Voyen Koreis





INTRODUCTION


1. WHAT IS KABBALAH?

2. OTHER PATHS TO KNOWLEDGE

3. PYTHAGORAS

4. THE TAROT

5. ADAM KADMON

6. ACT OF CREATION

7. THE TREE OF LIFE

8. THE FOUR WORLDS

9. HOD & NETZAH

 10. LIFE IS EVERYWHERE

11. LIFE AND DEATH

12. REINCARNATION

13. PSYCHOLOGY

14. THE VITAL PRINCIPLE

15. SYNCHRONICITY

16. TZIM-TZUM

17. BODIES OF MAN

18. HUMAN MIND

19. LILITH

20. KNOWLEDGE

21. OF ANGELS AND MEN

22. CREATION IN  GENESIS 2

23. THE LETTER YOD

24. TWENTY-TWO LETTERS

25. THE NAME OF GOD

26. THE ZOHAR

27. ABRAHAM AND SARAH

28. THE HEBREW LANGUAGE

29. THE PATRIARCHS

30. MALKHUT - THE LAST SEPHIRA

31 THE MYSTICAL KABBALAH

32. BETH – THE FIRST LETTER










INTRODUCTION


1. WHAT IS KABBALAH?

2. OTHER PATHS TO KNOWLEDGE

3. PYTHAGORAS

4. THE TAROT

5. ADAM KADMON

6. ACT OF CREATION

7. THE TREE OF LIFE

8. THE FOUR WORLDS

9. HOD & NETZAH

 10. LIFE IS EVERYWHERE

11. LIFE AND DEATH

12. REINCARNATION

13. PSYCHOLOGY

14. THE VITAL PRINCIPLE

15. SYNCHRONICITY

16. TZIM-TZUM

17. BODIES OF MAN

18. HUMAN MIND

19. LILITH

20. KNOWLEDGE

21. OF ANGELS AND MEN

22. CREATION IN  GENESIS 2

23. THE LETTER YOD

24. TWENTY-TWO LETTERS

25. THE NAME OF GOD

26. THE ZOHAR

27. ABRAHAM AND SARAH

28. THE HEBREW LANGUAGE

29. THE PATRIARCHS

30. MALKHUT - THE LAST SEPHIRA

31 THE MYSTICAL KABBALAH

32. BETH – THE FIRST LETTER











INTRODUCTION


1. WHAT IS KABBALAH?

2. OTHER PATHS TO KNOWLEDGE

3. PYTHAGORAS

4. THE TAROT

5. ADAM KADMON

6. ACT OF CREATION

7. THE TREE OF LIFE

8. THE FOUR WORLDS

9. HOD & NETZAH

 10. LIFE IS EVERYWHERE

11. LIFE AND DEATH

12. REINCARNATION

13. PSYCHOLOGY

14. THE VITAL PRINCIPLE

15. SYNCHRONICITY

16. TZIM-TZUM

17. BODIES OF MAN

18. HUMAN MIND

19. LILITH

20. KNOWLEDGE

21. OF ANGELS AND MEN

22. CREATION IN  GENESIS 2

23. THE LETTER YOD

24. TWENTY-TWO LETTERS

25. THE NAME OF GOD

26. THE ZOHAR

27. ABRAHAM AND SARAH

28. THE HEBREW LANGUAGE

29. THE PATRIARCHS

30. MALKHUT - THE LAST SEPHIRA

31 THE MYSTICAL KABBALAH

32. BETH – THE FIRST LETTER








INTRODUCTION


1. WHAT IS KABBALAH?

2. OTHER PATHS TO KNOWLEDGE

3. PYTHAGORAS

4. THE TAROT

5. ADAM KADMON

6. ACT OF CREATION

7. THE TREE OF LIFE

8. THE FOUR WORLDS

9. HOD & NETZAH

 10. LIFE IS EVERYWHERE

11. LIFE AND DEATH

12. REINCARNATION

13. PSYCHOLOGY

14. THE VITAL PRINCIPLE

15. SYNCHRONICITY

16. TZIM-TZUM

17. BODIES OF MAN

18. HUMAN MIND

19. LILITH

20. KNOWLEDGE

21. OF ANGELS AND MEN

22. CREATION IN  GENESIS 2

23. THE LETTER YOD

24. TWENTY-TWO LETTERS

25. THE NAME OF GOD

26. THE ZOHAR

27. ABRAHAM AND SARAH

28. THE HEBREW LANGUAGE

29. THE PATRIARCHS

30. MALKHUT - THE LAST SEPHIRA

31 THE MYSTICAL KABBALAH

32. BETH – THE FIRST LETTER

Meetings With Remarkable People   Mephisto & Pheles    Intrusion   The Kabbalah  
 The Čapek Brothers    Struggle of the Magicians    
The Fools' Pilgrimage  Contact 





3. PYTHAGORAS

 

The Pythagorean Theorem. I’m mentioning it here, together with the diagram. Thankfully, now I don’t have to mention it any more…

The philosophical system taught by Pythagoras (c. 560 – 480 BC) in many ways resembled the ways of the Kabbalah. I can already hear the objections – the Kabbalah is based on the Jewish faith, which is monotheistic, whereas the Greeks of the 6th century BC were decisively polytheistic, worshipping their many gods, semi-divine heroes, etc. But if we stop to think about it we will realise that so did for instance people living in the medieval Europe, who undoubtedly would have called themselves Christians, but who went to pilgrimages while hallowing their various saints and had (still have) their places of worship dedicated to their local saints. Moreover, what is the difference between a Christian saint canonised for some act of martyrdom or a miracle that distinguished him or her from the masses, and a Greek hero who too performed some heroic act? Both have made a personal sacrifice for the benefit of other human beings, and both have been worshiped because of this deed.

We could go even further. The system based on the materialistic view of the world that was created by Marx, and that until fairly recently represented the model for an “ideal” society in the former Soviet Union and its satellites (to some people it still does), had also forged its own saints. In addition, it had been worshiping them in similar ways to those of the old Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians, etc. What difference is there between the Egyptian mastaba (left), the precursor of the pyramid, which was apparently built for the sole purpose of holding the body of a pharaoh or some dignitary, and the mausoleum that was built on the Red Square in Moscow for the Soviet dictator Lenin (right)? The point I’m trying to make here is that the establishment would always know, or at least guess correctly, how the “ordinary folks” would think, be it in the ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome, in the medieval Europe, in America, India or China of the more recent times. After all, what is the difference between a woman saying in church her prayers to Virgin Mary today, and another woman making her sacrifice to the Goddess Aphrodite in Greece two thousand years ago? A god of the ancient times, a legendary hero, or a medieval saint, have all been subjected to worship, and this situation has not changed at all even in our “enlightened” times, when politicians, pop music or sports stars, are also being put on pedestals.

Still, there were always been people walking on the surface of the Earth while immune to such influences. We might call them the adepts, initiates, sages; this is not significant. Important is that such people have always believed in the unifying creative force, which they may or may not call God. However, the well-organised and ever-vigilant forces of the Catholic Church have always managed to drive all potential competitors from their territory and even tried to obliterate any memories that may have persisted in people’s minds. Thus, some might have been labelled as “pagans,” especially by the orthodox churches, which would try to justify this by pointing to their having worshiped more than one god. However, a great misunderstanding lies here. When a true initiate of ancient Greece or Egypt speaks of “gods,” in the plural, unlike the uninitiated he actually means the various aspects of the one God, just as do the Kabbalists, as we will see in this book. To an initiate such as Pythagoras and his disciples, trust in one God would have been far to sacred to even speak about, let alone commit it to writing. The Pythagorians (just as the Kabbalists) were secretive and strict, even to the point of not allowing the neophytes speak at all for five years after they accepted them as pupils.  The new disciples were called akousmatikoi (the listeners) and they were only allowed to listen to what was being put to them by their teacher and could not react to any of this verbally. Only after the initial period of their apprenticeship was over would their teachers allow them to ask questions.

Pythagoras of Samos was born around 560 BC and died approximately in 480 BC. Even as a young man he would excel, and not only in maters of the spirit. This cannot be verified any more, but according to some reports he had even won the wrestling competition at one of the Olympic Games. He soon got into a conflict with the tyrannical ruler of the island kingdom and left, to disappear from his biographers’ radar for several decades. We can guess from what has come to us from his teachings what the main influences might have been, and thus sketch a map of his probable journeys. These almost certainly must have lead to Egypt, then to the Middle East and Persia, later perhaps even to India. He could have been present in or around Babylon roughly about the period when the king of Persia Darius I. permitted the captive Jews to return to Jerusalem and build the Second Temple. This was the time when the brew within the Kabbalah pot was boiling rigorously.

Pythagoras had reappeared in Greece as a man of mature age. Probably around fifty, he soon had founded his famous school in Crotona, in southern Italy. The number of his disciples in time had swelled to several hundred. So have the numbers of the philosopher’s adversaries. Pythagoras had been teaching in Crotona for about thirty years, when the school was attacked and burned down by the philosopher’s enemies. That happened around 480 BC, and many of his disciples were killed. Pythagoras himself appears to have escaped the massacre, nevertheless he died soon after.

Despite the mist of secrecy that had shrouded even in the ancient times the teachings of Pythagoras, we still get some glimpses of the Pythagorean doctrine, chiefly through an “indiscretion” of one of the philosopher’s direct pupils, whose name was Lysis.

 

THE GOLDEN VERSES OF PYTHAGORAS

 

Please, bear in mind that what follows here is a legend, which could have easily come from a quill of some Neo-Platonic admirer of the philosopher of whom there were many. According to it, some of Pythagoras’ pupils, those who had survived the slaughter at Crotona, continued in the tradition of their master, mostly in Greece, where the Pythagorean philosophy flourished for a further two centuries or so. Lysis of Tyrent, and who apparently belonged to the Master’s inner circle of followers, was among the survivors. However, he had to overcome a hard dilemma. All students of the master were required to take an oath of silence regarding the teachings and were not allowed to commit anything they had learned to writing. He was very much afraid that without any written records the immensely valuable knowledge might be lost forever. What worried Lysis particularly was the fact that his master’s teachings had become a target of slander and prejudices, after having been declared immoral by his numerous enemies. Nevertheless, he found a way out of this quandary. Part of the Pythagorean doctrine stated that a person should always and under any circumstances act in accordance to his principles and at his discretion. This Lysis interpreted as having been given the green light to go ahead and write down what he considered important from this philosophical system. This is how Chrisa Epe, or the Golden Verses epos, was supposedly born.

Hierocles of Alexandria, a Neo-Platonic philosopher of the 5th century AD, had copied the Golden Verses and provided them with a commentary; owing to him they have survived to the present times. From the writings of some of the philosophers of the antique world we know that the followers of Pythagoras would have recited the Golden Verses like a prayer every morning and evening. Even some of the great Roman thinkers, including Seneca, Cicero or Horace, who all flourished about half a millennium after Pythagoras, still maintained this ritual, as they all mention in their works. Even Galen, the prominent Roman physician and philosopher of Greek origin, who lived in the second century AD and whose theories dominated Western medical science for more than a thousand years, writes that he recites the Golden Verses twice a day.  

To the mystic and occultist of the Napoleonic times, Fabre d’Olivet (1767-1825, right), we owe the French translation of the Golden Verses. I highly recommend this book; the author has provided here the verses with a comprehensive commentary, which has become the basis of most modern translations and commentaries. When I made my recent translation into Czech, I too had used d’Olivet’s works extensively. I also used them for this English translation, which is a somewhat modernised version. The Pythagorean religious philosophy and the Kabbalah have a lot in common.

 

CHRISA EPE — THE GOLDEN VERSES

 

PREPARATION:

 

Give to the Immortal Gods all that is due to them,

Yet, retain at all times your unfailing credence and faith.

Honour the great Heroes and enlightened Sages,

Those who walked the same path of unending Glory.

 

PURIFICATION:

 

Be good to your parents, spouse and your progeny,

For a friend find yourself a person of truth and virtue,

From whose councils you may profit in daily life,

Never allow a trifling matter spoil your friendship.

Always bear in mind that causes and effects are bound

Together by the strictest Law of Necessity.

Your main task is to fight and overcome those passions

That could rule over you wildly and uncontrollably,

Maintain temperance and ward 0ff chievous anger,

Do nothing evil, in your home or to other people,

Above all things, you must respect your own person.

 

Never act suddenly and without deliberation,

Those things that you have laboriously gathered 

Will lose their importance once death comes to you,

Which does not place value on wealth and affluence.

If misfortunes visit you, endure them with patience,

While trying to understand why they were sent your way,

Remember that the wise man Gods will always safeguard.

 

There are people who love the truth and others who hate it.

Look carefully before you decide which way you should go,

When delusions rule people obscuring the light of truth,

Step aside and wait until it shines through once again.

Listen to me and engrave these words into your heart,

Against all prejudice keep closed your eyes and ears,

Consult, deliberate, but don’t do what others say,

Only fools act without aim and proper course,

Think of the future, this is what life is about.

 

Don’t pretend that you know about things when it’s not true,

Never stop learning while always staying patient,

Do not lose your health needlessly through intemperance,

Give nourishment to the body and rest to the mind.

Roistering and overindulgence attract attention,

To every excess peoples envy is attached,

For pride and avarice are followed by punishment,

Golden mean is the way you should always choose.

 

PERFECTION

 

Before you close your eyes in the evening, ask yourself:

What have I done successfully, what have I failed to do?

Thus you could avoid mistakes and improve the good work.

Meditate upon my council and, learn them by heart,

For they would ultimately lead you to the divine virtues,

This I swear to you by him who has entrusted our souls

With the sacred Tetraktis, that symbol immense and pure,

The eternal source of all that flows within Nature.

 

Before you commence any work, ask the Gods for guidance,

Only with their help, you could have entered this journey,

Without their assistance, you could never reach your goals.

Reflect on their instructions, and nothing would deceive you.

You will learn of the essence of beings that in their magnificence

Rule over the spheres, high in heavens and down below.

With their permission you will learn of the principles,

Which alike in everything govern the entire Nature,

As to your true rights and obligations thus enlightened

You will no longer be drowning your soul in vain desires.

 

Understanding the only and genuine reason,

Which should govern the lives of all human beings,

Will make you see through the evils that permeate them,

That such are only of their own choice and desire,

That the wretches their time and energy are wasting

By looking elsewhere for the source, they bear within.

Only hardship and woe they attract to themselves

While seesawing aimlessly on the waves of endless sea,

With the blind waves taking them now up, now down again,

Incapable of resisting the storm or yielding to it.

 

My God! Why do you not help them and open their eyes?

It cannot be done. If the Divine force interfered

To show humanity the way that leads to only truth,

It might not be able to tell apart Good from Evil.

Only the Nature offers them such opportunity.

Wise and happy man, take a short rest in its arms,

While viewing the passage leading to heavenly spheres,

This journey that once entered must never be abandoned.

Stay on the course, while observing every day

The set of laws I have just laid out in front of you.

Into the radiant Ether you will ascend,

Amidst the Immortals, yourself you will be a God!

 

****

 

We indeed are very lucky to have the Golden Verses in our times and be able to read them, though few I suspect would do so twice a day, every day. One of the reasons I have included them here is to demonstrate how fickle the fate can be, and how much apparent luck is often needed if thoughts, ideas, knowledge systems, etc., are to survive in their treacherous journey across the abyss of time. Had anything gone wrong, had for instance Lysis decided to stick to the oral tradition without writing anything down (if the legend is true), or had Hierocles’ work not been preserved in some medieval monastery, where some irksome abbot might have decided to dispose of it, we might have only heard about the existence of the Golden Verses from some of the Romans, without actually knowing what they were. However, is it just luck or capriciousness of fate; or could perhaps be there a design? In another part of this book we will be dealing with synchronistic events and the part they play in people’s lives, particularly of those individuals who find themselves on the spiritual path.

We can get some sort of idea about the Pythagorean cosmology from the Golden Verses and the related commentaries. The Pythagoreans saw the Cosmos as formed from three intertwining worlds. The elemental forces within the Nature manifesting as the four elements of fire, water, air and earth — this is how the hermetical societies see it even today. Interestingly, the ancient theory concerning the four elements has been revived by the more recent discoveries made by scientists. Some nuclear physicists have noticed that certain forces (perhaps it would be better if we call them “potential forces” or “tendencies”) present in the core of the atom display certain qualities, which could be, and naturally only very approximately, be described as the elements of fire (thermal), water (liquidity), air (torrential, kinetic) and earth (firm, constant). This proves once again that the ancient mystic, the modern esotericist and the contemporary scientist, could understand each other rather well. Always under the condition that the latter is indeed open-minded, and not only a slave to the analytical method of thinking, which has been the way of science during the last few centuries.

The four elements interacting with the three worlds result in the formation of twelve concentric circles. Geometry and the sacred science of numbers are paramount to the Pythagorean philosophy. The whole cosmic system is inhabited by various beings that find themselves at various states of development. The higher the degree of a particular entity’s development, the higher is its field of activity. The imperfect human being, for instance, is confined to the lowest sphere only. The unknowable being, which is the omnipotent Creator (it has already been stated that the Pythagorean doctrine is essentially monotheistic), spreads over and penetrates all the twelve spheres. In between these extremes the Pythagoreans identify three main categories of beings. The highest of them are the immortal gods, who traditionally inhabit the Mount Olympus. We might say that they are synonymous with the Archons of the Gnostics. Slightly lower in the hierarchy stand those legendary heroes, who have almost reached the point of immortality. Below them are the souls of dead people that aspire to immortality. In the original Greek they were called daimones (or daemons), demons in the modern English. This word originally meant semi-gods; only Christianity gave it its now indelibly pejorative meaning, probably quite deliberately.

The life on earth is a kind of purification, according to Pythagoreans, and depending on the degree of purification reached by any individual soul, it finds itself in the corresponding sphere in the next existence. We will see later that the modern theosophists hold similar views, while the Kabbalists, who tend to concern themselves more with the present, only hint at it. All these religious/philosophical systems are at one when it comes to the soul’s main task during its stay on Earth. To put it simply: We are here to evolve! 

Fabre d’Olivet divides the Golden Verses into three parts, which he names Preparation, Purification and Perfection. The whole poem is a list of advices aimed at the seekers of truth, those who have resolved to enter the journey leading to the ultimate goal of all mankind. Such a person would be quite aware of his/her situation and position within the entire scheme. There isn’t much to say about what had lead a person to the decision to enter the path. It is highly individual, and Lysis’ advice is: Retain your individuality; guard your credence and faith! To this he adds that you should hold in regard those who have walked here before you, those who have reached the higher ends. We are unique beings, each of us has some advantages and some faults; our future journey will shape in accordance to this. The moment we have walked through the portal of the temple, where we have gained our initiation, we have left behind the profane world, finding ourselves in the realm that belongs to the initiates of the Mysteries. There are different rules here; a different moral fundamental, different and higher demands that we will have to meet with.

The Pythagoreans believed in the existence of a universal unifying principle, and knew that mankind tends to personify and worship its various attributes, depending on their place of birth, religion, customs, etc. The latter is secondary, because the Pythagorean philosopher is not a slave to any religious doctrine. The only premise on which the future journey will be built is faith in the universal power.

 

Purification begins by sorting out our own life. There are duties that we have to acknowledge and fulfil; these include duties to our family. In our times this has become far more complicated than in times of Pythagoras or of the early Kabbalists. Family units have become unstable; many children grow up under the guardianship of only one parent, which in many cases is a matter of choice. It is hard to predict yet where the society is headed in regard to this. In the era when the genecology, embryology, genetic engineering, paternity tests, etc. were still things of a very distant future, Pythagoras could afford to be quite clear about his points. The basis of social order is love, to one’s mother, father, progeny, etc., because only from here the path leads farther. Love to one’s nation, for instance, is a secondary manifestation of love to one’s mother. Similarly, willingness to subject oneself to the laws of the land springs out of well-developed sense of duty and love to one’s father.

The family that we were born to is ours and ours it will stay, no matter what we think about it, whether we like it or not. Most people might think that it is a pure chance to which family we were born. It is not so in the Pythagorean concept. Even the modern psychologists are beginning to reassess what the so-called “chance” really means, as we will see later. Pythagoras disallowed it altogether, however. To him everything is the result of something; there always is an underlying reason! If something looks like a chance happening to us, it is only so because we are unable to see the real causes. We might lack the experience that only comes with age, or the chain of “coincidences” is too complicated and entangled that we cannot see through it. Some of the cycles that rule our life might be too large for us to realise that we have reached the beginning of a new cycle. The Kabbalists with their “age discrimination in reverse” may have a point, after all.

 

The place, time and circumstances of our birth have their causes too, which means that we ourselves have had something to do with it. Consequently, we must have done that in some previous existence. Metempsychosis, transmigration of souls, is an integral part of the Pythagorean doctrine. Technically the word metempsychosis should not be interchangeable with reincarnation, but this is not always adhered to. The former means simple moving of the souls from any physical form to any other, the latter means movement from a human body into another human body. Because metempsychosis is a Greek word, the concept of transmigration of souls was erroneously attributed to Pythagoras by ignorant authors. However, we have already seen enough of his doctrine to understand that it is all about evolution of the human soul. Evolution can only move in one direction — forward. Some authors on esoteric subjects may suppose that in certain circumstances the human soul might move backwards and be reborn in an animal body, for instance as a kind of punishment. There are no reasons to believe that Pythagoras would have taught anything like this. The theory of metempsychosis or reincarnation stands more on the fringes of the Pythagorean doctrine. Like any true philosopher, he too has foremost on mind the one life that we live. Though according to some of his biographers, Pythagoras was telling his pupils that he himself could remember a whole chain of previous lives, he did not recommend that they should actively try for such recollections. Rudolf Steiner, whose philosophy is similar in many ways to that of Pythagoras, expresses the same opinion. Lethé, the river of oblivion in the Greek mythology, from which every soul has to drink after passing onto the next world, has its purpose.

At the moment of birth (or rebirth, if you like), all that might have preceded it becomes irrelevant, in any case. If we had some choice, if we took part in some process of selection of our future parents, of our body and its genetic set-up, etc., there is nothing that could be done about it now. All this belongs to the ever restrictive Law of Necessity of the Golden Verses, which is how Lysis calls the law of cause and effect, and which we have to always obey. Our life is also shaped by another important factor — our will. We may imagine that after birth we are living in an enclosure surrounded by a strong fencing built by the law of necessity. Within that restricted space we can move relatively freely and do so, mostly without even realising that we are not entirely free, and therefore making no attempts at scaling the fence or digging under it. Some of us nevertheless know what is going on and want to get out of the enclosure. The will that we have to employ while making such attempts could either be beneficial to us, or harmful, depending on the circumstances. The will and necessity are like two arms of the law of higher order, which the Greeks called Nemesis and which is known the Indian philosophers as dharma.

 

While duties to our family are necessity, and we have to simply accept it as it is, we are completely free to choose our friends. We can begin friendship with anybody, and we can also end friendship at any time. Lysis urges us that we do not do so for trifle reasons. We should choose a person of virtue for friend, so that we may profit from the friendship. Pythagoras apparently looked at friendship as companionship on a long journey, with the friends helping each other to reach the ultimate goal, which is honesty and generosity. The idiom “My friend is my other self” has been attributed to this philosopher. According to him, friendship is not only simple association of two people; together with the expanding concentric spheres of the Pythagorean cosmogony, increased are also the reach and importance of our friendly feelings. Eventually these include all the mankind, turning into philanthropy.

Our will and its range are similar. Many modern psychologists, particularly those belonging to the school of Sigmund Freud, virtually have given up on our instincts and passions, declaring them beyond human control. Freud saw in the libido, our sexual urges, a driving force of our being. A wise man simply yields to them. An orthodox follower of Darwinism has no other choice. If under his own belief he has evolved from an ape or some common ancestor, he has no reason or even pretence to subjecting his lower instincts to his own will. The evolutionary theory almost certainly has its place on the material level, but the human spirit evolves within the frame of universal laws. These have higher aims and use different means.

Man is of a Divine origin, according to Pythagoras, but also to C. G. Jung. We humans have received the gift of free will, which is capable of subduing our lower instincts. However, if a person is to benefit from this gift, he or she must learn to control the passions, which could tie us down even tighter than the cruellest of tyrannies that Earth has ever known. He who overcomes the lower instincts and achieves inner freedom, on the other hand can shake off such a tyranny; in this the inner strength of saints, martyrs or dissidents lies. The Stoics and much later some of the Christians as well had tried to kill the human passions completely, by practising asceticism. Pythagoras does not advice us to try this, it even appears that he condemned such practices. “Everything in moderation” was his credo. There is a beautiful analogy to be found in the Greek mythology that shows us the nature of human passions. The hero Heracles while trying to complete one of his tasks (which symbolise the evolutionary journey of a human soul) is compelled to challenge and kill the nine-headed Hydra. However, in place of each of the heads that Heracles cuts off, the monster grows two new heads. The hero’s final solution is to singe the stamp left after the chopped off head with the burning torch — after that the new heads stopped growing. The last of the heads nevertheless turned out to be immortal and Heracles has to cut it off, burn, bury in ground and weight down with boulders, to stop it from crawling out. The bile from the dead Hydra he used to quenching his arrows, which caused incurable injuries to his adversaries and helped him to fulfil some of his other tasks.

Hydra in this story is a symbol of lower instincts, while the last immortal head is the most primitive of the instincts. A simple amputation is not enough to eradicate these low instincts; they would not only come back in the same way, as did the monster’s heads, but grow even stronger. The burning torch that Heracles used to complete his task symbolises the human will, which is the only force capable of conquering the unleashed human passions. In addition, such a victory will bring us other advantages; what remains, in this case the bile of the dead Hydra, could be useful to us in other ways.

The lower instincts we have are products of the “necessity principle”, and as such we inherit them. If we can conquer them through the power of our will, they could be useful to us, particularly in doing common good. Similar motives are to be found in other mythological stories and fairy tales, such as The Beauty and the Beast, where the human will and kindness wins over the animal instincts. The Chinese goddess Kwan-Yin seated on the dragon that licks her hand, or the 8th Tarot card trump with the woman and the tame lion at her feet, are more examples. To be able to light up the torch of our free will, we need to have the necessary confidence. If we don’t trust ourselves, if we even dislike our own person, how could we value other things, how could we value other people?

Pythagoreans identified avarice, irritability and imprudence as the main human vices. Their common denominator is injustice. If we are to avoid having such faults in our personality, we need to cultivate the corresponding virtues; generosity, temperance, caution. In particular, justice, which this philosopher identifies as the greatest virtue. Lysis warns us that whatever we have gained through injustice we are going to lose anyway, at the moment of our death.

 

We encounter many obstacles on our journey through life. The two main motives that influence our doings are necessity and will, as we already know. What ever happens to us does not come by chance, however. This rule can be applied to every step we make, every event, even those trifle happenings that we tend to dismiss. On the other hand, it also affects the most important turning points that we encounter, the far-reaching decisions that we have to make. This is all caused by our will, acting in the sphere of Nemesis/Dharma/Necessity. The Goddess of Justice Themis has measured it out for us individually, and our will would either comply with her laws or oppose them. If it is in tune with the laws of Themis, the scales she holds will not move and Good will be the result. If it is counteractive, Evil will be born. We humans are in essence Trinitarian beings, on our journey through life we have at our disposal three senses or forces that act in harmony with our will. The first of these forces is particularly concerned with maintaining our physical existence, our body — is devoted to our soul and it is our human virtue. The third force looks after our intelligence and it is our wisdom. All three forces are basically neutral in their nature; it is up to us what we do with them. If we misuse them, out come their negative aspects, in which case self-preservation, virtue and wisdom become cruelty, vice and stupidity.

Instinct of self-preservation interprets sense of physical good or evil as either pleasure or pain, similarly the soul perceives the two positive or negative as love or hatred, while wisdom distinguishes between truth and lie. Depending on what we do with these senses the ruling will might become prudent or callous, virtuous or depraved, wise or negligent. Because of this it is advisable to try to discern between good and evil whenever we can and look behind for the causes. Consequently, before one gets angry over the “bad luck” that always seems to follow him or her, it would be good to realise that the aches and pains that trouble him were of his own making. To the Pythagorean philosopher physical pain thus isn’t a true evil. The true evil are the lies, vices, errors and sins that on his own accord he allowed to happen, as a result of fragility of his will. Physical or even mental pain can thus be a blessing, provided it is accompanied by virtue. As Lysis says, “The gods will always safeguard” those who understand that they are the only true begetters of evil that gets into their way.

As is the Kabbalah, the Pythagorean philosophy too is based on numbers. After the number One, the endless and unknowable Divinity that by itself is incapable of manifestation, comes duality, number Two. It is formed by division of original Unity, which has created an opposition to itself. The Father principle is thus divided from the Mother principle, light from darkness, good from evil, etc. Duality is thus the primary characteristic that rules the world, and there is a constant struggle between the pairs of opposite. The Gnostic philosophers knew this, and much of their religious philosophy is based on concept of duality. Their sources were mostly the Neo-Platonists, who derived a great deal of their philosophy from the Pythagoreans.

 

TETRAKTYS

 

There are many similarities with the Kabbalah that can be found in the cosmogony of Pythagoras. To him, the Universe is one is one living oneness. The individual beings that inhabit it have their precisely defined spheres of activities, depending on their degree of development. The entire system is based on numbers. The unknowable source is number one, the Monad, containing an endless potential. From the Unity, duality emerges, the way of its emanation was most severely guarded secret of the Pythagoreans. The main building stones are the first four numbers, which form the quaternion or Tetraktys. The latter is the basis of all manifestation, because it contains all the single digit numbers, as well as the final number ten and even the perfect twelve. To someone unfamiliar with the Pythagorean numerical system this might sound surprising. We are used to envisage the number system linearly and each number separately. A Pythagorean however takes into account not only the individual number, but also its potential value, which is given by its numerical value as well as sum-up of all numbers that precede it. When the total value exceeds nine, it is reduced to a single digit number by adding-up all its digit, be it two, three or more.

For example:  342 = 3+4+2 = 9 The total value of number 342 is therefore 9.

Another example: 597 = 5+9+7 = 21. Because 21 is a two digit number, it has to be reduced further: 2+1 = 3. The total value of number 597 therefore is 3.

ONE is not a true number, because it potentially contains the entire creation. Even TWO is not given the status of a number, being rather a temporary state of the original act of creation, after the one, or the monad, became polarised. Only in THREE we have the first true number. It is also the first odd number, if we exclude three. When we add one to an odd number we get an even number and vice-versa. FOUR is the first true even number. The even numbers can be divided into two equal parts (4 = 2+2), but also into two unequal parts (4 = 3+1). Odd numbers can only be divided into unequal parts.

                       Anthropomorphically illustrated, we can imagine ONE as the progenitor and TWO as the progenitress. The union of ONE and TWO produces THREE, the first son — the odd numbers are of male gender. FOUR as and even number is feminine and represents the whole of nature. The union of THREE and FOUR produces SEVEN , the basis of natural harmony. The musical scale consists of seven tones and its origin is attributed to Pythagoras. When we multiply THREE with FOUR we get TWELVE — this number symbolizes the entire Universe.

                       The perfect number is TEN, because it represents return to the original Unity (10 = 1+0 = 1). This perfect TEN however is already potentially contained in FOUR, the Tetraktys. When we add the first four numbers, the result is TEN. TEN of course can be reduced to ONE:

4 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10 = 1

 

                       In this equation, we can find the essence of the whole Pythagorean philosophy. Tetraktys is often graphically illustrated as ten points arranged into the shape of isosceles or rectangular triangle. The students of Pythagoras were apparently being sworn to this sacred triangle during the initiatory ceremonies. Some orders of occult character continue this tradition even today.

 


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