Finding the Path of Esoteric knowledge is not easy. Many aspirants assume that if they read a book about esoteric knowledge, they will find it. Esoteric knowledge is never easily available, and is not given out in a simple logical format like a textbook at a university or college. Yet there are a few books that contain hidden esoteric knowledge scattered within their pages. One technique is the ‘scatter method’ where esoteric concepts are scattered in bits and pieces within the text, and it is up to the aspirant to find them, and put them together, just like in a jigsaw puzzle, in order to get the entire picture. Sometimes it is right in front of your face, but if you’re not ready to receive the esoteric information, you will pass it by. This is one of the reasons meditation is so important. One has to learn to take time to meditate, and think deeply on the more subtle ideas that may be found in some of these special books.
Entering the Path of Esoteric knowledge can be compared to a jet going through the sound barrier. There is a barrier, and like the sound barrier, it is invisible. In this case, the barrier is within us. In the “Labors of Hercules”, Hercules had to see through the sweet words of Busiris, and then battle the many headed Hydra before he could take the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. The golden apples represent esoteric knowledge. The Hydra is a symbol of a particular type of barrier within us that we must face and overcome before we can enter the Path to Esoteric knowledge.
Before one can obtain esoteric knowledge, one must first enter the Path of the Aspirant. The path of the aspirant can be likened to a wanderer (parivajaka). One wanders from teaching to teaching, listening to different teachers, and lecturers, taking many courses, experimenting with different techniques of self discovery. This period of searching can last for many lives. It is sometimes called the ‘probationary path’. Then at some point the sincere aspirant is tested. Karma is the great tester. This test happens naturally, and will place the aspirant face to face with certain aspects of their own character where a choice has to be made, just as Arjuna faced his own relatives and friends on the battlefield of Kurushetra. A teacher is watching and waiting to see the outcome. This test may have occurred before in a past life, if the student was unsuccessful, it can recur again in another life when conditions are favorable. The teacher on the inner planes waits for many years with great compassion and patience watching for a successful outcome.
This brings up another important point that determines whether one many find the Path to Esoteric knowledge. It is necessary to have some karma with an esoteric school (ashram). The esoteric school represents the ‘golden chain of Hermes’ or the link of the teachers of the school from the Hierophant down to the neophyte. It is this link that is most important. Once the successful neophyte has been accepted into the esoteric school ‘work on oneself’ earnestly begins. The first goal is the awakening of the “Soul in incarnation” or the “Essential Nature" (swarupa), that aspect of the Soul that lies dormant in all living beings, but is stirring in the hearts of all aspirants. It is this ‘Essential Nature’ that drives the aspirant to search out the Way. In the esoteric school the neophyte must transform certain qualities of the personality in order that the ‘Essential Nature’ can be born and stabilized. It is the ‘Essential Nature’ that can use esoteric knowledge, not the personality. This is one of the reasons that esoteric knowledge is kept secret. If the personality were to use certain formulas of esoteric knowledge, then the evolution of that individual’s soul will go wrong. This is a great danger. Thus it is necessary to have a teacher who is awakened, and knows the dangers and difficulties of the personality. It is the teachers’ responsibility to guide the aspirant through the labyrinth of the human psyche, pointing out the pitfalls, and giving the correct disciplines that will help the sincere hard working aspirant to discover and awaken their ‘Essential Nature’.