In eternity’s powerful arms
For those who are familiar with Greek literature, you may remember that one recurrent theme is inheriting the guilt of our ancestors, especially blood-guilt. We inherit the guilt of an action that we ourselves didn’t commit. We are punished because of it. The fact that bloodguilt can be inherited from one of our ancestors lies at the root of the cause of reincarnation in the Orphic tradition. Because our ancestors, the Titans, killed the God Dionysos, we inherit that guilt. Thus, we are responsible for atoning. This idea prevailed among the ancient Egyptians, according to whom the soul, after leaving the dead body, would travel from one body to another for thousands and thousands of years in order to gain experiences in each of the different stages of life. Speaking personally, I would be deliriously happy if reincarnation were real. That idea touches something very deep. Hoping to find evidence for reincarnation, I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire; and I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of our civilization. It was around 530 BCE, when Pythagoras travelled to Kroton, a Greek city that is in present day Italy; and there he settled and founded his own philosophical school, where he taught the centrality of mathematics for an understanding of the universe; and the idea that numbers are somehow fundamental to reality. In fact, to be a scientist today is to understand and to do mathematics; such is perhaps the most distinctive legacy from the scientific revolution. On the early 20th century, often ill, the isolated Bohm railed against the orthodox interpretation of quantum physics and agitated for a theory he hoped would replace it. And at the time of Planck's announcement, no one knew that the Milky Way was a galaxy of stars, nor did anyone realize that the so-called nebulae were other galaxies in a vast Universe of galaxies. The discovery of the Big Bang by Edward Hubble happened decades after Planck's announcement in Berlin, and evidence for the Big Bang came only several decades after that. Long before Dennis Gabor thought of holography, the ingenious Thomas Young, in his spare time, helped decipher the Rosetta Stone and demonstrate once and for all that Egyptian Hieroglyphics were phonographic in nature, shattering the romantic notion that the magic symbols could be an instance of Leibniz's universal "character". He was the first to measure the change in curvature of the eye as it focused at different distances, and he discovered the cause of astigmatism. One of Thomas Young's innumerable contributions to physics was the idea of polarization. Despite his genius, he was disparaged by the professional English physicists of his time, principally because Isaac Newton had proposed that light was composed of particles. In England, to disagree with Newton was sacrilege and heretical. Newton was subject to both traditional Church of England and Presbyterian influences when he was a teenager. It may seem like I enjoy complicating things just for the sake of it. I swear I do not. In my humble experience, this is fascinating, not only because it provides the archetype for our modern-day justice system, but also because it highlights a belief that parallels reincarnation. In these matters, I fear, we've been "missing the point." In looking back, I see now that we have been overly fixated on our own biological death (it is now patently unclear to me, however, that we ever actually die in this way). An attentive re-telling of the tale of transmigration, from my perspective, would reveal that all the valuable things, material, spiritual, and moral, can be traced back through countless generations.
Thinking of my inclinations on the one hand and of my littleness and my limitations on the other, I was dazzled as I became aware that my fate had been cast for eternity; I came out of my mother's womb but I entered the womb of the world. At the age of 12 I fell violently into the Neo-Platonism pushed by Raphael and Michelangelo, and I met Plato, who gave me definitive birth at the age of fifteen. (Later, the rain erased my footprints and I no longer knew how to return home). Through literature I learned that life is endless, that these qualities in me, are a tribute not to me, but to the incarnation, a curious mixture of Titus, Nerva, Trajan, and of course, Marcus Aurelius, whose letters spoke to me as if he were still present. I always felt that I was born too early or too late, I now know, that my existence has numerous dimensions, like an echo across the ages that mixes and mingles in different ways with the cosmos; only now do I feel that I arrive on time everywhere because I am in the eternity of the essential and that I am more of a ghost in life than I will be in death.
There is another point to which I should like to refer. I consider the existing political system to be wholly bad and requiring special international effort to end or mend it. Understanding history is more than a personal exercise. It’s important because stereotypes have consequences. I know that war is wrong, is an unmitigated evil. I know too that it has got to go; it is the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of peace. This statement itself raises the question whether national armament can really conduce to peace in a civilization. Senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that does by the name of security run by the department of war. The military spirit that kills the very humanity in men and reduce him to the level of the beast. No matter what may be said for defense by armament in the past, I believe that it is an utterly obsolete and extremely dangerous way of attempting to attain peace and security. Much is lost amidst such thing, and consequently, we must keep close to that which is left behind by the Pythagoreans themselves. This question becomes complex in that we are not only seeking an account of a 6th century B.C. philosopher, but are at once obliged to consider the historical archive of interpretations and treatments of this subject. There is only one true moral philosophy based on reason, just as there is only one true chemistry, or one true classification of diseases. When new systems of morality, chemistry, or classification of diseases are developed they are done on the previous advances and failures of earlier moralists, chemists, and physicians. It is my profound belief that there is only one way to achieve this: we must divest ourselves of our egotistical anthropocentrism, our habit of seeing ourselves as masters of the universe who can do whatever occurs to us. We must discover a new respect for what transcends us: for the universe, for the earth, for nature, for life, and for reality. Our respect for other people, for other nations and for other cultures, can only grow from a humble respect for the cosmic order and from an awareness that we are a part of it, that we share in it and that nothing of what we do is lost, but rather becomes part of the eternal memory of being, where it is judged. This knowledge when properly understood and used, it then becomes active, travels with extraordinary velocity, and then it becomes a miracle. So the mass mind is affected first unconsciously, then consciously. Again, it is possible to fail in many ways, while to succeed is possible only in one way.
Inspiring results is our legacy.