Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Esotericism And Escapism
ESOTERICISM AND ESCAPISM
For the person who turns daily life into a ritual there is no danger that esotericism will become a form of escapism. Esotericism should not lead one away from the world but should help one to transfigure and redeem earthly existence. Anyone who despises the realm of the earthly and material as impure, dark and dirty, and who yearns only for the pure and heavenly world above, is taking a highly dangerous course. Such an attitude to esotericism is usually a sign that the person concerned is trying to escape from some area of life with which he or she can no longer cope. Unfortunately esotericism has a great appeal for precisely those people who cannot manage daily life and material problems. This is why, is esoteric circles, the true initiates tend to be greatly outnumbered by the world-shy neurotics.
Dion Fortune in The Mystical Qabalah (Published by Williams and Norgate Ltd., London, 1935.) described this problem very precisely in the following words:
It is required of the mystic that he shall fulfill the requirements of the planes of form before he is free to commence his withdrawal and escape from form. There is a Left-hand Path that leads to Kether, the Kether of the Qliphoth, which is the Kingdom of Chaos. If he embarks upon the Mystic Path prematurely it is thither he goes, and not to the Kingdom of Light. To the man who is naturally of the Mystic Path the discipline of form is uncongenial, and it is the subtlest of temptations to abandon the struggle with the life of form that resists his mastery and retreat back up the planes before the nadir has been rounded and the lessons of form have been learned. Form is the matrix in which the fluidic consciousness is held till it becomes a nucleus of individuality differentiated out of the amorphous sea of pure being. If the matrix be broken too soon, before the fluidic consciousness had become set as an organized system of stresses stereotyped by repetition, consciousness settles back again into formlessness, even as the clay returns to mud if freed from the supporting restraint of the mould before it has set. If there is a mystic whose mysticism produces mundane incapacity or any form of dissociation of consciousness, we know that the mould had been broken too soon for him and he must return to the discipline of form until its lesson has been learned and his consciousness has attained a coherent and cohesive organization that not even Nirvana can disrupt.
A good way to learn this lesson of form is to examine one's own fate in the light of esoteric laws. This exercise is what this book is primarily about, so it is worth surveying again the foundations of this method of thought.
The aim of all our efforts is to wake up the sleeping individual and thereby give him the capacity to see reality. When a person's consciousness awakens from its slumber and he learns to open his eyes, he discovers step by step new dimensions of this reality – dimensions of which he knew nothing while he was asleep. The desire to understand reality ever more fully forces him to keep extending his consciousness and assimilating more and more aspects of that reality.
The great problem encountered on this path is the fact that reality comes to our consciousness divided into polarities. We find ourselves surrounded by nothing but contrasts, yet at the same time we experience a deep longing for unity. If we wish ever to attain this unity we must learn to bring together apparent contrasts, so that they become for us a stepladder in our development. We experience ourselves as a limited consciousness that we call “I”. Standing in contrast to this “I” is the outside world, which we experience as “not-I”.
The wise maintain that man, as microcosm, corresponds to the macrocosm. Thus the “outer” is a mirror image of the “inner”. Consequently self-knowledge must lead to knowledge of the world. At this stage man must learn that he is not, as he has always believed, a victim of outside circumstances, but that he himself creates his own environment by being the way he is.
Thus he learns to apply the law of resonance consciously in order to change himself gradually and thus make himself ripe for the things that he wishes to perceive and experience in the outside world. In this way he reconciles himself with everything, and discovers that all that exists is good.
When this reconciliation takes place is suddenly opens up for him new dimensions and new connections which are closed to the person who puts up a resistance against reality. He no longer sees the world as divided horizontally into planes instead he discovers that these planes are linked by vertical chains of principles. As every manifestation is merely a particular expression of a primal principle, the whole world of appearance becomes all at once a metaphorical reflection of this higher reality – and one begins to understand what Hermes Trismegistos meant by the statement: “That which is above is as that which is below.”
Wherever we look, nothing is still, everything flows, changes, transforms itself. As this ceaseless transformation seems to be directed towards a goal, we call it development or evolution. Development can only come about through a learning process, but any learning process is bound up with the solving of problems. Thus we find that problems are the real driving mechanism of all development, and that every problem presents a challenge to live through it actively, to solve it and resolve it.