Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Ascension

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_48

The ancient world understood the earth to be suspended within the larger kosmos consisting of various concentric realms. The whole order was perceived to be spiritually alive, its vastness creating anxiety among the ancients. Plato says that human beings existed as mere puppets having only a small portion of reality (Plato, Laws 804B, 644 D-E). Marcus Aurelius wrote that the activities of humans are “smoke and nothingness” and the rewards of life vanish “like a passing bird” (M. Ant. 10.31; 6.15; 5.33; 10.10). This sense of alienation and the notion of the inferior nature of immediate existence created a desire to separate from the material world and ascend into the purer, celestial realm. Plato’s Phaedrus tells of the soul’s longing to spread its wings for upward flight to attain to god. In its fallen state it beholds beauty on earth making it desire the “true” beauty of the divine. It cannot attain this however, resulting in unending anguish (parakinōn, 249D). In his Contra Celsum,...

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of TheologyFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA