Thursday, April 4, 2013

Etymology: Esoteric, Exoteric, Secret, Sacred and Profane


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Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek ἐσωτερικός (esôterikos), a compound of ἔσω (esô): "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward", mystic. Its antonym is "exoteric".

Exoteric refers to knowledge that is outside of and independent from anyone's experience and can be ascertained by anyone; cf. common sense. It is distinguished from internal esoteric knowledge. Exoteric relates to "external reality" as opposed to one's own thoughts or feelings. It is knowledge that is public as opposed to secret or cabalistic. It is not required that exoteric knowledge come easily or automatically, but it should be referenceable or reproducible.

"Longchenpa (1308–1364) was a critical link in the exoteric and esoteric transmission of the Dzogchen teachings."....Dowman, Keith, Old Man Basking In the Sun: Longchenpa's Treasury of Natural Perfection, Vajra Publications, 2006

"Plato, in his dialogue Alcibíades (circa 390 BC), uses the expression ta esô meaning "the inner things", and in his dialogue Theaetetus (circa 360 BC) he uses ta exô meaning "the outside things". Aristotle applied this distinction to his own writings. The probable first appearance of the Greek adjective esôterikos is in Lucian of Samosata's "The Auction of Lives", § 26, written around AD 166."....

"The terms "Gnosticism" and "Gnosis" refer to a family of religious movements which claimed to possess secret knowledge (gnosis). ...Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge (in the nominative case γνῶσις f.). In the context of the English language gnosis generally refers to the word's meaning within the spheres of Christian mysticism, Mystery religions and Gnosticism where it signifies a 'spiritual knowledge' or religion of knowledge, in the sense of mystical enlightenment or 'insight'. ....Plato, uses the plural adjective γνωστικοί – gnostikoi and the singular feminine adjective γνωστικὴ ἐπιστήμη – gnostike episteme in his Politikos where Gnostike episteme was also used to indicate one's aptitude.The terms do not appear to indicate any mystic, esoteric or hidden meaning in the works of Plato, but instead expressed a sort of higher intelligence ".....

"Profanum is the Latin word for "profane" meaning excluded from the temple. Central to the social reality of major western religion is the distinction made by Émile Durkheim between the sacred and the profane. The profane world consists of all that we can know through our senses; it is the natural world of everyday life that we experience as either comprehensible or at least ultimately knowable. In contrast, the sacred, or sacrum in Latin, encompasses all that exists beyond the everyday, natural world that we experience with our senses.".......

The Ismaili Muslims also stress a distinction between the inner and the outer. It is believed that spiritual salvation is attained by receiving the 'Nur' (light) through the "esoteric", that is, spiritual search for enlightenment.

The word "sacred" descends from the Latin sacrum, which referred to the gods or anything in their power, and to sacerdos, priest; sanctum, set apart. It was generally conceived spatially, as referring to the area around a temple.

The English word "holy" dates back to at least the 11th Century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning "whole" and used to mean "uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete". The Scottish hale ("health, happiness and wholeness") is the most complete modern form of this Old English root. The modern word "health" is also derived from the Old English hal. As "wholeness", holiness may be taken to indicate a state of religious completeness or perfection.

"The Buddha described four grades of such person depending on their level of purity. This purity is measured by which of the ten fetters (samyojana) and klesha have been purified and integrated from the mindstream. These persons are called (in order of increasing sanctity) Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami and Arahant. The latter term designates an enlightened human being"..

"The Three Roots are the second of three Tibetan Buddhist refuge formulations, the Outer, Inner and Secret forms of the Three Jewels. The 'Outer' form is the 'Triple Gem', (Sanskrit:triratna), the 'Inner' is the Three Roots and the 'Secret' form is the 'Three Bodies' or trikaya of a Buddha."....

"...three traditional levels of the Taoist teachings—Outer, Inner, and Secret. The Outer teachings are concerned with understanding the Tao as manifested in nature and society. They are easily accessible to the layperson and consist of the Taoist philosophy of nature and humanity, advice on daily living, and a brief introduction to the beginning stages of Taoist meditation. The Inner teachings familiarize the practitioner with the energetic structure of the human body and introduce methods of stilling the mind and cultivating internal energy for health and longevity. The Secret teachings describe the highest level of internal-alchemical transformations within the body and mind for attaining immortality.".....Nourishing the Essence of Life.....The Outer, Inner, and Secret Teachings of Eva Wong

Quasi-Popular......"Bon, unlike the religious outgrowths of the Aryan culture, especially Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in their quasi-popular forms, gives little heed to the pursuit of salvation through austerities. Bon philosophy speaks of Yeshen as being reflected in the interplay between heaven and earth."...(Chogyam Trungpa: The Heart of the Buddha" 222)....

"British anthropologist Jack Goody noted that "many societies have no words that translate as sacred or profane and that ultimately, just like the distinction between natural and supernatural, it was very much a product of European religious thought rather than a universally applicable criterion."......Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, (1912, English translation by Joseph Swain: 1915) The Free Press, 1965. ISBN 0-02-908010-X, new translation by Karen E. Fields 1995, ISBN 0-02-907937-3

".....The energy of the five pure lights arises in the primordial base and creates and gives substance to internal and external reality. In the mandala of the human body, this clear light energy resides in the heart, rises through the channels, and is projected through the eyes. It is the basis of all vision and moves from the inner to the outer dimension. According to the traditional explanation, external existence is constituted by the world in its function of outer mandala or "container" of the individual. The internal existence of the self or individual is divided into internal, external, and secret. The external existence of the individual consists of the five sense objects perceived by the five sense consciousnesses. Internal existence is the sixth sense consciousness, the mind, together with proprioception or the inner consciousness of the body. Secret existence is the movement of thoughts. In the last analysis, the division of existence into internal and external is based on a false view formed by the conceptual mind regarding the dualistic condition. In the true condition there is no distinction between internal and external since the same empty space gives rise to internal and external existence alike, just as the air inside and outside a jar is the same.".....Tenzin Wangyal. Wonders Of The Natural Mind: The Essense Of Dzogchen In The Native Bon Tradition Of Tibet

"The mystery religions of antiquity were religious cults which required initiation before a participant was accepted. They included the Eleusinian Mysteries, Mithraism, the Cult of Isis, and the Cult of Sol Invictus....Christian Mysteries refer to what the Western Church currently calls Sacraments and Sacramentals. In the Early Church they were kept hidden from the pagans — the so-called Disciplina arcani — lest they become objects of ridicule. ".....

"A hierophant is a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. The word comes from Ancient Greece, where it was constructed from the combination of ta hiera, "the holy," and phainein, "to show." In Attica it was the title of the chief priest at the Eleusinian Mysteries. A hierophant is an interpreter of sacred mysteries and arcane principles.".....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….April 2013


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