Therefore when you hear people say sin is non-being, or the turning of the soul towards non-being, this does not mean at all that sin is nothing. On the contrary, it takes sin extremely seriously Plotinus means. He describes this non -being (m on) (as) that which is matter and can become being and not non-being (ouk on). . . .

This non-being of which he speaks (m on) for the Greeks, m is that which has not yet being and resists against having being. So he calls it that which lacks measure, limit, form. Then he describes this non-being: it is always in want, indefinite, hungry, it is the absolute poverty. In other words, evil is the presence of this non- being in our bodily existence. It is the absence of the power of being, which is the power of the good.

The soul has turned towards this non-being because it believed that with the help of it it could stand upon itself, and has separated itself from the ground and from the nous towards which it looked, originally. But soul looks back and yearns for the ground from which it comes. Lovingly, the soul ascends to that which is worth being loved, namely the ground of being itself, the origin. If the soul has the intuition of this ultimate aim of its longing, and if it has reached this aim, it has become like God. He who has the ultimate intuition of the Divine has become one with God.. But this way is hard. This way goes through the virtues first, to the ascetic purification next. And the ultimate union with God cannot be reached, either by morals or by asceticism; it can only be reached in this life by grace, namely when the Divine power of the transcendent One grasps the mind in ecstasy . This happens only rarely, only in great experiences which cannot be forced, which happen or don’t ‘happen.

In the highest ecstasy occurs what Plotinus calls the f light of the one to the One, i.e., of us who are individual ones to the Ultimate One which is beyond number, and in which the telos, the aim, is reached for which all Greek philosophy always has asked: What is the telos, the inner aim, the goal, the purpose, of man’s being? The answer was already in Plato: homoiosis to theou kata to dunaton, i. e., becoming similar to God as much as possible. This was also the aim of the mystery religions, in which the soul was supposed to participate in the eternal One. This is the Alexandrian scheme of thought. It is a circle, starting in the abysmal One, going down in emanation to the hierarchies until it comes to the ambiguous situation of the soul, then through the soul falling into the power of the material world, which is determined by non-being. Then the elevation of the soul back through all these different grades up to the highest one, and in ecstasy this goal is reached.