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Plotinus made a study of all philosophies–all religions. He traveled through Egypt, Greece, Assyria, India. He became an “adept”, and discovered how easily the priest drifts into priestcraft, and fraud steps in with legerdemain and miracle to amend the truth. As if to love humanity were not enough to recommend the man, they have him turn water into wine and walk on the water.

Out of the labyrinth of history and speculation Plotinus returned to Plato as a basis or starting-point for all of the truth which man can comprehend. Plotinus believed in all religions, but had absolute faith in none. It will be remembered that Aristotle and Plato parted as to the relative value of poetry and science–science being the systematized facts of Nature. Plotinus comes in and says that both were right, and each was like every good man who exaggerates the importance of his own calling. In his ability to see the good in all things, Hypatia placed Plotinus ahead of Plato, but even then she says: “Had there been no Plato, there would have been no Plotinus; although Plotinus surpassed Plato, yet it is plain that Plato, the inspirer of Plotinus and so many more, is the one man whom philosophy can not spare. Hail, Plato!!”

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The writings of Hypatia have all disappeared, save as her words come to us, quoted by her contemporaries. If the Essays of Emerson should all be swept away, the man would still live in the quotations from his pen, given to us by every writer of worth who has put pencil to paper during the last fifty years. So lives Sappho, and thus did Charles Kingsley secure the composite of the great woman who lives and throbs through his book. Legend pictures her as rarely beautiful, with grace, poise and power, plus.

She was sixty when she died. History kindly records it forty-five–and all picture her as a beautiful and attractive woman to the last. The psychic effects of a gracefully-gowned first reader, with sonorous voice, using gesture with economy, and packing the pauses with feeling, have never been fully formulated, analyzed and explained. Throngs came to hear Hypatia lecture–came from long distances, and listened hungrily, and probably all they took away was what they brought, except a great feeling of exhilaration and enthusiasm. To send the hearer away stepping light, and his heart beating fast–this is oratory–which isn’t so much to bestow facts, as it is to impart a feeling. This Hypatia surely did. Her theme was Neo-Platonism. “Neo” means new, and all New Thought harks back to Plato, who was the mouthpiece of Socrates. “Say what you will, you’ll find it all in Plato.” Neo-Platonism is our New Thought, and New Thought is Neo-Platonism.

There are two kinds of thought: New Thought and Secondhand Thought. New Thought is made up of thoughts you, yourself, think. The other kind is supplied to you by jobbers. The distinguishing feature of New Thought is its antiquity. Of necessity it is older than Secondhand Thought. All genuine New Thought is true for the person who thinks it. It only turns sour and becomes error when not used, and when the owner forces another to accept it. It then becomes a secondhand revelation. All New Thought is revelation, and secondhand revelations are errors half-soled with stupidity and heeled with greed.

Very often we are inspired to think by others, but in our hearts we have the New Thought; and the person, the book, the incident, merely remind us that it is already ours. New Thought is always simple; Secondhand Thought is abstruse, complex, patched, peculiar, costly, and is passed out to be accepted, not understood. That no one comprehends it is often regarded as a recommendation.

For instance, “Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image,” is Secondhand Thought. The first man who said it may have known what it meant, but surely it is nothing to us. However, that does not keep us from piously repeating it, and having our children memorize it.