I like to think I once led an eclectic, interesting life.  I have bribed police in the mid-East, outrun the Bulgarian mafia while driving to get my picture taken with Albanian rebels in Macedonia and searched for the spark true conviction in ancient monasteries.   I have generally thought there should be some type of D&D game about my life, or at least a TV movie of the week.

But I am not complete.  For example, I have never owned a nightclub, been on any Vanity Fair 'fabulous' list, had a Haitian drug gang put out a hit on me or...died of a drug overdose.   Drugs are nasty business, I am told, right  after being told how awesome they are, and always by the same people.

Yes, I wrote died above.   Nick Kardaras, Ph.D., has me beat there.   There are two things we do have in common though; a fondness for martial arts and a belief that if you study Pythagoras enough, almost anything is possible.  

How do you go from drug addict who emerges from being dead for nearly an hour (miraculously, with no brain damage) to telling other people how to live?   Well, that is how books get written but it doesn't matter, Nick - you had me at Pythagoras.

The Ancient Greeks Really Got Into Death

First, a primer on Pythagoras for those who have heard the name but can't quite place it.   Pythagoras is known to geometry students because of the Pythagorean Theorem (Area of the square built upon the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares upon the remaining sides or, for a right triangle, a2+b2=c2) which we actually have no evidence he invented.   Pythagoras is more commonly regarded as a philosopher, but not the kookier 'I like to make stuff up' amateur philosophers running around today but instead a 'rational mystic'.  I say regarded because he wrote nothing down, instead he is referenced by Plato and Aristotle and later got myths of being magical attributed to him- but he is also known for some interesting revelations, like deciphering the physics of music and becoming the foundation for western notation which led to his philosophy of cosmology, his "music of the spheres".

Phythagoras, like many ancient Greeks, was also really into death and to philosophers he is regarded for Metempsychosis/Reincarnation, thoughts on what happen to the soul after death.  To others he is regarded for his views on dietary restriction, though posthumous accounts (and we are talking about hundreds of years later) have him being vegetarian in some cases while eating meat but not beans in others.   Regardless, the message has become, for those fans of Pythagoras, think about what you put in your body.  Anyone advocating a specific diet, though, is selling a book on one.


Kardaras is selling a book also, though not in a diet-specific way. How Plato And Pythagoras Can Save Your Life is instead a history of philosophy and some anecdotes with some exercises along the way.  Do the exercises work?  I have no idea.  I giggled trying to read them much less do them but I am not the target audience so leave me out of it.   I suppose they worked for him but that subjectivity is the difficulty in figuring out transpersonal psychology, his field.  What is it?  Everything and nothing, in true modern philosophical form.  

From the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, where Kardaras is adjunct professor, 
The field of Transpersonal Psychology is concerned with expanding the frontiers of psychology and spirituality for the betterment of humanity and the sustainability of the planet.
What does that even mean?(1)  And then "transpersonal psychologists work across disciplines and draw on insights from not only the various areas of psychology, but also the sciences of cognition, consciousness, and the paranormal"  - science of the paranormal?  This isn't Discovery Channel, you can't just throw in 'science' and have it mean science.

But you can talk about human alchemy.  Alchemists get a bad rap today - being wrong does that - but they were really only mostly wrong.  Give me enough energy and I can certainly turn lead into gold now.   What about people?   If you try hard enough, can human alchemy occur, or is it fool's gold?    He can't prove it but he doesn't need proof - he did transform, obviously, from drug addict to psychologist.   Yet that was an internal event.    Can you transform a drug addict who doesn't want to transmute?  Not so easy and that is the pitfall of this sort of philosophically-based behavior discipline.

Kardaras can certainly turn a phrase...  
In the smug, cocktail-party quasi-intellectualism of the Ivy League and the morally ambiguous world of velvet ropes and champagne, I became an atheist-leaning agnostic.   But after the good old-fashioned existential ass-kicking that I'd received...
...but hard science readers have a difficult time buying into his claims that there is evidence of "healing prayer at a distance" or that "a body of water has special significance" if you sit next to it.   Philosopher Ervin Laszlo's Akashic Field idea - I don't use the word 'theory' because creators slipping in the word 'theory' as part of a proper name have done a terrific amount of harm to the science from which they are attempting to receive validity by diluting the term - gets an endorsement because it believes that Akashic Fields, which are supposed to be records and a history of every soul since the dawn of creation that can only, of course, be accessed by psychics, are an "A-field" which is kind of a universal energy.    It's a Theory of Everything for people who know nothing at all about science.

Kardaras is scientifically suspect here but fun to read if you skip the science-y mumbo-jumbo and enjoy his take on Plato and Pythagoras and how thinking about things can make you a little healthier.  I certainly agree with that.    And I want there to be miracles left to find (Kardaras was dead for almost an hour and came back to life, wouldn't you believe in miracles after that?) but 'organ memory' in a transplanted heart identifying a murderer is science?   Like Pythagoras, we have to draw lines somewhere.


(1) When a guy who had one of his majors in existential-phenomenological psychology(2) precisely because it sounded made up thinks it is made up, it is made up.

(2) Why?  I was on a scholarship so I took every class I could take and during my matriculation the 'core curriculum' was less in vogue, being a time when they didn't think scientists should need to take philosophy or business majors take science, etc.  If a quadruple major had been possible I would have done it but I was only able to test out of so much of the actual core classes and they weren't paying for more than four years.