The Soul's Journey in Dante's Divine Comedy (31 Jan, 21 Feb, 28 Mar 2015)

The journey of the soul to God that Dante describes in his epic poem begins in confusion and despair, and proceeds to the dark depths of Hell before the arduous climb up the Mountain of Purgatory. It then traverses the planetary spheres to the highest reaches of Heaven, culminating in the mystic vision of the source of light and love.In these three days with Dr Jeremy Naydler we explored in turn the three states of consciousness that characterise the soul-condition of those in Hell, Purgatory and Heaven respectively.
Saturday 31 January 2015: Hell
One of the essential characteristics of Hell is not so much that the souls in Hell are suffering, but that the cause of their suffering is self-inflicted, and due to a particular negative attitude that they stubbornly adhere to. Although unrelentingly bleak, the journey into the depths of Hell affords profound psychological insights. It shows us the manifold ways in which, by turning away from our true human potential, we also turn away from God.

Saturday 21 February 2015: Purgatory
Souls also suffer in Purgatory, but, crucially, those in Purgatory suffer willingly, having understood the price to be paid in order to free themselves from their negative character traits. In Hell the soul suffers because it refuses to change; in Purgatory it suffers in order to change. Thereby it finds a different relationship both to itself and to God.
Saturday 28 March 2015: Paradise
Here we find the secret of human happiness: those in Paradise are content with their lot, having given up self-will in order to align themselves with the divine will. Paradise is the most metaphysical of the three canticles, containing sublime teachings on God, the cosmos and the hierarchy of being.

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