The Renaissance of Modern Thought

A guest post by Luke M. Ironside

Man know thyself; then thou shalt know the Universe and God.

Everywhere in the world of today we see the emergence of a renaissance of modern thought. The doctrines of antiquity no longer satisfy the yearning of man for an understanding of the world he lives in. The old religions have failed in their task, leaving naught but debris in the wake of their decrepitude. The advances of modern science and the progressive philosophies of our time have caused a shifting of the tectonic plates of spiritual mentality and we are left with the arduous duty of building a new foundation from shattered fragments of the fallen edifice of orthodoxy. But lest this picture of modernity be painted in too sombre a shade, let us stand back for a moment and absorb the broader view. For it is a fact of nature that destruction must precede rebirth. The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. So speak the ghosts of departed creeds. And so there shall arise a phoenix from the ashes, carrying in its flight the spark of a kindling flame destined to ignite the world ablaze in the fires of renewal. For indeed, what is dead must rise again; transformed like gold from the alchemist’s furnace. And it is here we find ourselves in this present age of uncertainty. The temples of the future must be raised from the rubble and this task falls to us – those few who dare to seek the light beyond the veil. This is no simple quest, and the road ahead is perilous and obstructed at every turn. But he who perseveres shall surely triumph – and thus, persevere we must.

You may well ask: “What is this new thought which heralds the way of the future?” And crucial as the question is, the answer is a seemingly contradictory one. For this new thought is on examination not so new at all; in fact, it is the oldest thought in existence. Preserved throughout history by an elect few, it has been concealed from the general masses until that time in the cosmic evolution of man when he is ready to properly grasp its secrets. This thought lies at the root of all the world’s many religions, philosophies, and scientific systems of thought. Oftentimes hidden and fragmented, these teachings have emerged in the scriptures of both the East and the West, shrouded beneath the veil of parable and metaphor but recognisable to those who hold the key. Now unleashed from the prisons of crumbled creeds, the fragments conflate in a primal unity revealing the gold beneath the rock. The philosopher has found his stone.

We stand at the threshold of a grand synthesis of philosophy, science, and religion. Those aspects of each which can no longer withstand the changing face of progressivism will struggle and fall and in so doing separate the wheat from the chaff. The materialising worldview of the modern era is a decidedly pragmatic one with an emphasis toward the acquisition of truth and the spirit of advancement. This is the great reconciliation; the rejection of dualism as an absolute principle in the light of a magnificent aspiration – that of the harmonisation of thought in the awareness of unity. The leading authorities of the myriad fields of human enquiry are beginning to comprehend the fact that they have been seeking the same thing all along. The realms of expertise over which they govern are but the superficially independent constituents of a larger whole.

Our evolution is bringing us into a deeper expansion of mind. We can no longer accept the conception of an ultimate reality which is incognisible. As seekers after truth we must be merciless; no morsel of information can escape the scrutiny of our gaze. Our evolving faculties and means of understanding enable us to know increasingly more concerning the true nature of the ultimate, and one can only speculate as to what level of genius the mind of man will expand.

The “unknowable” as a notion of scientific or philosophic contention must be discarded if we are to advance into the spirit of the future. Our classifications and hypotheses will deal with things “known,” “unknown,” and “to be known,” but never with that realm of futile speculation that is the “unknowable”. This is an assuredly optimistic and assertive era in the evolution of man and we must equip ourselves with the steady sword of scientific certitude in our quest to quell the virulent serpent of ignorance. And we must remain steadfast in our enquiries; ever sceptical of spurious claims, but anticipative of verities to follow. As heralds of the future we must regard the respective fields of physics and metaphysics as but subdivisions of a grander multidisciplinary field of investigation. In time the distinction will likely be eliminated entirely and philosophy and science will be seen to be merely the two sides of a single coin.

The torch of truth has been borne through all aeons of man by those chosen few who devoted their lives to its preservation. From its flame many others have been ignited, and their fires carried to every civilisation and corner of the earth. Some flames have grown strong and wild, others have been near extinguished in the face of the howling winds of opposition. The Stewards of the Flame have guarded it stalwartly, at many a time experiencing persecution, ridicule, disgrace, banishment, and even death as a result of their dedication. Socrates, Hypatia, Boethius, Almaricus, Bruno, Galileo – these, and many others, suffered for their devotion to the attainment of wisdom. The oppressors of truth have done all within their power to quash this torch of enlightenment which they fear would weaken their grip of superstition over the vast masses of humanity. But everywhere, in every land and culture, some small spark has survived and been carried on, age after age unto the present day. In many cases this ageless wisdom has been shrouded beneath an aura of mystique and secrecy in order to protect it from the tyrannic inquisitions of the religious authorities of the period. The unwelcome attention which sprung from the Neoplatonic revival of the Renaissance in the 15th to 17th centuries provoked the founding of various occult societies which sought to harbour the secrets of these teachings from the meddling of dabbling dilettantes. For should they fall upon unready ears, only frustration and chaos could ensue. It has therefore been agreed always among the Adepts that the wisdom must remain sheltered until that time when the world is ready to apprehend it. In the dawning years of this new millennium the signs suggest that the time of revelation is now upon us.

We are experiencing in our present day the unfoldment of a global consciousness. The boundaries which separate culture and creed are being dilapidated beneath our awareness of a deeper truth: that of the Oneness of All. Expounded in the treatises of Spinoza and Schopenhauer and embodied in the poetry of Emerson, Carpenter, Whitman, and many others, this conception of an essential unity has long anticipated the materialising thought of today.

Through tangled paths and overgrown trails has this truth at last emerged into the light of scientific scrutiny. And yet the misuse and exploitation of its secrets which our predecessors so dearly feared and fought to prevent is the price we must pay for its acquisition. Some, with seeming good intention, grasp here and there a scattered truth and proclaim in lofty voice: “Behold! I have grasped the key to Wisdom!” Yet in the very declaration is revealed their lack of true attainment. Others, in the spirit of ages past, reject it entirely as heresy or atheism, failing to absorb the underlying elements of reconciliation. And looking on at this spectacle of disorder and maelstrom stand those few who smile with knowing eyes in the recognition of what is transpiring all around them.

For some, the mere exposure to truth is enough to kindle the flame of intuition within them. Suddenly their barriers of thinking dissolve under the weight of a far grander conception than ever before imagined. A recognition dawns, and with it a reconciliation of all apparent opposites and contradictions. All dissension is drowned in the ocean of a deeper truth as the universe appears unveiled and naked in the sublime unity of its being. Eternal principles expose themselves as the cycles and rhythms of life are etched upon the psyche like diagrams in the charts of physicism. Swirling in the motions of the infinite tides, the wanderer sinks deeper into the fathomless depths of the cosmic seas, where engulfed in the waters of wisdom they are transfigured and find rebirth.
It is near impossible to impart the wisdom of these teachings to any save those who are ready to receive it. To the uninitiated, even the Adept’s words will fall like folly on deaf ears – to be rejected as the fantasies of charlatans. Thuswise the sceptic becomes blind in the face of truth.

The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding. – The Kybalion.

For those unwilling to receive the secrets of the universe, no manner of elucidation nor rationalisation will persuade them otherwise. To them, the truth is unknowable. They are the alchemist’s antipode, and cast that which is exalted into the base. In place of seeking higher states of being, they obstinately strive to drag the truth into the mud of their own finitude. In such way they seal shut the treasure chest of wisdom and cast the key into the shadowy deeps of the abyss. We find here the true meaning of the Gospel of Luke, chapter 8, verse 10, wherein it is written:

To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

What is this renaissance of modern thought which is materialising in these modern times? Perhaps it is best described as the vast deluge of spiritual, philosophical, and scientific resurgence which is flowing across the surface of the world, washing asunder outdated doctrines and creeds, materialistic culture, sectarianism, superstition and ignorance, parochialism, oppression, blind egotism, fear, acrimony and bitterness. In their places shall be established a reign of liberty, independence, individualism, benevolence, heroism, bravery, self-reliance, forbearance, progressiveness, development of self, prosperity, strength and spirit.

It is the fulfilment of man’s exaltation that brings him sovereignty over self, liberty from the bonds of limitation, and the creation of his own heaven on earth. The bearer of truth carries the torch of Understanding – Impartiality – Comradeship – Rightful Love – Nobility – and Self-Reliance; illuminating all in his path. He stands steadfast upon his own two feet, as the Master of his Salvation, to govern the power latent within him – to affirm his true Selfhood – to be strong, and yet at the same time forbearing and magnanimous. He proclaims the gospel of “I AM” and “I WILL” and calls upon his fellow Man to desist from his brooding lamentations, urging him instead to stand heroic and erect atop the Pillar of Ascendancy. He is the Great Affirmer who, in the moment of his asseveration, says “Yes” to all life; to all things beautiful and ugly alike. He is fearless, valiant, and resolute in his task. He has expunged uncertainty and distress, and all other progeny of pessimistic thought. Defeatist attitudes, hatred, envy, malevolence, resentment, and thoughtlessness, which have hitherto drawn him into the mud of misery and frustration – all banished! In his liberation he conquers death and is born anew. Enlightened to the Oneness of All, he revels in the Kingship of Self.

The renaissance of modern thought has no need of creeds or dogmas. It attracts  nonconformists and freethinkers, each of whom gazes upon the world with lucid eyes, understanding the truth of their experiences as it becomes revealed to them in the clarity of their own discernment and sagacity – allowing it to channel through their beings in the manner suited to their own individual natures. The Master cares naught for institutional authorities – he seeks within and there he finds. He thinks in accordance with his own will, scorning all supposed intermediaries between the realms of finitude and the spiritual. Differ though he may from his brethren on minor points of interpretation and the particular method of expression, he recognises the underlying foundation of Primal Law on which all are standing. Each possesses some small fraction of the Truth, none supposing that they have grasped the Whole. The final destination is the Centre, and each works his way toward this median point by a different route. The same goal lies upon the horizon of every man, if he would but seek it and traverse the path to its attainment.

I will attempt, as far as possible, to expound the principles intrinsic to the Perennial Philosophy which constitutes these teachings. I make no promise of faultlessness in my humble undertaking; indeed, I would be astounded if some errors did not materialise in my handling of such a substantial and delicate subject as the one at hand. Nonetheless, I hope to provide the reader with at least a precursory statement of the fundamental principles.

Under, and back of, the Universe of Time, Space and Change, is ever to be found The Substantial Reality — the Fundamental Truth. – The Kybalion

The sacred teachings of all ages and climes make mention of the existence of an Absolute Supreme Power underlying and permeating all things. This Supreme Power is the First Cause, having no cause before It – Itself being the Cause of everything which exists. As the Substantial Reality behind the ever-changing Universe, it unifies all, and indeed, is All in all. It is Infinite, Eternal, Impenetrable, Immutable. It is, always has been, and always will be. Its nature is such that it is Omnipotent in Power, Omniscient in Wisdom, and Omnipresent in Being. The Supreme Power has gone by various names in esoteric texts, including The Absolute, The All, The Source, The One, Over-Self, Universal Principle, Causeless Cause, Mind, Spirit, Law, Nature, Life, or God. No name can adequately articulate the Principle which it represents, and much argument over the minutiae of terminology has resulted in confusion and hostility, and even wars. Much of this stems from Man’s attempt to create God in his own image, and believing he has uncovered the one and only Truth, setting out to convert the world by force. In this work I will refer to The All, as I am not contented with any notion of the Universal Principle which limits It, even to a negligible extent. To place any limitations upon this Power would only further muddle the concept, and at worst, render it incomprehensible. All that matters is the essential, underlying idea – all else is irrelevant. Words are but words, and terminology, although useful in the formation and categorisation of ideas, is but a human invention. How many of the world’s problems stem from one man misunderstanding the words of his neighbour? Certainly more than one would like to think.

Mankind is undergoing an evolution in consciousness. Our current level of self-conscious awareness is but the tip of the iceberg, and gradually we are becoming aware of just how much of our consciousness remains as-of-yet unexplored. Evolution is that cosmic plan by which the Universe is becoming aware of itself. We are a reflection of the Universe looking back at itself, and as we evolve further so too does the reflection become clearer and more vivid. Life is but an ever- ascending scale, on which all things are rising from lower to higher forms, and then onward to yet higher, beyond the limits of our loftiest imaginings. It is quite possible that there exist, in this present day and age, beings much higher on the scale than we are, living somewhere in the distant regions of the Universe. To us they would be perceived as gods, so advanced they may be in their level of development. Yet we are also progressing along the path, and will one day be as they are – Masters of the Universe. As we exist, we evolve. Evolution is Being – they are one and the same thing. For what is to live if not to strive for higher things?

In his work, Cosmic Consciousness: A Study of the Evolution of the Human Mind, the Canadian psychiatrist Richard Maurice Bucke, who rose to prominence in the late 19th century, postulates the idea that humankind is evolving into a higher state of consciousness than currently possessed by the ordinary man. He draws distinctions between the simple consciousness of animal life, the self- consciousness possessed by mankind, encompassing thought, reason, and imagination, and cosmic consciousness, the future destiny of man’s evolution. It is into this advanced state of mind that we are new emerging as a species. Make no mistake – we are not there yet, indeed; there is many an impediment to be overcome before we achieve its attainment on global scale. Yet we are drawing closer at a rapid pace, and a few inspired souls are tentatively placing one foot over the evolutionary threshold of cosmicality. Once fully acquired, this new genesis of human thought will trigger a total revolution of our existing world views, customs, politics, economics, and general ethos.

The emerging thought of today holds that All is One – that there is an underlying harmony and correspondence between everything in the Universe, both manifest and unmanifest – all exists in the Mind of The All. It follows then that each thing in the Universe is connected to every other thing, and that the separateness we seem to perceive is but an illusion of the ego in its attachment to the appearances of duality. It teaches, in accord with the opinions of modern science and quantum theory, that reality can be likened to a vast ocean of vibrating energy – the Unified Field – in which every atom exists as part of an expansive whole. What affects any one part of the whole has a corresponding effect on every other part, much like the ripples which occur when one drops a stone into a puddle of water. When man evolves into a state of cosmic consciousness he becomes aware of the Oneness of All, and experiences the reconciliation of all apparent contradictions. This coming-into-awareness stretches beyond the limits of intellectual abstraction and into a journey of consciousness and practical unfoldment whereby the seeker experiences the death of the ego through a symbolic process of sacrifice and self-martyrdom, in which the consciousness is liberated and achieves union with The All. To the man who has achieved such a state, the veil is lifted and the mysteries revealed. Yet to the uninitiated, such a concept seems entirely ludicrous and he dismisses it as the ravings of a madman. Only to him who is ready to know may be handed the keys to the cosmos.

The conception of an underlying Oneness permeating all provides an answer to many seemingly irreconcilable problems in the fields of metaphysics and esoteric philosophy. It lies at the heart of the teachings of the mystery schools and academies of every age. It abides, albeit esoterically, at the root of all religious and theological systems of thought, discernible only to those who hold the key to its exegesis. This Key unlocks the doors to every mystery, it is the answer to every dilemma that might befall the life of man. All paradox is resolved in the light of the essential truth of Oneness, all contradictions reunited. It seals together all disparities, conflicts, and divergent theories in every field or subject of human enquiry. For the idea of Oneness envelops all – nothing can fall outside of its sphere of unity. There is no “fall from grace” that can isolate man from Universal Law, no absolute sin. What we label sin is merely error. The experience of error and subsequent shift to methods of truth is the root of all progress. The wise man learns from mistakes, whether by those of his own making, or most sensibly, from those of others. A man who never makes a mistake will never grasp the value of the idea he attempts to know. At the source of error, or “sin”, is that illusion of separateness and detachment from his fellow man. When, in the light of revelation, man emerges into an understanding of the Unity of All, then will he discard the mantle of self-absorption before the Altar of the Holy of Holies, upon which is sacrificed the temporal identity of his lower self.

The Master recognises that to dwell on the “how”, “when”, and “where” of his future attainment is but idle speculation, and that his energies should instead be channelled into his present circumstance. He lets go of worry, in the knowledge that he is and that he ever will be. He feels in the utmost depths of his being an enduring sense of existence and the true infinite nature of his inner self. He is limitless, boundless, everlasting – the possibilities of his life unfurl before his imagination like rays of sunlight scattered across the shaded face of the earth. He exists only in the Now, which is Eternity: Past – Present – Future – all one! The distinctions are relevant only to the realms of the finite. He Lives, and that is all that matters. Death is of no concern, for what is death but a return to whence one came? He knows that whatever exists can never not exist, for All is One and that which is has always been.

The doctrine of immortality has been constantly misconstrued throughout spiritual and philosophic literature as the continuance of the individual ego after death. This is a gross dismantling of truth, and one which serves only to subdue the ego’s fears in the face of its futile attempt to preserve itself in all its pettiness and inconsequentiality. It is not the ego that survives death, but the real Self, that innate, eternal “I”, common to every man and woman and form of life which has ever existed. More on the subject of immortality, no man can say – for any such attempt is but a finite sentiment on an infinite question. We can quite safely refute the Christian notion of Heaven and Hell as sheer nonsense; a metaphysical principle concerning the transmutation of negatives into positives which has been woefully misunderstood by the followers of the cult of Christ. Some proclaim the doctrine of reincarnation, in accordance with the spiritual evolution of man, though this apparently presupposes the survival of the individual ego after death. The philosophers speak of an eternal oblivion – a non-existent nothingness in which the subjective consciousness is entirely eradicated. This latter is more in line with the teachings discussed here, although this, too, is often misconstrued. For although the ego drinks from the waters of Lethe and thus meets its final demise, the Inner Self lives on, eternally sustained by the waters of the Mnemosyne. Thus is death both the cessation of consciousness, as ego, and the continuance of Consciousness, as Self.

Again we are brought back to that principle of evolution – to Nature’s desire to expand and grow in its quest for deeper levels of complexity and cosmic attainment. The All, through Man, becomes aware of itself in the process of evolution. The emerging faculties of Man allow him to grasp deeper truths than previously accessible to the common senses, and thus he expands his range of awareness in the search for knowledge and meaning. The Higher Reason of Man’s unfolding consciousness is becoming steadily more apparent in the world around us as the race nears that tier of Cosmic Knowing that is the renaissance of modern thought.

Fundamental to this emerging thought is also the idea of Mind as the Master of all. The extent to which one controls his thinking is the extent to which he controls the circumstances of his life. As one thinks, so is it manifested in the physical planes of being. The Law cannot be otherwise. Like attracts like, and things of a similar nature are drawn together in the harmony of thought. To quote again the Scriptures, this time from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 23, verse 7:

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

It is a well-known fact in the field of modern psychology that a man may improve his entire character by the refinement of his thoughts or else cast himself into the blackest pit of depression through the neglection thereof. The various malign spawn of negativity manifest as actualities in the circumstances of the host in which they thrive. From his seat of Kingship over the Earth, Man is cast down to the lowliest depths of despondency where he labours through the mire of his own summoning. The Master, on the contrary, understanding the processes of thought, thus utilises them in his elevation to yet greater heights. Through doing so, he aligns himself with those people and conditions which correspond with his predominant thoughts of advancement and self-mastery. He harnesses the power of the hitherto latent forces in the Mind of Man, unleashing them in a dynamic release of cosmic energy as the Universe hastens to fulfil his command. His thoughts take form in affirmative action, in the seizing of opportunity, and in the attainment of his desire.

The renaissance of modern thought is not merely a passing fad as some might suppose, or a new religion or creed. It is perhaps best understood as a fresh ray of light on ancient teachings; a re-examination of the philosophies of times past in relation to the issues of the modern day. It is a new genesis of thought in which the old is transmuted into the gold of the new. “Forwards and beyond!”, the Law proclaims. Progression – constant flux – is the way of Nature. There is no turning back nor standing still. Continual growth, incessant change, the never-ending chain of Cause and Effect from one experience to the next. “Everything flows”, the Weeping Philosopher contends. “Nothing remains still”.

Author: Luke M. Ironside,

Picture attribution: copyright chalabala / 123RF Stock Photo

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