Sunday, November 26, 2006

esoteric practice

It's sometimes argued, in exoteric practice (for example, the Christian church) that esotericism is unworthy. Unnecessary. Folded in upon itself. In some cases it is even scorned as opposite to proper Christian practice. The active wants life to point outwards. Everyone ought to be out there saving the world, not sitting in a passive meditative mode, treading water.

In today's world, exoteric institutions cultivate an aggressive outwardness that is distasteful to esotericists in the same way. For the contemplative, everything points inwards. Not for us, the crass commercialism of contemporary religious culture! We're more organic. Those outward folks are missing the whole point.

The two sides of the question spend much energy objecting to each other. Such disagreement misses the point; what is forgotten is that a balanced work requires three types of "directional practice": exoteric, mesoteric, and esoteric. We could call them outward, convergent, and inward if we wish.

Left to itself, any one of these paths becomes a dead end. It's the exchange and dynamic between them that creates a living structure. Monasteries can't get membership without churches and congregations. Churches can't attract potential monks unless their practice is informed by a vital esoteric core. In the middle stands the congregation- the community. At any one moment one or the other of these forms of directional practice may need to be the chief center of gravity.

Our own inner lives are no different. We need our esoteric, our deeply inner, practice. We also need an attention to our mesoteric practice, that is, the place where inner and outer intersect (the place where our many "I"'s congregate.) Then we need the exoteric practice, when we live and work outwardly. The blending of the three elements creates a whole that informs itself by the inward flow of the outer towards the inner, and the reverse process, whereby what is formed inwardly reciprocates by informing the mesoteric self in its response to the outer ("wisdom.")

So my inner work (centered around essence) needs to discover its right relationship within an effective mesoteric and exoteric side. This isn't too easy. My exoteric side (personality) is very dominant.

In this very daily life, inhabiting this organism, I want to be come more sensitive to what third force might mean in relationship to this question of the esoteric and exoteric- of essence and personality.


  1. Your blog is very enriching. I'm bookmarking it as one of my favorites.

    (P/S: I'm a Buddhist.)


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