16. But if that Principle can never fall to evil and we have given a true account of the soul's entry or presence to body, what are we to say of the periodic Descents and Returns, the punishments, the banishment into animal forms? That teaching we have inherited from those ancient philosophers who have best probed into soul and we must try to show that our own doctrine is accordant with it, or at least not conflicting.
We have seen that the participation of things here in that higher means not that the soul has gone outside of itself to enter the corporeal, but that the corporeal has approached soul and is now participant in it; the coming affirmed by the ancients can be only that approach of the body to the higher by which it partakes of life and of soul; this has nothing to do with local entry but is some form of communion; by the descent and embodiment of current phrasing must be understood not that soul becomes an appanage of body but that it gives out to it something of itself; similarly, the soul's departure is the complete cessation of that communion.
The various rankings of the universe will determine various degrees of the communion; soul, ultimate of the Intellectual, will give forth freely to body as being more nearly of the one power and standing closer, as distance holds in that order.
The soul's evil will be this association, its good the release. Why? Because, even unmerged, a soul in any way to be described as attached to this universe is in some degree fallen from the All into a state of partition; essentially belonging to the All, it no longer directs its act Thither: thus, a man's knowledge is one whole, but he may guide himself by no more than some single item of it, where his good would lie in living not by some such fragment but by the total of his knowing.
That One Soul- member of the Intellectual kosmos and there merging what it has of partial into the total- has broken away, so to speak, from the All to the part and to that devotes itself becoming partial with it: thus fire that might consume everything may be set to ply its all-power upon some trifle. So long as the soul remains utterly unattached it is soul not singled out; when it has accepted separation- not that of place but that of act determining individualities- it is a part, no longer the soul entire, or at least not entire in the first sense; when, on the contrary, it exercises no such outward control it is perfectly the All-Soul, the partial in it latent.
As for the entry into the World of the Shades, if this means into the unseen, that is its release; if into some lower place, there is nothing strange in that, since even here the soul is taken to be where the body is, in place with the body.
But on the dissolution of the body?
So long as the image-soul has not been discarded, clearly the higher will be where that is; if, on the contrary, the higher has been completely emancipated by philosophic discipline, the image-soul may very well go alone to that lower place, the authentic passing uncontaminated into the Intellectual, separated from that image but nonetheless the soul entire.
Let the image-offspring of the individuality- fare as it may, the true soul when it turns its light upon itself, chooses the higher and by that choice blends into the All, neither acting now nor extinct.
But it is time to return to our main theme: