My friends at the Reality Sandwich site have posted an excerpt from The Secret Teachers of the Western World. It’s the closing sections of the Introduction, where I present the main argument of the book, that the western esoteric tradition has been the victim of a “consciousness war” going on for the last four centuries, the protagonists of which are our two cerebral hemispheres.
This tradition – which we can also call the “western consciousness tradition”- has never disappeared. It has only gone underground, and its work has been carried on by many individuals, the “secret teachers” of the book. These range from full-on esoteric figures like Madame Blavatsky and Gurdjieff, to more mainstream thinkers like William James, Henri Bergson, and Plato, the father of western philosophy. I chart the contributions these “secret teachers” and others have made to western consciousness, from the distant past of ancient Greece, to our contemporary “post-everything” world, and suggest that, although we are undoubtedly going through a time of crisis, there is no cause for despair. The very precipice we seem to be teetering on may trigger a profound and much needed shift in our consciousness and enable us, in the words of the poet W. B. Yeats, to “complete our partial mind.”