Pythagoras is credited with being the “Father of Mathematics”. He is also credited as being the “Father of Geometry” as well as the “Father of Music”. He discovered the musical intervals and taught that you could heal using sound and harmonic frequencies. He was the first person to prescribe music as medicine. He is considered the “Father of Harmonics”. He applied the principles of harmonics to everything from music, art and architecture to running governments, raising a family, friendship, and personal development. He is considered the “Father of Philosophy” in fact he was the first person to introduce the word, “Philosophy”. His Teachings, the “Golden Verses”, and his universal application of the “Golden Means” are a testament to his transcendent genius.
Pythagoras, like his contemporary The Buddha, (as E.M. Cornford puts it) was “one of those divine men of whom history knows least because their lives were at once transfigured into legend”. We can rely on a succession of credible scholars to substantiate that Pythagoras was born around 569 BC. (about 2575 years ago) on the island called Samos. He lived for nearly a hundred years. At a remarkably early age he exhibited an unparalleled “attraction to learning”. His father, Mnesarchus (an affluential merchant from Tyrs) insured that he received the best education conceivable. He not only studied with the preeminent scholars of his time; he rapidly surpassed them. This enlightened luminary matured into one of the greatest living Masters in history.
He contributed important developments to the field of astronomy. Pythagoras was the first known Westerner to declare that the Earth was round. He argued that the Earth itself was a sphere and based this assertion upon his keen observations while looking at the curved shapes of the shadows cast upon the moon during an eclipse. Many of his theories were controversial in the West up until the time of Copernicus. (two thousand years later) Pythagoras demonstrated that day & night were the result of the Earth’s revolution. He explained that the moon is “bright” because it reflects light originating from the sun. He understood fully the nature of solar and lunar eclipses. He was the first to divide the Earth into five climactic zones ranging from the cold polar to the warmer equatorial regions. He taught that the change in the seasons was due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to the sun. Pythagoras was the first to point out that the morning and evening stars were in fact the same planet- Venus.
He loved inventing single words and images that would represent whole fields of knowledge. For instance: He was the first person to coin the word “Cosmos” which to gives reference not only to the entire universe but also imposes exact laws of harmony and order. Mentioned earlier, he was the first person to coin the word “Philosophy” which literally means, “love of wisdom” and refers to the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. (including all ideologies, theories, notions, doctrines, principles, tenets, viewpoints, and schools of thought).
He clarified the difference between logic, analysis, and the power perception vs. the intellect. He abstained entirely from wine and meat and ate modest portions of food that was easy to digest. He saw the body as a temporary vehicle that if cared for properly (through diet, fasting, exercise & contemplation) could facilitate Transcendence by enabling the individual to realize their Divine Nature.
Through music, Pythagoras performed what he called "soul-adjustments".
Music is Mathematics
Pythagoras used various intervals of harmonic ratios as a medicine for dis-eases of the body, the emotions, & the Soul. “He aligned Souls to their divine nature” and through music he performed what he called, “Soul Adjustments”. Pythagoras was able to discern the harmony and consonance of heavenly bodies, the “Music of the Spheres”.
Pythagoras put to use his discovery of mathematics as they relate to the harmonic ratios. He made stringed instruments that could be tuned so that they would consistently produce layered consonant musical intervals. Later Pythagoras calculated other chromatic and enharmonic orders, (using simple ratios to create complex intervals).
Pythagoras taught that music should never be approached simply as a form of entertainment. Rather, he recognized that music was an expression of “HARMONIA”, the Divine principle that brings order to chaos and discord. Thus music has a dual value because like mathematics, it enables men and women to see into the structures of nature.
Furthermore, he taught that if it was utilized correctly, music can:
a) bring the faculties of the Soul into harmony
b) compose and purify the mind
c) heal the physical body, thus restoring & maintaining perfect health.
One of his MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERIES was that harmonic musical intervals could be expressed by perfect numerical ratios, a finding that led him to the realization that all sensible phenomena follow the pattern of number.
According to Iamblichus, “Pythagoras said the first important lesson to learn, is that which subsists through music…” for it “possesses remedies of human manners & passions that is able to restore pristine harmony and faculties of the soul”.
“Pythagoras devised (musical) medicines calculated to repress and cure diseases of both bodies and souls.
“For his disciples he arranged and adjusted what were called ‘Preparations’ and ‘Touchings’ which were a mingling certain diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic melodies, through which he easily turned the passions of the soul in a contrary a direction whenever they had been afflicted by sorrow, rage, pity, over-emulation, fear, manifold desires, angers, appetites, pride, collapse or spasms. Each of these were corrected by the rule of virtue, through appropriate melodies, as though some salutary medicine”
“At night when his disciples were retiring to sleep, Pythagoras would liberate them from the days perturbations, anxieties, and tumults, purifying their intellectual powers away from their corporeal nature, quieting their sleep and rendering their dreams pleasing and prophetic.”
“In the morning when they arose, he would free them from the night’s heaviness, coma, and torpor through peculiar chords and modulations”
“Pythagoras accomplished this by the employment of a certain indescribable divinity, difficult to apprehend, through which he extended his powers of hearing, fixing his intellect on the sublime symphonies of cosmos, he alone apparently hearing and grasping the universal harmonics and consonance of the spheres and stars, producing a melody fuller and more intense than anything effected by mortal souls.”
“This harmonic melody was the result of dissimilar and varying sounds, speeds, magnitudes and intervals arranged with reference to each other in a certain musical ratio producing a convoluted motion most musical and gentle.”
The more immediate, evident, and undeniable evidence of the influence of Number on our (mental, psychic, emotional) state is through the medium of music.
Pythagorean philosophy is a “purification”, the aim of which is the assimilation to God. The universe is divine because of its order (kosmos), harmonies and symmetries it contains and reflects. These principles make the universe divine for they are the characteristics of divinity and so they also innately subsist within the human soul. The Pythagoreans taught that the soul is a harmony. If we are to become like God, then according to Pythagorean philosophy the soul must become aware of its harmonic origin. According to Pythagoras… all harmony and order is the divine principle of number”.
For Pythagoreans the truth manifests itself through the world of physical phenomena; for example, he had no doubt that through experimentation on THE MONOCHORD one could experience THE DIVINE PRINCIPLES of HARMONY which underlie the structures of the cosmos. Pythagoreans actually used certain forms of music to pacify and harmonize the mind as well as harmonize the irrational passions.
For Plato (a Pythagorean) mathematical studies were a preparation for the contemplation of divine principles. For Pythagoreans, mathematical studies ARE the contemplation of divine principles.
According to Iamblichus, “Through the proper use of music, diet, and exercise the early Pythagoreans sought to nurture and maintain the natural harmony of their body, mind, and soul.”
According to David Fideler, “HARMONIC PROPORTION… discovered by Pythagoras, exists as a purely universal principle, but it would never have been discovered without empirical experimentation on THE MONOCHORD”.