As the doctrinal orthodoxy decreed by such Councils as Nicea became the official ideology of the Romanized church, the genuine teachers of Jesus' original message of transformation found it necessary to go underground. This hidden tradition is what we now call Esoteric Christianity. The official view is that the sacraments are both necessary and sufficient for salvation; any talk of higher truths or initiatic knowledge, however circumspect or deferential to Catholic doctrine, is considered subversive.
The Secret Teachings
The church tends to regard the esoteric inner circle not as a deeper dimension of the external church but as an inimical fifth column. Even though the Holy Roman Church dictated what dogmas were official, there was still the difficulty of a large number of writings about Jesus which painted very different pictures of him. As the Roman Empire took over the outer, distorted husks of Jesus' teachings and turned the church into a tyranny, it selected only those writings which would support its autocratic power.
In the fourth century C. At that point, the books outside the Official Scriptures were known as non-canonical scriptures. They included material which was not in the orthodox New Testament as the official scripture came to be called. Many of these writings come from the non-orthodox tradition of Christianity, especially from the Gnostic strain. If we are to understand the esoteric tradition in Christianity, it is essential that we take into consideration these extra-canonical sources.
Many parts of the New Testament are dogmas added by later sectarians to support their personal prejudices. For example, many references to Jesus' actions as fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies were added by persons trying to prove that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah-King. As we examine the New Testament discerningly we discover elements which do not ring true, certain supposed "miracles" and mythological events that cast Jesus in an unfavorable light.
It is our responsibility to determine what is genuine and what is counterfeit in the early Christian writings, just as we must discriminate in regard to all teachings. Some of the New Testament and other early writings constitute a record of spiritual experiences which are reproducible in our lives.
This is especially true of the central teaching of all these writings: rebirth into a higher consciousness. Jesus' teachings concerning the necessity of spiritual rebirth unmistakably parallel the Hermetic and Platonic writings--as well as other embodiments of the Perennial Tradition such as alchemy and Sufism. Plato saw philosophy the search for wisdom as the actual achievement of a higher state of consciousness, gained through self-discipline and mystical contemplation. According to Plato, philosophia is the actual practice of learning to leave the body and live in the soul, the spiritual body.
Many of the genuine followers of Jesus' teachings, such as Clement of Alexandria, Marcion, Valentinus, and Origen, were profoundly influenced by Plato's mystical concepts.
LOST ESOTERICAL TEACHINGS OF JESUS
It would be correct to say that they were as much Platonists as Christians. When the Christian faith became a secularized, sacerdotal autocracy supporting the depraved Roman emperor Constantine, the hierarchy of priests and potentates of the Church found it necessary to concoct a system of dogmas which would separate Christian theology from Platonism.
Thus the councils of Nicea and others and the resulting doctrinal monstrosities. As we examine the New Testament and relevant extra-canonical writings, it becomes clear that Jesus' original teaching declared that man was a son of God and could realize his divine sonship through a special initiation into an experience of spiritual re-birth. This teaching was unmistakably within the Perennial Tradition. The word used to describe this revolutionary transformation in humans was metanoia , which the Roman Catholic translators mangled into the Latin-based word "repent.
It involves a person ceasing to cling to her ordinary life; old ideas and feelings lose all value for her. The whole course of her experience takes on a new meaning and leads in a totally different direction. She DIES completely to her old way of being and becomes--literally--a new person as she experiences re-birth. The esoteric re-birth experience could produce the right effect upon the neophyte's soul only if she had previously changed her lower world of experience and consciousness.
If she were to be inducted into the Life of the Spirit where she would behold a Higher World, this required a prior total, radical transformation in her way of thinking, feeling, acting--being in general. For most people, the empirical world of shoes and ships and sealing wax is the only one; any idea of a higher world is simply a fantasy. They have no reality. We can't touch them or hear or see them.
They're not "real. The Mystery-schools of antiquity, at least before the days of their degeneracy, possessed and administered it; it was the raison d'etre of their existence, as was well known to the public of the time, any member of whom, prepared to abandon secular life and apply himself to the higher vocation, could seek admission therein.
The Christianity of the first two centuries took over the doctrine and the science, confirmed and expanded as they became by the advent of Christ, but eventually lost them and put in their place the ecclesiastical machinery and dogmatic theology which have ruled throughout the subsequent centuries of European history, with the result that popular Christianity has for long known nothing of them. With the enjoinder of the assured necessity for regeneration proclaimed by the Master of their faith it and its theologians and pastors are well familiar.
The Lost Years of Jesus
But can it be said that 'Ye must be born again' means for them more than a vague, mysterious, metaphoric counsel of perfection capable of being satisfied by living the ordinary natural life as far as possible in accordance with the standard of conduct indicated in the Gospels?
Are the words accorded more than a value for ethical purposes, to the total neglect of the possibility of their literal practical fulfilment? Somehow another idea has to come to us, a message by a person who knows of a Higher World. She explains that a totally different relationship to reality is possible--if one changes his entire way of thinking and acting. A person who clings at all costs to the ordinary conception of reality can't grasp such ideas; he won't even be interested in hearing about them.
In regard to such people, Perennialist teachers such as Jesus explain that they have ears to hear but will not hear and eyes to see but will not see. So initiation into the re-birth experience is not provided to them because it would be wasted, ignored, or misused. But some people do want to hear about such ideas; there is a kind of divine discontent in them. They want to understand their lives in a more comprehensive way.
And they're capable of making the radical transformation in their being which is required for this strange new experience of death to the old life and re-birth to a new one. Their whole awareness of reality makes a complete shift. Initiation Into the Higher Mysteries. The writings of such early Christian teachers as Paul, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Valentinus, provide unquestionable proof that there was an esoteric strain in Jesus' teachings.
Further, they show that only certain persons were judged to be eligible for initiation into the Higher Mysteries--what Paul called resurrection into the body of Christ. The division of Christian teachings into exoteric--public--and esoteric--secret--was understood by genuine Christian teachers to be the same as in other religious and philosophic systems. This is made particularly clear in Origen's book Origen Against Celsus.
The esoteric teachings given by Jesus to selected initiates were not written down, but were taught orally to those deemed worthy to receive them, to aspirants who formed small communities which remained in touch with the central body.
The exoteric public teachings were considered to be effective and applicable to ordinary members of the Christian faith. The rank of initiate was achieved only by those who not only lived an exemplary life but also studied all branches of human knowledge. The initiate was to be a philosopher--a seeker of wisdom--in Plato's terms.
The initiate must be tested to see if his interest in the Higher World is genuine or not. It is possible for a person, hearing these ideas, to allow himself to be flung into a sense of emptiness, of nothingness.
- Jesus Chronicles - An Introduction to the Lost Teachings of Jesus.
- Liberty Comics #06.
- The Noise-Makers.
- Das Erbe des diktatorischen Zentralismus: Die Wirtschaftspolitik der Sowjetunion und ihre Folgen für Usbekistan (German Edition).
This is why the teachings are reserved only for those capable of the rigors of the spiritual life. Otherwise they would be deprived of what gives them happiness, makes them feel secure, without receiving anything in exchange. This is why it is absolutely essential that a person change his entire way of thinking and acting prior to being initiated into the deeper mysteries of death and re-birth.
The attitude with which we approach a teaching determines completely what we receive and understand. It may be nothing or everything. The important difference I find is that the esoteric schools typically focus on human spirituality—our relationship with each other and the universe. The esoteric is revealed when we think about the mystical side of Jesus, about the things he says and does that he himself admits are difficult to understand, even hidden from plain view. We have told the story about Jesus for two millennia, but we too often to neglect its meaning.
Secret Teachings of All Ages: Mystic Christianity
In particular, we overlook the spiritual wisdom, the gnosis the stories convey. The light is within us all the time, ready to blaze into our lives just like the Christ child two millennia ago. The esoteric teaching of the Christmas story is about the awakening of every human being and the completely different global society that awakening creates.
It is a story of unabashed hope, because it means every life is of supreme importance. The idea of God manifesting physically in all of us—no exceptions—is poetically conveyed in an early work by a sect of Sethian Gnostics:. I am First Thought, the thought that is in light. I am movement that is in the All, she in whom the All takes its stand, the firstborn among those who came to be, she who exists before the All.