THE WISDOM OF ANCIENT GREECE
Thales - Anaximander - Anaximenes - Pythagoras
Xenophanes - Parmenides - Zeno - Heraclitus
Empedocles - Anaxagoras - Democritus - Protagoras
Gorgias - Socraties - Plato - Aristotle - Zenon
Epicurus - Pyrrho - Philo - Plostinus
The Oaks of Ancient Greece
RECOMENDED FIRST MEDITAIONS
"The Golden Door Book"
THE WISDOM OF ANCIENT GREECE
I. THE MILESIANS
The first cause of all things is water. Water has become everythink; everything will become water.
The first cause if eternal, infinite and indeterminable; everything which exists springs from it and at the end of time will return to it again.
The essence of the Universe is the infinite air in eternal movement which contains all in itself. The world is formed by integration and disintegration of the air.
The essence of and the laws governing all things are numbers.
Harmony reigns in the universe in the unity of diversities.
III. THE ELEATICS
Existence is motionless unity, eternal in itself. There never has been and never will be mortal man able to know the Gods and the Universe whose essence we seek, because all is encompassed with errors.
There is no change and non-existence: there is only motionless existence, which is single adn identical with thought.
There is not movement and diversity; there is only motionlessness wich is one.
All things exist and at the same time do not exist. No sooner do they begin to exist than they cease to exist. Everything flows forth and back eternally. The clash of diametrically opposed tendencies is the origin of all things. Thge Universe is born neither of God nor of man; it was the eternally living fire, which is now and shall be forever.
Everything proceeds from the first four elements; earth, air, fire and water. There is nothing except aggregation followed by the disintegration of the aggregations. Ignorant mortals call it birth and death. The force which binds together is love; the force which divides is hate.
The first seeds of all things are simple in themselves and yet infinetely diverse. The organizer of all things is the immovable cause of all movement.
There is not only empty space, but invisible and indivisible corpuscles and primordial atoms; everything becomes a vortex of the disintegraton of atoms.
Man is the measure of all things. As I see things, so they are for me; as you see things, so they are for you. All our knowledge is individual, consequently imperfect and uncertain.
Nothing exists. If it did it would be imperceptible. Even if it were perceptible it would be impossible to impart it by means of speech.
VII. ATHENIAL SCHOOL
We must be philosophers for the sake of life and we must live for the sake of philosophy. The new object of inquiry for man. Know thyself. The new method is inductive. We must look for general laws in numerous uniform phenomena. Thus we reach Reason which sits enthroned above the individual knowledge of all mankind.
The essence of things is idea, which exists in and for itself, independent of everything. There are as many insensible ideas in the world as there are sensible things. The highest idea, the last in all we can know and the foundation of all other ideas, is the idea of good, which is God himself. The sensible world is only a pale copy of the world of ideas. Objects of the sensible world are only real in the measure that they share in ideas which are the eternal prototypes of things.
The two first principles of things are primitive matter, shapeless and utterly boundless, and pure immaterial form, which is God himself. God by means of movement gives form to matter. God is the first to animate nature; he does not create the world, which is eternal; he only arranges it. Form is a realizing force; activity, matter and capacity are the disposition which is realized. The passing of matter into forms is realized by movement, by uninterrupted succession of forms. Evolution leads from the lower degrees to existence towards the higher.
The two factors of the universe are passive primordial matter, and the active reason of the divinity who forms matter. See that you live in harmony with your own reasonable nature, instead of acting unreasonably according to your own caprice. There lies your part and your happiness, for in that way you can avoid every collision with Nature and with the order of the Universe. Thus you can rest assured of a pleasant and quiet life. The supreme good is virtue; the finest quality is serenity - unconcerned before the changes of the world.
Happiness if pleasure. Let us avoid pain and look for pleasure. But the wise among us count the consequences and suffer pain for an instant to enjoy lasting pleasure, because true happiness is pleasure which is permanent and progressive. Pleasures of the mind are above those of the body. The chief rule is temperance and a simple life. Wealth consists in a minimum of needs. Let us detach ourselves.
The essence of things is unknowable and will always remain unknowable. All that we know is merely individual notion, an uncertain phenomenon, sprung from the uncertain imagination of our senses. So good and evil, right and wrong, are all human conceptions varying with the circumstances, because in itself nothing is good or evil, but all is equal. We must avoid all theory and be satisfied with enquiry. Thus we shall reach a serenity of mind which knows no fear and is free from deception or surprise.
X. ALEXANDRINE SCHOOL
The chief Idea in the Universe if Reason whose copy is the Universe itself. The Universe is created by God by means of reason. And so pure contemplation, which borders on ecstasy, leads to God.
The sensible world is only the radiation of the world which is a form of God. Finite reason cannot know infinite divinity unless the former itself becomes infinite. If the soul in its ecstasy dissolves in the infinite spirit from which it came then death is rebirth in God.