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In ancient times the most renowned prophetess was based at the oracle at Delphi. She was gifted with miraculous powers, not only to give prophecy, but also to bring about magic through the powers of the gods she channelled. For centuries people have been searching for the key to her power - Hercules stole the tripod on which she sat thinking that it must be the key, Hadrian breathed in the fumes from the vent over which she sat hoping for some of her inspiration. Even today people are speculating, did she have visions after being bitten by a snake, was she ingesting extract of laurel or burning their leaves?

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Ammonius Saccus was an Egyptian Priest who lived in Alexandria, Egypt 3rd century AD. His first name is Egyptian in honour of the god Ammon. His second name is suspected to be Śākyas the ruling clan of India to which Gautama Buddha also belonged.

He was greatly respected as a teacher in ancient times and had many students. The most famous of which Plotinus. It’s through the writing of Plotinus we can see the harmonisation of Neoplatoic thought and practice with Vedantic philosophy. Indeed although these texts only use western philosophical terminology, they contain descriptions of the various states of consciousness that can be achieved through meditation that would make any yogi or yogini proud.

It’s clear that for Ammonius there was but one truth and that although we use several names for the gods, different terms for practices or ideas, we should reach beyond the words, traditions and cultural barriers to grasp the universal truth.

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Nirvana is a well-known term from India . It’s often translated to mean “No wind” or “blown out” meaning a state of freedom from suffering and rebirth

Did you know that Classical Greek Philosophy had a similar concept?

Atypia (ἁτυφια) Means “freedom from smoke” and represents a pure state of mental clarity. The ability to see things exactly as they really are. Smoke (τύφος) signified mental confusion, ignorance, wilful mindlessness, arrogance, and conceit. Smoke is caused by false judgments of value, which cause negative emotions, arrogance, unnatural desires, and a vicious character.

To clear the smoke and see the truth one must develop self-sufficiency, equanimity, arete (an ongoing dedication to improve oneself in all ways ), love of humanity, parrhesia (the ability to speak and think in simple truthful ways), and acceptance of all aspects of life.

By the time this philosophy becomes part of the Hermetic movement the term drunkenness has replaced smoke as the symbol for confusion and lack of control through ignorance. Likewise the focus seems for have shifted away from asceticism more towards a focus developing awareness and good intentions in every moment.

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You may have noticed that there is a strong platonic element to the hermetic writings? There are sections in some Hermetic texts that almost match passages within Plato's classic works.

This influence, however, is not as simple as you might think!

We know that most early Greek philosophers trained in Egypt (Plato was there for 13 years under the tuition of a priest of Horus called Sechnuphi), so much of their teachings might have come from the land of the Nile.

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In classical Hermetic texts you often see meditations designed to help the practitioner overcome perceived limitations and reach beyond his or herself. Often these techniques would involve training the imagination.

Sometimes these imagination exercises would take the formal systematic format we tend to favour nowadays, whereby the student would slowly build up their abilities in a scientific way. However more often the exercises had the feel of someone dynamically reaching forth, exploring the limits of their mental abilities using their imagination. Think of it as someone learning to pearl dive by playing in the water with skilled divers rather than through formal lessons.

About Martin

My life's work has been to learn and master the art of meditation. To do this I have practiced and studied meditation with unbroken, daily discipline for over two decades as taught in the works of Franz Bardon. However, just like Bardon himself, I have also dedicated my life to gathering what is of use from different traditions around the world - whether hidden in the Japanese mountains, Egyptian desert or with the Indian yogis.

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