From The Book on the Living God, second edition, chapter 20 “The Spirit’s Light Dwells in the East,” 2014. Translated from Das Buch vom Lebendigen Gott, second edition, published in German in 1927.
Few in the Western world today divine the truth when they hear about the “Wise Men of the East,” whom high-minded seekers after truth in esoteric circles know from old traditions; and few of those who dimly sense what is implied are able to resist exotic fantasies when they attempt to give their intuition concrete form.
The East, the heart of Asia, holds the lands where human mortals most sharply honed the razor-edge of intellect.
But here, many thousands of years ago, had also lived the great lights of the Spirit who, far above all mental thought, had found the lucid path to truth: the truth which is Reality and, therefore, differs fundamentally from all the speculative images of knowledge that commonly are deemed to represent what one considers “truth.”
They were the first among the Brotherhood of Mediators here on earth, and they pursued their path and goal protected by the Spirit’s highest guidance.
And ever since have they and their successors offered guidance, from the Spirit’s realm and by the Spirit’s power, to any human soul that is prepared to benefit from their instruction.
They raised a sacred wall of silence around the presence of their Brotherhood, and only those will find acceptance in their midst whose spirit they will judge mature enough to be endowed with knowledge of the Spirit’s world.
They know that only those can profit from their gift who are already near their journey’s goal, where all the trials of their path shall end.
To all humanity, however, they are sending guides and helpers from their midst, as they have done throughout the ages.
Both in Western and in Eastern lands there always have been members of that Brotherhood whose work required living in the world.
The members of that timeless spiritual body are not identified by any outward signs.
They alone are able to distinguish who is of their kind.
Their spiritual essence and identity remain concealed to mortal eyes.
None of the Spirit’s helpers to whom I here refer will ever seek to found a congregation around his person in this life.
None of them has ever instituted any such community of followers.
Wherever “congregations” of that kind originated in the world and claimed to have been founded by the spiritual Brotherhood, if not indeed its radiant Fathers, such groups were always organized by only partially developed souls, who, owing to their prematurely active inner senses, had been able, like eavesdroppers, to catch fragmented insights from the circle of the Inner East. They were not, however, able to interpret properly what they had overheard.
Only seldom has a member of that Brotherhood explicitly professed his spiritual identity before the people of his time, so much preoccupied with temporal affairs, and for each who took this step such confidence became a bitter sacrifice.
Unless that kind of sacrifice is absolutely necessary, it is thought better to avoid it.
That is why the Wise Men of the East provide their help without revealing who they are.
That is also why each member of that circle keeps his background to himself, unless he is compelled by his specific mission to disclose, either in symbolic terms or more directly, the truth about his spiritual identity, which is a heavy burden to acknowledge.
The spiritual Brotherhood of Luminariesâ€”age-old traditions among devoted seekers after wisdom know them as the Wise Men of the Eastâ€”is governed only by the Spirit’s law.
Its members take no vows to live ascetic lives, nor are they bound by pledges of religious or secular orders. The development of spiritual powers does not depend upon such things.
However, what is called for by the Spirit’s law, which these powers will alone obey, is more severe by far than even the most rigorous asceticism and the harshest life of penance.
One must abandon many preconceptions whose premises may in themselves be valid, but which pertain to no more than the lower energies, if one would know what makes a spiritual initiate who is admitted to that circle.
You, however, will be known by any member of that body, even though your concepts of his nature might be wrong.
Nor will his teaching be through words your ears are able to perceive.
The words that one who is united with the Spirit may speak or write in his own language do not comprise his teaching in the truest sense.
Such words are only meant as hints to help you find again both him and others of his kind within youâ€”within your inmost self.
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