The KYBALION HISTORY and Modern Times
A Brief History of Hermetic Philosophy
The BCMA takes great pleasure in presenting to our members, potential members, students and investigators of the Secret Doctrines this work, based upon the world-old Hermetic teachings. There has been so little written of late on this subject, notwithstanding the countless references to the Teachings in the worldwide works upon Metaphysics and Hermetic Philosophy, as well as the Mysteries of the Universe. There are many earnest seekers after the Arcane Truths that may, indeed, welcome this work.
The purpose of this writing is not to enunciate any special philosophy or doctrine, but rather to give the seeker and student a statement of Truth that will serve to reconcile the many bits of psychic and occult knowledge that they may have acquired, but which can apparently oppose each other and which often serve to discourage, frighten and disgust the beginner of these studies.
The intent here is not to erect a new temple of knowledge, as that would prove to be impossible. But rather to place in the hands of the student the Master-Key with which he may begin to open the many inner doors of the Temple of Mystery through the main portals which have already been entered by tens of thousands of souls.
There is no portion of the psychic/sixth sense teachings possessed by the world, which have been so closely guarded as the fragments of the Hermetic Teachings. These teachings have come down to us over the ages, tens of thousands of centuries, which have passed since the lifetime of its great founded, Hermes Trismegistus, known as the “scribe of the gods,” who dwelt in ancient Egypt in the days when the present race of man was in its infancy. Hermes was a contemporary with Abraham, and, if the legend holds true, an instructor of that vulnerable sage. Hermes was regarded, and still is, as the Great Central Light of Higher Wisdom and Knowledge, whose rays served to illuminate these countless teachings, which have been promulgated since his lifetime. All the fundamental and basic teachings embedded in the esoteric teachings of every religion and race may be traced back to the teachings of Hermes. Even the most ardent teachings of India, undoubtedly have their roots in the original Hermetic Teachings.
From the land on the Ganges many advanced masters wandered across to the land of Egypt, and sat at the feet of their master, Hermes. From him they obtained the Master-Key which explained and reconciled their divergent views, and thus the Secret Doctrine was firmly established. Across from many other lands came the learned ones, the wise men of old, all of whom regarded Hermes as the Master of Masters. His teaching were so great that despite the many wanderings from the path over the centuries of teachers in these different lands, there is still found a basic resemblance and correspondence which underlies the many and often quite divergent theories entertained and taught by the philosophers, teachers, and great Masters in these different lands today. The student of Comparative Religions will be able to perceive the influence of Hermetic teachings in every religion worthy of the name, now known to man, whether it be a dead religion or one in full vigor in these new times. There is always a certain correspondence in spite of the contradictory features, and the Hermetic Teachings act as the great reconciler.
The lifework of Hermes seems to have been in the direction of planting the great Seed of Truth, which has grown and blossomed in so many strange and varied forms rather than to have established a school of philosophy which would dominate the world’s thought. Nevertheless, the original truths taught by him have been kept intact in their original purity by a few devoted men in each age that has passed, who, refusing great numbers of half-developed students and followers, followed the Hermetic custom and reserved their truth for the few who were ready to comprehend and master it. From lip to ear the truth has been handed down among the blessed few. There have always been a few Initiates in each generation, across the varied lands of the earth who have kept alive the sacred flame of the Hermetic Teachings, and as such have always been willing to use their lamps to re-light the dimmer flames of the outer world, when the light of truth grew dim, clouded by reason and neglect, on whom the wicks became clogged with foreign matter, manipulation and control. There have always been the chosen few who have tended faithfully to the Altar of Truth, upon which was kept alight the Perpetual Light of Wisdom. These men devoted their lives to the labor of love which the poet has so well stated in his lines:
“Oh let the flame not die out! Cherished age after age in its dark cavern—in its holy temples cherished. Fed by pure ministers of love—let not the flame die out!”
These men have never sought popular approval, or numbers of followers. They are indifferent to those things, for they are acutely aware of how few there are in every generation who are ready for the truth, or who would recognize it if it were presented to them. They reserve the “strong meat for men,” while other teachers furnish the “milk for babies.” They reserve their pearls of wisdom for the few elect, who can recognize their value and who wear these values in their own crowns, instead of casting them before the materialistic vulgar swine, who would grab them, contaminate them, trample them in the mud and mix them up within their own disgusting mental food. Forever and still, these men have never forgotten or overlooked the original teachings of Hermes, regarding the passing on of the words of truth to those ready to receive it, which teaching is stated in the Kybalion as follows:
“Where fall the footsteps of the Master, the ears of those ready for his Teachings open wide.” And again, “When the ears of the student are ready to hear, then cometh the lips to fill them with wisdom.” Their customary attitude has always been strictly in accordance with the other Hermetic aphorism, also in the Kybalion: “The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding.”
There are many who have criticized this attitude of the Hermetists and who have claimed that they did not manifest the proper spirit in their policy of seclusion and reticence. But if you take a moment’s glance back over the pages of history, they will show the wisdom of the Masters, who knew the folly of attempting to teach to the world that which it was neither willing or ready to receive. The Hermetists have never sought to be martyrs, but have instead, sat quietly aside with a pitying smile on their closed lips, while the “heathen raged noisily around them” in their customary amusement of putting to death and torture the honest but misguided enthusiasts who imagined that they could force upon a race of barbarians the truth capable of being understood only by the elect who had, studied listened and advanced along the Path.
This spirit of persecution has not as yet died on the Earth plane. It continues on and on, and has been brought strongly into focus again in this new Millennium. There are certain Hermetic Teachings, which if publicly read or announced, would bring down upon the teachers a great cry of scorn and revilement from the masses who would once again arise and cry out, “Crucify, Crucify!”
Within this writing we have endeavored to give you the fundamental teaching of the Kybalion, striving to give you the working principles, leaving you to apply them for yourselves, rather than to attempt to work out this teaching in detail. If you are a true student, you will be able to work out and apply these Principles into your life—if not, then you must develop yourself into one devotee, for otherwise the Hermetic Teachings will be as “words, words, words” to you.
Out of old Egypt have come the fundamental esoteric and psychic/metaphysical teachings, which have so strongly influenced the philosophies of all races, nations and peoples, for several thousand years. Egypt, the home of the pyramids and the Sphinx, was the birthplace of hidden wisdom and the Mystic Teachings. From her Secret Doctrine all nations have borrowed, India, Persia, Medea, Isarel, China, Japan, Assyria, ancient Greece, and Rome, as well as other ancient countries partook liberally at the feast of knowledge which the Hierophants and Masters of the Land of Isis so freely provided for those who came prepared to partake of the great store of Mystic Lore which the master of minds of that ancient land had gathered together.
In ancient Egypt dwelt the great Adepis and Masters who have never been surpassed and who seldom have been equaled, during the centuries that have taken their processional flight since the days of the great Hermes. In Egypt was located the Great Lodge of Lodges of the Mystics. At the door of her temples entered the neophytes, who afterward, as Hierophants, Adepts and Masters, traveled to the four corners of the earth, carrying with them the precious knowledge which they were ready, anxious and willing to pass on to those who were ready to receive the same. All students of the Esoteric Mysteries recognize the debt that they owe to these venerable Masters of that ancient land.
Among these great Masters of Ancient Egypt there once dwelt one of whom all Masters hailed the Master of Masters. This man, if a “man” indeed he was, dwelt in Egypt in the earliest days, during the time of a great civilization where the famed Hall of Records is now buried. He was known as Hermes Trismegistus. He was the father of esoteric and occult wisdom; the founder of Astrology; the discoverer of Alchemy. The details of his life story are lost in history, owing to the lapse of the years, though several of the ancient countries disputed with each other in the claims to the honor of having furnished his birthplace, and this was thousands of years ago. The date of his sojourn in Egypt, in that his last incarnation on this planet, is now not known, but it has been fixed at the early days of the oldest dynasties in Egypt, long before the days of Moses. The best historian authorities regard him as a contemporary of Abraham, and some of the Jewish traditions go so far as to claim that Abraham acquired a portion of his mystic knowledge from Hermes himself.
As the years rolled by after his passing from the Earth plane (tradition claims that he lived three hundred years in the flesh), the Egyptians deified Hermes, and made him one of their gods, under the name of Thoth. Years after, the people of ancient Greece also made him one of their many gods—calling him “Hermes, the God of Wisdom.” The Egyptians revered his memory many centuries—yes, tens of centuries—calling him “The Scribe of the Gods,” and bestowing upon him, distinctively, his ancient title, “Trismegistus” which means “the thrice-great”; the “great-great”; “the greatest-great,” etc. In all the ancient lands, the name of Hermes Trismegistus was revered, the name becoming synonymous with the “Fount of Wisdom.”
Even in this Twenty-First Century we see the term “hermetic” in the sense of “secret”; “sealed so that nothing can escape”; etc. and this by reason of the fact that the followers of Hermes always observed the principal of secrecy in their teachings. They did not believe in “casting pearls before the swine,” but rather held to the teaching “milk for babies, meat for strong men,” both of which maxims are familiar to the readers of the Christian scriptures, but both of which had been used by the Egyptians for centuries before the Christian era.
This policy of careful dissemination of the truth has always been characterized the Hermetics, even unto the present day. The Hermetic Teachings are found in all lands, among all religions, but are never identified with any particular country, or with any particular religious sect. This is because of the warnings of the ancient teachers against allowing the Secret Doctrines to become crystallized into a creed. The wisdom of this caution is apparent to all students of history. The ancient esoteric teachings of India and Persia degenerated and was largely lost, owing to the fact that the teachers became priests, and so mixed theology with the philosophy, the result being that the esoteric teachings of India and Persia has been gradually lost amidst the mass of religious superstition, cults, creeds, and “gods.” So it was with ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Hermetic Teachings of the Gnostics and early Christians, which were lost at the time of Constantine, whose iron hand smothered philosophy with the blanket of philosophy, This caused a loss to the Christian church that which was its very essence and spirit, and caused it to grope throughout several centuries before it found its way back to its ancient faith. This indication is apparent to all careful observers in this Twenty-First Century, being that the church is now struggling to get back its ancient mystical teachings.
However, there were always a few faithful souls who kept alive the Flame, tending it carefully and not allowing its light to become extinguished. Thanks to these staunch hearts, and fearless minds, we have this truth still with us today. This information is not found in books to any great extent. The information has been passed along from Master to Student; from Initiate to Heirophant; from lip to ear. When it was written down at all its meaning was veiled in terms of alchemy and astrology, so only those who possessed that knowledge could discern its meaning and key that could unveil the information. This became necessary in order to avoid the precautions of the theologians of the Middle Ages, who fought the Secret Doctrine with fire and sword; stake, goblet and cross. Even to this day there are but a few reliable books on the Hermetic Philosophy; although there are countless reference to it in many books written in the various phases of occultism. Yet the Hermetic Philosophy is the only Master Key which will open the Golden Door of all of the highest esoteric teachings.
In the early days there was a compilation of certain basic hermetic Doctrines, passed on from teacher to student, which was known as The Kybalion, the exact significance and meaning of the term having been lost for several centuries. Its perceptions have never been written down, or printed, as far as we know today. The work was merely a collection of maxims, axioms, and precepts which were non-understandable to outsiders, but which were really understandable by students, after the axioms.
According to the Teachings, the passage of this writing to those ready for the instruction will attract the attention of such as are ready to receive the Teachings. Likewise, when the student is ready to receive this information, this writing will come to them, and this organization will become a part of their spiritual growth.
Such is the Law. The Hermetic Principle of Cause and Effect, in its aspect of the Law of Attraction, will bring lips and ear together and this writing will be added to the company. So will it be.