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Porphyry of Tyre: He ordained that his disciples should speak well

Porphyry of Tyre: He ordained that his disciples should speak well

Photo: Algis Uždavinys. April 26th is the birthday of our friend Algis who passed away in 2010. He was a prolific Lithuanian philosopher and scholar whose work pioneered the hermeneutical comparative study of Egyptian and Greek religions, especially their esoteric relations to Semitic religions, and in particular the inner aspect of Islam.
 

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​'He ordained that his disciples should speak well and think reverently of the Gods, muses and heroes, and likewise of parents and benefactors; that they should obey the laws; that they should not relegate the worship of the Gods to a secondary position, performing it eagerly, even at home; that to the celestial divinities they should sacrifice uncommon offerings; and ordinary ones to the inferior deities. (The world he Divided into) opposite powers; the "one" was a better monad, light, right, equal, stable and straight; while the "other" was an inferior dyad, darkness, left, unequal, unstable and movable.'

(Porphyry of Tyre)
 

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Source and Recommended Reading:

 'The Golden Chain: An Anthology of Pythagorean and Platonic Philosophy'
By Algis Uždavinys


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Description:

Plato compares philosophy with preparing for death (Phaedo 67cd) and its goal with becoming like god (Theaetetus 176b). This view of philosophy implies two doctrines central to the Platonic tradition: the immortality of the soul and the community (koinonia) of the human and divine. These ideas were not new with Plato nor did they die with him. It is the nature of the philosophical endeavor to borrow and transform the ideas of others and to pass these ideas on for others to use and adapt. Plato is arguably the single most important ancient Greek thinker, although his strength lies not merely in his innovation but also, and perhaps especially, in his critical understanding of the philosophical tradition. The Golden Chain provides important texts in the history of Platonism. It begins, perhaps startlingly but certainly correctly, with excerpts about Pythagoras, moves through the Pythagorean tradition, then comes to Plato himself, and continues with excerpts from the major Neoplatonist writers. What unfolds is an evolution of a philosophy, a Platonic philosophy, one that starts before Plato is born and continues to grow after his death—and indeed well beyond the times and writings of the pagan Neoplatonists presented here. We do not know much about Pythagoras. Given his fame and large numbers of followers, that may seem strange. We know of multiple biographies of him (four of which are excerpted in Part I, below), but they are all late and suspect. As is the case with all famous individuals, the history of Pythagoras took on a life of its own. Stories of miracles, of divine genealogy, and of superhuman wisdom became associated with the philosopher. Making the matter murkier, others began writing treatises under his name. (See the works collected in Part II, below.) It is therefore very difficult to separate truth from fiction, Pythagoras’ doctrine from later additions. This wealth of information, however, is not so troubling. All philosophy evolves over time, but there are kernels of original doctrines present. We may not know precisely what Pythagoras taught his students, but we can be sure that his teachings included the soul’s immortality, the cycle of birth, and the existence and beneficence of the gods.

 

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