Essay 7 Preventing deception

Challenges of Birth, Life and Death – Preventing deception
Chapter 16 of Mysteries and Challenges of Birth, Life and Death





There is a sea of light, but humanity cannot see it because its consciousness is obscured. Impulses come to humanity from the light, but humanity reacts negatively. People are induced in a thousand ways to waste their thoughts on useless aims, so they can be shut off from the flow of soul-liberating impulses that are continuously being sent to humanity.

Intelligence is needed to recognise the attacks of the darkness that turn the pure atmosphere of your environment into a dark, troubled and stifling atmosphere in the wink of an eye. Did you know that the powers of darkness preferably speculate on your pure, but nevertheless extremely dan- gerous kind-heartedness if this is not irradiated by the light of pure reason? […]

Catharose de Petri,The Living Word (pdf), chapter 29

As human beings we all have to deal with illusion: what we perceive or experience occurs differently in our consciousness from what it is in reality. Going a spiritual path means that certain erroneous perceptions disappear so that a receptivity is created for the sacred that brings about a cleansing, a purification and a renewal. This is not simple, because there are many active forces who want to keep people trapped in delusion to prevent them from going an inner path as then they could no longer be exploited as a slave to the powers of darkness. Seven statements about illusion and delusion follow to introduce the topic ‘preventing deception’.

  • Illusions: the pneumatic tires on which one drives over the rough road of life, and which slowly deflate as one progresses further. (J. V. Teunissen)
  • Deprive the average person of his life illusion, and you deprive him from happiness at the same time. (Hendrik Ibsen)
  • Modern man lives with the illusion that he knows what he wants, while he actually wants what he is supposed to want. (Erich Fromm)
  • There is an optical illusion in every person we meet. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • Lost illusions are found truths. (Multatuli)
  • Many settle for living easily without truths, but few are strong
    enough to be able to do without illusions. (Gustave Le Bon)
  • Initiation is the result of the ability to overcome delusions and illusions that veil the truth and limit consciousness. (Alice Bailey)

Many are of the opinion that science is capable of dispelling illusions and delusions. However, that is the case only to a limited extent. Scientists are certainly capable of bringing certain errors to light, but sometimes they create new illusions and so maintain delusion.

On May 28 in the year 585 BC, a special event took place: according to the legend, the sun was darkened exactly on the date that was predicted by the philosopher Thales (624-545 BC), who lived in the city of Milete on the west coast of present-day Turkey. That was a milestone in the development of the thinking of humanity. Until that time, natural phenomena, including eclipses of the sun, were seen only as manifestations of capricious gods to whom the people had surrendered. Thales van Milete showed that there are laws of nature, that in a solar eclipse the moon slides in front of the sun and that, with the right knowledge about the movement of celestial bodies, you can simply calculate when a solar eclipse will occur.

Thales reflected upon the changes he observed. If there is change, he reasoned, there must be something that changes and also something that does not change. He assumed a unity that is hidden behind the multitude that we observe. Thales was of the opinion that there is a primal principle, a nucleus of life, from which everything we know is built up. He pondered it and concluded that it must be water, because water shows the clearest changes of all elements.

Nowadays almost everyone knows that Thales was not right with his statement that water is the primary substance. The chemical substance that we know as H2O is essential for life, but it is not the building block for everything. In the material universe as we know it, more than a hundred chemical elements are distinguished, and everything is built up of atoms of those elements. Yet Thales was perhaps right in a symbolic sense with his statement that everything comes from water. We can see water as we know it as a reflection of the primordial principle ‘water’ that is written about in sacred writings.

Ocean of primordial substance

When we read in the creation myth of Genesis 1, verse 2: ‘The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters’, water is not meant literally here, but symbolic water that in alchemy is also referred to as primordial substance or materia prima. The concept materia prima or prima materia does not refer to matter manifested in the ordinary sense, but to a potential for matter, matter that is not yet manifested. When the divine idea – also referred to as the divine Father – becomes active in materia prima – also called the divine Mother or the matrix – forms arise in the ocean of primordial substance; then order comes into being in the chaos. Creation takes place through the interaction between the Father and the Mother. Then symbolically a Child is born, a new form comes to revelation.

Thales van Milete is often seen as the first natural scientist and also as the founder of reductionism, which states that complex entities can always be traced back to more fundamental entities. In a sense, that is correct, but it is worth remembering that Thales did not go as far as contemporary reductionists, who view a person merely as an organism governed by biological and physiochemical processes. For example, Thales did not deny the existence of gods. Holism is opposed to reductionism, stating that although each whole derives its characteristics from the component parts, it also means that the whole is more than the sum of the individual parts, and moreover that everything is inseparably connected with each other.

Advancements in the natural sciences have led to the development of a materialistic view of humanity and the world, which has led to the society in which we now live, with among other things valuable technologies, formidable communication systems and infrastructure, and advanced medicine. Partly due to these impressive successes, most people have begun to see the materialistic view of humanity and the world as the only correct representation of things. That is a big mistake of which more and more people will gradually become aware.

In the materialistic view of humanity, man is seen as a biological being with thoughts, feelings and will, also referred to as personality and body. However, that is only the time-spatial, cosmic dimension. However, man is also potentially soul and spirit. The soul is related to consciousness and is part of the truly human di- mension (anthropos), a living connection between body and spirit. And the spirit is connected with the divine plan of creation and is part of the divine dimension (theos).

According to the universal wisdom, not only man is a cosmotheandric being, but everything that exists has a cosmic, a divine and a human dimension. So we can say that also all universes, all galaxies, all stars, all solar systems, all planets, all moons, all animals, all plants, all minerals and all atoms are cosmotheandric. All of these are in different stages of development and are being propelled towards ever further perfection.

Shadows on the rock wall

If we consider material reality as the only reality, we live in illusion. The philosopher Plato clarifies this idea beautifully with his allegory about the cave. He compares us, earthly people, with a group of persons who are bound hand and foot, sitting next to each other in a dark underground cave with the possibility to look only straight ahead. All they can see is the rock wall in the cave, while behind them, on a ledge, burns a large fire that illuminates the wall.

This wall is right in front of the chained persons. Unseen behind them, people are walking and talking to each other, holding above them tall sticks with flat images of objects, plants and animals on top. In image 20, which depicts the allegory in the form of a drawing, the images are a tree, a bird and a jug. The prisoners are completely fascinated by the shadows of the objects on the wall in front of them. They believe that the shadows move and speak independently, and give names to them. The most intelligent ones of them may try to discover a certain regularity so that they can calculate when certain shadows appear. For the chained ones, what they perceive is the only reality.

Now if one of the chained ones succeeds in freeing himself from his shackles and starts examining his surroundings in the cave, he will discover that what he thought was reality are only shadows of images that are carried past, and that the voices he hears do not come from the shadows on the wall but from fellow human beings who are not chained, who carry the images.

If he then leaves the cave, his eyes will first have to get used to the overwhelming light. He then discovers a reality that is much greater and more radiant than the reality he knew until then, and he also finds out that there are more dimensions than he had realised. What he first knew as black shadows and pale, two-dimensional images, he now sees as colourful, three-dimensional objects and creatures.

This liberated person probably longs to return to the prisoners in the cave with whom he has lived for so long, to tell them that they live in illusion and that there is a much greater reality of which they have no idea. If he does so, the prisoners will not believe him, they will consider him a deceiver and want to expel him from their midst.

From around the seventeenth century, natural sciences developed strongly in Europe. This led to the cultural-philosophical and intellectual movement of the Enlightenment based on a materialistic view of man and the world. All kinds of mathematical and natural science formulas, models and concepts were drawn up based on research that reflected some part of reality. They are also considered part of the so-called materia secunda, which is seen as a distorted reflection of the world of the spirit, that is the world of abstract primordial types (see image 21). In fact, it is about second-hand knowledge and not about first-hand experience. It is therefore an illusion to believe that formulas, models and concepts are reality because reality is only reality when it is lived through and known.

The romantic period

As a reaction to the Enlightenment, which unilaterally emphasised the human mind, a movement with an opposite character developed in the 18th century: Romanticism. In this movement, objective perceiving was not the starting point, but experiencing the subjective. Romantics attach great importance to feeling, imagination and intuition. Their image of nature and people, unlike the vision of Enlightenment representatives, is not mechanical and reductionistic, but organic and holistic. They attach more value to art than to science; they put quality above quantity and instead of the material they take the spiritual as a starting point.

Romanticism was in particularly expressed in literature, visual arts and music. Well-known German Romanticists from the nineteenth century are the poets Goethe, Friedrich von Schiller and Novalis, and the composers Ludwig von Beethoven, Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner. In France the philosophers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Éliphas Levi and the composer Hector Berlioz were well-known representatives of Romanticism around that time. Examples of English Romantics in the nineteenth century are the poets George Gordon Byron, William Blake and Alfred Tennyson.

In the United States, the so-called transcendentalists were strongly influenced by English and German Romanticism in the nineteenth century. This list includes the names of famous poets and writers such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. Furthermore, there is interest in fairy tale collections such as that of Mother Goose by the French writer Charles Perrault, and the German brothers Grimm clearly emerged from Romanticism.

In the Romantic period there was also a wide interest in occultism. The word occult means ‘hidden.’ Occultism is related to studying or being preoccupied with the hidden. Since time immemorial, methods have been practiced that can be classified as occultism.

In primitive tribes, medicine men and shamans maintained contact with the invisible world to advise, guide and heal the members of the tribe. In ancient Greece one could consult the or- acle of Delphi, dedicated to the god Apollo. The magician Merlin from the Arthurian legends furthered developments in Brittany and Great Britain. Between 1450 and 1750 there are tens of thousands of women accused of witchcraft in a large part of Europe, condemned and executed in a horrible way by people who called themselves Christians.

There are warnings in various places in the Bible against engaging in occult practices: the people of Israel, who can be seen as a symbol of the people who are following an authentic spiritual path, are told: ‘There shall not be found with thee any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth di- vination, one that practiseth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necro- mancer’ (Deuteronomy 18:10-11).

By the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries there was a great interest in occult matters. Many spiritualistic seances were held, in which messages from the deceased were received, new complementary medicine such as magnetising and hypnotising were developed, and the interest in theosophy and anthroposophy grew considerably. All those developments have contributed to the fact that scientists began to investigate phenomena related to human consciousness which cannot be explained from, or are even contradictory to, the contemporary scientific worldview.


The German Max Dressoir (1867-1947) introduced the word ‘parapsychology’. The famous American psychologist Joseph Banks Rhine (1895-1980) adopted this term and considered it a better name than the original British term psychical research. Parapsychology is the academic discipline that investigates paranormal phenomena. In the Encyclopedia of Parapsychology, the Dutch theoretical psychologist Titus Rivas distinguishes five areas. This concerns research into:

  1. paranormal forms of perception and communication that are not based on sensory processing of information. This area is sometimes also referred to as ESP or extrasensory perception related to telepathy, clairvoyance, clairsentience, clairaudience, clairalience (smell), clairgustance (taste);
  2. paranormal forms of psychic influence on the value of the perceptible, physical world, which is not based on neurological processing of nerve impulses from the brain; this area is also known as psychokinesis or PK (an old-fashioned name is telekinesis);
  3. A multiple physicality that interacts with the soul or the spirit, and can be used to leave the physical body and gain experience in another area; this area includes topics such as the aura and leaving the physical body;
  4. the survival of the soul or spirit after the death of the physical body; this includes themes such as near-death experiences and reincarnation, but also communication with the deceased; 
  5. ’synchronicity,’ meaningful coincidences that are related to one’s inner self or one’s personality but do not rely on ESP or psychokinesis.

Such paranormal experiences appear to be ‘more normal’ than most people suspect. In a certain way, every person is ‘para-normal’, one more than the other. Joseph Rhine demonstrated this with his parapsychological experiments that he carried out in his laboratory at Duke University in North Carolina from the late 1920’s until about 1965. He and his colleagues used five sets of five different cards every time. These cards are known as Zener cards (named after Zener, a colleague of Rhine who proposed the five symbols) or ESP cards. The symbols that were used were: a circle, a plus sign, three wavy lines, a square and a five-pointed star.

The procedure, which was applied to large groups of test subjects, started with shuffling the 25 cards. After that, a person who acted as the sender was allowed to turn a card from the pile each time. The ‘receiver’, a person who could not see the ‘sender’, had to indicate which symbol the ‘sender’ was viewing. This procedure was repeated until all 25 cards had been dealt. Statistical calculations can be applied to the results.

If there were only coincidence in the game, the proportion of correctly guessed cards would always be exactly 20 percent in a large number of experiments. However, the number of hits was always around 21 percent, so just above the level of chance. Because the number of tests ran into the hundreds of thousands, this was nevertheless very significant statistically! Other researchers who repeated the experiments also always achieved sensitive test subjects and then achieved spectacular results. The scores of even the best test subjects became lower as the num- ber of repeated tests increased. This was called the decrease effect more or less the same result.

Rhine and his colleagues sometimes worked with exceptionally and was attributed to increasing fatigue. Another interesting conclusion of the researchers is that some subjects had scores that were significantly below the probability of 20 percent. It turned out that they were not believers in ESP and were skeptical about the research.

In the field of paranormal phenomena, cheating was and still is applied. Worth mentioning here is the world-famous American magician and buoy king, Harry Houdini (1874-1926), who was already a legendary figure during his lifetime.
a hero because he kept triggering the desire for freedom from his audience to succeed in an inexplicable way in escaping from boxes, straitjackets, prisons, crates, tubs of water etcetera.

Houdini was genuinely interested in life after death and, after his mother passed away in 1913, he went to a medium to communicate with his mother. He noticed quickly that the medium used principles of magic that he himself knew well. He visited several mediums and discovered that they all used tricks. Then he saw business opportunities for a tour of theater shows in which he would demonstrate and explain the malicious practices of mediums. So he did. To arouse interest in his shows and as a source of ancillary income, he wrote the book ‘A Magician among the Spirits’.

At that time a new form of entertainment emerged known as mentalism, the foundations of which were in particular laid by Theodore Annemann (1907-1942) and Tony Corinda (1930- 2010). The artist (mentalist) then creates the illusion that he has extraordinary mental skills and abilities. This may involve influencing, predicting and mind reading, but also exceptional skill in performing arithmetic operations and remembering data. Mentalists use psychological, physical and theatrical principles and also the art of magic.


Another fascinating figure who has investigated occultism at a much higher level than the persons mentioned above is the Austrian writer Gustav Meyrink (1868-1932). This individualistic and skeptical artist became wise through damage and disgrace. Meyrink was raised as a Protestant, but could not agree with the Protestant ideology and with its related civil practices. As a 24-year-old, he wanted to take his own life, but his inner voice kept him from doing so. He left behind all religious and philosophical dogmatism, started to search, read countless books on philosophy, esoteric alchemy, mysticism and kabbalah, and attended many meetings of all kinds of esoteric groups and movements.

Initially, Meyrink made the mistake of intervening with his ego in the processes of self-knowledge and purification, something that is impossible because only divine grace or spiritual light can bring it about. As a result of wrong meditation exercises, he had a disorder in his spinal cord. We can see him as a prototype of today’s searching human being. In his novels he wants to touch the reader with specific images, feelings and thoughts. The spiritualisation of the human species is always the central focus in his books. Jan van Rijckenborgh writes about him:

The work of Gustav Meyrink forms a connecting link between occultism and transfigurism. Many, stuck in the occult grip of many groups, can discover through him the intended connecting link and find the way to the transfiguristic path of liberation. As one of the few, he traveled along many paths of the esoteric field of life to eventual- ly end up as a finder. He paved the way for seekers who could so save themselves a lot of time and suffering.’

The occultist strives for the expansion of his ego, while the transfigurist strives for the divine to become active in him by letting his ego die, that is, by releasing identifications and attachments. The occultist uses his magical powers to realise what he wants while the transfigurist prays: ‘Your will be done’ and ‘Lord, what do you want me to do’.

Gustav Meyrink warned from his own experience against spiritualism that threatened to flood the world like a plague wave. Rightly so, because spiritualistic practices do not bring happiness and certainly not liberation. In many spiritualistic seanc- es, a group of people or an individual makes a connection with deceased, earth-bound human entities with a low level of consciousness that still have partial access to a violated etheric body. They want to prevent the further loss of their etheric body because they are afraid of the purification fire that awaits them in kama loka or purgatory. To this end, they extract life energy in the form of ethers from those involved, who are then exhausted after the seance. Spiritism, where the practice of turning a glass belongs, can lead to possession by an entity that in some cases even incites suicide.

Even if we are not at all concerned with spiritualism, we can be deceived by forces that want to prevent us from following our deepest calling. Usually these are not deceased human entities, but unholy power formations called archons and eons. They are part of the collective unconscious, the astral receptacle, and are partly created by incorrect thoughts, feelings and actions of humanity (see image 21). In paragraph 11 of the Gospel of Philip it says:

The rulers (archons) wanted to deceive man, since they saw that he had a kinship with those that are truly good. They took the name of those that are good and gave it to those that are not good, so that through the names they might deceive him and bind them to those that are not good. And afterward, what a favor they do for them! They make them be removed from those that are not good and place them among those that are good. These things they knew, for they wanted to take the free man and make him a slave to them forever.’

Everywhere around us we can now see humanity being enslaved. In our society we are exposed every day to around three thousand commercial slogans that want to tempt us to buy what we don’t need. We are occupied by torrents of useless digital information from our devices, and are just as fascinated by it as the shackled ones in Plato’s allegory are enthralled by the shadows on the rock face. In this way we neglect the one thing necessary.

If we are lucky, we realise that Comenius is right when he writes in his book ‘Unum Necessarium’ that three forms of misfortune accompany the entire human race: ‘First, intellectual knowing is not free from delusion, error and cheating. Secondly, acting is often hesitant, wrong and unstable. Thirdly, enjoyment brings disappointments and an ever new, unbearable hunger and thirst for new objects of our desire.’

Fortunately there is a way out of the maze! The knowledge, the love and the power needed to walk the spiritual path are available to all who truly long. Goethe portrays that idea beautifully at the end of his fairy tale of the green snake and the beautiful lily. The hidden underground temple of the mysteries then rises from the earth, thanks to the sacrifice of the serpent, and can be entered by those worthy of it. On the basis of their own experience the students of the mysteries agree to the testimony that Gustav Meyrink writes down in his novel ‘The Green Face’:

The people who have surrendered their destiny to their indwelling spirit are under a spiritual law. They have been declared emancipated and released from the patronage of the earth that they will once rule over. Whatever happens to them in outer life only still has meaning in an inwardly driving sense: everything that happens to them happens in such a way that it could never happen better.’