On the Perfect State

When we speak of “absolute reality” or “pure consciousness” as being the final destination or telos of the human condition as well as the endpoint of the ascension through the “hierarchy” of human faculties, we must also define or simplify such expressions or terms in order to better understand them. In short, such expressions or terms can simply amount to an aesthetic life, with happiness and pleasure at its forefront. As one Indian spiritual guru wisely said: “Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.” 

Also, as the medieval Afghan Islamic philosopher Al-Farabi wrote: “When it happens that the faculty of representation imitates those things with sensibles of extreme beauty and perfection, the man who has that sight comes to enjoy overwhelming and wonderful pleasure, and he sees wonderful things which can in no way whatever be found among the other existents.” Al Farabi added:

“It is not impossible, then, that he will receive in his waking life from the Active Intellect present and future particulars of their imitations in the form of sensibles, and receive the imitations of the transcendent intelligibles and through the particulars which he receives ‘prophecy’ (supernatural awareness) of present and future events, and through the intelligibles which he receives prophecy of things divine. This is the highest rank of perfection which the faculty of representation can reach.” 

Spinoza argued that the “highest good” which can be achieved by the intellect is “love toward God” and that “the more men we imagine to enjoy it, the more it must be encouraged.” Moreover, this kind of love has a kind of power over “appetites” and “bodily affects” and “passions” which no other kind of love possesses. As Spinoza wrote: “Similarly we can show that there is no affect which is directly contrary to this love and by which it can be destroyed. So we can conclude that this love is the most constant of all the affects, and insofar as it is related to the body, cannot be destroyed, unless it is destroyed with the body itself.” 

Because of the role of the “Active Intellect” or “Divine Intellect” which fosters this highest good – namely, the love of God – it follows that “mind is most acted on, of which inadequate ideas constitute the greatest part, so that it is distinguished more by what it undergoes than by what it does.” The “essence” of the mind, as Spinoza contended, is knowledge, and the aim of knowledge is an “intellectual love of God” when all is said and done. An intellectual love of God is the only kind of knowledge which will endure the body. Neurosis and misfortune, as Spinoza argued, stem from having too much love for something which “is liable to many variations and which we can never fully possess.” Spinoza wrote: “For no one is disturbed or anxious concerning anything unless he loves it, nor do wrongs, suspicions, and enmities arise except from love for a thing which no one can really fully possess.”

In short, the wise man who has power over appetites, bodily affects, and passions is “much more powerful he is than one who is ignorant and is driven only by lust.” The former has “peace of mind” while the latter lacks it. But “what is found so rarely must be hard.” In short: “For if salvation were at hand, and could be found without great effort, how could nearly everyone neglect it? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.” 

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