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Feb 07, 1996 04:16 PM
by ti


Text supplied by Eldon Tucker, Converted to ASCII by Alan Bain.


The Wisdom-Religion, Esoteric in All Ages

Q. Since Ammonius never committed anything to writing, how can
one feel sure that such were his teachings?

A. Neither did Buddha, Pythagoras, Confucius, Orpheus, Socrates,
or even Jesus, leave behind them any writings. Yet most of these
are historical personages, and their teachings have all
survived. The disciples of Ammonius (among whom Origen and
Herennius) wrote treatises and explained his ethics. Certainly
the latter are as historical, if not more so, than the Apostolic
writings.  Moreover, his pupils - Origen, Plotinus, and Longinus
(counselor of the famous Queen Zenobia) - have all left
voluminous records of the Philaletheian System - so far, at all
events, as their public profession of faith was known, for the
school was divided into exoteric and _esoteric_ teachings.

Q. How have the latter tenets reached our day, since you hold
that what is properly called the WISDOM-RELIGION was esoteric?

A. The WISDOM-RELIGION was ever one, and being the last word of
possible human knowledge, was, therefore, carefully preserved.
It preceded by long ages the Alexandrian Theosophists, reached
the modern, and will survive every other religion and

Q. Where and by whom was it so preserved?

A. Among Initiates of every country; among profound seekers
after truth - their disciples; and in those parts of the world
where such topics have always been most valued and pursued: in
India, Central Asia, and Persia.

Q. Can you give me some proofs of its esotericism?

A. The best proof you can have of the fact is that every ancient
religious, or rather philosophical, cult consisted of an
esoteric or secret teaching, and an exoteric (outward public)
worship.  Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that the
MYSTERIES of the ancients comprised with every nation the
"greater" (secret) and "Lesser" (public) MYSTERIES - e.g., in
the celebrated solemnities called the _Eleusinia,_ in 
Greece. From the Hierophants of Samothrace, Egypt, and the initiated
Brahmins of the India of old, down to the later Hebrew Rabbis,
all preserved, for fear of profanation, their real _bona fide_
beliefs secret. The Jewish Rabbis called their secular religious
series the _Merkabah_ (the exterior body), "the vehicle," or,
_the covering which contains the hidden soul_ - i.e., their
highest secret knowledge. Not one of the ancient nations ever
imparted through its priests its real philosophical secrets to
the masses, but allotted to the latter only the husks. Northern
Buddhism has its "greater" and its "lesser" vehicle, known as
the _Mahayana,_ the esoteric, and the _Hinayana,_ the exoteric,
Schools. Nor can you blame them for such secrecy; for surely you
would not think of feeding your flock of sheep on learned
dissertations on botany instead of on grass?  Pythagoras called
his _Gnosis_ "the knowledge of things that are," [Greek phrase
in the oroginal here] and preserved that knowledge for his
pledged disciples only: for those who could digest such mental
food and feel satisfied; and he pledged them to silence and
secrecy. Occult alphabets and secret ciphers are the development
of the old Egyptian _hieratic_ writings, the secret of which
was, in the days of old, in the possession only of the
Hierogrammatists, or initiated Egyptian priests.  Ammonius
Saccas, as his biographers tell us, bound his pupils by oath not
to divulge _his higher doctrines_ except to those who had
already been instructed in preliminary knowledge, and who were
also bound by a pledge. Finally, do we not find the same even in
early Christianity, among the Gnostics, and even in the
teachings of Christ? Did he not speak to the multitudes in
parables which had a two-fold meaning, and explain his reasons
only to his disciples? He says:

"To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of
heaven; but unto them that are without, all these things are
done in parables" - {Mark 4:11.}

The Essenes of Judea and Carmel made similar distinctions,
dividing their adherents into neophytes, brethren, and the
_perfect,_ or those initiated. - {Wilder, Professor Alexander,
F.T.S., _The Eclectic Philosophy._}

Examples might be brought from every country to this effect.

Q. Can you attain the "Secret Wisdom" simply by study?
Encyclopedias define _Theosophy_ pretty much as Webster's
Dictionary does, i.e., as

"- supposed intercourse with God and superior spirits, and
consequent attainment of superhuman knowledge by physical means
and chemical processes."

Is this so?

A. I think not. Nor is there any lexicographer capable of
explaining, whether to himself or others, how _superhuman_
knowledge can be attained by _physical_ or chemical processes.
Had Webster said "by _metaphysical_ and alchemical processes,"
the definition would be approximately correct: as it is, it is
absurd. Ancient Theosophists claimed, and so do the modern, that
the infinite cannot be known by the finite - i.e., sensed by the
finite Self - but that the divine essence could be com-
municated to the higher Spiritual Self in a state of ecstasy.
This condition can hardly be attained, like _hypnotism,_ by
"physical and chemical means."

Q. What is your explanation of it?

A. Real ecstasy was defined by Plotinus as "the liberation of
the mind from its finite consciousness, becoming one and
identified with the infinite." This is the highest condition,
says Professor Wilder, but not one of permanent duration, and it
is reached only by the very, _very_ few. It is, indeed,
identical with that state which is known in India as _Samadhi._
The latter is practiced by the Yogis, who facilitate it
physically by the greatest abstinence in food and drink, and
mentally by an incessant endeavor to purify and elevate the
mind. Meditation is silent and _unuttered_ prayer, or, as Plato
expressed it,

"- the ardent turning of the soul toward the divine; not to ask
any particular good (as in the common meaning of prayer), but
for good itself - for the universal Supreme Good -"

- of which we are a part on earth, and out of the essence of
which we have all emerged. Therefore, adds Plato,

"Remain silent in the presence of the _divine ones,_ till they
remove the clouds from thy eyes and enable thee to see by the
light which issues from themselves, not what appears as good to
thee, but what is intrinsically good."

This is what the scholarly author of _The Eclectic Philosophy,_
Professor Alexander Wilder, F.T.S., describes as "spiritual

"The soul is the camera in which facts and events, future, past,
and present, are alike fixed; and the mind becomes conscious of
them. Beyond our everyday world of limits all is one day or
state - the past and future comprised in the present. - Death is
the last _ecstasis_ on earth. Then the soul is freed from the
constraint of the body, and its nobler part is united to higher
nature and becomes partaker in the wisdom and foreknowledge of
the higher beings."

Real Theosophy is, for the mystics, that state which Apollonius
of Tyana was made to describe thus:

"I can see the present and the future as in a clear mirror. The
sage need not wait for the vapors of the earth and the
corruption of the air to foresee events - The _theoi,_ or gods,
see the future; common men the present, sages that which is
about to take place."

"The Theosophy of the Sages" he speaks of is well expressed in
the assertion, "The Kingdom of God is within us."

Q. Theosophy, then, is not, as held by some, a newly devised

A. Only ignorant people can thus refer to it. It is as old as
the world, in its teachings and ethics, if not in name, as it is
also the broadest and most catholic system among all.

Q. How comes it, then, that Theosophy has remained so unknown to
the nations of the Western Hemisphere? Why should it have been a
sealed book to races confessedly the most cultured and advanced?

A. We believe there were nations as cultured in days of old and
certainly more spiritually "advanced" than we are. But there are
several reasons for this willing ignorance. One of them was
given by St.  Paul to the cultured Athenians - a loss, for long
centuries, of real spiritual insight, and even interest, owing
to their too great devotion to things of sense and their long
slavery to the dead letter of dogma and ritualism. But the
strongest reason for it lies in the fact that real Theosophy has
ever been kept secret.

Q. You have brought forward proofs that such secrecy has
existed; but what was the real cause for it?

A. The causes for it were:

1.  The perversity of average human nature and its selfishness,
always tending to the gratification of _personal_ desires to the
detriment of neighbors arid next of kin. Such people could never
be entrusted with _divine_ secrets.

2.  Their unreliability to keep the sacred and divine knowledge
from desecration. It is the latter that led to the perversion of
the most sublime truths and symbols, and to the gradual
transformation of things spiritual into anthropomorphic,
concrete, and gross imagery - in other words, to the dwarfing of
the god-idea and to idolatry.

Ancient Wisdom for a New Age

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