Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The problems in introducing esotericism

The student or interested reader who for the first time, in books or on the Internet,  begin searching for information on esotericism or the Esoteric Tradition will be faced with a plethora of conflicting claims and a seemingly endless stream of fanciful and fantastic messages from ”Ascended Masters”. Scientifically and philosophically educated students soon realize that the naive platitudes and simple mysticism presented in much of this literature is of little interest, except to scholars of Religion or Cultural History.

The problem is that hidden in this mass of popular occultism and mysticism there is to be found a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom of a very different quality. A profound philosophy and Science of the Multiverse that should be of interest to every intellectual humanist and academic scholar looking for a worldview and lifeview that can present relevant and reasonable answers to the deeper existential questions not given by orthodox theology, science or philosophy. Furthermore this Science of the Multiverse or paradigm is a useful tool as a working hypothesis to the investigator of UFO and paranormal phenomena.

A complicating factor, even for those students who have found The Philosopher´s Stone, is the difference in the level or quality of presentation given by different authors. To my knowledge the best and intellectually most articulate introduction to The Ancient Wisdom is written by the Swedish esotericist Henry T. Laurency. In his writings he often laments the mistakes made when esotericism was first publicly introduced to humanity, beginning in 1875 with The Theosophical Society:

After 1875, esoteric facts have been publicized. But just very few of these facts have yet been put into their right contexts. Loose facts are worthless and too few facts will easily be misleading. It is very deplorable that this “secret knowledge” at its first appearance was given such an abortive presentation… The various theosophical attempts at esoteric world view are incomplete to the extent of being misleading (Sinnett and Judge), or all too one-sided (Leadbeater) to meet the demands of intellectuals for an all-sided mental system. It is true that Blavatsky publicized a great number of esoteric facts, but she did not bother to put them into comprehensible contexts. Her writings (Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine) are certainly gold-mines of facts, more resembling voluminous encyclopaedias, but are largely inaccessible for those who have not acquired a system. Her inability to find a terminology suitable for Western language usage makes it even more difficult to study her writings…  The concepts used must be clearly defined. They must be part of Western language and scientific mode of presentation. If you want to give knowledge to people, you must do it in such a manner that they are able to comprehend it. Instead, there was a monstrous mixture of symbolic sayings and unintelligible terminology with Sanskrit words already misunderstood. ” (Henry T. Laurency, Knowledge of Life Two, online ed. 3.4:1,3,7)

For the novice in esoteric studies it is important to have a clear understanding of the source of this knowledge, to realize who are the actual custodians of the Ancient Wisdom. Although they are far ahead of humanity in general in the evolution of consciousness and belong to the next or fifth kingdom in nature, they are no hazy spooks in the astral world but most of them men and women, presently incarnated in physical bodies working together in a hidden or secret organization that has been given various names in literature; Planetary Hierarchy, Inner Government, White Brotherhood, Elder Brothers, Great White Lodge. The Tibetan adept D.K. who is the official secretary and organizing contact man of this organization made this statement in one of the books dictated to his amanuensis Alice Bailey: ”We who watch and guide on the inner side, watch with loving care all of you who struggle in the thick of the fray. We are like the General Headquarters Staff who follow the course of the battle from a secure eminence. ”Alice Bailey, A Treatise of White Magic, clothbound ed. p. 371).

Some of the books by Alice Bailey

Another important fact to consider is that this organization has since 1775 made plans to reveal part of their knowledge for the benefit of humanity and also decided that from 1875, as a test, disclose the fact of their, hitherto unknown, existence and work on our planet. Eventually they hope to be able to live openly in our society as teachers and guides. To the mainstream intellectual and cultural elite, immersed in and limited by the materialist, reductionist worldview such ideas are anathema or irrational fantasies, unless they have entered the path of the scientific heretic and discovered that there is a Forbidden Science.

In popular occultism the members of the Planetary Guardians have often been presented in unrealistic and ridiculous ways, uttering meaningless platitudes to spiritist mediums and channelers worldwide. The critical and discerning student will immediately notice the difference in intellectual quality between these messages and the teachings presented in esoteric volumes. But we still have to contend with the limited knowledge, ability and idiosyncrasies of the authors in contact with and working together with members of  the Planetary Guardians. Especially as the information is not always dictated but ”inspired” in various ways.

Alice Bailey is in this respect an interesting example. Although she physically met and corresponded with her teacher, the Tibetan D.K., her books were dictated clairaudiently or often only inspired where Bailey used her own knowledge and terminology. As she early in life was a Christian missionary many of her books use ideas and expressions from Christianity but with an esoteric explanation. This can be very confusing and frustrating at times, especially to readers with a scientific and critical mind who simply want the facts without Christian symbols or quotes from the Bible.

Alice Bailey

Esotericist Henry T. Laurency makes some critical comments on this problem when reading Alice Bailey: ” Everywhere the former Christian missionary shines through who could never divest her mind from old Christian fictions and who makes this colour her presentation… If A.A.B:’s intention was to meet with approval among Christians by using their terminology, she counteracts this effect by unnecessarily disclosing the import of the symbols and depriving these readers of quite a few cherished illusions and fictions. When A.A.B. speaks it is now the esoterician speaking, now the Christian missionary who knows her Bible.” (Knowledge of Life Five, online ed. 7:2, 39). This comment is not made to belittle the tremendous work done by Bailey but simply to explain the problems encountered by the teachers. The Tibetan is very well aware of these shortcomings regarding his amanuensis and also that a new and more adequate terminology is badly needed in esotericism.  

The teachers belonging to the Planetary Guardians I have sometimes, in a humorous mode,  referred to as the Higher Intelligence Agency (HIA). Theosophist Henry Steel Olcott, who knew several of them personally often called them “the boys”. This attitude can be a useful antidote when confronted with the often ridiculously devotional literature attributed to the adepts. There is a quote regarding the lives of ”Masters” in Alice Bailey´s book The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, that gives a good perspective of this issue: ” They will stand forth as living examples of goodwill, of true love, of intelligent applied wisdom, of high good nature and humour, and of normalcy. They may indeed be so normal that recognition of what They are may escape notice… I would here remind you that many of the Masters are married and have raised families". (p. 699, clothbound ed.)

Referring to the Planetary Guardians as the Higher Intelligence Agency is in several respects an appropriate description as their work in many ways resembles the activities of the global Intelligence organizations. The Elder Brothers have their "safe houses" and are the custodians of an inaccessible library, archive and museum where the real history of our planet of sorrow can be studied. Possibly they also have a secret Vimana technology at their disposal. But most important of all, their work is a constant fight for the good, the true and the beautiful.