Advice to Esoteric Students
If you read esoteric literature from the background of an exoteric system of thought you have already accepted, then you must have special qualifications to assimilate the esoteric knowledge with its new terms of realities previously unknown to you.
The following is just an attempt to give students of esoterics some “words to take with them”, something to ponder on and to analyse, to afford ideas for debate. It is not easy to find the path out of the jungle of those misconceptions, which since millennia have been proclaimed by diverse popes or other blind guides of mankind. It will be the individual’s business to test and to examine, not to accept uncritically. Common sense appears in healthy skepticism of everything that does not correspond to your own insight and experience, your own level of understanding.
Many years of esoteric study are required in order to attain the requisite level of knowledge, the basis of further study and enhanced power of perception. It also takes many years before all the new things that have sunk down into the subconscious have been worked up and vibrations from the esoteric reality concepts have been able to affect the superconscious, so that a contact with the world of Platonic ideas may be reached. For without such a contact esoteric study cannot result in true understanding, at best only comprehension. The many abortive occult sects are as many hard-earned experiences and proofs of that truth. They have led millions astray.
Examine It Yourself!
The inalienable rights of the individual include the right to form his own views and act on them as long as he does not infringe the right of others to that same inviolable freedom.
The biggest, most basic logical and psychological mistake that almost all people make every now and then is to judge a thing without examining it themselves. That mistake is the ground of the human misery. Nobody has a logical right to give an opinion on things he has not examined himself. If you do not have the possibility, the opportunity, the ability to examine it yourself, then you must refrain from giving an opinion of it. If this rule were observed, then an unbelievable amount of illusions, fictions, dogmas of all kinds would be quickly scotched, people would be liberated from more than 90 per cent of all the lies they have accepted with blind eyes. The holy spirit of truth condemns all who give opinions without examining the matter themselves. Nobody has any right to do so. Anyone who says “everybody knows that”, “all authorities agree on that score”, “science has established that fact long ago”, etc., in any case is no esoterician for such a one must not give opinions on the basis of what is said, what is thought, what is believed, what is stated, what all agree on, what public opinion knows, etc. The World-Teacher (bodhisattva, later buddha) [link to BED] Gautama inculcated in his disciples the importance, above all, of acquiring common sense and not accepting anything that is in direct conflict with that faculty. In our times, 45-self D.K. has elaborated on the Buddha’s admonition. He points out that there are three different attitudes in the conception of the uninitiated: to regard esoteric facts received as interesting and possible hypotheses pending confirmation; to accept them because you have faith in the person giving the information; to reject them as being fantastic, uncontrollable, and meaningless. Of these three standpoints he regards the first to be the only rational one, since it grants the seeker mental integrity with a readiness to accept what on critical examination seems possible and probable, at the same time protecting him from uncritical credulity, which has been the curse of mankind, and uncritical belief in authority, which is closely related to credulity. That system, which has demonstrated its tenability in all respects, is accepted and used until it is superseded by a still better one.
Never Accept Anything without a Sufficient Ground!
Beginning in the lowest degree, the initiates were taught not to speculate, not to assume anything without sufficient grounds, to distinguish between what they knew and what they did not know (thus the difference between belief and knowledge, between knowing and believing you know).
The mark of a truly “educated” person is that he is not ready to give his opinion on a matter at once but waits until he knows what it is about and has acquainted himself with the available facts. He has seen that there is so much beyond man’s power of judgement. He knows much and yet infinitesimally little. That insight results in true humility and makes it impossible for him to adopt that self-exaltation, which is so common, not least in the greatest authorities. In contrast, nothing is more typical of all people who have not been thoroughly trained in ordinary logical inference thinking than the tendency to give opinions offhand before they have studied the requisite facts or even know what the matter is about. People comment on most things of which they actually can know nothing, not even seeing that they need facts to judge things. When will they have learnt that most simple, most basic principle of rational thought: Never accept anything without a sufficient ground? Faith in authority is no sufficient ground. The views of public opinion, newspaper reports, other people’s statements are no sufficient grounds. It is typical of the dogmatist that he refuses to study the arguments of those who do not share his opinions. He knows that he is right and that all others are wrong. Few people have learnt to distinguish what they understand and what they just believe they understand, have learnt to see what they can and what they cannot understand in a general life sense. That ability presupposes the refusal to accept anything you do not comprehend fully and thoroughly. If you had assimilated that attitude you would not have accepted the current views and opinions. Once you have adopted them it is not very easy to rid yourself of them. This, to believe you know, comprehend, and understand, to believe in vagaries and brainwaves, is also present in occultists, and that is the reason why most of what they say should be taken with a good share of skepticism. There is immensely much that remains to be known, immensely much that we do not know, immensely many facts we still need in order to make correct statements about anything at all whenever it comes to more than quoting verbatim what we have been given to know.
Belief in Authority
Much false belief in authority should have been overcome if people made the effort of thinking for themselves and were not such thoughtless parrots. We are responsible for what we accept.
The esoterician has no belief in authority. Quite the reverse, he is encouraged by all authorities of the planetary hierarchy not to accept anything he has not himself seen to be correct. We must all work with hypotheses, assumptions for the time being, possibilities also where we find no grounds for probability. This is so self-evident a thing that it need not even be discussed. It is of no importance whatsoever who said or who wrote something. Either it is right or it is wrong. It is up to everyone to decide for himself. In esoterics, there is no authority, not even a divine authority. You accept or reject on your own responsibility. Emotion must not have any say in matters pertaining to the world view. Emotion has a part in life view, and the history of the world is just one big example of its unreliability as a criterion of truth. It is high time that critical reason, however it be, were made the supreme authority. We must develop into independent thinkers and stop being echoes, stop believing because others have believed and claimed they knew. Every book must defend its justification by its contents. An esoteric book may claim to be a link in the chain of research if it survives the criticism of common sense, contains something new and essential, accords with definitively accepted views. Any invoking of authority is ineffective. The esoterician does not any longer accept loose statements but will ascertain for himself that facts have been put into their right contexts, be logically convinced that whatever is said squares with the facts. There must be no more accepting without comprehension and understanding. Esoterics must not be turned into a matter of belief. Whatever you do not understand you are wise to doubt or leave undecided.
Mistakes Made by Beginners
Knowledge is energy, and the beginner very easily loses his balance, becomes presumptuous and crazy, and believes he is able to comprehend and judge everything. It is such a common phenomenon that the exceptions demonstrate they are “mature souls” who realize their relative ignorance and incapacity.
It is a very common mistake to try at once to fit esoteric facts and ideas into current views, ruling world views and life views. However, these have nothing in common with the knowledge of reality, but they are as erroneous as to turn the conception of reality into mere illusion. There is only one correct conception, and that is not in mankind’s possession. As it is now, everybody has his own opinion, which thus must be more or less erroneous, the less so the more it approximates the only one that is true and incontrovertibly valid for all.
Instead, the beginner should rethink everything from scratch with completely new bases and in so doing switch off everything he has learnt before. Otherwise the result will be just one more abortive occult system to be added to the many already existing.
It must be strongly emphasized that everything in the matter of speculation can just lead to misunderstanding, often irremediable misunderstanding. The hermetic tenet, “as above, so below; as below, so above”, thus the principle of universal analogy, is certainly correct in a general sense, but we can never determine its validity in the individual case. Those who cannot content themselves with a careful recording work but must speculate should keep to the innumerable speculative idiologies in theology, philosophy, yoga, and all manner of occultism. Man is not in a position to solve the problems of esoteric knowledge on his own. Only those in the fifth kingdom are able to do so, and then often only by the aid of those in still higher kingdoms.
Whenever we speculate, believe we are able to draw conclusions on the basis of overwhelming probability, we make a mistake. That is a kind of error, which even causal selves [BED-link] have made when assessing things in the worlds of the second and third selves [BED-link]. The modern disciple (being wise after such mistakes in past times) has learnt never to speculate, never to assume anything, never to believe. He may certainly enjoy himself by analysing hypotheses, but these always remain uncertain, not to say erroneous, hypotheses, and they are never assumptions. There are an immense number of ideas which appear possible though they have no basis in reality. Such are the ideas that theologians, philosophers, and scientists are prepared to accept when they are presented in a literary form that is emphatic and dazzling.
The seeker convinces himself of the correctness of hylozoics by examining whether it explains otherwise inexplicable things. Before that he should have seen the untenability of the explanations provided by theology, philosophy, and science. That insight causes the seeker finally to wonder if he should perhaps examine that which all authorities have rejected. Esoterics should be the last thing you examine.
Logical comprehension proceeds from universals to particulars, not the other way round as modern educators seem to believe. They have never understood the psychology of comprehension, and philosophers seem to have forgotten it. Details are for specialists in every subject sphere, not for those who want to acquire the system of knowledge.
Make No Propaganda for Esoterics!
It is a mistake to make propaganda for esoterics among those who do not have the qualifications for understanding it. Esoterics is for seekers who were once initiates and cannot find any firm ground to stand upon until they retrieve their ancient knowledge.
Esoterics is not intended for the great majority (“the public”), not for those who get their information from daily and weekly papers. It is totally abortive to make propaganda for a knowledge that remains incomprehensible to those who have not been initiates of any esoteric knowledge order for the last fifty thousand years. Knowledge is remembrance. Learning can be anything, theology, philosophy, science, occultism, etc. True understanding of the worlds of man, the causal world included, can only be possessed by former initiates. Anyone who, when hearing about rebirth and the law of sowing and reaping, does not at once see the truth of these ideas should not concern himself with esoterics.
It is no matter of belief, no object of speculation. It is a system of facts we have received from our elder brothers in the fifth natural kingdom [BED-link]. Esoterics asserts firmly that no individual in the fourth natural kingdom is able to ascertain those facts. Others may then say what they like. It is possible for man to convince himself that the system is reliable, since it explains existence and thousands of otherwise inexplicable things in the simplest possible manner. The system, once mastered, moreover affords the possibility to foresee much of future events.
Knowledge Entails Responsibility
It may be news to the “uninitiated” that knowledge entails the responsibility for right use of this knowledge. They might understand it, however, if they are informed about the fact that ideas are energies that act destructively if they are not made to act constructively.
Mankind has not yet come of age but is still largely irresponsible. It is true that the knowledge is available, but it has become distorted and those who have examined it as a theory have seldom applied it in practice. The insight that we are responsible is gained only at the higher emotional stage. Many talk about the law of sowing and reaping but do not know what they sow and have hardly any idea of what is meant by responsibility. The majority of students are content to have the problems of existence solved for them and then go on living without much thought, as though everything will be all right without further ado. “It will straighten itself out if you take it as it comes,” is the motto of carelessness. They do not realize that omission is a serious mistake. Mankind has not received the knowledge in order not to apply it.
Knowledge entails responsibility. Responsibility is exacted in subsequent incarnations. Nothing is given for nothing, for everything must be paid for. Whatever the individual has received is a talent to be put to good account and bequeath to others. The price you must pay for becoming wise is the work you do to reach wisdom and to help others. These truths cannot be too clearly inculcated.
Risks to Esoteric Studies
There are risks involved in giving people knowledge of reality, for everything they can abuse will be abused without fail, and everything they cannot grasp will be distorted without fail, and in its state of distortion it will be an obstacle to future generations.
Not all publicized esoteric literature suits everybody, like higher mathematics does not belong at the infant stage. It has already appeared that most students misunderstand what they believe they comprehend and spread their misinterpretations to others.
There is a great risk that the same thing will happen to hylozoics as happened to theosophy. It can be distorted by people who accept it on the recommendation of others without understanding it at all, at the most comprehending it superficially, emotionalizing and so distorting it. You are wise in moderating the enthusiasm in those who swell in ecstasy at the “wonderful” teaching. Mental understanding demands a work that kills ecstasy.
It is in the interest of all esotericians to prevent also esoterics, hylozoics, from being turned into a new religion for emotionalists, mystics, believers. You have a right to demand that those who call themselves esotericians know what they are talking about and do not go on with that twaddle of ignorance and incompetence which has always discredited all attempt made to teach mankind a wee bit of common sense. Esoterics is for the élite who have reached the humanist stage.
You are not freed from the usual logical and psychological defects just because you study esoterics. On the contrary, there is even a greater risk that you fall a victim to seemingly ineradicable conceit and think you are better than others and more important. That attitude is an efficient way of counteracting the matter in the future.
There are risks to engaging oneself in esoterics. The fact that these ideas agree with reality means that they possess quite another energy than do the consciousness expressions of life ignorance. They are dynamic, and the brain-cells of most people are not suited to assimilating them in any expedient manner. In all too many cases the result is mental chaos, and the attempts individuals make at rightly apprehending the ideas end in false constructions and breed fanatical belief in the correctness of the self-made fictions. There are plenty of examples of this in the history of theology, philosophy, and occultism.
On Studying Esoterics
Those who begin to study esoterics, have not realized, that they must rethink in every way, that they must free themselves from all their old conceptions of existence, of matter, energy and consciousness, about all the conceptions they have acquired about the universe, about solar systems, etc., all scientific, philosophical and religious ideas.
You should not “believe” what Laurency says but examine and compare all occult and esoteric systems. Doing so you develop the “esoteric instinct”, which learns how to perceive what is correct and what cannot be correct. You acquire esoteric self-determination. That is a path all have to walk before they are ripe for discipleship.
Even if by thorough study you are however much convinced that the hylozoic system agrees with reality, yet you must view it as a working hypothesis until you have become a causal self [BED-link] and are able to ascertain facts yourself. This principled attitude is necessary to avoid all manifestations of dogmatism, fanaticism, and intolerance.
Since Laurency writes for exoterists and not for esotericians, there is much that he leaves unsaid. He does so intentionally, because it is important that the seeker masters the fundamental reality system first, before in his studies he enters into such details as presuppose a clear understanding of the basic mental system. When the seeker once has had a good foundation laid and has eliminated the present idiologies with their illusions and fictions, he will find by himself what more he needs. The lack of clarity in the thinking of many so-called esotericians is due to the fact that they start from an erroneous or incomplete fundamental system or that they have never mastered the system. The hylozoic system is the only one to afford both clarity and complete explanations.
Without common sense, perspective consciousness, emancipation from the concepts and ideas of life-ignorance, especially from so-called semantics, which appears to paralyse thinking more and more, it is impossible to understand the Pythagorean mental system.
Reading Esoteric Literature
One does not discover more than what one has learnt to see and understand. Judgement and experience of life are required to grasp the “spirit”.
The art of reading is connected with the ability to meditate, to think your own thoughts. The majority of readers have not acquired that ability.
The books of Laurency are mosaics, collections of aphorisms, studded with facts and axioms. Every sentence has a meaning and is of significance for what comes after it and for the understanding of the whole. Almost every word may have its particular function in the total context. Thus there is much more in what is said than readers generally discover. Most readers read too fast, being accustomed to reading literature that never requires reflection. The beginner should not demand to comprehend Laurency’s books at his first reading.
The best way is to read the whole book attentively and slowly many times over. At each new reading you comprehend more of it. You read it so many times that its content comes alive, so to speak. Then you can relegate to the subconscious to do the rest.
The teacher of esoterics has the recurrent experience that it does not suffice to give out facts and put them into their correct contexts. These new facts must be put forward again and again, elucidated from different angles, illustrated in various respects. The repetitions occurring are the results of experience had with readers who had obvious difficulties perceiving the new facts given if they were not repeated constantly. “Repetitio est mater studiorum”, as the Romans said.
Summarized advice to esoteric students:
- Many years of esoteric study are required in order to attain the requisite level of knowledge, the basis of further study and enhanced power of perception.
- It will be the individual’s business to test and to examine, not to accept uncritically.
- Make no propaganda for esoterics!
- Do not speculate in esoterics.
- Focus on the system as a whole and basics not on details.
- Knowledge entails responsibility to practice it in life.
- Be on your guard against dogmatism, fanaticism and intolerance.
- The hylozoic system should be considered as a working hypothesis.
- Laurency’s books are composed of aphorisms that one should stop at and reflect on.
- You have to read slowly and thoughtfully, many times.
- You must be able to combine interrelated facts, widely spread through the volumes in different contexts, so that everything becomes a living whole. Otherwise most of it will be misinterpreted.
- One never gets ”finished” with these studies. Hylozoics should be the last system to be investigated.