Pythagoras: His Life and Teachings

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Pythagoras did not aim to have his disciples withdraw from active life, but taught them how to maintain a calm bearing and an elevated character under all circumstances. The intention was to train them to exhibit in their personal and social capacities a reflection of the order and harmony of the universe. The membership was international.

A student was at liberty to depart from the School at pleasure and at his departure he was given double his original contribution, but over his former seat was erected a tomb, funeral rites were performed, and he was ever afterwards referred to by the loyal members as deceased. Purity of life was required and temperance of all kinds was strictly enjoined. All members ate at a common refectory in groups of ten, as at the Spartan syssitia. The diet was subject to a most careful regulation and consisted largely of bread, honey, and water.

Animal foods and wine were forbidden. It is stated also that beans were tabooed because of their indigestibility and tendency to produce agitated dreams. Much importance was attached to music, and to the physical exercise of the disciples. Each day began with a meditation upon how it could be best spent and ended with a careful retrospect. The students arose before the sun, and after breakfast studied for several hours, with an interval of leisure, which was usually spent in solitary walks and silent contemplation.

The hour before dinner was devoted to athletic exercises. In the course of the day there were mutual exhortations not to sunder the God in each and all but to preserve the union with the Deity and with one another. The students were accustomed to visit Pythagoras at night, and went to sleep with music. Probably he did not commit any of his teachings to writing, but it is certain that his disciples memorized his sayings and treasured them as the oracles of the Deity. He had two forms of teaching: one public or exoteric, and one private or esoteric.

It is noteworthy that wherever his teachings prevailed, sobriety and temperance displaced licentiousness and luxury, for the distinguished Pythagoreans were men of great uprightness, conscientiousness, and self-control, capable of devoted and enduring friendships.

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The public teachings of Pythagoras consisted principally of practical morals of the purest and most spiritual type and emphasized the virtues of self-restraint, reverence, patriotism, sincerity, conscientiousness, uprightness, truth, justice, and purity of heart. He insisted upon the highest ideals of marriage and of parental duties, and always exerted his influence to suppress wars and dissensions.

He used to say:. Drunkenness is synonymous with ruin. No one ought to exceed the proper quantity of meat and drink.

Pythagoras - Secret Teachings of All Ages

Strength of mind depends upon sobriety, for this keeps the reason undiverted by passion. Never say or do anything in anger. Virtue is harmony; health, the Universal Good. He urged his disciples not to kill animals, because he declared that they have a right to live, as well as men. It is the part of a fool to attend to every opinion of all men, above all to that of the mob. Do what you believe to be right, whatever people think of you. Despise alike their censure and their praise. Add not unto your grid by discontent.

Do not speak few things in many words, but many things in a few words. Either be silent, or speak words better than silence. It is hard to take many paths in life at the same time. Youth should be accustomed to obedience, for it will thus find it easy to obey the authority of reason. Men should associate with one another in such a way as not to make their friends enemies, but to make their enemies friends. We ought to wage war only against the ignorance of the mind, the passions of the heart, the distempers of the body, sedition in cities, and ill-will in families.

No man should deem anything exclusively his own. Every man ought so to train himself as to be worthy of belief without an oath. Philosophers are seekers after truth. The discourse of a philosopher is vain, if no passion of man is healed thereby. Choose the best life; use will make it pleasant. Man is at his best when he visits the temples of the gods.

A man should never pray for anything for himself, because he is ignorant of what is really good for him. Do not the least thing unadvisedly.

Wherein have I transgressed? What done have I? What duty unperformed have I passed by? And if your actions ill on search you find, Let grief, if good, let joy, possess your mind. This do, this think, to this your heart incline, This way will lead you to the Life Divine. And now from ill, Great Father, set us free, Or teach us all to know ourselves in Thee. The noblest gifts of heaven to man are to speak the truth and to do good.

These two things resemble the works of the Deity. Place intuition as the best charioteer or guide for thy acts.

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  • Possess not treasures except those things which no one can take from you. Be sleepless in the things of the Spirit, for sleep in them is akin to death. Each of us is a soul, not a body, which is only a possession of the soul. The tyrant death securely shalt thou brave, And scorn the dark dominion of the grave. The greatest honor which can be paid to the Deity is to know and imitate Its perfection.


    Other Lives

    The wise men say that one community embraces heaven and earth, and gods and men and friendship and order and temperance and righteousness ; for which reason they call this whole a kosmos or orderly universe. Likeness to the Deity should be the aim of all our endeavors. The nobler, the better the man, the more godlike he becomes, for the gods are the guardians and guides of men.

    There is a relationship between men and gods, because men partake of the Divine Principle. You have in yourself something similar to God; therefore use yourself as the Temple of God. Truth is to be sought with a mind purified from the passions of the body. Having overcome evil things, thou shalt experience the union of the immortal God with the mortal man. In his esoteric teachings Pythagoras gave out the keys to the system of practical ethics outlined in his exoteric sayings.

    Such of his public utterances as were called Symbols were mere blinds, capable of several interpretations with several distinct and highly important meanings attached to them. Blavatsky, speaking of these, says:. Every sentence of Pythagoras, like most of the ancient maxims, had at least a dual signification; and while it had an occult physical meaning expressed in its words, it embodied a moral precept.

    It is no mere coincidence that many of the maxims were and still are current among widely separated nations. The following are examples of some Pythagorean Symbols together with their possible meanings as moral precepts:. The esoteric teachings of Pythagoras in regard to number dealt principally with the significance of arithmetic and geometry, and emphasized the importance of the application of number to weights and measures.

    He was the first to explain the multiplication table to the Greeks. The leading idea of his system was that of the Unity in Multiplicity. He said:. Number is that which brings what is obscure within the range of our knowledge, rules all true order in the universe and allows of no errors. He assumed, as first principles, the numbers and the symmetries existing in them, which he called harmonies.

    He taught:. Virtue is a proportion or harmony. Happiness consists in the perfection of the virtues of the soul, the perfect science of numbers. Nature is an imitation of number. Another peculiarity, which proves unity not to be a true numeral, is its indivisibility into whole numbers. The monad is God and the good, which is the origin of the one and is itself Intelligence. The monad is the beginning of everything.

    Pythagoras - Crystalinks

    Unity is the principle of all things and from Unity went forth an infinite or indeterminate duality, the duad, which is subordinate to the monad as its cause. Pythagoras taught that the duad, the first concept of addition, was the first true figure and regarded the one as a symbol for the Primitive Unity or the Deity, the Absolute, behind and above the indeterminate or infinite duad, which symbolized chaos or spirit-matter. The triad or the three, the monad plus the duad, symbolized the Divine, the Heavenly, as opposed to the Earthly.

    The Pythagoreans say that the All and all things are defined by threes; for beginning, middle, and end constitute the number of all and also the number of the triad. The tetraktys, therefore, was regarded as a very sacred symbol. The pentad or number five, symbolized man. The senary or number six, is, of course, composed of two threes, and was regarded as an abbreviation for the alpha and omega of evolutionary growth.

    The hebdomad or number seven, is the perfect number, par excellence, symbolizing both heaven and earth. In the words of H. The nine is the triple ternary, reproducing itself incessantly under all shapes and figures in every multiplication. The ten or dekad brings all these digits back to unity and ends the Pythagorean table. Pythagoras taught:. From the monad and the duad proceed numbers; from numbers signs; from signs lines, of which plane figures consist; from plane figures solid bodies. The Kosmos is endued with life and intellect and is of a spherical figure.

    From one point of view, One corresponds to the dot or point, Two to the line, Three to the plane, and Four to the concrete solid. The dekad was represented geometrically in the form of a tetradic equilateral triangle of ten dots, with one dot at the apex, and four along the base line, thus. This ten-dot triangle filled out by lines becomes an equilateral triangle, with the dot at the apex and at the center remaining as generating-points for adjacent figures, and especially as the centers of circles, inscribed in and circumscribed about the original triangle.

    The circle with a dot at its center corresponds to the duad, the triangle to the triad, the square to the tetrad in its actual as opposed to its potential form, which is that of the tetradic dotted triangle, as previously explained, the potential equivalent of the decad. The pentagram or five-pointed star corresponds to the pentad, and the hexagram to the senary. The circle with its diameter indicated the actual dekad or 10 for we no longer write the one within the circle to represent ten as opposed to the potential equivalent of the dekad, the tetraktys.