Pythagoras, mathematician and philosopher, returned from Egypt and Babylon a changed man. At the Greek colony of Croton, he set down roots and brought thinkers to his cause. From its foundation in 530BCE the Pythagorean school was devoted to mysticism, mathematics and music. Their inspiration from Eastern religions set them apart from the world in which they lived, and eventually they set about slowly changing the world. Their beliefs were simple – All is number.
Maths And Soul Beans
Mathematics and religion were intertwined, just like Hinduism and Buddhism. Pythagoreans also brought in a belief in immortal souls and reincarnation. As scientific as searching for numbers may sound, make no mistake, they were a group of mystics. They were also the first vegetarians in Europe.
Pythagorean life was simple, no feasts at their celebrations, just normal meals of fruits and vegetables. Vegetarianism is one of their most lasting legacies. The consumption of souls was taboo because they feared it would cause them harm in the form of a bad reincarnation. To avoid that they not only avoided meat, but beans as well. Beans were so avoided that Pythagoreans were not even allowed to touch beans.
Bean fear was simple, they believed that beans held the souls of the dead, those who had yet to be reincarnated. So they were vegetarians without beans, but of course ‘vegetarian’ was a word that didn’t exist in Europe then. The first time it came into the English language was in1842, with the creation of the British Vegetarian Society. Any time before 1842, people in English-speaking countries were said to be on a ‘Pythagorean Diet.’ The whole diet was another import from Eastern spirituality, the greater legacy is their music.
The Sound Of Our Stars
Imagine a length of string held tight. Pluck it and it produces a note. Now, if you cut the string in half and plucked it again, you would get the same note, but an octave higher. Play both at the same time and they sound pleasant, this is called a harmony. Further exploration found thirds and fifths, divine harmonies that the Pythagoreans saw as a sonic expression of mathematics.
Pythagoreans were the first people to investigate the chords and ratios of music. These discoveries and others related to mathematics elevated their status in society. Not only that, but they soon began to see music in the sky.