward impulse, given through one of the three functions named, so with the external or manifested Universe. The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who — whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels — are “messengers” in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. (Secret Doctrine Vol. .I , 274)


Friday, 1 December 2017

Through the Gates of Gold – Chapter 2 – The Mystery of Threshold - Part 2


Part 2 offers some advice using practical analogies of normal life and gives some insights on the use of the will:

”There is no doubt that a man must educate himself to perceive that which is beyond matter, just as he must educate himself to perceive that which is in matter. Every one knows that the early life of a child is one long process of adjustment, of learning to understand the use of the senses with regard to their special provinces, and of practice in the exercise of difficult, complex, yet imperfect organs entirely in reference to the perception of the world of matter. The child is in earnest and works on without hesitation if he means to live. Some infants born into the light of earth shrink from it, and refuse to attack the immense task which is before them, and which must be accomplished in order to make life in matter possible.”

”That the initial effort is a heavy one is evident, and it is clearly a question of strength, as well as of willing activity. But there is no way of acquiring this strength, or of using it when acquired, except by the exercise of the will. It is vain to expect to be born into great possessions.
In the kingdom of life there is no heredity except from the man’s own past. He has to accumulate that which is his. This is evident to any observer of life who uses his eyes without blinding them by prejudice; and even when prejudice is present, it is impossible for a man of sense not to perceive the fact.”
Relevant passages from Light on the Path:
Thus with the disciple, he must first become a disciple before he can even see the paths to choose between. This effort of creating himself as a disciple, the re-birth, he must do for himself without any teacher. (Comments, 2)
This is, of course, a faculty which indwells in that soul, which is inherent. The would-be disciple has to arouse himself to the consciousness of it by a fierce and resolute and indomitable effort of will.(Comments, 2)
There’s quite a good entry for Will in  HPB’s Theosophical Glossary:
Will. In metaphysics and occult philosophy, Will is that which governs the manifested universes in eternity. Will is the one and sole principle of abstract eternal MOTION, or its ensouling essence. “ The will”, says Van Helmont, “is the first of all powers. . . . The will is the property of all spiritual beings and displays itself in them the more actively the more they are freed from matter.” And Paracelsus teaches that “determined will is the beginning of all magical operations. It is because men do not perfectly imagine and believe the result, that the (occult) arts are so uncertain, while they might he perfectly certain.” Like all the rest, the Will is septenary in its degrees of manifestation. Emanating from the one, eternal, abstract and purely quiescent Will (Âtmâ in Layam), it becomes Buddhi in its Alaya state, descends lower as Mahat (Manas), and runs down the ladder of degrees until the divine Eros becomes, in its lower, animal manifestation, erotic desire. Will as an eternal principle is neither spirit nor substance but everlasting ideation. As well expressed by Schopenhauer in his Parerga, “ in sober reality there is neither matter nor spirit. The tendency to gravitation in a stone is as unexplainable as thought in the human brain. . . If matter can—no one knows why——fall to the ground, then it can also—no one knows why—-think. . . . As soon, even in mechanics, as we trespass beyond the purely mathematical, as soon as we reach the inscrutable adhesion, gravitation, and so on, we are faced by phenomena which are to our senses as mysterious as the WILL.”

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Divine Madness: Plato on Sex and Love, part 1

Letter 19 from the Letters of the Masters of the Wisdom, second series, is quite intriguing:
Know, O Brother mine, that where a truly spiritual love seeks to consolidate itself doubly by a pure, permanent union of the two, in its earthly sense, it commits no sin, no crime in the eyes of the great Ain-Soph, for it is but the divine repetition of the Male and Female Principles-the microcosmal reflection of the first condition of Creation. On such a union angels may well smile! But they are rare, Brother mine, and can only be created under the wise and loving supervision of the Lodge, in order that the sons and daughters of clay might not be utterly degenerated, and the Divine Love of the Inhabitants of Higher Spheres (Angels) towards the daughters of Adam be repeated. But even such must suffer, before they are rewarded. Man's Atma may remain pure and as highly spiritual while it is united with its material body; why should not two souls in two bodies remain as pure and uncontaminated notwithstanding the earthly passing union of the latter two.
It sounds like an esoteric version of Platonic love, and so that will be the topic of today’s post:
In the Phaedrus, Plato describes a three-level cosmos composed of a supreme reality, a world of gods and a world of souls. The inferior levels look to the higher levels for sustenance. The gods look to Reality, the souls look to the gods and have a less direct view of reality. Redemption is ultimately based on judgement and atonement according the merit of one’s actions and behaviour. Plato considers that the philosophical life is the ideal path to redemption. He introduces the role of beauty along with the notion of divine madness. The beauty that one sees in the beloved creates an intense feeling of inspired frenzy.
This divine madness of lovers is considered to be the fourth and greatest type of madness. It provokes a recollection of the original vision of essential truths of the soul in the heavens. He describes the original vision of divine beauty as one of the brightest visions in the celestial world in lyrical, mystical tones. He relates the process of recollection to the mother of the muses. Beauty is described as being the most vividly manifested of essential principles and is particularly striking because it appeals to our visual sense, considered to be the brightest and sharpest of our senses. Plato however observes that the sight of beauty is like a double-edged sword. If experienced with modesty and restraint, it is a deeply uplifting experience. Without those sanctifying virtues it can lead to a debased carnality and crude sensuality. It is this moral challenge of beauty that the speech is essentially concerned with.[1]
 The image of the charioteer and the two horses, a noble one and an unruly one, are introduced corresponding to the rational, spirited and sensual divisions of the soul in the Republic. In Freudian terms, the struggle to control the unruly horse in the sight of beauty could be described as a process of sublimating the energies of the libido (instincts and unconscious energies) through a proper repression in order to develop a socially functional adult behaviour.[2]
According to Sanford: “The debate on the Symposium concerning the status of eros in its ‘‘educated’’ forms can be (and sometimes explicitly is) presented precisely in relation to Freud’s concept of sublimation. Is it that a specifically sexual concept of eros is postulated as the driving force behind the higher sublimated aims of the philosopher – that eros as sexual passion is responsible for all desire, including the desire to philosophize, and that philosophy is thus a sexual-erotic discipline? (Sanford 53)
In summary, Plato uses the image of the charioteer and the two horses at a cosmic level for ontological purposes. The charioteer participating in the divine revolutions denotes the soul’s metaphysical nature. The fall of the soul deals with the problem of the origins of human incarnation and the origins of human consciousness. It serves to evoke why human beings have the capacity for reason and understanding, distinguishing them from animals, despite having an animal nature. When the soul suffers incarnation in a body, Plato pursues the charioteer image to develop on the epistemological, psychological and ethical aspects of the human condition.
Plato concludes the myth by discussing three paths that a loving relationship can take: one lived in chaste purity and virtue leads to salvation, regaining one’s wings; a life of virtue inspired by love, but with occasional lapses into physical passion, leads to a slower, partial redemption; a relationship characterized by seduction and calculation is not conducive to salvation. The loss and re-growth of wings deals with the intellectual faculties of the soul. The loss symbolizing forgetfulness and ignorance and the re-growth denoting progress in recollection and knowledge.

[1] These, in sum, are innocent frequenters of beauty, not to be confused with the class to whom it becomes an occasion of fall into the ugly – for the aspiration towards a good degenerates into an evil often” (Plotinus, III, 5, 1).
2]We have defined the concept of ‘‘libido’’ as a quantitatively variable force which could serve as a measure of processes and transformations occurring in the field of sexual excitation. We distinguish this libido in respect of its special origin from the energy which must be supposed to underlie mental processes in general, and we also thus attribute a qualitative character to it (Sanford 54); Socrates’ speech identifies (contra Halperin) a metaphysical desire for immortality shared by all animals,including the human. Even intellectual procreation in the more abstract forms of beauty is described in ecstatic terms. Eros, in all its manifestations, is neither somatic nor psychical, neither ‘‘sexual’’ nor ‘‘non-sexual,’’ but both
"(Sanford 56).



Divine Madness: Plato on Sex and Love, part 2

For the sake of comparison, the speech of Diotima with the myth of Eros in Symposium (200-212) will be considered as a later stage in the redemptive process of love and beauty (after the soul’s initial incarnation). While the Phaedrus could be said to emphasize a primordial phase in ethical purification, the Symposium can be considered to elaborate a later, more intellectual process of salvation through love (a phase where the ascent occurs after many incarnations). Since the speech of Diotima has been amply summarized, commentary will be limited to certain comparative considerations.

In the ascent to the contemplation of absolute beauty, there are certain intellectual strategies that can be noticed:
1-An inductive movement from multiplicity to simplicity – observing many beautiful bodies before choosing a single representative example of beauty (210b).

2-A deductive movement from particular to general – the essential qualities of the ideal example of beauty are applied to all examples of beautiful bodies (210b).The first two phases apply to visible, concrete beauty. The next two phases are applied to a consideration of conceptual, abstract beauty.

3-A deductive process where the universal notions of concrete beauty are applied to concepts and values. The beauty of virtues, of ideas, sciences (210c).

4-An inductive process of contemplating various instances of conceptual beauty to arrive at an understanding of absolute, essential beauty, which is the source of the previous forms of beauty. (211a-b)

The notion of regeneration of wings in the Phaedrus corresponds to the notion of pregnancy in the Symposium: Growing wings can be related to giving birth to intellectual creations. Moreover the notion of ascension by growing wings corresponds with ascension via climbing a ladder in the Symposium The role of eros is related to the intermediary position of the soul; the daimon communicatesbetween the divine and material worlds.

The emphasis on the cosmic role of beauty in the process of generation of the cosmos in the  Phaedrus is shifted to the role of beauty in human procreation and artistic and intellectual creativity. Plato makes an interesting connection between the sexual function and the artistic function; Artistic creation is related to physical procreation. The sensual role of beauty of the body is considered in a more positive light. In the Phaedrus (and the Phaedo), the body is considered as a prison and a serious impediment to intellectual activity, to be suppressed and overcome. In the Phaedrus, physical love is not considered redemptive; in the Symposium it is granted that coition represents a desire for immortality and the desire to create beauty. This desire for immortality seems to be a more attenuated form of his theory of recollection of the Phaedrus. (1)(2) In both dialogues, beauty plays a role of catalyst to salvation.(3)

Both dialogues portray the lover’s beauty as a basis for appreciating higher forms of beauty such as moral or intellectual beauty. The Symposium emphasizes a more active process of the role of beauty in a romantic relationship. Beauty inspires the philosopher to educate the lover to be more virtuous. Romantic love is considered to be part of a complex psychological process; the love a soul mate is not absolute; the love is not entirely for one`s partner, the love is a desire for absolute goodness, or the desire to become one with the absolute good. Ultimately it is a love for one’s higher self; (4) a metaphysical self-centered love similar to Aristotle's notion of philia in book seven of the  Nichomachean Ethics, in the sense that friendship is essentially achieved by becoming a good person.


Interestingly, Blavatsky's definition of the Sanskrit term Kama in the Theosophical Glossary (p. 171-72) has certain similarities with Plato's notions of a higher and lower Eros:

As the Eros of Hesiod, degraded into Cupid by exoteric law, and still more degraded by a later popular sense attributed to the term, so is Kama a most mysterious and metaphysical subject. The earlier Vedic description of Kama alone gives the key-note to what he emblematizes. Kama is the first conscious, all embracing desire for universal good, love, and for all that lives and feels, needs help and kindness, the first feeling of infinite tender compassion and mercy that arose in the consciousness of the creative ONE Force, as soon as it came into life and being as a ray from the ABSOLUTE. Says the Rig Veda, “Desire first arose in IT, which was the primal germ of mind, and which Sages, searching with their intellect, have discovered in their heart to be the bond which connects Entity with non-Entity”, or Manas with pure Atma-Buddhi. There is no idea of sexual love in the conception. Kama is pre-eminently the divine desire of creating happiness and love; and it is only ages later, as mankind began to materialize by anthropomorphization its grandest ideals into cut and dried dogmas, that Kama became the power that gratifies desire on the animal plane.

(1) According to Robin,"Recollection of essential reality is replaced with the notion of the innate desire of immortality"(181).

(2) Plotinus distinguishes two levels of inspiration from beauty, one which provokes recollection, and a lower, less consciouslevel: "There are souls to whom earthly beauty is a leading to the memory of that in the higher realm and these love the earthlyas an image; those that have not attained to this memory do not understand what is happening within them, and take the imagefor the reality. Once there is perfect self-control, it is no fault to enjoy the beauty of earth; where appreciation degenerates intocarnality, there is sin. (Plotinus, III, 5, 1)

(3) Plutarch calls it a refraction: "But the noble and self-controlled lover has a different bent. His regard is refracted to the other world, to Beauty divine and intelligible" (Plutarch 409, Amatorius 766B).

(4) "All that one sees as a spectacle is still external; one must bring the vision within and see no longer in that mode of separation but as we know ourselves; thus a man filled with a god – possessed by Apollo or by one of the Muses – need no longer look outside for his vision of the divine being; it is but finding the strength to see the divinity within" (Plotinus, V, 8, 10).


References:
Plato. The Banquet. Percy Byshe Shelley, transl. Provincetown : Pagan Press, 2001. Print.
- - -. Phaedrus. J. H. Nichols Jr., transl. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 1998. Print.
Plotinus. Enneads V. A.H. Armstrong, transl. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Print.
Plutarch.  Moralia IX ‘’The Dialogue on Love’’ transl. W. C. Helmbold: Harvard University Press, 1967. 302-441. Print.
Robin, Léon. La Théorie Platonicienne de L’Amour . Paris : Presses Universitaires de France.1933. Print.
Sandford, Stella. "'Sexually Ambiguous. Eros and Sexuality in Plato and Freud' Journal of thetheoretical humanities 109 (2006) 11 3 43 — 59 28 Mar. 2011 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09697250601048507>.