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Section 5

5. It is possible to reconcile all these apparent contradictions- the divine sowing to birth, as opposed to a voluntary descent aiming at the completion of the universe; the judgement and the cave; necessity and free choice- in fact the necessity includes the choice-embodiment as an evil; the Empedoclean teaching of a flight from God, a wandering away, a sin bringing its punishment; the "solace by flight" of Heraclitus; in a word a voluntary descent which is also voluntary.

All degeneration is no doubt involuntary, yet when it has been brought about by an inherent tendency, that submission to the inferior may be described as the penalty of an act.

On the other hand these experiences and actions are determined by an external law of nature, and they are due to the movement of a being which in abandoning its superior is running out to serve the needs of another: hence there is no inconsistency or untruth in saying that the soul is sent down by God; final results are always to be referred to the starting point even across many intervening stages.

Still there is a twofold flaw: the first lies in the motive of the Soul's descent [its audacity, its Tolma], and the second in the evil it does when actually here: the first is punished by what the soul has suffered by its descent: for the faults committed here, the lesser penalty is to enter into body after body- and soon to return- by judgement according to desert, the word judgement indicating a divine ordinance; but any outrageous form of ill-doing incurs a proportionately greater punishment administered under the surveillance of chastising daimons.

Thus, in sum, the soul, a divine being and a dweller in the loftier realms, has entered body; it is a god, a later phase of the divine: but, under stress of its powers and of its tendency to bring order to its next lower, it penetrates to this sphere in a voluntary plunge: if it turns back quickly, all is well; it will have taken no hurt by acquiring the knowledge of evil and coming to understand what sin is, by bringing its forces into manifest play, by exhibiting those activities and productions which, remaining merely potential in the unembodied, might as well never have been even there, if destined never to come into actuality, so that the soul itself would never have known that suppressed and inhibited total.

The act reveals the power, a power hidden, and we might almost say obliterated or nonexistent, unless at some moment it became effective: in the world as it is, the richness of the outer stirs us all to the wonder of the inner whose greatness is displayed in acts so splendid.

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