January 31, 2023

Mitch Horowitz On Certainty of Purpose

I started reading Mitch Horowitz’s book, The Seeker’s Guide to The Secret Teachings of All Ages which is an authorised companion text to the esoteric landmark book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

Mitch Horowitz is a historian of alternative spirituality and considered to be one of the most knowledgeable people today about esoterica, mysticism, and the occult.

Lately, I find myself back on the path of the seeker. A path I walk often and just as often stray away from when I feel the self-imposed pressure to be “practical,” and to do “practical” things like everybody else around me.

The practical path has never been one for me. It’s rather like taking the castor oil as a cure-all remedy that my mother used to force down me whenever I was sick as a kid. I think castor oil is the reason I so rarely get sick; just thinking of having to take it makes me avoid being sick. I have the same aversion to being practical.

Serendipity led me to this book. While I was buying The Seven Paths: Changing One’s Way of Walking in the World, The Seeker’s Guide appeared in my Amazon cross-sell list. I took this as a sign and bought this book as well. It was further confirmation that I needed to be back on the path.

The Seeker’s Guide being a companion book naturally meant I needed to get the source book as well, so now Manly P. Hall’s work is sitting in my digital library.

“The Secret Teachings of All Ages” is a comprehensive study of esoteric philosophy, symbolism, and mystical traditions. The book is considered difficult to read. It book covers a wide range of subjects, including ancient myths and legends, alchemy, secret societies, astrology, and mystical practices. Hall provides an overview of hidden knowledge throughout history and seeks to uncover universal truths. It is considered a classic in the field of esoteric literature and continues to be widely read and referenced by scholars and enthusiasts.

The reason Horowitz wrote The Seeker’s Guide was to make Hall’s original work easier for readers to understand. The book is structured into 12 lessons instead of chapters to reflect the fact that the book is based on Horowitz’s lecture series.

Lesson I – Discovering The Secret teachings
Lesson II – The Meaning of Philosophy
Lesson III – Ancient Egypt and the Question of Primeval Civilizations
Lesson IV – Science of Stars
Lesson V – The Hermetic World
Lesson VI – Hellenic Mysteries
Lesson VII – The Role of Secret Socities
Lesson VIII – The Secret History of America
LessonIX – Mysterious Beasts and Natural Wonders
Lesson X – Mystic Christianity
Lesson XI – Kabbalah and the Hebrew Masters
Lesson XII – The Tarot and Magick

Where do we derive our motivation to achieve great things, or at least to achieve what is meaningful to us? Horowitz delves into the answer in the first half of Lesson I. He attempts to decipher the mystery of how Hall was able to write something as massive as The Secret Teachings of All Ages in only six years, especially as Hall was only 21 at the time he began writing the book.

Of course some people have speculated that Hall didn’t write the book unassisted, that he, in fact, had some form of esoteric help.

Horowitz doesn’t speculate. He believes that Hall’s certainty of purpose was the key factor in unlocking his potential, allowing him to accomplish a feat that should have taken him a lifetime of acquiring the knowledge to write such an opus as The Teachings of All Ages.

Horowitz believes more people can realise great feats if they too zero in on their purpose with certainty:

I’m always encouraging people, when they’re searching for a way in life, when they’re trying to figure out what to do with their existence, or what to do next, that they be very intimately honest with themselves about what they truly want out of life. We think that we ask ourselves the question, what do I want?—but I believe that we often deceive ourselves, and that we actually fail to ask that question in as deep or as penetrating a way as we ought to. That question also gets stolen from us because we are all conditioned by peer pressure, by things that we grew up with, by notions that we inherited from who knows where. And sometimes, even in our most private recesses, we feel inhibited or embarrassed, and unable to really ask and probe that question seriously.

But he reckons they don’t because:

Sometimes, frankly, we’re afraid of what we’re going to find. We slide into these roles in life and we think we have to occupy them and that we owe some sort of loyalty to these roles that we find ourselves in. But if we are willing to suspend fealty to these roles, new possibilities can appear.

How certain are you of your purpose—your life purpose? Are you here to fulfill nature’s purpose to procreate and keep the species alive? Or is it something else? Perhaps your purpose is to pen a great book or to discover something useful for humankind. Perhaps your purpose is to serve or to sacrifice. Or maybe your purpose is to enable someone else to fulfill their purpose. What is it for you, and how certain are you of your purpose?

Horowitz invites us to explore the question in private, to sit with it for a while, and then to answer it honestly:

Whatever your answer, and whether you want to follow it, I can only tell you that the best reckoning I can possibly reach about how Manly was able to achieve what he did, is that he was able to find that absolutely vital, impassioned, motivating thing that he wanted in life, which in his case was to curate and preserve esoteric wisdom, not as a museum piece but as a living, pulsing philosophy with meaning for contemporary men and women. When he found that thing, it unlocked uncanny abilities. It may for you too.

Discovering that one thing is the source of what we need:

When you discover that one thing that is vital to your existence, as Manly did, it will unlock possibilities and intellectual strength and physical stamina and all kinds of qualities in you that you never knew you possessed. It’s the closest thing that life grants you to a magic elixir. It’s absolutely remarkable.

And yet:

We run from it. Because, again, what we find sometimes contradicts our perceptions of who we’re suppose to be or what we’re suppose to be doing in the world.

Horowitz suggests that if we truly want to grasp the power of who we are, we must:

Take the first step. In probing what you want, you don’t have to burn the fleet; you simply have to ask the question, in the private recesses of your own life, and with complete, unembarrassed intimacy: “What do I really want from life?” I believe it will unlock – or it can unlock – extraordinary energies.

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