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The Emerald Tablet is one of the most revered documents in the Western World, and its Egyptian author, Hermes Trismegistus, has become synonymous with ancient wisdom. His tablet contains an extremely succinct summary of what Aldous Huxley dubbed the "Perennial Philosophy," a timeless science of soul that keeps popping up despite centuries of effort to suppress it. The basic idea is that there exists a divine or archetypal level of mind that determines physical reality, and individuals can access that realm through direct knowledge of God.
The teachings of Hermes -- the Hermetic tradition -- is one of the oldest spiritual traditions in the world, and while no direct evidence links the Emerald Tablet to Eastern religions, it shares uncanny similarities in concepts and terminology with Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. In the West, the tablet found a home not only in the pagan tradition but also in all three of the orthodox Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and many of the most heretical beliefs of the Gnostics are also openly expressed in it. Like the authors of the tablet, the Gnostics believed that direct knowledge of reality could be attained through psychological discipline and meditative exercises. They also shared a common view of the universe in which "All Is One," a pattern of creation and decay symbolized by the Ouroboros (the snake eating its own tail).
"Now give I the Key to Shamballa,
the place where my Brothers live in the darkness:
Darkness but filled with Light of the Sun
ODarkness of Earth, but Light of the Spirit,
guides for ye when my day is done."
"Western logic is inadequate to explain certain phenomena that we experienced here," says Gil. "We saw rivers flowing side-by-side but in opposite directions. We would be guided back onto lost trails by Tibetan priests directing us to follow brilliant double rainbows. Local hunters would miraculously appear out of the mists to lead us to our next destination.
Outside in a courtyard, Zain, and over a hundred people formed a circle, holding hands with arms outstretched between them. They were about to do an energy technique called the Star exercise. I had read about this years ago, in a very old book I read by an author whose last name was Leadbetter, Ledbeter, or something similar. The book was about what he called the Great White Brotherhood in Tibet, and it described them doing something called the Star Exercise during a festival called “Wesak”. But many of the particulars were never mentioned in the book. And the author’s stories also indicated that the people were as inaccessible as any myth. So while the book fascinated and attracted me in many ways, and his description of the people sounded like home, it left me with nothing I could further pursue. Now I found myself living it - the real thing.
Anastasia ushered me into position in this giant human chain that formed the circle, and gave me quick instructions. And then it began. I closed my eyes, as a feeling of light-headedness came over me. My head and body were buzzing with energy. I thought I was perhaps starting to “black out”, yet all I saw was fluctuating white light. It seemed as if I was experiencing a million thoughts and pictures all in a moment’s time. As I opened my eyes I saw energy vibrating in all things, and all the people there. Everything was flashing with white light superimposed over it.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one experiencing some dramatic effects from this “Star exercise”. A novice monk had come to join in the exercise a little late, and stood alone outside the circle. He collapsed, and lay there as if lifeless. I heard Zain muttering some kind of admonishment about it being dangerous to stand outside the circle, then he said loudly, “One has left the body, he has become lost, I must retrieve him”, and in a few moments the body of the collapsed novice twitched, and he returned to consciousness.