Losing your way
A plain guide to Occult Knowledge and Truth
We receive very many emails from seekers who are adrift in a sea of conflicting and contradictory Occult teachings, not knowing which are true. We generally refer them to our recommended books, or specific articles for more information, and rarely hear from them again.
The kindest interpretation we can draw from their silence is that they have found what they were looking for and taken a step, or even several steps forward, on the path to the Light. But it is equally possible that they remain just as confused as they were when they wrote to us, but for a variety of reasons, do not want to admit it. Other seekers refuse to accept any teachings that are not endorsed by a world-famous 'guru' or channeled by a New Age prophet from a dead Tibetan monk. Yet others have binged so long on conspiracy theories and psychic 'readings' that the simple Truths of occult science are not colourful enough for them. Such are those who crave 'exciting' adventures on the astral plane, wish to be 'thrilled' by the spirits or channel 'angels' and extraterrestrials.
These are harsh words. But they arise from our own personal experience, for we were just such confused seekers when we began our own search for Truth. And we do so want to help YOU — who are reading this — avoid some of the mistakes we made all those years ago. It is inevitable, even desirable, that we should all go astray in some way, for unless we are exposed to untruth how are we supposed to recognise its opposite? It is our sincere hope that this article will encourage you to look in the right places and in the right way. What do we mean by this? One example of the wrong places are the teachings (but by no means all) which come under the broad umbrella of the 'New-Age', 'New Thought' etc. Few of these teachings agree with one another. Even fewer say anything that has not been said far better in the past by such spiritual teachers as Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Krishna, Hermes, Plato, or Pythagoras. All these Masters taught the same truths; truths which are Eternal and Unchanging.
The same cannot be said for much of the material emanating from 'New Age' sources. The obsession with 'angels' (which are simply the 'spirit-guides' of 19th Century Spiritualists under a new name), crystals, 'Reiki', 'Tantra', 'Cabala', 'Yoga', 'developing chakras' and similar subjects do not, and cannot, give us a rational and complete explanation of who and what Man really is, whence he comes and whither he is going. Nor do any of them provide us with a clear and consistent picture of the universe and our place within it, such as we can find in the Vedas, the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, Plato's dialogues or H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine. If we wish to know the true facts in relation to any subject we must go to the source, or as close to it as we can get; this is reasonable, is it not?
Another example of the 'wrong places' are the very many seekers who look for answers from extraterrestrials and in the various theories, speculations and conspiracies dreamed up by such writers as Erich von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin. We once read that 10 million Americans believe in alien abduction, claim to have been abducted, or would like to be abducted. If this is true then we are tempted to say 10 million Americans have had their common sense 'abducted'! Our personal conviction is that much of the fascination with reptilian aliens and ancient astronauts is largely the result of the secular nature of modern life and the decline in genuine religious faith. Many mystically-minded people now turn to outer, rather than inner space, to appease their hunger for the mystery, magic and emotional satisfaction which was once the province of the various religions and faiths. Ancient astronauts 'seeding' planet earth have replaced the 'Elohim' who created mankind according to the Bible. 'Greys' and shape-shifting lizards now conspire against us instead of devils and demons. The supernatural actors have changed their clothes and the stage is dressed differently, but the play is the same as it has always been. Moreover, the audience have as little idea of what goes on behind the scenes as they did when dogmatic religion held sway over their minds. In short, extraterrestrial moonshine has replaced religious dogma and we are by no means sure that the replacement is any improvement.
Whereas the angels who talked with Enoch when the world was young had something worthwhile to communicate to mortals, ask yourself if the same can truly be said of the teachings emanating from their contemporary substitutes in silver spacesuits? If you are honest, you will concede that the vast majority of the material put out by Sitchin and others has clearly been written by human beings better acquainted with the jargon of advertising agencies than the sublime prose of the Sermon on the Mount. Contrast this with the advice to the seeker after Truth in the sidebar on your right which has been adapted from The Quest or Ruru. Or compare the following two alien 'messages' chosen at random (currently to be found on the Internet) with the Teachings of the truly Wise. First the New Age jargon:
"We can offer you a more holistic vision of the universe and of life, constructive interactions, the experience of fair and fraternal relationships, liberating technical knowledge, eradication of suffering, controlled exercise of individual powers, the access to new forms of energy and, finally, a better comprehension of consciousness."
"We have the unique opportunity to move from the deepest of density to the highest of frequencies—where we shift from linear to multi-dimensional living. To heal ourselves, to raise our frequency from one of despair and fear to one of great inspiration and love, the Pleiadians urge us to rethink and re-evaluate our lives."
And now, the same sentiments expressed by two great teachers thousands of years ago, but rather more simply, clearly and beautifully:
"In joining himself to the divine, man disdains that which he has in him of the earthly; he connects himself by a bond of love to all other beings, and thereby feels himself necessary to the universal order."
(Hermes Trismegistus, ca. 2000 B.C.)
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
We confess that we haven't the slightest idea what is meant by the words 'shift from linear to multi-dimensional living', and doubt the author of this incomprehensible gobbledygook does either. But it sounds impressive! The whole point of such jargon is to convince the reader that he or she is the privileged recipient of some choice piece of secret wisdom. No matter that we don't understand it, so long as we are impressed by it. The problem is that the more we listen to such convoluted gas-works the harder it is for us to discern real TRUTH. Our minds become so stuffed full of this gibberish that we actually begin to think and talk similar gibberish too! And that is why we have given you these examples, so you will recognise such nonsense when you encounter it in future and so learn to avoid it.
In the name of not-so-common sense, if there were anything of value in such alleged extraterrestrial 'revelations' is it likely that all the great philosophers and teachers of the past were unaware of them? But ah! you may say, these are new revelations specifically for the present generation who clearly need saving before they blow themselves to kingdom come. Poppycock is our answer. A short perusal of the real history of this sorely-troubled earth will quickly show that there have been many generations of mankind who were just as materialistic as ourselves, if not more so, and just as hell-bent on self-destruction. Yet there is no evidence that they were ever visited by 'alien supermen' determined to rescue them from the results of their selfishness, greed and stupidity. The really sad part of all this is that the books spawned by the proponents of Sitchin's silly fantasies sell in their millions while the works of such writers as J Michaud PhD remain virtually unknown and unread. If this tells us nothing else, it tells us that Truth was, is and always will be about as popular as a dose of 'flu.
We have now given you examples of 'wrong places'. What about 'wrong ways'? Well, let us begin with lack of attention and laziness. Few seekers pursue any course of study with sufficient concentration, discipline and consistency. Many give up their studies after a few desultory attempts, blaming their teacher, the studies or lack of time; anything to avoid taking personal responsibility for their lack of purpose, discipline or laziness. Others begin with a great display of fiery enthusiasm, but like rockets shot into space, fall down to earth again in the form of ashes and dust. To join the other dusty ashes of previous seekers whose wings were not strong enough to maintain their flight for more than a few moments. Like moths dazzled by a lamp, they flit from book to book, teacher to teacher, group to group, discarding, picking up, dipping here, sipping there, mixing this and that, ever searching, never finding. In the end such minds become so stuffed full of second-hand opinions acquired from third-rate scribblers that there is no room in them to allow the smallest particle of Truth to penetrate this melting-pot of crackbrained speculations, mystical mumbo-jumbo and pseudo-scientific fantasies. If you have any experience of occult and mystical studies you will know that we write the truth, unpalatable as it may be to some.
The problem is that without the disciplined mental and spiritual training provided by a genuine Teacher, it is almost impossible for the average seeker to discern the true from the false in occult teachings. This is why the genuine Mystical and Occult Orders insist on a period of preparation, purification and probation, lasting from one to two or more years. During this time the occult student is carefully trained to sift the true from the false and to bring order out of the chaos of their thinking. This is done by learning to reason from universal principles first, then tracing them out in their particular manifestations and operations. This is the exact opposite of the so-called 'scientific method' and most academic teaching, which reasons from particulars only and so never arrives at the truth about anything. For the number of possible particulars of any material thing, be it an ant or a human being, are endless, whereas the universal principles, or universal laws (the same thing) which are the cause of all that we behold or experience, are very few in number.
In this way the occult student gradually acquires a complete understanding of the subjects studied, and is able to fit every new piece of knowledge into a consistent and rational scheme that satisfies both the head and the heart. This tried and tested system goes back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, India and beyond. It is the complete antithesis of the New Age habit of indiscriminately mixing up dozens of different religious and mystical beliefs and practises, and bombarding the student with an overload of information. Such methods can only result in further confusion and chaotic thinking. 'Purification', by the way, has nothing to do with morality or 'sex' as they are commonly understood, but refers primarily to the process of cleansing the mind of wrong thinking and wrong beliefs.
Another 'wrong way' is to expect to progress in spiritual or mystical studies without hard work. One might as well expect to 'squeeze' in a bit of practical brain surgery, or master the intricacies of particle physics in between playing computer games or visits to the pub! Too busy earning a living, surfing the Internet, playing football, re-decorating the house, and of course, 'relaxing' with a stiff drink (or several) from these exertions, are all excuses we have heard a thousand times from otherwise well-intentioned and intelligent seekers. This is not to say that we are against 'fun', a drink or two, or any of the other normal pursuits we all share as human beings. Nor do we despise those who work hard to make money in various ways. No, what we wish to dispel is the naive and lazy hope that one can master the occult sciences without giving anything up. It cannot be done. Everything has its price.
Having committed some of our valuable time, energy and devotion to occult studies, we cannot then put them aside whenever Life's circumstances become difficult, hoping to 'pick them up again' when we have 'more time', 'things are easier,' or we've finished redecorating the house. If we stop climbing the mountain it will be a hundred times harder to continue the ascent later. If you think about it, you will realise that we are all endowed with the same amount of time each 24 hours of every day; no one has one second more or less to his or her credit. It is the use we make of these seconds that counts. We can choose to devote time to occult study, meditation and spiritual matters, or we can spend it in front of the TV, a computer screen, or working our selves to death, as so many do . . . the choice is always ours. Earthly life is one long series of tests and trials and no one is immune from them, however elevated or privileged their situation in life may seem to be. Whether such tests and trials manifest as ill-health, financial difficulties, personal problems, or anything else under the sun, the wise man or woman learns from them, whereas the foolish person sinks under their own burdens.
So much for looking in the wrong places and in the wrong way, but right motivation is just as important, if not more so. H. G. Wells said that: "Losing your way on a journey is unfortunate. But, losing your reason for the journey is a fate more cruel." There is much truth in this. We have known, and do know, many seekers who started their search after Truth for the best of reasons, but conducted it in the wrong way, ending up in the wrong places, and so lost sight of their goals. Not that we blame them for this, for as we may read in The Secret Doctrine:
"Sitting at the threshold of Light, he looks into it from within the Circle of Darkness, which he will not cross; nor will he quit his post till the last day of this Life-cycle. Why does the Solitary Watcher remain at his self-chosen post? Why does he sit by the Fountain of Primeval Wisdom, of which he drinks no longer, for he has nought to learn which he does not know—aye, neither on this Earth nor in its Heaven?
Because the lonely, sore-footed Pilgrims, on their journey back to their Home, are never sure, to the last moment, of not losing their way in this limitless desert of Illusion and Matter called Earth-Life. Because he would fain show the Way to that region of freedom and light from which he is a voluntary exile himself, to every prisoner who has succeeded in liberating himself from the bonds of flesh and illusion. Because, in short, he has sacrificed himself for the sake of Man-kind, though but a few elect may profit by the GREAT SACRIFICE."
Compare these sublime words with the examples of 'extraterrestrial wisdom' quoted earlier. Do you see the very great difference in style and the compassionate understanding it shows of the frailties of mankind? There is a Divine Music in such words, which, unless all our higher faculties are completely atrophied, speak to us in ways which the jargon-laden verbiage of the pretenders to wisdom and imposters of truth can never do. We all have the freedom to accept such teachings or turn to the fantasies of New Age prophets. Which do YOU prefer? This is where motive is so important. What do YOU hope to GAIN through the study of Occult Science? Is it money, fame, power and the satisfaction of your own petty, personal desires? If so, let us answer you in the words of Trithemius of Spanheim, the 16th Century German occultist and alchemist:
"If these are thy hopes and desires, thou hast reason to lament thy being born: all such desires are immediately from the devil, I mean that Being whose engines (i.e. myriads of demons) are continually in the act of placing sensual delights and luxuries before the depraved minds and hearts of man, and whose chief business and property it is to counteract the benevolent actions and inspirations of those blessed spirits who are the instruments of God our Creator."
Every sincere seeker will surely recognise the truth of these grand words. The 'devil' that Trithemius refers to is of course nothing more nor less than our own lower nature, animal desires and selfish passions, and all the rest of the negative characteristics of the lower self at its worst.
The enemy within us all
It is the same lower self — the enemy within us all — which prevents so many seekers from admitting the smallest particle of Truth, lest it weaken the hold it has over their thoughts and desires. For the same reasons, such seekers generally have a VERY high opinion of their own abilities and become most indignant if you should be foolish enough to point out their abysmal ignorance, ineptitude and gullibility. We say 'foolish' advisedly, for no truly wise man or woman would ever do such a thing, except in a general way, as we have attempted to do in this article. Firstly, because to attempt to correct a fool is like continually throwing a stone into the air in the hope it will stay up, and secondly, because the wise were all such fools once . . . and charity begins at home! No, the wise man or woman who has learned the true laws and principles of Occult Science, wisely hold their peace when confronted with a foolish person or foolish and wrong beliefs and thinking. They may send forth a loving thought or prayer to the Higher Powers to ask that they enlighten such unfortunates, but they would never openly condemn or criticize them. For we repeat: we were all such fools once, including the writer of this article! The only difference between a wise man and a fool is that the fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. And no, we are not playing with words here, simply stating a profound truth, for those who have the wit to comprehend the nature of folly and wisdom; think it over!
We end this article with a quotation from J Michaud PhD, from whose books we have drawn so much of the content of this website, and whose sane and sensible advice to seekers we give in the sidebar on your right:
"If you have ever seen the swirling streams of anxious and bewildered lower evolved human beings that flow in huge torrents around the astral spheres, you will know that no effort you can make here is too hard, no service you can give is too great, no love you can offer is too selfless, in order to escape from the maelstrom of wandering beings, who know not what has happened to them or where they are, and whose sad eyes look at you, imploring you to come to their aid. Or else they float about in space, tenuous and vapourish semblances of what they used to be on earth, alternatively cursing and praying, loving and hating; wraiths . . . God's lost children . . . until they again are enslaved in the bonds of flesh which to them seems salvation, to endure further servitude, until at last they are found worthy to be shown the WAY."
How sad these words are and how true. Yet there is comfort and hope in them too. You may not consider life on earth to be servitude at all. You may love every minute of your time here, especially if you count yourself among the wealthy, healthy and privileged. But there are others who know that life on earth is at best a dream and can become a living nightmare in the blink of eye when disaster strikes. Such know, or at least feel that there exists a higher and better life elsewhere and this becomes the driving force behind their search for Truth and enlightenment. Where and how we seek it is entirely in our hands. But we hope that this article has given you many good reasons to go to the fountainhead of Wisdom and so avoid the muddied pools and turbid tributaries of half-truths and false beliefs. If you do so, you are unlikely to lose your way, for the pure Light of Truth will be your guiding star, as bright and shining as the Sun.
© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article added 14 November 2013. Updated 17 April 2022.