[The framework of this Lecture is from Chapter 1 of MYSTIC MASONRY (1897) by J.D. Buck, revised and expanded with the teachings of Gnosis, the 4th Way and the writings of J.M. Ragon]
Introduction: The Mysteries and their Purpose
Religion has always been two-fold. There has always been a Public or Exoteric side of religion and a Private or Esoteric side. The Public side is the one we see in the streets, parades, processions, public worship, etc. The Private side is the one we don’t see, the education of the monks and nuns, the priests and priestesses (or whomever it may be) that requires a certain dedication of time, energy and effort in order to access it.
The Mysteries form part of the Private side of religions and were generally for the instruction of the leaders of the religious form. Something that we should understand is the difference between religious forms and religious principles. Gnosis emphasizes that all religions teach the same fundamental principles. Their symbolism differs based on the culture and the time period in which the religious form emerged.
Religions as Cosmic Formulae
Whoever Incarnates the TRUTH becomes free. Those who Incarnated the Truth founded the Great Religions and the Great Mystery Schools. Buddha, Hermes, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl, etc., incarnated the Truth, and all those who dissolve the “I” and raise the columns of the Temple upon the living Rock incarnate the Truth.
There is no higher Religion than the Truth. We should distinguish between Religious forms and Religious principles. It is necessary to know that the Principles are living cosmic Formulae. Religious forms are the different systems of teaching those Principles.
The Great Infinite Universal Cosmic Religion assumes distinct forms according to the needs of each race and of each era. Thus, Religious forms have succeeded one another throughout millions of years; the successive string of the all Religions that have existed in the world always reveal the same immutable principles of the Truth. Religion is an inherent property of life, as humidity is of water. A person could belong to no religious form and nonetheless be profoundly religious. Everyone who is capable of experiencing the Truth is profoundly religious, even if they do not belong to any religion.
Religion is the intimate relationship of the mind with the Truth. Only the religious person is truly revolutionary. Some philosophers say that Religions have failed; we assure you that every Religion has fulfilled its historic mission. With only one living Buddha being born from among the ranks of Buddhism, Buddhism fulfilled its mission; Only one Christified person among the ranks of Christianity justifies the existence of Christianity; only one Imam among the ranks of Mohammedism very much justifies the existence of the Religion of Mohammed.
All the great Religions of the World have achieved their objective through people who obtained their “Religare” [or ‘Reunion’], that is to say, those who Incarnated the Truth. …There is no basis for assuring that religions failed in their mission to “Religare” [or ‘Reunite’] man with the Truth. In all Religions there are perfect human beings who succeeded in Reuniting. There is no motive which justifies Religious wars, because all Religions teach the same principles. …The Cosmic Religion Vibrates in each atom of the Cosmos, because it palpitates in the heart of the suns, in the heart of the human beings, and in that of the ant.”
-paraphrase from the first part of Christmas Message 1961-62 by Samael Aun Weor
Religious Forms vs. Religious Principles
Religious forms typically go through a few different stages:
- They are born,
- they grow and develop,
- they multiply and divide,
- and then they die.
When a religious form dies, this means that the religious form is no longer a vehicle of the religious principles or eternal values which it was supposed to convey. These religious principles or eternal values do not die, they simply dress up again in a new religious form in order to manifest to the specific culture and time period in a way that is most appropriate or receivable.
This is why religions often have some similarities in their practices and terminology, etc. The Divine is trying to help us understand the eternal values in a way that we can receive. If in ancient times the Gods were worshiped, today they still are worshiped, but they just have new names. The Gods of the past are the angels, arch-angels, seraphim, ophanim, etc. of today.
So all religions teach the same fundamental principles or eternal values. What happens is that when a religious form dies, the eternal values remain concealed in the symbolism of the religion, but there is no longer anyone in the religion who can translate or extract those eternal values.
The teachings which explained how to decode or unlock the symbols were given in the Esoteric or Private side of the Religion, the Mysterious or Mystery side of the religion, which is the focus of our studies in this class/seminar.
[for more information about this topic see Ch.7 of The Revolution of the Dialectic (1985) by Samael Aun Weor]
So how did one gain access to this private and often hidden side of spiritual teachings?
The Great Master of the Christian Mysteries, who we know today as Jesus the Christ, said something very interesting in regards to these things: “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). And this sums up what needs to happen in order to begin our entry into the Esoteric side of Religion.
There is an esoteric principle that we can understand in our times with the phrase ‘you get out what you put in’. Meaning that the effort you put in is directly proportional to the results that you will get back. In Biblical terminology this is phrased as “you reap what you sow” (Galatians 6:7) or “by the fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16).
Causes and Effects
There is always a cause-effect relationship in the universe and if you want to advance in any field or area of life then an exchange is necessary. You can not graduate from school without passing tests and those tests require some time to learn information. If you want to have a successful business, then you have to be open and you have to put in the energy there. If you want to play an instrument, then you will have to practice as well.
Everything in the universe is an exchange of energies: from one form into another. It is no coincidence that there is a law in physics called ‘the law of conservation of energy’ which states that ‘energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but may be changed from one form to another’.
Modern Science recognizes this law in the visible world, but the Ancient Science recognized that this law also exists in the invisible world. To further understand the application of this law, we must understand the Esoteric Knowledge or Education taught in the Ancient Mystery schools.
Education and Knowledge
The modern concept of education is that it consists largely in the cultivation of intellectual information, but intellectual cultivation alone (no matter what extent to which it is carried out) in no way guarantees that a person will develop spiritually.
Spiritual development requires internal work and that will change our “level of being”, that is: our way of being (our thoughts, feelings and actions). Intellectual development, without spiritual discernment and ethical concern, is the origin of abuse. This is the problem with our present civilization.
Intellect and Altruism do not necessarily go hand in hand. Intelligence without Love, is in opposition to “the Divine Plan for the progression of the Cosmos”.
One may have a very clear intellect, have quick perceptions, be a good reasoner, and yet be very wicked. On the other hand: one may be very dull (intellectually), and yet be kind, brotherly and sympathetic. A world made up of caring simpletons is preferable to a world of wicked intellectuals.
So if we just cultivate the intellectual powers, without cultivating our spiritual aspect, we are actually hurting our potential for complete development. This is why we need an education that stimulates both our intellect and our spirit: and this is what we call Esoteric Knowledge or Higher Knowledge. When this knowledge is applied to ourselves, we can change our “level of being” and actually become different human beings.
[for more information about this topic see Ch. 2-3 of Revolutionary Psychology (1975) by Samael Aun Weor]
The key to this change is an exchange of energies. If I want to get more work done on the computer, I am going to need to stop checking news websites and facebook all the time. If I want to stop smoking cigarettes, then I must take the energy that I am spending thinking, feeling and acting about smoking and use it in another direction. If I want to stop being sad, then I need to figure out the causes of my sadness and address them.
Basically, we need to understand this very simple phrase “to stop being what we are, we have to start being what we are not”. This means giving up what we were in order to be a new person.
This is the key: to changing ourselves and our Level of Being and to applying the Esoteric Teachings or Higher Knowledge to our lives.
The Higher Knowledge
Higher Knowledge provides us with the possibility of rounded development through the understanding of the laws of nature and the universe.
Higher Knowledge shows us how to:
- liberate ourselves from the dominion of the senses [Sensual Mind]
- the realms of opinions, prejudices and beliefs [Intermediate Mind]
- and illuminate our spiritual perceptions [Interior Mind].
It teaches us how to understand the laws of the universe in order to use them to our advantage and become Masters of ourselves. The real Master conceals his/her power and uses it only for the good of others. The real Master works “without the hope of fee or reward.”
Because of the danger inherent in the application of this knowledge: the ancients protected and concealed it in various ways from that those evil persons who desired to possess it for entirely selfish purposes.
Any Human Being who has this quality, will use this knowledge for the benefit of mankind and not for personal, material gain.
Evil Human Beings are not worthy of this knowledge or to know the path which leads to the “Art of Happiness”.
What would be a blessing for mankind through nature, would become a curse, a plague, for mankind in the hands of an evil person.
The scent of fragrant flowers would be for nothing, if you do not possess the ability to smell.
To quote an old proverb: “Do not throw pearls in front of swine.”
A principle of Nature teaches us that even the most wholesome herb can, through lack of knowledge of its power, turn into a dangerous poison. It is also the nature of the moth to fly into the flame because it lacks the knowledge of what effect the flame has.
These principles are very important. Think about them and remember them always. You do not obtain the understanding of this knowledge by only reading it.
When you are looking for gems in a muddy area, you search slowly and thoroughly, otherwise you will not succeed.
Do not believe everything and do not reject everything, but it is the endeavor of a wise person to examine everything. Such a person cannot be easily deceived by looks or appearances; their life is dedicated to searching for the truth.”
– from Ch.1 of “Principles of Higher Knowledge” (1788) by Karl Von Eckartshausen
[Note: According to Eliphas Levi: “Eckhartshausen belonged to the occult Masonry of the Misraim rite, and he was the grand master therein.” (from Letter #39 written in 1862 to Baron Spedalieri)]
The more knowledge and power a purely selfish person possesses, the more harmful to humanity they become. The selfish person can do less harm if kept in ignorance. This is especially true in regard to those deeper sciences which deal with mind (and the influence the thoughts), emotions, and actions of others.
Suppose a selfish man were able to hypnotize large numbers of persons at once, and compel them to do something; and that his motives were not just selfish, but also injured all the subjects. [Note: see The Century of the Self videos by Adam Curtis] This is the danger of misusing Higher Knowledge, it can create a very tragic situation for those unsuspecting subjects.
An authentic Master, who works to help humanity, does so because they have developed their spiritual being, their ‘level of being’ and because they have first worked on themselves (in order to discover all the undesirable elements that lead to the selfish use of the Higher Knowledge).
The Master’s art is based on a science far deeper and more exact than modern physical science has yet dreamed of, and behind this science lies a philosophy.
The Philosophy of the Ancients – Part 1
This philosophy is as profound as the Cosmos, as inexhaustible as Time, and as kind as the “Father in Heaven”. It reveals to the human being: the mysteries of his nature, the secrets of his organization, the means of attaining his perfection and well-being, and finally the end of his fate or destiny.
Ancient Philosophy is based on certain principles that are universally applicable, and demonstrate the structure & purpose of the Creation. Often these principles are taught through stories or allegories, designed to conceal the true message within symbols.
Of course, this Higher Knowledge was a “Mystery” to the common person, because the keys to unlock the mystery were only given to those who were considered ‘prepared’ to receive them. Every civilization had a special group or groups of people who’s purpose it was to find and prepare candidates for “the Mysteries”. This was done through certain methods particular to the culture and time period during which they existed. These groups were called “Mystery Schools”, because they taught about “the Mysteries”.
The Mysteries of Creation: Manifestation through a Word (the Verb)
Ancient Cultures included in their Mystery School’s “preparatory classes” certain stories that focused on the use of a special word. This Word (or Verb) causes creation to manifest and thus contains creative power. This Word must remain secret so that its power is not misused to create for selfish purposes… In Ancient times, a story was told with GOD using a Word (or Words) to give form to His intention.
The Egyptian Tradition:
-“THE HISTORY OF CREATION A” from ‘The Book of Knowing the Evolutions of RA’
-“THE HISTORY OF CREATION B” from ‘The Book of Knowing the Evolutions of RA’
[See the from “Legends of the Gods – The Egyptian Texts” (1921) by E. A. Wallis Budge]
The Jewish Tradition (from Genesis 1:1-3):
2 And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the deep, and the Spirit of God [Ruach Elohim] moved upon the waters.
3 Then God said, Let there be light: And there was light.”
-Geneva Bible (1587)
The Christian Tradition (from John 1:1-3):
2 *He* was in the beginning with God.
3 All things received being through Him, and without Him not one thing received being which has received being.”
-Geneva Bible (1587)
The Mesoamerican Tradition:
Only God existed, TEPIU K’OCUMATZ , in an androgynous form. That is to say, simultaneously Male and Female at the same time, Father and Mother, Creator and Creation.
From HIM the Hurricane emerged (a Mayan word which was later taken to the Caribbean Seas) and which signified, for the ancient Indians, Wind, Breath and Word…
HURRICANE, as a Deity, also formed part of TEPIU K’OCUMATZ, who they say, utilized this Breath or Word to create the World.
And he simply said “EARTH!!” And the Earth was created, being in the first term a cloud, then a gelatinous slime and, finally, the solid and concrete mass of the Earth…”
-‘The Mexican Story of Creation’ from Section Two of “Logos, Mantram, Magic” (1930) by Arnoldo Krumm-Heller
The Ancient and Modern Understanding of Creation
One of the commonly accepted ways of seeing creation in our times is that it is an ‘accidental creation’.
If we study the creation stories of the ancient cultures, we will find the common theme that there was a ‘conscious creation’.
This has lots of implications, because by teaching that ‘accidental creations’ are normal or the way things come about, we are learning that the way everything we know has come into being is not intentional, but rather unintentional.
But, by teaching conscious creation, it instead implies that things should be carefully or cautiously created in order to intentionally manifest something very specific.
The Hebrew Kabbalah and the ‘Name of God’
In the Hebrew Kabbalah, this ‘Manifestation through Word’ can be seen as the ‘Name of God’. Or it may be better to explain it by saying: in the Hebrew tradition, the “real” or “true” ‘Name of God’ is not to be spoken (so that one does not unintentionally invoke its creating power), and therefore it is known as ‘the Ineffable Name’.
But there are many ‘Names of God’ in the Hebrew Kabbalah, and this is because each one corresponds to a particular Aspect of the ‘Manifestation of God’ (often said to correspond to the different Sephira of the Tree of Life).
Knowing which Divine Name corresponds to which Aspect of Manifestation allows the Kabbalist some insight into that Aspect and by pronouncing it in prayers, the Kabbalist is able to influence that Aspect as well.
[for more information on this topic see the book entitled
“Sha’are Orah” or “The Gates of Light” (1561)
by Joseph Gikatilla (pupil of Abraham Abulafia)]
This concept of a special Word or Verb that initiates Creation is a fundamental principle taught in the mystery schools through symbolism.
The great Mystery of the Ineffable Name is explained while mentioning that its true pronunciation and meaning became lost to all except the select few to whom it was confided…
This was the profound truth hidden in the ancient allegory and it was covered from the general view with a veil:
- the doctrine that matter is not eternal,
- but that GOD was the only original Existence, the Absolute,
- from Whom every thing has proceeded, and to Whom all returns…
Higher Knowledge: How to Develop Spiritually
So what is this Higher Knowledge that is veiled in Mystery and Symbolism? It is a knowledge of the Soul: of its origin, nature, powers, and the laws that govern its process of development; and this is precisely the knowledge which modern science and culture has neglected, but was taught in the Mysteries of Antiquity.
As Arnold Krumm-Heller puts it:
…In every work of Nature, everywhere, one will find these unchangeable characters. This essential and primordial language of light has different branches containing the Divine, the Spiritual and the Physical. From these come the language of light, the language of the spirit, and natural language. The origin of the primeval language is the nexus of the union of all these branches into a common trunk. The first man necessarily had this language. But It was lost.
…The mission of all Initiates is to trace, little by little, the path to where it can be found again. All initiation is about the re-conquest of this supreme language.
…Because in this language, the connection, the path and the communication with the invisible worlds is established. In this language and writing of light is the synthesis of all of the intellectual and physical mysteries. This language of Power is the POWER of POWERS.
The paths to obtain this language of light are:
|Knowledge of oneself.||Church.|
-From Section 5, “The Verb of God”, in “Logos, Mantram, Magic” (1930)
by Arnoldo Krumm-Heller
The acquisition of this Language (including its pronunciation, grammar, sentence structure, etc.) allows one to understand (by analogy) the structure and principles of nature herself thereby allowing one to become ‘super-natural’, that is: above or beyond the normal or natural state of a thing.
Mystery Schools: their Curriculum and Method of Progression
1) The first goal was to take man from the state of barbarity in order to civilize him, and then to take the civilized man in order to perfect him, so as to return man (who was believed to be fallen) to his first nature. According to the Ancients: man had to be redone, he had to be raised up to humanity; and only initiation could regenerate him.
2) The second goal was to search for the means to return matter to its original state or former nature, which was also believed to be fallen. The matter that they wanted was GOLD; and the seven metals (that were then known) were called each by the name of a planet, and formed an ascending ladder of material purification which corresponded to the moral [or ethical] ordeals of the seven heavens.”
-paraphrase from Ch. 1 of Occult Masonry (1853)
available in Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1
In order to perfect himself, man had to work in two spheres: Materially/Physically and Morally/Ethically. The Material or Physical work corresponds to Physics, Nature and Alchemy (which is Divine ‘Chemistry’ or the Science of the Elements) and the Moral or Ethical work corresponds to Philosophy, the Soul and Psychology.
The Physical work was to understand the laws, movements and operations of Nature so as to learn to dominate them and use them to one’s advantage. The Ethical work was to understand the organization, mechanics and influences related to the Soul so as to learn how to become Master of oneself.
The Dominion of Nature and of Oneself
-paraphrase from Ch. 11 of Occult Masonry (1853)
available in Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1
People often believe that the human being is the ‘King of Nature’, but in the Ancient Mysteries, this was an idea that was not inborn in man, but was something that had to be created or developed through a certain work.
Those who could rule Nature, could also control themselves and this was achieved through an interior transformation. But before a person was able to learn about how to perform this interior work,they first had to pass through certain tests…
Physical Requirements of the Mysteries
In order to enter into the Ancient Mystery Schools, one needed to be “qualified” to do so. A person who wanted to ‘qualify’ for the Mystery School was called a ‘candidate’.
To dominate Nature meant that the Candidate had to dominate the Four Philosophical Elements of Nature: Fire, Air, Water and Earth. These elements had their symbolism and correspondences under which they were concealed:
|Air||An Eagle||East||Azoth or Azogue|
There was one symbol that combined these 4 symbolic animals together: the Sphinx. The Sphinx has the front claws of a lion, the face of a man, the wings of an eagle and the hind legs of a bull.
-From Ch.26 of The Initiatic Path in the Arcana of the Tarot and Kabalah (1978)
The Candidate had to pass physical tests related with the four philosophical elements of nature.
Test for Fire: The candidate has to pass through a fire obstacle (such as a room full of flames)
Test for Air: The candidate is thrown off a cliff, or into the depths of a precipice
Test for Water: The candidate is thrown into deep water and believes himself to be drowning.
Test for Earth: The candidate finds himself between two enormous mountains that close in on him
-From Ch.26 of The Initiatic Path in the Arcana of the Tarot and Kabalah (1978)
Spiritual Requirements of the Mysteries
To receive this Higher Knowledge, this Knowledge of the Soul changes a person’s life, but this life change depends on the person’s disposition: are they going to use this knowledge to develop their soul? or are they going to us it to control the souls of the unsuspecting masses?
The candidate for entry into the Mysteries must always be “worthy and well qualified” as well as “duly and truly prepared”. Meaning that the candidate must perceive that such higher knowledge exists; must desire to possess it; and must be willing to make whatever personal sacrifice is necessary in order to acquire it.
The candidate must have passed beyond the stage of blind belief or superstition, beyond the bondage of fear, and beyond the slavery of sensations and desires. This is the meaning of being “duly and truly prepared”. The Candidate’s motive alone can determine if they are “worthy and well qualified.”
Just as all life is a process of development, so is all real knowledge an initiation; and it proceeds in a natural order, and advances by specific “degrees”. This is true on every plane of life, that in the process by which knowledge is acquired (always through experience) the human being becomes the knowledge which is applied.
That is, when applied: knowing is a progressive becoming. The result, therefore, is a continual transformation of the motives, the ideals, and the perceptions of the individual…
The real scientific and philosophical meaning of all Initiation is the spiritual development of the individual.
The Development of Spiritual Force (Awakening Consciousness)
Authentic spiritual development is directly related to ‘the Awakening of the Consciousness’. JD Buck defines ‘consciousness’ as follows: “…Consciousness is that living, active process, resulting in the growth of the soul, and in the increase of man’s power to apprehend truth.” Gnosis explains the Consciousness as: “A very particular kind of apprehension [or grasping] of interior knowledge which is totally independent of mental activity.”
As we have said, one of the foundational principles of the Mysteries is that the human being is ‘fallen’, lacks something or is incomplete in some way. And that in order to transform himself, the human being must do something about his present state.
-paraphrase from Ch. 5 of The Fourth Way (1957) by P.D. Ouspensky
The thing that we lack, that we need to develop is our ‘Consciousness’. Something that must be understood and emphasized is that our present state of Consciousness is totally ‘asleep’ or ‘dreaming’, we are ‘unconscious’ compared with our human potential. In his current state, the human being is actually just a tool of nature, a machine that plays its role in the natural order of things.
In order to wake up and dominate nature, the human being must also learn to dominate himself. This requires that we ‘Awaken our Consciousness’: that we work on our own individual perception and awareness (both of ourselves and of the world around us). Everything (all our potential) is found within and it is only by accessing it that we can become Masters of ourselves and of Nature.
If the human being understands the nature of the powers he can attain, it will be clear to him that they cannot be given; these powers must be developed by effort.
…One’s own efforts are necessary, because otherwise, even if a person is made conscious, he will not be able to use this consciousness. It is in the very nature of things that consciousness and willpower cannot be given. If someone could give them to you, it would not be an advantage. This is the reason why one must ‘buy’ everything, nothing is given free. The most difficult thing is to learn how to ‘pay’.”
-From Ch. 5 of The Fourth Way (1957)
Understand that to ‘pay’ means an exchange of energies or making our own ‘effort’.
-From Ch. 5 of The Fourth Way (1957)
And this is, of course, the ‘exchange’ necessary for development or change that we mentioned at the beginning of this class.
-From Ch. 5 of The Fourth Way (1957)
So our ability to grasp this interior knowledge is directly related to the effort we put in to acquiring it and our ability to apply it and that will manifest in what is called our ‘Level of Being’.
The Ladder of the Soul’s Ascension
The Level of Being of the drunkard is different from that of someone who does not drink, and the Level of Being of the prostitute is different from that of the virgin.
Imagine the numerous rungs of a ladder, which extends itself upwards, vertically… Unquestionably, we find ourselves on any one of these rungs. On the lower rungs will be people worse than us, and on the higher rungs persons better than us will be found…
On this Marvelous Ladder, it is clear that we can find all the Levels of Being… each person is different… We are not talking about attractive or ugly, nor is this a question of age.
People think that with time things will get better; but this is not true… What really counts is our “Level of Being”; we are on a rung, but we can climb to another rung…
The “Marvelous Ladder” which we are talking about and which concerns the different “Levels of Being” certainly has nothing to do with linear time… A higher Level of Being is directly above us from moment to moment… It is not in any remote horizontal future, but here and now within our own selves, on the Vertical.
Anyone can understand that the two lines – the Horizontal and the Vertical – intersect from moment to moment in our psychological interior and form a Cross… The personality develops and unfolds on the Horizontal Line of Life. The personality is born and dies with its linear time; the personality is not the Being.
So let us establish the following as a deduction: titles, ranks, promotions etc. in the external physical world do not mean an authentic exaltation, or reevaluation of the Being, or a move to a higher rung in the Levels of Being…”
[This is a paraphrase of Ch. 2 of Revolutionary Psychology (1975),
understand the concept of “The 2 lines of life” from Ch.1-3 of this same book]
A move to a higher rung on the ladder can only happen through a reevaluation of ourselves, of our values and our principles, etc.
WE MUST DO SOMETHING WE HAVE NEVER DONE.”
And further, in order to transform ourselves: ‘we need to stop being what we are in order to start being what we are not…’
The Ancient Mysteries taught their Philosophy (which we can see in different forms throughout the world) but required the candidates to pass certain tests or ordeals in order to continue their studies.
The Purpose of the Mysteries (at least from what we have studied so far) was the Spiritual Development of the individual which is directly related to the ‘Awakening of the Consciousness’ and the increase (or elevation) in one’s Level of Being.
Next week, we will discuss the Egyptian Mysteries…
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