Skip to main content

From the Pythagorean Tradition – The Attitude Towards Life & The World

Frontispiece from volume 6 (of 6) of Sylvain Marechal’s ‘ Voyages de Pythagore’

Paris, 1798, Engraving by Dambrun, from our Via-HYGEIA library.


With today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, we continue our little Pythagorean Cycle with an excerpt from Jean Mallinger’s ‘Pythagore et les Mystères’, second edition, Planquart, 1974. Chapter 4-Part 1, page 137 to 139. English translation from the French by Via-HYGEIA.


The disciple of the Order (the order Pythagoras founded) knows that his true homeland is not here down earth. Land of distress and tears, it is only the painful place that he is enchained to in a temporarily sojourn. What are a few years compared to the blessed eternity, to which his soul is promised?

One should not attach an exaggerated importance to the terrestrial pleasures. ‘ Those goods are easy to acquire and even easier to loose’ says one of the Golden Verses.

One could not take with him, at the time of the great journey, money, any goods or anything that man is coveting and towards which the blindness of the profane is rushing.

Let us be detached of the perishable things and let’s not envy those who are mainly striving to conquer them because one day will come when they would have obtain, at a very high cost, only vain smokes.

To the celestial scale, only good and pure acts, detached from any tainted interest and from selfish leprosy, will be the weapons of our victory.

The Master (Pythagoras) has said many times these words to his disciples. One day he made them the following comparison:

Human life is like the Olympic games show. Some go there to compete. Others go to make business. But the Wise only follow them just to watch what is happening. It is the same in human life, some are slaves to glory and others are slaves to the love of money. But there, the Wise only seek Truth.

The daily display of human miseries is the most instructive of the pedagogue (teacher). Let’s look, without mingling with them, the thousand swirling of the masses; their various interest struggles; their ambition and vanity fair, the bubbling of their passions.

We will see the mighty rise and fall, the stars shine and extinguish , all glory finish like a withered flower.

Elsewhere, the Master gives similar advice:

‘Life is like a play; it is often the worse of men that perform the role of the greatest’, says one of the Homoioi.

In the drama of life, youth is the first act: this is why we look at it so attentively’, says another.

It is only friendship that down here can comfort, vivify, transfigure: The harbor is the refuge of the boat, the harbour of life is friendship’.

Earth only gives its fruits at one time of the year; friendship gives fruits at all moments of life.’

And some ‘Akousmatas’ complete this philosophy marvelously:

‘Help men to load and not unload.’ Some men are destructors, detrimental, solvents and skeptics; such an attitude is not admissible. We ought to be makers, builders, when our activity gives us the opportunity and we ought not to weaken the cement of concord on which the city (society) relies upon.

‘Don’t host swallows’. Let’s cast away from our circle, without mercy, the envious, the jealous, the perpetual criticizers, the negators and the blasphemers of all nobility and of all spirituality. Their detrimental ‘climate’, their deleterious ‘atmosphere’ will finish to corrupt our enthusiasm, and stifle our outburst.

‘Erase from the ashes the trace of the pot’. Don’t wallow in the past, only look at the present and know how to prepare the future.

‘Don’t feed beings with claws’. Don’t let in your intimate circle, bitter and aggressive beings; don’t collaborate to works of hate; don’t give weapons to your enemies.

‘Disdain your lost hair and the trimming of your nails.’ Don’t regret your sorrows, your deprivations, your sacrifices; you must give up to the world half of your self, dedicate to it your sweat and your efforts; don’t groan to all that you have to lose but, instead think to all the spiritual goods and all the joys of the mind you can conquer.

‘Don’t leave your position without the order of your Imperator’. Life is an outpost where you have been placed fighting; you don’t have the right to abandon it before the time fixed by the general, who is God, said the Master and Philolaos repeated it. Have courage and hold firm, in the most cruel trials, in disgraces and the most undeserved pains.

‘Don’t roast what has been boiled’. Be happy with your lot and don’t ask, here under, more that is allocated to you.

Such is the role of the Wise in life: He greets it with serenity; journey through it with courage, will, goodness and modesty; he hold an even face in all circumstances because he knows that all here under is but shadows and passing illusions, that will disappear one day in front of the unspeakable reality.


Original French


More on the Golden verses of Pythagoras and other Pythagorean texts: 🌿 🌿 Fabre d’Olivet’s commentary of the Golden verses:
From the Pythagorean Tradition – The Attitude Towards Life & The World

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

all rights reserved Via Hygeia 2022