The Ancient Wisdom Teachings, which have existed for several thousands of years, are esoteric and mystical in nature, for they are not confined to the dogmas and doctrines created by religious theologian throughout history. Religions represent mankind’s search for God, whereas Mysticism is a seeker’s experience of God. Religion is based on faith and belief, which is the first phase of the journey; however, Mysticism is experiential spirituality, the second phase of the journey. Too often seekers get stuck in a holding pattern in the first phase, and never ascend to the next level. This next level is where true spiritual growth takes place, where our quest for Divine Union occurs.
The word “esoteric” to the uninformed is always misunderstood. The new aspirant often understands the esoteric as hidden or secret occult teachings excluded to a select few. This is a naïve perspective, for this is the most commonly accepted interpretation. The idea that the higher teachings should be strictly concealed is a common misconception, seen more in practice by secret schools than by their actual nature. In fact, this concept is an exoteric explanation of the more esoteric reality, which is considered to be great mysteries of the ages.
The Greater Mysteries are esoteric not merely because secret societies and mystical schools have concealed their advanced teachings, which has been the common practice even in ancient times, but ultimately because the true Wisdom of God’s Truth is beyond the human intellect. The genuine Truth can only be realized and experienced in the heart and soul; however, the mind will be enlightened in the process and the understanding will increase. The fact is, the unawakened person simply will not be able to comprehend these deeper teachings, hence, he rejects them. Often the unenlightened will become aggressive in their rejection and skepticism, because they often tend to ridicule students of such esoteric teachings. This is the commonest reason the mystery schools and Gnostic groups have cloaked their teachings, due to persecution from outsiders. The most typical assailants to the esoteric schools were the staunch orthodox religious communities who accused them of heresy, particularly the Roman Catholic Church in the Dark Ages that initiated the Inquisition and its horrible acts of persecution. Members of these mystical groups were all too often alleged of being inspired by Satan or evil forces, in spite of their sincere claims of being servants of God or followers of Jesus Christ. Therefore, such schools would be forced to withdraw from the public, to move underground, or be scattered to the four winds. They would spread their wisdom teachings secretly, and quite frequently disguised them with obscure allegory and symbolism. Some schools told mystical stories cloaked in deep symbolism that only the enlightened would understand, a tool Jesus Christ used in his parables to his disciples. Another example of this is the vehicle of the Tarot cards. Only trained Initiates of esoteric teachings could decipher the true meaning and occult significance hidden beneath the elaborate symbols and archetypes of these mystical, archaic cards. The exoteric and esoteric levels are found within the occult cards, hence a prime example of what mystics called the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries. The Cabbala is yet another example, and likewise this has been used as a foundation for the Tarot system.
We no longer live in the Dark Ages, although many people and schools continue to entertain the stubborn attitude of staunchly concealing the mysteries in practice and belief. Nonetheless, we believe, in this current age of a New Enlightenment that it is time for the Mysteries to be revealed. They have been artificially concealed too long now. However, we have no intention in “casting pearls before swine,” but those who are not interested in the Ancient Wisdom Teachings will not bother with them. Yes, there are the persecutors of every age, and we must deal with them accordingly. In most civilized countries, this is not as extreme as it has been in ages past, when concealment of the Mysteries was a common practice. Mankind in general had a very closed mind to any teachings out of the ordinary, hence, barbaric means of torture and persecution ensued. There is no need for the severe shielding of the Wisdom Teachings any longer, for the mind of the human being has been opening continually in recent centuries. Through investigations, experimentation, and discoveries, the advancement of Science has revealed extensive knowledge to people that the old mystics already knew or presumed. Certain discoveries or insights that were once considered esoteric or hidden science has been revealed in our education systems and has become commonplace now, such as certain elements found in the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, arithmetic, music, and so on. However, not all has been shown as yet. The Ancient Wisdom Teachings in many of its higher aspects is still held quietly by the Initiates and Teachers of various mystical schools. Those aspirants who do seek it will find it. The true teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, by their very nature, will separate the wheat from the chaff, for only the diligent seekers and enlightened ones will be able to comprehend the inner truth, because they are better prepared and are more receptive. Any aspirant who seeks shall find, and when he finds the truth, he shall be set free.
Often it is the Lesser Mysteries that are publicly taught, the exoteric level of the Ancient Wisdom. The Greater Mysteries are often reserved for Initiates and Adepts, because the inner Wisdom is revealed internally. For example, the deeper realities of Esoteric Initiations are reserved for those who have been newly initiated through the gates of Higher Wisdom, because they have begun to understand and experience these higher realities. Once this initiates advances further through spiritual unfoldment, realizing the God-Self within, he too can teach and initiate others. Using the symbology of the ancient Tabernacle, the Neophyte studies in the outer court, the Initiate practices in the second court or holy place, and the Priest and the Master (or High Priest) reside in the Holy of Holies, where these adepts teach and initiate students. This is the basic framework found in most Mystery Schools.
In certain occult schools in past ages, members would have to swear an oath of death to prevent them from speaking of the High Teachings of their inner circle to the unenlightened. There are reports that a few actually broke their oath and wrote of or taught others, so they suffered the consequences. Clearly, this death-oath is too drastic a measure and totally unnecessary. We are thankful that times do change for the better. In this current age of the Enlightened Mind, we declare that you must teach the Teachings, to spread the Word to all who would receive it. However, we believe as St. Paul does, that we should give the beginner milk, and next soft food, and eventually strong meat. This is the giving forth of the Lesser Mysteries first, then thereafter the Greater Mysteries. Concerning this, St. Paul’s said: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as to babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” I Corinthians 3:1-2
It may seem paradoxical to declare that we must teach the Higher Teachings, then to say we must not cast pearls before swine. This is why we offer the Lesser Mysteries to all, which are doorways to what is next, because the Greater Mysteries will follow when the seeker becomes a true Initiate. It would be unwise to directly teach deeper principles to the unenlightened, but we must give them milk first. First we prepare the way with digestible teachings, and then we give them the deeper realities when they are ready. In this way we are not concealing the teachings, but simply presenting a step-by-step process.
In past ages, there were two reasons for concealment of the Esoteric Teachings. The first was due to the unenlightened minds of people in general who were either hardhearted and skeptical or unprepared and could not comprehend deeper truths. The second involved the continual persecutions upon the schools of wisdom. Through spiritual evolution, mankind’s mind has matured to a degree, since thousands of years ago, where it can now receive the higher teachings. The sincere aspirant can more readily receive the deeper wisdom, and likewise, the barbaric and extreme means of persecution in civilized countries are practically nonexistent now. We cannot speak for all nations in this world, for we can only say the overall change covers many lands and many peoples.
The genuine Esoteric Teachings are not usually found in the conventional education system; however, if you are intuitively perceptive, you can indeed find fragments sprinkled here and there in certain university courses, or other areas of life, if you know where to look. That is, certain keys that seem like blinds or even vague hints will indeed be revealed to the intuitive seeker. You can discover universal principles in physics and the science of the atom; or realize that the building blocks of creation are in geometry and mathematics; or disclose a deeper science of the mind and soul in psychology; or explore cosmic realities in astronomy; or witness that the study of human anatomy reveals the living alchemical laboratory of the physical body. These are simple examples, and are merely the tip of the iceberg.
There will come a day when these deeper teachings will not be isolated to only the mystery schools or secret fraternities, but they will become commonplace, and shall be found in the universities or other educational systems. Certain instructors or professors even now, who are enlightened, may subtly teach the Teachings of Truth through their courses, yet in a veiled manner, just as Jesus spoke the parables to the multitudes, because there were many who could not hear the deeper mysteries. Such educators know they cannot teach these realities overtly, lest they be scorned by their administrators or students alike. The orthodox educational system is still growing and will expand its parameters in due time.
Regardless, we have indeed evolved spiritually and mentally since several thousands of years ago, this cannot be denied. But we still have quite a ways to go, because greed, distrust, hatred, and war still thrive in this world. However, the Ancient Wisdom Teachings have spread further across the globe, being revealed with far less restrictions than in past ages, whether it’s through the media, as in television and radio, the Internet, literature, CDs and DVDs, or simply given by gurus and teachers of this age. Currently, there are many ways to reveal these teachings, and our minds are indeed opening further. Therefore, the awakening and illumination of more people becomes more prevalent than ever before.