The Esoteric Path
An Introduction to the Hermetic Tradition
Traditional esoterism, though capable of the highest degree of elaboration, is based on a few first principles—Absolute Reality, hierarchical manifestation, the necessity for initiation, the centrality of the spiritual Heart, etc.—which can be stated simply. In The Esoteric Path, Luc Benoist does just this for the monumental writings of the great metaphysician René Guénon. If ever there was a ‘primer’ on traditional metaphysics and esoterism, one that does not dumb down its subject but rather opens a door to profound spiritual depths waiting to be explored, it is this book. The first section deals in a general way with metaphysical principles, their modes of transmission and the spiritual practices based upon them. The second presents the central principles of such Eastern traditions as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam, and also various forms of Western Esoterism, including Eastern Orthodox Hesychasm, Freemasonry, Hermeticism, the Templars, Dante and the Fedeli d’Amore, Meister Eckhart and his ‘school’, etc. Far more than a bouquet of mystical teachings plucked from various sources, designed to titillate the reader’s spiritual sensibilities, The Esoteric Path firmly situates that Path in its appropriate, traditional context, so that the seeker’s first steps on the ‘path to the Path’ will be firm and confident, and point him or her in the right direction, away from the time- and soul-consuming attractions of those ‘paths’ that exhibit (in the author’s words) ‘the confusion between the spiritual and the psychic., the identification of the spiritual with what is most inferior in the psyche, the identification of religion with magic, totemism, and even sorcery, the popular dissemination of pseudo- or counter-initiatic rituals. A worthy companion to the biographical René Guénon and the Future of the West by Robin Waterfield and the Collected Works of René Guénon, also published by Sophia Perennis, The Esoteric Path will be of great value to scholars, seekers, and anyone searching for a clearer understanding of the great spiritual traditions.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS
Exoteric and Esoteric—The Three Worlds—Intuition, Reason, and Intellect—Tradition—Symbolism—Rite, Rhythm, and Act—Initiation—The Center and the Heart—The Greater and the Lesser Mysteries—The Three Ways: Castes and Callings—Folk and Fairy Tales—The Intermediate Realm—Mysticism and Magic—Action, Love, and Beauty—The Great Peace: Prayer of the Heart—Places and States—Qualified Time: Cycles—The Supreme Identity and the Eternal Avatar
PART TWO: THE HISTORICAL FORMS
I. The East
The Hindu Tradition—Buddhism—Chinese Taoism—Zen Buddhism—The Hebrew Tradition—Islamic Tradition
II. The West
Esoteric Christianity—Orthodox Hesychasm—Knights Templar, Fedeli d'Amore, and the Rose-Cross—Hermetic Cosmology—Guilds and Freemasonry—Meister Eckhart and Nicholas of Cusa—Theosophers—Tradition and Romanticism—The Oriental Renaissance—The Tradition in Great Britain—Conclusion—Bibliography
Luc Benoist is generally considered the most balanced and authentic exponent of Guénon's teaching. I know of no work in which true scholarship is combined so well with conciseness and comprehensiveness.