Concerning the Practice of Concealing Esoteric Truths from The Masses | Esotericism Ancient and Modern
Thoughts on the persecution and exclusion of the marginalized ‘esotericist’ in Western Culture and the difference between Ancient and Modern Esotericism in an illuminating paper from Michael L. Frazer’s “Esotericism Ancient and Modern:
Strauss Contra Straussianism on the Art of Political-Philosophical Writing,” Political Theory 34:1,
February 2006, pp. 33-61.
In Stanley Rosen’s Hermeneutics as Politics, a critique of post-modern thought, he asked that “the serious question is not whether philosophers practiced esotericism—every thoughtful human being does so to one degree or another—but why.” This is a question that has long been made a complaint Michael L. Frazer adds.
I do not think some thinkers would be delighted by me defending the practice of concealment, but this paper on Strauss has got me thinking. This practice it is understood is broad, and leads into misleading obscurantism, and the lies and disinformation that are created in the practice of secrecy. But let us say this. In our times, over more than a century after the Western Enlightenment period, it is relatively a more liberalized age in comparison to certain other regions and the periods the philosophers we speak of endured — or so we think. While we feel we are able to promote pro-esoteric perspectives freely, we are not truly entirely at liberty to do so. I will explain this in “Why the Academic Study of Western Esotericism is not as Popular as Critical Theory and Women’s History?” about Wouter J. Hanegraaff on “Rejected Knowledge” in the book Hermes Explains.
The practice and methods of esotericism were not made secret, because philosophers occupied with occultism are primarily “persecuted” or would be by the multitudes, but because the practice of concealing esoteric truths from the masses is natural. Jesus in the New Testament himself preferred death over revealing too clearly esoteric truths to the multitude. Like Shakyamuni, he spoke one form of communication to his disciples, and to others, in another form. These “esoteric truths” cannot also be entirely understood through concepts by the mind and physical brain still tied to the physical plane, its illusions and desires. The human mind in its ordinary condition as it is with any of us reading this minute, mistakenly believes it can, but it cannot.
Nature itself conceals these truths, and we have limited sight, because of nature, not primarily because of any nefarious group is hiding truths from us. You must assimilate the radiance of the higher human mind, rather than allowing the mind to gravitate towards its animal side. It is unreasonable to expect the mass of humanity to make such a leap of faith and sacrifice their passions, and if given the truth, are not likely to accept it, nor comprehend it. In this sense, esotericism is conceived as being virtually eternal, and its propagation is done so by gradual inculcating and dissemination, then allowing the effects to work out. The masses are constantly being tested. You cannot begin to fathom beyond these physical limitations without approaching philosophy and contemplating on the higher metaphysics, to forfeit the physicalism that teaches our consciousness is subordinate to the matter in our physical brain, and become intimate with hidden forces and hidden faculties. See! It already sounds insane and troubling does it? This particular somatic and psychic teaching is put in the background, while philosophy and ethics are put to the forefront.
This brings us to the role of the philosopher and the potential philosophers, the latter of which we say are of “mystical inclination.” There will remain essentially a gulf between the ‘wise’ and the ‘the masses’ for as long as humans exist, just as there exists between any professor and his students, or the old from the young, the fit and athletic from the unfit in a physical race, &c.
The attempt at popularizing esoteric philosophy is indeed a “forlorn hope,” but it is the effort to enlighten a mass of people, that are not interested in philosophy which still put certain causes into motion that will be beneficial in the long run.
This is recognized by Philip Jenkins in Alternative Scriptures: Theosophy and the Esoteric Tradition, when he writes:
“Whether we are looking at Gnostic and esoteric views of early Christianity, feminist interpretations of the role of Mary Magdalene, or the influence of Essene doctrine, very few ideas that we might today regard as radically modern and daring were in fact unfamiliar back then. Far from being confined to elite scholars, such ideas were very widely disseminated in mass media and popular culture. One great vehicle for such ideas was the large and flourishing esoteric or occult movement that enjoyed such a global boom in those years. (…) One movement in particular – Theosophy – sparked, inspired, directed, and mobilized the esoteric quest for Jesus that still flourishes today. Theosophists furnished all the essential maps and guides to anyone interested in following that path. Without acknowledging Theosophy, we can never understand the history of the popular interest in the gospels, in Gnosticism, or in alternative Christianities.”Philip Jenkins, Alternative Scriptures: Theosophy and the Esoteric Tradition, 2017.
We see the importance of action and putting causes into motion that are able to influence history in Maria Carlson on the Influence of Theosophy on Russian Culture in the Russian Silver Age, and broaden the creative intelligence of the people. We must acknowledge this fact, that at one point, the potential did not flourish into exactly what the Theosophists, Mircea Eliade and so many others expected, but there was a great deal of interest in the mass market for alternative ideas about religion that demonstrated the emancipatory power of folklore tales, myth interpretation, and esoteric philosophy. Moreover, it paved better ways for people of all faiths and religions to create spaces for interreligious dialogue and diplomacy.
There are numerous factors that influence people about religion. Over three-hundred thousand babies are born every day, raised and conditioned within their particular environments, cultures and religions of their parents, family, and community.
My critiques are not aimed at insulting individual persons, but at the Church institutions. Surely, people will feel insulted, because they identify with these institutional forces of power, but our fight is not about them, rather from our perspective, the philosophy, truths and secret doctrines the foolish church Fathers of the Council of Nicaea attempted to suppress. I have always strongly believed, that if Jesus indeed existed, he was not the Jesus of the Gospels, which I argue to be mainly fictitious. I see this character Jesus as a “Buddha,” an initiated Adept like Shankaracharya and others, experiencing a transformation and phenomena alluded to by many other philosophers, theurgists and initiated Adepts in other countries long before him, which he did not himself even fully understand, nor have the time to explain — if we are to take the accounts in the New Testament as historical as most Christians do. I do not see him as a being that sits on the right hand throne of the Governor of the Universe, demanding worship, and whom will come back as a King, or to save humanity from the Antichrist. If even he was such a being, that lorded over all creatures, I would not worship such a being. These dominant stories influence so many people, and countless times having expressed this to a Christian, it brings them into a fit, though I do not mean to do this. I think Wouter J. Hanegraaff explains in Hermes Explains why this happens.
There is as I see it, nothing new about the New Testament, as its ideas can be found in Jewish, Greek and classical Indian philosophy and literature. I read the New Testament like a Vedantin reads the Upanishads, not as a historical account of a demi-god. I come across too many of these accounts in mythology. So, it is different from the way the Christian regards it. To many Christians, the thought of this is uncomfortable, or just to shrug off. Although, for many of us, it is key for our case. The intent is not to hurt feelings, but to simply be understood.