The ripe sayings of the Ancient Wisdom, as spoken again in the world of Greece–a world so much vaster than the area of the Greek peninsula–are somewhat fading from the minds born anew into the hurrying life of the twentieth-century West. But the West cannot afford to let them fade away, for more than ever are they needed now to breathe their undying music into the ears stunned with the clashing discords of a materialistic and luxurious civilization. Life grows too crowded and too showy; crowded, not full–for crowd is from without, fullness from within; showy,
not splendid–for show is the veneer of wealth covering a base metal, while splendour is the gleam of the golden thread of stateliness interwoven with the silken web of noble character. Sorely is needed in such a life the strong, pure teaching of the elder days, when learning was held to be richer than wealth, and simplicity finer than lavishness. The Greece of Pythagoras, with its mathematics and music–order and harmony–has a message for the modern nations, disorderly and discordant, and this message may best come through those who, their own natures attuned by brooding over the Pythagorean wisdom, can teach by life more than by word “the Beauty which was Greece.”
This book, into which are gathered the extant Pythagorean teachings for those who would become disciples, contains much more than did Bridgman’s Translations from the Greek, published in 1804, and is intended to serve as a manual for meditation on Pythagorean lines. As is usual in the teachings of antiquity, a whole mine of thought is indicated by a sentence that serves as a headstone, a pillar to mark the
spot where the ore to be found, None will truly profit by the book who merely reads it through; a sentence should be taken as a thought to “sleep on,” or as a note to which the day’s work should be attuned, and, deeply meditated upon, should lead to the riches hidden beneath its words. Such use of the book will make it what it should be–a sign-post pointing the hidden way to wisdom, which is a treasure concealed.
One of the Master-Builders of old was Pythagoras; he brought from Ind the wisdom of the BUDDHA, and translated it into Greek thought, adding to its austere grandeur the beauty characteristic of Greece, as Grecian art made tenderer the stern outlines of Indian sculpture. Those whose thought runs on Greek lines will here find the oldest wisdom garbed in Grecian grace, retaining the beauty of simplicity and adding the fairness of form. May those who read be drawn to meditate; may those who meditate find the hidden treasures. So will modern western life become gradually permeated with a refining, ennobling influence,
and schools of Pythagorean thought will do for the modern nations what the school of Pythagoras did for ancient Greece.