One of my favorite Bob Dylan lines is, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” This insight can be applied to many facets of life, where something that has become evident through experience or intuited thinking gets ahead of conventional means of framing our understanding of the world.
Sensitivity to many issues now being thrust upon us can be overwhelming as we contend with the like of extreme nationalism, hyper income disparity and environmental destruction. Even further “out there,” UFO investigations corroborate belief in the presence of extraterrestrial visitors among us, and research into near-death-experiences is preparing the way for acceptance of afterlife and reincarnation.
There appears to be change underfoot that goes beyond the capacity of our current institutions to handle. The weatherman and his like, the traditional sources of knowledge, appear deficient.
Perhaps it is time to look beyond conventional sources to better comprehend these turbulent times. Esotericism provides one such alternative road map.
What is esotericism and how would it give context to the forces reshaping our world? Esotericism is a body of knowledge first introduced to the Western world in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky, author of The Secret Doctrine. Essentially, esotericism offers a grand hypothesis describing the evolutionary process as well as the underlying forces shaping all that we experience. In addition, esotericism presents a methodology for controlling those forces.
Blavatsky’s ideas were connected to a highly evolved group of Tibetan and Indian individuals, called Masters of Wisdom in esoteric literature. In the 19th century they concluded that many Westerners had reached the state of consciousness where they could utilize esoteric knowledge in a manner that would advance planetary evolution. These Masters identified Blavatsky as being the best available transmitter of this information. With their help, Blavatsky traveled to Tibet for study, digesting the most ancient of manuscripts in order to translate the esoteric concepts for Western audiences.
Building upon their work with Blavatsky, the Masters planned a second stage for the dissemination of esoteric knowledge. Their primary collaborator then was the early 20th century writer Alice Bailey. Working with a Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, and transcribing his words through a telepathic process, Bailey produced a vast amount of material conveying the esoteric philosophy. She also foretold a time in this 21st century when these Masters would emerge and work openly in the world.
Esotericists link this emergence to the transition between the ages of Pisces and Aquarius. This is a period of turmoil; and as with other such transitions, esotericists claim, there comes forward an avatar, or representative of extra-planetary forces, to guide humanity. Esotericists say that the Master whose name is Maitreya will serve this role for the Aquarian age. (Most of the major religions also embrace the idea of a coming spiritual leader; many esotericists believe that these are all the same individual.)
In the most recent stage of work for the Masters, a third esotericist, Benjamin Creme, was given the task in 1975 of informing the public of the identify and purpose of Maitreya. Until his death in 2016, Creme wrote and traveled extensively to bring attention and prepare humanity for the advent of this Aquarian avatar.
Blavatsky, Bailey and Creme created separate organizations to carry forward their work. These are the Theosophical Society by Blavatsky, Lucis Trust by Bailey, and Share International by Creme. All of these organizations still exist and serve educational purposes. While the core underpinnings of esotericism are commonly presented, each of the three esotericists brought forward new ideas and applications of esoteric principles. To an extent the esoteric community has been splintered with some within each of the organizations questioning the genuineness of those associated with the other branches of esotericism.
This noise related to debates over authenticity of the various esoteric authors underscores the need for circumspection. No one is encouraged to accept esoteric teachings without digging deeply. For example, the aforementioned Djwhal Khul includes the following advisory in every one of the 19 books he wrote with the assistance of Alice Bailey: “The books that I have written are sent out with no claim for their acceptance. They may, or may not, be correct, true and useful. It is for you to ascertain their truth by right practice, and by the exercise of the intuition.”
Esotericists suggest three avenues of practice for supporting one’s own evolution, as well as to strengthen the ability to assess the validity of the esoteric books. First, meditate to connect the lower self, and concrete thinking, to the higher self, the source of intuition; second, study esoteric literature or pursue other disciplines that foster abstract thinking; and third, serve, this means sacrificing oneself to some higher cause. It is said that one’s progress along the evolutionary path can accelerate based on commitment to these practices, from lifetime to lifetime.
Moving from the individual to the global, esoteric writings identify steps humanity must take in order to advance, and avoid self-destruction. We must achieve peace with justice — a justice esotericists link to the recognition that all of humanity is interconnected as a single body and necessitating the sharing of resources so that each individual can reach their potential. Furthermore, the corruption within our institutions (based on separative thinking and behavior) must be rooted out. Today this translates into an imperative for action to address global warming as well as hunger and homelessness, and supporting universal freedom of expression and access to health care and educational opportunity. It also calls for holding faith and political leaders accountable for their injustices or inaction.
Esotericists echo Bob Dylan’s awareness that the times they are a changing…the old road is rapidly aging, and we are advised to get out of the new one if we can’t lend a hand. While the detail of future events might not be known, we can gain insight into the sweeping pattern of change we are facing, the new road we are on, with the guidance found within the ancient road map of esotericism.