Religious and philosophical teachings are divided into two main categories—the esoteric and the exoteric. Historically, the esoteric teachings have been kept secret, given only to those who were deemed ready by Teachers who held the “keys to the kingdom of God.” Whereas a spiritually mature person recognizes that these “keys” are symbolic of revealed truths, someone less spiritually mature would picture in his or her mind actual keys made to fit an actual lock, albeit one not of this world. This is the difference between esoteric and exoteric students of religion and philosophy.
The esoteric student understands that religious icons and symbols represent principles and laws of nature, including both the seen and unseen worlds. The exoteric student takes the symbols literally—Moses actually parted the Red Sea; Jesus, the man, actually sits at the right hand of the Father, etc. While helpful to an undeveloped mind, such literal interpretations can only conceal the more sophisticated and abstract principles they were designed to portray. But, in this Internet age when all knowledge is freely available to nearly everyone, the time has come to speak more openly of the deeper truths of antiquity, lest through misunderstanding, the ideas themselves become symbols, hiding the very truths of which they speak.
Add to this the need to integrate the astounding growth in scientific knowledge into the body of thought called “The Ancient Mysteries.” Scientists and careful thinkers of all disciplines have brought new meaning to the old maxim, “Man, know thyself.” Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, along with the science of Linguistics, have revealed much about how the human organism works, especially the brain. And while this new knowledge (doubling itself nearly every few years) has enabled us to understand consciousness more than ever before, the sciences have yet to acknowledge the existence of the Universal Creative Mind of God.
Mystics and sages throughout the millennia have understood more about the nature of mind than present-day scientists, but they have not, for the most part, been able to articulate their knowledge in today’s language. Combined with science’s inbred prejudice against mysticism in general, the gap between science and religion widens everyday, bringing us closer and closer to an evolutionary catastrophe—the materialist view that human beings are machines whose software developed on its own through random, selective processes and not downloaded from a superior intelligence. As long as scientists believe that consciousness is a product of the brain and not the other way around, they will continue to seek ways to enhance this flawed mechanism by external means. Mystics, on the other hand, want to develop what is already there.
The Ancient Mysteries have always taught that the human organism is a vehicle for consciousness, and that the notion of a separate self is an illusion. They did not preach against individuality, as is commonly believed today, but rather understood that it is through individual choice that spiritual progress can be made. Every time we make one choice over another, whether based upon logic or intuition, we rewire our brain in a way that supports further choices along the same lines. Thus does humanity evolve. If through technology that fundamental process is preempted and people begin to rely on artificial, implanted devices to enhance awareness, spiritual consciousness will devolve into greater and greater materialism, the belief that the physical world and its senses are all there is to the human experience.
The Ancient Mystery Teachings were given to the world as tools with which humanity can realize its own potential. These tools lie within the individual heart and mind. But, while scientists tend towards the material understanding of life, spiritually minded people tend toward the opposite pole, regarding science with as much suspicion as scientists regard mysticism. This is just as grievous an error. It is only by marrying the two paths in an enlightened awareness that humanity can make the next leap in evolution, bringing the best of the rational mind and the intuition together into a collaborative whole.
The greatest of the mystics from the dawn of human history up to our present day have achieved this marriage of the inner and the outer within themselves. Such enlightened people have brought humanity its greatest discoveries in science, philosophy, art, and social justice. It was the Egyptian principle of the One God, brought forth and articulated by Moses, that enabled science to envision a world governed by universal law and thus open the door to unprecedented technological advancement. It was Paracelsus who intuitively unlocked the secrets of pharmacology, extending the lifespan of human beings by decades. And it was Pythagoras who, through his wisdom and depth of vision, gave us the profound understanding of numbers and geometry that enabled us to land on the moon. These people were mystics who, along with countless others, acted as the mediators between heaven and earth, providing humanity with priceless knowledge of the cosmos and the meaning of human life.