Modern Esoteric Movements

Alice Bailey

Translation by Tomira Zori

From “Spritual Knowledge” magazine, Jan 1934

For those who study modern currents in the world of thought, perhaps it is worthless to emphasize certain fundamental differences, to oppose the course and succession of ideas, and to make a cursory study of their relationship to each other.

No esoteric movement is entirely bad or entirely good. No group of thinkers is the guardian of all truth, and no Book of Saints, or the recognition of the truth by one of the Teachers cannot contain all knowledge of God and His ways. There is a question of right and wrong individual and personal; no man is his brother’s keeper or has the right to make demands on his consciousness.

The differences that can be marked in these currents break up into two main groups: those concerning the outer form and its inner science, that is, the exoteric and esoteric aspects of truth, and the differences concerning the organizations of the old Age now passing away and those which are an indicator of the impending influence of the new Age.


The study of our exoteric forms does not concern us. External forms of religion and thought are but the measure of life and growth. They are the dim outer light of the inner reality; they are one of those symbolic interpretations by which the human mind apprehends the truth, the interpretation is recommended according to age and cycle. These interpretations rise and fall, come and go, and when their existence gives rise to purpose, after leaving marriage, they are proper for quality.

The forms you will experience through collective thought, they are so simple, like any of the great religions, or as early as any minor one sect, example after example of a similar story, and they go through analogous vicissitudes. Specify the period of their initiation, full of beautiful visions, when the ideal becomes discernible in the fullness of their glory and continuity. You came to the conclusion that you came up with the idea that one of the great Teachers, coming down from the Summit of spiritual consciousness, speaks the truth and evaluates the truth. This is how the first form was created. Over time there is a period when source of the growth, when truth becomes obscured, more and more the vision is lost. And finally we have religion, or science, or art, expressed in a series of dogmatic formulas, laws, rituals, and doctrines because of the paraphernalia of arbitrary teachings and idolized teachers. As form increases, life decreases, but still serving a purpose, many still benefit from the incarnate truth.

Old age comes later, and with it the external crystallization of the form and the rebellion of those who think, and they fight against imposed restrictions. Then the form becomes useless, so whatever it is, to destroy it, with the indispensable liberation of life to create something better for every word. This has been the case for centuries, has continued to do so and will still be.

The age we live in sees the destruction of old forms and old notions of truth, and this period of rebellion and hardship is of ordinary proportions, for we are not only moving from pre-war conditions to a new era but we are moving simultaneously from one great solar cycle to another. A study of the past will reveal to us the fact that such momentous epochs have always been characterized by equally radical changes of conditions (economic, social, racial and religious) giving the impression as if a whole new world of form was emerging. The cycles I mention are not merely astrological, they are astronomical facts, ascertainable in any astronomical observatory.

Apart from these exoteric forms, whether rising in the moment of manifestation, whether increasing or passing, there is a hidden power, occult or esoteric: the life that causes them to exist, a spiritual impulse, produces tangible shapes. Therefore, the movements bearing the name of ‘esoteric’ concern the subjective side, they concern the soul embodied in forms, an aspect of life, as opposed to the material, objective side.

Essential esotericism touches the hidden foundations of every human being; it concerns that element among mankind which we call immortal and eternal. It concerns what is the cause of thought, feeling and action. It tries express and to bring to the surface of consciousness these constant divine impulses, finding an outlet in the intense activity and change that characterizes all nature including man. That’s what everyone’s assumption is of religious formulas, all scientific research, economic difficulties and those cardinal directions which the social organism can take. As applied to the human individual, occultism or esotericism concerns the soul, for it manifests itself through the cerebral, sensory and mechanical apparatus, that aspect of the human being about which man as yet knows very little, but which makes him what he is. Esotericism is not important at all (as it turns out one often thinks) a deep science and a complex ritual to which one allows the taking of a solemn oath; it is an inner spiritual awakening, acknowledging a similar awakening, i.e. potential spirituality in all others human beings, and the hidden life in all forms.

We will consider these currents because of their importance, their responsibility, for it is to them that the strike of this note and the indication have been given, that direction which takes a new and fuller presentation of the truth. From the work they do will depend on the quality and adaptability of those religions, organizations and teams embodying the social order that will prevail during the concept-fixing era to come after our transitional and difficult age.


2014 in L'Alpe di Siusi, fresh from the US and Australia.

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