Universal Brotherhood – May 1898

AN ELDER BROTHER — Eleanor Dunlop

"There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim;
Such harmony is in immortal souls!
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay,
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it."
      — Merchant of Venice

The World's Need has never yet cried in vain for a Champion. Forth from the Lodge of Light the Great Soul emerges at the appointed hour. "He of the great heart, and deep seeing eye" appears on life's arena to do battle with Its Ancient Foes. Thus stepped forth Buddha in the far off East, bringing to his downtrodden countrymen light, hope, and liberation. And thus the lowly Nazarene came unto his own — but being of them rejected — turned to the Western world with his Gospel of Peace and good-will. Right down the ages these Great Souls follow one another in quick succession.

Pythagoras, Plato, Lao-Tze, Shakespeare, Emerson, Blavatsky — still on they come, Pioneers of truth and liberty, Liberators of the Divine Forces of love and harmony.

Novalis has truly said of such, "There is but one temple in the Universe — the body of man. We touch heaven when we lay hands on a human form." God Incarnate in the flesh is still a divine mystery which few can penetrate. Time and space seem like veils by which the tender mother protects her infant from the light; as we grow older and stronger nature will remove, one by one, the wrappings of our childhood.

Can it be more than 2000 years ago that Pythagoras lived and taught? He seems such a familiar spirit to me — yet we are told that about 500 years b.c. Pythagoras first looked into his mother's eyes in the fair isle of Samos. Here Nature taught him his a b c and much else besides. Eager in his search for truth, Pythagoras left his island home. Travelling was a very slow business in those days — and yet this dauntless soul journeyed as far as Egypt to get instructions from the Priest Initiates. From that old land of occult knowledge Pythagoras took what he could receive and then started for the East to visit the Persian and Chaldean Magi and the Sages of India.

What founts of wisdom to drink at! — still there was a higher source for such as he.

We see him now, his earnest face lit by a new light, as he sets out on his homeward journey. On arriving in Europe Pythagoras went to reside in Crotona — which was then a fashionable Italian resort, whose inhabitants were notorious for their luxury and licentiousness. In the midst of this depravity, the Great Soul lived and worked, sending out rays of light and truth, until about six hundred men and women recognized in him their Master. These followers formed themselves into a society — pledged to secrecy and practical brotherhood — "Promising to aid each other in the pursuit of wisdom; uniting their property in one common stock for the benefit of the whole." The first lesson this brotherhood had to learn was Silence. Only the advanced pupils, after years of devotion and service, were allowed to ask questions or raise objections.

"He said so," was sufficient for his followers, no proof whatever being granted. By intuition alone the probationer could hope to advance — without this guide he was virtually disqualified. "Ipse dixit" — "He said so." Thousands of years have passed since these words dispelled the doubts and fears of our brothers in Crotona.

Let us see what and how wise Pythagoras taught his followers. The central note of his teachings was harmony — the adaptation of each to the whole.

"The morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy," when the inception of this world took place. Numbers, he says, are the essence and root of all things — the elements out of which the Universe was constructed. "The relation of the notes of the musical scale to numbers, whereby harmony results from vibrations in equal time, and discord from the reverse," led Pythagoras to apply the word Harmony to the visible Universe. "The distance of the heavenly bodies from one another corresponded to the proportions of the musical scale. The heavenly bodies, with the Gods who inhabit them, move round a vast central fire, the principle of life." As numbers proceed from the Unit, so Pythagoras considered this Central Fire to be the source of Nature's forms. Whether they be Gods, demons, or human souls, according to the rate of vibration is the form produced. Music and rhythmic motion lie at the root of all things. Carlyle was a Pythagorean, though possibly he would have been the first to deny it, for we find him saying in one of his essays: "All inmost things are musical, all deep things are song. The primal element of us; of us, and of all things. The Greeks fabled of sphere harmonies, it was the feeling they had of the inner structure of nature; that the soul of all her voices, and utterances was perfect music. See deep enough and you will find music. The heart of nature being harmony if you can but reach it.

Pythagoras taught the immortality of the soul. Ovid represents him as addressing his disciples in these words — "Souls never die, but always on quitting one abode pass to another. I myself can remember in the time of the Trojan War I was Euphorbus, the son of Panthus, and fell by the spear of Menelatis. Lately being in the temple of Juno at Argos, I recognized my shield hanging up there among the trophies; all things change; nothing perishes. The soul passes hither and thither, occupying now this body, now that. As wax is stamped with certain images, then melted, then stamped anew with others, yet is always the same wax, so the soul being always the same, yet wears at different times, different forms." Pythagoras taught orally as did Jesus 500 years afterwards. The greatest teachings the world has yet received, were given by the soul through the medium of sound. God said "let there be light, and there was light." "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us."


Universal Brotherhood

THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE