Wisdom of Life

Pythagoras: On the Meaning and the Wisdom of Life

No one is free who has not obtained the empire of himself. No man is free who cannot command himself.

The most momentous thing in human life is the art of winning the soul to good or evil.

Be silent
or let thy words be worth more than silence.

“To cognize the Divine Essence — this is the highest purpose of soul, sent by the Creator to the Earth! Truth is to be sought with a mind purified from the passions of the body. Having overcome evil things, thou shalt experience the union of the union mortal divinity with the mortal man. Wealth is a weak anchor, and glory cannot support a man; this is the law of God, that virtue only is firm, and cannot be shaken by a tempest.

We come from God. As the tree from the root and the stream from the spring; that’s why we should always be in contact with Him, as the trunk from the root. Because the stream dries up when it is separated from the spring and the tree dies when is uprooted.

It is only necessary to make war with five things; with the maladies of the body, the ignorances of the mind, with the passions of the body, with the seditions of the city and the discords of families. You will know that wretched men are the cause of their own suffering, who neither see nor hear the good that is near them, and few are the ones who know how to secure release from their troubles.

Choose rather to be strong of soul than strong of body. Souls never die, but always on quitting one abode pass to another. All things change, nothing perishes. The soul passes hither and thither, occupying now this body, now that… As a wax is stamped with certain figures, then melted, then stamped anew with others, yet it is always the same wax. So, the Soul being always the same, yet wears at different times different forms.

The soul of man is divided into three parts, intelligence, reason, and passion. Intelligence and passion are possessed by other animals, but reason by man alone. Reason is immortal, all else mortal. Most men and women, by birth or nature, lack the means to advance in wealth or power, but all have the ability to advance in knowledge. Every man has been made by God in order to acquire knowledge and contemplate. Strength of mind rests in sobriety; for this keeps your reason unclouded by passion. The oldest, shortest words — “yes” and “no”— are those which require the most thought. There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.

As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love. The earth affords a lavish supply of richess of innocent foods, and offers you banquets that involve no bloodshed or slaughter; only beasts satisfy their hunger with flesh, and not even all of those, because horses, cattle, and sheep live on grass.

Friends share all things. We ought so to behave to one another as to avoid making enemies of our friends, and at the same time to make friends of our enemies. Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life.

If there be light, then there is darkness; if cold–heat; if height– depth; if solid–fluid; if hard–soft; if rough–smooth; if calm–tempest; if prosperity–adversity; if life–death. Know that death comes to everyone, and that wealth will sometimes be acquired, sometimes lost. So in life, some enter the services of fame and others money, but the best choice is that of those few who spend their time in the contemplation of nature, and as lovers of wisdom. Whatever griefs mortals suffer by divine chance, whatever destiny you have, endure it and do not complain. But it is right to improve it as much as you can, and remember this: Fate does not give very many of these griefs to good people.

As soon as laws are necessary for men, they are no longer fit for freedom. No one is free who has not obtained the empire of himself. Don’t try to cover your mistakes with false words. Rather, correct your mistakes with examination.

Educate the children and it won’t be necessary to punish the men. A man is never as big as when he is on his knees to help a child. Salt is born of the purest parents: the Sun and the Sea.

Let no one persuade you by word or deed to do or say whatever is not best for you. Choose always the way that seems the best, however rough it may be; custom will soon render it easy and agreeable. You should make great things, not promising great things. Respect gods before demigods, heroes before men, and first among men your parents; but respect yourself most of all. Remind yourself that all men assert that wisdom is the greatest good, but that there are few who strenuously seek out that greatest good. When the wise man opens his mouth, the beauties of his soul present themselves to the view, like the statues in a temple. A fool is known by his speech; and a wise man by silence.

In anger we should refrain both from speech and action. Anger begins in folly, and ends in repentance. Better be mute, than dispute with the ignorant. Hate and fear breed a poison in the blood, which if continued, affects eyes, ears, nose and the organs of digestion. Therefore, it is not wise to hear and remember the unkind things others might say about you.

Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light. Above all things, reverence thyself. If you have a wounded heart, touch it as little as you would an injured eye. There are only two remedies for the suffering of the soul: hope and patience. Love that shines from within cannot be darkened by obstacles of the world of consequences.

There is geometry in the humming of the strings. There is music in the spacing of the spheres. A stone is frozen music. The stars in the heavens sing a music, if only we had ears to hear. The highest goal of music is to connect one’s soul to their Divine Nature, not entertainment.

Evolution is the Law of Life. Number is the Law of the Universe. Unity is the Law of God. Bless us, divine number, who generated gods and men. Number contains the root and source of eternally flowing creation. In this theater of man’s life, it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers-on.

Do not go to bed until you have gone over the day three times in your mind. What wrong did I do? What good did I accomplish? What did I forget to do?

Meditate upon my counsels; love them; follow them; To the divine virtues will they know how to lead thee. I swear it by the One who in our hearts engraved The sacred Tetrad , symbol immense and pure, Source of Nature and model of the Gods.

Do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in few.

Speak not nor act before thou hast reflected.

None but God is wise.


~Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy.

Quotes of Pythagoras

Excellence Reporter 2020

Categories: Wisdom of Life

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