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Words of Wisdom

Excerpts from "The Six Enneads" by Plotinus (vegetarian) – Happiness and Time, Part 1 of 2

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Plotinus (vegetarian) was one of the most influential philosophers in antiquity after Plato (vegetarian) and Aristotle (vegetarian). In his philosophy, there are three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. The issue of happiness is one of Plotinus’ greatest imprints on Western thought, as he was one of the first to introduce the idea that happiness is attainable only within consciousness. He disliked talking about his own life, disapproved of meat, and refused medications containing animal substances. Long before his physical departure from this world, the philosopher entrusted two of his closest disciples, Porphyry and Amelius, with the extensive task of collecting, revising, and compiling his writings. Thus, “The Six Enneads” was published to share Plotinus’ precious insights with countless generations. Today, we are delighted to present excerpts from the Fifth Tractate of The First Ennead which expounds on how happiness is a mindset in the present and is not reliant on the happiness or sadness of past or future events.

“Is it possible to think that happiness increases with time, happiness which is always taken as a present thing? The memory of former felicity may surely be ruled out of count, for happiness is not a thing of words, but a definite condition which must be actually present like the very fact and act of life.”

“But pleasure cannot be fairly reckoned in with happiness – unless indeed by pleasure is meant the unhindered act [of the true human], in which case this pleasure is simply our ‘happiness.’ And even pleasure, though it exists continuously, has never anything but the present; its past is over and done with.”

“It may be pointed out also that this greater length of time is not a thing existent at any given moment; and surely a ‘more’ is not to be made out by adding to something actually present, something that has passed away. No: true happiness is not vague and fluid: it is an unchanging state. If there is in this matter any increase besides that of mere time, it is in the sense that a greater happiness is the reward of a higher virtue: this is not counting up to the credit of happiness the years of its continuance; it is simply noting the high-water mark once for all attained.”
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