So far as I can see, based on readings I am involved in, the esoteric and exoteric really can’t be reconciled easily, if at all. There are reasons for this which I will describe briefly.
Exoteric wants things tidy, all cleaned up, logical, in line, orderly, scientific and simple. No messy contradictions or puzzling paradoxes are allowed if at all possible. Everything has to be smooth, well groomed, hair cut missionary style, slick and easily accessible and understood by all. Keep it simple stupid, the lowest denominator of concepts, words, and desires that even children grasp the ideas and themes. In short, it wants total control. It will let knowledge out in the speed it chooses, the quality it accepts for the public and only then will allow it to be read, digested, and believed. It controls. That is the essence of the exoteric.
Esoteric, its brother, is best summed up by the scripture, “The Spirit bloweth where it will.” While the exoteric clamps onto control, the esoteric is entirely free to take wings at any time and any place, simply because it knows the Spirit is in charge, not the intellect. The intellect cannot control the Spirit. There is no control with the exoteric, because that is not the desirous thing. Logic, order, and neat systemization is irrelevant to the Spirit. The revelation will come when the Spirit decides to charge, not when the person decides it is time for the Spirit to go to work.
The exoteric is external, loud, almost boisterous with its claims, banging out information for the world to see, grasp, hear, and latch onto. It is effort magnified through teaching, indoctrination, systematic elaboration over and over again so the public gets the point. It sells its knowledge in public, steadily, and non-stop, step by step fashion so as no mistakes can possibly be made if it can be prevented from making them. It is official, judicious and determined to get the word out. It demands obedience of the esoteric to bow to its doctrine and will. The esoteric doesn’t even consider worrying about what the exoteric thinks or does, whether it follows its paths or not. It is entirely irrelevant to the esoteric how the exoteric responds to its whispers of truth in the souls of men.
The exoteric claims it alone possesses the truth and fights with other exoteric claims for the simple reason that every exoteric claim, no matter how contradictory of other exoteric claims insists it alone possesses the truth. It is exclusive, divisive, and never at one in its views.
There has always and only been one doctrine to the esoteric, though its methods may be numerous, and culturally defined and performed, its symbolisms can reflect great variety based on where in the world the Spirit has blown and inspired men and women.
The exoteric is always out in front, seen of men, and insists on public acknowledgment and fame. It is a steady outward manifestation insisting on being popular, accessible, and airing its doctrines with a megaphone, to clearly, and unmistakably be seen by men, the more, the better. It insists its interpretation of history is correct. If knowledge is lost to its way of thinking this is a negative for all mankind, an apostasy, a heretical doctrine, a blasphemy. It can be refuted and defeated, and so, underneath all its bluster, it is paranoid more or less. It has no choice because it can never be sure if the esoteric is with it or not.
The esoteric can bob up and down, be seen, and then go invisible to the exoteric, for long stretches of time if need be. It is never lost, or defeated, it just goes invisible to the exoteric, yet always working whether visible or not. It has no desire, let alone need, for proofs, logical analysis or the cheering of men in public forums. It has no creeds, articles of faith, rules to follow or buildings to exist within. The esoteric needs no advertisement of its truth, it works through the still small voice within, not the loud logical stentorian demonstrating its truth systematically to a willing public. It seeks not popularity, but souls in need of its light. The exoteric demands faith in it, the esoteric demands faith in inner self. The exoteric demands submission to its priesthoods, powers, principalities, and quorums. The esoteric suggests submission to the universal light within, and asks time to learn to see that light within.
The exoteric can lead to the esoteric enlightenment, but esoteric never leads to exoteric enlightenment as the truth, because the truth cannot come from outside oneself. This the exoteric cannot grasp, the esoteric knows for certainty it comes from within or not at all.
This is part of the difficulty to working esoterically. It has enemies from who ought to be its friends. It is not about power or wealth, but knowledge. The exoteric needs power and wealth in order for it to continue being a show for mankind rather than a substance. It needs buildings, temples, clothes, and media to spread its message or hope through it alone. The esoteric needs no trappings such as these. They are a complete distraction. The temple is oneself, not some expensive building. The temple is the world and stars one has access to 24 hours a day. Access to the exoteric trappings is limited and definitely guarded. The esoteric is holy wherever or whenever one is in the world. It needs no group, demands no intermediate blockades, other than one’s own desire or lack thereof to tap into the stream of the holy.
True religion means a linking back to the Source of All, the One. It is what constitutes spirituality as opposed to being obedient to others demands. The only demand is upon oneself. One can never tell another who wishes for esoteric insight that obedience must be performed, since obedience is irrelevant to where the Spirit blows. It can strike at anytime, anyplace, anywhere, anyone. When esoteric people gather, there is not an undergirding necessity for agreement of ideas, hopes, and doctrines. There is not conformity, there is inquiry, learning, intelligence sharing with intelligence gifted. There are no heretics in the esoteric. The very thought makes no sense at all.
The ways of the Spirit are infinite and from infinity which stretches out across infinity, including all opposites, paradoxes, contradictions, normalities, abnormalities, and conceptualizations. The Canon is the individual soul, not an outside source. The loyalty is to one’s own search for enlightenment, not to another’s interpretations, influences, or determinations concerning doctrines, scriptures, or acceptable procedures to please a god of any kind. The God is within. The exoteric wants a relationship to a God without, to be in agreement with God, the esoteric recognizes the God within is one’s very self, there is no relationship, there is awakening to know One is it. It’s not one in agreement alone, it is One, period.
So far as I can understand, the exoteric cannot see the legitimate revelations and enlightenment in any others while the esoteric see the revelations and enlightenment in all mankind no matter where on earth they are, nor in how they express it. The light flows through all mankind, not one group to the exclusion of the others. The expression, symbolisms, and metaphors differ with the esoteric expression of enlightenment, with cultural inflections, of course. But the message is just one message throughout history, best expressed as Tat Tvam Asi, “Thou Art That,” that is, thou art the divine in the universe, just expressed in the many.
The goal of the Divine One is the unifying of the many back to itself. That is the core of the esoteric doctrine, no matter how it differs in expression of symbolisms, experiences, etc. It is not about aligning with correct doctrines, it is about experiencing the unification, regardless of country, gender, race, or beliefs. It has nothing to do with agreeing with interpretations of the scripture in alignment and agreement as with the exoteric. It is not about conformity, it is about experiencing the Divine.
So far as I can tell, this is the essential difference of the two ways of religion. The exoteric will not tolerate the exoteric unless and only if it aligns with exoteric thinking and doctrines and knowledge, nothing else is allowed. The esoteric is not nearly in such a narrow corridor because it has no need for the exoteric to agree with anything of what it says. It cannot be and will not be a missionary way because there is nothing to share publicly. Everything is internal for oneself. There is no need to even attempt a conformity of experience, because, The Spirit bloweth where IT will. The speed, the timing, the path comes from God, not controlled by human institutions. It is a direct connection, not a testimony based on what someone else says or believes.
The exoteric wants to be in control of the Spirit and tell it where it blows, the esoteric simply follows where the Spirit blows. The exoteric will not and cannot agree with the esoteric, while the esoteric doesn’t care what the exoteric believes, it follows what it gets straight from the Divine itself. That, in a nutshell is the entire column of experience between the two. The exoteric would crucify Jesus again if he came and taught His Gospel, the esoteric would embrace it. The exoteric has never been correct about the truth, it is all about outward appearance of possessing the truth. The esoteric has never been wrong about the truth, though it is expressed in myriads of different manners, the doctrine is always the same. That is the essential difference