From New Dawn 74 (Sept-Oct 2002)
A persistent legend originating in the East tells of hidden locations on the Earth where there exists certain groups of individuals with both exceptional powers and highly perfected character and consciousness. From these secret locations, they influence the whole of humanity and are known variously as the Hierarchy of Adepts, the Great White Lodge, the Secret Chiefs, the Great White Brotherhood, the Masters, or The People of the Secret.
In the biblical legend of the Three Wise Men from the East, we find one of the earliest spiritual archetypes and one of the best known written references to this Eastern legend. Researchers have openly argued the Eastern influence in Biblical writings for the best part of the twentieth century, but the appearance of the mysterious three wise men in the Gospel of Matthew is perhaps the first and most obvious example of Eastern legend in early scripture. Described as “men who studied the stars”, these travellers, “came from the east to Jerusalem” to meet the infant messiah.
…Herod called the visitors from the east to a secret meeting and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.1
Herod consulted his own high priests and teachers of his kingdom on this matter to no avail, and afforded the three wise men great respect and reverence in requesting a private meeting with them. Little else is said of the men before they returned to their homeland following a warning by an angel that it was dangerous to cooperate with Herod. The concept of three mysterious teachers is an older element of Eastern culture certainly in circulation prior to and throughout the time of Jesus.
In the 19th century, the French diplomat Louis Jacolliot wrote a number of remarkable works on the ancient legends of India during his posting in the East. During this time, he uncovered the Legend of the Nine Unknowns. According to this legend, a secret society of these Nine Unknowns was created by the Indian Emperor Asoka in 273 BC, in an attempt to encapsulate all human knowledge of the time, and ensure that it was governed by those incapable of misuse. Apparently the martial art of Judo is the result of a “leak” from the physiological teachings of the Unknowns.
Researchers traced the transmission of this legend through Talbot Mundy, the English novelist who travelled extensively through India. It is thought that portions of this legend filtered through to the West during the Crusades from various secret and semisecret Islamic traditions. Perhaps this legend had an influence on the foundation story of the Knights Templar, an order begun by nine knights who have since been revered as holders of the knowledge of the ancients.
The Hidden Directorate
The term “Hidden Directorate” was coined by British author Ernest Scott in his classic work The People of the Secret, in which he makes a strong argument for the reality of an assembly or hierarchy of adepts. Initially, the book reads like a history of occult and esoteric tradition, eventually becoming more complex by presenting very clearly, and at times quite influentially, an alternative “theoretical history” of the world’s spiritual heritage.
In tracing the tradition of esoteric thought throughout time, it is possible to find a pattern of movement in certain groups and individuals. This movement seems to be working in a particular direction concerned with freeing the consciousness of humanity. Scott’s work operates from certain premises.
Firstly, History is not the equilibrant of chance and hazard. The plan for human history was written long ago, and is monitored constantly. Part of this process is ensuring that certain gains are attained to ensure the balance and evolution of man and life as a whole, the direction of which is “the Will of God.” The responsibility for this process on Earth lies with an intelligence called the Hidden Directorate. Below this level, members of ordinary humanity are in touch with the Directorate, and may at times share its consciousness.
This group of advanced human individuals is what has been referred to as the Hidden Executive. It is the reality behind all legends of ‘masters’ and ‘initiates’ from earliest historical times to the present.2
Scott claims the existence of several centres employed by the Executive, one of which is, or was, in Afghanistan, and corresponds to the legend of the Markaz or “Powerhouse.” Those under a chain of command from the Afghanistan centre have been known as “Sufis,” and from this base and others around the world, the Executive works to implement the overall plan of the Directorate.
The aim of this process is to instigate the patterns and intellectual movements that will orient people to higher evolutionary states. Scott asserts that this unified theory of history is impossible if our search is limited to the “visible shadows and not the invisible substance”.
The concept of a Hidden Directorate guiding the affairs of mankind can itself be traced as a subtle thread throughout the world’s spiritual and esoteric heritage. The early civilisations of Greece acquaint us with Mount Olympus, home to the pantheon of hidden Gods who constantly meddle in the lives of unfortunate mortals. Homer’s epic work, The Illiad, depicts how the war between the Greeks and the Trojans was decided by a war in Heaven, and the death of the epic hero, Achilles, was also determined by the same divine judges. Prior to these oral legends, another was recorded in stone and considered one of the oldest pieces of literature in history. Entitled The Epic of Gilgamesh, it relates the story of a true epic king, Gilgamesh, and clearly outlines the effect of an unseen divine community upon the daily life of the king and his people.
Many researchers have wrongly likened the Hidden Directorate to subversive societies like the Illuminati. Rather than being an exterior, politically-oriented centre for control, the Directorate is more concerned with the inner dimension of human development, which may or may not be discernible to the general mind.
By reintroducing the theory of “ancient wisdom guarded by hidden custodians or Masters”, Scott argues for a benevolent group that maintains a key influence over people of the world’s cultures, implanting key ideas and initiating experiences, “in a sacred, secular, or whatever context is required for the time, place and people.”3 They exist for the good of humanity and exist to override the sinister forces keeping man from achieving his true spiritual potential and right.
It is important to understand that the Directorate seeks not to control, but to direct or influence humanity. Due to the higher natures apparent in man, he cannot be blindly lead, only prompted into action by creating certain opportunities at certain times, and implanting particular ideas. The power of man’s free will cannot be overrun.
The French poet and esotericist Maurice Magre writes in the epilogue of his book The Return of the Magi:
There have been men whose names are unknown because they cared little for fame, and truth radiated from them without knowing it. There have been revealers who were unaware of the revelation that was in them; modest sages who mingled their wisdom with their daily life… We have all of us met, at least once in our lives, one of these unheralded initiators, and received from them a priceless gift, by a kindly word, a certain look of sadness, a sincere expression in the eyes.4
Sufism is a term originally used by Western orientalists to describe the mystical path of Islam, otherwise called tasawwuf by Muslims. In reality, this tradition existed long before Islam and forms a foundation for much of the world’s collective religion and ancient thought. The Directorate itself is part of many Sufi legends including those throughout Tibet involving the mythical inner kingdom of the planet known as Shambhala. Scott argues that the Sufi influence is a common thread connecting the entire history of Europe, and that its beginnings can be traced from Spain and from the Middle East.
By the early eighth century, Cordoba, Spain, saw several schools of Sufi Initiates forming under the cover of Islam. Working in a fashion similar to the Western mystics during the later Inquisition, these individuals walked a fine line to heresy, occasionally crossing that line into the view of officialdom.
As a result there were numerous Sufi martyrs, including Mansur el Hallaj (858–922) who claimed the importance of Jesus as a member of the chain of Initiates. He openly taught Sufi concepts, and was eventually dismembered alive by the Muslim Inquisition. As he died, he prayed for the souls of his murderers.
Despite their persecution by the growing Muslim establishment, the Sufis continued an unbroken line of their wisdom and methods in a careful transmission between different secret brotherhoods or orders. Known as Tariqas, these groups acted as caretakers of the continuous line of knowledge.
During this time a particular work arrived in Spain from Basra, and is known as the Basra Encyclopaedia. Held by the Sufi initiates, it is a coded written book of all world knowledge. It arrived in the first half of the 11th century either through the Sufi known as El Majriti, or his pupil, El Karmani. The encyclopaedia was chiefly concerned with the inner development of man, and the forms of knowledge that could develop in Europe. The actions of the underground Sufi movement in Spain preceding the 12th century was the first strategic effort from the Directorate to inject influence into Europe.
Objectives of the Directorate
It would seem that the movement of the Directorate involved five clear objectives. The first was quite obviously the injection of an intellectual component into the heart of Europe. This end was achieved through increasing philosophical and intellectual speculation through the advancement and appearance of Eastern mathematics. Another instrument was the introduction of the Kabbala into the Western consciousness around the year 1000.
The developmental secret hinted at by the alchemists was incorporated into many forms from painting to architecture, and the true nature of the Gothic cathedrals as blueprints for human alchemy became realised in certain quarters. These elements continued to be reproduced as part of an esoteric tradition through various esoteric schools. Aspects of secret cathedral design remained a busy focus of research, particularly the complex structures left throughout key points of Europe.
It is beyond doubt that some very significant material was introduced under the eyes of the official Church authority and that unwittingly they even approved much of this material, completely unaware of the hidden nature contained. An example was the commission of El Greco to paint “Burial of Count Orgaz” for the Catholic Church. Appearing to be another devotional work, it contains a few notable differences separating it from the usual.
Its composition can, however, be dissected to show reincarnation concepts, something like the equivalence of consciousness and sexual energy and the plurality of ‘I’s’ in a human personality. These are not concepts which an ordinary clerical sponsor would have approved had he known of them.5
The second objective was the establishment of certain modalities that could support the dissemination of knowledge on the basis of initiation. The instruments of modality were various, but survived in what would be now called Illuminism and Freemasonry, which combined as one of the most influential forces on world politics.
It is claimed that Illuminism was injected into Europe from the school of Ibn Masarra (883–931) in Cordoba, a centre of underground Sufi teaching, while Freemasonry derives from the Knights Templar, a particularly powerful order that enabled Sufism to travel from the East to Europe through interaction with pilgrims and mystics in the Holy Land. They were initiated in rituals originally from the school of Hiram Abif, the builder of Solomon’s Temple, where they acquired their namesake. The order was later condemned and their leader burned alive in 1314 as a heretic. The Templars were the prototype for nearly every esoteric society to come afterwards.
The publication of the mysterious Rosicrucian document Fama Fraternitatis in 1614 saw the open suggestion of the existence of certain “unknown superiors” or “Brothers of the Rosy Cross” who live and work in secret and yet direct much of the spiritual destiny of the world. Becoming part of the core belief system of many Western esotericists, this concept and the associated transmissions from these “hidden masters” melded with diverse strands of existing legend, and by the nineteenth century the foundations for a major unfolding of the adeptic myth were laid. The philosophy as a movement was accelerated through the efforts of Theosophy, without which the entire myth would probably have remained forever in obscurity.
Much later in modern times, organisations like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn did a great amount to further the Directorate’s goals throughout the West. In an age where magic attracted many of the keenest minds of the day, the Golden Dawn was a virtual melting-pot of personalities. The self-styled leader, MacGregor Mathers, claimed to be in direct contact with the Secret Masters, and used this influence over the majority of his followers including the poet W.B. Yeats and a young Aleister Crowley. In many ways, this order was a catalyst for the introduction of thousands into the area of Eastern magic and philosophy.
The third objective of the Directorate was the introduction of a subtler shade to the concept of love, which recovered the dying mystery tradition of female or goddess reverence. This concept of love was introduced through the Troubadour movement of the Middle Ages. While restoring the feminine element lost in Pauline Christianity, it also recovered the traditions of pagan and, in particular, Egyptian thought, creating the Cult of Virgin Mary. This cult continues to be suppressed to all extents by the Catholic Church. The appearance of statues of the Black Madonna is another permutation, which implicitly suggests the Mary/Isis, and hence the Horus/Jesus concept of shared heritage and myth. In many ways, these statues are indicators of various awakened communities and the Sufi realisation that all true religions are one.
The fourth objective was to establish a “psychokinetic technique whereby certain individuals, working perhaps in pairs, could increase their level of conscious energy.” This was enabled through the appearance of the technique of alchemy which, under the guise of base metal transmutation, outlined the course for the transmutation of the soul and increasing the level of conscious energy.
The last objective of the Directorate for the Middle Ages was the act of securing an immediate development through specific individuals who have the ability to influence their society and its future for the good of humanity. These men chosen by the Directorate were capable of making a deep impression on their age, and they contributed material that had a quality of persistence in various guises through many centuries.
The earliest alchemists were probably “knowers”. They had learned techniques which gave them access to an enhanced level of awareness. From this level they knew the inner content of religion. They discovered that all true religions are one.6
These men were concerned with achieving particular evolutionary gains in the 12th and 13th centuries, regardless of whether they operated under the cover of Islam or Christianity. To declare that Christianity and Islam contained an inner truth overlaid by dogma and politics would have been considered heresy, and as Scott argues, these men “knew they had to build a bridge, but it so happened that bridge-building was illegal. The bridge builders had to pretend they were engaged in some other activity – like digging holes in the road. Not unnaturally, the holes were incomprehensible to their contemporaries and have remained largely so ever since.”7
One of these individuals may have been Albertus Magnus, the Count of Bollstadt (1206–1280) and one of the earliest European alchemists. He refused to believe that knowledge ended with Aristotle, and was one of those challenging and ambivalent intellects that sought to break out of any conceivable cage that may limit its movement. His independent thought and liberated writing did much to raise his name across Europe, drawing numerous young, hungry scholars to his personal teaching. One such scholar was Thomas Aquinas.
Legend has it that Magnus over the course of thirty years constructed a “talking head” and a complete artificial man. Idries Shah claims that “making a head” is a Sufi code phrase for a particular method of inner development, keeping with the stories of Magnus’ apparently obsessive attention to occultism, and his otherworldly powers of the mind. He is said to have commanded “instantaneous hypnotism”, an example of which is the story of his dinner party to whom he invited a minor royal family of Europe. It was mid-winter and he held the party in open air. When his guests entered the yard, the snow disappeared, the grass grew green and fruit appeared on the trees. As soon as the glorious dinner was finished, the perfect scene vanished, and the party found itself shivering and covered in snow. Clearly an extremely adept alchemist, his strange abilities and coded writings eventually earned him a wide regard. Throughout his time, Magnus was spoken of as holding a great amount of hidden knowledge in his grasp that seemed a great burden to him. It has been suggested that this knowledge may have been passed onto his pupil, Thomas Aquinas, later Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Aquinas left university in Naples, much to the annoyance of his family, to join the same order of Dominican monks that his teacher Magnus was a part. For the next three years, he studied under Magnus and emerged “a philosopher and alchemist.” In 1256 he travelled to Paris, where he attained the seat of Master of Paris University.
He began his post with the aim of assembling all world knowledge into a single encyclopaedia, quite similar to the Sufi Basra Encyclopaedia. He considered that both Reason and Faith were concerned with the same object. The former starts with sense-data and attains to a knowledge of the existence, goodness and will of God. The latter rests on revelation. Each requires the taking into account of the knowledge arrived at by the other. The Church took a quick and decisive stand against this notion, feeling “Rationalism” had gone too far in the European mindset and education system.
Aquinas’ writings were condemned by the Church, particularly by the Bishop of Paris and two successive Archbishops of Canterbury. The basic concepts of Aquinas, namely that the human soul is “a single substantial form of the human body” was viewed as an attack on doctrine. The sorest point, however, was that the writings implicitly suggested a system, inspired by and derived from the new translations of Aristotle into the European languages, a self-sufficient view of man and the universe, not reliant on the teachings of the Church. This was probably the single most important reason for the suppression of Thomas Aquinas that followed, but not before he managed to inject the Sufi impulse into European thought and education.
Both Magnus and Aquinas were engaged, it seems, in a perilous exercise of hunting with hounds and running with hares.
They probably knew, because of their contact with a genuine esoteric source, that “known” truth and theological dogma need not, by any means, coincide. They were probably engaged in trying to reintroduce the original developmental force of Christianity, while gently diluting the organisational accretions which had all but smothered it.8
If men like Magnus and Aquinas were in touch with an aspect of the Directorate, they would be capable of generating the effect required on their contemporaries and environment. Historically, it would seem that the effort failed. Yet behind the scenes much must have been achieved. “There is evidence that at the deepest levels of Sufi secrecy there is a mutual communication with the mystics of the Christian West,” says Idries Shah.
Contemporary with Aquinas was Roger Bacon (1214–292). Renown for his eccentricity and genius, he wore Arab dress at Oxford and was considered to “make women of devils and juggle cats into costermongers”. He is also remembered as one of the greatest intellects of the period.
After becoming a Franciscan monk in 1247, his views on almost everything brought him into conflict with the established cleric. He had in mind the formation of a vast encyclopaedia of all world knowledge, and in a secret letter to the Pope suggested that the Church should centralise this enterprise. This pattern suggests that one of the strongest elements of Sufi evolution is the realisation of this “World Encyclopaedia”, begun in Basra. This is argued as the platform from which the Directorate is planning the next stage of action for future centuries. Apparently in this instance, the Pope misunderstood the letter and thinking that the encyclopaedia already existed, expressed his interest in seeing it. Bacon then decided to write it himself.
He worked diligently without the knowledge of his superiors, and in an amazingly short period of time he produced three monumental pieces, the Opus Major, Opus Minor and Opus Tertium. Each outlined a scheme for research and experimentation in languages, mathematics, optics, alchemy and astronomy. The Pope, Clement IV, died in 1268 before reading the works, taking with him Bacon’s dream of introducing the esoteric and natural sciences to the universities of Europe.
Bacon professed to believe that the totality of human knowledge and possibilities was contained in the Bible; but unlike his contemporaries he did not believe that the Bible was an open book. To understand it, a certain kind of inner study was necessary and this involved a knowledge of alchemy, astrology and magic.9
Bacon was quite clearly engaged in secretly building a bridge between the outward and exoteric side of Christianity and its true esoteric nature that was disappearing under the weight of dogma. He was clearly on dangerous ground, eventually paying for his views with a 14 year prison sentence in his own monastery.
He openly cited the teachings of the Sufi master Suhrawardi, in particular his work “Wisdom of Illumination.” Suhrawardi claimed that his philosophy was that of the inner teaching of all the ancients – Greek, Persian and Egyptian.
It was the science of Light and through it man could attain to a state about which he could not normally even dream. Bacon repeated this claim and declared that the same secret had been held by Noah, Abraham, the Chaldean and Egyptian masters, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Socrates and the Sufis.10
Many researchers recognise that Bacon was in touch with some genuine esoteric source, and like Nostradamus and Odhar centuries later, Bacon was subject to strange visions and prophecies in which he described in the plainest possible detail the motor car, the aeroplane, submarine and the cantilever bridge, and numerous other inventions which are only making sense to us now. His visions and inventions are still secretly discussed throughout the modern world.
The Search for the Source
The legend of the Directorate is one of those few lasting for countless centuries, in a surprisingly unchanged form. While it has moved throughout cultures, great and obvious care has been taken to assure careful and clear transmission. Offering great implications for the world, it actually offers many more for the individual. In its Sufi leaning and origin, it presents perhaps the closest form of a unified world religion, and a definite course for the realisation of humanity’s potential. It may be that matters will never be more explicit than they are now, and that a successful search for a Source, as Scott says, is – and always has been – the minimum price of admission.
Recommended Reading: People of the Secret by Ernest Scott, Meetings With Remarkable Men by G.I. Gurdjieff, In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky, The Templars and the Assassins by James Wasserman, The Sufis by Idries Shah.
1. Gospel of Matthew, GN Bible (New York: Collins, 1976)
2. Ernest Scott, The People of the Secret (London: Octagon Press, 1983).
3. Richard Holmes Jr, Critique Magazine
4. Maurice Magre, The Return of the Magi, trans. Reginald Merton (London: Sphere Books, 1975), pp. 223-24.
5. Scott, p.119
6. Scott, p.123
7. Scott, p.123
8. Scott, p.118
9. Scott, p. 121
10. Scott, p. 121
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