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CHAPTER FOUR: The meaning of esotericism

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

A proper understanding of ‘esotericism’ is essential in the discussion of higher human development. Because of the confusion and misunderstanding that surrounds this concept, it is necessary to clarify its meaning.

‘Esoteric’ means ‘inner’. It comes from the Greek word ‘esoteros’, ‘inner’, and ‘esos’, ‘in’. From the developmental point of view, ‘inner’ means guidance, work, and growth related to inner perception. Inner also means hidden, not necessarily deliberately, but because of its very nature—being accessible only to the inner faculties, and, by virtue of such nature, out of sight of and thus inaccessible to, outer or exoteric perception. ‘Exoteric’ is derived from the Greek ‘exoteros’ meaning ‘outer’ and ‘exos’, ‘out’. Something esoteric is thus beyond the perception of the outer, veiled to its view, and in this sense, ‘secret’.

The concept of secret in this sense is expressed by Louis Palmer in his unusual book ‘Adventures in Afghanistan’, when with regard to his encounter in that country with the Dervish or Sufi teaching he says:

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CHAPTER SIX: The way

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

It is clear from what has been said that ‘the way’ and the esoteric community who create and administer it are fused, organically connected—in some sense one. From them does it emanate, through them does it exist. For the way is a way of being, through being, to being. This is a subtle concept, without which the essential nature of the way cannot be understood. We are talking about nothing less than the transmission of very being, from higher to lower, teacher to pupil—a constant flow of being and becoming. It is literally a living way.

The term which the Sufis use for the way expresses this very well. This is ‘tariqa-sufiyya’ meaning ‘the way of being a Sufi’, or Sufi-ism. There can be no Sufism without Sufis. Wisdom is a living essence in the living wise. And ‘tariqa’ means both ‘path’—the way that is travelled, followed; and also the way in the sense of ‘method’. It is relevant to recall that the original pupils of Jesus always referred to their teaching as ‘the way’. It was not until AD 45 that the term ‘Christian’ was first produced (Acts 11:26), and ‘Christianity’ very much later.

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CHAPTER TWO: The message of the mystic

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

From time immemorial, certain men and women appear to have developed their consciousness far beyond the ‘normal’ level or state which the rest of humanity has taken for granted as ‘life’. These are the mystics. They are of all times and places, of the East as well as the West. They emerge from every religion or none. For theirs is a spiritual rather than a religious quest. Religion, derived from the Latin ‘religio’—to bind—does just that, confusing morality with spirituality, doctrine with development. It is not belief that matters to the mystic, but experience—personal, inner experience. Then belief is replaced by knowledge—direct spiritual knowledge.

The true mystics are not culture-bound. They have gone ‘beyond’. They may well have to take into consideration the prevailing culture for purposes of communication. But their message is for mankind. Or more accurately, for those human beings who are seeking, those who will listen. In the words of one mystical master, ‘those who have ears to hear’. It is the ultimate human message, from ultimate human beings. It is the deep calling to the deep in us. If our hearts can but hear!

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Chapter One: The Way of the Sufi

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

The way of the Sufi is the way to the Sufi. By which is meant that the object of Sufism is to produce Sufis. A Sufi is a ‘Complete Man’1, which implies that a man or a woman as usually found, in the ‘normal’ state, is incomplete. When Jesus said: ‘Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect,’ (Matthew 5.48) he was exhorting his disciples to realise their potential completeness as human beings, their full development, and become as perfectly human, as God was perfectly God.

Sufis have always recognised Jesus himself as a ‘complete man’ of this kind, for only a complete man can assist others to attain this state. This must be obvious. Only someone who has already travelled the Way is able to guide others along it. And such guidance is essential.

As Sirajudin Abbasi, Sufi and scholar, wrote of the Sufis in his seventeenth century work Safarnama:

If you revere them as saints, you will benefit from their sainthood; but if you work with them as associates, you will benefit from their company. To them the world is a fashioning instrument, which polishes mankind. They, by identification with the processes of continuous creation, are themselves fashioners of other complete men. Some talk, others are silent, some walk it seems restlessly, others sit and teach. To understand them you must bring into action an intelligence which is an intuitive one…

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Chapter Four: Gnosis

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

Gnosis’ is the ancient Greek word for ‘knowledge’, but the esoteric and spiritual meaning is not what is ordinarily meant by knowledge but something deeper than that, a perception of the whole nature of the Universe, inner and outer, and how one integrates with it and its evolution.

This relationship, this engagement with the Universe seen and unseen is what the ancient schools calling themselves ‘The Gnostics’ must have meant by the term ‘Gnosis’ which was their aim to attain. It was transcendental knowledge, only to be acquired by special education and effort.

The normal condition of man, according to the Gnostics is one of ‘agnoia’ or ignorant sleep, a state into which he has fallen, unconscious of his origin, identity and destiny. He has become hypnotised by the world, which he takes to be the only world, and suffers from a kind of amnesia. He has to awake and return to himself, his true self, and re-unite with the Universe and its Creator. Appropriately the Gnostics called this state ‘The Reunion’.

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