Pythagoras of Samos

Pythagoras of Samos was not only the first "pure mathematician" but also an important religious philosopher.  He was trained in Egypt in the universal mysteries, which included math, geometry, astronomy, music, harmonics, and intervals, especially as they relate to states of consciousness.  Pythagoras established an influential school in Croton (now in southern Italy) that had many followers--called akousmatics--and an inner circle of disciples known as mathematikoi.  The mathematikoi lived permanently with the Society, had no personal possessions, and were vegetarians.  They were taught by Pythagoras himself and obeyed strict rules of loyalty and secrecy.  Pythagoras believed that (1) at its deepest level, reality is mathematical in nature, (2) certain symbols have mystical significance, (3) philosophy can be used for spiritual purification, (4) all existing objects are fundamentally composed of form and not of material substance, (5) the structure of the world depends on the interaction of contraries, or pairs of opposites, (6) the brain is the locus of the soul, (7) the soul exists as a self-moving number which experiences a form of metempsychosis, or successive reincarnation in different species until its eventual purification--particularly through ethically rigorous Pythagorean intellectual life, and (8) through these means the soul can rise to union with the divine.  In their ethical practices, the Pythagoreans were famous for their mutual friendship, unselfishness, and honesty.  Amos Bronson Alcott undoubtedly had Pythagoras in mind when he formed his Fruitlands commune in 1843.