The Golden Verses of Pythagoras
Pythagoras was born around 570 BC to Mnesarchus of Samos, a gem engraver, and his wife Pithais. An interesting story was told concerning his parents visit to the "Oracle of Delphi" just prior to Pythagoras birth. Mnesarchus asked a question concerning his coming voyage to Syria. The oracle did not answer his question but instead told them that Pithais would soon give birth to a son that was destined to pass all men in beauty and wisdom and be of great service to mankind.
Pythagoras traveled extensively. He had the benefit of the best possible education in his day. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge which led Him to travel until the age of 56. During these years He studied under the sages of Egypt, the wise men of Phoenicia, Babylonia, Chaldea, Persia and India. Interestingly enough, Pythagoras lived at the same time Buddha was teaching His philosophy in India. While He was in Persia He studied the teachings of Zoroaster. It was from His stay among these foreigners that Pythagoras acquired the greater part of His wisdom.
On His return from His travels, Pythagoras established a school in Crotona where He taught the "Pythagorean Life". In this school He taught the many things He had learned and studied in His travels. From the Egyptians He had learned the science of mathematics. From the Chaldeans He had learned the science of astronomy. From the Magi of Persia and the Brahmans of India He learned the science of living.
Pythagoras was both a founder of new sciences and a moral reformer. He was one of the first philosophers in the west to recommend a vegetarian diet. The new religion He taught was called "Biosophy". This is a word coming from the Greek roots bios meaning life, and sophia meaning wisdom. Biosophy, hence means the wisdom or science of living.
Pythagoras made a sharp differentiation between learning, knowledge, and wisdom. Wisdom He saw, as being far superior to the first two. Learning is what we memorize and are taught by our parents, teachers and books. It is second hand information. Knowledge comes from what we know in our experience. Wisdom was the distilled essence of all that we have gained from life’s experience. Pythagoras’ main aim in life was the development of this wisdom of living.
Pythagoras was incredibly multifaceted in His understanding and teaching. Among His most famous contributions was His Pythagorean Theorem, the 47th proposition of Euclid, that says, "the square of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides." Besides the mathematical sciences He was the first to teach the principles of scientific astronomy. His teachings that the earth was spherical was bitterly opposed by the church.
Pythagoras was the first Greek to be called by the name of "Philosopher". He was the originator of the diatonic musical scale, on which the music is based to this day. Pythagoras was also a master of medicine and naturopathic healing which was administered in the temples of Aesculapius. He considered geometry, music, and astronomy as essential to coming to a rational understanding of God. The God of Pythagoras was the "Monad", or one that is everything. He saw God as the supreme mind distributed throughout all parts of the universe. He saw God as the cause of all things, the intelligence of all things and the power within all things.
Pythagoras taught that friendship was the truest and most perfect of all relationships. He taught that both man and the universe were made in the image of God. To understand one of these was to gain knowledge of the other. He believed that all the planets and stars were actually alive, and were in actuality encasing souls, minds and spirits in the same manner that we are encased in a human physical body. He saw the stars and planets and magnificent deities. All these deities, however were subservient to the one God. He most definitely also believed in reincarnation and remembered a great many of His own lives and had the ability to tell others their past lives. He saw the purpose of life, to ultimately ascend into the realm of the immortals where, by Divine birthright, we all belong. In this sense, Pythagoras divided the universe into three parts. The supreme world, the superior world and the inferior world. The supreme world was the truest plane of the supreme Deity. The superior world was the home of the immortals. The material world was the home of those who were incarnated into the material universe.
At the age of sixty, Pythagoras married one of His disciples and had seven children. After Pythagoras’ death his wife continued to teach His doctrines. He was said to be six feet tall and to be perfectly formed as that of Apollo. He was still in the prime of his life even though he neared the age of 100. Pythagoras had a persona of majesty and power.
Pythagoras was also a master of the science of numerology. He saw numbers as a living, qualitative reality which must be approached in an experiential manner. Pythagoras was also greatly influenced by Orphism, or the teaching of Orpheus (the Buddha in a past life). (See chapter on Orpheus in this book.) Orpheus was the father of the Greek mystery schools. Orphism taught that the soul is immortal but descends into the realm of matter in a long series of incarnations until it has purified itself and regained its true divine nature. This was very much in line with what Pythagoras taught.
Pythagoras taught His disciples in His "golden verses", that they should honor the gods, above geniuses, and heroes above men. On the subject of the relations between sexes, He taught continence, but not celibacy or avoidance of marriage and parenthood. Pythagoras divided people into three categories. These are as men, Gods, and beings like Himself who stand in an intermediate position between both. One of Pythagoras’ senior disciples was Kleineas, who was none other than our dear friend, Djwhal Khul. One of Djwhal Khul’s disciples in this period of His was none other than C.W. Leadbeater, of Theosophical Society fame. Pythagoras was very holistic in His approach, for he taught the harmonious development of the body, mind, and soul. Its main goal was the perfection of moral character, which He gave priority to over intellectual training in the sciences. Pythagoras was the first Greek to also admit women into His school as freely as men. This was a breakthrough in the patriarchal Greek culture previous to this time.
In the center of His school at Crotona was a temple which was guarded by a statue of Hermes (Buddha in a past life), Egyptians knew Hermes as Thoth. On the inscription of this statue it read, "Let the profane not enter here." In the Pythagorean community there were nine different temples to the different arts and sciences. In the Pythagorean system, education science and religion were all perfectly unified. The subjects studied in the Pythagorean school included mathematics, geometry, astronomy, music, medicine, philosophy, politics, and advanced form of ethics.
Music played a very big part in the system of Pythagorean education. It was used by Pythagoras to cure disease and control a person’s desires and emotions. Pythagoras looked at music just like a doctor looks at medicine. He developed an exacting science as to what types of music cured and healed different types of ills. In terms of sexuality His attitude was that sexual association should never occur for pleasure, but rather only for the procreation of children. He was rather strict on this point much like one of His followers 600 years later by the name of Appolonius of Tyanna. (The incarnation of Jesus after His life in Palestine) The goal of the Pythagorean educational system was purification so one could achieve "assimilation with God".
In Pythagoras’ study of numbers He broke this science down into four basic parts.
Arithmetic = number in itself
Geometry = number in space
Music or harmonics = number in time
Astronomy = number in space and time
There is an interesting story about Pythagoras that was told that demonstrates His remarkable powers. Pythagoras, in His travels, apparently one day came across some fishermen who were drawing up their nets which were filled with fish. Pythagoras told the fishermen that He could tell them the exact number of fish they had caught, which the fishermen thought to be an impossible task, given how many were caught in the nets. The fishermen said that if He was right they would do anything He said. They counted all the fish and Pythagoras was totally accurate in His estimate. He then ordered the fishermen to return the fish to the sea and for some mystical reason none of them died. Pythagoras paid the fishermen for the price of the fish and left for Crotona. Incidents like this caused Pythagoras’ fame to spread. During one of His lectures in Italy it was said that He gained 2000 disciples from that one lecture alone.
On Pythagoras’ advice to youth, He told them to never revile anyone, nor revenge themselves on those who did. He recommended that they should devote themselves diligently to learning. According to historians His words possessed such spiritual power that even wild animals became tame when He spoke with them.