‘The School of Athens’ – by Raphael, 1509 (fresco at the Vatican City) – Wikimedia
“There is nothing,
and there will never be anything,
outside of being.”
~ Parmenides (trans. Francis Lucille)
The Oxford Dictionary wrote this very concise description of Parmenides: “Greek philosopher. Born in Elea in south-western Italy, he founded the Eleatic school of philosophers. In his work ‘On Nature’, written in hexameter verse, he maintained that the apparent motion and changing forms of the universe are in fact manifestations of an unchanging and indivisible reality.” This statement is a quintessential definition of non-duality, and a summary of Parmenides’ work expressed as far as the early fifth century BC, in the cradle of western civilisation. The depth of understanding and vision required to make such statement has puzzled and influenced many a philosopher since, and has aroused the interest of countless spiritual seekers. This spiritual message is worth a good attention here.
Parmenides is the author of one single work, a poem of which only fragments have remained over the years. It survived because the around 800-verse original poem was abundantly quoted by his pairs, and could be re-formed in a shorter version, as known today, of 160 verses. His poem, today translated as ‘On Nature’, ‘On Reality’, or simply ‘Fragments’, is comprised of three parts of which the second and most important has survived in its almost entirety.