Pythagoras

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Will
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Pythagoras

Post by Will » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:59 am

Let not your feeble eyes expect to sleep
Until you have rehearsed each of the day's deeds three times:
'Where have I transgressed? what have I done? what duty not fulfilled?'

Beginning from the first go through them in detail, and then
Rebuke yourself for the mean things you have done, but delight in the good.
Golden Verses of Pythagoras, HS Schibli trans. in his Hierocles of Alexandria, p. 267

This Schibli version has all of Hierocles commentary on these famous 70 lines of verses, plus much other good stuff. His notes are sprinkled with Greek, which some readers may understand. But the book is a real gem of ancient wisdom!
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Will
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Re: Pythagoras

Post by Will » Sat Jun 30, 2018 2:24 pm

Philosophy is a purification and perfection of human life: a purification
from our irrational, material nature and the mortal form of the
body, a perfection by the recovery of our proper happiness, leading
to divine likeness. Virtue and truth are most naturally suited to
accomplish these ends; the former banishes the immoderation of the
passions, the latter gains the divine form for those by nature well
capable [of receiving it]. Therefore to acquire this science that will
render us pure and perfect we need certain briefly defined rules,
technical aphorisms, as it were, so that we may attain in an orderly
and well-arranged fashion the perfection of our happiness. Of such
rules that are directed to the whole of philosophy I would with good
reason rank among the first the Pythagorean verses, the so-called
'golden' verses. For these encompass the universal doctrines of all
philosophy, both practical and contemplative, through which one
may acquire truth and virtue, regain one's purity, succeed in
obtaining likeness to god, and, as Plato's Timaeus, that keen teacher
of Pythagorean doctrines, says, having become 'healthy and whole,
arrive at the form of one's previous estate'.
From Hierocles Proem to his commentary, pp 170-1 of Schibli.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Will
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Re: Pythagoras

Post by Will » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:57 pm

The precepts of practical virtue are provided first, for the first
requirement is to put in order the irrationality and carelessness that
exist within us; only in this way may we then pursue the knowledge
of more divine things. Just as the bleary, uncleansed eye cannot
behold exceeding brightness, so the soul that has not secured virtue
is incapable of reflecting the beauty of truth. For it is not lawful for
the impure to lay hold of the pure. Practical philosophy produces
virtue, contemplative produces truth. So also in the verses themselves
we find practical philosophy called a human virtue, and the
contemplative celebrated as a divine virtue; here the text [vv. 45-6],
concluding the precepts on civic conduct, says:

Work hard at these [precepts], put them to practice; you must desire them.
They shall set you on the path of divine virtue.

And so one must become a man first, and then a god. The civic
virtues make a man good, while the sciences leading up to divine
virtue make him a god.
Proem continues...
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Will
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Re: Pythagoras

Post by Will » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:02 pm

Small matters precede in orderly sequence
great matters for those who make the ascent. Therefore in the
Pythagorean counsels, too, the text offers first the verses that
contain the precepts on the virtues, and it directs us to ascend
from the best use (of the virtues) concerning this life to likeness to
the divine. The aim and arrangement of the verses is precisely
this, to impress upon the students a philosophic character before the
other readings. They have received the byname 'golden' because,
thus expressed in verse, they are best and divine. Therefore we also
call the best age among the ages of mankind 'golden', using an
analogy from material elements to distinguish the differences in the
manners of life [i.e. from age to age]. Gold truly is something
unadulterated and not composed of earth, unlike the kindred metals
that come after gold, such as silver, bronze, and iron. It is the
natural property of gold to surpass these, since it alone does not rust,
while each of those others, depending upon its proportion of earth,
changes into rust. Now since earthly rust is taken to correspond, to
the evil residing in matter, the age that is holy and pure and the
manner of life that is completely purified of wickedness are appropriately
called 'golden'. So of course these verses, being thoroughly
beautiful, have been entitled 'golden' and 'divine'. It is not that they
are partly beautiful and partly not, as with some other poems, but
they are all alike in exhibiting the pure manner of life, in leading us to
a likeness to the divine, and in unveiling the most perfect aim of
Pythagorean philosophy; this will become clear from the interpretation
of each verse. And let us begin, taking our start from the
opening verses.
End of Proem.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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