You might remember, and definitely would have studied at some point in trigonometry, the theory for finding the length of the hypotenuse of a triangle (a2+b2=c2). You might even know that Greek mathematician Pythagoras discovered the theory, but did you know that he was also responsible for science becoming a major component of human study and as a path to self-actualization and even unity with the divine? Indeed, ol’ Pythagoras was more than just an extraordinary mathematician; he was a deeply philosophical and spiritual soul who founded the spiritual sect of Pythagoreanism and even had disciples that he taught esoteric practices too! In fact, he was a shaman and a mystic of the highest order.
More than just science
The tenets of Pythagoreanism are tied closely to science, philosophy, music, reincarnation, and the belief that the ultimate purpose of a soul is unity with the divine. Pythagoras believed that all souls are immortal and constantly reincarnate into new bodies after every life and that the ultimate goal of this process is unity with the divine. In fact, despite the namesake ‘Pythogaras Theorem’ in trigonometry being taught world around in schools and colleges, he himself, as well as his followers, only ever used mathematics for spiritual reasons!
The spiritual understanding of mathematics that descended from the teachings of Pythagoras was simple yet profound. The number 1 represents the source and ‘allness’ that pervades everything, 2 represents matter. 3 represented the god Apollo, the Greek deity of truth, worship, and music. This trifecta can be equated in Christianity with God (number 1), the word of god (his creation), and his wisdom (truth, worship, music). There are further numbers of significance, such as the number 4 representing the 4 seasons and elements, etc. Even these have spiritual significance rather than scientific, as the logical, philosophical sequence of god’s descent from his oneness into life as we know it today is from oneness into matter. From matter into truth, beauty and wisdom, and from wisdom into the solid, material form that the 4 seasons and elements represent. Indeed, Pythagoreanism is so deeply rooted in numbers that they believe numbers can be equated to every natural and supernatural understanding of the universe, including patterns in nature. Pythagorean mystics even uncovered formulas and numerics that represented the shifting of various strata of existence into more gross ones and back. It is also known as the genesis of the universe from source One as well as the return of consciousness that grows within it back to a state of conscious unity.
Pythagorean thinking in other spiritual aspects
Pythagorean thinking can be seen in other, unrelated spiritual lineages as well. Reincarnation as the purpose of the soul being to reunite with the divine need no reintroduction here. As it is a common belief of many religions and spiritual teachings. Additionally, parallels can be drawn with Eastern Advaita Vedanta and other related spiritual teachings that talk of ‘knowing thyself’ (a central tenet even in Christianity). Pythagoras taught that knowing oneself is the key to knowing the universe, as we are the fulcrum around which our understanding revolves. Pythagoras also stated that ‘Evil destroyeth itself’ and that ‘Virtue is harmony’. The belief that evil need not be interfered with and that it would eventually destroy itself if left to its own devices is a profound one that could easily be the official subtext to any teaching which talks about non-involvement with bad persons to maintain spiritual purity. Not only is it vital for one’s own purity that one does so, but doing so only helps the evil one when it leads to his eventual destruction with more swiftness. ‘Virtue is harmony’ can be seen to draw parallels in teachings that promote non-violence and peace as ultimate positive values instead of, say, love, and service. Harmony, one could argue, naturally results in a state of mind that is full of love and thoughts and actions of service. That one need not bother one’s’ heart feelings of disappointment in oneself or sorrow from not being able to help another or because one has bad thoughts or angry emotions from time to time is a highly intelligent and liberating thought. Unity with reality; that which simply but harshly teaches you ‘What Is’ when you trip and fall against it, or instead pushes you to new heights when you align with it. This can be seen as the most worthwhile conscious goal instead of ideals such as being virtuous or selfless because virtue and selflessness would be a natural result of actualizing such a goal. The benefit is that the path is faster and frivolous feelings of self-contempt are altogether avoided. This is perhaps one of the most unique but illuminating teachings to come from Pythagoras, which can be applied to most individuals in most walks of life to move them more swiftly towards the goal of ‘union with the divine’.
Indeed, Pythagoras was more than just ‘some ancient Greek mathematician’. He was a profound mystic, and many universally accepted mathematical equations that connect divinity with matter and form were initially derived from students of Pythagoreanism. Even for those less concerned with spiritual matters, it is at least of inspiration to see the depth of possibility of the human mind to live both in the realms of mathematics and mysticism equally; a notion that most scientists, and indeed, many religious leaders too, would wrongly scoff at.