Updated: Dec 29, 2019
The “living philosophy" is an aspect of tradition hugely important to the Ancient Greeks, an aspect that seems to be making a resurgence of late. In the exceptional book by Algis Uzdavinys ‘Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth’. He describes how the Ancient Greek philosophers, up until Aristotle, weren’t really Platonists but Pythagoreans, and that Pythagorean wisdom was, in reality, the mystery practices and traditions of Ancient Egypt. He shows how the Orphic and Eleusian mysteries had their origins in much more Ancient times than we've been led to believe.
I’d had similar thoughts after reading ‘Marcus Aurelius - Meditations’, where Aurelius talks in admiration of his Greek teachers and mentors. Although the qualities and systems of wisdom he admires in these mentors are the exact same qualities and systems of wisdom you’d learn as you mastered the 5 skandhas of Vedic philosophy. Greek, Egyptian and Vedic wisdom are ultimately one and the same. As Algis points out in his rites of rebirth book. One example he uses to highlight his position is how the origins of the western word 'ritual' stems from the sanskrit word ‘rta’:
"In the Vedic religion, Ṛta ("order, rule; truth") is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial orders.
If we imagine for a moment that the Egyptian Kingdoms are truly a remnant of the Vedic Rama empire that survived the flood of Atlantis, several historical connections begin to make more sense.
In Greek mythology the king of Atlantis was Atlas. Atlas was father to the 7 sisters of the Plaiedes star constellation. One of those 7 sisters was Maia (the progenitor of the Mayan civilisation?) Maya also happens to be the mother of Hermes in Greek mythology. And Hermes, as we know, is the chief diety of the Pythagorean tradition. In Greek myth then we're given a clear line of descent through which the ancient traditions were passed. Atlantis->Mayan->Hermetic.
Algis points out that regardless of what path, tradition or culture you enter the mysteries through, the end goal is always the same:
To quote Algis Uzdavinys:
Philosophy as preparation for death was an extremely demanding way of life requiring the intense study of the whole reality, not simply “scientific” understands of things. Philosophy is concerned not only with well-being, but with the search for soul-transforming wisdom (prajna). For Plotinus, this means to recover the souls “ancient state”. It is the same as to be illuminated by the truth from the Good, which radiates truth over all the intelligibles. The soul, purified and cleansed by philosophy, resembles the “living gold”...(pg 8 - philosophy as a rite of rebirth). ...(more from page 9)...therefore philo-Sophia — the love of wisdom, is an art of loving, seeing, understanding, and living, not simply of constructing a technical jargon reserved for specialists. It is a method of purification and spiritual ascent which demands a radical transformation of ones thought and existence in order to reach the telos described as “wisdom”. And the real wisdom does not merely cause us to know discursively: it makes us “be” in a different way by uniting knowledge (gnosis) and being (ousia).
“Gnosis, Praxis, Entelechis”, (”to know, to do, to become”) is the path of what Algis is describing as Neo-Pythagoreanism. A more hands on and embodied approach to the Ancient Greek mystery traditions as compared to Neo-Platonism, which became a more intellectual pursuit of discussing wisdom (even though Plato himself was grounded in the embodied Pythagorean approach of the “living tradition”).
To take it back to the source wisdom of the Vedas that all these traditions stem from, Bill Bodri has a great ebook called ‘Measuring Meditation’, which is a little on the pricey side for an ebook, but for a description of the skandhas and how to purify them, priceless!
Optimism is a fire that gives life meaning and fuels our passions. Agape and Eros for earthly beauty gave the Egyptians the motivation to build their monumental temples. A love for creation and humanity that spanned not just generations, but aeons. Optimism, even in the deepest pits of darkness, has been the perpetual saviour of man through eternity:
“Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids” - Arab, 12th century saying.