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The Cycle of Rebirth: From “On Nature” and “The Purifications” by Empedocles (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

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Empedocles was born in 494 BC in the Ancient Greek City of Acragas, situated in Sicily. He is considered one of the most important early Greek philosophers, along with Pythagoras and Heracleitus. Greatly influenced by the teachings of Pythagoras and Orpheus, he believed in the transmigration of souls and the equality of all beings. With eternal souls endlessly being born into new bodies, he was of the view that eating animal-people flesh amounted to cannibalism and compared this to parents unknowingly killing their children and children unknowingly killing their parents. Thus, Empedocles was a strict vegetarian who advocated for the right to life for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

ON NATURE On the Psychic Life “Thus all things think their thought by will of Chance. And in so far, the lightest at their fall Do strike together.....

For ‘tis through Earth that Earth we do behold, Through Ether, Divine Ether luminous, Through Water, Water, through Fire, devouring Fire, And Love through Love, and Hate through doleful Hate.

For if reliant on a spirit firm, With inclination and endeavor pure, Thou will behold them, all these things shall be Forever thine, for service, and besides Thereof full many another shall thou gain; For of themselves into that core they grow Of each man’s nature, where his essence lies. But if for others thou will look and reach — Such empty treasures, myriad and vile, As men be after, which forevermore Blunt soul and keen desire— O then shall these Most swiftly leave thee as the seasons roll; For all their yearning is a quick return Unto their own primeval stock. For know: All things have fixed intent and share of thought.”

THE PURIFICATIONS The Healer and Prophet “Yet why urge more, as if indeed I wrought Some big affair — do I not far excel The mortals round me, doomed to many deaths! O friends, I know indeed in these the words Which I will speak that very truth abides; But greatly troublous unto men always Has been the emulous struggle of belief To reach their bosoms.”
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