The Nous & the Noose: Achieving Enlightenment Through Philosophical Contemplation

“We ought not even say that he will see, but he will be that which he sees, if indeed it is possible any longer to distinguish between seer and seen, and not boldly to affirm that the two are one.” ~ Plotinus

The Nous can be thought of as a kind of superconsciousness, divine mind, or meta reasoning conduit between the corporeal and the noncorporeal, between the phenomenal and the noumenal. It’s a concept delivered from Neoplatonism and identified metaphorically with the Demiurge in Plato’s Timaeus. For the purposes of this article, “The Noose” is being used metaphorically with the concept of death and rebirth; In the sense that one’s ignorance and innocence must “die” in order for one’s Nous, or divine mind, to become manifest.

Henosis, or ecstatic union with the One (God) is a self-overcoming into interdependent interconnectedness, or put simply, enlightenment; which can potentially be obtained through concentration (mindfulness), meditation (the nous, divine mind), and surrender (of self into World-Soul). Let’s break it down…ego-death

Contemplation and the Mind

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ~ Ernest Hemmingway

The potential for enlightenment must always begin with mindfulness. But becoming mindful, to reality as it is, and to us as we are, is no walk in the park. It requires spiritual, existential, and even ontological upheaval. It requires ego-sacrifice and soul retrieval, which is likely to cause trepidation in the mind, body, and soul.

The ego descends and the soul ascends, retracing its steps back to the supreme ordeal, the Infinite, the Divine. But it must, first of all, experience trial by spiritual fire. The ego-soul (primarily ego-centric) must pass through an existential curriculum; a cocoon phase of sorts, where the egoic self dissolves into the soul-centric self through ego-death. Hence the concept of the noose. One can imagine the petty, ignorant, ego-centric, blind innocence of the self being metaphorically “hung” from the gallows of spiritual knowledge, gleaned from contemplation and mindfulness.

Through deep contemplation of the multiplicity of things and the harmony of opposites, the ego withdraws into itself and is annihilated, thus becoming the soul-ego (primarily soul-centric), which is capable of meditating in harmony with the primeval Nous.

Meditation and the Nous

“Where we put our awareness, and for how long, maps our destiny.” ~ Joe Dispenza

Now soul-aware, spiritually conscious, or superconscious, the self-overcoming individual is free to delve deeper into mindfulness and into no-mind: the epitome of the Nous. The surrender of spiritual ignorance to “the Noose” leads to existential transcendence within the Nous. This is the souls withdrawal into the depths of being, where “Logos” the principle of meditation and the interrelationship between the soul and the Infinite becomes self-actualized.

Rising into the Nous is rising into a world of ideas, where the interconnectedness of all ideas is an interdependence of all things perceived through logos, divine mind, deep thought, and reason.

The Nous is the perfect image of the infinite and the archetype of all phenomenal things, as perceived through the awakened mind (third eye). It is a platform connecting the noumenal to the phenomenal, where both being and thought, idea and ideal, exist simultaneously.

The Noose “hangs” ignorance by the neck. The Nous revives Divine knowledge by the wings. But, and here’s the rub, even the Nous must act as a noose if true enlightenment is to occur. Indeed, there must be a letting go, a sacrifice even of divine knowledge gained in order to achieve spiritual union with the Infinite (God).

The Noose-Nous dynamic is thus a cyclical process. The noose “kills” ignorance, even as the nous resurrects divine knowledge, even as the nous “kills” divine knowledge in order to become one with “the One”, the creative principal of all things, beyond being.

Surrender and Henosis:

“Truth is a staff rejected” ~ unknown

As derivative, the Infinite is entirely different than the Nous. Where the Nous is a finite fractal, the Infinite is an infinite Mandelbrot containing infinite fractals (nous’). The Nous, just happens to be the highest level of contemplation into the Infinite that the (finite perceiving) mind can access. Where the Nous is pure logos, the Infinite is pure-full stop. It is everything and nothing intermittently.

Henosis, according to Plotinus, is the concept of attaining ecstatic union with “the One“, or the Infinite. Like enlightenment, it is not a permanence but an essence that can be dipped into but never maintained. The Nous used as a noose (surrender) loosens the souls grip on the phenomenal world and allows one to “taste” the noumenal.

This “tasting” is an ecstatic, mind-altering, soul-shattering experience that forever alters the way the soul-ego perceives reality. The soul-world concept thus becomes manifest, where the world-as-self and self-as-world becomes cosmos-as self and self-as cosmos which becomes self-as God and God-as self. Where Meister Eckhart’s words, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me,” becomes self-actualized.

In the end, even Henosis must be surrendered, even Buddha must be “killed” on the path, even Enlightenment must be let go. For impermanence is the only permanent, and the soul must breathe. Indeed. Enlightenment is less a state one achieves, and more a humor one senses; less a fixed state, and more a flexible journey that we must, above all, allow to be the thing.

Image Sources

Art by Adam Scott Miller

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  • Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.

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