(from the Greek esoterikos – “internal”) or esotericism – the totality of secret knowledge about the mystical essence of various objects (man, society as a whole, planet, Universe, etc.), accessible only to the initiated; a narrow circle of people who are able to perceive and store the knowledge mentioned. Particular attention is paid to the esoteric studies of the relationship of processes occurring in the depths of the human soul, with perturbations, which are perpetuated in the universe.
Esotericism, which originated in ancient times, is not a single tradition, but the totality of individual groups, movements, schools of spiritual development, providing adepts with a set of different methods of self-improvement (sometimes in anything not similar or even seemingly ignorant observer diametrically opposed ). However, despite the mentioned diversity of methods, the goal for all these separate groups and currents is one – a conscious transformation of the personality, as a result of which it becomes possible to expand the essential perception of the individual.
Esoterics and exoterica are synonyms.
Absolutely mistaken opinion. The term exoterica (from the Greek exoterikos – “external”) – usually denote a public teaching (philosophical or religious), intended for a wide range of listeners (readers), while esoteric texts were intended only for the initiated.
The division into esoteric and exoteric knowledge is characteristic of the New European philosophy.
Yes, it is. In Europe, the term “esotericism” was first used by the historian Jacques Mate (France), who in 1828 published the Critical History of Mysticism. Later, many European philosophers and occultists (D. Toland, A. Besant, HP Blavatsky, Dion Fortune, etc.) used the above terms. However, the opposition of esoteric and exoteric (exoteric) is also found in the ancient Greeks (for example, in the work “The Auction of Life” (Vitárum auctio) by the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata, who lived in the 2nd century AD).
Aristotle’s teaching was divided into exoteric (open) and esoteric (closed, access to which had only some students) parts.
Aristotle did use the term “exoterikos” (exoterica), but contrasted it not with esotericism, but with “akroamatikos” (in Greek – “oral instructions”).
Esoteric knowledge in ancient times was called “hermetic”, as zealously guarded by adherents, and were inaccessible to ordinary people.
This is not quite true. Our ancestors called the secret knowledge “hermetic” (and not “hermetic”), since the treatises containing the mentioned knowledge were called the “Hermetic Corps” (from the Latin “Corpus Hermeticum”). The author of the aforementioned collection of treatises (according to one of their sources there were 18, in others 40 works are mentioned) is the Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice the Greatest) – the deity who was the patron of the sciences and magic, and joined the traits of Thoth (the god of wisdom and knowledge revered in Ancient Egypt) and Hermes (patron of travelers, traders, magicians and astrologers in ancient Greece).
Church leaders did not study esoteric studies.
Wrong opinion. For example, the well-known German Protestant historian in his works The History and Description of Theosophy (1702) and The Impartial History of the Church and Heretics (1729) describes in some detail the Theosophy and the heretical trends of Christianity, while describing the system of knowledge that modern researchers are classified as esoteric.
Studies of esotericism in the West have been engaged since the mid-1960s. last century.
It is believed that the beginning of the academic study of esotericism was laid by the study of the historian of the Renaissance culture, Francis Yates (England). Her work “Giordano Bruno and hermetic traditions” was published in 1964. However, it should be taken into account that even before that, Western scholars have paid attention to the study of esotericism. Their writings were published much earlier.For example, “History of the newest occultism” by Karl Kiesewetter was published in 1891, and the work of Auguste Wiate – in 1928.
In universities, attention is not paid to esoteric studies.
Prior to the 1960s, little attention was paid to the study of esotericism in institutions of higher learning. Only in 1965 Henri Corben (an Islam scholar, a researcher of Shiite Gnosticism and the mysticism of the Sufis) proposed the creation of the Department of the History of Christian Esotericism at the Sorbonne (France). Since 1979 (at this time Antoine Fevr, esoteric and traditionalist, came to the department), it was renamed the “Histoire des courants ésotériques et mystiques de l’Europe moderne et contemporaine” (Histories of the Esoteric and Mystical Studies in Europe of the New Age and modernity “).
After 20 years, the Department of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents was established at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. There are also academic communities engaged in the study of esoteric knowledge, for example, “The European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism”, founded in 2005, “The Association for the Study of Esotericism”, abbreviated ASE “Association of Esoteric Scientists”) USA, “Association of Esoteric and Mysticism Explorers” (AIEM), uniting researchers of Ukraine and Russia since 2009, etc. It should also be mentioned that there are many publications and periodicals (for example, “Aries” is a scientific journal published in the USA) devoted to esotericism. International scientific conferences are held in many countries of the world, etc.
Between the representatives of various esoteric schools there is a constant confrontation.
Indeed, the confrontation between different societies calling themselves “esoteric” takes place. The reason for this situation is that, firstly, many people who identify themselves as esotericists and form societies do not really have access to true esoteric knowledge, and study only public literary works in which the above knowledge is either considered superficially, or strongly distorted. Secondly, knowledge books (even true ones) are only partially presented in the books, deeper comprehension is possible only under the guidance of an experienced teacher who is dedicated to one or another tradition and has the art of transmitting information “from heart to heart.” Otherwise, there may be misunderstandings and distortions of information, which later turn into an irreconcilable confrontation with representatives of other esoteric societies. It should be remembered that people who learn the secrets of the universe, not under books but under the guidance of experienced teachers, will never negatively treat another esoteric school, since they know that the mystical experience, even received in different ways, is essentially one. After all, the fundamental structure of the universe and man is invariable, and therefore, there is nothing to argue about.
Esotericism is opposed to religious teachings, in particular to Christianity.
Yes, in some issues, the religious and esoteric worldviews diverge. However, much of esoteric philosophical views are derived from the same sources that served as the basis of early Christianity. In addition, it should be mentioned that in the course of many mystical traditions and religious movements (mainly Eastern ones) esoteric practices are preserved, accessible to a limited circle of adepts and most often of an applied nature. An example of this kind of practice is, for example, Sufism (from the Arabic Suf – “wool”) or tasawwuf, which is a mystical current in the Islamic religious tradition, the Neudan (in Chinese – “inner elixir”) or internal alchemy in Taoism, yoga in Hinduism, Dzogchen (in translation from Tibetan – “Great Perfection”) or Zen (from Sanskrit dhyana – “contemplation, meditation”) in Buddhism, Kabbalah (in the translation from Sanskrit “tradition, reception, acceptance”) in Judaism and etc.
The information contained in the esoteric works can be learned independently, and in a very short time.
Absolutely mistaken opinion. First, esotericism is a complex and multifaceted system of knowledge about the fundamental principles of being, the structure of the universe and man, therefore one should not hope to master any, even the most voluminous, work on this topic from the first reading. Really deep comprehension of the mentioned science does not even take months – years, and even if the person has the ability to assimilate this kind of knowledge. Secondly, most of the books contain only a part of the information, in some cases – in an allegorical form. Therefore, in order to comprehend certain aspects of knowledge mentioned in certain treatises, one needs a meditative experience of its own. Training of this kind is effective only if it is conducted under the guidance of an experienced mentor who has received initiation into the esoteric tradition and has the ability to track the correctness of the work of the student comprehending esoteric knowledge.
A person who begins to comprehend esotericism immediately gets rid of any negative qualities of character.
Wrong opinion. First, in order to get rid of certain negative qualities of character, one should recognize their presence in themselves, and many people simply do not notice their own shortcomings. And without the timely instructions of an experienced teacher (to whom they must have confidence), they may remain unaware of certain characteristics of their personality for many years. Secondly, in order to change oneself (not by restraining negative emotions by willpower, but by melting them into positive qualities of character), one needs remarkable perseverance, will power and the desire for self-improvement. But even with all the qualities mentioned, the changes will not be instantaneous – it will take years of hard work on themselves.
First of all, people engaged in esotericism, strive to develop some special abilities (to open the “third eye”, to learn lucid dreams, etc.).
After all, the appearance of these skills is an indisputable indicator that a person successfully masters and applies the knowledge he has gained in practice. This is not quite true. First, the acquisition of special abilities (called “siddhams”, translated from Sanskrit as “perfections”) is not an end in itself, and in some cases is recognized as superfluous and unnecessary, since a person, carried away by his paranormal abilities, may for many years forget about the true goal of self-improvement. Secondly, the aforementioned siddhis appear on their own in the process of mastering esoteric practices, and therefore strive to develop this or that ability at the initial stages of comprehending the secret knowledge to nothing. In addition, it should be borne in mind that some abilities (for example, the ability to realize oneself in a dream or see the aura of living beings) can be innate, and in this case, no successes of a person in the development of secret knowledge can be testified.
Esoterics can be easily recognized in the crowd by a special appearance (glowing eyes, special gait, etc.).
Not always. People who are far advanced in the way of comprehending secret knowledge gain complete control over themselves, in particular, they can correct external manifestations and look like they are comfortable or necessary in a particular situation. Therefore, if the adept of esotericism wants to get lost in the crowd of ordinary inhabitants, he will succeed, and even a person with well-developed extrasensory abilities will not be able to detect it.
Esoterics never get sick.
Yes, if a person who started to comprehend esoteric knowledge, initially had good health (both physical and mental), and also was a happy owner of complaisant character, was able to forgive offenses, etc.If there were any diseases or “distortions” in the perception of reality – in the initial stages of training a person will most likely have to undergo a period of purification (when the illnesses become aggravated for a short time, and the imperfections of the character appear brighter than ever). If the student has patience, then later he will be rewarded with a clear improvement in his health and strengthening of immunity. After all, most often the causes of the disease are various negative qualities of character, as well as the lived nervous shocks destabilizing the energy component of a person (which subsequently leads to a decrease in immunity and various ailments). However, it should be remembered that the cleansing period can last from several months to several years, and in some cases, when you move to a deeper level of comprehension of esoteric knowledge – to repeat.
The exotericist can not be esoteric, and the esotericist is unlikely to perform exoteric rituals.
Wrong opinion. Open and secret canonical forms are closely interrelated, and are not at all mutually exclusive. Therefore, high-level esotericists can fulfill the precepts and rites of a certain religion (only with a deeper understanding of the true meaning of certain words or actions), and exotericists can be versed in esotericism.
Astrology and magic are integral parts of esotericism.
There is no consensus on this issue. Some researchers classify as esoteric directions theosophy, astrology, numerology, palmistry, reiki, chinneling, feng shui, I Ching, bioenergetics, ceremonial magic, etc. Others differentiate the true (the purpose of which is to develop and improve the positive qualities of the individual, harmonizing the relationship between man and society, himself and the universe as a whole) and false (having mastered the methods of which a person can harm other people and society as a whole) esotericism. Some philosophical currents (Sufism, Yoga), close to the sciences of the field of knowledge (astrology, palmistry, graphology), religions (Taoism, Buddhism), some kinds of oriental martial arts (aikido, karate, etc.), white magic . To the realm of “false” esotericism, black magic is considered. Still others believe that, first, only a small part of the occult and magical teachings are related to esotericism. Secondly – some areas of knowledge are not components, but derivatives of esotericism (for example, astrology was formed on the basis of the esoteric practices of ancient Babylon).