Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The Esoteric World Concept
THE ESOTERIC WORLD CONCEPT
Scientific thinking is solely functional and we tend to take it for granted that there is no other way of thinking, unless we wish to risk opening the door to unbridled fantasy. Esoteric thinking, however, works in terms of content. It asks not only “how” reality works but, more importantly, “why” things are as they are. This “why”, this search for meaning, is the real link between man and the world of manifestation.
This meaning can only reveal itself to each individual. It shies away from public recognition. Hence esotericism is asocial. Science sets itself the aim of being accessible to all. Everyone sufficiently gifted can pick up a bit of science if he is willing to invest a bit of hard work in it. Scientific knowledge is transferable. Inner knowledge, by contrast, is not. Unfortunately, we often confuse true inner knowledge with those disordered clusters of unimportant information that accumulate in our minds. The latter is transferable. Inner knowledge, however, is never the fruit of diligence but comes from a highly personal individual act of insight which is metaphysical in nature, and steers well clear of any mass demand for “knowledge for all”. Knowledge can only be the outcome of personal experience; it can neither be taken over nor transmitted.
Whatever I take over from others I can never know, but only believe. It does not matter whether or not I have good reasons to believe something. To believe is not to know. Not even calculations of probability can change that. Seen in this light science reveals itself as a large congregation of believers who devour the breadcrumbs of a few true men of knowledge and regurgitate them in a totally unrecognisable form.
In saying this I do not mean to devalue belief, since it is belief which is the most important prerequisite for obtaining knowledge. To believe is basically to consider possible; without considering something possible one can never experience it. Belief and knowledge are different steps. They affect each other and both have their justification, but one should not confuse them.
As knowledge is always a matter for the individual, so esotericism has always been the domain of the few. Those few who have walked the narrow path of realization to become men of knowledge, make up the so-called esoteric, inner circle (Greek: esoteros = inside). This small inner circle is surrounded by the far bigger exoteric circle (Greek: exoteros = outside). Later, when we consider the law of polarities, it will become clear that the two circles complement each other, and that each owes its existence to the other.
From this it follows that it can never be the aim of the esoteric circle to be missionaries to the world. True esotericism works in obscurity and takes more care to veil its existence to the outside that to hunt for followers. In fact, whenever any club or society strains to expand and acquire new members you can be sure that it is not a true esoteric association, even if its name and advertising proclaim it to be one.
Maintaining the secrecy of esotericism has nothing to do with secret-mongering, but is something that arises in the natural order of things. Esoteric teachings remain secret without any special efforts being made. A man can gain knowledge and make use of it only when his own level of consciousness is commensurate with such knowledge. A man who is not versed in physics cannot really understand the significance of even an epoch-making formula. The formula remains secret to the uninitiated in physics. Therefore no one needs to keep it secret deliberately. Only when the observer himself has attained a high degree of knowledge in physics can this formula be a dramatic step in the advancement of his understanding. Exactly the same applies to esoteric knowledge and the so-called secret doctrine.
Esoteric wisdom is accessible to anyone who knows the code, but it cannot be recognized by the ignorant. The general public does not recognize the significance of the symbols and considers them worthless nonsense. Before one can see, one must first learn to see. (“Light came into the darkness, but the darkness did not recognize it”, John 1).
If I cannot read music I am not thereby entitled to demand of music that it ought to be recorded in letters or numbers which I can read. Rather I have to decide either to make the effort to learn to read musical notation or to renounce for good the possibility of gaining deeper insight into music. The same applies to esoteric knowledge. It is not the duty of the knowledgeable to adapt themselves to the level of comprehension of the ignorant. They can only be willing to help those who wish to learn and who ask for such help. “Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened.”
From the examples I have given it will be apparent that esoteric knowledge is not a field of learning like any other which one can pick up through hard work. Esoteric knowledge is not a collective name for a set of data, facts or formulae, which one only has to learn off by heart in order to understand.
Esoteric thinking is a route or path. Now a route always leads to a destination. Let us take as an example the road from Munich to Vienna. We can study this road carefully on the road map, count the miles, read up in the relevant books about the particular places along this road, look at pictures, discuss the details with others who have already traveled the route, and so on.
Studying the road from Munich to Vienna in this way may be very inspiring and interesting. One thing, however, we do not achieve by it: namely, getting to Vienna. If ever we want to reach Vienna, we have to put ourselves on the road and start moving. All the preliminary considerations and information may then prove useful, but no amount of theory can replace walking along the road. What I am trying to point out by this example is the difference between the esoteric teaching as a path and as a mere collecting of facts. Esoteric thinking leads to a destination that one can only reach if one actually travels the length of the road.
This is where many people go wrong. They loudly proclaim their allegiance to the esoteric world concept, yet neglect ever to set a foot on the path itself. To follow the path means to translate every realization, however small, into reality, to be always ready to change one's manner of life and one's attitudes, to transform oneself continually into something different and new. In short, esotericism means the process of evolving.
This process of transformation is necessary because esoteric teaching leads to obligations in our lives. This is something that does not apply to the material sciences. The analytical chemist, for example, can make a sensational discovery nowadays and yet continue to beat his wife, pursue a law-suit against his brother, rail against society, and so on. His life and behaviour remain completely untouched by his chemical discovery.
The situation is completely different when we make an esoteric “discovery”, even the tiniest one. It has a direct effect on all areas of our existence; it forces us to take a different view of the world and to cast aside old habits. If, for instance, one has grasped astrology, one can never again look for culprits in the outside world, nor ever again file law-suits, and so on. (Though here it has to be emphasized that to practice astrology and to understand it are two very different things. Regrettably they rarely come together.)
This always has been the reason why the forces of the exoteric world fight so passionately to prevent esoteric truth seeping through, for unconsciously they realize that such truth brings with it a commitment to overwhelming changes. It is easy enough to accept a discovery as long as it can be confined to its own technical sphere, but not so easy when it challenges us to change the way we live.
For some time certain people have been trying to elude this conflict with a trick; this trick is called parapsychology. In parapsychology an attempt is made to muffle the challenge of the esoteric world view by wrapping it up in the sterile methodology of science; its archives are filled with calculations of probability and significance, but none of it ever does anything – thank God – to change human beings. Parapsychology is mendacious and cowardly because it has neither the courage of purely materialistic science, which simply denies all non-material phenomena, nor the readiness to confront its own findings and bear the consequences. Parapsychology constantly sniffs around and discusses what it has sniffed, but never takes a bite out of it. The irony of fate sees to it that we pass judgement on ourselves as does parapsychology by choosing this term for itself (Greek: para = beside), which means that it by-passes the psyche.