Beyond the Beginner’s Spiritual Way of Saint Jesus and the Traditions of Mystical Cosmic Ascent via Spirit-Breath
By The Avataric Great Sage, Adi Da Samraj
(this book was later published as Pneumaton)
The Dogmas of Social Morality Versus the Esoteric Spiritual Teaching That Is At the Origin of Traditional Religions
The principal Scripture (or holy book) of the tradition of the Western world is the “New Testament”. The “New Testament” communicates principles and ideas and beliefs that, more than those communicated by any other book, are responsible for conventional Western ideas about religion and Spiritual life. Although Western culture includes religious traditions other than Christianity, the dominant religious text which, in the West, tends to inform all popular notions about religion and Spirituality is the “New Testament”.
If you grew up in the Western (and predominantly Christian) cultural sphere, you are perhaps influenced by the “New Testament” more than by any other religious book. Even if you are not very familiar with the “New Testament”, you have (nevertheless) been impressed, over the years, with certain conventions of religious presumption of which the “New Testament” is the source. The conceptions associated with the traditional interpretation of the “New Testament” are not only part of the religious teaching of Christian churches, but part of Western culture in general. Through your schooling, through your childhood religious training, and through the influence of those with whom you were associated as a child—even though they might not have spoken of religion—you have been greatly influenced by these conceptions, some of which are directly communicated in the “New Testament” itself and others of which are simply traditions that are, by extension, associated with “New Testament” religion.
Everyone is dominated, to one or another degree, by conceptions of life that have their origin in exoteric religious culture. Even though scientism (or scientific materialism) is tending to displace exoteric religion as a way of knowing, exoteric religion still tends to be the basis for present-day morality and social conceptions. In fact, exoteric religion has traditionally always been associated with moral and social conceptions. Thus, if you are, by birth, a Westerner, and even if you were not brought up as a Christian, you have, since your birth, experienced propaganda that is, at least in its origins, both conventionally religious and specifically Christian. And the basic intention of all such conventionally religious propaganda has been to convince you—and, thus, the collective of everyone—that certain kinds of behaviors are appropriate and other kinds of behaviors are not appropriate.
Every present-day legal system—and even the entire body of social contracts by which people are related in their daily lives—has its justification in the tradition of exoteric religion. Therefore, in a time when the legitimacy of exoteric religion as a way of knowing is being undermined by scientism, so (likewise) is the political and social order simultaneously being undermined by scientism. This is not only a time when individuals are moving from exoteric (and, thus, collectively enforced) religious ways of knowing towards materialistic and secular and even individualistic ways of knowing, but this is also a time when society as a whole is becoming corrupted and made chaotic by those same tendencies—and, therefore, new political forces are arising in immediate coincidence with the new cultural forces.
Human beings are more and more impinged upon by the forces of political materialism—while, at the same time, they are impinged upon culturally by the forces of scientific materialism. The way of knowing in a culture cannot be changed unless the way of keeping order is changed at the same time—and Western society has kept order for many centuries through exoteric religious belief, exoteric religious presumptions, and exoteric religious conventions of behavior.
If, all of a sudden, exoteric religion is “discovered” to be untrue, and if, as a replacement for the “point of view” of exoteric religion, the “point of view” communicated through scientific materialism dominates the present culture, then the traditional justifications for so-called “moral” behavior have, as a consequence, been abandoned—and not yet replaced with a viable public alternative. Therefore, how will the necessary public order be maintained? A new political force is, under the circumstances, required, to replace the moral programs of exoteric religion. Thus, all kinds of political idealisms arose in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—revolutionary ideas, communistic ideas, egalitarian ideas, socialistic ideas, capitalistic ideas, all kinds of political experimenting—the basic purpose of which is to keep people in order, to keep material production going, to maintain public peace, to make life somehow acceptable to the people—so the people will not rise in revolt, or go mad, or create chaos.
The rise of new political idealisms is coinciding with the new cultural circumstance, and not only is all of this dominant in the West but it is, likewise, dominant all over the everywhere-“Westernized” world (East and West). This change in the orientation of the mind of humankind has gradually been developing since the Renaissance era in Western (European) culture. The conventions of human orientation began to change in the period of the Western Renaissance—from a sacred orientation to an orientation to the human individual, from Deity-centeredness to ego-centeredness, from ecstasy and sainthood to “Narcissism” and ego-possession, from sacred culture to secular culture, from a dominantly right-brained culture to a now dominantly left-brained culture.
As this transformation has occurred in the world, the ancient cultural supports have lost their legitimacy. This does not mean that the ancient exoteric religious cultural supports did not have anything to do with what is right. Those exoteric religious supports were, in a rudimentary (and Reality-“objectifying”) sense, based upon the general (and, in principle, right and positive) intention to make life sacred. It is simply that the ancient exoteric modes of the “objectification” of Reality have (themselves) now—and rightly—lost their legitimacy in people’s minds. However, as a result of that change of mind, the principle of the “sacred” (or of the understanding and managing of life based upon the intrinsic Truth of universal prior unity) has also—and not at all rightly—been lost.
A way of thinking that had only secondary importance in the ancient world has now become dominant. Human-centeredness has become the acceptable convention of mind. Human knowing is now devoted to analytical reductionism, or the process of reducing everything to the individual human being, to human processes, to humankind in the lowest, most rudimentary—
or material—sense. Many social and cultural enterprises remain valuable, with the potential to improve the condition of humanity, yet a profoundly destructive (materialistic, analytical, disunitary, and anti-sacral) philosophical enterprise is also operative at the same time. It is this latter development that I Criticize.
Science as a conditional method of enquiry, as an effective practical method of investigation for the sake of acquiring natural knowledge (and subsequent power to control natural conditions of existence) is, obviously, legitimate. Yet, science, from the beginning, has also (and otherwise) been associated with the ego-centered orientation (and, thus, with the fixed “point of view” perspective) and, altogether, with the ancient (conventional and naive) philosophy of materialism—and it has, on that basis, also, been associated with the arising of co-emerging political movements. Present-day humankind is being both culturally and politically controlled—not only by science itself (which has an inherent, but also inherently limited, legitimacy), but also by the philosophy of materialism (which is inherently ignorant, gross, merely analytical, de-constructive, reductionistic, exclusivistic, and naively oppressive). And, as science and the philosophy of materialism progressively exclude all other forms of knowing, human beings are becoming more and more dominated by political materialism—or the forces that are keeping order independent of sacred (or unitive) consciousness and authority.
This is not to say that the cultural means whereby order was kept in the past were entirely benign. Exoteric religious “authority” is not necessarily (or even characteristically) associated with anything that has remotely to do with the Truth, or with Reality Itself, or with Divine Self-Realization, or even with the transcending of egoity.
In the Western world particularly, the institutional (or corporate) “authority” of the exoteric Christian Church has been the principal means whereby the State creates political and social order. Now that the State is associated with scientific materialism and not with religious doctrine, the State must find other means for creating order. Thus, the State is, generally speaking, no longer basing its own (corporate) “authority” on the (corporate) “authority” of the “official” Church. And, for the most part (even though some still cling, nostalgically, to the “old days”, of obedience to corporate exoteric religious “authority”), people are no longer politically and socially controlled (or, otherwise, willing to be controlled) by exoteric religious “authority”—at least, not sufficiently to keep order.
In its origins, what later became institutionalized (or corporate, and “official”) “Christianity” was a small cult (or sect) of cultural “outsiders”, with its “inner circle” associated with an esoteric Spiritual teaching. Outwardly, however, in its public preaching, even that essentially esoteric sect was associated with more general religious and social principles—and, through the process of that public preaching, people were gradually brought into the inner core of the esoteric life of the sect. In the early centuries of the Common Era, there were, everywhere, many sects which were (fundamentally) esoteric sects—to one degree or another revolutionary (or of a critical, or “outsider’s”, disposition) in relation to the religious exotericism of the “official” religion of the public institutions and the then-current political conventions of the State.
After about three centuries (by which time much of the esoteric Spiritual basis of the original pre-“Christian” sect had been lost), the Emperor (Constantine) engineered the cultural-historical shift that formally established the dogmatic basis for the institutionalizing of an “official” version of (exclusively exoteric) Christianity, and that eventually (within a few decades) resulted in that exoteric institution of (thus dogmatically defined) Christianity becoming the “official” religion of the Roman State. Since that time, either “official” (exoteric) Christianity has functioned as an arm of the State, or (otherwise) the State has, in some sense, functioned as an arm of the “official” (exoteric) Christian Church. As centuries passed, the relationship between Church and State changed—such that the exoteric Christian Church now plays a remarkably different role, and is gradually being excluded, having lost its previous presumed legitimacy and public “authority”.
However, the exoteric Christian Church’s loss of power in the political and social realms is a relatively recent development. With the original union between “official” Christianity and the State of Rome, Christianity became the force whereby political and social order was developed and maintained in the Western world. To maintain order (and not Truth) was its function as an institution. Obviously, such an institution is not intended to be communicating esoteric teachings to the masses—since esoteric communications are intended to serve the higher, and greater, and (characteristically) Spiritual or (otherwise) Transcendental purposes of Truth-Realization (in the case of, necessarily, more mature people, who have already out-grown the boundaries of merely exoteric, or public, “schooling”). Because esoteric teachings take off where exoteric teachings have come to a developmental end, esoteric communications do not tend to enforce political and social order. On the contrary, esoteric (and, generally, ecstatic) teachings tend not to bring about a conventional political and social order—because esoteric teachings presume a prior (or already achieved) state of order, at least within the heart and mind and life of the individual esoteric practitioner.
As a case in point, Jesus of Galilee proclaimed an ecstatic, esoteric Spiritual message. His message was not a program for bringing order to politics and general society—nor was such order the purpose of the earliest institutionalized Christians, who were purposed to religious devotion (and even to mystical life), and who were, in any case, in no position to command the State of Rome.
Because their guiding purpose was “not of this world” (and, therefore, of no political use as a tool of social order), Rome regarded the early Christians as enemies—and the early Christians were persecuted by the State, as various other similarly “unusable” religious sects were. But when the Christians eventually came into power as the “official authority”, those features of Christianity that are oriented to the conventions of public (and altogether exoteric) religion—the purpose of which is to maintain political and social order—became the dominant communication of “official” Christianity. When that “officialdom” took hold of Christianity, its otherwise more esoteric dimensions—which were the real (“inner-circle”) force at its origin—were systematically eliminated, primarily because esoteric teachings have nothing to do with managing either a great State or any kind of larger common social entity (of ordinary, and, generally, immature, or only exoteric-ready, and not at all esoteric-ready, people). A religion that is to be the “official” religion of a great State (or even any larger common social entity) must be essentially exoteric, and, thus, fundamentally oriented to maintaining social principles, social morality, conventions of behavior that maintain political and social order, and productive participation in work life, and positive participation in the larger collective of “community” life, and, altogether, universal subordination to the parent-like State (and to the parent-like “official” State-religion) and, thus, universal conformity to the will of the hierarchical political (and religious) “authority” (or “authority”-structure) of the time.
Therefore, the “New Testament” (and the tradition of Christianity as a whole) must be seen in relation to both the esoteric sect from which it arose and the exoteric institution that largely replaced it (and even all esotericism) with the systematic exotericism of ordinary political and social purposes that has, traditionally, been served by public corporate religion in the Western world.