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The Secret Teachers of the Western World

Paperback Book
Publisher: 
Tarcher
 | 
December, 2015
ISBN:
9780399166808
In stock now: 
2
$25.95 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

This epic study unveils the esoteric masters who have covertly impacted the intellectual development of the West, from Pythagoras and Zoroaster to the little-known modern icons Jean Gebser and Schwaller de Lubicz.

Running alongside the mainstream of Western intellectual history there is another current which, in a very real sense, should take pride of place, but which for the last few centuries has occupied a shadowy, inferior position, somewhere underground. This “other” stream forms the subject of Gary Lachman’s epic history and analysis, The Secret Teachers of the Western World.

In this clarifying, accessible, and fascinating study, the acclaimed historian explores the Western esoteric tradition—a thought movement with ancient roots and modern expressions, which, in a broad sense, regards the cosmos as a living, spiritual, meaningful being and humankind as having a unique obligation and responsibility in it. This is in stark contrast to much of modern science, which sees the universe as a meaningless flow of matter and energy, and human beings as pointless accidents within it.

The historical roots of our counter tradition, as Lachman explores, have their beginning in Alexandria around the time of Christ. It was then that we find the first written accounts of the ancient tradition, which had earlier been passed on orally. Here, in this remarkable city, filled with teachers, philosophers, and mystics from Egypt, Greece, Asia, and other parts of the world, in a multi-cultural, multi-faith, and pluralistic society much like our own, a synthesis took place, a creative blending of different ideas and visions, which gave the hidden tradition the eclectic character it retains today.

We can see the history of our esoteric tradition as roughly forming three parts:

Part One: After looking back at the earliest roots of the esoteric tradition in the mysteries of ancient Egypt and Greece, the historical narrative opens in Alexandria in the first centuries of the Christian era. Over the following centuries, it traces our other tradition through such agents as the Hermeticists, Kabbalists; Gnostics; Neoplatonists; and early Church fathers, among many others. Part One examines the reemergence of the lost Hermetic books in the Renaissance and their powerful influence on the emerging modern mind.

Part Two begins with the fall of Hermeticism in the late Renaissance and the beginning of what we can call the esoteric counterculture. In 1614, the same year that the Hermetic teachings fell from grace, a strange document in Kassel, Germany announced the existence of a mysterious spiritual fraternity: the Rosicrucians. This second part charts the impact of the Rosicrucians and the many esoteric currents that followed, such as the Romance movement and the European occult revival of the late nineteenth century, including Madame Blavatsky and the opening of the western mind to the wisdom of the East, and the fin-de-sicle occultism of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Finally, Part Three chronicles the rise of modern esotericism, as seen in the work of teachers such as Rudolf Steiner, Gurdjieff, Annie Besant, Krishnamurti, Aleister Crowley, R. A Schwaller de Lubicz, and many others. It traces the influence that they and other modern teachers have had on mainstream western culture. Central in this part is the life and work of C.G. Jung, perhaps the most important figure in the development of modern spirituality. The book looks at the occult revival of the mystic sixties and our own New Age, and how this itself has given birth to a more critical, rigorous investigation of the ancient wisdom, and to the spread of Gnostic (The Matrix) and Hermetic (Harry Potter) ideas in popular culture.

With many detours and dead ends, we now seem to be slowly moving into a watershed, in which it has become clear that the dominant, left-brain, reductionist view, once so liberating and exciting, has run out of steam, and the promise of that much-sought-after paradigm change seems possible. We may be on the brink of a revival and culminating moment of the esoteric intellectual tradition of the West.

Among Gary Lachman’s other books are Jung the Mystic and Rudolf Steiner.

Publisher’s Description: 

This epic study unveils the esoteric masters who have covertly impacted the intellectual development of the West, from Pythagoras and Zoroaster to the little-known modern icons Jean Gebser and Schwaller de Lubicz.

Running alongside the mainstream of Western intellectual history there is another current which, in a very real sense, should take pride of place, but which for the last few centuries has occupied a shadowy, inferior position, somewhere underground.

This "other" stream forms the subject of Gary Lachman's epic history and analysis, The Secret Teachers of the Western World.

In this clarifying, accessible, and fascinating study, the acclaimed historian explores the Western esoteric traditio—a thought movement with ancient roots and modern expressions, which, in a broad sense, regards the cosmos as a living, spiritual, meaningful being and humankind as having a unique obligation and responsibility in it. This is in stark contrast to much of modern science, which sees the universe as a meaningless flow of matter and energy, and human beings as pointless accidents within it.

The historical roots of our counter tradition, as Lachman explores, have their beginning in Alexandria around the time of Christ. It was then that we find the first written accounts of the ancient tradition, which had earlier been passed on orally. Here, in this remarkable city, filled with teachers, philosophers, and mystics from Egypt, Greece, Asia, and other parts of the world, in a multi-cultural, multi-faith, and pluralistic society much like our own, a synthesis took place, a creative blending of different ideas and visions, which gave the hidden tradition the eclectic character it retains today.

We can see the history of our esoteric tradition as roughly forming three parts:

Part One: After looking back at the earliest roots of the esoteric tradition in the mysteries of ancient Egypt and Greece, the historical narrative opens in Alexandria in the first centuries of the Christian era. Over the following centuries, ittraces our other tradition through such agents as the Hermeticists, Kabbalists; Gnostics; Neoplatonists; and early Church fathers, among many others. Part One examines the reemergence of the lost Hermetic books in the Renaissance and their powerful influence on the emerging modern mind.

Part Two begins with the fall of Hermeticism in the late Renaissance and the beginning of what we can call the esoteric counterculture. In 1614, the same year that the Hermetic teachings fell from grace, a strange document in Kassel, Germany announced the existence of a mysterious spiritual fraternity: the Rosicrucians. This second part charts the impact of the Rosicrucians and the many esoteric currents that followed, such as the Romance movement and the European occult revival of the late nineteenth century, including Madame Blavatsky and the opening of the western mind to the wisdom of the East, and the fin-de-sicle occultism of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Finally, Part Three chronicles the rise of modern esotericism, as seen in the work of teachers such as Rudolf Steiner, Gurdjieff, Annie Besant, Krishnamurti, Aleister Crowley, R. A Schwaller de Lubicz, and many others. It traces the influence that they and other modern teachers have had on mainstream western culture. Central in this part is the life and work of C.G. Jung, perhaps the most important figure in the development of modern spirituality. The book looks at the occult revival of the mystic sixties and our own New Age, and how this itself has given birth to a more critical, rigorous investigation of the ancient wisdom, and to the spread of Gnostic (The Matrix) and Hermetic (Harry Potter) ideas in popular culture.

With many detours and dead ends, we now seem to be slowly moving into a watershed, in which it has become clear that the dominant, left-brain, reductionist view, once so liberating and exciting, has run out of steam, and the promise of that much-sought-after paradigm change seems possible. We may be on the brink of a revival and culminating moment of the esoteric intellectual tradition of the West.

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