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  • Olivier Du Roi

Mother Tradition and Eonian Tradition: Pythagoras, chapter I - Introduction

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Why does the Order of the Lily and the Eagle claim to be in the Pythagorean Tradition?


Who is Pythagoras?

For most people, deep in their memory there remains a vague memory of a famous theorem that awakened – or on the contrary – repulsed them in relation to the mathematical sciences. You may remember: "In a right triangle, the square of the length of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the lengths of the other two sides." This is the famous Pythagorean Theorem that we all learned in school. But apart from this distant reminiscence, Pythagoras often evokes nothing else to most people.

For others, he is also a philosopher or a sage. But for some contemporary analysts, Pythagoras only brought mathematical rudiments and his "science" of number remains very limited and often naive, mixing geometric or arithmetical concepts with religious or mystical beliefs seeming to have no relation between them and not based on any truly scientific basis. Emile Bréhier (1), for example, in his monumental History of Philosophy, speaks of it in not very complimentary terms. It refers the Pythagoreans to "primitives" with folk beliefs.

And even when modern scientists, like Sylvie Vauclair (2), seem to discover through observation the beginnings of an explanation of the Pythagorean system, they prefer to turn away from it. In her book The New Music of the Spheres published in 2013, the astrophysicist demonstrates that "the Sun and the stars which resemble it really ring like resonating boxes of musical instruments", which could come close to the Pythagorean theory on celestial harmony and the music of the stars. And she continues, “This is the new music of the spheres, the real music of the stars! » In her wake, many could follow suit and proclaim a new victory for the objective sciences over the ancient philosophies and their outdated vision of a world that they imagined more than observed... which much of the scientific community has done for a long time along with relegating to the rank of second-rate thinkers all those who did not base their conceptual system solely on the experimental and analytical study of facts.

Well, members of the Order of the Lily and the Eagle have a very different point of view of Pythagoras. In their eyes, he is a major figure in the history of human thought and of the Initiatic Tradition. He is an essential figure who, like many others after him, enlightened humanity with his Wisdom. We must see Pythagoras above all as a link in the initiatic chain starting from Hermes Trismegistus, continuing with Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, the Stoics, .... The Order of the Lily and the Eagle claims Orphism and Pythagoreanism as factual and thus perpetuates this Tradition (and much more). As we will see in the course of this study, some of the initiatic Teachings that we transmit resonate strongly with the thoughts and the philosophical principles of these two currents. Also, it should be noted that on other points our Teaching echoes Stoicism and teaches us how its practice can be beneficial.

Over the centuries, many intellectuals, philosophers and even scientists have sensed the high truths hidden in the works of Pythagoras and have drawn inspiration from them. We find it first in what Damascius (3) called "Plato's golden chain", starting from Hermes Trismegistus, passing from Pythagoras to Parmenides, Empedocles, Plato, Speusippus, Xenocrates, Aristotle... The Pythagorean inspiration is inscribed over the centuries with thinkers such as Raymond Lulle, Luca Pacioli, Paracelsus or Tommasio Campanella. Somewhat closer to our timeseen in the understanding and expressing the harmonies of Nature, the hidden presence of Unity in the plurality of its cosmic manifestations, or even the Sacred Science of Numbers, and we can cite Emmanuel Swedenborg, Franz von Baader, Schelling, Novalis, Abbot Lacuria, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, Eliphas Lévi or Papus.

In the french edition Que sais-je? "Pythagore et les Pythagoriciens", Jean-François Mattéi (4) explains how a genius as great as Kepler rallied to the Pythagorean theory, which tradition will call "Platonic bodies".

Jean-François Mattéi also explains how pythagoreanism was the precursor of strong astronomical advnces and in particular that of the conception of a world that was on longer geocentric, but heliocentric : "Philolaos (5) seems to be the first thinker to affirm that the earth is not at the center of the universe, but that it is ordered around a single central fire : this pyrocentric system calls into question the geocentric system which was to prevail until the Copernicus revolution, as if religious intuition guided the strictly scientific hypothesis, which will still be the case with Copernicus, Tycho de Brahe, and Kepler".

This same "intuitive reason" which at times guides clairvoyant minds, great thinkers, philosophers, and poets, is a Truth which cannot be understood by those who have not experienced it. The Order of the Lily and the Eagle affirms the reality of this Truth and how this perception of analogical correspondences makes it possible to "capture" lofty Truths that are beyond ordinary human understanding. Edgar Allen Poe (6), in his poetic cosmology Eureka, says the same thing. He explains very well the poetic and intuitive truth of the Pythagorean system which, according to him, is verified by the beauty that emerges from it. And what he describes is completely in line with Pythagorean thought. First, the highlighting of the relationship between the One (which was at the beginning, and which will be at the end) and the many. And the harmony of the world is born from that from this infinity of relationships. We can also see in this dazzling intuition to which Edgar Poe testifies in his poem Eureka, that of the finite age of stars, as the astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Luminet (7) underlines, but also that of a universe analogous to the system of “Platonic bodies” and in particular to the dodecahedron which, poetically, is supposed to contain the whole of the Universe, which it envelops like the “shell of the sphere.”

This parenthetical thought on Edgar Poe has no other point than to show how certain Pythagorean thoughts can be found in unexpected modern authors, in a fragmentary way certainly, but no less real. It also highlights the idea that there is another way to deeper Knowledge which does not arise only from the inductive or deductive thoughts which have guided the history of mankind in its quest for knowledge. This other path of Knowledge of the invisible can be based on the creative intuition of artists, as it can also be the contributions from Master Initiates who, having access to other realities and other Truths than those given to be observed in the human mind, have illuminated the ages with their wisdom. They left their mark with the countless Teachings they gave. Pythagoras was one of them.

What sometimes confuses analysts, especially atheists, is the completeness of the Pythagorean thought system, which finds meaning and unifying logic in all cosmic realities, which answers metaphysical questions, and which investigates all dimensions of Knowledge. In the Pythagorean current, for example, the Mysteries and the laws of Nature taught within the School had concrete transcriptions in very diverse fields, and it is thus that we find among the Pythagoreans enormous advances in science, numbers, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and in music by the invention of the natural scale built on the cycle of fifths, etc.

Pythagoreanism is a current that spans several centuries. The Teaching that was given there was part of an oral Tradition and was passed on in Schools or from Masters to disciples. Through the ages, there have remained "officially" of all this Tradition only recent and fragmented writings, which are only fragments of a much larger and more comprehensive Teaching. On these bases, which do not always represent the spirit and the authenticity of the initial thought, modern commentators (as we explained at the beginning of this text) have sometimes caricatured and ridiculed thoughts that are nevertheless very deep transcriptions of the highest Truths. The philosopher Simone Weil (8) is not mistaken when she writes in The Greek source: "Pythagoreans. Center of Greek Civilization. We know almost nothing about (Pythagoras), except through Plato…" Plato [....] is not a man who founded a philosophical doctrine. Unlike all other philosophers (without exception, I believe), he repeats that he has not invented anything, and that he is only following a tradition, which he sometimes names and sometimes does not. Take his word for it. He is sometimes inspired by previous philosophers of which we have fragments and whose systems he has assimilated in a superior synthesis, sometimes through his master Socrates, sometimes by secret Greek traditions of which we know almost nothing except through him, the Orphic tradition, the tradition of the Eleusinian mysteries, and the Pythagorean tradition which is the mother of Greek civilization, and very probably also of the traditions of Egypt and other countries of the East. We do not know if Plato was the best recorder of Greek spirituality, but there is nothing else left. Pythagoras and his disciples may arguably be even more wonderful. "

This Tradition is a golden thread that has linked Initiates over the ages, and it is encompassed in what is called the Eonian Tradition. The Order of the Lily and the Eagle continues this work. And we will now find in the next chapters some of the links between the Pythagorean Teachings and those of the Order of the Lily and the Eagle.

To be continued...

Olivier Du Roi - May 2021

1 Emile Bréhier (1876 - 1952), associate professor of philosophy, was a high school teacher and then a university professor and, from 1940, edited La Revue Philosophique.

2 Sylvie Vauclair, astrophysicist at the Institute for Research in Astrophysics and Planetology, Professor Emeritus at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. She was a member of the National Air and Space Academy.

3 Damascius is a Neoplatonic philosopher born in Damascus in 458 and died in 533.

4 Jean-François Mattéi (1941-2014), was professor of Greek philosophy and political philosophy. He taught at the Nice Sophia Antipolis University and was one of the project managers of the Philosophical Encyclopedia (PUF).

5 Philolaos, born around 470 and died around 390 BC. J-C, is a Greek philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, figure of the Pythagorean tradition.

6 Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849), was an American poet, novelist, short story writer, literary critic, playwright, and publisher, as well as a leading figure in American Romanticism.

7 Edgar Allen Poe. Eureka. Preface by Jean-Pierre Luminet which shows that the poet can reach truth through his intuitions the discoveries of modern astrophysicists: expansion of space, presence of supermassive black holes.

Dunod editions, 2017.

8 Simone Weil is a humanist philosopher born in Paris in 1909 and died in Ashford in 1943.

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