May 06 2013

Gems from Hidden Wisdom

Published by at 9:50 pm under Consciousness,Esotericism,newage,Spirituality

Hidden Wisdom

Hidden Wisdom by Jay Smoley & Richard Kinney

Some notes from Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions by Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney:

“Though it is all too rarely spoken of in esoteric literature or at New Age workshops, the specter of madness haunts the spiritual search. To point this out should not be dismissed as mere pessimism or negativity.

“A recurring motif of the esoteric traditions is the realm of the unseen – other dimensions, invisible entities, inner planes, etheric bodies, energy centers, planetary forces, hidden masters, the list goes on and on. While it may prove necessary to grant a provisional reality to such claims in the course of inner exploration, there lies a real danger in swallowing them wholesale and proceeding blithely onward. It is all too easy to project one’s wishes or fears onto the twilight zone of the invisible, reading deep portents into chance occurrences and seeing connections where none actually exist.

“Some people with a tendency toward paranoia are strongly attracted to the esoteric precisely because it mirrors their secret fears: Unseen forces affect our lives, consensus reality is a sham, the universe is somehow converging on our personal slice of life. The spiritual landscape is littered with erstwhile magicians and addled mystics who jumped into esoteric belief systems that were more than their sanity could bear and – most significantly – more than their closely watched personal experience had borne out.

“Which leads us to [a] skill that it would be wise to cultivate: the ability to maintain a simultaneous belief and disbelief in all matters esoteric until you have undeniably experienced them for yourself. Let us call this ‘faithful skepticism.’

“Exoteric religions encourage unquestioning belief in their tenets based on the authority of scripture or institutional leadership. For many of us, this is inadequate and unpersuasive. But by the same token, blind faith in esoteric traditions or the fascinating revelations of mystics and clairvoyants is no more advisable.

“The kind of ‘knowing’ that one finds in gnosis is personally verified. It isn’t based on the hearsay of another’s experience or revelation any more than it is based on theological dogma or belief. Even when you have experienced something that seems real, it is well to compare notes with an experienced teacher and keep room in your worldview for the possibility that it is all in your imagination.

“…No matter how shattering the truths revealed, how overwhelming the feelings unleashed, or how fascinating the manner in which ‘it all fits together,’ the fate of the universe does not hinge on convincing others of your truth. In fact, should you feel compelled to broadcast your revelations to the masses, it is a sure sign that the ego has seized hold of an insight and inflated it into a life raft.

“The paradox of gnosis is the realization that we are each simultaneously a speck of dust and Absolute Being. Esoteric work may lead us to this realization, but it remains for us to keep both sides of the equation in balance.” (pp. 311-313)

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