I'm not really happy with the term "Mesoteric", which makes me think of Mesozoic, another very different interest of mine! But alternatives like Pre-Gnostic ("before attaining gnosis") are not much better (pre-gnostic seems to imply precognition, which is a totally unrelated subject). So for now, at least untl a better name comes along, I'll use the term "Mesoteric" (from meso- "middle") to refer to the middle stage, between the exoteric and esoteric, adding "Pre-Gnostic" to try to convey a sense of context.
I define Mesoteric (or Pre-Gnostic) it as possessing esoteric knowledge and insights, and having had Inner subtle and astral experiences, but not yet having attained gnosis (hence pre-gnostic). Therefore, although the limitations of materialism and religionism have been rejected, and one is open to Possibilities and realities that are not available even at the conventional exoteric level, there is not yet Spiritual Certainty and Inner Guidance. For this reason, people at this stage may believe mythical or messianic beliefs, such as that the World will end or be transformed when the Mayan calender ends (2012) as a literal physical, historical fact, rather than symbolic of the transformation of consciousness, or they may be susceptible to fake gurus.
The reason I still mention the New Age here, descpite its eccentricities, is because I like Wouter Hanegraaff's idea (although he was just following Jaques Quispel, who was a scholar of Gnosticism and colleague of Jung) of the dichotomy of Reason (Science and Philosophy) and Faith (Religion) being transcended by Gnosis (actually Hanegraaff leaves out Art here, I guess because it's not relevant to his argument). He argues in his book on New Age Religion and Western Culture that the New Age is a sort of public and secular esotericism. So the New Age has taken insights from Blavatsky, Swedenborg, Emerson etc. But what Hanegraaff doesn't mention (or is interested in) are the Lines of development; unlike Blavatsky, Swedenborg, and Emerson, most of the modern New Age people have poor Rational-Cognitive-Intellectual development (hence all that DNA and photon belt stuff, it seems that none of these people have read even a basic book on biology or astronomy).
However, they are in tune with things like subtle energies (both in the individual subtle body and aura, nature, and the Earth and cosmos as a whole), chakras, spiritual beings and hierarchies, and so on; all of which appears absurd to mainstream consciousness.
Obviously there are some exceptions to New Age naivity - e.g. David Spangler of Findhorn fame, one of the founders of the New Age), who has since disowned the New Age because of its commercialism and superficiality. I feel the same, but I am interested in the authentic New Age, of the sort Spangler and others represent
In this sense the development of the New Age fits in with the theme of socio-cultural evolutionary stages quite well. Esotericism in the old days was not separate from philosophy and religion (just look at Sufism or Kabbalah), but the rise of secularism and modernity allowed esotericism to appear in its own right.
In is intersting that the distinction between the holistic/non-gnostic and mesoteric/pregnostic is very marked; basically the holistic is still materialistic, whereas the mesoteric is not. The Mesoteric Stage therefore differs from the previous, Holistic stage, in totally rejecting materialism and acknowledging supraphysical and nonphysical realities, and the infinite possibilities they allow. Hence intellectuals, gurus, and pop-gurus of the holistic consciousness stage tend to ridicule or at best sympathetically dismiss mesoteric insights; this is a common pattern in the evpolution of consciousness; the lower always attacks that which is beyond it. I have noticed this on the Cultural Creatives website ridiculing the New Age (Cultural Creatives - FAQs "the New Agers are only a tiny postage stamp on the corner of this envelope-about 5% of population compared to 26%, and half of the New Agers aren't Cultural Creatives either. Most Cultural Creatives are very mainstream and would be offended if you called them New Age. They're very grounded and practical people"), in the exoteric scepticism of Andrew Cohen (see blog post No More Fairy Tales) and Ken Wilber (who in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality dismisses the End of History, true enough exoterically, but this misses the point of its significance on the esoteric level). Foremost holistic thinkers like Fritjof Capra are bound to a systems theory worldview and so cannot conceive of an astral body apart from the physical; likewise Quantum Mysticism (Dean Radin, Gregg Baden) falls into this trap. Wilber also cannot conceive of a non-physical subtle body, hence his idea of subtle and causal dimensions as intraphysical.
The most important transformation today therefore, despite its many shortcomings and abuses, is still the New Age movement. This represents the first time in history there has bene a free and public - rather than institutionalised religious - acknowledgement of mesoteric and esoteric realities. Of course, mesoteric/pre-gnostic insights are by no means limited to the modern world. Most practitioners of esoteric spirituality, especially those who approach it from either a traditional/religious or rational/modern perspective, are at the mesoteric/pregnostic level.
The difference mesoteric/pregnostic level and esoteric/gnostic is as marked as between holistic/non-gnostic level. mesoteric/pregnostic. At the mesoteric/pregnostic level, there is sympathy for and resonance with esoteric, spiritual, and occult realities, and many cosmic experiences, but not yet immediate gnostic Realisation. It is that awakening that constitutes the gnostic or true (creatively) esoteric state of consciousness. While not the same as Realisation proper, it does represent a very radical transformation and shift of consciousness. At the mesoteric/pregnostic level one is still "seeking" or "searching" or "exploring", wanting to know and understand. At the esoteric/gnostic level all understanding is immediate; there is no need to search, and the purpose in studying esoteric knowledge is to further inspire and provide means for the intellectual articularuion of the gnosis that is already there.
images not loading? | error messages? | broken links? | suggestions? | criticism?