Let no sleep e’er close thy tired eyes, without thou ask thyself:
What have I omitted, and what done?
Abstain thou if ‘tis evil; persevere if good.
Meditate upon my counsels; love them, follow them:
To the divine virtues will they know how to lead thee.
I swear it by the one who in our hearts
Engraved the sacred Tetrad, symbol immense and pure,
Source of Nature and model of the Gods.
But before all, thy soul to its faithful duty,
Invoke these Gods with fervor;
They whose aid, thy work begun, alone can terminate.
Instructed by them, naught shall then deceive thee;
Of diverse beings thou shalt sound the essence;
And thou shalt know the principle and end of all.
If heaven wills it, thou shalt know that nature,
Alike in everything, is the same in every place.
So that, as to thy true rights enlightened,
Thine heart shall no more feed on vain desires.
Thou shalt see that the evils which devour men
Are of their choice the fruit…
Pythagoras’ contribution to Western philosophy is immense. It is incalculable. For the first time he introduced vegetarianism to the West. The idea of vegetarianism is of immense value; it is based on great reverence for life.
The modern mind can understand it far better now we know that all forms of life are interrelated, interdependent. Man is not an island: man exists in an infinite web of millions of forms of life and existence. We exist in a chain, we are not separate. And to destroy other animals is not only ugly, unaesthetic, inhuman – it is also unscientific. We are destroying our own foundation.
Life exists as one organic unity. Man can exist only as part of this orchestra. Just think of man without birds and without animals and without fish – that life will be very very boring; it will lose all complexity, variety, richness, color. The forests will be utterly empty, the cuckoo will not call, and the birds will not fly, and the water will look very sad without the fish.
Life in its infinite forms exists as one organic unity. We are part of it: the part should feel reverence for the whole. That is the idea of vegetarianism. It simply means: don’t destroy life. It simply means: life is God – avoid destroying it, otherwise you will be destroying the very ecology.
And it has something very scientific behind it. It was not an accident that all the religions that were born in India are basically vegetarian, and all the religions that were born outside India are non-vegetarian. But the highest peaks of religious consciousness were known in India and nowhere else.