The series of photographs accompanying these posts on secrecy are all a night blooming Cereus plant which graces our household with its blossoms on an annual basis. These photographs are from the recent flowering of Aug 11-12.
The outer practice is never secret. Every single thing I can encounter in "real" life, that is, external life, is always a translation of the inner. Anything that arrives as an expression in the outer world and is revealed by one to another, no matter how "esoteric" and "secret" it may claim to be, is actually not a secret. This is obvious for a number of reasons, the most tangible being that anything which has been revealed no longer has the character of secrecy. It is already shared; and the only actual secrets that can exist are inner secrets which are never revealed. The moment they are revealed to another, they lose both their character and their efficacy.
By never revealed, I mean, secrets that emerge from within as a shared covenant between an individual and God, which must never under any circumstances be leaked to the outside world. One of the tests of inner initiation is whether or not one has the ability to discriminate between that which can be revealed and that which cannot. Swedenborg did; this is why so much was vouchsafed to him, and why he said, on his deathbed, that he could have said much more about what God showed him if it had been permitted.
A man or woman must know in their innermost heart of hearts what is permitted and what isn't. This ability is very much lacking in today's world, because everything is measured by the outward. Don't be fooled. There are real secrets; but they are all inner, and you must come to them yourself.
Part of the action of sin is that it co-exists within, in the innermost part of a man, as a hidden secret which he does not share with the world; this is one of the most essential esoteric understandings of Gurdjieff's ideas about inner lying and what it means, also covered at length by Swedenborg when he revealed that these same inner lies are what determine a man or woman's eligibility to enter heaven after death.
The overarching reason for the practice of self-observation is to learn how to see these inner lies, and to live in perpetual close contact with one's own sin. This is what it means to know one's self; to know how one actually is, to see how the inner lies contaminate the sacred places in which the inner covenant with God is created and grows. I cannot understand who I am, how I am, and what all of this means unless I understand the idea of secrets in general, and inner secrets in particular.
It may seem old fashioned to go on about sin; after all, we're so modern these days, especially in the various groovy newfangled esoteric practices, that we somehow want to pretend that it doesn't exist. Yet there is, as Gurdjieff pointed out in his allegory of Purgatory, a contamination in the root and at the heart of Being that cannot be expunged. This isn't just an allegory; it is a fact that can be sensually, organically experienced, and one must be willing to come into depressingly close contact with it over an extended period of time just to see its extent.
This practice is in itself dangerous, because getting close enough to see sin personally and with awareness also puts one directly in harm's way, since any closer contact makes both its nature and its power more evident. This is why tantric practices like Tibetan Buddhism have so many fiercely protective power-beings who symbolically preside over inner actions. One needs to invoke supernatural protection in order to get close enough to truly see one's sin, because it is a deeply intimate action.
Once one gets close enough to sin to truly see it, you can be sure, it wants to have you. It, too, is a living thing; but it is a force from the underworld, an involutionary element.
A great deal more could be said about sin here, but the essential thrust of this essay is to expound on the nature of inner secrecy. The nature of a man's inner struggle for purification cannot ever be conducted outwardly, and to the extent that a person's inner practice is revealed to others, it dissipates.
This means that an adept must create an inner firewall of sorts, beyond which any passage of one's own secret practice into the outside world is forbidden. Temptation comes in many guises, and one of them is the temptation to breach this wall, which is exactly what the involutionary force hopes for.
Think carefully on this.
May your soul be filled with light.