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Thomas and Pythagoras

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  • Tom Saunders
    Hi Karl Teachings borrowed from the later neo-Pythagorian Arithmatikoi is certainly a possibility.... speculation that it is from Pythagoras himself is very
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 19, 2005
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      Hi Karl

      Teachings borrowed from the later neo-Pythagorian Arithmatikoi is
      certainly a possibility.... speculation that it is from Pythagoras
      himself is very unlikely.

      I agree, Pythagoras is said to have never written anything down. Clement is vague for the most part about relating anything to Pythagoras, other than noting that he was a philosopher in an unlikely 'barbarian' environment.

      On the other hand Clement also talks about mysteries in the same kind of way the Pathagoreans seem to, not to mention the intentional 'little mysteries' left in Thomas. (Five trees of Paradise, and 60 and 120 measure, and one in one hundred, and two in ten thousand) This suggests to me a type of 'mystery math' based upon the geometric ideas, rather than just the linear values of the numbers. If so, trying to figure out mathematical values may not lead anywhere. ( We all hope that Mike Grondin can show this one way or another)

      If the GThom is aligned with the idea that its form is to be shaped into a specific set within itself, then the idea to reduce the textual units to four works well. This also aligns the ideas of the storehouse, perhaps the cross, and garment as symbols of Thomasine Gnosis. I don't think the GThom is geared so you have to know Pythagoras as to being able to do citation to his exact work. I think what the author of the GThom, and the other texts that are aligned with it, want you to consider something like Pythagoras in denoting Thomas sayings. (And there could be a numerical mathematical schema as well as the geometric)

      {At the bottom of the post I am going to paste the whole of the Pythagoras number system so we can all use it. I'll also include the address for the website.}

      I think it is likely that the authors of Thomas knew that Pythagoras was going to live on as well as Jesus. At least in legend. Jesus would have lived around five hundred years after Pythagoras, but some at that time may have had knowledge we do not today. I think it is somewhat safe to assume that what we know today, is likely Pythagorean dogma, in the first century. All we can do with Pythagoras is look at what is attributed to him and speculate, and that is probably what happened to Pythagorean stuff in Jesus' time.

      We know from this group's investigation of Alexandria that we can place a lineage of Christian Sages from Peter, Mark, and later Matthew who was there by 70. Davies hits the mark on Thomas being in existence in the 50's, and I think the Rolling Thomas theory can be justified by pointing out there where 'gifted' in the Apostle's Villiage. This is in Acts, Paul, etc. Alexandria, becomes the 'school' where the 'gifed' are taught. These are guys and women that can understand, Pythagoras, Philo, and Aristotle, as well as the Persian and other Eastern Philosophies of the time.

      Thomas makes it necessary to consider the monad, Jesus. It makes you consider the duality of say the good storehouse, and the evil storehouse. It makes you consider the tripartite structure of light, in man, in his psyche, his being a man of light in his environment, and becoming again, Pleromic light.

      Consider, perhaps what Thomas is telling us hear is the field between points A. and B. of the dyad, reatains the same polarity when the structure becomes tripartite. Except, this is how Pythagoreans of today remember no. 3....

      "The triad--3--is the first number actually odd (monad not always being considered a number). It is the first equilibrium of unities; therefore, Pythagoras said that Apollo gave oracles from a tripod, and advised offer of libation three times. The keywords to the qualities of the triad are friendship, peace, justice, prudence, piety, temperance, and virtue. The following deities partake of the principles of the triad: Saturn (ruler of time), Latona, Cornucopiæ, Ophion (the great serpent), Thetis, Hecate, Polyhymnia (a Muse), Pluto, Triton, President of the Sea, Tritogenia, Achelous, and the Faces, Furies, and Graces. This number is called wisdom, because men organize the present, foresee the future, and benefit by the experiences of the fast. It is cause of wisdom and understanding. The triad is the number of knowledge--music, geometry, and astronomy, and the science of the celestials and terrestrials. Pythagoras taught that the cube of this number had the power of the lunar circle.
      The sacredness of the triad and its symbol--the triangle--is derived from the fact that it is made up of the monad and the duad. The monad is the symbol of the Divine Father and the duad of the Great Mother. The triad being made of these two is therefore androgynous and is symbolic of the fact that God gave birth to His worlds out of Himself, who in His creative aspect is always symbolized by the triangle. The monad passing into the duad was thus capable of becoming the parent of progeny, for the duad was the womb of Meru, within which the world was incubated and within which it still exists in embryo."

      When the field between point A. and B. becomes Points A., B., and C., the field becomes a map. So does four, and on and on, always in focus is the monad. If the monad is Thomas, between Phillip, and ApJnZ, then, this triad is of significance.

      Pythagoras is not mentioned in the Triad, of Th, Ph. and JZ. However, if we look at the set as a field, what do we see, between the "weeds and the wheat?"

      Thomas is absolutely the monad here. John Z., is no manual of salvation but talks about it in the sense of the past. The Thomas message is clear, that the instrument of salvation is here and now with, Jesus Wisdom. Phillip, seems to be a recollection of harmonies to the cause of living salvation. Phillip seems to be an aid to understanding Thomasine Gnosis.

      When Thomas goes to four, the plot thickens. What texts might go here?

      Basilides, and Valentinus tried to get to No. 365. Pythagoreans associate this with Abraxis, which is also associated with Gnostics.

      I myself am fascinated that Thomas in a four to one ratio, might be considered akin to the Square of Opposition, but that is speculation at this point. The tetrade can certainly be aligned with our many discussions on the configuration of man as body, mind, soul, and spirit. The monad makes five and five connotes the kosmos, or kenomic condition, of man and directly relates to the Gnostic position in so many NHL texts that speak of the hylic flaws. So, far this is consistent with the cosmic plan in both the Pythagorean legend and the Thomas ideal, as I see it.

      I think Davies is correct about the association of Thomas and Solomon, on 'Wisdom.' To quote S. of Solomon, 2-1, "I am the Rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." How do the two become the one?

      I can count to five, and make five into the ten where the 100 sayings is a box around the parable that tells you how to fix the problem, and not be the hylic character of the parable, but look for the monad in the 'frame.' Five is the pentagonal frame where you note the flaws of the kenomic condition. Six is for somebody to tell me......I like 8, and can show you sets of 8, I'm not sure why.

      Tom Saunders

      Platter, OK

      THE TABLE OF THE TEN NUMBERS
      (The following outline of the Pythagorean numbers is a paraphrase of the writings of Nicomachus, Theon of Smyrna, Proclus, Porphyry, Plutarch, Clement of Alexandria, Aristotle, and other early authorities.)

      Monad--1--is so called because it remains always in the same condition--that is, separate from multitude. Its attributes are as follows: It is called mind, because the mind is stable and has preeminence; hermaphrodism, because it is both male and female; odd and even, for being added to the even it makes odd, and to the odd, even; God, because it is the beginning and end of all, but itself has neither beginning nor end; good, for such is the nature of God; the receptacle of matter, because it produces the duad, which is essentially material.

      By the Pythagoreans monad was called chaos, obscurity, chasm, Tartarus, Styx, abyss, Lethe, Atlas, Axis, Morpho (a name for Venus), and Tower or Throne of Jupiter, because of the great power which abides in the center of the universe and controls the circular motion of the planers about itself. Monad is also called germinal reason, because it is the origin of all the thoughts in the universe. Other names given to it were: Apollo, because of its relation to the sun; Prometheus, because he brought man light; Pyralios, one who exists in fire; geniture, because without it no number can exist; substance, because substance is primary; cause of truth; and constitution of symphony: all these because it is the primordial one.

      Between greater and lesser the monad is equal; between intention and remission it is middle; in multitude it is mean; and in time it is now, because

      p. 72

      eternity knows neither past nor future. It is called Jupiter, because he is Father and head of the gods; Vesta, the fire of the home, because it is located in the midst of the universe and remains there inclining to no side as a dot in a circle; form, because it circumscribes, comprehends, and terminates; love, concord, and piety, because it is indivisible. Other symbolic names for the monad are ship, chariot, Proteus (a god capable of changing his form), Mnemosyne, and Polyonymous (having many names).

      The following symbolic names were given to the duad--2--because it has been divided, and is two rather than one; and when there are two, each is opposed to the other: genius, evil, darkness, inequality, instability, movability, boldness, fortitude, contention, matter, dissimilarity, partition between multitude and monad, defect, shapelessness, indefiniteness, indeterminate ness, harmony, tolerance, root, feet of fountain-abounding idea, top, Phanes, opinion, fallacy, alterity, diffidence, impulse, death, motion, generation, mutation, division, longitude, augmentation, composition, communion, misfortune, sustentation, imposition, marriage, soul, and science.

      In his book, Numbers, W. Wynn Westcott says of the duad: "it was called 'Audacity,' from its being the earliest number to separate itself from the Divine One; from the 'Adytum of God-nourished Silence,' as the Chaldean oracles say."

      As the monad is the father, so the duad is the mother; therefore, the duad has certain points in common with the goddesses Isis, Rhea (Jove's mother), Phrygia, Lydia, Dindymene (Cybele), and Ceres; Erato (one of the Muses); Diana, because the moon is forked; Dictynna, Venus, Dione, Cytherea; Juno, because she is both wife and sister of Jupiter; and Maia, the mother of Mercury.

      While the monad is the symbol of wisdom, the duad is the symbol of ignorance, for in it exists the sense of separateness--which sense is the beginning of ignorance. The duad, however, is also the mother of wisdom, for ignorance--out of the nature of itself--invariably gives birth to wisdom.

      The Pythagoreans revered the monad but despised the duad, because it was the symbol of polarity. By the power of the duad the deep was created in contradistinction to the heavens. The deep mirrored the heavens and became the symbol of illusion, for the below was merely a reflection of the above. The below was called maya, the illusion, the sea, the Great Void, and to symbolize it the Magi of Persia carried mirrors. From the duad arose disputes and contentions, until by bringing the monad between the duad, equilibrium was reestablished by the Savior-God, who took upon Himself the form of a number and was crucified between two thieves for the sins of men.

      The triad--3--is the first number actually odd (monad not always being considered a number). It is the first equilibrium of unities; therefore, Pythagoras said that Apollo gave oracles from a tripod, and advised offer of libation three times. The keywords to the qualities of the triad are friendship, peace, justice, prudence, piety, temperance, and virtue. The following deities partake of the principles of the triad: Saturn (ruler of time), Latona, Cornucopiæ, Ophion (the great serpent), Thetis, Hecate, Polyhymnia (a Muse), Pluto, Triton, President of the Sea, Tritogenia, Achelous, and the Faces, Furies, and Graces. This number is called wisdom, because men organize the present, foresee the future, and benefit by the experiences of the fast. It is cause of wisdom and understanding. The triad is the number of knowledge--music, geometry, and astronomy, and the science of the celestials and terrestrials. Pythagoras taught that the cube of this number had the power of the lunar circle.

      The sacredness of the triad and its symbol--the triangle--is derived from the fact that it is made up of the monad and the duad. The monad is the symbol of the Divine Father and the duad of the Great Mother. The triad being made of these two is therefore androgynous and is symbolic of the fact that God gave birth to His worlds out of Himself, who in His creative aspect is always symbolized by the triangle. The monad passing into the duad was thus capable of becoming the parent of progeny, for the duad was the womb of Meru, within which the world was incubated and within which it still exists in embryo.

      The tetrad--4--was esteemed by the Pythagoreans as the primogenial number, the root of all things, the fountain of Nature and the most perfect number. All tetrads are intellectual; they have an emergent order and encircle the world as the Empyreum passes through it. Why the Pythagoreans expressed God as a tetrad is explained in a sacred discourse ascribed to Pythagoras, wherein God is called the Number of Numbers. This is because the decad, or 10, is composed of 1, 2, 3, and 4. The number 4 is symbolic of God because it is symbolic of the first four numbers. Moreover, the tetrad is the center of the week, being halfway between 1 and 7. The tetrad is also the first geometric solid.

      Pythagoras maintained that the soul of man consists of a tetrad, the four powers of the soul being mind, science, opinion, and sense. The tetrad connects all beings, elements, numbers, and seasons; nor can anything be named which does not depend upon the tetractys. It is the Cause and Maker of all things, the intelligible God, Author of celestial and sensible good, Plutarch interprets this tetractys, which he said was also called the world, to be 36, consisting of the first four odd numbers added to the first four even numbers, thus:

      1 + 3 +5 +7
      = 16

      2 + 4 + 6 + 8
      = 20


      36





      Keywords given to the tetrad are impetuosity, strength, virility, two-mothered, and the key keeper of Nature, because the universal constitution cannot be without it. It is also called harmony and the first profundity. The following deities partook of the nature of the tetrad: Hercules, Mercury, Vulcan, Bacchus, and Urania (one of the Muses).

      The triad represents the primary colors and the major planets, while the tetrad represents the secondary colors and the minor planets. From the first triangle come forth the seven spirits, symbolized by a triangle and a square. These together form the Masonic apron.

      The pentad--5--is the union of an odd and an even number (3 and 2). Among the Greeks, the pentagram was a sacred symbol of light, health, and vitality. It also symbolized the fifth element--ether--because it is free from the disturbances of the four lower elements. It is called equilibrium, because it divides the perfect number 10 into two equal parts.

      The pentad is symbolic of Nature, for, when multiplied by itself it returns into itself, just as grains of wheat, starting in the form of seed, pass through Nature's processes and reproduce the seed of the wheat as the ultimate form of their own growth. Other numbers multiplied by themselves produce other numbers, but only 5 and 6 multiplied by themselves represent and retain their original number as the last figure in their products.

      The pentad represents all the superior and inferior beings. It is sometimes referred to as the hierophant, or the priest of the Mysteries, because of its connection with the spiritual ethers, by means of which mystic development is attained. Keywords of the pentad are reconciliation, alternation, marriage, immortality, cordiality, Providence, and sound. Among the deities who partook of the nature of the pentad were Pallas, Nemesis, Bubastia (Bast), Venus, Androgynia, Cytherea, and the messengers of Jupiter.

      The tetrad (the elements) plus the monad equals the pentad. The Pythagoreans taught that the elements of earth, fire, air, and water were permeated by a substance called ether--the basis of vitality and life. Therefore, they chose the five-pointed star, or pentagram, as the symbol of vitality, health, and interpenetration.

      It was customary for the philosophers to conceal the element of earth under the symbol of a dragon, and many of the heroes of antiquity were told to go forth and slay the dragon. Hence, they drove their sword (the monad) into the body of the dragon (the tetrad). This resulted in the formation of the pentad, a symbol of the victory of the spiritual nature over the material nature. The four elements are symbolized in the early Biblical writings as the four rivers that poured out of Garden of Eden. The elements themselves are under the control of the composite Cherubim of Ezekiel.

      The Pythagoreans held the hexad--6--to represent, as Clement of Alexandria conceived, the creation of the world according to both the prophets and the ancient Mysteries. It was called by the Pythagoreans the perfection of all the parts. This number was particularly sacred to Orpheus, and also to the Fate, Lachesis, and the Muse, Thalia. It was called the form of forms, the articulation of the universe, and the maker of the soul.

      Among the Greeks, harmony and the soul were considered to be similar in nature, because all souls are harmonic. The hexad is also the symbol of marriage, because it is formed by the union of two triangles, one masculine and the other feminine. Among the keywords given to the hexad are: time, for it is the measure of duration; panacea, because health is equilibrium, and the hexad is a balance number; the world, because the world, like the hexad, is often seen to consist of contraries by harmony; omnisufficient, because its parts are sufficient for totality (3 +2 + 1 = 6); unwearied, because it contains the elements of immortality.

      By the Pythagoreans the heptad--7--was called "worthy of veneration." It was held to be the number of religion, because man is controlled by seven celestial spirits to whom it is proper for him to make offerings. It was called the number of life, because it was believed that human creatures born in the seventh month of embryonic life usually lived, but those born in the eighth month often died. One author called it the Motherless Virgin, Minerva, because it was nor born of a mother but out of the crown, or the head of the Father, the monad. Keywords of the heptad are fortune, occasion, custody, control, government, judgment, dreams, voices, sounds, and that which leads all things to their end. Deities whose attributes were expressed by the heptad were Ægis, Osiris, Mars, and Cleo (one of the Muses).

      Among many ancient nations the heptad is a sacred number. The Elohim of the Jews were supposedly seven in number. They were the Spirits of the Dawn, more commonly known as the Archangels controlling the planets. The seven Archangels, with the three spirits controlling the sun in its threefold aspect, constitute the 10, the sacred Pythagorean decad. The mysterious Pythagorean tetractys, or four rows of dots, increasing from 1 to 4, was symbolic of the stages of creation. The great Pythagorean truth that all things in Nature are regenerated through the decad, or 10, is subtly preserved in Freemasonry through these grips being effected by the uniting of 10 fingers, five on the hand of each person.

      The 3 (spirit, mind, and soul) descend into the 4 (the world), the sum being the 7, or the mystic nature of man, consisting of a threefold spiritual body and a fourfold material form. These are symbolized by the cube, which has six surfaces and a mysterious seventh point within. The six surfaces are the directions: north, east, south, west, up, and down; or, front, back, right, left, above, and below; or again, earth, fire, air, water, spirit, and matter. In the midst of these stands the 1, which is the upright figure of man, from whose center in the cube radiate six pyramids. From this comes the great occult axiom: "The center is the father of the directions, the dimensions, and the distances."

      The heptad is the number of the law, because it is the number of the Makers of Cosmic law, the Seven Spirits before the Throne.

      The ogdoad--8--was sacred because it was the number of the first cube, which form had eight corners, and was the only evenly-even number under 10 (1-2-4-8-4-2-1). Thus, the 8 is divided into two 4's, each 4 is divided into two 2's, and each 2 is divided into two 1's, thereby reestablishing the monad. Among the keywords of the ogdoad are love, counsel, prudence, law, and convenience. Among the divinities partaking of its nature were Panarmonia, Rhea, Cibele, Cadmæa, Dindymene, Orcia, Neptune, Themis, and Euterpe (a Muse).

      The ogdoad was a mysterious number associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece and the Cabiri. It was called the little holy number. It derived its form partly from the twisted snakes on the Caduceus of Hermes and partly from the serpentine motion of the celestial bodies; possibly also from the moon's nodes.

      The ennead--9--was the first square of an odd number (3x3). It was associated with failure and shortcoming because it fell short of the perfect number 10 by one. It was called the called the number of man, because of the nine months of his embryonic life. Among its keywords are ocean and horizon, because to the ancients these were boundless. The ennead is the limitless number because there is nothing beyond it but the infinite 10. It was called boundary and limitation, because it gathered all numbers within itself. It was called the sphere of the air, because it surrounded the numbers as air surrounds the earth, Among the gods and goddesses who partook in greater or less degree of its nature were Prometheus, Vulcan, Juno, the sister and wife of Jupiter, Pæan, and Aglaia, Tritogenia, Curetes, Proserpine, Hyperion, and Terpsichore (a Muse).

      The 9 was looked upon as evil, because it was an inverted 6. According to the Eleusinian Mysteries, it was the number of the spheres through which the consciousness passed on its way to birth. Because of its close resemblance to the spermatozoon, the 9 has been associated with germinal life.

      The decad--10--according to the Pythagoreans, is the greatest of numbers, not only because it is the tetractys (the 10 dots) but because it comprehends all arithmetic and harmonic proportions. Pythagoras said that 10 is the nature of number, because all nations reckon to it and when they arrive at it they return to the monad. The decad was called both heaven and the world, because the former includes the latter. Being a perfect number, the decad was applied by the Pythagoreans to those things relating to age, power, faith, necessity, and the power of memory. It was also called unwearied, because, like God, it was tireless. The Pythagoreans divided the heavenly bodies into ten orders. They also stated that the decad perfected all numbers and comprehended within itself the nature of odd and even, moved and unmoved, good and ill. They associated its power with the following deities: Atlas (for it carried the numbers on its shoulders), Urania, Mnemosyne, the Sun, Phanes, and the One God.

      The decimal system can probably be traced back to the time when it was customary to reckon on the fingers, these being among the most primitive of calculating devices and still in use among many aboriginal peoples.



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    • David Renfro
      Ecclesiastes, 7: 27-28, Behold, this I have found, saith the Preacher, counting one by one, to find the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not, one
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 20, 2005
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        Ecclesiastes, 7: 27-28,
        Behold, this I have found, saith the Preacher,
        counting one by one, to find the account:
        Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not,
        one [wise] man among a thousand have I found;
        but a woman among all those have I not found.

        Apparently it was as hard to find a "Wise
        man" in Solomon's time as it was in Jesus'.
        But I think it's obvious where the "one in
        a thousand" concept came from.
        Couldn't 60 X 120 be as simple as a common
        measurement, as 2" X 4", or 4' X 8' is today.
        Do we do a disservice to simplicity when we
        convolute the obvious?

        David Renfro
      • Tom Saunders
        If.... Pythagorean mathematics is not a slide rule, calculator type of experience. It is an understanding that there is a polarity which relates to the
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 26, 2005
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          If....

          Pythagorean mathematics is not a slide rule, calculator type of experience. It is an understanding that there is a polarity which relates to the concept of the monad, or one. The term mathematics is almost deceptive, in that numbers are not the focus of the Pythagoras theory, it is the contemplation, and meditation of the universe, in terms of numbers as things and groups, and how there is a polarity which holds them together. This is the sense of Pythagorean math, its philosophy, and visual imagery.

          I do not think that Thomas follows Pythagoras in a schema of assigning allegories to the numeric values the same way. However the beginning and end analogy applies in the ideas of 'ascending and descending.' Pythagoreans ascended in the linear scale, they did not explain descending....

          The Pythagoreans figured ten to be the ultimate number, or geometric form. Some early Thomasine Gnostics may have seen twelve as such. This part of the theory is not critical to the understanding of the monad in the configuration of ten or twelve, as a form. Because the Thomas, and Pythagorean schema is based upon allegorically using vision, anything that is not the monad, is a different point from the monad, but can still be a part of it. The monad is always in polarity with the form, in both systems.

          The Pythagorean schema starts at one, the monad, and goes up to ten. As one learns the dogma attached to the Pythagorean legend, you get the picture that you are 'ascending' from the concept of the monad, to the dyad, triad, and all the way to ten. Whether you are using the guide of ten or twelve, 'ascending' is one thing, 'descending' is another. As an instrument of imagery, the perspective is different. Descending is the perspective of looking at the combined objects as a whole, down into the 'pit,' so to speak.

          This relates to Thomas, as we can see that at this stage the form of the descending perspective is that of looking into a lexicon, Jesus is still the polaric monad...

          The nature of the Thomas text is 114, or 100 sayings, and 13 parables. If we view the 100 sayings as a frame around ourselves as 'living parables,' we can see the possibilities of more Pythagorean type meditations with the body of Thomas. But as a meditation it does not matter how big the corpus of the lexicon is, you know the polarity of the 'form' is guided by the power of the polarity of the monad. This Monadology is present both in the Pythagorean legend and the text of Thomas.

          Thomas, as a tool of contemplation, saying by saying, reading it in its current form, the chaos mode, makes us use our natural tendencies to organize. If we think of Thomas as a monad, and guide to the Thomasine act of Gnosis, then it is more than what Davies is saying about a post Baptismal guide, it is also the very instrument of that Baptism.

          Tom Saunders
          Platter, OK











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