A few days ago I heard from Eric Grainger about a recently formed Neoplatonic Church. It’s a great idea. The world needs more Neoplatonism and less fundamentalism, that’s for sure.
Eric wanted to post my “Become One to know the One” essay about Plotinus’s spiritual teachings on the Church’s web site. I told him, sure. It’s now on the Meditation and Contemplation page.
Plotinus’s Neoplatonism is a marvelously appealing blend of rationality and mysticism. Some philosophies and religions are highly rational; others are highly mystical. But if someone wants a spirituality that embraces both reason and mystery, nothing can beat Neoplatonism.
Plotinus is one of those rare mystics who lived and taught completely outside of a religious tradition. Like other Greek philosophers, he was his own man. Though deeply respectful of Plato and other philosophical forebears, he thought for himself. His basic spiritual advice, “Return to the One,” is simple and compelling.
Here are some excerpts from Eric’s email message. I like what he’s up to and hope that the Neoplatonic Church becomes another source of support for the churchless.
We expect to find some commonality between your Churchless ideas and this project as we too are opposed to dogma and have long been wary of organized religion. We would like to develop something that only distantly resembles the typical church. When I was in seminary (a very, very brief stay), several of the professors mocked my fondness for saying that we needed a church without preaching, collection plates, and/or Sunday services.
Two of the founders and I make our livings as clinical social workers and liberally tap that profession's lessons regarding small groups and non-profit organizations. We also hope to utilize our understanding of counseling (but not therapy) to help people develop their own version of neoplatonic thought and practice.
We hope the Neoplatonic Church can be a welcoming place for folks with beliefs as varied as the ones held by the Plotinian, Syrian, and Athenian schools. We strive to organize an unorthodox (by today’s standards) religious organization for Pagans and Theists alike (not to mention all the subgroups) to receive supportive fellowship, have access to some educational opportunities, and engage in some dialectic challenge as they find their individual religious/spiritual way. We hope to encourage much self thinking and mystical exploration.