What is esoterism? Esoteric is all that is hidden, that which is inside but has been forgotten– which generally refers to the spiritual veil. Esoterism involves the teachings of wisdoms, principles and divine laws difficult to understand or difficult to access by most people. In ancient times, it was only the “initiates” who would be granted access to the learning of Esoterism; an initiate was someone who had chosen to commit his or her life (without needing to become celibate) to the study of the laws of life, nature and its mysteries, as well as the discovery and liberation of the divine within; as such the journey was a long and arduous process but very much worth it.
Back in those times such teachings were offered to either those who were born into families of Initiates or those who could prove they were “worthy”; serious about learning the mysteries and had to prove they were not going to learn them in order to cause harm to others. Later on, these teachers divided themselves into 2; those who believed in keeping things away from the masses– “cults”, religions, etc.–and those who believed in Gnosis, which meant they believed knowledge should not be kept away from people.
Although Gnostics disagreed on the whole subject of being exclusive (religions/cults) vs. inclusive (Gnostic/spiritual); they did agree on one thing, the person seeking ancient knowledge had to prove themselves ready and capable. Therefore, Gnostics chose to write down the mysteries on codices which were written in code; they could only be understood if one had assimilated the concepts and lessons previously given, yet the writings in their literal form remained available to all.
Writing in code not only helped safe guard Sacred knowledge but also revealed more about the seriousness and the nature of the initiate. More importantly, those who weren’t ready to understand and work with Sacred knowledge, could make the personal choice not to learn or not to continue learning, which meant at all times their “free will” had been respected; one could choose to learn and evolve or choose to dismiss the subjects and simply move on.
Gnostics did no agree with certain lineages who tried to exclude others simply because they were different peoples. Those lineages erroneously believed teaching mysteries to a non-Initiate would be a sin; they believed outside of them as “chosen”, the divine laws were of little use. Due to false ego or dogma, they couldn’t understand that divine laws are not deities and have no “favorites”, their nature is pure and powerful because it is neutral energy; a condition no person has been able to achieve. In their confusion they failed to understand that by believing themselves to be the “ones” and following dogma over the search for the divine within, they themselves were practicing Exotericism (looking for the divine outside/placing one’s own power at the mercy of deities or others) instead of Esoterism (Accepting the divine within/embracing your uniqueness while being connected to everything). Although centuries have gone by, to this day many peoples believe in this narrow minded view, which has not only led to the corruption of the understanding of universal laws but also to much division and killing.
Generally most people confuse an Esoteric/Gnostic person as someone who is supposed to be serious all the time; for seriousness and repetition are being mistaken as having dignity or someone of correct conduct. As such, there are those who think in order to be in communion with the divine, one has to be serious, quiet, always agreeing with others, suppressing emotions and renouncing to the more physical or sensual parts of our nature. Again the key is balance, neither rigidness nor depravity are moral. Morality serves the best within, which can only be achieved not by negation of one aspect of self or another but through balance.
Tibetan Masters describe the Esoteric Soul beautifully “The true esoteric is distinguished by the characteristic of seeking knowledge, he is of strong will, has courage and aims to learn about balance. He knows when to speak and when to maintain silent. The true esoteric is silent when the common man speaks and dares to speak when the common man chooses to be silent. He is not afraid of being displeasing to others. The true esoteric knows life is a quest for self, controlled by illusion which he must transcend”
Like the term “Gnostic” or “Omnist”, the term Esoteric has become corrupted and vulgarized, being used for the necromantic arts, divinatory, spiritism, mediumship and all kinds of parlor tricks of which people who are on the superficial path are so fond of. Similarly, yet at the other end of the spectrum, serious Tarot readers (the few who understand the science behind the magick), Astrologers and Clairvoyants are also often called Esoterics. This is a serious mistake; for although these sciences and arts can help one to better understand the individual path, they remain Exoteric in nature– for it seeks to find the answers outside of oneself.
It also happens that some pseudo-esoterics; whether in churches, temples, cults etc.; believe themselves possessors of some occult privileged knowledge, as such they consider themselves superior to others and teach the masses that in order to communion with the divine one needs them as a guide. Yet their guidance is limited because their knowledge is limited and meant to assure the devote never leaves the herd. By their own actions then, one can easily see they are not Esoterics but Exoterics, and it is that particular attitude of monopoly on the spiritual which has made them rich, full of false pride and vanity. The true Esoteric is always open to learning, always inclusive to other paths, for the esoteric is more concerned with the truth than with being part of herd. Today there is too much exclusiveness among religions and spiritual beliefs and too much theological separateness; with that said within each group there are always those who although may not “know” other paths, remain inclusive and open to learning.
In the ancient Schools of Mysteries in Greece, as in The Mysteries of Eleusis, the teachings one would receive were of Esoteric nature. They considered what was being taught outside of their schools of Exoteric nature, manipulated by the authorities in order to keep the herd mentality, which made the masses easier to control. The powerful use of the phrase/mantra or vibrational equation of “I AM” used to be guarded as Esoteric knowledge, which meant its proper use was not divulged outside of the Schools of Mysteries; however, at some point they felt humanity needed to learn the power of such phrase and so it was taught to all. To those who believed in keeping this knowledge secret the phrase became exoteric knowledge–once more misunderstanding took place, for such phrase can be either, for knowledge can only be as powerful as the person who truly understands it. As such, to some who do not understand its power, the pronouncing of the words mean nothing and have no effect, or they are pronounced them out loud, hoping for a deity to come save them (exoteric knowledge). To the Initiate who recognizes the truth, has studied the vibrational frequencies and believes in its power, the phrase remains Esoteric Knowledge.
The words “I AM” were knowledge released to peoples who were living in darkness; where most would not dare to see themselves as divine and deserving but as part of a collective which served a bigger master. That is the conundrum people have found themselves in time and time again; mistaking being “united” with all needing to be the same losing our uniqueness. This cycle of “darkness” has been part of our history over and over again; it is as if we have not learned power granted to one government over all will not ever create good results, neither will it create inclusiveness but rather will strip people of their uniqueness so as to breed a blind herd.
Due to the lack of understanding between Esotericism and Exotericism, many so called New Age Schools are actually doing more harm than good. They have forgotten their history and roots and what these actually implied. Their perpetual teaching to look away from the shadow and simply “focus on the positive only” is a desecration to the word Esoteric for it teaches an Exoteric practice. It is true many Exoteric practices compliment the Esoteric; however, the cardinal rule of divine law is this “no exoteric practice works if one hasn’t understood and applied esoteric knowledge to self”. As such their so called transformation is mostly superficial and has a time limit. Many of their teachings are like a band aid being used on a serious wound. Most of the people they attract are those seeking to forget, to ran away, to find a quick fix yet the results are never permanent. The real teaching of facing self, facing shadow and doing shadow work isn’t as pretty as the rainbows and unicorns so called New Age Fans like to preach about; however, the transformation achieved through shadow work; although at times painful and slow; is permanent for one learns to peel off the layers of false conditioning and starts to embrace the unique divine spark.
Let’s explore what ancient schools used to say about the meaning of an Esoteric School (which is what New Age movement was supposed to be when it was first conceived) “An esoteric school is a sacred place of self discovery. As above so below remains the rule. It trains the disciple for individual work. It teaches him to abandon the delusion of sacrificing self as payment for being worthy. It teaches the initiate to love self first through the integration of his shadow. The initiate learns to recognize the power he seeks lies not in the annihilation of his own darkness but on learning to listen to it. He does not seek to transmute his spirit to a state of perpetual light, he is aware illumination takes place through the balance of the primordial forces of chaos which are light and darkness. He is conscious and committed to discovering his own divinity by unifying mind, body and soul. Through self work and acceptance he learns not to fear looking at the occult within. Because he is in contact with his spirit, he will not be readily accepted by those who are eager to serve a master”
Pythagoras had his disciples divided into exoterics and esoterics: where the former were the simple aspirants who did not deserve nor wanted to embrace self but instead sought to be saved. The latter, were the initiates who sought to dedicate themselves not to the adoration of forces outside but to their understanding in order to use them for their own growth in their divine path. They did not seek to be saved, for they were conscious only they could transform their lives and to do so, they had to look in. Plato and Aristotle also used this arrangement of esoteric and exoteric teachings and disciples. Plato considered “exoteric” his teachings that appear published in his book “Dialogues” but his “occult books” were guides for those seeking the Esoteric path.
In exoteric works the clearest and simplest arguments are given, while in esoteric works the most difficult to understand instructions are reserved. Jesus differentiated very well the esoteric teachings that he gave from the exoteric ones he taught the masses. Jesus wasn’t being exclusive (he taught everyone) but he also understood free will; he knew there were those who only followed him because they sought some type of spiritual “prestige” and those who were seeking liberation of the spirit. The latter would be able to “read” between the lines; for all his sermons could be taken literally, metaphorically and esoterically. “…that is why I speak to them through parables, so that seeing, they may not see, and hearing they may neither hear nor understand “.
There is a clear difference worth mentioning, between the mystic and the esoteric; the mystic is the one who approaches God, and believes that he affiliates with the masters through the path of devotion–constant prayers, services, mantras, adoration and contemplation, using garments and gadgets. Interestingly enough the ancients predicted this fanaticism, which was to be lived through the age of Pisces. As we moved to the age of Aquarius (which we are currently entering) they predicted the dogmas brought by the age of Pisces which have been responsible for destruction, death and separations, during the past centuries will soon come to an end. Like any period of transformation, the shift won’t be easy, for many are eager to destroy all that was built within the age of Pisces, that instead of looking within they are looking outside, to extremes which will only generate even more chaos. However, the age of Aquarius cannot be stopped, as more and more people awaken from sleep (dogmatic conditioning) and are seeking balance; not punishment or depravity.
The opposite of the Piscean mystic is the esoteric, who understand spirituality can and needs to be studied, investigated and felt–for when one is passionate about something or loves something, one seeks to understand it. Why then are so many eager to deny such principle? It is a very simple concept to understand–when we as people are interested in someone and have come to love that person, it is because we have come to know that person and developed a strong connecting feeling; otherwise it would only be superficial “falling in love” not being in love–to really love then, we must know. This important yet simple principle lives in us and can be applied to everything; as such if we claim to love Life/God, that implies we have come to know God not to be taught without questioning about the divine power. In order to know God we must have communion with the divine and that is something very personal not something which can be done in a group.
You have to be careful not to fall into the misinterpretation of the term “Esoteric”, believing that being esoteric is one who is subjected, repressed or restricted. On the contrary, the esoteric is a free person who if he wishes, discovers by his own investigation and observation (with respect to all his freedoms) the laws of life. Someone who abides by the joining of thinking and feeling. Free will person who is able to question what he learns without fear of being excluded from a herd or punished for doing so–free to be and to experience in his own flesh what is divine and ready to assume the responsibility that comes with being free.
The mystic on the other hand, subjugates to dogma in exchange to avoid self responsibility. By blindly following a “leader” they cannot be blamed if what they are taught is only a small manipulated fragment or if it is wrong; the mystic gives his power away in order to be saved, but in doing so lays the whip at the hands of those “guides” who do not seek to teach but to control.
Divinity cannot be contained within a building or a people, it is expressed everywhere and that includes you. You are a divine being, within you dwells the infinite wisdom of the ages and the sacred creative force of all that is, will be and ever was.