Have you ever wondered why “the ancients” knew so much that seemed impossible to know, such as the purpose of our bodily glands? I have wondered, for many years.
In this modern age, with its rational, physical, “scientific” explanations of things, any presumption of advanced wisdom for ancient people is viewed with skepticism. And yet, the evidence is growing, that such esoteric knowledge seems truly to have been prevalent among primitive peoples.
I had never understood why this was so until I came across the fantastic recent (2008) book by Mark Booth, The Secret History of the World. The book turns cosmic history upside down, and argues that the universe did not evolve in the way that has been customarily accepted, namely, that matter was created and then mind gradually evolved from it. Rather, the book argues, mind was created first, and gradually matter coalesced and precipitated from it.
That is an astonishing proposition! I was immediately enthralled with it, because, by a simple shift of viewpoint, it seemed at a glance to explain so very much for me. The book arrived into my hands at just the right time, after years of my wondering why things were as they were, to explain that the reason was the exact opposite of how I and many others had been taught!
But first, there is some bad news. The book is filled with errors of an editorial and typographic nature; it has been poorly edited. There are no footnotes or source citations, which is a very big flaw, in my mind; this flaw makes the book more of an opinion piece than a scholarly, authoritative text. There are many non-sequiturs, and many awkward transitions from one topic to another; again, poor editing. There are some promises early in the book to explain some phenomenon of history, and, as if the author had simply forgotten, no such explanation is given later in the book. Finally, the author’s credentials seem rather tenuous: his main claim to fame is to have worked many years in a bookstore and he says that he read a great deal.
But, the good news is that, even with the above deficiencies, the book is great! It proposes a fundamental shift in view from the centuries of standard explanation that academic history has given us. It is massive in scope, brilliant in its reframing of history, and proposes that we think of evolution differently than how we may currently view it. The book is very worthwhile reading.
Critics and scholars have been brutal with their opinions of the book, all over the Internet. Yes, I agree with them that the book is not scholarly, nor scientifically researched, nor defensible. However, the book does not claim to be an academic treatise, but a though-provoking basis for examining the premises that we have grown up with. It presents a new paradigm; no wonder the establishment panned it!
Actually, the thesis of Booth’s book, mind first and matter second, is consistent with what many religions and mythologies promote. For example, the Judeo-Christian religions teach that God created the universe from nothing other than its own mind. So, in a sense, Booth’s book gives a justification for what some religions have been telling us all along.
So, why do I consider it important that mind came first and matter came later?
Because it explains a great deal. Primarily, it explains why we have deep memories of our evolution. We remember seeing ourselves in the primitive phase of formation. Thus, when we were in a mental state, we could see a gradual, evolutionary, transformation whereby our bodies were in the process of slowly coalescing from our minds over a great deal of time, including the formation of various glands; thus, we could understand what their eventual purposes would be, such as our hearts for pumping blood, our pineal glands for being the interface between our physical and spiritual bodies, and many other aspects of our nascent and developing physical bodies. This early awareness lingered in the memories of primitive people, and some of them, on later evolution, were able to remember some of the details, perhaps in dreams or by flashes of intuition or memory. Such revealed knowledge led early philosophers, priests, and scientists to have amazing insights into the true purposes of various parts of our bodies, such as glands and organs, as well as numerous other reasons for the relationship among the mental, spirit, soul, and physical aspects of our beings.
So, for this reason, and others, I find Mark Booth’s exposition of matter evolving from mind to be fascinating and logical. The most compelling reason of all is that it explains so much! For many years I had read of “ancients” knowing so much more than we modern folk did. The “ancient wisdom” was always cited as profound and worthy of study. But nobody ever explained why those old people were so advanced, or why they knew so much. And now, with this brilliant overturning of the interpretation of history we now have an explanation that I find very satisfying.
In his book, Booth demonstrates the consistency that his mind-before-matter model has with many of the esoteric traditions down though the ages. He has chapters about such consistency on the ideas of Zarathustra; the age of the Pyramids; Hermeticism and the Kaballah; the patriarchs of Judaism; the mysteries of Greece and Rome; the Sun God and the Two Jesus Children; the emergence of Islam; the age of the Templars; Renaissance Italy; medieval alchemy; the ideas of Cervantes, Shakespeare and Bacon; Rosicrucianism; occult Catholicism; Freemasonry and the occult roots of science; up to modern times of revolutions, psychological thought, and the New Jerusalem; as well as various other supporting, esoteric movements.
Even though the book has numerous faults, as summarized above, it is still a grand accomplishment, and a text that I plan to return to from time to time. I heartily recommend it to those who seek an underlying theme and current flowing through most of the wisdom literature, mythologies, religions, secret societies, and fundamental world views of western civilization.
William Bezanson is a retired engineer, fulfilling his passion for writing, and has published books on world stewardship, user performance-centered systems design, and mathematical beauty, most recently Abandoned Shopping Carts: Personal and Spiritual Responsibility. He is a long-standing member of a Rosicrucian order and two related initiatic, mystical orders. His mission in life it to help to bring about a Spiritual State in this Mundane World. He lives with his wife in Ottawa, Canada, and they have six adult children.
To learn more about him, visit his official website.