Thus, there are two features of the exoteric Christian tradition: the idealism of salvation in this world, salvation as a mortal individual, as one of the elect who enjoys a relationship to the ultimate Savior who can change the world, and the ascetic mystical tradition—embraced mainly by uncommon individuals in the Christian cult, although it is also reflected in certain features of the popular cult. These two dimensions of Christianity developed from two features of the ancient world in which Christianity arose. The ideal of the perfection of this world is a reflection of the Judaism of the time. The ideal of mysticism is a development of the tradition of ascetic mysticism that could be found in the Hellenistic culture and the ancient oriental influences of that time and times since.
Neither of these two features of Christianity is directly an expression of the esotericism of Jesus. The true esotericism of Jesus insofar as it can be deduced by studying the extant texts and histories, relates more to the spiritual transcendentalism of the great cultures of the Adepts. This—worldly religious idealism and ascetical mysticism are features of human culture that appear all over the world and are not primarily expressions of the influence of Adepts in history. The tradition and the teaching of the great Adepts are not the same as these two oriental and occidental traditions.
To support this conclusion, there are passages in the Bible. First, in Genesis 2:5, we find the following description of Man:
At the time when Yahweh God made earth and heaven there was as yet no wild bush on the earth nor had any wild plant sprung up, for Yahweh God had not sent rain on the earth, nor was there any man to till the soil. However, a flood was rising from the earth and watering all the surface of the soil. Yahweh God fashioned man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being.
This description of Man is fundamental to an understanding of the true esotericism of primitive Christianity. The idea of Man as a being containing an immortal soul, which must get out of this world and go back to its true home, is not native to either Judaism or early Christianity. It is an Oriental description of Man that appeared in the Hellenistic culture at the time of Jesus. It was not characteristic of primitive Judaism. Thus, the Old Testament does not describe Man in an alien world that he must escape. Rather, Man is himself made from the stuff of this world. He is a living being because the Breath of Life has been breathed into him and pervades him.
We might consider other interpretations of this passage, but, in the terms of the Old Testament, Man does not contain a soul. He is a soul, a living being. "Soul" means "breath" or the breathed being, in Hebrew the "ruach" of the esotericism of the Jews. Man as a soul is conceived in human terms. The communicated esotericism of Jesus presumed this Old Testament description of Man.
There is much very ordinary talk in the New Testament, including moral tales and so forth. Only in a few passages can we get a feeling for the esoteric teaching. Among those passages, there appears in the Gospel of John, chapter three, an account of Jesus' communicating the esoteric teaching to someone. "Esoteric" means "secret", and here we have an example of Jesus secretly teaching someone, a man named Nicodemus, who comes to him at night:
There was at that place a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came at night to Jesus.
In other words, he came secretly. He could not be seen coming to a teacher who was considered to be a heretic. Such association was dangerous for an official of the synagogue. Therefore, Nicodemus came at night to Jesus:
And he said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher sent from God; for no man can do these miracles that you are doing unless God is with him."
This bit of acknowledgment was commonly added to the accounts of Jesus because it was not then presumed that workers of miracles were from God but rather that they were some sort of anti-Christ: