An Advanced Science of Transformation

     In earliest times certain sages 1 discovered the fundamental nature of ultimate reality. Their successors have taught select students how to reawaken organs of perception, resulting in a higher state of consciousness. This higher consciousness enables the student to discern that what we take to be reality is actually a kind of illusion and that there are higher dimensions of being.

Perennial Tradition Embodiments
  • The Hermetic Writings

  • The Pythagorean System

  • Oriental Perennialist Systems

  • Plato's Philosophy

  • Esoteric Christianity

  • Neo-Platonism

  • Esoteric Wisdom Teachings

  • Sufism

  • Gothic Cathedral Philosophy

  • The Cambridge Platonists

  • Renaissance and Enlightenment

  • The Perennial Tradition
     The secret legacy which teaches this transformative process, the single stream of initiatory teaching flowing through all the great schools of philosophy and mysticism, is the Perennial Tradition.

     Perennialist teaching material and teaching methods are the outcome of creative adaptation by initiated teachers of the identical stream of Perennialist truth to contemporary needs.

      Each Perennialist teacher develops a different embodiment of the fundamental truths, not because she is borrowing from her predecessors and building her own philosophical system on the basis of their ideas, 2 but because the needs of her students, relative to their own time and place in history, require new compilations and techniques.

     Plato, 3 who originated the disclosure of the Perennial Tradition named philosophy, taught select students how to attain a state of higher discernment that was termed wisdom using the process called dialectic. Instruction in attaining this state was named philosophia, the quest for wisdom.

A Definitive Science of Higher Consciousness

     The Perennial Tradition possesses an actual science or technology for helping specially selected students develop higher states of consciousness.

      Perennialist books, essays, exercises, and stories contain metaphysically designed elements which act on the student's psyche (personality and mind) to produce precise effects.

    The prescribed elements effect results relative to students' capabilities. We assume that a book or essay is merely a collection of words expressing ideas. It's difficult for us to conceive of a genuine science contained in books and teachings which would be capable of producing tangible evolutionary transformation in human beings.

To gain knowledge we must connect with an authentic teacher who can help us begin a genuine search for the truth. But this is not an easy task, since, as Shahabudin Suhrawardi warns, "false teachers and deceived seekers vainly pursue the desert vapor--and wearied return, the dupe of their own imagination."

     The authentic teacher finds the seeker, since "to discover him [the true teacher] is impossible," Suhrawardi tells us. What Suhrawardi means is that the seeker, when he begins his quest, is incapable of distinguishing between a genuine and counterfeit teacher; the seeker is thus unable to "find" a true guide and must somehow be brought into contact with an authentic tradition by the teacher herself.

      "The beginner is saved from complete insensitivity because within him there is a vestigial capacity to react to 'true gold.' And the teacher, recognizing the innate capacity, will be able to use it as a receiving apparatus for his signals. True, in the earlier stages, the signals transmitted by the teacher will have to be arranged in such a way as to be perceptible to the inefficient and probably distorting mechanism of the receiver. But the combination of the two elements provides a basis for a working arrangement." 4

     Our challenge is to recognize an authentic teacher, because our own misconceptions make us blind to a true mentor or lead us to clamor after a false guru who panders to our weaknesses. Beginning seekers are so presumptuous in their self-importance that they approach a teacher with nothing but false airs and wrong assumptions. For example, a seeker may worry that a teacher will try to take his non-existent autonomy from him. For such a deluded seeker there is a sure way to distinguish an authentic teacher: any teacher who would accept that seeker, in that deluded state, is not a true teacher.

"Sufism is a matter of acceptance by teachers, not a matter of your accepting. You don't choose them--they choose you--or don't, as the case may be."

H.B.M. Dervish, Journeys With a Sufi Master, 1982

The Perennialist teacher "finds" the seeker in one or more ways:

  1. By creating transformative material and sending it forth so that it will "find" the seeker who is attuned to it

  2. By acting in certain ways which draw the seeker to him or her

  3. By transmitting messages through extra-normal, psychic means

Diotima, Socrates teacher

The fact that the teacher "finds" the seeker does not, in any way, diminish the seeker's responsibility for searching for the teacher and preparing:

  1. Studying oneself and one's world to develop the capability to discern higher, subtle knowledge

  2. Developing the prerequisite intellectual, moral, and spiritual foundations for effective study--for example, personal life stability required for any form of serious development

  3. Working to develop the capability of understanding information that comes from the teacher

  4. Developing the capability to distinguish between authentic and false teachings

Nothing for Man Except What He Has Earned

The superior experience and knowledge will be made available to a man or woman in exact accordance with his capacity and earning of it. Hence, if a donkey sees a melon he will eat its rind; ants will eat whatever they can get hold of; man will consume without knowing that he has consumed.

Our objective is to achieve, by the understanding of the Origin, the Knowledge which comes through experience.

This is done, as with a journey, only with those who already know the Way.

The justice of this state is the greatest justice of all; because, while this knowledge cannot be withheld from him who deserves it, it cannot be given to him who does not deserve it.

It is the only substance with a discriminating faculty of its own, inherent justice.

Yusuf Hamadani, Perennialist Teacher

Perennialist Transformative Material

     Perennialist teachers utilize specially designed material in assisting initiates and novices work toward the achievement of higher awareness. Below are some of the features of this arcane 5 material.

  1. What transformative material can be used for is what it was originally designed for and intended to be used for.

  2. If you can understand transformative material at a technical level--not merely at the narrative, humorous, or dramatic level--it provides unmistakable evidence of the historical perpetuation of an integrated teaching--the Perennial Tradition.

  3. Relative to the higher level of being represented by transformative material:

    • Those who know about this higher level can learn at the level which their preparation allows them

    • Those who can experience this level can use transformative material to attain higher awareness

  4. We must approach transformative material from the perspective that it constitutes an ancient, arcane, irreplaceable knowledge, which an advanced teacher intuits, understands, formulates, transmits, and applies in a specific contemporary manner.

  5. Perennialist transformative material is an authentic representation and explication of reality in the same manner as, for example, mathematical formulae or scientific laboratory manuals and textbooks are.

  6. Unlike mathematical or scientific formulae which have only one effect, transformative material possesses a whole series of transmutational outcomes.

  7. Transformative material depends for it higher power upon:

    • A teacher or guide who can:

      • Experientially understand it at a super-normal level

      • Establish its validity as a course of preparatory, introductory, and advanced study

      • Use transformative material in a manner which will unlock, activate, and awaken students' powers--harvest their potency--in specific situations

    • Preparing students (novices) and advanced students (initiates) who conscientiously study and apply it

The Essence of Genuine Study

     To gain higher understanding, students must make assiduous effort to approach Perennial Tradition material in an entirely new manner:

  • A way which allows for the activation of the material's intrinsic dynamic

  • In the understanding that they must achieve and activate a new faculty of Discernment

Correct Study Procedures:

  • Reflect on what you read, drawing out the implications and applications for you and others

  • Cotemplate how these ideas, concepts, and exercises were received by the Perennialist teacher as inspiration and intuition

  1. Transformative material has a "security capacity," a means of making it impossible for unprepared and unsuitable persons to understand or benefit from it--sometimes by diverting them to the kind of nonsense they enjoy. To illustrate, ordinary minds will easily dismiss the discussion in this entire document, feeling relieved that they are intelligent enough to have "seen through" the transparent effort to fool them into thinking there is something extraordinary in what are clearly nothing more than common ideas and activities.

  2. The successive layers or dimensions of transformative material become apparent and available relative to--in direct ratio to--the degree and quality of the "work" 6  of novices and initiates.

  3. Transformative material provides a consistent and potent parallel. metaphore, or allegory of certain states of consciousness.

  4. Perennialist concepts (referring to terrestrial and transcendent entities), symbols (written and pictorial), characters (in stories), and activities (e.g., dialectical interchange or activities connected with sports) parallel and typify specific states of consciousness.

  5. The manner in which these elements operate within the transformative material indicates, foreshadows, and acquaints us with states of consciousness we are attempting to realize (comprehend and make real).

  6. By working on a higher plane of activity, visualization, or conceptualization we can gain an understanding of the integrated relationships (harmony) between higher states of consciousness.

  7. Prescribed experiences on the lower plane of feelings, sensations, and comprehensions convey to us an awareness of how the higher consciousness operates.

  8. Perennialist transformative material consists of technical documents creatively designed and transmitted, containing the most ancient, most important, consequential, and momentous knowledge available to humankind.

    • These documents are consciously, creatively designed works of art and science produced by advanced teachers who know precisely what they're doing.

    • Transformative material is produced for the use of those sages who create them, as well as for the use of other contemporary and later adepts and their students.

    • All advanced teachers know precisely what can be achieved through the interpretation, adaptation, and application of the potencies contained in the transformative material.

    • One of the essential ways in which seekers becomes initiates (advanced students) is to achieve the awareness that the way in which higher knowledge must be framed and transmitted is the last way they would have considered reasonable, possible, or likely.

    • Seekers gain the status of initiate by comprehending, discerning, and allowing for the possibility that seemingly ordinary teaching material may possess powers with which they are not familiar; they do not presume they already understand these powers, avoiding the easy assumption that these potencies are merely ordinary, easily understood literary, philosophical, or psychological forces.

We can best comprehend how our contemporary culture has lost effective understanding of or the capability of using the power of transformative material by considering this tale:
By the beginning of the twenty-second century, human culture had so radically declined that water drilling technology had been lost and humans were again drinking only from rivers, streams or cisterns. When a Perennialist adept explained to those twenty-second century Neanderthals what water drilling was, they dismissed his ideas as fantasy and drove him out of their towns.

  What these twenty-second century people would need, first of all, is information about the possibility of something which seems like magic to them--water drilling. What twenty-first century people currently need is the information that there is a forgotten, advanced science that possesses the power to effect a higher state of consciousness in humans.

  Transformative material must be studied thoughtfully and effectively (not scholastically) so that its elements become familiar to students' minds, so they can retain the material, like technical formulae or procedures, that can later be activated and stimulated by the "catalytic" elements provided by an advanced teacher.

  Since transformative material is designed and developed to operate in specific ways under very precise conditions (for example, psychic and life stability in the novice), an advanced teacher will uncover or help create those conditions in the external and internal "world" of the novice.

  Before transformative material can be applied, novices must be prepared in such a manner that they gain the intellectual, moral, and spiritual capabilities to acknowledge, value, and seek personal development and transmutation through the application of this material.

  Transformative material operates successfully only when, as with scientific formulae, all the necessary ingredients are simultaneously present in the persons and situations involved.

  One of the necessary prerequisites for developmental work to take place is that at least two persons must be in a dialectical relationship so that supersensory interaction and rapport can occur, resulting in new adaptations of transformative material and procedures.

Take Care!

        As should be understandable, it is inadmissible to make certain advanced transformative and developmental material known to persons who are not themselves seriously involved in a Perennial Tradition study program. This advanced material is meant only for persons who are earnestly seeking a path of spiritual realization and have actively demonstrated their commitment to self-development and self-change. This instructional content constitutes some of the more advanced work assignments and exercises that initiates actually carry out.

     This advanced material is not meant for persons who are idly curious about study in the Perennial Tradition. In fact, such material is psychically perilous in a literal sense to merely inquisitive persons, in that it exposes solely prying minds to depths of consciousness that may traumatize and confuse them.

  Also, the material is too personal to be shared with superficial personalities who themselves have undergone none of the necessary transformational experiences. This advanced material exposes psychic dimensions unknown to the uninitiated and so psychically potent that shallow minds may become overwhelmed.

  The Perennialist teacher must choose wisely those whom she will admit into the Initiation process, because it is here that the first major danger appears. Some persons can attempt to move into the mystical life but end up with no home in the physical or the spiritual world.

"The esoteric teaching about knowledge and being refers to the fact that knowledge cannot be understood unless there is a corresponding development of being. A man may know a great deal and understand nothing because his being is not equal to his knowledge. As a consequence, no inner union can take place between his being and his knowledge. . . The conditions of knowledge are no longer understood because the side of being is ignored."

M. Nicoll, The New Man

         At this juncture--and many others we shall discover--there is an absolute necessity that the teacher have undeniable abilities--in this case the capability of selecting only those candidates for Initiation who will not retrogress into the negative states of meaninglessness or mental disorientation.

      This is a crucial cut-off point, where only those aspirants are admitted who possess definite capabilities for success. Success in any case is never assured a spiritual seeker, but the teacher's selection process, guided by her clarified intuition, admits to the quest only those who have a potential to realize the ultimate purpose of union with the Higher Consciousness.

"DESIRE to receive is but half the span of the bridge. Visualize this as the exact condition of your present spiritual progress. You have constructed but HALF THE SPAN of the bridge. Without the completion of this work you will have but struggled in vain; because the reason for its being is that, when finished, something may pass over it from the free field of spiritual perception to the congested consciousness of the world.

"The mere desire to receive, alone, is not sufficient even to establish effective contact with the informing intelligence above yours. In fact, it has a great difficulty to be overcome in what might be called a SUCTIONAL quality, which precipitates the force above it, reduces it to a lower manifestation in which it no longer functions as a quickening inspirational force. It becomes merely an intellectual 'record'--not a gift of growth silently available through you to others."

Betty White, Across the Unknown

Spiritual Giants Abound

   It's interesting that one sometimes crosses paths with persons who are so advanced spiritually--or believe they are--that they seem to be unable to benefit from the kind of transformative and developmental material this essay refers to.

      Some time ago I encountered a person of this nature that considered himself so advanced spiritually that he actually felt he could excel in a study program even though he finally admitted he had not even read the books that form the basis of the program. He then proceeded to do me the very great favor of correcting items on a screening test which his ten years of study in a Qi Gong cult made it possible for him to do with great expertise.

     Once I had read some of the wisdom he was willing to share with me . . .
"The universe is alive, holographic, conscious and everything is entangled at the base. At that level time becomes irrelevant and reality is co-created by the observer which is the higher self that leads back to the single symbol that is the heart of it. The extra universal consciousness that is beyond the realms of our level of comprehension but that is containing and creating us."
. . . I realized I was unquestionably incapable of assisting such an advanced spiritual Higherphant and reluctantly and meekly admitted my unworthiness. He was, as you might expect, gracious enough to inform me that he agreed with my self-assessment.

     It is persons such as this Metaphysical Grand Panjandrum that light the way for us undiscerning many.

The Impossibility of Working With Split Attention

     The instance of the Metaphysical Grand Panjandrum above makes it abundantly clear how impossible it is to try to work with persons who assume they have already achieved total enlightenment. It's equally absurd to attempt to assist persons who have made a commitment to or have their attention focused primarily, or even partially, on another subject or program.

     Yet, one continually encounters persons who for some reason believe they can engage in serious study in a spiritual tradition while combining a primary commitment to a disparate religious, psychological, or vocational system of thought and action.

     This is one of the reasons why it's essential to have relevant information about persons who are applying for admission to a program: to avoid trying to work with people who have split attention or split commitments. In a recent incident, I found it necessary to communicate the following to an applicant:
From your description of your relationship with the [X] Church it's evident that you feel you are getting something out of this association with them. I must, therefore, recommend that you go ahead to fulfill your commitment to and relationship with that organization exclusively.

The tradition which I study and apply does not allow me to try to work with persons who are in any way committed to another religious or psychological program. It's inappropriate, for example, for me to try to work with persons who are involved in a psychotherapeutic regimen.

I can only wish you the very best in your association with the [X] Church and hope that you are able to achieve what you seek through it.

  At times, persons are able to understand that they cannot work in a genuine tradition with their attention split by commitment to another, conflicting field of study or therapy. In some cases, the person carefully evaluates his commitment and finds he doesn't wish to continue it, often for very good reasons. Here is a portion of such a re-evaluation and change of commitment in the example of the person mentioned above [Church X]:
"While I cannot fault a man for having the courage of his convictions, I find it is difficult to go along with a set of teachings that claim to be the recovered 'Lost Teachings of Jesus,' especially after adhering to this system for a number of years and not seeing any discernible change in myself that I could in any way recognize as a 'Rebirth of Spirit.' At best, the most I seem to have accomplished as a result of applying this system of 'revealed' teachings is a chronic case of paranoia.

"Equally frustrating for me is the inability of any of those most closely connected with the work of this church to explain to me what it means to be 'reborn.' No one seems to be able to explain to me what it means to be reborn or how this process is recognized or what happens when it has occurred. I guess I am supposed to be content with my special status of being one of 'The Pre-ordained,' one who is 'destined' to serve God by participating in the peculiar Liturgy of this church and doesn't neglect to support the ongoing work of this church by sending regular monthly tithes and additional donations as may be required or needed by the church.

"I think this church is in reality mostly a personality cult centered around [a "Holy Child"], who is the deceased son of [the Reverend X]. Most of the teachings of the church are based on [Reverend X's] interpretations of the revelations of this Child who, according to [Reverend X], was the second incarnation of Christ and [the Reverend X] is his missionary on Earth, commissioned by the child to spread the original Gospel which was lost to mankind shortly after the death of Jesus, but has now been recovered by direct revelation from the Child to [Reverend X]."

     A re-evaluation of this kind does not necessarily lead to a genuine commitment to a real tradition, but it is certainly a necessary first step. It's necessary for persons making such a re-evaluation to thoroughly understand what it was in them which "resonated" with the cult or derelict organization. Such self-study results in the student's discovery of his debilitating self, the analysis and control of which is a critical part of the the Perennial Tradition's science of transformation.

     It's impossible to work with persons who are currently involved in a psychological, counseling, psychotherapeutic, or metaphysical regimen. This includes persons who are involved in any kind of psychological or psychiatric drug regimen (e.g. antidepressants), whether actively undergoing psychotherapy or not.

     A recent applicant for study in the Perennial Tradition failed to mention that she was taking antidepressants, assuming that such a drug regimen, unconnected to involvement in a psychotherapeutic program, was acceptable. During dialectical interchange with her it came out that when she was off her antidepressents she fell into a "black hole" in which everything looked, as she put it, ". . . bleak. Total despair. Much anxiety. Want to die." When I indicated to her that her reliance on drugs for a stable mental state meant that it would be dangerous to try to move into higher states of consciousness, she said she thought she was very mentally stable.

     She is a victim of the current "psychological/counseling conditioning ideology" which makes people believe--and feel--that they have no control over their mental states. It turned out that this woman had also placed herself in a co-dependency relationship with a schizophrenic, keeping them both in a debilitated state in which they reinforce each other's delusions. Her inability to make the necessary changes in life-style and mind-set, makes authentic work in the Perennial Tradition impossible.

An Arduous Path With Exacting Requirements

     Today, most people are unprepared for serious study in a spiritual discipline, having spent their lives avoiding any deep thought or authentic activity, especially those who falsely assume that their ordinary lives have been filled with profound thinking and highly successful actions. Persons who apply for acceptance into the introductory study program in the Perennial Tradition do so in ways which constantly amaze me. Part of the application process involves having read three prerequisite books and completed the preparatory phase, yet people go ahead to apply, not having read that material, never having completed the preparatory phase, yet apparently assuming that the prerequisites aren't binding on them or that they should be extended special privilege.

      The reasons people give for wanting to be considered for acceptance into the introductory study program are often so vague and ill-conceived that one wonders how they can think that they would be admitted. Two examples of persons who recently explained their interest in the introductory study program illustrate this kind of superficiality and indistinctness:

  • "Was curious about your stuff, so here I am."

  • "I believe we are on the same page."

  • "My intuitive mind forces me to believe that we are entering a spectacular new era in human kind--the likes of which will either leave us trembling or rejoicing--I believe we need to find others of like minds [sic] and after reading your writings believe that you are of like mind."

      A number of persons attempt to approach the Perennial Tradition introductory study program as if it were merely a forum where people of similar interests and opinions join together to debate imponderable metaphysical issues or pretend to solve world problems simply by expressing solidarity with other persons of "good will."

Moving from Being an Apprentice to Becoming a Proficient

     The Perennial Tradition involves advanced teachers assisting seekers and initiates (advanced students) to develop spiritual awareness. As rapidly as possible initiates must gain the capability of directing their own self-work and assisting in the Work of the Enterprise, which includes advising new seekers.

     If you desire to be only a disciple and follow some "Great Teacher" all your life (whoever that "Great Teacher" might be), then the Perennial Tradition is not suitable for you. You must not only possess a profound desire to develop your intellectual and spiritual capabilities, but a sense of responsibility to serve in whatever way possible in a tradition of spiritual transformation for all humankind.

     Persons interested in the preparatory phase of study in the Perennial Tradition are advised to study this document thoughtfully, following through as they see fit.

"It seems to be an axiom of the inner life that, by and by, the aspirant must face the desires of the soul alone, and work out his approaches along lines indicated by individual need and capacity. In the last analysis, the method which fits the need of one unfolding soul will not fit the need of another. As below so above. As one man's food is another man's poison, so is the spiritual method of one a handicap to another. The teacher can take his pupil only so far. Then the pupil must press on alone. The Master finally withdraws from His disciples and leaves them to work out their own methods and ministries. From the need of mutual fellowship, however, we never escape, and all who live and work in a similar orbit draw inspiration, ideas, and encouragement one from another."

Starr Daily, Release


1 Sages connected with such persons as Hermes Trismegistus, Krishna, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Pythagoras, and Plato

2 "Greek philosophy is autochthonous [An entity depicted as having originated from the ground it inhabits, from itself; hence of independent origin]. That Plato traveled in Egypt need not be doubted, but that he went to Phoenicia, Chaldaea, and Persia to study philosophy is mere guesswork. What Plato thought of the Egyptians he has told us himself in The Republic (436) when he says that the special characteristic of the Greeks is love of knowledge, of the Phoenicians and Egyptians love of money. If he borrowed no money, he certainly borrowed no philosophy from his Egyptian friends."

Max Muller. Theosophy or Psychological Religion, 1893

3 Some Greek sources assert that Pythagoras referred to his system of thought as philosophia. Plato appears to have studied Pythagoreanism--as well as other systems of thought--and probably drew on those other schools to develop his own methodologies which he called philosophia. We have only scattered bits of Pythagoras' ideas. Plato's writings are the basis of what we can identify as the essence of philosophy.

4 Idries Shah, The Sufis (Doubleday Anchor), 1971, p. 103

5 Arcane wisdom, known or knowable only to initiates, which possesses the power to produce psychic upheaval in a prepared mind and transport that mind to a higher dimension, effecting a transmutation of the person from one state of being to another.

6 In the Perennial Tradition, the terrestrial and spiritual Enterprise of providing specialized training in the transformation of the human essence into Higher Consciousness is designated by several different terms. In alchemical writings, it is referred to as the "Great Work," and in other occult systems it is termed theurgy, which means "The Science or Art of Divine Works," the Telestic Work, or the Perfecting Work. In the Sufi embodiment of the Perennial Tradition, the Arabic word amal (work, action, operation) is used to refer to the transformative effort. The entire Enterprise is termed "the Work," while the responsibilities of individual initiates (beginning students) is called their "work."