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[sacredlandscapelist] [Fwd: Ancient Greek Mysticism (LONG)]

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  • J.Vincent Beall
    I found this wonderful article in the newsgroups, and it really is quite extrordinary... Vince ... This message was forwarded to you from Deja.com by
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 10, 2000
      I found this wonderful article in the newsgroups, and it really is quite
      extrordinary...

      Vince
    • C G
      From the article below: The Orphics believed in reincarnation – the soul was imprisoned in a body from one incarnation to the next, in a great turning wheel
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 10, 2012
        From the article below:

        "The Orphics believed in reincarnation – the soul was
        imprisoned in a body from one incarnation to the next, in a great
        turning wheel of lives. The goal of the Orphic was to end the cycle
        of births by earning one's way out. ... Reincarnation is popularly thought to be an "Eastern" belief
        but in reality it has been a feature of Western esoteric thought from
        the earliest moments of Western culture."

        I think that is a wonderful way to link two disparate thought and belief systems. I have often equated the term "reincarnation" with Hinduism but I do think it is important to grow beyond this east-wast dichotomy. Reincarnation viewed through the lens of rebirth has a place on this list in terms of the organic growth one sees in the landscape around you all the time. On the one hand, reincarnation is a crazy idea from the physical view of the body. I mean, huh? But on the other hand, it is simply a platitude that Christianity takes as its basic tenet that its deity was reincarnated -- somehow. I tend to look at things more abstractly in terms of the various vegetation gods of death and rebirth but I have had on occasion this weird sensation of looking at people and suddenly perceiving the underlying forms and geometry (for lack of a better word). The trajectories of age and change, from childhood on up to adulthood, follow the same path of transformation, do they not? Just as we like to think the square entered the world through the vesica shaped mother point, I close my eyes to the bodily world and feel the underlying forms being reborn around me all the time.

        Opening my eyes, what do I see? The world reincarnated. Never the same, always being reborn.

        Has anyone else found their mind's eye wandering to the hidden geometry of organic growth? Spirals, perhaps, more than points and lines. Is that why fractal art is so popular nowadays? Are we all stoned staring at the same space in front of our eyes? Wish there was a fractal art channel on TV. lol. Can you just picture the commercials that would go along with it? Spirograph.

        See you on the next age,

        Chris

        --- In sacredlandscapelist@yahoogroups.com, "J.Vincent Beall" <vincent@...> wrote:
        >
        > I found this wonderful article in the newsgroups, and it really is quite
        > extrordinary...
        >
        > Vince
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        >
        > This message was forwarded to you from Deja.com by vincent@...
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        > (beginning of original message)
        >
        > Subject: Ancient Greek Mysticism (LONG)
        > From: "Hannah M.G. Shapero" <pyracantha@...>
        > Date: 1999/06/08
        > Newsgroups: alt.religion.zoroastrianism
        > I just finished this article on Ancient Greek Mysticism. There are some
        > references to Zoroastrianism in it as an influence on the Greek philosophers
        > I am talking about. This is only a first draft and no doubt some changes
        > will be made later on. I hope you enjoy reading it.
        >
        > ANCIENT GREEK MYSTICISM
        >
        >
        > The Greeks gave us the very word for mysticism. The
        > Greek word MUO means, "to shut the eyes or mouth." MUO is
        > closely related to the verb MUEO, "to initiate into the mysteries."
        > The closed eyes and mouth in this context do not signify blindness
        > or muteness, but secrecy and silence, and the order not to reveal
        > the secrets of the initiation and revelation that one had received.
        > These Greek root-words have given us "mystic" and "mysticism,"
        > "mystery" and "mysterious," as well as "mute." Every time we talk
        > about mysticism we speak a bit of Greek.
        > But what exactly is Mysticism? The word is often
        > downgraded to mean superstition, priestcraft, occultism or magic,
        > or other things regarded as irrational, all of which are somewhat
        > related to mysticism and the mystical life. But the basic meaning
        > of "mysticism" has to do with the relationship of human beings to
        > a divinity or deity, or, for non-theists, "ultimate reality." Mysticism
        > is about direct contact between human beings and this divine
        > reality. This contact, when mystics try to speak about it, is said to
        > be ineffable and indescribable – yet for thousands of years, those
        > mystics have given us many exact and definite testimonies of their
        > experiences.
        > Mysticism is "introverted." It is an "inner" experience,
        > taking place within the consciousness of an individual human
        > being. The characteristic expression of this individual
        > "inwardness" is Plotinus' famous phrase, "the flight of the Alone
        > to the Alone." Yet there is also an "extroverted" mysticism, which
        > is found in ritual and communal contexts, in liturgy, initiation into
        > a group, and sometimes in visions seen by many people at once.
        > And though mysticism is thought to be "irrational," there is also a
        > form of it, which I would call "rationalist mysticism," which builds
        > systems of ideas and symbols onto the base of an intuitive,
        > mystical revelation.
        > Both kinds of mysticism occur in the ancient Greek world,
        > though the "extroverted" kind is more easily traceable. And in
        > most cases, the "introverted" and the "extroverted" were both
        > present in a mystical practice, rite, or event. The practice of ritual
        > or liturgy would, it was hoped, lead to an individual experience of
        > insight or a meeting with an otherworldly and divine being.
        > The roots of Greek mysticism are very old, as old as the
        > earliest Greek expansion through the Eastern Mediterranean in the
        > 7th century BCE. A major scholarly chronicler of this encounter
        > was E.R.Dodds, who in the early 1950s wrote a book, which is
        > now, a classic, called THE GREEKS AND THE IRRATIONAL.
        > This book counters the then-common myth (which is still
        > promoted by some scholars and philosophers) that Greek culture
        > was one of pure rationalism and non-mythological, proto-scientific
        > thought. Certainly those things were important in Greek culture,
        > but they are not the whole story. In his book, Dodds shows how
        > non-rational elements were integrated into the spiritual and
        > philosophical life of ancient Greece.
        > The most revolutionary contribution to Greek cultural
        > studies in this book is Dodds' assertion that there is a shamanic
        > influence in Greek mysticism and mystical practices. Even though
        > Dodds' book was written before Mircea Eliade's definitive study
        > on shamanism, anthropologists had already described shamanism,
        > especially as it occurred in central Asia and Eastern Europe. It was
        > this form of shamanism, which the Greek colonists met with when
        > they colonized the northern and eastern shores of the Black Sea, as
        > well as in Anatolia in what is now Turkey. As Dodds and other
        > authors describe it, the model of shamanism becomes the basic
        > foundation for much of what becomes Greek mysticism.
        > Shamanism, as Mircea Eliade describes it, is an "archaic
        > technique of ecstasy." The shaman, who is usually a specialist in
        > this task, is able to enter into "another world," a non-physical
        > world which is nevertheless considered to be "real." The shaman
        > may enter into the other world using mind-altering drugs, or by
        > non-drug practices such as drumming, dancing, and ritual
        > performances. Shamans are often initiated into their calling by a
        > symbolic death, often through dismemberment. The shaman is then
        > "resurrected" and put back together, so that he or she may become
        > a spiritual benefactor for the people he/she serves. Shamans enter
        > into the other world either to explore for themselves or on behalf of
        > people. Often they go into the inner world – or "underworld," in
        > order to retrieve the souls of those who are in danger of death.
        > Shamans are thought to have magical powers of clairvoyance,
        > healing, communication with animals or with dead peoples' souls,
        > and blessing and cursing, among many other abilities. And their
        > words, or songs and poetry, are thought to have magical powers as
        > well.
        > A basic assumption of shamanism is that the soul is
        > independent of the body, and can "travel" outside the body: it is
        > detachable. The shaman's soul goes on a visionary journey, while
        > the body is suspended in a trance. The soul enters what modern
        > shamanic scholar and practitioner Michael Harner calls the
        > "shamanic state of consciousness," in which a mythical reality,
        > rather than our material reality, can be experienced. A milder, less
        > trance-like form of this practice is sometimes called "active
        > imagination," the directed use of the imagination in mental
        > visualization, rather than in undirected daydreams and fantasies.
        > The ancient Greek encounter with shamanism and its
        > transformation into Greek mysticism is described by W.K.C.
        > Guthrie in his ORPHEUS AND GREEK RELIGION, where he
        > shows how shamanic motifs of the detachable soul, soul-travel,
        > ecstasy, dismemberment, and resurrection were taken over by the
        > cult of Dionysus, and then modified and refined by the mysterious
        > religious movement known as "Orphism," named after its mythical
        > founder, the poet Orpheus. The myth of Orpheus has a shamanic
        > quality to it: Orpheus charms wild beasts with his songs, he
        > voyages to the Underworld in search of his lost wife, he fails to
        > bring her back (in some variants of the myth, he succeeds), and is
        > later dismembered either by Furies or by angry female followers
        > (depending on the variant of the myth). The religion, centered
        > around this shamanic poet figure of Orpheus, though it is not well-
        > documented by contemporary evidence, was highly influential in
        > the development of later Greek mysticism in myth, theory, and
        > practice.
        > Orphism was an initiatory religion, rather like the folk
        > religions of ancient Greece such as the famous Eleusinian
        > Mysteries. Orphic worshippers revered gods and goddesses such as
        > Dionysus, Demeter, and Persephone, divinities of agriculture and
        > natural cycles. Most of the Orphic teachings are revealed only by
        > much later writers, who despite writing many centuries after
        > Orphism flourished, seem to have preserved its basic doctrines
        > fairly well. For Orphics, the human soul is immortal. It is part of a
        > divine unity, or is divine in itself. But it is imprisoned in a mortal,
        > material body. The goal of the Orphic devotee is to escape from
        > the unspiritual body through initiation, accepting the saving
        > knowledge and practices, and performing, or witnessing, the sacred
        > ritual. Through these actions one could escape from the sorrowful
        > toils of the material world, and in doing so achieve union with the
        > Divine. Orphism, unlike the collective, civic religion of
        > mainstream Greek paganism, was an individualistic religion, in
        > which salvation came through individual intuition and
        > enlightenment, not through an impersonal "contract" between gods
        > and men.
        > The Orphics believed in reincarnation – the soul was
        > imprisoned in a body from one incarnation to the next, in a great
        > turning wheel of lives. The goal of the Orphic was to end the cycle
        > of births by earning one's way out. This concept of reincarnation
        > and merit is tantalizingly close to that of Hinduism and Buddhism
        > – though scholars have never been able to prove definitely that
        > there was any influence between the Eastern religions and the
        > Greek. Reincarnation is popularly thought to be an "Eastern" belief
        > but in reality it has been a feature of Western esoteric thought from
        > the earliest moments of Western culture.
        > The Orphic mystical movement, in its concern for the
        > wandering soul and the inner world, echoing shamanic myths in its
        > teachings, could be considered a Greek transformation of the more
        > primal shamanism of Central Asia. And this is the background for
        > the first great Greek mystical philosophers: Pythagoras,
        > Heracleitos, Parmenides, and Empedocles. These thinkers are
        > among the group categorized under the name of "Presocratic
        > philosophers."
        > One of the earliest, the greatest, and the most influential of
        > these was Pythagoras, who lived from about 570 BCE to 500 BCE.
        > He was originally from the Eastern Mediterranean island of Samos,
        > near what is now the Turkish coast, and he was educated in the
        > sophisticated Greek colonial civilization that had already been
        > there for more than a hundred years. These Eastern Greek colonies
        > also absorbed many cultural influences from the Middle East,
        > whether from Mesopotamia, Egypt, or Persia, and it is because of
        > this influence on Pythagoras' philosophy that legends about him
        > say that he studied in Egypt or Babylon. It is unlikely that he
        > actually did so, but the Eastern connection is there in Pythagoras'
        > teaching, gained in an indirect way. In his adult life, he lived in the
        > Greek colonies of Sicily and South Italy.
        > Pythagoras is famous as a mathematician and geometer, the
        > inventor (or at least the one who introduced it to the West) of the
        > "Pythagorean theorem" about right-angle triangles. He is also
        > renowned for his mathematical theory of musical notes. He was the
        > first Western philosopher to teach that mathematics, or number, is
        > the key to the universe – which is still the foundation of science as
        > we know it. And yet Pythagoras was also a religious figure and a
        > mystic; the "philosopher" in his era was not a specialist, and could
        > write and practice both material science and mystical religion.
        > The mystical aspects of Pythagoras' teachings, which
        > inspired the monastic communities he founded, are closely related
        > to Orphic doctrines and practices. Orphism was prevalent among
        > the thinkers of the Greek Italian colonies where Pythagoras lived
        > and taught. Pythagorean mysticism sounds a lot like Orphism:
        > immortality of the soul which is separate from the body,
        > reincarnation (Pythagoras, like many modern mystics, is said to
        > have known who his previous lives were), vegetarianism (because
        > human souls may be reincarnated into animals), asceticism,
        > meditation, and ritual practices designed to facilitate the
        > experience of revelation and union with the Divine. Disciples were
        > initiated into Pythagoras' sect, and Philosophy was seen as the
        > saving Knowledge, which set the soul on its upward path away
        > from the material world and the imprisoning cycle of incarnations.
        > Interestingly, both men and women were accepted as Pythagorean
        > initiates, in a society where women were usually strictly excluded
        > from intellectual and philosophical life.
        > Pythagoras himself achieved the status of a semi-divine
        > founder, whether he wished himself to be or not. He inherited from
        > shamanic traditions (and their Orphic transformations) the role of
        > the "theios aner" or "holy man" whose journeys into the Inner
        > world, and his magical incantations, put him in touch with the
        > Divine and gave him magical powers to benefit the world.
        > Philosophers, then and now, want to know about Being.
        > They want a "Theory of Everything" which can explain whether
        > there is any unity behind the visible diversity of the world. Is there
        > an Ultimate Substance from which everything proceeds?
        > Nowadays, most of this speculation is taken up by physical
        > science, but in the Presocratic era, a philosopher was also a
        > scientist, and vice versa, so philosophers always had something to
        > say about Being and the origin of the material world.
        > Before Pythagoras, Eastern Greek philosophers such as
        > Thales of Miletus had speculated that the Ultimate Substance was
        > water; Anaximenes, another Ionian philosopher, suggested Air. For
        > Heracleitos, who lived in Ephesus on the Ionian coast from about
        > 540-475 BCE, under Persian rule, the ultimate substance was Fire.
        > Heracleitos is famous for his theory of "all things in flux," a vision
        > of the world in which all things are temporary and there is
        > ultimately no absolute but Change. All things are made out of
        > primal Fire, and all things will eventually return to that primal Fire.
        > In a way, Heracleitos' ideas are closest to the modern view of
        > Quantum Mechanics, in which the "material world" is really
        > composed of whirling clouds of particles, which only appear to be
        > solid from our perspective. Heracleitos also remarked on the
        > pervasiveness of pairs of opposites in our world: night and day,
        > light and darkness, birth and death, good and evil – all of them
        > subject to constant change. And yet there was also an ultimate
        > Wisdom which controlled all these things, an impersonal cosmic
        > intelligence, or "justice," (in the sense of cosmic order rather than
        > legal or moral justice), which he called the Logos. This concept of
        > cosmic Logos – the word means literally "word" but also "law,"
        > "reason," or "order" – would have a vast influence in the
        > philosophy of the next two thousand years.
        > It is intriguing that Heracleitos dealt with the ideas of
        > primal Fire, dualistic pairs of opposites, and cosmic order during a
        > time when his homeland was under Persian rule. There are echoes
        > of Zoroastrian philosophy in all these ideas, though not exact
        > mirroring. Zoroastrian philosophy, as evident in the prophet
        > Zarathushtra's own hymns, the Gathas, as well as later Zoroastrian thought,
        > honor Fire as the primal symbol of God, and associate Fire with
        > a spirit of divine Justice and Order called, in ancient Persian,
        > "Asha." Zarathushtra also meditates on the dualistic opposites
        > found both in the world (Gathas, Yasna 44.4) and in the moral
        > sphere (Yasna 30.3-4). Zoroastrianism is one of the "oriental"
        > influences, which can be seen, if sometimes only in faint traces, in
        > all of the philosophers of Greek mysticism.
        > But is Heracleitos really mystical? The idea of an
        > impersonal Logos as the ultimate source of knowledge points to
        > something more than just empirical studies of the world. A
        > fragment of Heracleitos' own writing sounds quite mystical, at
        > least to our modern sensibilities: "There is one logos, one reason
        > for everything, throughout the one cosmos, which is the same for
        > all…" (Heracleitos, fragment 20). Heracleitos' teachings became
        > very important for later mysticism, especially that of the Stoics, a
        > much later philosophical school, who built many of their ideas on
        > the concept of the universal Logos and the primal Fire.
        > The Presocratic philosophers, in their non-mythological
        > approach to knowing about the material world, are celebrated as
        > "proto-scientists" or early rationalists. And it is true that much of
        > their speculation about the origins and working of the material
        > world forms a kind of pre-technological "science." But at the same
        > time, this proto-scientific thought inspired much mystical thought
        > and experience as well. For many of these philosophers, the
        > material world was "alive," endowed with not only Logos-wisdom
        > but also a kind of inner life and sentience of its own. The mystical
        > transformation of material speculation, or mysticism inspired by
        > science, is a philosophical process, which was as active in the fifth
        > century BCE as it is today, 2500 years later. The philosophical
        > "Theory of Everything" of one era becomes the esoteric
        > philosophy of another. In our era, as modern science explains more
        > and more about the material world and its origins, the ancient
        > philosophical theories survive nevertheless. They become what I
        > described at the beginning of this essay as "rationalist mysticism,"
        > a kind of mysticism which builds logically on "data" which are the
        > result not of scientific experiments but of deduction, intuition, or
        > revelation.
        > Another Presocratic philosopher whose work approaches
        > mysticism is Parmenides (c.515 BCE- 450 BCE), who flourished
        > in southern Italy. Parmenides, up until recently, has been thought
        > of as mainly a logician who proved, with his logic, that all Being is
        > essentially one absolute, immovable, undifferentiated Unity – a
        > conclusion that our own "ordinary" perception of reality
        > contradicts. Recently the iconoclastic British scholar Peter
        > Kingsley, in his book IN THE DARK PLACES OF WISDOM, has
        > attempted to prove, using evidence from Parmenides' own writing
        > and also from inscriptions about Parmenides' background as a
        > member of a "school" of sacred healing, that Parmenides' vision of
        > Unity comes not just from the intellectual exertions of logic, but
        > from actual experience gained in – surprisingly – what amounts to
        > a "shamanic state of consciousness." If this is true, then
        > Parmenides belongs in the realm of Pythagorean "holy men" as
        > well as in the ranks of early practitioners of rationalizing logic.
        > The last of the great Presocratic philosophers was also one
        > of the strangest: Empedocles of Acragas (his home in western
        > Sicily), who lived from about 490 BCE-430 BCE. Empedocles was
        > known even in his own lifetime as a "holy man" and
        > wonderworker who was able to control the forces of nature and
        > even avert a plague. He was also famous as a natural scientist,
        > investigating geology and meteorology, and he was responsible,
        > like a true philosopher, for theories and writings both on scientific
        > and social subjects.
        > Empedocles is the originator of the theory of the Four
        > Elements – Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. This concept continues to
        > be a mainstay of Western Esoteric thought, long after it ceased to
        > be "scientific" theory – though interestingly it does approximate
        > current classifications of the four states of matter: solid, liquid, gas,
        > and plasma. For Empedocles, a cosmic attractive force he called
        > "love" united the elements, and an opposite repellent force called
        > "strife" forced them apart. In his theory, "like attracts like;" similar
        > elements or combinations of elements came together with the force
        > of "love," and vice versa. Again, this "like attracts like" concept
        > would become a mainstay of esoteric and magical theory, while
        > superseded by more accurate scientific theories as a descriptor of
        > the material world.
        > Empedocles, like his predecessor Pythagoras, is firmly in
        > the tradition of Orphism and its philosophical heir,
        > Pythagoreanism. Empedocles, like the Pythagoreans, preached of
        > reincarnation and the entry into the Underworld. In his poetry, and
        > probably in his own preaching, Empedocles advertised the
        > possibility of becoming immortal and divine, even claiming that he
        > himself had gone beyond the material world to become a god. This
        > is the background of the well-known myth that Empedocles met
        > his end by leaping into the fiery crater of Mount Etna. Whether he
        > actually did so or not, this action was seen as a symbol of entering
        > into the Underworld to be transformed and resurrected as a god,
        > and thus became a part of the legend of this Greek holy man.
        > According to E.R. Dodds, and more recently Peter
        > Kingsley in his book ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY, MYSTERY,
        > AND MAGIC, Empedocles is a classic example of what the
        > ancient Greeks called the "iatromantis," or "healer-prophet."
        > Dodds goes so far as to call these figures "Greek shamans," and
        > cites their similarities to shamans that were already evident in the
        > figure of Orpheus. But these "iatromantis" philosophers were
        > natural scientists as well as poets, and they were also magicians.
        > This is not the popular idea of "magic" as superstition and trickery,
        > but a philosophical magic, which aspired to achieve real goals by
        > symbolic action. This magic was connected with the search for
        > immortality and a perception of unitary, divine reality, whether this
        > was done through ritual, initiations, or techniques of inner
        > journeying. This magic is not "primitive" or "regressive" as many
        > scholars of Greek thought and mysticism continue to describe it –
        > it is actually a feature of the "extrovertive" form of mysticism,
        > which uses symbols and rituals to do its work, and is oriented
        > toward making changes in the outer world. Indeed, magic of this
        > sort works in its own form of rationalist system.
        > From these religious and philosophical ancestors comes
        > Plato, perhaps the most famous of all Greek philosophers and
        > certainly the most influential for the development of Western
        > mysticism. Plato (c. 428-348 BCE) taught the foundational Theory
        > of Forms – which was part of his own "Theory of Everything." In
        > the Platonic Theory of Forms, (also called "ideas,") the ultimate
        > Reality is situated in a supersensible, "intelligible world," above
        > our material world; it is a place of ideal and perfect forms, as it
        > were archetypal blueprints, of everything here below. This world
        > can be accessed by the human mind, either through philosophical
        > work or through mystical intuition. According to Plato, all of us
        > are endowed with the knowledge of this inner world of forms – but
        > it takes work and dedication to know it. In fact, when we do learn
        > about the Forms, Plato says we are really "remembering" them as a
        > heritage of our ultimate unity with this divine world, which we
        > have forgotten once we took birth in the material world. We have
        > lost the memory of the World of Ideas by being exiled into the
        > world of matter, through many incarnations. But our souls are
        > immortal, ultimately made of the same stuff as Plato's Ideas, and
        > so gaining knowledge, at least this Platonic knowledge, is actually
        > a recollection of the soul's original knowing.
        > These ideas of reincarnation, initiatory philosophical
        > knowledge, and an inner, supersensible world sound familiar. In
        > fact, Plato visited South Italy and Sicily several times, and there he
        > studied and learned from Pythagorean schools the ancient sacred
        > doctrine that the Pythagoreans had inherited from the Orphics. And
        > even the old shamanic paradigm of the mystical life and the "holy
        > man" or "healer-prophet" can be seen in Plato, but abstracted and
        > made philosophical rather than religious or magical. In Plato's
        > more mystical dialogues such as the SYMPOSIUM, PHAEDO, or
        > the REPUBLIC, the old visionary journey to the Underworld
        > becomes a vision of the World of Forms. This is explicitly
        > described in the famous passage of the ascent from the cave of
        > illusions depicted in the REPUBLIC (beginning of Book 7). In the
        > SYMPOSIUM the metaphor is that of an ascent to the World of
        > Forms, motivated by erotic and aesthetic love. But in these
        > philosophical parables one can still see the shamanic idea of the
        > detachable soul rising above the corrupt body, escaping from the
        > prison of the material and radically separate from it, going through
        > the purifications of many incarnate lives, until by right living and
        > the practice of philosophy the soul can end its imprisonment and
        > rejoin the ecstatic divine world that is its true home.
        > Once again concerning Plato there arises the question of
        > whether there is a Zoroastrian influence in his thought. The
        > PHAEDO especially contains myths, which seem to imitate the
        > "eschatology" of Zoroastrian myth, such as the survival of an
        > immortal soul, which is then judged after death and "purified" by
        > fire. The Platonic "world of Ideas" has often been compared to the
        > Zoroastrian "menok" world of "mental" or spiritual realities,
        > intimated in Zarathushtra's Gathas and elaborated by later
        > Zoroastrian thinkers. The myth of a visionary ascent survives in
        > Zoroastrian legends of both Zarathushtra's inspiration and other
        > holy men who were able to cross by soul-travel into the
        > "intelligible world" and return with knowledge to be shared with
        > other souls here below.
        > But there are just as many differences as similarities in
        > Platonic and Greek thought. Zoroastrianism, throughout its history
        > (except for those Zoroastrians who came under Buddhist and
        > Hindu influence) has never taught reincarnation. There is for a
        > Zoroastrian no sorrowful wheel of incarnations to escape from –
        > there is only one life, in which moral choices for good or evil must
        > be constantly made. For Zoroastrians there is no sharp division
        > between the soul and the body, as there was for the Orphics and
        > their followers; the physical and the mental worlds are constantly
        > interacting and influencing each other. In Zoroastrianism, the
        > human soul is not a fragment or an emanation of the Divine which
        > seeks reintegration; rather each individual soul is accompanied by
        > a divine spirit, known as a "fravashi," created by God, which
        > embodies the highest potential of the individual living soul. It
        > is this fravashi which, according to some Zoroastrian theories,
        > unites with the human soul after death.
        > The philosophical way, for Plato and the Presocratics, was
        > an aristocratic way of knowledge. All of these philosophers
        > maintain that only the few, the initiates, and the privileged can
        > travel this way. Certainly it is true socially, since for most people
        > the simple demands of making a living and caring for a family
        > make it impossible to spend time on the pursuit of esoteric
        > philosophical enlightenment. The Pythagorean way of life is
        > indeed a monastic way, lived long before Christian monastics
        > worked out a similar solution to the problem of how to live the life
        > of spiritual striving in a chaotic and corrupt world. Plato's
        > mysticism is also more toward the "introverted" type, which is less
        > dependent on rituals and less connected with mystery-cults or
        > magic, and thus more acceptable to intellectuals who disdain magic
        > as popular superstition. This division between an aristocratic
        > "pure" tradition of "introverted" philosophical mysticism, and a
        > more popularizing "extroverted" mysticism of cult, magic, and
        > easily accessible and workable esoteric formulae, became a
        > standard feature of the Western esoteric tradition; it is even visible
        > today. And yet throughout the history of mysticism, there have
        > been those who practiced both kinds – especially the "theurgists"
        > of later antiquity, whose practice reached from the heights of
        > Platonic abstraction to the smoky underworld of ceremonial magic.
        > The division has never been unbridgeable.
        > One generation after Plato, the western world changed
        > irrevocably. Once Alexander of Macedon (known in the west as
        > Alexander the Great) with his invading Greek armies conquered
        > the Eastern Mediterranean lands, and the Persian Empire all the
        > way to the borders of India, the world expanded. In the era of
        > multinational empire that followed, which is called the "Hellenistic
        > era," (from 330BCE to about 100 CE or the rise of the Roman
        > Empire) the Western world became far less isolated, and a general
        > mixing of Eastern and Western civilizations occurred. The
        > "Oriental" influences which had up until now been part of only the
        > Eastern Greek world now flooded into the whole Mediterranean,
        > facilitated by the common language of Greek and lines of trade and
        > communication which spread throughout the new empire (or
        > successions of more local Hellenistic empires).
        > The intellectual world of the Hellenistic era reflects the
        > unprecedented mixing of cultures that went on throughout the
        > Mediterranean. This went on especially in the new city of
        > Alexandria, the capital of the Hellenistic world, where Greek,
        > Egyptian, Iranian, Mesopotamian, Jewish, and dozens of other
        > traditions met and were melded together to form various new
        > philosophies and esoteric practices. This mixture of traditions,
        > which is known to scholars as "syncretism," will forever after be a
        > feature in esoteric and mystical philosophy.
        > In Hellenistic mysticism, which for the most part used
        > Greek language and Greek literary forms, the classical mystical
        > stance inherited from Plato was enriched with a new, cosmic,
        > universal emphasis. This reflects the transition from a religious
        > world with a local horizon and local gods to a cosmopolitan world
        > where everyone's gods (or One God) were on view and people
        > could compare them. The individualism of Greek mysticism
        > remained, but its backdrop was now a world of impersonal empires
        > rather than local city-states.
        > Yet in the new forms of Hellenistic mystical philosophy,
        > one can still discern the ancient ideas which are the heritage of
        > Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Plato. This is sometimes the result of
        > actual migrations of philosophers and their schools; many
        > Pythagoreans, rejected in Sicily for political reasons, found a new
        > home in Alexandria, where they carried on their esoteric traditions
        > in a new atmosphere. More often, though, the development of
        > Hellenistic philosophy came through literary study and learned
        > revivals. It did not, as many modern esoteric schools would like to
        > believe, come from an unbroken chain of "secret initiates" whose
        > traditions have been handed on since the time of Atlantis (itself
        > perhaps an invention of Plato in his treatise TIMAEUS). Under the
        > ideological leadership of those who followed Plato, the Hellenistic
        > complex of ideas became what is known to us as "Neo-Platonism"
        > (though the term was unknown to the philosophers themselves,
        > who simply called themselves "Platonists").
        > Neo-Platonism and its related philosophies show many of
        > the same ideas as their predecessors, transformed in their new
        > multicultural home. Most of the Hellenistic mystical philosophies
        > think of the Universe, or Cosmos, as one living being, whose parts
        > are in an organic relationship with each other and which possesses
        > a cosmic sentience, sometimes called the "World-Soul." We have
        > met with this idea as early as Pythagoras. For the Hellenists, all
        > things in this sentient Cosmos are connected by what is called
        > "sumpatheia," (from which our word "sympathy" comes). This
        > literally means "feeling-with" but it actually means
        > "correspondence" or "active similarity;" it is the mechanism by
        > which "like attracts like." Centuries ago, Empedocles had taught
        > much the same thing.
        > Another major feature of Hellenistic philosophy is what
        > might be called "emanationism." The seed for this derives from the
        > old philosophical quest to figure out how one single divine Unity
        > could create our world of visible multiplicity. Already in Plato's
        > thought there is the divine world of Forms and then the material
        > world created from those Forms. As Platonism develops in its
        > Hellenistic home, the layers of reality multiply. Neo-platonists,
        > possibly influenced by monotheistic religions such as Judaism and
        > Zoroastrianism, propose a single, ineffable, indescribable God who
        > then emanates an Intelligible World, from which then, in yet
        > another stage, flows the multiplicity of the visible world. This
        > threefold system blooms into systems of seven emanations, and
        > then more; full-blown emanationist systems can contain myriad
        > layers of worlds, reaching from the totally abstract Divine at the
        > top to hellish underworlds below. The Hellenistic innerworld is a
        > very complex place.
        > This "multiverse" is not always ruled by a benevolent,
        > provident God or by the impersonal but morally upright rule of
        > Logos or Law. The Hellenistic era sees the rise of deterministic
        > philosophies, which teach that all is ordained by Fate and Destiny.
        > Ancient Greek philosophy and religion had its ideas of Fate, often
        > personified as a goddess; Hellenistic Fate extends to the whole
        > cosmos. The word for Destiny or Fate in Greek is "heimarmene,"
        > from the the Greek "meiromai" which means, "to receive one's
        > portion." But here, the "portion" is not allotted by a god, but by an
        > impersonal, irrevocable mechanism driven by the movements of
        > planets and stars. It is in the Hellenistic world that astrology,
        > derived from Greek interpretations of very old Mesopotamian star-
        > lore, becomes a major factor in intellectual life. The seven ancient
        > planets (sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) are
        > the agents of Destiny, often depicted as hostile. It is a reflection,
        > perhaps, of life lived no longer in a village or a small-scale city-
        > state but in a great empire where the government is inaccessible
        > and the ruler may well have proclaimed himself a divine being.
        > "Heimarmene" or Destiny becomes the ultimate arbiter of peoples'
        > lives – and bears the weight and oppression of the overbearing
        > multiverse.
        > How can we escape our grim, astrologically determined
        > Destiny? This was a burning question for the thoughtful Hellenistic
        > intellectual. How can we flee from our figurative dungeon in the
        > lower reaches of a many-storied cosmic skyscraper? There is an
        > audible echo here of the ever-ancient shamanic "soul journey"
        > away from the material through the inner worlds to the place of
        > knowledge and salvation. For some philosophers, that escape
        > would come, as it did for the Pythagoreans centuries earlier,
        > through the initiatory possession of the sacred secret Knowledge
        > which would set one free. For those who were more magically
        > inclined, the chains of Heimarmene could be broken by the proper
        > rituals, done at the proper time and place. And many people who
        > were not philosophers put their trust in prayers for the soul after
        > death, inscribed on gold foil and placed lovingly on the bodies of
        > their dead. As modern archaeologists have discovered, these
        > popular prayers for the dead contain some of the same ideas about
        > transcendence, freedom, and divinization that the Orphics and
        > Empedocles had preached almost a millennium earlier.
        > The story of ancient Greek mysticism, then, is one of
        > continuity through different cultures. There is something about the
        > archaic shamanic paradigm of soul-journey, secret knowledge, and
        > inner worlds, which will not go away. It cannot be suppressed,
        > only transformed. Under the sway of rationalistic philosophies, or
        > of monotheistic orthodoxy such as was later imposed by
        > Christianity and Islam, it does not die; it simply goes underground.
        > The mysticism of symbols, magic, visionary techniques,
        > innerworld journeys, and esoteric "science" is cast into the
        > ideological shadows and denigrated as "primitive," "retrogressive,"
        > "occultist" or "superstitious," but it continues to exist with its own
        > special power, which attracts souls from one civilization to
        > another, from age to age, a calling which continues to sound even
        > to this very day.
        >
        >
        > Hannah M.G.Shapero
        > 6/8/99
        >
        >
        >
        > 13
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > (end of original message)
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      • danw@netmastersinc.com
        Hi, Chris This is a great article. I had never thought about a shamanic background for orphism/greek mysticism -- pythagoras, plato, and plotinus always
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 16, 2012
          Hi, Chris

          This is a great article. I had never thought about a shamanic background
          for orphism/greek mysticism -- pythagoras, plato, and plotinus always
          seemed so philosophical and rational to me.

          The question about reincarnation for me is if something survives bodily
          death and is reincarnated, what is it? Surely it is not me as me, since I
          don't remember any past lives. In order to answer the question I think we
          need a whole new physics, one that integrates consciousness into the
          current cosmological order. This is coming, though what its form will be
          I have no idea. The quantum measurement problem, parapsychological
          studies, near death studies, psychic experiences, and mystical religion
          all point to it. Mad materialism can't hold out forever.

          I sent a reply to your earlier post to the list, but didn't see it show up
          in my mail box. Did you get it?

          Dan



          > From the article below:
          >
          > "The Orphics believed in reincarnation – the soul was
          > imprisoned in a body from one incarnation to the next, in a great
          > turning wheel of lives. The goal of the Orphic was to end the cycle
          > of births by earning one's way out. ... Reincarnation is popularly thought
          > to be an "Eastern" belief
          > but in reality it has been a feature of Western esoteric thought from
          > the earliest moments of Western culture."
          >
          > I think that is a wonderful way to link two disparate thought and belief
          > systems. I have often equated the term "reincarnation" with Hinduism but I
          > do think it is important to grow beyond this east-wast dichotomy.
          > Reincarnation viewed through the lens of rebirth has a place on this list
          > in terms of the organic growth one sees in the landscape around you all
          > the time. On the one hand, reincarnation is a crazy idea from the physical
          > view of the body. I mean, huh? But on the other hand, it is simply a
          > platitude that Christianity takes as its basic tenet that its deity was
          > reincarnated -- somehow. I tend to look at things more abstractly in terms
          > of the various vegetation gods of death and rebirth but I have had on
          > occasion this weird sensation of looking at people and suddenly perceiving
          > the underlying forms and geometry (for lack of a better word). The
          > trajectories of age and change, from childhood on up to adulthood, follow
          > the same path of transformation, do they not? Just as we like to think the
          > square entered the world through the vesica shaped mother point, I close
          > my eyes to the bodily world and feel the underlying forms being reborn
          > around me all the time.
          >
          > Opening my eyes, what do I see? The world reincarnated. Never the same,
          > always being reborn.
          >
          > Has anyone else found their mind's eye wandering to the hidden geometry of
          > organic growth? Spirals, perhaps, more than points and lines. Is that why
          > fractal art is so popular nowadays? Are we all stoned staring at the same
          > space in front of our eyes? Wish there was a fractal art channel on TV.
          > lol. Can you just picture the commercials that would go along with it?
          > Spirograph.
          >
          > See you on the next age,
          >
          > Chris
          >
          > --- In sacredlandscapelist@yahoogroups.com, "J.Vincent Beall"
          > <vincent@...> wrote:
          >>
          >> I found this wonderful article in the newsgroups, and it really is quite
          >> extrordinary...
          >>
          >> Vince
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          >>
          >> This message was forwarded to you from Deja.com by vincent@...
          >> Deja.com offers free consumer information, including ratings and reviews
          >> on
          >> thousands of products and services. Before you buy, visit
          >> http://www.deja.com/%5bST_rn%3dps%5d/
          >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          >>
          >> (beginning of original message)
          >>
          >> Subject: Ancient Greek Mysticism (LONG)
          >> From: "Hannah M.G. Shapero" <pyracantha@...>
          >> Date: 1999/06/08
          >> Newsgroups: alt.religion.zoroastrianism
          >> I just finished this article on Ancient Greek Mysticism. There are some
          >> references to Zoroastrianism in it as an influence on the Greek
          >> philosophers
          >> I am talking about. This is only a first draft and no doubt some changes
          >> will be made later on. I hope you enjoy reading it.
          >>
          >> ANCIENT GREEK MYSTICISM
          >>
          >>
          >> The Greeks gave us the very word for mysticism. The
          >> Greek word MUO means, "to shut the eyes or mouth." MUO is
          >> closely related to the verb MUEO, "to initiate into the mysteries."
          >> The closed eyes and mouth in this context do not signify blindness
          >> or muteness, but secrecy and silence, and the order not to reveal
          >> the secrets of the initiation and revelation that one had received.
          >> These Greek root-words have given us "mystic" and "mysticism,"
          >> "mystery" and "mysterious," as well as "mute." Every time we talk
          >> about mysticism we speak a bit of Greek.
          >> But what exactly is Mysticism? The word is often
          >> downgraded to mean superstition, priestcraft, occultism or magic,
          >> or other things regarded as irrational, all of which are somewhat
          >> related to mysticism and the mystical life. But the basic meaning
          >> of "mysticism" has to do with the relationship of human beings to
          >> a divinity or deity, or, for non-theists, "ultimate reality." Mysticism
          >> is about direct contact between human beings and this divine
          >> reality. This contact, when mystics try to speak about it, is said to
          >> be ineffable and indescribable – yet for thousands of years, those
          >> mystics have given us many exact and definite testimonies of their
          >> experiences.
          >> Mysticism is "introverted." It is an "inner" experience,
          >> taking place within the consciousness of an individual human
          >> being. The characteristic expression of this individual
          >> "inwardness" is Plotinus' famous phrase, "the flight of the Alone
          >> to the Alone." Yet there is also an "extroverted" mysticism, which
          >> is found in ritual and communal contexts, in liturgy, initiation into
          >> a group, and sometimes in visions seen by many people at once.
          >> And though mysticism is thought to be "irrational," there is also a
          >> form of it, which I would call "rationalist mysticism," which builds
          >> systems of ideas and symbols onto the base of an intuitive,
          >> mystical revelation.
          >> Both kinds of mysticism occur in the ancient Greek world,
          >> though the "extroverted" kind is more easily traceable. And in
          >> most cases, the "introverted" and the "extroverted" were both
          >> present in a mystical practice, rite, or event. The practice of ritual
          >> or liturgy would, it was hoped, lead to an individual experience of
          >> insight or a meeting with an otherworldly and divine being.
          >> The roots of Greek mysticism are very old, as old as the
          >> earliest Greek expansion through the Eastern Mediterranean in the
          >> 7th century BCE. A major scholarly chronicler of this encounter
          >> was E.R.Dodds, who in the early 1950s wrote a book, which is
          >> now, a classic, called THE GREEKS AND THE IRRATIONAL.
          >> This book counters the then-common myth (which is still
          >> promoted by some scholars and philosophers) that Greek culture
          >> was one of pure rationalism and non-mythological, proto-scientific
          >> thought. Certainly those things were important in Greek culture,
          >> but they are not the whole story. In his book, Dodds shows how
          >> non-rational elements were integrated into the spiritual and
          >> philosophical life of ancient Greece.
          >> The most revolutionary contribution to Greek cultural
          >> studies in this book is Dodds' assertion that there is a shamanic
          >> influence in Greek mysticism and mystical practices. Even though
          >> Dodds' book was written before Mircea Eliade's definitive study
          >> on shamanism, anthropologists had already described shamanism,
          >> especially as it occurred in central Asia and Eastern Europe. It was
          >> this form of shamanism, which the Greek colonists met with when
          >> they colonized the northern and eastern shores of the Black Sea, as
          >> well as in Anatolia in what is now Turkey. As Dodds and other
          >> authors describe it, the model of shamanism becomes the basic
          >> foundation for much of what becomes Greek mysticism.
          >> Shamanism, as Mircea Eliade describes it, is an "archaic
          >> technique of ecstasy." The shaman, who is usually a specialist in
          >> this task, is able to enter into "another world," a non-physical
          >> world which is nevertheless considered to be "real." The shaman
          >> may enter into the other world using mind-altering drugs, or by
          >> non-drug practices such as drumming, dancing, and ritual
          >> performances. Shamans are often initiated into their calling by a
          >> symbolic death, often through dismemberment. The shaman is then
          >> "resurrected" and put back together, so that he or she may become
          >> a spiritual benefactor for the people he/she serves. Shamans enter
          >> into the other world either to explore for themselves or on behalf of
          >> people. Often they go into the inner world – or "underworld," in
          >> order to retrieve the souls of those who are in danger of death.
          >> Shamans are thought to have magical powers of clairvoyance,
          >> healing, communication with animals or with dead peoples' souls,
          >> and blessing and cursing, among many other abilities. And their
          >> words, or songs and poetry, are thought to have magical powers as
          >> well.
          >> A basic assumption of shamanism is that the soul is
          >> independent of the body, and can "travel" outside the body: it is
          >> detachable. The shaman's soul goes on a visionary journey, while
          >> the body is suspended in a trance. The soul enters what modern
          >> shamanic scholar and practitioner Michael Harner calls the
          >> "shamanic state of consciousness," in which a mythical reality,
          >> rather than our material reality, can be experienced. A milder, less
          >> trance-like form of this practice is sometimes called "active
          >> imagination," the directed use of the imagination in mental
          >> visualization, rather than in undirected daydreams and fantasies.
          >> The ancient Greek encounter with shamanism and its
          >> transformation into Greek mysticism is described by W.K.C.
          >> Guthrie in his ORPHEUS AND GREEK RELIGION, where he
          >> shows how shamanic motifs of the detachable soul, soul-travel,
          >> ecstasy, dismemberment, and resurrection were taken over by the
          >> cult of Dionysus, and then modified and refined by the mysterious
          >> religious movement known as "Orphism," named after its mythical
          >> founder, the poet Orpheus. The myth of Orpheus has a shamanic
          >> quality to it: Orpheus charms wild beasts with his songs, he
          >> voyages to the Underworld in search of his lost wife, he fails to
          >> bring her back (in some variants of the myth, he succeeds), and is
          >> later dismembered either by Furies or by angry female followers
          >> (depending on the variant of the myth). The religion, centered
          >> around this shamanic poet figure of Orpheus, though it is not well-
          >> documented by contemporary evidence, was highly influential in
          >> the development of later Greek mysticism in myth, theory, and
          >> practice.
          >> Orphism was an initiatory religion, rather like the folk
          >> religions of ancient Greece such as the famous Eleusinian
          >> Mysteries. Orphic worshippers revered gods and goddesses such as
          >> Dionysus, Demeter, and Persephone, divinities of agriculture and
          >> natural cycles. Most of the Orphic teachings are revealed only by
          >> much later writers, who despite writing many centuries after
          >> Orphism flourished, seem to have preserved its basic doctrines
          >> fairly well. For Orphics, the human soul is immortal. It is part of a
          >> divine unity, or is divine in itself. But it is imprisoned in a mortal,
          >> material body. The goal of the Orphic devotee is to escape from
          >> the unspiritual body through initiation, accepting the saving
          >> knowledge and practices, and performing, or witnessing, the sacred
          >> ritual. Through these actions one could escape from the sorrowful
          >> toils of the material world, and in doing so achieve union with the
          >> Divine. Orphism, unlike the collective, civic religion of
          >> mainstream Greek paganism, was an individualistic religion, in
          >> which salvation came through individual intuition and
          >> enlightenment, not through an impersonal "contract" between gods
          >> and men.
          >> The Orphics believed in reincarnation – the soul was
          >> imprisoned in a body from one incarnation to the next, in a great
          >> turning wheel of lives. The goal of the Orphic was to end the cycle
          >> of births by earning one's way out. This concept of reincarnation
          >> and merit is tantalizingly close to that of Hinduism and Buddhism
          >> – though scholars have never been able to prove definitely that
          >> there was any influence between the Eastern religions and the
          >> Greek. Reincarnation is popularly thought to be an "Eastern" belief
          >> but in reality it has been a feature of Western esoteric thought from
          >> the earliest moments of Western culture.
          >> The Orphic mystical movement, in its concern for the
          >> wandering soul and the inner world, echoing shamanic myths in its
          >> teachings, could be considered a Greek transformation of the more
          >> primal shamanism of Central Asia. And this is the background for
          >> the first great Greek mystical philosophers: Pythagoras,
          >> Heracleitos, Parmenides, and Empedocles. These thinkers are
          >> among the group categorized under the name of "Presocratic
          >> philosophers."
          >> One of the earliest, the greatest, and the most influential of
          >> these was Pythagoras, who lived from about 570 BCE to 500 BCE.
          >> He was originally from the Eastern Mediterranean island of Samos,
          >> near what is now the Turkish coast, and he was educated in the
          >> sophisticated Greek colonial civilization that had already been
          >> there for more than a hundred years. These Eastern Greek colonies
          >> also absorbed many cultural influences from the Middle East,
          >> whether from Mesopotamia, Egypt, or Persia, and it is because of
          >> this influence on Pythagoras' philosophy that legends about him
          >> say that he studied in Egypt or Babylon. It is unlikely that he
          >> actually did so, but the Eastern connection is there in Pythagoras'
          >> teaching, gained in an indirect way. In his adult life, he lived in the
          >> Greek colonies of Sicily and South Italy.
          >> Pythagoras is famous as a mathematician and geometer, the
          >> inventor (or at least the one who introduced it to the West) of the
          >> "Pythagorean theorem" about right-angle triangles. He is also
          >> renowned for his mathematical theory of musical notes. He was the
          >> first Western philosopher to teach that mathematics, or number, is
          >> the key to the universe – which is still the foundation of science as
          >> we know it. And yet Pythagoras was also a religious figure and a
          >> mystic; the "philosopher" in his era was not a specialist, and could
          >> write and practice both material science and mystical religion.
          >> The mystical aspects of Pythagoras' teachings, which
          >> inspired the monastic communities he founded, are closely related
          >> to Orphic doctrines and practices. Orphism was prevalent among
          >> the thinkers of the Greek Italian colonies where Pythagoras lived
          >> and taught. Pythagorean mysticism sounds a lot like Orphism:
          >> immortality of the soul which is separate from the body,
          >> reincarnation (Pythagoras, like many modern mystics, is said to
          >> have known who his previous lives were), vegetarianism (because
          >> human souls may be reincarnated into animals), asceticism,
          >> meditation, and ritual practices designed to facilitate the
          >> experience of revelation and union with the Divine. Disciples were
          >> initiated into Pythagoras' sect, and Philosophy was seen as the
          >> saving Knowledge, which set the soul on its upward path away
          >> from the material world and the imprisoning cycle of incarnations.
          >> Interestingly, both men and women were accepted as Pythagorean
          >> initiates, in a society where women were usually strictly excluded
          >> from intellectual and philosophical life.
          >> Pythagoras himself achieved the status of a semi-divine
          >> founder, whether he wished himself to be or not. He inherited from
          >> shamanic traditions (and their Orphic transformations) the role of
          >> the "theios aner" or "holy man" whose journeys into the Inner
          >> world, and his magical incantations, put him in touch with the
          >> Divine and gave him magical powers to benefit the world.
          >> Philosophers, then and now, want to know about Being.
          >> They want a "Theory of Everything" which can explain whether
          >> there is any unity behind the visible diversity of the world. Is there
          >> an Ultimate Substance from which everything proceeds?
          >> Nowadays, most of this speculation is taken up by physical
          >> science, but in the Presocratic era, a philosopher was also a
          >> scientist, and vice versa, so philosophers always had something to
          >> say about Being and the origin of the material world.
          >> Before Pythagoras, Eastern Greek philosophers such as
          >> Thales of Miletus had speculated that the Ultimate Substance was
          >> water; Anaximenes, another Ionian philosopher, suggested Air. For
          >> Heracleitos, who lived in Ephesus on the Ionian coast from about
          >> 540-475 BCE, under Persian rule, the ultimate substance was Fire.
          >> Heracleitos is famous for his theory of "all things in flux," a vision
          >> of the world in which all things are temporary and there is
          >> ultimately no absolute but Change. All things are made out of
          >> primal Fire, and all things will eventually return to that primal Fire.
          >> In a way, Heracleitos' ideas are closest to the modern view of
          >> Quantum Mechanics, in which the "material world" is really
          >> composed of whirling clouds of particles, which only appear to be
          >> solid from our perspective. Heracleitos also remarked on the
          >> pervasiveness of pairs of opposites in our world: night and day,
          >> light and darkness, birth and death, good and evil – all of them
          >> subject to constant change. And yet there was also an ultimate
          >> Wisdom which controlled all these things, an impersonal cosmic
          >> intelligence, or "justice," (in the sense of cosmic order rather than
          >> legal or moral justice), which he called the Logos. This concept of
          >> cosmic Logos – the word means literally "word" but also "law,"
          >> "reason," or "order" – would have a vast influence in the
          >> philosophy of the next two thousand years.
          >> It is intriguing that Heracleitos dealt with the ideas of
          >> primal Fire, dualistic pairs of opposites, and cosmic order during a
          >> time when his homeland was under Persian rule. There are echoes
          >> of Zoroastrian philosophy in all these ideas, though not exact
          >> mirroring. Zoroastrian philosophy, as evident in the prophet
          >> Zarathushtra's own hymns, the Gathas, as well as later Zoroastrian
          >> thought,
          >> honor Fire as the primal symbol of God, and associate Fire with
          >> a spirit of divine Justice and Order called, in ancient Persian,
          >> "Asha." Zarathushtra also meditates on the dualistic opposites
          >> found both in the world (Gathas, Yasna 44.4) and in the moral
          >> sphere (Yasna 30.3-4). Zoroastrianism is one of the "oriental"
          >> influences, which can be seen, if sometimes only in faint traces, in
          >> all of the philosophers of Greek mysticism.
          >> But is Heracleitos really mystical? The idea of an
          >> impersonal Logos as the ultimate source of knowledge points to
          >> something more than just empirical studies of the world. A
          >> fragment of Heracleitos' own writing sounds quite mystical, at
          >> least to our modern sensibilities: "There is one logos, one reason
          >> for everything, throughout the one cosmos, which is the same for
          >> all…" (Heracleitos, fragment 20). Heracleitos' teachings became
          >> very important for later mysticism, especially that of the Stoics, a
          >> much later philosophical school, who built many of their ideas on
          >> the concept of the universal Logos and the primal Fire.
          >> The Presocratic philosophers, in their non-mythological
          >> approach to knowing about the material world, are celebrated as
          >> "proto-scientists" or early rationalists. And it is true that much of
          >> their speculation about the origins and working of the material
          >> world forms a kind of pre-technological "science." But at the same
          >> time, this proto-scientific thought inspired much mystical thought
          >> and experience as well. For many of these philosophers, the
          >> material world was "alive," endowed with not only Logos-wisdom
          >> but also a kind of inner life and sentience of its own. The mystical
          >> transformation of material speculation, or mysticism inspired by
          >> science, is a philosophical process, which was as active in the fifth
          >> century BCE as it is today, 2500 years later. The philosophical
          >> "Theory of Everything" of one era becomes the esoteric
          >> philosophy of another. In our era, as modern science explains more
          >> and more about the material world and its origins, the ancient
          >> philosophical theories survive nevertheless. They become what I
          >> described at the beginning of this essay as "rationalist mysticism,"
          >> a kind of mysticism which builds logically on "data" which are the
          >> result not of scientific experiments but of deduction, intuition, or
          >> revelation.
          >> Another Presocratic philosopher whose work approaches
          >> mysticism is Parmenides (c.515 BCE- 450 BCE), who flourished
          >> in southern Italy. Parmenides, up until recently, has been thought
          >> of as mainly a logician who proved, with his logic, that all Being is
          >> essentially one absolute, immovable, undifferentiated Unity – a
          >> conclusion that our own "ordinary" perception of reality
          >> contradicts. Recently the iconoclastic British scholar Peter
          >> Kingsley, in his book IN THE DARK PLACES OF WISDOM, has
          >> attempted to prove, using evidence from Parmenides' own writing
          >> and also from inscriptions about Parmenides' background as a
          >> member of a "school" of sacred healing, that Parmenides' vision of
          >> Unity comes not just from the intellectual exertions of logic, but
          >> from actual experience gained in – surprisingly – what amounts to
          >> a "shamanic state of consciousness." If this is true, then
          >> Parmenides belongs in the realm of Pythagorean "holy men" as
          >> well as in the ranks of early practitioners of rationalizing logic.
          >> The last of the great Presocratic philosophers was also one
          >> of the strangest: Empedocles of Acragas (his home in western
          >> Sicily), who lived from about 490 BCE-430 BCE. Empedocles was
          >> known even in his own lifetime as a "holy man" and
          >> wonderworker who was able to control the forces of nature and
          >> even avert a plague. He was also famous as a natural scientist,
          >> investigating geology and meteorology, and he was responsible,
          >> like a true philosopher, for theories and writings both on scientific
          >> and social subjects.
          >> Empedocles is the originator of the theory of the Four
          >> Elements – Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. This concept continues to
          >> be a mainstay of Western Esoteric thought, long after it ceased to
          >> be "scientific" theory – though interestingly it does approximate
          >> current classifications of the four states of matter: solid, liquid,
          >> gas,
          >> and plasma. For Empedocles, a cosmic attractive force he called
          >> "love" united the elements, and an opposite repellent force called
          >> "strife" forced them apart. In his theory, "like attracts like;" similar
          >> elements or combinations of elements came together with the force
          >> of "love," and vice versa. Again, this "like attracts like" concept
          >> would become a mainstay of esoteric and magical theory, while
          >> superseded by more accurate scientific theories as a descriptor of
          >> the material world.
          >> Empedocles, like his predecessor Pythagoras, is firmly in
          >> the tradition of Orphism and its philosophical heir,
          >> Pythagoreanism. Empedocles, like the Pythagoreans, preached of
          >> reincarnation and the entry into the Underworld. In his poetry, and
          >> probably in his own preaching, Empedocles advertised the
          >> possibility of becoming immortal and divine, even claiming that he
          >> himself had gone beyond the material world to become a god. This
          >> is the background of the well-known myth that Empedocles met
          >> his end by leaping into the fiery crater of Mount Etna. Whether he
          >> actually did so or not, this action was seen as a symbol of entering
          >> into the Underworld to be transformed and resurrected as a god,
          >> and thus became a part of the legend of this Greek holy man.
          >> According to E.R. Dodds, and more recently Peter
          >> Kingsley in his book ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY, MYSTERY,
          >> AND MAGIC, Empedocles is a classic example of what the
          >> ancient Greeks called the "iatromantis," or "healer-prophet."
          >> Dodds goes so far as to call these figures "Greek shamans," and
          >> cites their similarities to shamans that were already evident in the
          >> figure of Orpheus. But these "iatromantis" philosophers were
          >> natural scientists as well as poets, and they were also magicians.
          >> This is not the popular idea of "magic" as superstition and trickery,
          >> but a philosophical magic, which aspired to achieve real goals by
          >> symbolic action. This magic was connected with the search for
          >> immortality and a perception of unitary, divine reality, whether this
          >> was done through ritual, initiations, or techniques of inner
          >> journeying. This magic is not "primitive" or "regressive" as many
          >> scholars of Greek thought and mysticism continue to describe it –
          >> it is actually a feature of the "extrovertive" form of mysticism,
          >> which uses symbols and rituals to do its work, and is oriented
          >> toward making changes in the outer world. Indeed, magic of this
          >> sort works in its own form of rationalist system.
          >> From these religious and philosophical ancestors comes
          >> Plato, perhaps the most famous of all Greek philosophers and
          >> certainly the most influential for the development of Western
          >> mysticism. Plato (c. 428-348 BCE) taught the foundational Theory
          >> of Forms – which was part of his own "Theory of Everything." In
          >> the Platonic Theory of Forms, (also called "ideas,") the ultimate
          >> Reality is situated in a supersensible, "intelligible world," above
          >> our material world; it is a place of ideal and perfect forms, as it
          >> were archetypal blueprints, of everything here below. This world
          >> can be accessed by the human mind, either through philosophical
          >> work or through mystical intuition. According to Plato, all of us
          >> are endowed with the knowledge of this inner world of forms – but
          >> it takes work and dedication to know it. In fact, when we do learn
          >> about the Forms, Plato says we are really "remembering" them as a
          >> heritage of our ultimate unity with this divine world, which we
          >> have forgotten once we took birth in the material world. We have
          >> lost the memory of the World of Ideas by being exiled into the
          >> world of matter, through many incarnations. But our souls are
          >> immortal, ultimately made of the same stuff as Plato's Ideas, and
          >> so gaining knowledge, at least this Platonic knowledge, is actually
          >> a recollection of the soul's original knowing.
          >> These ideas of reincarnation, initiatory philosophical
          >> knowledge, and an inner, supersensible world sound familiar. In
          >> fact, Plato visited South Italy and Sicily several times, and there he
          >> studied and learned from Pythagorean schools the ancient sacred
          >> doctrine that the Pythagoreans had inherited from the Orphics. And
          >> even the old shamanic paradigm of the mystical life and the "holy
          >> man" or "healer-prophet" can be seen in Plato, but abstracted and
          >> made philosophical rather than religious or magical. In Plato's
          >> more mystical dialogues such as the SYMPOSIUM, PHAEDO, or
          >> the REPUBLIC, the old visionary journey to the Underworld
          >> becomes a vision of the World of Forms. This is explicitly
          >> described in the famous passage of the ascent from the cave of
          >> illusions depicted in the REPUBLIC (beginning of Book 7). In the
          >> SYMPOSIUM the metaphor is that of an ascent to the World of
          >> Forms, motivated by erotic and aesthetic love. But in these
          >> philosophical parables one can still see the shamanic idea of the
          >> detachable soul rising above the corrupt body, escaping from the
          >> prison of the material and radically separate from it, going through
          >> the purifications of many incarnate lives, until by right living and
          >> the practice of philosophy the soul can end its imprisonment and
          >> rejoin the ecstatic divine world that is its true home.
          >> Once again concerning Plato there arises the question of
          >> whether there is a Zoroastrian influence in his thought. The
          >> PHAEDO especially contains myths, which seem to imitate the
          >> "eschatology" of Zoroastrian myth, such as the survival of an
          >> immortal soul, which is then judged after death and "purified" by
          >> fire. The Platonic "world of Ideas" has often been compared to the
          >> Zoroastrian "menok" world of "mental" or spiritual realities,
          >> intimated in Zarathushtra's Gathas and elaborated by later
          >> Zoroastrian thinkers. The myth of a visionary ascent survives in
          >> Zoroastrian legends of both Zarathushtra's inspiration and other
          >> holy men who were able to cross by soul-travel into the
          >> "intelligible world" and return with knowledge to be shared with
          >> other souls here below.
          >> But there are just as many differences as similarities in
          >> Platonic and Greek thought. Zoroastrianism, throughout its history
          >> (except for those Zoroastrians who came under Buddhist and
          >> Hindu influence) has never taught reincarnation. There is for a
          >> Zoroastrian no sorrowful wheel of incarnations to escape from –
          >> there is only one life, in which moral choices for good or evil must
          >> be constantly made. For Zoroastrians there is no sharp division
          >> between the soul and the body, as there was for the Orphics and
          >> their followers; the physical and the mental worlds are constantly
          >> interacting and influencing each other. In Zoroastrianism, the
          >> human soul is not a fragment or an emanation of the Divine which
          >> seeks reintegration; rather each individual soul is accompanied by
          >> a divine spirit, known as a "fravashi," created by God, which
          >> embodies the highest potential of the individual living soul. It
          >> is this fravashi which, according to some Zoroastrian theories,
          >> unites with the human soul after death.
          >> The philosophical way, for Plato and the Presocratics, was
          >> an aristocratic way of knowledge. All of these philosophers
          >> maintain that only the few, the initiates, and the privileged can
          >> travel this way. Certainly it is true socially, since for most people
          >> the simple demands of making a living and caring for a family
          >> make it impossible to spend time on the pursuit of esoteric
          >> philosophical enlightenment. The Pythagorean way of life is
          >> indeed a monastic way, lived long before Christian monastics
          >> worked out a similar solution to the problem of how to live the life
          >> of spiritual striving in a chaotic and corrupt world. Plato's
          >> mysticism is also more toward the "introverted" type, which is less
          >> dependent on rituals and less connected with mystery-cults or
          >> magic, and thus more acceptable to intellectuals who disdain magic
          >> as popular superstition. This division between an aristocratic
          >> "pure" tradition of "introverted" philosophical mysticism, and a
          >> more popularizing "extroverted" mysticism of cult, magic, and
          >> easily accessible and workable esoteric formulae, became a
          >> standard feature of the Western esoteric tradition; it is even visible
          >> today. And yet throughout the history of mysticism, there have
          >> been those who practiced both kinds – especially the "theurgists"
          >> of later antiquity, whose practice reached from the heights of
          >> Platonic abstraction to the smoky underworld of ceremonial magic.
          >> The division has never been unbridgeable.
          >> One generation after Plato, the western world changed
          >> irrevocably. Once Alexander of Macedon (known in the west as
          >> Alexander the Great) with his invading Greek armies conquered
          >> the Eastern Mediterranean lands, and the Persian Empire all the
          >> way to the borders of India, the world expanded. In the era of
          >> multinational empire that followed, which is called the "Hellenistic
          >> era," (from 330BCE to about 100 CE or the rise of the Roman
          >> Empire) the Western world became far less isolated, and a general
          >> mixing of Eastern and Western civilizations occurred. The
          >> "Oriental" influences which had up until now been part of only the
          >> Eastern Greek world now flooded into the whole Mediterranean,
          >> facilitated by the common language of Greek and lines of trade and
          >> communication which spread throughout the new empire (or
          >> successions of more local Hellenistic empires).
          >> The intellectual world of the Hellenistic era reflects the
          >> unprecedented mixing of cultures that went on throughout the
          >> Mediterranean. This went on especially in the new city of
          >> Alexandria, the capital of the Hellenistic world, where Greek,
          >> Egyptian, Iranian, Mesopotamian, Jewish, and dozens of other
          >> traditions met and were melded together to form various new
          >> philosophies and esoteric practices. This mixture of traditions,
          >> which is known to scholars as "syncretism," will forever after be a
          >> feature in esoteric and mystical philosophy.
          >> In Hellenistic mysticism, which for the most part used
          >> Greek language and Greek literary forms, the classical mystical
          >> stance inherited from Plato was enriched with a new, cosmic,
          >> universal emphasis. This reflects the transition from a religious
          >> world with a local horizon and local gods to a cosmopolitan world
          >> where everyone's gods (or One God) were on view and people
          >> could compare them. The individualism of Greek mysticism
          >> remained, but its backdrop was now a world of impersonal empires
          >> rather than local city-states.
          >> Yet in the new forms of Hellenistic mystical philosophy,
          >> one can still discern the ancient ideas which are the heritage of
          >> Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Plato. This is sometimes the result of
          >> actual migrations of philosophers and their schools; many
          >> Pythagoreans, rejected in Sicily for political reasons, found a new
          >> home in Alexandria, where they carried on their esoteric traditions
          >> in a new atmosphere. More often, though, the development of
          >> Hellenistic philosophy came through literary study and learned
          >> revivals. It did not, as many modern esoteric schools would like to
          >> believe, come from an unbroken chain of "secret initiates" whose
          >> traditions have been handed on since the time of Atlantis (itself
          >> perhaps an invention of Plato in his treatise TIMAEUS). Under the
          >> ideological leadership of those who followed Plato, the Hellenistic
          >> complex of ideas became what is known to us as "Neo-Platonism"
          >> (though the term was unknown to the philosophers themselves,
          >> who simply called themselves "Platonists").
          >> Neo-Platonism and its related philosophies show many of
          >> the same ideas as their predecessors, transformed in their new
          >> multicultural home. Most of the Hellenistic mystical philosophies
          >> think of the Universe, or Cosmos, as one living being, whose parts
          >> are in an organic relationship with each other and which possesses
          >> a cosmic sentience, sometimes called the "World-Soul." We have
          >> met with this idea as early as Pythagoras. For the Hellenists, all
          >> things in this sentient Cosmos are connected by what is called
          >> "sumpatheia," (from which our word "sympathy" comes). This
          >> literally means "feeling-with" but it actually means
          >> "correspondence" or "active similarity;" it is the mechanism by
          >> which "like attracts like." Centuries ago, Empedocles had taught
          >> much the same thing.
          >> Another major feature of Hellenistic philosophy is what
          >> might be called "emanationism." The seed for this derives from the
          >> old philosophical quest to figure out how one single divine Unity
          >> could create our world of visible multiplicity. Already in Plato's
          >> thought there is the divine world of Forms and then the material
          >> world created from those Forms. As Platonism develops in its
          >> Hellenistic home, the layers of reality multiply. Neo-platonists,
          >> possibly influenced by monotheistic religions such as Judaism and
          >> Zoroastrianism, propose a single, ineffable, indescribable God who
          >> then emanates an Intelligible World, from which then, in yet
          >> another stage, flows the multiplicity of the visible world. This
          >> threefold system blooms into systems of seven emanations, and
          >> then more; full-blown emanationist systems can contain myriad
          >> layers of worlds, reaching from the totally abstract Divine at the
          >> top to hellish underworlds below. The Hellenistic innerworld is a
          >> very complex place.
          >> This "multiverse" is not always ruled by a benevolent,
          >> provident God or by the impersonal but morally upright rule of
          >> Logos or Law. The Hellenistic era sees the rise of deterministic
          >> philosophies, which teach that all is ordained by Fate and Destiny.
          >> Ancient Greek philosophy and religion had its ideas of Fate, often
          >> personified as a goddess; Hellenistic Fate extends to the whole
          >> cosmos. The word for Destiny or Fate in Greek is "heimarmene,"
          >> from the the Greek "meiromai" which means, "to receive one's
          >> portion." But here, the "portion" is not allotted by a god, but by an
          >> impersonal, irrevocable mechanism driven by the movements of
          >> planets and stars. It is in the Hellenistic world that astrology,
          >> derived from Greek interpretations of very old Mesopotamian star-
          >> lore, becomes a major factor in intellectual life. The seven ancient
          >> planets (sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) are
          >> the agents of Destiny, often depicted as hostile. It is a reflection,
          >> perhaps, of life lived no longer in a village or a small-scale city-
          >> state but in a great empire where the government is inaccessible
          >> and the ruler may well have proclaimed himself a divine being.
          >> "Heimarmene" or Destiny becomes the ultimate arbiter of peoples'
          >> lives – and bears the weight and oppression of the overbearing
          >> multiverse.
          >> How can we escape our grim, astrologically determined
          >> Destiny? This was a burning question for the thoughtful Hellenistic
          >> intellectual. How can we flee from our figurative dungeon in the
          >> lower reaches of a many-storied cosmic skyscraper? There is an
          >> audible echo here of the ever-ancient shamanic "soul journey"
          >> away from the material through the inner worlds to the place of
          >> knowledge and salvation. For some philosophers, that escape
          >> would come, as it did for the Pythagoreans centuries earlier,
          >> through the initiatory possession of the sacred secret Knowledge
          >> which would set one free. For those who were more magically
          >> inclined, the chains of Heimarmene could be broken by the proper
          >> rituals, done at the proper time and place. And many people who
          >> were not philosophers put their trust in prayers for the soul after
          >> death, inscribed on gold foil and placed lovingly on the bodies of
          >> their dead. As modern archaeologists have discovered, these
          >> popular prayers for the dead contain some of the same ideas about
          >> transcendence, freedom, and divinization that the Orphics and
          >> Empedocles had preached almost a millennium earlier.
          >> The story of ancient Greek mysticism, then, is one of
          >> continuity through different cultures. There is something about the
          >> archaic shamanic paradigm of soul-journey, secret knowledge, and
          >> inner worlds, which will not go away. It cannot be suppressed,
          >> only transformed. Under the sway of rationalistic philosophies, or
          >> of monotheistic orthodoxy such as was later imposed by
          >> Christianity and Islam, it does not die; it simply goes underground.
          >> The mysticism of symbols, magic, visionary techniques,
          >> innerworld journeys, and esoteric "science" is cast into the
          >> ideological shadows and denigrated as "primitive," "retrogressive,"
          >> "occultist" or "superstitious," but it continues to exist with its own
          >> special power, which attracts souls from one civilization to
          >> another, from age to age, a calling which continues to sound even
          >> to this very day.
          >>
          >>
          >> Hannah M.G.Shapero
          >> 6/8/99
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >> 13
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >> (end of original message)
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        • C G
          Hi Dan and All, I was vaguely aware of the Pythagorean belief in the transmigration of souls but never made the connection between Orphism and Platonism, for
          Message 4 of 4 , Feb 17, 2012
            Hi Dan and All,

            I was vaguely aware of the Pythagorean belief in the transmigration of souls but never made the connection between Orphism and Platonism, for example. We are taught that there would have been a real divide between the belief systems but I suspect that Orphism was more deeply rooted than we can know. Put differently, I am slowly discovering that the rational-loving Greeks must have been both repulsed by, and attracted to, the irrational. Kind of like working with prime numbers...you hate to look and have to look...you see glimpses of something that is bigger than your mind can conceive.

            I am also interested in the cross-cultural connection. That writer's particular bent is with Zoroastrianism, which he references through his article. (You can see his website here: http://www.pyracantha.com/ but his article is hosted elsewhere: http://www.eocto.org/article/103)

            I have been reading Ouspensky over the past year and reviewed his thoughts on reincarnation:

            http://www.ardue.org.uk/library/book18/chap11.html

            I was especially interested in his criticism of Nietzsche's approach to eternal recurrence. My understanding is that Nietzsche's idea runs like this: if you assume that life, of necessity, must repeat endlessly, then why *wouldn't* you choose to do those things that make you happy in this life and, therefore, all repeating lives? But don't take my word for it, here is Nietzsche in his own words: "Everything becomes and recurs eternally - escape is impossible! - Supposing we could judge value, what follows? The idea of recurrence as a selective principle, in the service of strength (and barbarism!!)..." (from The Will to Power)

            Ouspensky seems to understand Nietzsche differently from me but, regardless, I was interested in his criticism of Nietzsche's math.

            > The question about reincarnation for me is if something survives bodily
            > death and is reincarnated, what is it? Surely it is not me as me, since I
            > don't remember any past lives. In order to answer the question I think we
            > need a whole new physics, one that integrates consciousness into the
            > current cosmological order. This is coming, though what its form will be
            > I have no idea.

            Ouspensky touches on that same idea, to a point. I would prefer to re-word the problem differently. Questions like the one you've raised are challenging to answer because they assume that the answer must conform to the same thought pattern that posed the question. However, as we know from altered states of consciousness, 2 plus 2 does not always equal 4. In some states of mind, addition has no meaning whatsoever. Many "answers" simply rise above the question..as you get older, for example, the questions kind of drop away and, instead, an emotional response calcifies more than a rational understanding. To put it in context, I have no idea what happens after life, if anything, but if any kind of awareness survives, I believe it won't be recognizable by my present state of awareness. It is more likely it is vegetative. Much like dreams, I believe that all such extra-ordinary consciousness will not be confined to the limits of waking thought. In a moment of rapture, all the agonizing questions just...don't exist.

            I also don't think we necessarily need a whole new physics, just a more holistic approach to consensus reality. I prefer the type of Shamansim that Graham Hancock is talking about these days (to plagiarize my good friend, neo-mystical, not new age):

            http://www.amazon.com/Supernatural-Meetings-Ancient-Teachers-Mankind/dp/1932857400

            Funny, too, that I was drawn to this list twelve years ago by his earlier work, Fingerprints of the Gods, but now I find myself more closely aligned with his present interest in ancient teachings.

            >The quantum measurement problem, parapsychological
            > studies, near death studies, psychic experiences, and mystical religion
            > all point to it. Mad materialism can't hold out forever.

            Well said!


            > I sent a reply to your earlier post to the list, but didn't see it show up
            > in my mail box. Did you get it?

            Oh, sorry, Dan, I had received that post you just re-sent; and I also replied to it, too. However, strangely, when I went to check Yahoo Groups home page today, I was prevented from seeing anything more recent than 2009 in the table of posts at the bottom of the home page. Must be a coding bug because I can retrieve those messages simply by clicking on one and moving through the "previous" posts one-by-one.

            Cheers,

            Chris
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