You may remember this ancient Greek fellow from geometry class at school, but he was so much more than a mathematican. He was a great mystic who spent less time counting and more time minding the immeasurable…
Watch the video as well!
Why should you be interested in an old Greek teacher of maths who lived nearly two and half thousand years ago?
As a teenager growing up in the 1960’s, I felt called towards Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Hinduism. For most of my generation, these traditions seemed to be less rule-bound, less judgmental – perhaps wiser. It took me a few decades to discover that the ancient wisdom we were all searching for then was available in our own Western history, if we looked deep enough.
Reason is the most dangerous option
Western ideas have come to dominate present day global culture and we can see how some of those notions have taken us to the edge of a dangerous precipice. Much scientific progress has been made, based on the philosophies of a few great thinkers whose names are writ large in our history books. Their heads decorate the gates of one of the most famous universities in the world! But it’s possible thinking has been the big problem! We have come to value the rational over the intuitive. Reason has become a virtue, while rationalism has given us permission to dismiss and deny the invisible worlds, as well as damage our visible one.
We have for too long been putting the economic and pragmatic in first place. That’s how we have come to develop advanced technological expertise and scientific knowledge, while our collective emotional and spiritual lives have suffered and deteriorated. And our Mother Earth has suffered. So what can the very ancient teachers, who lived even earlier than the Greek philosophers (who encouraged rationalism) teach us now? Can they offer something to help?
The music of the spheres
Like me, you may have thought Pythagoras was a mathematician who invented theorems about triangles. But he was much, much more interesting! He was an esoteric teacher with a remarkable reputation. We are told he could move down a staircase without treading on the steps. In other words, he could levitate. He was known as a healer – very particularly he used music for healing. He taught that the planetary spheres had intelligence and the whole cosmos was a great symphony – a holistic macrocosm in which we participate. His teaching of number was esoteric – if you are into numerology, that will be because of Pythagoras’ teaching. If you are into astrology, that will be because the Pythagoreans understood the music of the spheres. The spiritual teaching of that time was not separate from the appreciation of the whole of nature.
Microcosm and macrocosm
Pythagoras taught that the mysteries of life are to be found within oneself, because we are a microcosm of the whole of life. Unless we explore these mysteries within, we cannot really know who we are and why we are here. Everyone must make their own experiments with truth, and discover the best practices for calming passions and controlling the mind. He encouraged initiates to gain mastery over motives, intentions, feelings, likes and dislikes. This mastery moves us into a position where we have a feeling of completion and satisfaction, because then we achieve a kind of coherence. We experience this during meditation. We can reconnect with the sacred essence of the whole macrocosm that can be described in numbers.
Once, when I was in deep meditation during a Quaker meeting, I had a visionary revelation that showed me how the underlying field of energy in Creation was Light. I saw it as a vast sheet of white paper, folding itself over and over again like origami. But there was no external origami ‘master’. The white paper was folding itself. The folds began with a very simple movement, then each fold, while still being a single action, gradually built up to a complex manifestation. The pattern was repetitive and from this simplicity multiple beautiful worlds could arise.
In Pythagorean teaching, the pattern underlying Creation begins with a single point. Then, the One represents the All, the undivided unity of the ‘Monad’. Two is not just one plus one. Two arrives when the One is folded and creates a mirror for itself – the Duad. In this way, what was pure Light becomes light and shadow. Two has its own energetic quality. Three can emerge from Two, not because we add another one, but because three represents a Triad. Oneness and Twoness cannot be understood unless seen in terms of the Triad. These are qualities, not just quantities. Unfortunately, we have debased mathematics until we simply expect to use it for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing – especially for financial and economic advantage. When we explore our reality from a spiritual perspective, we discover the basic patterns that underpin everything. We can experience a holistic wisdom when we look at the tiniest particle of Creation and realise that each atom contains Heaven.
This mystical Pythagorean symbol may look rather abstract, but perhaps you can see how it relates to the concept of the Four Worlds. (See my earlier blog, Remembering the Plan for more on the Four Worlds). In this blog I can only give a brief introduction to this complex subject, but look closely and you may get the idea:
- At the top of the triangle we have a single point.
- In the next row we have two points.
- In the next row there are three points…
- …and in the lowest, four.
- Ten altogether.
Many scholars think this symbol influenced early Kabbalah, as there are ten sefirot on the Tree of Life.
One significant spiritual practice for Pythagoreans was ‘incubation’. This was a process of withdrawal from daily activities, not unlike the yogic discipline of spending time in a cave in deep meditation. During one of these incubation sessions, the initiate expected to enter the daimonic realm, where their individual, personal guide could take them on a journey that would explain their own spiritual goal. Possibly, they would be privileged to gain wisdom from a god or goddess. This Greek practice was imitated by the psychological explorer, Carl Jung, who recorded his inner journeys in The Red Book. Jung met a guide called Philomen and also conversed with a prophetic figure, Elijah.
The family members who were dealing with the estate of Carl Jung were reluctant to allow The Red Book to be published. After all, this brilliant, highly respected man, who had been regarded by Freud as the next great leader for his new psychoanalysis movement, revealed that he made a habit of talking to invisible people. Perhaps not a genius, simply a madman? They wanted to protect Carl’s reputation from the criticism of Western academia that would likely dismiss his work – if they hadn’t already. In my psychology modules when I trained as a teacher, we were taught Freud, but we didn’t hear anything about Jung. The unconscious or subconscious was accepted as very plausible ,as it was thought of as an individual mental construct. Your dreams were yours, private and contained. But Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious was drifting towards a spiritual description of consciousness. Dreams and visions could not possibly tell you something about your ancestral heritage, or give a glimpse of the future. Every academic knows that!
Your contribution to humanity’s beautiful future
In your daily life, can you set aside time for your daimon or angel to give you messages? At this time in history, we all need to listen to our personal guides – our daimon or guardian angel, whatever we like to call it. This is urgent! Each individual who opens inner gates to wise guidance and begins to live according to that compass will not only find their own life is more satisfying, but they will contribute to more joy and delight for everyone.
And be sure you teach the children to take notice of their dreams.
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