Mystery schools once existed throughout the Ancient World – Greece, Egypt, India, China, South America. These spiritual centers provided a place where students could receive a mystical education by progressing through a series of spiritual trials and initiations. The goal was to provide seekers with the highest levels of spiritual realization – to understand the deep truths of existence, the cosmos and human life. Initiates of the Mysteries were credited with wisdom, as well as great magical and occult powers.
The main method of teaching the Mysteries was through Myth – stories with deep mystical and psychological symbolism; for example, the Greek and Roman Myths. In reality, these stories possessed two different levels. On the mundane level, the myths could be seen as simple entertaining tales with light moral undertones. For most people, this is how they would be received. These were the Outer Mysteries.
However, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, there existed the Inner Mysteries.
Students of the Outer Mysteries would be carefully observed. Some would show signs of recognition – a clear ability to see beyond the superficial level of the stories to the more profound meaning. These few would then be selected for further initiation into the Inner Mysteries. They would serve under the tutorship of the Master (Hierophant) of the Mystery School and be taken to ever deeper levels of spiritual enfoldment.
The teachings were hard. The initiation ceremonies were dramatic and frightening – seemingly life and death situations where the student was exposed to his deepest fears and temptations. Perhaps the mythological stories would be enacted in the depths of a dark cave to the sound of loud gongs and frightening flashes of light. Frankly, nobody really knows. Initiates were sworn to strictest secrecy, even unto death, and these matters were never written down.
Thanks largely to the efforts of organized mainstream religion throughout history and the world, the Mystery Schools have mostly vanished on the physical plane. However, they still exist on the spiritual level. More excitingly, they can come alive right now for YOU in a personal way – through a profound study of your own unfolding life.
Prior to your birth, imagine that the spiritual part of you – known as the Higher Self – made some decisions. It determined precisely the lessons and experiences you needed to undergo in order to learn, grow and perfect yourself in all ways. It then chose exactly the right parents, and the right time and place for you to be born. Ever since your birth, it has been orchestrating ALL the events and people in your life to perfectly present you with all the challenges and lessons you most need in order to develop yourself. From this perspective, nothing happens in your life by chance. Everything has meaning. There are NO accidents.
What is the goal of all this? What is the purpose of your life from this perspective? It is no less than to become a Spiritual Master over as many lifetimes as it takes!
This is the perspective of your life as a Mystery Story. The Master Teacher of the Mysteries is your Higher Self. Through the trials of ordinary life, -through perceiving the mythic dimensions of it – you are presented with the lessons you most need to learn in order to perfect yourself in all ways.
It is a theory which cannot be definitively proven. However, as the great mystical teacher, Paul Solomon, once said, life works far better and makes more sense if we assume it is true, even if it is not!
The Mystery School perspective is very similar to the way in which we regard dreams. Modern Psychology postulates that every person, object and situation in our dreams has deep symbolic meaning. They are created by a part of our mind that understands and thinks only in symbols. The challenge is for our waking consciousness to then make sense of all these meaningful symbols.
This is exactly the same situation that is presented with our waking lives from the Mystery School perspective. In a sense, as long as we participate in life unawares, we are still asleep. As soon as we realize and actively participate in the Mystery School lessons of our lives, the sleeper awakens to progressively greater levels of awareness.
If your life is a Mystery School, everything that happens to you is by design. There are NO accidents. Every person who enters your life, every situation whether joyous or tragic, every challenge you face, is there for a specific reason. From this viewpoint, you have to stop blaming your parents all the time for the way you turned out. After all, you chose them!
Like King Arthur, Perseus, or Odysseus, you are the hero of your own personal Mystery Mythology. The events and characters in your life are the colorful fabrics of which your story is woven.
People and circumstances that you perceive to be enemies and trials are in fact your greatest teachers. In the Mysteries, the initiators could appear to the student as demons or monsters – evil forces that had to be overcome before any further progress was even possible. These were in truth archetypal forces within the pupil’s own psyche that needed to be wrestled with and brought under control before any further progress could be made.
Yet, once the lesson had been learned and the demon overcome, it revealed its true form – as an angel of light. As the Dalai Lama once said, we need to be grateful to people who mean us harm, for it is only through conflict that we can grow. From a Buddhist perspective, there is even more need for gratitude to enemies: they are actively harming themselves, incurring massive negative karma, specifically to benefit you! And they don’t even know it!
How does this apply practically? Well, have you noticed that certain scenarios – work difficulties, relationship problems or whatever – keep cropping up again and again for you? The reason is that if you refuse to learn a lesson, it will simply repeat again later until you do. Please don’t think that you can go on to the advanced lessons until you have mastered the simple ones.
It will not happen.
Wherever you go in the entire world to escape a lesson, you take yourself with you! Thus, you can be sure that your Higher Self will simply orchestrate events to present the exact same lesson/challenge until you finally get the message.
Moreover, remember this. The Higher Self regards your body as perfectly expendable! After all, if you refuse to learn the lesson in this life, it can simply provide you with a new one and the same lesson can start over where it left off!
In summary, viewing your life as a Mystery School is immensely beneficial. It provides you with a powerful spiritual perspective. It makes sense and meaning out of all that happens to you, enormously increases your chances for growth, and helps you work towards a firm purpose that transcends yourself.
Copyright Asoka Selvarajah 2011. All Rights Reserved.
This article is one example of many from the new book, Aspire To Wisdom, which is filled with dynamic strategies for personal change and spiritual growth.