(Translated by Kirill Zubarev)
A one’s limited mind, at first superficial sight, perceives each religion as different one from another. Each religion has its own gods, holy books, prayers, rituals, holy places and temples, as well as numerous rules by which believers should live. What, in one religion, is considered as a virtue, in another one can be a sin. For example, a killing of a cow for Hindus, is a more grave sin than a murder of a common man, while in some other religions during the holidays, it is normal to slaughter the cattle. In the synagogue and the mosque it is prohibited to enter with an uncovered head, but in the Orthodox Church men cannot wear any headdress. Jews are not allowed to mention the Lord’s name in vain, while Hindus believe that the more often we recite the name of God, the better. For a Muslim drinking wine is a sin, but Christians administer communion with wine in their churches. Individual differences between some religions may seem contrary, and there are hundreds of such examples.
What is common in all religions? To answer this question, you need to see how each of them is “arranged”. Every religion has (a) a cult and b) a particular worldview. A cult, or a cultic practice, implies a specific action for a believer (for example, a prayer or attending the church). A worldview, or a world perception, includes ideas about the world and a man. The most important thing in the religious worldview is the concept of a supernatural, non-material world.
Indeed, if we take from each religion what makes it different from others, the essence will remain, the “core” which is similar to all religions. This essence says that the Universe is more complicated than it seems at first glance, and that besides the surrounding world, habitual to all the people, there is another one, an invisible world that affects what is happening around. And people should take it into consideration, correlating their behavior with certain laws. Precisely this knowledge came exactly from the people who became known afterwards as prophets, messiahs, avatars, teachers, and were the cause of all the world’s religions.
It is important to emphasize that the founders of every religion talked only about what was for them a reality, the result of their own experience. They had not faith in what they were saying, but the direct knowledge of it. The direct knowledge is a result of a direct perception; it is the same, when a sighted person knows about the existence of the sun because he sees it, while a blind man can only believe in his existence from the words of a sighted man.
That is why in every religion there is a compulsory element of faith and, as a consequence, accompanying it, there are various rituals of worship. After all, ordinary people, attracted by the miracles, the preaching and charisma of the saints, have never experienced anything similar to such experiences. So, the only way for them to touch the great Truth has been faith and worship. Churches were built, prayers and rituals were created, all that strengthened the faith and contributed to worship.
However, there were always people who were capable to do more. Due to the special methods of work on themselves such people got so much perfected themselves that they by themselves learned to experience what their teachers had been spoken about. Methods of self-perfection were passed on from a teacher to his disciples; their number grew over time, forming the whole schools.
So, every religion since its emergence developed simultaneously in two directions. First, it is a well – known and popular the external direction, based on belief and observance of religious prescriptions. This direction eventually took shape in the religious organizations with their symbols, rites and temples where believers could worship. The second direction is small and closed to the uninitiated. It is the internal, based on secret knowledge and intensive practices. This is the esoteric (from the Greek. – “internal”, “hidden”) that permitted its followers (the esoterics) to change practically themselves in accordance with the ideals proclaimed by the founders of each religion. At the same time, the esoterics through the direct experience cognized the deepest truths, which lie at the basis of all religions.
For esotericism it is important to obtain a mystical experience, and not to observe the rites and rituals, which are based on certain religious norms and rules. So, the esoterics are also called the mystics (from the Greek. – “mysterious”). Mysticism is an extension of the boundaries of perception beyond the material world. A mystic manages to touch the innermost mysteries of the Universe and of the man, basing not on his faith, but on his own experience. So, between veritable esoterics have never been any disagreements, and especially, confrontations, though they could belong to different traditions and schools. After all, the mystical experience depends on in-depth fundamental construction of the man and the Universe, and these things are the same for all people and times.
The oldest of the currently known esoteric schools appeared about 7-10 thousand years ago. Some schools have disappeared; others still represent a living tradition. Such schools were present or still exist in Jainism (Digambara), in Hinduism (schools of Hindu Tantra and yoga), Bon (Yungdrung Bon), in Buddhism (Vajrayana, Dzogchen), Taoism (“internal” alchemy, some schools of qigong), in Judaism (Hasidism, Kabbalah), in Christianity (in Orthodoxy, the Hesychasm; in Catholicism, the followers of Ignatius of Loyola, and the Malabar Christians), in Islam (many of Sufi orders), in voodoo, in the indigenous traditions of American Indians (the lines described by Carlos Castaneda), among the aborigines of Australia, in the tradition of pre-Christian Russia. Many prominent mystics (Empedocles, Pythagoras, Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme, G. I. Gurdjieff, R. Steiner, Osho Rajneesh and many others), for several reasons, can hardly be attributed to any definite tradition: they often, by themselves, created other new traditions.
Mystics have always kept their knowledge in secret because if it is misunderstood or not used properly, one can harm oneself or others. But, the majority of the representatives of traditional religions have a very negative attitude to the esotericism, without any understanding of it, and therefore, considering it a harmful heresy. They are “right”, as they care about “defense of the faith”, but not about the search for perfection. These “religious leaders” turn their religions into social organizations, which fight aggressively, basing on dead dogmas, to achieve power over the human minds. Being living words in the mouths of their founders, the initial ideas were almost always quickly destroyed by their followers, completely devoid of charisma, and therefore just only concerned about the spread of “true faith” and the creation of appropriate social institutions. So, none of the bright masters did not not fit within the framework of tradition that existed in their times (as they were already dead), and created, in turn, another tradition, a new one, which was destroyed later by its “followers”.
Esotericism is often confused with occultism, or even with black magic; however, it has nothing to do with evocation of spirits or witchcraft. They often call esotericism different prophecies about the future of the Earth, mysterious legends about the remote times, stories of invisible countries, etc. Such stories often contain a myth about a continuous secret war between the “white” and the “black”. Such theories naturally lead to the search for dark forces around (at the same time, one can, of course, attribute oneself to the representatives of the “light” forces). Such teachings are sometimes called mesotericism (from the Greek. – “average”), i.e., the middle doctrine between ordinary knowledge – exotericism (from the Greek. – “external”) and esotericism. If one sees only a small part of the truth, it is natural to think out the other part to get the whole truth according to one’s ideas about it. So, in this way mesotericism appeared.
Thus, every religion is conventionally divided into two layers – the external (ceremonial and ritual) and the internal (esoteric). These two layers of each religion (in the ideal “healthy” religion) complement each other, as they allow different people to improve themselves according to their natural capabilities. For example, there are some cases when ordinary believers during their prayer had a profound mystical experience. However, one of the tasks of esoteric practices is to teach human to achieve consciously and purposefully such states.
Sometimes the external (the ceremonial and ritual) part of the religion is compared with a body, and its inner (esoteric) part with a soul. The esotericism is like a huge iceberg, the biggest part of which is under water and it is hidden from the looks of the uninitiated.
Mystics of all times saw in the same way a majestic picture of how the Universe is arranged, how it lives and evolves. According to their discoveries, the Universe is multidimensional. In addition to our well-known material world there are many other worlds, not similar to this one. These worlds are called spatial dimensions, spaces or levels. Spatial dimensions vary in their degree of “density”. So, there are more “dense” worlds, and there are more “subtle”.
Worlds exist within the same volume, as if they were placed one into another. At the same time various levels usually interact slightly with each other. The most “dense” is the material level and the most “subtle” is the highest spatial dimension, also called the Divine level.
Each spatial dimension is filled, “inhabited” with so-called energy (not to be confused with the meaning of the word “energy” in physics), belonging to the concrete plan of creation. Energies move continuously interacting with each other and modifying themselves. Everything that happens in the numerous worlds, including our own, depends on the movements of these energies.
Consciousness is also a special kind of energy. The Supreme, the Divine level is filled with infinite consciousness, which is called the Divine Consciousness of the Universe. Universe can be compared with a man. The soul of the Universe is the Divine Consciousness, and its body is all the worlds that exist in it.
The life of the Universe, as well as a human life consists of cycles. First, there is the creation of the worlds, and then they live and develop (this period lasts for many billions of years), and then, they disappear. Everything disappears except for the Divine Consciousness that for some time is the only one that exists. Then, all that is followed by another creation of new worlds; everything is repeated, and at that, another Universe is not like the previous ones. The Present Universe is, by the way, is at the beginning of its evolution (it may upset those who is afraid looking forward to the imminent end of the world).
The creation process can be described in the following way. Some part of the Divine Consciousness condenses so that it starts to emanate from itself all the worlds even the material one. Another part of the Consciousness is dissipated in the created Universe for the subsequent formation of individual souls. The biggest part of the Divine Consciousness remains unchanged and resides in the highest spatial dimension.
After the creation of the Universe the process of evolution of consciousness starts. The whole Universe is like a “field for the cultivation of consciousness.” On planets like our native planet Earth, the dispersed energy of Divine Consciousness is deposited in the form of clots in hard rocks in their crystal lattice, thereby forming the beginnings of the future souls or individual units of consciousness. Thanks to them, the stones have memory.
Millions of years pass and the stones get destroyed. But, the formed tiny souls incarnate into plants. Being in the bodies of plants, clots of individual consciousness evolve and grow. Plants not only posses memory, but also, they are capable to experience emotions – joy, fear, etc. (remember the experiments by K. Baxter)… When a plant dies, its consciousness moves to the next plant, continuing its growth and evolution. So, gradually improving, a consciousness reincarnates into plant bodies many times.
Having exhausted the possibilities of evolution in plants, a consciousness reincarnates into the body of an animal. There are much more possibilities for further soul’s evolution. It is all due to a very complicated organism, enabling the consciousness that exists in it to grow intensively, and it happens thanks to the abundance of various situations that every animal can experience in the course of its life. Animals possess not only memory and emotions, but also the rudiments of intelligence (there are some animals which have much more rudiments of this kind than some people do).
The individual soul reincarnates each time into a body of a more highly evolved animal. Finally, for the first time this consciousness reincarnates into a human body and becomes a human soul. This fact is not connected with a number of previous incarnations, but with the growth and evolution of consciousness. And, it is only the beginning of the next big stage. A human being, besides memory, emotions and intelligence, possesses the ability to conscious self-improvement.
The purpose of the evolution of individual consciousness is union with the infinite Divine Consciousness, i.e. a return to its Source, but now not as a rudiment of a soul, but as a perfect consciousness, which is identical with the Divine Consciousness. It is interesting to mention that one of the translations of the Latin word “religion” means, “return to the source.” In the same way the Sanskrit word “yoga” is translated.
If a human consciousness aspires to get perfect, it will take many lives for it and, also, huge efforts for its evolution. Having reached the state of perfection, the consciousness dissolves in the infinite ocean of the Divine Consciousness and is no longer reincarnated. When the Universe is about to end its existence, all the worlds with all their contents, including the material, disappear sequentially. They get transformed into higher energy, which is absorbed by the Divine Consciousness. This happens with the individual consciousnesses that have not yet been able to reach a state of perfection.
Ancient mystics noticed that during the life in the body the consciousness of a man could evolve or degrade. Most of the people evolve slowly. Evolution can occur in two directions. Consciousness can grow, increasing its “mass”, i.e. the amount of energy of consciousness, so it becomes “stronger”. That is possible thanks to the absorption of energy from outside, its processing and assimilation in the course of life. At the same time the quality of consciousness may change, it can become more improved, highly organized, perfect, fluid, subtle. However, a human consciousness, for example, having got angry, loses its “mass” and previous achievements it degrades.
As a result of the evolution the amount of energy of consciousness can be increased at the expense of three sources. One part of the energy comes from food. In a human body this energy is separated from the substance of food and sustains the body life. But some part of this energy can changing and transform into the energy of consciousness thus it feeds a growing soul. Another part of the energy comes from the inhaled air. This type of energy is more easily converted into the energy of consciousness. Another energy source is the experience obtained in the course of life. The energy contained in the impressions is assimilated directly by consciousness, by a growing soul. A growing consciousness is equal to the kind of its impressions so if they are rude, the consciousness roughens, too. The important discovery of the mystics was the following: it turns out that the quality of the impressions does not depend on what a man can see or hear, but on the way he perceives it, and on what he gets from it. And the latter depends on the state of consciousness.
The main difference between people in esotericism is not determined by the age of their bodies, nor their nationality, nor gender, but by the state of consciousness, quality of soul. The state of the soul depends on the qualities and their level that this soul has. The more times a consciousness was incarnated, the more time and opportunities it had to improve its certain qualities. Thus, the state of soul depends on its age.
Mystics discovered that consciousness improves qualities in a certain sequence and the acquirement of one quality can sometimes take even several lives.
In a series of reincarnations this process looks like in the following example. At first a man is a “disciple” and a “doer”. At this stage, he learns to live in the material world. At the same time the reality for him is only what is the material level. Everything what is beyond its limits is unreal, abstract for him. In specific situations (not always pleasant) a man can improve his ability to love and to have compassion, to sharpen his mind and to cultivate determination. Acquiring autonomy and independence, he begins to feel that in addition to the material; there are other levels of the Universe. Religious truths are becoming more real and are getting more significant for him.
In the end (perhaps after many lives) there comes a period when a man starts to devote himself to self-improvement. The esoterics found out that for that one should not isolate oneself from other people or stop one’s social activity. On the contrary, they believe that such extremities can make a man stand apart from real life and not allow him to improve a series of necessary qualities.
When a man dies, his consciousness gets free from his body and remains for a while in one of the spaces beyond the material world. Then, the next incarnation comes. And, at the same time a consciousness retains all the qualities that have been improved over the past lives (for example, the improved mind, the will, the capacity for unconditional love or greed, cowardice, laziness, and so on.). However, the situations in which the improvement of these qualities took place get erased from memory. Thus the memory of the past life does not complicate another new life.
After a soul has incarnated into a new body, it is necessary that the acquired qualities get manifested and be evident. Usually this time is approximately equal to the time of reaching physical adulthood (the real, not the legal one). Then, one starts the development of new qualities and one’s further improvement.
As some people experience one of their first incarnations in a human body, and others have already had many of such incarnations, it will be relevant for all of them to perfect different qualities with different situations. Therefore, each person has his own destiny. But who determines into what body a man must reincarnate, who knows what quality it is now necessary for him to improve, who creates all situations?
One of the great discoveries of ancient esoterics was that everything in the Universe is interconnected. This interconnection is carried out at the expense of energy that fills and pervades all the worlds. When a man makes in his life some actions, he influences the world around him. From this the world changes a little, and in its turn, influences this man, changes the circumstances of his life. Sometimes one can think that some intelligent force affects his life, either rewarding, or punishing him. But that is not so. A man with his concrete actions determines and programs his future. Some actions can immediately affect his destiny, others do it after many years have passed, but there are those, which will affect only his future lives.
For the mystics it is clear that actions stipulate not only what a man does in the physical world. Thoughts, emotions, wishes, moods are special kinds of energy. When a consciousness produces them, it makes actions in other spatial dimensions. These actions also affect the external world and a man’s destiny.
What is commonly referred to a sin, for esotericism is simple ignorance. A sinful man is an ignorant man for two reasons. Firstly, he is not aware of all the negative consequences of his behavior for himself. Secondly, he does not know how to order those internal energies (most likely he does not even feel them) that their movement makes him to commit sinful acts.
However, as ancient mystics discovered, sometimes an otherworldly force intervenes in human life. This force comes from the Divine Consciousness and is manifested only when additional energy is required for further evolution of a man. In no other cases the Divine Consciousness does not manifest itself. It does not possess the qualities of a man or a judge who can punish or award. The “good” or the “evil” in the human understanding of the Universe can never come from the highest plan of the Universe.
The esoteric found out that in the process of evolution a man needs to perfect some qualities. They include love for all that exists, compassion, clear mind and inner strength with its main aspect, the will.
There are two groups of methods of self-perfection. The first are exsoteric (the external, the open), i.e. all the situations that one encounters in one’s daily life. The situations can be common, ordinary, extreme and stressful as well.
One of the discoveries of the mystics was that we could perceive all the situations as the training ones. From this point of view, any situation in which a man is, to some extent, changes him (even if he doesn’t realize it). In that case, if one is aware of this, one can get from each situation much more use, and, so, one’s evolution will be faster. It was found out that the more complicated, difficult or adverse the situation is, the more it can teach. Some qualities can be improved only when you’re in special conditions; therefore the esoterics looked for or created deliberately the necessary situations. Sometimes they even had to risk their lives.
Another group includes methods of perfection, which are called esoteric, i.e. secret to the uninitiated. To understand how they act, it is necessary to know the multidimensional human structure. Thousands of years ago mystics saw that a man is a consciousness living in a body, and a human body is as complicated and multidimensional as the Universe is. In addition to the physical organs of the human body there are some special ones, intangible, located within the limits of the body, but in other spatial dimensions. In these “organs” or energy centers there are energies that circulate providing life to the entire organism and to the existence of consciousness in it.
The esoteric discovery of great importance was that energy centers influence the state of consciousness. If the work of energy center changes and it begins to produce different energy, in this case the state of a man starts immediately to change. To understand how it happens, you can use as an example the following. A man, whose mood is neutral, looks out the window and sees some drizzling autumn rain. As a result, his mood can get worse: the weather affects his mood.
In the same way, the “weather” inside the body affects the state of consciousness. And this “weather”, i.e. the state of energy inside the body, depends on the work of energy centers of the body. Mystics discovered that a long working in a single mode (state) energy center sets a corresponding state of consciousness. Such states can be love or fear, determination, or anger, peace of mind or random thoughts, and much more.
It turned out that the positive and negative qualities of a man are often associated with healthy or unhealthy work of these centers. Having discovered them, the ancient esoterics learned to use their energy centers for self-perfection. To achieve this, they had to master the art of managing their actions.
The esoterics found out so many ways to influence the work of energy centers, and through them the state of their consciousness and elaboration of necessary qualities. For this purpose, they used special methods of concentration, breathing, movement, pronunciation of sounds (mantras, names of gods, prayers), listening to special music, giving their body the correct position, using special scents, contemplating some images, using different rituals, dreams, being in special places and much more.
Such practices can help a mystic not only eliminate his own defects, but also improve his virtues appropriate to the religious ideals. It happens “naturally”, i.e. in a natural way. Moreover, thanks to special techniques in the moments of the highest state of ecstasy you can experience such tops of the spirit, when you cease to exist as a separate being, you get dissolved into the ocean of the Divine and in infinite bliss, only feeling the flow of Eternity.
In some esoteric schools (for example, in the Hindu Tantra, Yungdrung Bon, and Taoist schools of internal alchemy, Dzogchen, in indigenous traditions of Africa and of the Ancient Russia, etc.) the most outstanding mystics reached such deep transformation of their consciousness that it affected even their physical body. The substance of their body, as if it were imbued with consciousness that attained the Divine perfection, returned to the original state of pure energy. When a mystic left this world, he dematerialized his body. It could be like a gradual process during which the body became more transparent and disappeared slowly, or like an instant flash of light, after which there was nothing left. Sometimes it represented a slow decrease of the body in several days until its complete disappearance (there were only hair and nails that remained)…
The main method of mystical practices is meditation, i.e. a special state of consciousness in which mind is silent, it is not present, but the attention is heightened at maximum with consciousness that remain awake. This means that the process of thinking has stopped; the mind is empty, there are absolutely no thoughts, but there is only perception and awareness.
During meditation consciousness is aware of itself. So, given to it, not occupied and cleared from ordinary activities, the consciousness gets into its real existence; it is usually obscured by thoughts, memory, dreams and emotions. The consciousness as if it “remembered” about its origins from the ocean of Divine Consciousness, starts to approach it, reaching higher and higher states. One should not confuse real meditation with quite commonly spread “meditation” of nowadays, as a means to “calm the nerves”, to cheer up or to achieve social success.
Another important technique is being here and now. Whatever an esoteric does, he tries to be “here and now” and focuses only on what is happening in him and around him. It means throughout the whole system called the man, in other words, in his body, thoughts, emotions and moods and even down to the shapeless depth, which has its roots in the infinite ocean of the Divine Consciousness. This state is called state of presence.
The work in any esoteric school always begins with a radical revision of one’s former life and awareness of the important ethical principles. Without deep study of these phases a pupil is never allowed to continue further to work.
If this rule is not observed, the following stages can harm a student’s health and affect his psyche, or his subsequent work will lead to the cultivation of selfish traits. Sometimes before you work in some esoteric schools it is usual to study the ritual and religious part of a given religion, going through this stage as a religious monk or a layman.
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Man is like Universe. Mystics have used this fact applying to their internal world the truths concerning the external world. The external truth, understood esoterically, is spiritual guidance.
It is known that when the Prophet Muhammad entered Mecca, he destroyed the idols in and around Kaaba. For a mystic the meaning of the story is this: a man must remove from his soul all the idols, to purify it from all that is not God. The Kaaba is the symbol of the soul; the idols are a symbol of all that occupies inner attention, distracting him from the search for perfection.
Mystics often used a special language, understandable only to initiates, to describe esoteric practices and mystical states. In some esoteric schools (alchemic) the original state of the man was called lead, and the final state of perfection, gold. In this case, all the intermediate stages of turning lead into gold were designated as the alchemical reactions of transformation of some elements into others. Therefore, if some alchemical texts are understood literally, they may seem illiterate because of the impartibility of those chemical reactions that they describe. However, if you know what these symbols represent, the “internal” alchemy becomes science of spiritual transformation of a man.
The existing religions can be compared with buildings of different architectural styles. The appearance and form of these buildings is different, but every building has a foundation, basic structures and a roof. Similarly, many religions impressing with their abundance of rituals, different structures, decoration of temples and a variety of rituals, have similar components: the “foundation” and “basic structures”, presented in their creed.
“The Foundation” of most religions is the same, it is mystical experience. Mystics, prophets of all times and nations speak about their mystical experiences with the same words. The Supreme Reality appears to be as a compassionate, loving, filled with light and bliss space.
As for the creed, its main “basic structures” often represent common principles. The arrangements of the external and internal world of a man and the way leading to God and salvation have common features. Many religions recognize that the only way to God is the way of rejection of man’s selfish aspirations, the way of love, and they instruct their followers to comply with ethical rules, the commandments of New Testament like: “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (ROM. 12.9).
If we consider the main principles of the ethics of the main directions of Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, and other religions, we will find that they are the same in their essence. For example, the New Testament says, “God is love”; Sanskrit sutras recognize God as “the source of all knowledge and any love”; the Taoism notes, “Tao is a tender being”; but the Coran says: “Allah the Merciful, the compassionate”. This implies that in the origins of being there is the Divine Love, and one is able to approach God only by developing more and more one’s perfect love. “Relentlessly cultivate bodhichitta” (i.e., committed compassion for all living beings), exhorted Buddhist monks. “These things I command you, that ye love one another” (Jn. 15.17), taught Jesus Christ. And for the mystics of Islam, God “is Love, Loving and Beloved.”
Many religions offer a detailed explanation of how to improve perfect love. This happens when one learns to love the whole world and to see in every person and event a manifestation of God’s Will and Love.
Other prescriptions and rules, coming from this main testament of many religions, are also very similar. They include principles which are similar to the commandments of the New Testament, i.e., the prescriptions “thou shalt not kill” “thou shalt not steal”, etc., in Hindu and Buddhist traditions the principle of “thou shalt not kill” corresponds to Ahimsa (nonviolence to all living beings, neither in thoughts, nor in words or in actions) and the principle of “thou shalt not steal” – Asteya (no desire to possess another’s property), etc.
However, beyond that approach, which is usually called as a gradual way of man’s development, there is another non gradual one. The examples of this non gradual way are dzogchen, advaita and zen. They are based on the doctrine that a man already possesses all the perfect qualities and he is divine by nature (“posseses” the Buddha-nature”) and there is no need to develop anything more. A practitioner should only stop clinging to what obscure the light of the Truth from its direct experience. We just need to stop identify ourselves with the mind and its duality and to cease to identify ourselves with the personality, with the ego. Just as the wave ceases to think itself separate from the ocean, the practitioner begins to see the water, an omnipresent Divine consciousness.
The gradual way is the way of personal efforts, it is the way of one’s ego’ efforts . The gradual way is the cessation of all efforts, the relaxation of all tensions of consciousness and means total surrender.
And, although the gradual path is based on ego’s efforts , these efforts lead, in the end of the road, to the disappearance of the ego. But, the non gradual way is instant abandonment of the mind, the ego.
The similarity of basic religious moral prescriptions leads to the fact that many philosophers, theologians and religious scholars begin to speak about global ethics, “universal ethics”, more or less, presented in the moral code of any particular religious tradition.
Swami Vivekananda, a well-known religious reformer of the twentieth century, compared those who reject all religions except for their own ones, with a dog that does not recognize its beloved master, dressed in different clothes.
The source of all religions is the same and constant, though the teachings of different religions seem, at first glance, to be quite different, unrelated with each other…
A sage knows that the basis of all religions and beliefs is only one thing, the Truth. The truth has always been disguised in two garments: a turban on its head and a cloak on the body. The turban is a mystery, known under the name of mysticism and the cloak is a morality called religion… Those who saw it [the Truth] without any covers, don’t know anymore any reason or logic, good or evil, high or low, new or old, in other words, they cease to distinguish all the names and images. The whole world for them is the only Truth. In their understanding, the Truth is the only one, but appearing to human eyes, it takes many forms, and the difference in the perceptions of it appears thanks to its manifestations in different places and times.
“Truth can be compared with a fountain, which spurts with one water jet up, and then it falls in a great number of drops down at different times and at different places” (Inayat Khan).)
Know thyself – that is the first principle and the first requirement of ancient esoteric schools. We remember these words, but we have lost their true meaning. We think that to know ourselves means to understand our particular desires, tastes, abilities and aspirations, when, in fact, it means the knowledge of the mechanism, i.e. the knowledge of the structure of our own machine, its parts, functions of different parts and their working conditions etc. Speaking about a simple car, we cannot say we know it until we study it. It is also necessary to remember that speaking about us. We have to study our body like we study a car. This study is self-observation. There is no other way, and no one will do this work for us. We have to do it by ourselves.
(From the book “The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution.” by P. D. Ouspensky, a disciple of G. I. Gurdjieff , famous mystic,)
In India and Nepal, the immortal Babaji from Haidakhan (Uttar Pradesh) has been known since 1800. In the 20-ies of the XXth century, Babaji in the presence of the king of Nepal and many other people passed on the surface of the river up to its middle, turned into a pillar of light and disappeared. Before that this Saint told the king that it was already time for him to leave this world and that his body had served to all purposes (although it looked very young).
In the works by Carlos Castaneda, an American esoteric, there are some repeated descriptions how his teacher, don Juan Matus and his companions dematerialized their own bodies: “On the top of the mountain they lit themselves with “the fire from within”, flushed like dazzling star and disappeared.”
Namkhai Norbu, a famous contemporary dzogchen master (the highest practices of full continuous awareness) in his book “The Crystal and The way of Light” says that in 1952 in Tibet there lived a very old man. In his youth this man for several years was either a servant, or an assistant of a teacher of Dzogchen and heard many teachings. But in other things, this man led a very modest life, carved mantras on the stones and it gave him some means of subsistence. This went on for many years, and no one noticed in him anything unusual and one had no idea that he practiced Dzogchen. One day this man announced that he should die after seven days passed, and sent a note to his son, the monk. The monastery spread widely this news and many people gathered there. The representatives of all great monasteries, even members of the Chinese administration and militaries arrived. In the presence of many people, the room in which the old man had been locked up for seven days ago was opened, but his body was not found. All what had been left in the room were some clothes lying in the place where the Saint had sat, his hair and nails.
In the same way both main teachers of Namkhai Norbu left this world, his uncle, Togden (by the way, a mentally sick person in his youth ) and Changchub Dorje. Changchub Dorje’s daughter also dematerialized her body.
Hesychasm (from the Greek. – “inner silence”), the mystical practice of Orthodoxy, the origin of which related to St. John. The followers of Hesychasm experienced the real being of God. For this they combined in a special way breathing with special postures, saying a prayer, but not with our lips but with a “spiritual heart” so it could silently sound in the chest, revealing Jesus’s love to the entire world. Hesychasts also practiced “Illumining by Fabor Light” – entering the flow of pure light and grace of the Holy Spirit. In the late XIX – early XX century some isolated settlements of Orthodox Hesychasts were in many places of Russia and the Caucasus.
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In 1534 in Paris, the Catholic Ignatius of Loyola founded the Jesuit Order “Society of Jesus”, in which the main mystical practices were “8 days spiritual exercises”. Spiritual practitioners identified themselves with Jesus Christ of the last week of His life. These practical experiences were sometimes so vivid and real that his hands, feet and body got stigmata, the bleeding wounds of Jesus.
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In Tibetan Buddhism, the schools most saturated with mystical practices are Nyingma and Kagyu. Their followers often practice the Six Yogas of Naropa, named after the great Saint of X-XI centuries. Naropa discovered Tummo , a mystic heat yoga, when he had spent several months without fire in an icy cave inundated with snow. This yoga allows producing so much energy that practitioners in winter during one night can melt blocks of ice with their naked bodies. Guillou-Lus – illusory body yoga – allows us to understand the illusory nature of everything in the Universe, including our own body. Mi-Lam – yoga of dreams – allows us to maintain awareness during our sleep and control our dreams. Using odsal – yoga of the clear light, when we can see the Mother-Clear- Light, i.e. the Divine Consciousness of the Universe. And the Bardo – yoga of death that allows us to use death to achieve Liberation or to choose another body for future reincarnation.
Phowa – yoga of transference of consciousness that allows to practice the transference of our consciousness through the top of the head and to move it freely around in the space. With Phowa is usually associated the art of John-jig, the art of entering a dead body, enabling to move our consciousness into the body of a newly deceased person or animal. Tales of many peoples of the world (for example, the Russian folk tale about how Ivan Tsarevitch turned into a wolf and then back to Prince) are distant echoes of real events.
The origin of some of the Sufi orders have been associated with the Prophet Muhammad, and others since even more ancient times, believing that Islam served as a breeding ground for the manifestation of already existing Sufism. Sometimes the main Sufi Saint called al-Ghadir (Khizr), one of the first people, the mysterious immortal righteous man. Khizr appears at times to the heads of the Sufi orders, giving further instructions and techniques. A similar role is played by another immortal Idris. It is interesting that Idris is identified with the biblical Enoch, and with Hermes Trismegistus (Threedimension), the founder of the Egyptian esotericism, who brought this knowledge to Egypt from Atlantis.
The immortal Indian Saint Babaji, materialized his body publicly last time in 1970 in the Himalayas and left it in the same place in 1984, preached Sanatana Dharma – the “eternal religion”, which is the source of all religions. Sanatana Dharma is the spiritual essence of the Universe. The founders of different religions experienced this state and called it Tao, Brahman, Allah, Mother Clear Light… Babaji mentioned that one of his favorite disciples was Jesus, who had spent nine years with him. In some of ancient libraries of Ladakh (Himalayas) there are some notes, which still remain about the stay of Jesus in India and Tibet.
Babaji said all religions lead to the same goal and are similar to the rivers flowing into one infinite ocean of Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana Dharma does not have any rituals, and it has only three principles – truth, simplicity, love – which are the basis of all religions.
The appearance of esoteric Buddhism, is often viewed as the return of the knowledge that Buddha once gave to the kings of Shambhala and of Oddiyana… Mystics state that Atlantis, Lemuria, Uddiyana, Shambhala are not geographic places on the Earth, but they are the names of the subtle spatial dimensions (including the dimensions of consciousness), from which the great saints of the past had gained their wisdom and knowledge.
Science and esoterica complement each other. Science studies the phenomena of the external world; mysticism studies the phenomena of the inner world. Science does not give us only knowledge about the nature, but also helps us to use its power to our advantage. Mysticism also helps us not only to get to know the inner world, but also to merge with it.
Science studies the external world with its laws, relationships and esotericism studies the inner world whose center is the knower himself.