Monday, 23 March 2009

Secret Knowledge

There have always been legends and traditions about secret knowledge. At the root of most religions is some form of secret knowledge, a gnosis or inner realization that can be attained and may even be promised.

In secret societies and lodges there is another kind of secret knowledge – words, signs, symbols, and lore – all of which may appear in written form, but have additional meaning that is communicated private. Teachings within these secret societies are better described as private rather than secret.

The naïve searcher for secret knowledge might expect to find some magical fact or formula, something specific and objective that can be grasped and memorized. But the prime characteristic of a gnosis is that it cannot be communicated; it is said to be ineffable. It is a realization that cannot be physically transferred from one person to another. Yet it is attainable, and verifiable, by individual discovery.

Moreover, there are methods and programs leading to this discovery. But such teachings are usually venerated and preserved in private, esoteric societies. Tradition usually includes the idea that this knowledge, and any teachings that lead to its discovery, should be guarded and withheld from unworthy persons. Worthy seekers are inducted and led step by step on the path. Initiatory degrees and rituals in such orders dramatize the steps and foster the discovery.

Yet the big secret is that there is no secret, that this knowledge is really not secret at all! It is there for eyes that can see or ears that can hear. In spite of its supposed secrecy, much of it has been spoken and published very plainly – but still goes undetected.

Consider in this light the many cryptic statements in Christian and other sacred scripture. These statements, too are for the initiated. Without the key, without the personal preliminary development, they remain undeciphered. With the key they are stating, bold statements reflecting a radically different realization. So it is secret only in this strange way, protected by its own arcane nature, and by our lack of development.

It is easy (as in these comments) to continue saying much about such secret knowledge, but this is like talking about water – it does not quench the thirst. It is better to be told, “Here is a path to the spring, where you must learn to drink for yourself.”

- Author Unknown 

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