Phaedo: On Suffering

I will tell you, he said. Because those who love to learn know that philosophy , upon taking hold of their soul- their soul, which has hitherto been completely bound up all around by and stuck to the physical body, and so forced, as if it were in a prison, to perceive the beings, not by itself through itself, but through that prison in which it is spun round with every kind of ignorance; that philosophy, upon recognizing the terrible nature of that prison as being caused by desire – inasmuch as he who is imprisoned is ever an accomplice in his own imprisonment – the very things I have been just now saying – that those who love to learn know that philosophy, by gently taking hold of their soul, attempts to coax and persuade them to set their soul free, showing them that perception through the eyes is rife with deception, and of deception is also the perception through the ears and the other senses, and so it persuades the soul to begin to withdraw from the senses, except to the extent that it is necessary to use them, and instead to recover the soul back to itself and call it to retrieve its pieces back together, and to trust in nothing other than herself by herself, so that she might be able to intellect by herself through herself each of the beings as they are according to themselves: and that should it perceive something outside of itself in things outside of itself through means outside of it, it should regard that something as untrue, and that it is what is perceived through the senses and seen, while which is true is invisible and is that which she herself sees through intellect. And the soul of one who is truly a philosopher, in believing that one must do nothing to avoid this process of freedom, keeps away as much as she can from pleasures and desires and pains and fears, reckoning that, whenever someone experiences extreme pleasure or fear or pain or desire, they have not suffered as a great an evil as some have been wont to believe, like getting sick or wasting away due to desire, but that the greatest and extreme of all evils, is that they are not able to understand what they are suffering.

Phaedo, 82e -Translation by Anastasia Harris

Phaedo: The Swans of Death

It would be impossible to persuade other human beings that my present death sentence is a form of luck if I cannot persuade you two, Simmias and Cebes…yet I am not inferior to the swans in relation to prophecy when they sense that is time for them to die and upon that last hour before their death, they sing most beautifully and with great abundance, rejoicing that they are soon to arrive in the realm of the divine where they may be of service to the divine. Human beings, however, due to their fear of death, lie about the swans, and say that they are singing dirges in pain due to their death; but they do not understand that no bird sings when it is hungry or cold or experiences any kind of pain, not the nightingale; not the swallow; not the hoopoe, the birds they say who sing lamentations for their death. But these do not seem to me to sing lamentations, and neither do the swans, for I believe they are of Apollo, and are prophets and soothsayers who sing of the good things in the realm we cannot see, and they delight in that day of arrival there far more than in their previous time in life. I myself believe that I am a fellow servant with the swans and a priest of the god himself, and that I am not an inferior prophet of our master, nor more melancholy than the swans are when they leave their bodies.

Phaedo, 84e. Translation by Anastasia Harris.

The Fate of the Impure Soul

No one would believe the things that she sees at night. For while others struggle to sleep with restless dreams and worries, she sees the spirits who wander about, generating fear and worry in those who would be better off being free to sleep, to heal and dream of the beautiful day that awaits them. But instead, they only feel depletion and rely on coffee or tea to get them by. Some seek out doctors and medications, herbs and various other salves, in hopes to find a better way to find rest. While she is the one who knows, that no drug will free them from the spirits that haunt and feed of whatever light they have left to provide. In order to solve their sleep problem, they would have to arise in the midst of their own darkness, where what haunts them lurks, playing tricks on them in dreams and visions. Souls who have died that refuse to leave the body and so feed off the ones who are still living. For when we sleep, the souls of the dead cling, still wanting to feel, to be, to exist. We do not see them, because we have become blind. We have forgotten the way and path to the underworld, for we have rejected our true purpose as custodians of the lands, the earth and heaven that we have inherited. We have rejected our duty to continue to keep our earth pure, our heart and soul clean, and our intentions in the divine.

One must consider this to be a very weighty and serious matter, this material consciousness of the visible realm: The soul that is attached to its physical manifestation is very weighed down and is dragged back into the visible realm due to fear of the invisible and Hades, as it is said, and being tossed about from tombstone to tombstone and grave to grave, around which are always seen the dark shadows and phantoms of souls, the kind of phantoms that these same attached souls themselves project, the souls that have not cleanly freed themselves the body, but still hold onto the visible realm, through which they still can be seen.

Plato, Phaedo, 81d

ἐμβριθὲς δέ γε, ὦ φίλε, τοῦτο οἴεσθαι χρὴ εἶναι καὶ βαρὺ καὶ γεῶδες καὶ ὁρατόν: ὃ δὴ καὶ ἔχουσα ἡ τοιαύτη ψυχὴ βαρύνεταί τε καὶ ἕλκεται πάλιν εἰς τὸν ὁρατὸν τόπον φόβῳ τοῦ ἀιδοῦς τε καὶ Ἅιδου, ὥσπερ λέγεται, περὶ τὰ [81δ] μνήματά τε καὶ τοὺς τάφους κυλινδουμένη, περὶ ἃ δὴ καὶ ὤφθη ἄττα ψυχῶν σκιοειδῆ φαντάσματα, οἷα παρέχονται αἱ τοιαῦται ψυχαὶ εἴδωλα, αἱ μὴ καθαρῶς ἀπολυθεῖσαι ἀλλὰ τοῦ ὁρατοῦ μετέχουσαι, διὸ καὶ ὁρῶνται.

Plato, Phaedo, 81δ