“The soul: what dubious questions concerning it admit of solution. … An inquiry illuminates two grave questions: of what sphere the soul is the principle, and whence the soul itself springs. …
“Our general instinct to seek and learn, our longing to possess ourselves of whatsoever is lovely in the vision will, in all reason, set us inquiring into the nature of the instrument with which we search. … How some things rather than others come to be the receptacles of the divine beings will need to be examined. … But it is admitted that all souls are alike and are entities; clearly soul is not subject to part in the sense in which magnitudes are.” ~Plotinus

A Piece of Soul

The basic question Plotinus is arguing here is this: is the human soul a complete individual entity, or is it just a small piece of one great soul.

When it comes to physical bodies, it is a simple thing. Each person is an individual. Each dog is an individual. So is every flower and turnip and frog. But a rock can be an individual and also part of a mountain. A pebble can be an individual, and also part of the beach. And the flower can still be an individual even if it is just a small part of a great garden.

The question regarding the soul is somewhat different, though. We understand that the garden is a collection of many plants, not an individual thing. Likewise, the beach is a collection of many sand pebbles, not an individual thing. But the All-Soul is considered an individual thing, so can can our souls be a part of it?

While Plotinus makes a good argument against the idea that our individual souls are just a part of the All-Soul, he does so using logic that applies only to the world of matter. He argues that if the individual souls of men were pieces of the All-Soul, then the All-Soul would be diminished by their existence. After all, if you cut a branch off a tree, the tree is lesser for it. But such rules do not apply to spiritual things, especially the All-Soul.

Individual Souls

The human soul can be individual and still be part of the All-Soul. That is possible because it is spirit, not matter. Just as a hologram can be cut in several pieces, yet each piece will contain the entire picture, the All-Soul can send forth pieces of itself, yet not be diminished in the least by doing so. It is more like giving birth to offspring than breaking apart into many pieces.

But even though those human souls are individuals, they remain linked to the All-Soul. Because of that, a fully awakened human soul (the true meaning of being born again) is capable of knowing all that the All-Soul knows.

An Awakened Soul

Where Plotinus and others may get confused regarding the soul is in not recognizing that humans have two of them. We have a mundane soul that is associated with the body and mind and is not connected in any way to the All-Soul. We also have a Divine Soul which is connected to the All-Soul, and the All-Soul is it’s source.

While both are individual souls, one is also part of the overall soul that Plotinus calls the All-Soul. When we are born on the material plane, this Divine Soul is dormant, inactive. In order to be one with God, one with the All-Soul, we have to awaken it. Once awakened, it must be “nourished” regularly, This is done with the Light of the Spiritual Sun. Only then do our individual souls become an active part of the All-Soul, yet remain individuals.