Esoteric (esəˈterik): Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.
This is google’s definition of the word, and even though it is correct, it is far from comprehensive.
Esoteric literally means ‘hidden‘, while Exoteric means ‘visible‘. Esotericism, or esoteric knowledge, is hidden knowledge, while Exotericism is unconcealed knowledge. Knowledge regarding natural science, for example, is exoteric. On the other hand, knowledge regarding spiritual science is esoteric, and only a reduced number of people have access to it.
I am of the belief that the time has come when all or at least most of esoteric knowledge must be transformed into exoteric knowledge. The hidden must become visible; the veil (or maya) must fall away before humanity can rediscover its own latent spirituality.
Because I believe it is the will of God that mankind as a whole become aware of these hidden spiritual truths, I have openly published posts with some snippets of esoteric knowledge I have been fortunate enough to have learned:
Some of these posts are focused more on the practical application of esoteric knowledge (like ‘Cognitive Excercises’ and ‘Yoga is not a religion’) and others are more laden with hardcore esoteric information (like ‘Christian Rosenkreuz and the Order of the Rosy Cross’).
We live in an age of skepticism, and I am okay with that. I actually even like it. I don’t think people should automatically believe everything they read on the internet, or in a book, or what other people tell them. A seeker for the truth must first and foremost have a questioning attitude. If this attitude is coupled with an open mind and an open heart, eventually it will lead to truth.
The reason I like skepticism is because I find its opposite, fantasism, highly disagreeable. A fantasist is someone who indulges in fantasies and delusions created by their own whacked out perception of reality. This is one of the dangers when embarking upon the path of esoteric knowledge. There is a-lot of information out there, in books and the like, written by so many different people. All claim to have access to higher spiritual truths, when in fact, what many really have access to is their own illusions, which were created by their misunderstanding of both the nature of esoteric knowledge and the spiritual worlds.
Seriousness while investigating these matters is of the utmost importance. Most of the time, the information we are looking for doesn’t fall short of being sacred.
That is why it’s important to lay some ground rules before embarking on our quest for higher or spiritual knowledge:
– The First Rule: Consciousness over Subconsciousness
Don’t trust information from ‘mediums’ or any other person who claims they accessed a spiritual reality through their subconscious. The reason for this is that an individual’s personal subconscious is not the most reliable source for objective spiritual truth. Everyone’s subconscious is different, and the amount of truth that can be accessed through trance, hypnosis, past life regressions and other such methods that involve the suppression of a person’s conscious mind will inevitably be colored and distorted by the medium’s own bias and belief. All manner of illusions can be confused for truth in this way, and we don’t want that.
Just to experiment, I once went to a ‘light worker‘ who told me my head had been bashed in with an axe in a past life. Interesting, I thought to myself (not really believing her). This quickly stopped being interesting when I spoke to two other people who went to the same ‘light worker‘. She had said the exact same thing to both of them, only instead of an axe, their heads had been bashed in by a hammer and a sword, respectively.
See where I’m going?
This type of information cannot be trusted.
On our quest for truth, we must always retain a sharp, clear, logical and conscious mind. Nothing of real substance can be gained through methods that suppress our rational mind, other than endless fantasies and delusions. Reason is our ally in our investigations, not our enemy. Truth can only be perceived while we’re fully awake, not through some induced trance.
– The Second Rule: Practicality
When we encounter knowledge regarding hidden truths, we must always test whether such information serves a practical purpose.
Take, for example, the knowledge of man’s four causal bodies: The physical, the energetical, the emotional, and the mental. According to esotericism, the thoughts in our mind shape our emotions, which in turn control our energy, which in turn affects our physical health. Ergo, mind controls body. If we practice controlling our thoughts every day, after a while we will be able to determine whether the quality of our thoughts does, indeed, affect our physical health.
This method is akin to the one used in natural science, only instead of experimenting with nature, we are experimenting with spirituality. The best thing about using practicality as a guiding principle in our spiritual investigations is that we can find out the truth for ourselves and don’t have to rely on somebody else’s experience.
– The Third Rule: Check your sources
Another way to make sure the knowledge you are accessing is legit is to check your sources, as you would do with any other investigation. True esoteric knowledge always has inner consistency. There is a whole tradition of hidden knowledge that has been passed down through generations since ancient times. There is one truth, not many, even though it can be accessed and perceived through different concepts. You will learn to recognize this truth as you begin to see the pieces of the puzzle come together to form a beautiful, rational whole.
Here are a few authors that were legitimate esoteric researchers in the 19th century. Their works contain much wisdom and can easily keep you entertained for years:
Rudolf Steiner (An Outline of Occult Science, Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, How to Know Higher Worlds)
H.P. Blavatsky (The Key to Theosophy, The Voice of the Silence, Isis Unveiled)
Annie Besant (Introduction to Yoga)
Personally, I am drawn more to Rudolf Steiner’s works. They are of a more scientific nature, and therefore easier to understand. If you are new to esotericism, I would recommend you to start with An Outline of Occult Science. It is an introduction to the nature of esotericism, as well as other basic concepts such as man’s four causal bodies (mentioned above) and his spiritual constitution.
– The Fourth Rule: Self-lessness over selfishness
True esoteric knowledge will always place more value on selflessness than on the fulfillment of personal desires.
The famous Law of Attraction passes for genuine spiritual knowledge these days, because it promises to give you all your heart’s desires. But if we study the nature of the Law of Attraction (without getting into whether it works), we can easily deduce that it is of a selfish nature. Attracting what you desire to you, no matter what the means, is a selfish undertaking. In the end, what you care most about is getting what you want, not helping others or aiding in the spiritual evolution of mankind.
For what it’s worth, I believe in the Law of Attraction… but I don’t use it. Regarding the fulfillment of your desires, I prefer to do what the sacred ancient hindu book, The Bhagavad-Gita, says. In it, Sri Krishna (representing higher consciousness) instructs Arjuna (representing human consciousness) to work not for the rewards, but for the sake of the work itself. Leave the rewards up to the will of God.
To give you some reassurance, the Bhagavad-Gita also says God is fair and that he does rewards those who work out of the sincerity of their hearts for the sake of the work itself.
– The Fifth Rule: Sacrifice over Bliss
True esoteric knowledge will always place more value on sacrifice than on the personal satisfaction of sensuous feelings.
Another famous concept that passes for spirituality these days is the attainment of a state of Bliss. It seems everyone nowadays is obsessed with feeling blissful. However, rather than strengthen the spiritual side of ourselves, this obsession feeds our sensual selves, which belong to the baser, denser parts of our nature. The need to feel blissful is ultimately selfish, because once again, what you care most about is yourself and how you feel, not about helping others.
Also, constantly surrendering yourself to feelings of pleasure is unwise. If fed every day, these feelings ultimately lead down a path of darkness, because they tempt and seduce you into giving in to more and more pleasures, which end up degenerating the soul instead of building it up. In Star Wars, there is the way of the Jedi and the way of the Sith. The dark path of esotericism is the real-life equivalent of the Way of the Sith.
Its promise: the fulfillment of all your desires. That’s how they catch their adherents. It’s a slippery slope, indeed.
Instead of feeling blissful all the time, true esoteric knowledge requires the student to master a state of inner equanimity. This word is big in modern Yoga, and basically means staying calm and present through all situations, as well as keeping your temper and moods even (not too high, not too low), no matter what the circumstances around you are like. The practice of equanimity prepares the soul for the proper reception of higher knowledge, and also makes us stronger as individuals.
Also, true esoteric knowledge often talks of sacrifice. In fact, it even mentions some enlightened souls forsaking their stay in Nirvana or Heaven in order to incarnate on earth again to continue helping mankind. It is also implicitly stated that we will be asked to make this same sacrifice, once we reach the appropriate stage of spiritual development. For now, we can focus on sacrificing our time, energies, resources, and everything we can into helping others, instead of ourselves.
– The Sixth Rule: Renunciation
True esotericism requires the aspirant, or the seeker, to renounce many things in order to advance on the path. However, there are 2 things that it requires you not to renounce, ever:
1. Your earthly duties.
Do you have a job? Keep it. In fact, esoteric knowledge should impel you to work harder at your job, not slack off or give it up. Esotericism sort of feels like Wonderland at first. One is receiving so many answers to the hard, existential questions one had, that it’s difficult not to become obsessed. But the fact of the matter is, one’s occult studies must never interfere with one’s duties. In fact, western esotericism goes a step further and makes it clear that if one’s occult studies are getting in the way of one’s duties, one must put these studies aside for a while. Your earthly work is your Dharma, your reason to be, your destiny. Occult studies must give strength to the individual to face this Dharma, not compel him to turn away from it.
2. Your personal relationships.
The family you were born into, the friends you have, the new friends you will make, all of this is part of the great Karmic interconnectivity between human beings. One of the most important ideals that mankind must cultivate in this present day and age is fraternity. True esoteric knowledge will never ask you to separate yourself from your family and friends. In fact, it’s the contrary. True esoteric knowledge will challenge you to take a look at your relationships, see what’s wrong, and fix it, as well as devote time and energy into them.
As a human being, we must come to the realization that nothing is more important in our life than our relationships to our fellow human beings. Nothing. Through this realization, the ideal of fraternity will slowly take root inside human hearts.
Some things that esoteric knowledge does ask us to give up if we are to spiritually evolve, however, are the following:
1. Vices: Drinking, drugs, sex, etc. None of these things should control you. There is no law saying you can’t smoke, drink or have sex when you’re undergoing esoteric training, but there is a law that says becoming addicted to any of these things acts like a veil to your higher self. If we’re a slave to these addictions, it’s almost impossible to progress on the path.
2. Emotional instability: Sudden bursts of anger? Uncontrolled fits of crying? Unexplained melancholy? Unexplained giddiness? Grotesque and inappropriate displays of happiness? Neurotics? All of these tempers must disappear from your personality. At first it’s hard, and you can’t realistically expect to suddenly stop feeling these emotions just because you want to. But you can work on not expressing them, and that’s a start to getting these feelings under control.
3. Unhealthy ways of living: Over or under-eating, over or under-excercising, sleeping too much or too little, etc. All of this represent setbacks. One must strive to be as physically and mentally healthy as possible. This means 6-8 hrs of sleep every night, eating lots of fruits and veggies, staying physically active, and all that good stuff.
– The Seventh Rule: Personal ennoblement
For every one step you take on the path of esoteric knowledge, you must take three steps on the path of personal ennoblement. The reason we are becoming acquainted with all these hidden truths is not to store them away in our personal databank of knowledge, but to use such knowledge in order to transform ourselves, become better people, help the world, and care for other human beings.
Read everything you can, speak with everyone you can about these subjects if you want (as long as they’re somewhat knowledgeable about it and open to what you may say), but always with a logical, critical mind. Remember the seven rules:
1. Consciousness over subconsciousness: Don’t trust mediums, or anything of the like.
2. Practicality: Ask yourself, is what I am studying useful?
3. Check your sources: I listed three legitimate authors to get you started with. If you want more information on a specific subject, sound off in the comments below. I have an entire library of occult books and can probably help you out with references 🙂
4. Selflessness over selfishness: Someone telling you they know how to make all your dreams come true? This is selfishness, and it’s of a material, dense nature, not a spiritual one. Steer clear of it if what you’re looking for is spiritual truth.
5. Sacrifice over Bliss: There is no need to give in to raptures of feeling or to constantly live in bliss. Equanimity, or serenity, is much more appropriate for students of this path. Also, you will be asked to sacrifice things as you progress on the path… Over and over again. Bear that in mind.
6. Renunciation: Know what to give up, and what not to.
7. Personal ennoblement: Use everything you learn to become a better person.
And with that, my good gentleman or lady, I wish you luck.
Go forth, and prosper.