Pythagoras Said... by Kayleen Asbo
There is a symphony that never ceases
Stretching out its ecstatic shimmer
through the waves of the sky
across the ripples of the late summer's shore
and into the depths of your own being.
If you are still
You can ride the crest of its vibrations
If you quiet your mind
You will know the voices of stars.
Tune, tune, tune your heart
to hear the celestial song
I was asked recently whom I would choose to have dinner with if I could pick anyone from history. My answer would have shocked and horrified my 13-year old self: Pythagoras. While my geometry teacher could barely torture me into learning the Pythagorean theorem, I have since discovered that Pythagoras was the sage who stands behind so much of what I treasure. It was Pythagoras who first used the word "Philosopher" to describe himself, a word that in Greek means "Lover of Wisdom". It was Pythagoras who developed the prototype of monastic life that later influenced St Benedict, gathering a community of people together who would sing at sunrise and sunset and spend the remaining hours studying and working and sitting in silence in order to connect themselves to the deeper rhythms of the spiritual life. It is Pythagoras who is carved into the archway of the Scholar's Door at Chartres Cathedral in France -- a building that reflects his theories of divine proportion. It is Pythagoras who the teachers of wisdom look to in Raphael's magnificent painting School of Athens.
It was Pythagoras who established the foundations of musical theory, identifying the deep and perfect pattern between sound vibrations that create harmony. Pythagoras taught that there was a divine pattern to the universe and that through practice, we can begin to see and hear more of the pattern that surrounds us: in the spiral of the sunflower or pinecone or seashell; and in the relationships between planets which also create a celestial symphony. It is an idea that the great 12th century mystic Hildegard of Bingen grasped when she wrote her music in praise of creation, and a vision which Dante shared in poetic form in Paradiso, the culmination of The Divine Comedy.
The question I will ask you, is "How do we "tune" ourselves to hear this song?"