Why is Knowledge both Exoteric and Esoteric?

We can now take up the question next in order, which was worded: “Why do we consider certain aspects of knowledge esoteric and other aspects as exoteric?”

The answer to this practically involves the realization that some knowledge deals with the subjective side of life, and the other type of knowledge with the objective side; that one type of knowledge is concerned with energy and force (hence the danger of undue hasty revelation) and another with that which is energized. Therefore it will be apparent that until the faculty of ascertaining subjective information is achieved, whole ranges of facts will remain outside the scope of the consciousness of the majority.

As we have been told, the goal of evolution is the attainment of consciousness on all planes; owing to the small evolutionary attainment of the race only the physical plane is as yet in any way brought under conscious control. The knowledge which deals with that plane, the information which is concerned with densest objectivity, the sumtotal of facts connected with the five lower subplanes of the physical plane are (from the occult standpoint) considered exoteric. During the next two races the other two subplanes will be mastered, and the entire mass of knowledge concerned with physical and etheric matter, with energy, form and experience on the physical plane, will be easily available to man, and concern only his five physical senses.

Information and knowledge of the life evolving through the forms will for a considerably longer time be considered esoteric, as also will the apprehension and comprehension of the matter aspect, and the laws governing energy on the astral and the mental planes. This is stated in connection with average man, the rank and file of humanity. Objective or exoteric information is largely that obtained or ascertained by men in the Hall of Learning by means of the five senses, and by experiment. Experiment in due course of time and after many cycles of incarnation is transmuted into experience, and this produces eventually that which we call instinct, or the habitual reaction of some type of consciousness to a given set of circumstances, or of environment. These two factors of the senses and of experimental contact can be seen working out in the animal and human kingdoms; the difference between the two exists in the ability of the man consciously to remember, apprehend, anticipate, and utilize the fruits of past experience, and thus influence the present and prepare for the future. He employs the physical brain for this purpose. An animal likewise has an instinctual memory, apprehension, and an embryo anticipation, but (lacking mind) he is unable to adjust them to circumstances in the sense of prearrangement, and lacks the capacity consciously to utilize, and thus reap, the benefit of past events, and to learn from experience in the manner which a man does. The animal uses the solar plexus in the same way that a man uses the brain; it is the organ of instinct.

All that can be acquired by instinct and by the use of the concrete mind functioning through the physical brain can be considered as dealing with that which we call exoteric. It is thus evident how the range of fact will differ according to:

  1. The age of the soul.
  2. Experience developed and used.
  3. Condition of the brain and the physical body.
  4. Circumstances and environment.

As time progresses and man reaches a fair state of evolution, mind is more rapidly developed, and a new factor comes gradually into play. Little by little the intuition, or the transcendental mind, begins to function, and eventually supersedes the lower or concrete mind. It then utilizes the physical brain as a receiving plate, but at the same time develops certain centers in the head, and thus transfers the zone of its activity from the physical brain to the higher head centers, existing in etheric matter. For the mass of humanity, this will be effected during the opening up of the etheric subplanes during the next two races. This is paralleled in the animal kingdom by the gradual transference of the zone of activity from the solar plexus to the rudimentary brain, and its gradual development by the aid of manas.

As we consider these points, it will become apparent that the esoteric aspects of knowledge are really those zones of consciousness which are not yet conquered, and brought within the radius of control of the indwelling Entity.

The point to be emphasized is that when this is realized the true significance of the esoteric and the occult will be appreciated, and the endeavor of all KNOWERS will be to draw within the zone of their knowledge other units who are ready for a similar expansion of consciousness. In this thought lies the key to the work of the Brotherhood. They attract by Their force into certain fields of realization and endeavor and by that attraction and the response of those human atoms who are ready, the group soul on the upward arc, or a particular center of a Heavenly Man, is coordinated.

In the same way the animal is brought at a certain stage into the zone of influence of the lesser sons of mind – human beings who are the elder brothers of the animals, as the Masters of the Wisdom are the Elder Brothers where humanity is concerned. So the interlocking proceeds and the division of responsibility.


In the Secret Doctrine we are told that there are seven branches of knowledge mentioned in the Puranas. – S. D., I, 192.

Correspondences can here be worked out in connection with:

  1. The seven Rays, the Lords of Sacrifice, Love and Knowledge.
  2. The seven states of consciousness.
  3. The seven states of matter or planes.
  4. The seven types of forces.
  5. The seven Initiations and many other septenates.

The Gnosis, the hidden Knowledge, is the seventh Principle, the six schools of Indian philosophy are the six principles – S. D., I, 299.

These six schools are:

  1. The school of Logic – Proof of right perception.
  2. The atomic school – System of particulars. Elements. Alchemy and chemistry.
  3. The Sankhya school – System of numbers. The materialistic school. The theory of the seven states of matter or prakriti.
  4. The school of Yoga – Union. The rule of daily life. Mysticism.
  5. The school of Ceremonial Ritual. – Religion. Worship of the devas or Gods.
  6. The Vedanta school – Has to do with non-duality. Deal with the relation of Atma in man to the Logos.

The Gnosis or hidden knowledge is the same as Atma vidya, or Theosophy, and includes the other six.


Excerpted from:

A Treatise on Cosmic Fire – Section Two – Introductory Questions

Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul