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Ancient Wisdom

Ancient Writings


Secret Wisdom The Bible Prophets Philosophers Miscellaneous
Corpus Hermeticum Bibliography Links

Truly it has been said that there is nothing new under the sun, for knowledge is revealed and is submerged again, even as a nation rises and falls. Here is a system, tested throughout the ages, but lost again and again by ignorance or prejudice, in the same way that great nations have risen and fallen and been lost to history beneath the desert sands and in the ocean depths.

Paracelsus

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

The Bible, Matthew 7: 7-8

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, 
for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

The Bible, Proverbs 3: 13-20

"It is important to learn what other people have learned, but too many people have lived and died for me to learn more than a small fraction of what they have learned. There is a prodigious supply of information, facts, opinions, theories, suppositions, and doctrines, but the wisdom needed to sort through the mountain of trash in the hope of finding a gold nugget is not supplied."                                 -- Colin Low

This new section of our web site is an introduction to inspiring (and inspired) wisdom from the Past.  You can find here thoughts of famous philosophers, prophets, and scientists.


Introduction - Secret Knowledge

 

Distinguish between those who understand and those who agree.
He who understands the Teaching will not tarry in applying it to life;
He who agrees will nod and extol the Teaching as remarkable wisdom,
but will not apply this wisdom to his life.
There are many who have agreed, but they are like a withered forest,
fruitless and without shade. Only decay awaits them.
Those who understand are few, but like a sponge they absorb the precious knowledge and are ready to cleanse the horrors of the world with the precious liquid.

Buddha

Buddha - Siddhartha Gautama
(about 623 BC to 543 BC )

Related links:

 

The wisdom of our ancestors frequently puzzles modern people. In fact, an average person is totally unaware of that wisdom and most of today's thinkers who study ancient writings do not understand their true meaning.

It seems, that the ancients knew a lot about their world and beyond. 
However that sacred knowledge was available only to very few initiated "guardians" and philosophers. They were passing it on to their disciples through the "sea of time"
in a form not understood by the common folks. In order to understand how this was done consider this simple illustration:

By omitting a simple element the meaning of the image becomes hidden.

What were the reasons for hiding this highest wisdom from the commoners?
Here are few hints:

The Hermetic Arcanum

15. Let the studious Reader have a care of the manifold significations of words, for by deceitful windings, and doubtful, yea contrary speeches (as it should seem), Philosophers wrote their mysteries, with a desire of veiling and hiding, yet not of sophisticating or destroying the truth; and though their writings abound with ambiguous and equivocal words; yet about none do they more contend than in hiding their Golden Branch.

Tractatus Aureusi [Golden Treatise of Hermes]

"Sons of Science! For this reason are philosophers said to be envious, not that they grudged truth to religious or just men, or to the wise, but to fools, ignorant and vicious, who are without Self-Control and benevolence, lest they should be made powerful, and able to penetrate sinful things. For of such the philosophers are made accountable to God, and evil men are not admitted worthy of this wisdom."

Hermes Trismegistus
(Greek for "Hermes the thrice-greatest")

 

The Book of the Revelation of Hermes
interpreted by Theophrastus Paracelsus

First published in 1608 under the auspices of Benedictus Figulus in his
"Golden and Blessed Casket of Nature's Marvels".

Concerning the Supreme Secret of the World

[...] By Avicenna this Spirit {of Truth} is named the Soul of the World.
[...] And as the Soul is in all the limbs of the Body, so also is this Spirit in all elementary created things. It is sought by many and found by few. It is beheld from afar and found near; for it exists in every thing, in every place, and at all times. It has the powers of all creatures; its action is found in all elements, and the qualities of all things are therein, even in the highest perfection. By virtue of this essence did Adam and the Patriarchs preserve their health and live to an extreme age, some of them also flourishing in great riches.
When the philosophers had discovered it, with great diligence and labour, they
straightaway concealed it under strange tongue, and in parables, lest the same should become known to the unworthy, and the pearls be cast before swine. For if everyone knew it, all work and industry would cease; man would desire nothing but this one thing, people would live wickedly, and the world would be ruined, seeing that they would provoke God by reason of their avarice and superfluity. For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath the heart of man understood what Heaven hath naturally incorporated with this Sprit.

Paracelsus (November 11 or December 17, 1493 - September 24, 1541)
A famous alchemist, physician, astrologer, and general occultist.
Born Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, he took the name Paracelsus later in life, meaning "superior to Celsus", an early Roman physician.
He was also known by the pseudonym
Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim.

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Roger Bacon

"The man is insane who writes a secret in any other way than one which will conceal it from the vulgar and make it intelligible only with difficulty even to scientific men and earnest students. On this point the entire body of scientific men have been agreed from the outset, and by many methods have concealed from the vulgar all secrets of science. For some have concealed many things by magic figures and spells, others by mysterious and symbolic words. For example, Aristotle in the Book of Secrets says to Alexander, 'O Alexander, I wish to show you the greatest secret of secrets; may the Divine Power help you to conceal the mystery and to accomplish your aim. Take therefore the stone which is not a stone and is in every human being and in every place and at every time, and it is called the Egg of the Philosophers, and Terminus of the Egg.' Innumerable examples of the kind are to be found in many books and divers sciences, veiled in such terminology that they cannot be understood at all without a
teacher. The third method of concealment which they have employed is that of writing in different ways, for example, by consonants alone, so that no one can read it unless he knows the words and their meanings. In this way the Hebrews and the Chaldaeans and Syrians and Arabs write their secrets. Indeed, as a general thing, they write almost everything in this way, and therefore among them, and especially among the Hebrews.
Important scientific knowledge lies hidden. For Aristotle in the book above mentioned says that God gave them all scientific knowledge before there were any philosophers, and that from the Hebrews all nations received the first elements of philosophy. .. .
In the fourth place, concealment is effected by commingling letters of various kinds; it is in this way that Ethicus the astronomer concealed his scientific knowledge by writing it in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin letters in the same written line. In the fifth place, certain persons have achieved concealment by means of letters not then used by their own race or others but arbitrarily invented by themselves; this is the greatest obstacle of all, and Artephiushas employed it in his book On the Secrets of Nature. In the sixth
place, people invent not characters like letters, but geometrical  figures which acquire the significance of letters by means of points and marks differently arranged; these likewise Artephius has used in his science. In the seventh place, the greatestdevice
for concealment is that of shorthand, which is a method of noting and writing down as briefly as we please and as rapidly as we desire; by this method many secrets are written in the books of the Latin-using peoples. I have thought fit to touch upon these
methods of concealment because I may perhaps, by reason of the importance of my secrets, employ some of these methods, and it is my desire to aid in this way, at least you, to the extent of my ability."

R. Bacon, "Epistle on the Nullity of Magic"

Franciscan friar and scholar
Roger Bacon (c. 1214-1292)

 

The Bible

It is not easy to penetrate the inner meaning of the Bible, which is heavily veiled word of God.

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
"I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world."

The Bible, Matthew 13:34-35

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, 'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'

The Bible, Luke 8:9-10

He who has ears, let him hear.
The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." 

This is why I speak to them in parables:
"Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
"You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 
For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

The Bible, Matthew 13:9-17

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."

The Bible, Matthew 7: 6


Click to enlarge

... darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God
was hovering over the waters"                                 [ Genesis ]

Worth a Look

 

 

Plato, The Republic, Book II

[...]

First of all, I said, there was that greatest of all lies, in high places, which the poet told about Uranus, and which was a bad lie too,-- I mean what Hesiod says that Uranus did, and how Cronus retaliated on him. The doings of Cronus, and the sufferings which in turn his son inflicted upon him, even if they were true, ought certainly not to be lightly told to young and thoughtless persons; if possible, they had better be buried in silence. But if there is an absolute necessity for their mention, a chosen few might hear them in a mystery, and they should sacrifice not a common [Eleusinian] pig, but some huge and unprocurable victim; and then the number of the hearers will be very few indeed.

[...]

Neither, if we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of quarrelling among themselves as of all things the basest, should any word be said to them of the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of the gods against one another, for they are not true. No, we shall never mention the battles of the giants, or let them be embroidered on garments; and we shall be silent about the innumerable other quarrels of gods and heroes with their friends and relatives. If they would only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any, quarrel between citizens; this is what old men and old women should begin by telling children; and when they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose for them in a similar spirit. But the narrative of Hephaestus binding Here his mother, or how on another occasion Zeus sent him flying for taking her part when she was being beaten, and all the battles of the gods in Homer--these tales must not be admitted into our State, whether they are supposed to have an allegorical meaning or not. For a young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal; anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.

Plato, The Republic, Book II

Read more online: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/plato/rep/rep0207.htm
Or get your own copy of the Internet Sacred Text Archive CD-ROM


Books

You can purchase online 
Internet Sacred Text Archive CD-ROM
by John B. Hare

The Internet Sacred Text Archive has the full text of over 500 ebooks on Religion, Mythology, Folklore, Traditions and the Esoteric. It includes all major religions' scriptures in English and the original languages, and hundreds of other books. Includes many texts scanned from rare books no longer in print. Ideal for schools, libraries and students. Books include: the Bible in English, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, the Qur'an in English and Arabic, the Vedas and Upanishads, Homer, Virgil, Dante, the Eddas, the Kalavala and even the complete works of Shakespeare. Topics include the Bible, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Shinto, I Ching, Taoism, Confucianism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shamanism, Traditions of Australia, Polynesia, Africa and Native America; Ancient Near East, Egypt, Classics of Rome and Greece, Sagas and Legends, Wicca, Grimoires, Alchemy, Atlantis, Tarot, Atheism, Philosophy and much more.


Plato: Republic
by Plato, C. D. C. Reeve, G. M. Grube (Translator)

Plato (c. 427-347 b.c.) founded the Academy in Athens, the prototype of all Western universities, and wrote more than twenty philosophical dialogues.

Book Description
The central work of one of the West's greatest philosophers, The Republic of Plato is a masterpiece of insight and feeling, the finest of the Socratic dialogues, and one of the great books of Western culture. Now Robin Waterfield offers a new translation of The Republic, one that captures the dramatic realism, poetic beauty, intellectual vitality, and emotional power of Plato at his height. Deftly weaving three main strands of argument into an artistic whole--the ethical and political, the aesthetic and mystical, and the metaphysical--Plato explores in The Republic the elements of the ideal community, where morality can be achieved in a balance of wisdom, courage, and restraint. But of course the dialogue is as much about our internal life as about social morality, for these vital elements must likewise work together to create harmonious human beings. Equally important, Plato achieves more than a philosophical dialogue of lasting fame and importance: The Republic is a literary masterpiece as well, presenting the philosophy with poetic power, with strikingly memorable images (the simile of the cave being the best known of Plato's unforgettable images of the human condition), carrying the reader along by the wit and intensity of the language. BOX "Waterfield's is certainly the best translation of the Republic available. It is accurate and informed by deep philosophical understanding of the text; unlike other translations it combines these virtues with an impressive ability to render Plato into English that is an varied and expressive as is Plato's Greek."

NOTE: "The Republic" by Plato contains much more than most critics are able to see...


Roger Bacon's Philosophy of Nature- A Critical Edition, With English Translation, Introduction, and Notes, of De Multiplicatione Specierum and De Speculis Comburentibus

"The name David Lindberg is certainly not new to the study of medieval science in general or of medieval optics in particular. . . . But without any doubt we have in hand now the man's masterwork, a truly first-rate book, done with consummate skill, complete in every detail. . . .
"The translations . . . are the best ever for the two Latin works . . . . And to continue with what may seem to be an advertising blurb, the notes, which are appended at the end of the explanations to the translations, are everything that one could expect from good historical study. . . .

"This is truly a beautiful book, carefully wrought to the last detail. Even the printing is exquisite. The ultimate test, to my way of thinking, for this kind of book is how parallel the Latin and English facing pages are. The English translation, in fact, is never behind the Latin text as one turns the page by more than half a line. That is perfection itself."

George March, O.F.M., Speculum


The Way of Hermes: New Translations of The Corpus Hermeticum and The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius

by Clement Salaman (Translator), Dorine Van Oyen, William D. Wharton (Translator), Jean-Pierre Mahe (Translator)

Book Description

A new translation of the great esoteric masterpiece that includes the first English translation of the recently rediscovered Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius.

* The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius provides new insights into the actual workings of the gnostic spiritual path.

* Will be of great interest to scholars and religious seekers alike.

The Corpus Hermeticum, a powerful fusion of Greek and Egyptian thought, is one of the cornerstones of the Western esoteric tradition. A collection of short philosophical treatises, it was written in Greek between the first and third centuries a.d. and translated into Latin during the Renaissance by the great scholar and philosopher Marsilio Ficino. These writings, believed to be the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, were central to the spiritual work of Hermetic societies in late antique Alexandria, aiming to awaken gnosis, the direct realization of the unity of the individual and the Supreme. They are still read as important, inspirational spiritual writings today.

In addition to this new translation of The Corpus Hermeticum, which seeks to reflect the inspirational intent of the original, The Way of Hermes includes the first English translation of the recently rediscovered manuscript of The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, a collection of aphorisms, closely related to parts of The Corpus Hermeticum, used by the hermetic student to strengthen his mind in meditation. With the proper mental orientation, one could achieve a state of pure perception in which the true face of God appears. This document is of enormous value to the contemporary student of gnostic studies for its insights into the actual workings of this spiritual path.


   
The Hermetica: The Lost Wisdom of the Pharohs
by Timothy Freke

Religious and philosophic teachings ascribed to the Egyptian sage (god) Hermes Trismegistus.

This is a book to own and meditate on the deeper meanings of its contents.

The Hermetica is an ancient Egyptian wisdom, and not Greek. 
Hermes is a Greek god equated to Tehuti: Tehuti (Egyptian) is the author of the "Hermetica", who is also called Thoth, or Hermes.

The works of Hermes were collated in the city of Alexandria in Egypt during the second and third centuries CE. The main idea in Hermes' teaching is God as Cosmic Consciousness. Similar ideas seems to me to be in other mystic outlooks of other religions.

This is a great little book for a person who has an interest in all religions and spiritual writings and traditions You can take this book and read just a few pages a day and ponder its meaning on different chapters. Over time, your understanding will increase and deepen. 

More Hermetica related books:



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  • Note: If you are aware of an inspiring ancient text, please  let us know.

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