This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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When exoterism becomes problematic

Because the esoteric way can, by definition, only concern a minority, the exoteric aspect of a religion is a necessity and a good. What is evil in exoterism is not its function or its presence, but its tendency toward autocracy. Always the exoteric is impelled to not only ignore or deny the esoteric, but to violently suppress it.

Perhaps one of the greatest drawbacks of the Latin mind, with its thirst for legal rigor, is that it has often led men who are capable and called to pure Knowledge to limit themselves to the outward and formal.

An exoteric framework that systematically eliminates esoterism is a body that bleeds its own lifeblood. It can never completely succeed, but to the degree that it does, it begins to ossify and collapse for lack of spiritual vitality.

Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in, ye hindered.[1]

The esoteric nucleus within a given Tradition should not be imagined as a localized body at the center of the visible Church itself, as if it were a conclave of the spiritual elite that try to work behind the scenes and yet within the exoteric structure itself. The esoteric element strengthens and stabilizes but it is its own dimension and often does not directly work within the exoteric framework at all. It is not a “group” or committee that can be identified or categorized. It is the transcendent dimension of the Tradition in which anyone whose vocation is knowledge may participate to some degree.

What has been said of Islam can be said of any tradition in the modern world:

The majority of non-Moslems, and even many Moslems who have been brought up in a European cultural environment, are ignorant of this particular element of Islam which is both its marrow and its centre, which gives life and force to its outer forms and activities and which by reason of the universal nature of its content can call to witness the disciples of other religions.[2]

Exoterists have a right not to understand or acknowledge esoteric knowledge, since no one has a duty to do what is impossible for them. And in this sense it is understandable and also within their right to condemn manifestations of esoterism that interfere with that salvation which is their sole concern.

The spiritual life of the individual is based on his given nature, which bestows on him a certain spiritual disposition and determines the “mode” of his spiritual realization. This is called “vocation.”

It can be said that metaphysics is not necessary for salvation. This is false on the individual level because certain individuals, being called to metaphysics as a matter of vocation, would sin against the Holy Spirit if they limited themselves to exoterism, since this would require a denial of their own nature.

In other words, the esoteric way should not be considered the result of a “choice,” as if those called to it could have chosen some other path. The Way chooses the man, the Infinite calls the finite. Choice does not enter in.

It is neither choice nor desire which determines vocation. This is good to remember especially since in the present day everyone is told not only that they can choose their own vocation but that they may choose whatever they desire. They can choose what they desire, but this may or may not have anything to do with their vocation. Vocation, which is nothing less than one’s worldly path of spiritual realization, or path toward the Infinite, is an ontological tendency–something that we could say corresponds to “instinct” albeit on a much higher plane. It is extremely important to keep this distinction in mind.

[1] Luke 11:52.

[2] Khaja Khan, Studies in Tasawwuf.

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