Last night a friend asked me "where does esoteric truth comes from?" She was speaking, it turned out, about its origins in the depths of time. Did it come from the Atlantean culture, as some new age people would say? If so, where did they get it from?
It appears, on the surface, to be a complex philosophical issue. One could ponder this question for a long time. Everyone, it seems, wants to remember where things came from so that we can place them and give them more meaning. After all, we think, nothing is good enough in itself. It's only if we add to it by assigning meaning that it obtains value.
Peculiar, isn't it?
I do not think the origin of esoteric- or inner- ideas lies within ancient cultures or secret societies or preisthoods. It isn't about culture and practice at all.
Culture and practice come after Truth. All of them are merely attempts born of Truth to return to itself.
Truth arises with the qualities of matter itself. It is a vibration that contains everything, but which we are usually unable to sense. That vibration is a supremely blissful emanation of Love that blossoms forth from the roots of reality itself. Nothing is apart from it, and nothing can be outside of it. The fact that we are separated from the sense of it does not mean we are apart from it. So this Truth is the ultimate "esoteric" idea- it is the heart of reality- and if it is sensed, no matter who senses it, it gives birth to the same understanding.
Dogen said "This Dharma is abundantly present in each human being, but if we do not practice it, it does not manifest itself, and if we do not experience it, it cannot be realized." (Shobogenzo, translated by Gudo Nishikima & Chodo Cross, Dogensangha 1994, P. 1.)
Christ referred to this Truth as the Father. It is the active principle which gives birth to all things. He called upon us to make the effort to experience this Truth within ourselves.
Dogen reminds us that it requires effort to attain it, and experience to understand it.
The magnificent flowers of our inner garden, fed by our breath and nourised by the root of our being, can bloom into the sunlight of this Truth. This is a long work and a manifestly joyful one.
Today perhaps all of us can share an effort to stay in touch with the delicate buds of that process and, with attention, try to nurture them.