Searching for Truth
A true story of spiritual discovery
Guest article by John Temple
In the first of his articles on the search for Truth written specially for us, occult writer and theologian, John Temple, relates the true story of one seeker's personal journey of spiritual discovery.
People feel unhappy and they don't know why. They feel that something is very wrong with the world and their relation to it. They feel lost, confused, frustrated, alienated and estranged, and they can't explain it. They have everything and yet they want more. And when they get it, they are still left empty and dissatisfied. They want happiness and peace, and nothing seems to bring it. They want fulfillment, and it never seems to come. Everything is fine, and yet everything is wrong. These feelings are often suppressed by frantic activity and endless running around after distractions. They are drowned out by television, computer games and social media. But when this frantic activity ceases and everything is quiet, then the dread sets in, and the meaninglessness of it all, and the boredom, and the fear weigh heavily on the heart and mind. Why is this so? Because, as occult science tells us, we are really not at home. We are exiles. We are alienated and estranged from our true country. We are not with God in the land of the living. We are spiritually sick. And some of us are already dead.
Nikolai Dmitrievich Lovsev — The Prodigal Son — oil on canvas, 1882
The Prodigal Son
This was the position a good friend of mine found himself in some years ago. I have his full permission to tell the tale of his personal search for Truth in the hope that it may resonate with some readers and give encouragement and hope to others. I shall call him 'Richard' though that is not his real name.
Richard had what is now called a 'difficult' childhood, though he himself maintains that it toughened him up and provided him with what he calls his 'bullshit radar'—a very useful device which has saved him from many a wrong turn in his search for Truth. His quest began at school when he was presented with a King James Bible; which proved a mixed blessing as we shall see. I understand this practice has now been discontinued in British schools. This seems a pity, for whatever the theological merits and demerits of the book; it contains some of the finest prose in the English language. But this is by the way. Richard was thrilled when he got his Bible and vividly remembers what a deep impression the Gospel stories made on him. He was especially affected by the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) which moved him to tears, and still does to this day. Richard had been separated from his parents soon after birth and was brought up by his grandparents in a foreign country. When he was re-united with his mother (who had divorced his father and re-married in the meantime), she was a stranger to him and he to her. It is little wonder that he felt, and still feels, a strong affinity with the lost son of the Biblical tale.
In addition to his sense of isolation, Richard arrived in England at the age of nine unable to speak more than a few words of English. Consequently he was categorized as 'mentally deficient' and 'educationally subnormal' by the first schools he attended. Nowadays he would have been labelled less harshly and 'analysed' by teams of social workers, psychologists and behaviourists, but whether his difficulties would have been lessened by these well-meaning 'child experts' is open to question. The one thing that sustained him during these challenging years was his unwavering faith in God; a faith that had been instilled in him by his grandparents, who though they were not churchgoers, possessed a simple and pure belief in the goodness and love of God.
With the help of his stepfather who read to him every night for several years, Richard quickly made up for lost time, and by the age of 12 had a reading age far in advance of his peers. "I simply devoured books like a starving man" he later described this period to me. "I would read anything I could lay my hands on and virtually lived in our local public library: fiction, non-fiction, the classics, philosophy, science, medicine, but most of all books about magic and the occult." And so the day came when he was given his own copy of the Bible and began to ask the questions seekers after Truth have asked since time immemorial. Surprisingly, the vengeful Deity depicted in much of the Old Testament did not diminish his faith in God. "I simply rejected him and all that he stands for," he later told me. "I just knew in my heart that this Moloch-like Monster could not possibly be MY God. He disgusted and appalled me and I made no secret of my abhorrence and disdain in class. As you can imagine this did not go down well with my RI Teacher or the religious kids, which in those days, made up about a third of the pupils in the school."
Richard is fortunate that he was born in the 20th and not the 14th Century, or his unorthodox views might well have resulted in very much worse punishment than detention for, as he recalls, "repeated disruptive and disrespectful behaviour." Some readers might find it surprising that a 13-year-old boy should possess the mental acuity and spiritual intuition to discern the weaknesses in the claim that the Bible is the 'unalterable word of God', yet I have personally known many occultists and mystics who came to similar conclusions at even earlier ages. As Richard once put it to me: "It was obvious to me that there were at least two 'gods' in the Bible, and I could not understand how anyone with half a brain could not see this dichotomy; maybe they didn't want to as it would send their whole rotten belief system crumbling to the ground." Richard began to look elsewhere for evidence of the God he revered in his heart and so took his first steps on the path to the Light.
Before the Veil
His first encounter with the occult was through the turgid occult novels of Dennis Wheatley, but although, like many seekers, he was fascinated by the rites and mysteries recounted in such books, he knew deep within himself that there must be more to occultism than parlour games and magic tricks. By one of those strange 'coincidences' that are familiar to many seekers, someone leant him a copy of H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine. "Here, at last", he later told me, "I knew I had struck the real McCoy. I was only 16 or 17 at the time, and much of what I read went straight over my head, yet there was an indescribable 'something' in the language; an otherworldly music that I had never encountered before and it took my breath away. So I tried to join a local branch of the TS (Theosophical Society), but they wouldn't have me as I was 'too young'. With hindsight they did me a big favour as the vast majority of Theosophists I have met since then were even less capable of explaining Blavatsky's teachings than I was as a cocky and opinionated adolescent!"
Richard's search for Truth next brought him into contact with an occult order in London, which, as it is still in existence in another form, it would be unjust to identify. At first he got on well, passing all their examinations with flying colours and producing papers that won the approval of the Heads of the organisation. He was encouraged to meet his personal Teacher for one-to-one tuition leading to 'initiation'. So it was that one Spring morning he caught the train to London, with gladness in his heart and certain that now, at last, he would unveil the Goddess Isis and behold the unvarnished Truth he had yearned for all his life. "I met a goddess all right", he told me, "but she had no more idea of the truth than the man in the Moon, and my 'initiation' was not at all what I expected!" The 'goddess' turned out to be a stout lady in her mid-forties who began her 'one-to-one tuition' by trying to seduce Richard, who at 24 was young enough to be her son. "I am not a prude," he continued, "and had had my share of sexual experiences, but I was profoundly shocked that a spiritual Teacher, with whom I had been corresponding for three years, had such feet of dirty clay. My bullshit radar went into overdrive. It was a huge awakening for me, but not the magical 'initiation' I had been expecting. Later I came to realise that initiation is not what most seekers think it is, but a series of just such wake-up calls which unlock the higher dimensions and help us to see ourselves and the world in a new and clearer light. I realised I had been an idiot and was humbled and hurt by the experience, but at least I was a wiser idiot because of it!" So ended Richard's first foray into the occult jungle which the authors of this website describe so well in their article of that name.
Meeting a Rosicrucian 'Adept'
His next encounter with the colourful characters that inhabit the occult world came when he was invited to meet a genuine Rosicrucian 'Adept'. The friend who had kindly arranged the meeting enthusiastically assured Richard that the 'Master K' was the real deal; an American Rosicrucian who had studied for twenty years in the Ashrams of India, met the Dalai Lama and was the chosen vehicle of the 'Great White Brotherhood' on earth. Richard was impressed and eagerly looked forward to the meeting, especially when his friend explained that the 'Master' seldom gave private interviews, but had agreed to do so on this occasion as he had 'read' Richard's 'Karmic Record' in the 'Akasha' and earmarked him for rapid progress under his personal tuition, provided he place himself unreservedly in the Master's hands. Richard was not quite so keen on this last requirement and his bullshit radar lit up. His friend also explained that the 'Master K' generally 'tested' candidates for their suitability but either could not, or would not enlarge on the nature of these mysterious 'tests'. Richard's bullshit radar flashed another alert. But he ignored these warnings and travelled down to London to meet the famous Rosicrucian 'adept'. Richard takes up the story: "I don't know quite what I expected, but what I saw did not fit the descriptions I had read of the mysterious Mahatmas popularised by the followers of Blavatsky. This chap looked for all the world like my old RI Teacher, except that he was a 100 pounds heavier and clearly did not buy his suits off the peg at Marks & Spencer. Nor, judging by the heavy gold rings that adorned his pudgy fingers was he short of a bob or two. Still, I thought, one mustn't judge a book by its cover; maybe the Savile Row business suit, garish jewellery, manicure and immaculate teeth were a clever disguise to conceal the Master's elevated status from simpletons like me.
"As if he read my thoughts, the 'Master K' clasped his hands and murmured 'You are going through a period of obscuration' in a thin New York twang which was strangely at odds with his vast bulk, 'but my wisdom will lift the Maya from your soul and reveal your high destiny. Do you have a gift for me, my son?' Gift? I was nonplussed; my friend had not mentioned any 'gifts'. What could he mean? The 'Master K' fixed his watery brown eyes on my face with a benignant smile and said 'It is customary to lay a gift at the feet of the Wise as proof of the disciple's sincerity.' Ah, he wants cash I thought as my bullshit radar went into full alert mode. I replied that unfortunately I was still at university and had no money at present, adding that I hoped to find a teaching job after graduation. He dropped his gaze and smiled even more benignantly. 'Perhaps your parents might assist their son to obtain enlightenment?' I told him my father was dead and my mother lived on her meagre savings. He tried hard to conceal his disappointment but it was clear that I had 'failed' the first of his 'tests.' He next asked me what I had learned. Surely a real Master would know that? But perhaps he wanted to hear it from me in my own words? Though I was now on my guard, I still hoped that despite appearances to the contrary, the sharp-suited sage had the knowledge I was seeking, so I answered his question as well as I could.
"It was some time before he replied, whether this was for dramatic 'effect', or because he did not like what I had told him, I shall never know, but when he spoke his answer dashed any remaining hope that he was the 'real deal'. 'Blavatsky was a cheap fraud', he announced portentously, 'it was proved long ago by the investigation into her swindles and plagiarism. I'm surprised that an intelligent young guy like you swallowed her ridiculous claims.' When I tried to point out that Blavatsky had never 'claimed' anything except the existence of a secret body of occult knowledge which she laboured to bring to the attention of the world, he dismissed her work with a wave of his pudgy hand and the memorable words that it was 'god-bothering clap-trap gotten at second hand from a bunch of stupid mystics who didn't know the first thing about the real secrets of occultism.' What could I say to that? I began to sense an unpleasant influence coming from him and instinctively avoided his gaze. It was only much later that I learned that he had been a stage hypnotist (among other things) and had quite a reputation for manipulating his followers with this and other psychological techniques. So I hurriedly took my leave, but not before the great Rosicrucian Master warned me with an imperious, jewelled finger that 'you have just added a whole mountain of bad Karma to yourself by denying my divine authority!' As I didn't set much store by the prevailing notion of 'Karma' as some kind of occult rack to which we are tied for all eternity, his threat had little effect on me. As I took the train home I realised that I was as far away as ever from the Truth I had been seeking and wondered whether I would ever find it."
Undaunted by these and many similar experiences, Richard continued his solitary occult studies. Soon after his interview with the colourful 'Master K' he met a mutual admirer of the Russian Mystic and Occultist, H. P. Blavatsky, at a Theosophical Society meeting on past-life research. "Matt (not his real name) and I hit it off straight away," Richard recounted. "Most of his fellow-theosophists pushed my bullshit radar off the scale. They were completely self-obsessed with what important personage they had been in some past life, and each vied with the other to score some extra 'Karmic' points—ever so politely of course! There was one woman who was convinced she had been Nefertiti—the wife of the 18th Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. The only problem was that this conviction was shared by another member of the group. How they argued! Matt and I simply shook our heads and beat a hasty retreat. The only reason I stayed with this group (though I never officially joined it) was because they had the best occult library in London at that time." Richard and Matt studied together for many months, until Matt was posted abroad by his employer.
It was to be some time before Richard would contemplate joining another occult group or meeting any more 'Masters'. Meanwhile, he had just graduated from university with a degree in Education and landed his first job in a comprehensive school teaching English and History. It was there that romance entered his life in the person of a young woman with whom he fell deeply in love, and his occult studies were relegated to the background. As is so often the case, love's fair dream did not last, and like many a lover before him, Richard was jilted by his girlfriend. Worse was to come when he discovered that it was his best friend who had supplanted him. All the loneliness and loss of his childhood now came flooding back and he withdrew more and more into himself, seeking solace in drugs, drink and casual relationships. Disaster followed disaster in rapid succession. He was made redundant, lost his flat and fell in with some squatters who stole the little money he had saved from his teaching. More than once he tried to take the easy way out, but 'something' always prevented him. During one such attempt, he rode his motorbike directly toward a brick wall at high speed only to brake at the last possible instant when he heard a voice call out 'STOP!' Richard takes up the story. "At that time I was not remotely clairvoyant. I didn't see things that weren't there or hear voices in my head like some nutter, so this was a profound shock to me. The voice was very clear and seemed to ring inside my entire being like a huge, sonorous bell. How I managed to miss that brick wall I will never know. The next thing I knew I was lying on a pile of sand some builders had left by the wall with the bike next to me on its side."
When the disciple is ready the Master appears
Richard continues: "Apart from a few bruises I was unharmed and the bike was hardly scratched. I stopped drinking, knocked the dope on the head and tried to re-build my life." With the help of an ex-colleague who let him live rent-free in his home, Richard took up teaching again and found a good position in a school for children with special needs. "Helping kids who had many of the issues I had experienced myself was one of the most rewarding periods in my life," he later told me. At the same time he began to frequent an occult bookshop and got to know the elderly owner quite well. "B' (name withheld) was quiet and reserved," Richard recounted, "but through various hints he dropped I began to suspect he knew very much more about the occult than he let on. This was confirmed one day when an unshaven bloke with matted locks dressed in an outlandish Victorian cloak burst into the shop and loudly demanded to be personally introduced to Satan. 'B' muttered something sotto voce which I didn't catch, whereupon this weird character repeated his request, adding with a conspiratorial leer in my direction, 'I can pay the price.' 'B' gave him a pitying look and replied in the soft-spoken, measured voice I had got to know so well 'quite possibly you can, but I rather suspect the Prince of Darkness would place little value upon such an unpromising soul. The chuckle I was suppressing died in my throat as the would-be black magician—for such he clearly was—turned deathly pale. I glanced at 'B' and saw that his eyes, normally so mild, were fixed with intense concentration on the sorcerer's face. Time seemed to stand still in that dusty room, the atmosphere grew pregnant with unseen, but nevertheless, palpable forms, malignant and menacing, which seemed to converge on the hapless sorcerer. He trembled like a leaf in a gale, and without uttering another word, bolted from the shop as if all the fiends of hell were after him.
"When I recovered my composure I asked 'B' somewhat warily what he had done to the poor lunatic. 'Nothing', replied the bookseller with a deprecating smile. 'I showed him what he wished to see.' I continued to look so bewildered that 'B' shut up the shop early, and ushering me into the little room at the back, made us a cup of tea while he explained that he had employed a secret hypnotic technique to throw the contents of a person's thoughts back at them. 'In this case' he added, 'I gave him a glimpse of those elementaries, called demons by some, with which he has long been associating, though his conscious mind is not aware of this contact. I doubt very much whether he will continue with his tomfoolery, but one never knows...' When I asked 'B' why he had done this, he explained that it was the duty of every white magician to do what he could to help those who were not irremediably wicked. 'We never interfere with a person's freewill', he added, but we do try to influence it for good.'
In the months that followed, Richard grew to know 'B' very well, who took him under his wing and shared much of his practical occult knowledge and wisdom with him. "For the first time in my life I began to see through the veil that hides the great truths of life from us," Richard later recalled. "It was from 'B' that I learned the technique of astral travelling, real meditation, and how to read occult symbolism. There was no bullshit with 'B'. He had the rare ability to teach without preaching. He created order out of the chaos of my thinking and taught me how to apply my higher reason and critical faculties. Through him I learned to discriminate between truth and half-truths in my studies, for, as he often told me, these are the most dangerous of all to the untrained student. One of the most important lessons 'B' taught me was in connection with my previous attempts to end my life. He explained that we do not escape from our responsibilities by committing suicide, for all that happens is that we find ourselves on some part of the astral plane where the identical problems will have to be faced all over again, and be worked out, often under much worse conditions than we tried to escape from on earth. Most of all I shall never forget the patience with which 'B' bore my endless questions, nor his extraordinary kindness and generosity. Sadly, he passed away less than three years after I met him, but he left me a very much wiser and more balanced human being, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.
"Soon after 'B's passing, my mother invited me to share the family home with her, which since the death of my stepfather some years before, was too big for her to manage. So I returned home." To his delight Richard discovered that his mother shared many of his interests in mystical and occult matters. Although they had never been physically close, their mutual interest slowly forged a strong bond between them. Through her influence and encouragement he began to study homeopathy, a science that had always interested him, since, in his childhood he had been cured of asthma by a homeopath. Within a few years he qualified, gave up his teaching job and soon built up a successful private homeopathic practice.
Through the Veil
In his spare time he continued his occult studies, reading the books 'B' had recommended, working at various meditation exercises, and continuing his astral travelling, sometimes together with his mother. On several occasions, he visited what he describes as a 'magnificent temple', somewhat Egyptian in design, and there he and his mother attended lectures given by a radiant Teacher dressed in white. On comparing notes, Richard found that his mother's memories coincided perfectly with his own, so he felt sure that these were genuine astral journeys and not figments of his or her imagination. "By this time my bullshit radar was well honed," he later told me. "I had read more than enough colourful stories written by 'Tibetan monks' and met enough self-styled 'adepts' and psychics channeling nonsense to last me a lifetime. So I was now certain that half the stuff they peddle is made up, a quarter is re-hashed from old books, and the remainder often distorted by preconceived notions of what you're supposed to see on the astral planes. One thing I never saw was the famous 'silver cord' that is supposed to connect the astral to the physical body. Nor did my old teacher 'B' or my mum. I don't know where that notion comes from; perhaps it makes people feel safe? Personally, with one exception, I never felt in any danger during my wanderings through the astral worlds; there was a mysterious 'something' or someone that was not me exactly, but connected to or with me, which always kept me safe. Now I know it was my own Soul, but then I simply trusted in it, just as I always trusted in God to whom I prayed before any astral trips."
The years passed, and like many sincere mystics, Richard led a double life divided between his homeopathic work, family and casual friends on the one hand, and the private world of his occult studies and spiritual growth on the other, which he kept almost completely to himself. "I realised early on", he explained to me later, "that you cannot share this stuff with the average person. They either dismiss you as a full-blown nut-job, pity your pathetic fantasies and try to 'bring you to your senses', or, if they are remotely religious in a dogmatic way, try to save you from 'Satan'. It is very sad, but you just have to accept that occultism is in the main a very lonely pursuit. There were a few close friends with whom I could and did share something of my inner life, but I counted them on the fingers of one hand."
Per ardua ad astra
As is so often the case in life, when things are going our way and all seems well in our inner and outer world, Fate steps in to cast a spanner in the works. In Richard's case two blows descended upon him in rapid succession. Firstly his mother passed away at the comparatively young age of 60. "I was devastated," he told me. "We had become such close friends through our shared interests in healing, occultism and self-growth that her sudden death knocked me for six. I had thought I was quite a strong person and of course I believed firmly in life after death and in reincarnation, so I knew intellectually that my mother was not dead. The shining spirit and goodness I loved in her was very much alive, more alive and aware than it had ever been on earth. But the heart is not the intellect and mine was broken and would not be mended." Soon afterwards, the family home was destroyed when an electrical fault caused the house to burn down while he was away at a conference. "Suddenly, all the progress I had made in the last ten years was wiped out and I did not know if I had the strength and faith to begin all over again." Once again he sunk into deep depression. That might have been the end of his story, but Providence or Destiny had other plans for him.
One day, when Richard was at a very low ebb, he went for a walk in a local park, for Nature had often comforted him in the past. "It was getting dark when I entered the park," Richard recalls, "and I wandered about in a daze, not caring where I went and scarcely noticing my surroundings. Eventually I found myself standing beneath an oak in the gathering twilight. It must have been over 80 feet tall and very old because the trunk was wide enough to drive a car through. I remembered the reverence that the Druids had for oaks and how it was a sacred symbol to them of the power and love of God. So I prayed to that tree as I had never prayed in my life, silently, all alone in that park, under the faint stars, with the tears streaming down my face. I stayed there all night, praying for release from my emptiness and grief. Then, just as dawn was tinting the eastern sky with its rosy glow, a presence descended upon me. I can put it no clearer than that, for just as there are some spiritual experiences that cannot be put into words, so there are spiritual powers that cannot be described, only experienced.
"You may call it an 'Angel', my Higher Self, my Soul, God, or anything else you like, I cannot name it; it was too holy to be named. I did not see or hear it; I simply felt it descend upon me like a living robe of light. It was like being embraced by the purest love you can imagine, devoid of any human passion, and I wept anew, but this time from joy and not despair. Suddenly I remembered my childhood Bible studies and the story of the Prodigal Son. 'For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' What power and mystery there is in these words! Now they conveyed a new and deeper meaning to me and filled me with gratitude and humility. I bowed before that oak and am not ashamed to say I hugged and kissed it. I had entered that park a lost soul and now left it filled with a peace and joy I had never known before. I was utterly changed and would never be the same again, and although I knew that there would be other crises in my life, I also knew with an inner certainty that I would pass safely through them, for I was now truly 'alive' and 'found' and could no more be dead or lost whatever the world might throw at me."
What an amazing and heart warming testament this is! Richard was not then (nor is he now) under the slightest illusion that he is in any way 'special' or has been singled out to receive what can perhaps best be described as a 'holy transfiguration'. Many men and women have had similar mystical experiences, and will continue to have them for so long as there is a single human being who sincerely and unselfishly longs for enlightenment. Richard continues: "The peace and joy that filled me lasted for days, weeks. It was like a permanent 'high', but without the horrible side effects of the drugs I used to take. There is so much that I now understood through that one illumination that had eluded me in the past. I saw myself and the world around me in a new, higher and crystal-clear light. I found I could now often 'read' people like an open book. Their fears, aspirations, joys and sorrows were laid out before my inner sight. I was filled with an irresistible desire to help them in whatever way I could. To share, in some way, the joy and peace that had been given to me, and lighten their burdens."
It was around this time that I first met Richard, who attended several workshops I was then giving on the hidden meaning concealed in the Bible and other sacred books. We quickly found we had much in common and became fast friends, which we remain to this day. I showed Richard an advertisement for a truly great Occult Order, which he later joined and is a member of to this day. I can do no better than let Richard describe the effect of their Teachings upon him in his own words. "Like the long lost prodigal son in the Gospel story which has stayed with me all my life, the moment I received my very first Lecture I knew that I had returned to my Father's House. These holy teachings are the light of my life; my meat and drink. Without them I should be more dead than alive. I never cease to thank God for them and for the guidance of my wonderful Teachers which have made all my dreams come true."
I am betraying no confidences in revealing Richard's membership of this secret organisation, for although the facts that I have related are all true, they provide no clues to his identity. Richard returned to his homeopathic practise with renewed energy, determination and insight and in time recovered all that he had previously lost. Some years after we first met he married one of his patients, and she now assists him in his work. He has continued his occult studies, and with the benefit of the teachings and guidance he has received from his instructors he has been able to extend and develop his healing art to the very great benefit of his grateful patients (see Author's afterword in the sidebar on your right.)
© Copyright John Temple & occult-mysteries.org.
Article added 10 September 2013. Updated 2 August 2016.