Perennialist sages teach certain ideas and exercises to the general public. These exoteric teachings can be read and practiced by all who are interested. Advanced, esoteric teachings must be reserved for the tested initiate for a number of reasons:

  1. Only a qualified initiate has the specific skills and personality traits which make it possible for her to understand the esoteric teachings:

    • Moral qualities which make it possible to discern what is being taught (e.g. a psychotic killer cannot understand the sanctity of human life)

    • Moral qualities which make it safe for her to be allowed to hear about extraordinary ideas and participate in advanced exercises (just as certain physical skills are required by a coach before allowing a person to engage in a rigorous sport)

    • Intellectual and philosophical skills which make it possible to understand advanced material

  2. It sometimes seems that the Perennial Tradition is reluctant to help seekers, but it only seems that way because, as Meister Eckhart explained in his writings, ". . . if you haven't the truth of which we are speaking in yourselves, you cannot understand me."

  3. It's not a matter of Perennialist teachers making things deliberately arcane, it's simply the fact that unless you have made a truth a part of your being you have no capability of understanding it.

  4. Only a qualified initiate has a genuine interest in advanced teachings and can therefore appreciate their value; to the merely curious or the scholastic, advanced teachings seem commonplace and lackluster.

  5. Only a tested initiate has the background to handle challenging, sometimes dangerous ideas and exercises.

  6. There is danger in proceeding on one's own because the mind and active imagination are very tricky, and other entities can appear disguised as one's guide or Angel. Only a Perennialist teacher of inner development can instruct the aspirant in the genuine procedures for testing and banishing these tricks of imagination.

A Sufi teaching story tells of a foolish, impatient seeker who wheedled a teacher into telling him a magic word. When the seeker used the word, it did prove powerful; in an instant it produced a lion--which promptly ate the heedless seeker.

"Although the writer regards it as unnecessary and inadvisable to disclose in a work of popular instruction those further secrets of a more advanced practice which act as short cuts to attainment for those who are ready to receive them, suffice to say that whoever will take up this path and go through the disciplinary practices here given faithfully and willingly until he is sufficiently advanced to profit by the further initiation of those secrets, may rest assured that at the right time he will be led to someone or else someone will be led to him and the requisite initiation will then be given him. Such is the wonderful working of the universal soul which broods over this earth of ours and over all mankind. No one is too insignificant to escape its notice just as no one is deprived of the illumination which is his due; but everything in nature is graduated, so the hands of the planetary clock must go round and the right hour be struck ere the aspirant makes the personal contact which in nine cases out of ten is the preliminary to entry into a higher realization of these spiritual truths."

Paul Brunton, Perspectives: The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume 1