rss twitter

Down the Rabbit Hole
Paul Kiritsis, PsyD Clinical Psychology, DPhil., MA (History)


Temple Healing and Philosophical Psychotherapy

Paul Kiritsis - Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pythagoreans Celebrate Sunrise (1869) by Fyodor Bronnikov

The advent of Western civilization, usually localized in Mesopotamia around 4000 bce, saw the rise of religious and political institutions that encouraged a twofold division of the earliest medicine known into two specific denominations, temple medicine and lay medicine. Heeded by the temple priest or priestess, temple medicine supplanted ancient psychotherapeutic methods that had dealt with mental or psychological dysfunction for millennia on end (i.e. exorcism, magical healing, hypnosis) whilst lay medicine or medicine proper, the branch of healing dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of physical illness, became the abode of the physician. Unlike our present era in which there is a seemingly irreconcilable schism between the priesthood of the three major monotheistic religions and medical doctors, the healing priests and physicians of former times worked together harmoniously and even recommended one another’s services when the area of wellbeing needing to be addressed fell outside their own medical and philosophical jurisdiction. On the Greek island of Kos, Hippocratic medicine subsisted alongside the Asklepeia before the latter were rendered defunct by the evolution of natural science. Galen, the preeminent physician, surgeon and philosopher of the second century ce, encouraged intercourse between the variant streams of medicine by referring many of his own patients to the Askepeia of Pergamon for further treatment. This perception was made possible by the notion that all created matter stemmed from the same origin and source, a fundamental law that bound both the phenomenal and spiritual worlds.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the development of civilization in Mesopotamia (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers), the Nile Valley, the Hindu Kush, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea is that it came equipped with the development of complex religious and philosophical systems through which the cosmos could be comprehended and interpreted. Many of these knowledge systems propagated very powerful techniques of psychosocial grooming with psychotherapeutic repercussions. Yoga, the meditative technique used for physical, mental, and spiritual integrations by Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, is a perfect example of an orthodox school of thought with a psychotherapeutic methodology. Some of the best known examples are actually Western and derive from the esoteric traditions of the classical period. The Pythagoreans, the Epicureans, the Stoics, the Platonists, and the Aristotelians were advocates of philosophies whose metaphysical cosmogonies went much further than speculative thought. In fact, these addressed all denominations relating to one’s mode of being–morals, ethics, relationships, intellectual and spiritual orientation, diet, dress, ritual, and a lot more. More often than not initiation into a particular “school” was an honour and distinction in itself, and members were expected to live in accordance to the teachings and doctrines of its founder. An oath of secrecy was the rule rather than the exception for most schools and those who digressed from rules, regulations, and any conditions imposed by its founder were automatically extradited.

Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 –c. 495bce) is often credited as the first Westerner to found an esoteric movement and “school”; the “religious and philosophical system” known as Pythagoreanism was taught from the Pythagorean Institute in Crotona in southern Italy nearly two thousand years before the advent of its modern equivalent, the secret and esoteric society of Freemasonry. Each school–Pythagorean, Epicurean, Stoic, Platonist, and Aristotelian–propagated and disseminated the teachings of its founder. In the Pythagorean Institute, for instance, initiates learnt mathematics, astronomy (inseparable from astrology), music, and the doctrine of the monochord. Their metaphysical explorations were ample and variegated; they contemplated the inner life, discussed spiritual experiences and encounters, and dissected the Eastern doctrine of reincarnation. Secondary sources claim that initiation into Pythagoras’s esoteric school was strictly by selection and that the first five years of tuition were undertaken in complete silence. Pythagoras employed specific methods in training and conditioning the minds of his disciples; prolonged periods of silence were utilized for the sole purpose of sharpening individual willpower and mathematics and arithmetic were used to improve memorization and memory recall.  Diet and music, according to Pythagoras, were crucial to the optimum functioning of the body along with the maintenance of inner and outer harmony, and so two primary coefficients of being Pythagorean were following a vegetarian diet and listening to various musical compositions upon awakening and before retiring to bed. Music was actually a primary therapeutic method used in the treatment of physical ailments.

Sometimes the elitist attitudes and sentiments cultivated by various religious and philosophical schools spurred polemics against movements, philosophers, and individuals not of the same cosmological rubric. From this viewpoint institutionalization of philosophical and esoteric spirituality betrayed fundamental unity and harmony, the very values and morals upon which its own teachings rested. Ostracised members or individuals rejected and excluded from esoteric circles and movements would sometimes act out of rage, hate, or pure spite and enact vengeance against the school’s founder, often to the latter’s detriment. This was certainly the case with the first man to ever call himself a “philosopher”. The French writer and occultist Edouard Schure (1841-1929) relays that a rejected candidate by the name of Cyton became so disillusioned with Pythagoras that he declared war upon him. Many Pythagoreans perished during this uprising. The great teacher sought refuge in a cottage on the outskirts of Crotona with some of his followers, but Cyton managed to track them down and set it alight. Poisonous fumes from the growing fire asphyxiated everyone inside, including Pythagoras.

Generally speaking each school trained the minds of its initiates or pupils with exercises unique to the religious or philosophical system to which it adhered. A unique feature of the Platonic school was the search for objective truth through philosophical discussions between teacher and pupil or between two pupils in a temenos or sacred space. The Aristotelian, Epicurean, and Stoic schools were slightly different in their intellectual orientation and emphasized an encounter with objective reality that was based on natural science and the rationality of the five senses. Stoic philosophy, so named because of its assertion that emotion distorts the intellectual plight to discover truth, taught mystical techniques of dissociation whereby a certain concept (i.e. good, evil, death, love, and hate) was divorced from all associative sentiments, dreads, and recollections that had been hitherto forged by classical conditioning. Alternatively the Epicureans utilised a verbal and mental technique of reciting positive affirmations not unlike the ones utilized by many metaphysical and spiritual schools today. The aim of the meditative technique was to penetrate the personal subconscious and implant it with beneficial attitudes and beliefs so that the individual might begin to behave and act in ways that reflect the psychic condition. There can be no doubt that this form of reprogramming encompassed psychotherapeutic consequences and many individuals would have benefitted greatly from it. This makes the founders of these schools and the scholarchs or successors psychologists, or something of the like; Stoics do share certain similarities with Adlerians and existentialists, Platonists with Jungians, and Epicureans with Freudians.




the glades condo commented on 15-Sep-2013 11:09 AM
Potong Pasir MRT at the doorstep, residents can easily
access almost to any destination through.the glades condo
Marko commented on 15-Sep-2013 12:25 PM
I just couldn't leave your site prior to suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the usual info an individual
provide for your visitors? Is going to be back continuously in
order to check out new posts commented on 22-Sep-2013 05:11 AM
To assist local community behavioral wellbeing providers get ready for a new era of
accountability in well being treatmewnt even though trying tto stem
the mortality rates citd previously mentioned, we have been pursuing 4 main concern initiatives:
Garcinia TOtal Diet commented on 22-Sep-2013 03:12 PM
It's actually very complicated in this active life to listen news on Television, so
I only use the web for that purpose, and obtain the newest information.
Dick commented on 23-Sep-2013 02:29 AM
It's really very complex in this busy life to listen news
on TV, thus I just use internet for that purpose, and
get the latest information.
Faustino commented on 23-Sep-2013 04:26 PM
Today, while I was aat work, my sister stole my iphone
and tested tto see if it can surviv a 30 fooot drop,
just so she can bee a youtube sensation.
My apple ipad is now destryed and she has 83
views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to
share iit wuth someone! commented on 24-Sep-2013 05:12 AM
Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and
I was curious about your situation; many of us have developed some nice methods and we
are looking to swap techniques with other folks, why not shoot me an email if interested. commented on 24-Sep-2013 10:25 PM
I blog quite often and I seriously thank you for your content.
Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your
blog and keep checking for new information about once per week.

I opted in for your RSS feed too.
Build Muscle commented on 25-Sep-2013 04:32 AM
What's up, after reading this remarkable paragraph i am as well glad to share my
familiarity here with mates.
GCBX Health commented on 25-Sep-2013 05:56 AM
Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I to find It really useful
& it helped me out much. I am hoping to present one thing again and help others such as
you aided me.
phoenix carpet cleaning commented on 25-Sep-2013 01:31 PM
Terrific post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.
Appreciate it!
Sytropin Muscle commented on 26-Sep-2013 12:05 AM
Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your
stuff previous to and you're just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you've acquired here,
really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it.
You make it enjoyable and you still take care of
to keep it smart. I can't wait to read much more from you.
This is actually a wonderful site. commented on 26-Sep-2013 09:35 AM
Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your
articles? I mean, what you say is important and all.
Nevertheless imagine if you added some great images or video clips to give your
posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with
images and video clips, this blog could certainly be
one of the best in its niche. Superb blog!
Titus commented on 27-Sep-2013 08:38 PM
Good answers in return of this query with firm arguments and describing the
whole thing on the topic of that. commented on 27-Sep-2013 10:24 PM
An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you need
to publish more about this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but usually folks don't talk about these subjects.
To the next! Kind regards!!
Advanced Garcinia Cambogia commented on 28-Sep-2013 05:10 AM
Hi, yup this article is truly fastidious and I have learned lot of things from it on
the topic of blogging. thanks.
home air conditioning compressor commented on 28-Sep-2013 06:44 AM
I really like it whenever people come together and share ideas.
Great site, continue the good work!
music notes symbols on facebook commented on 28-Sep-2013 07:19 AM
I'm not certain the place you are getting your information,
however great topic. I needs to spend a while finding out much more or working out more.
Thank you for fantastic info I was searching for this info for my
mission. commented on 29-Sep-2013 02:48 AM
That is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
Brief but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one.
A must read article!
Pure Garcinia Cambogia REviews commented on 29-Sep-2013 02:57 PM
Yes! Finally something about loss supplement.
womens halloween costumes commented on 30-Sep-2013 06:25 AM
By strapping your child into a soda halloween costumes umizoomi can.
Toys R US - Shop for favorite character Halloween costumes from
the Lord of The Rings. Halloween is a fun and safe Halloween everyone!
Prices for these start from £4. Do the shirt right up to date!
Put the character around jeans, dresses or bermuda for a care-free
evening together with her buddies. A large cardboard box.
These have their own charm and somehow don't
seem to go together.
best new car deals commented on 30-Sep-2013 02:10 PM
It had a list price of 18, have a high resale value. Another problem is the British
weather. Well, Australia needs a plan for the future. Each particular vehicle has a higher replacement cost and is more powerful but costs the same as the Laureate outside, while
the Estilo starts at Rs 3.
bluehost promo codes commented on 21-Oct-2013 07:20 PM
A proper retirement plan is always devised in the beginning stage of the profession bluehost promo codes
ministers have been looking for ways to kickstart growth and offer relief for a time to households hit hard
with the spiralling cost of living.
low testerone in men commented on 21-Oct-2013 07:36 PM
Hi I am so glad I found your blog, I really found you by
mistake, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else,
Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a
fantastic post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don't have time to read it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added in
your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more,
Please do keep up the fantastic work. commented on 21-Oct-2013 08:26 PM
According to Rusty Schweickart, the gravitational
tractor method is also controversial because during
the process of changing an asteroid's trajectory the point
on Earth where it could most likely hit would be slowly shifted across different countries.
So knowing what timeframe during a market day you trade is crucial to selecting the most
appropriate broker. DataVault offers 2-way synchronization with Mac &
Windows desktops (sold separately) via Mobile Me, several
free Webdav servers, Wi-Fi & data cable.

Log in to comment on this post

Trackback Link