Today, we are continuing our introductory discussion of the history, purpose and outer activities of the Egyptian mystery schools of antiquity. The first question to be answered today is:
Question 8: How do esoteric or mystery schools differ from modern scientific schools?
Answer 8: Mystery schools share both similarities and differences with modern schools of science. For example, worldly, mundane knowledge is concerned solely with finding suitable, objective explanations for the nature and operation of the physical, material universe and the creatures which have evolved within. The nature and extent of these investigations into the physical world of inanimate and animate entities are typified by the activities of both the hard (physics, chemistry and biology) and the soft sciences (anthropology, history, sociology, psychology and so on). In answering questions arising from our experiences relating to the physical universe and the laws underlying its deterministic operation (not withstanding chaos theory), we need to utilize only two qualities or properties inherent in our mechanically-evolved central nervous systems.
First, we direct our conscious attention and awareness onto events transpiring in our external surroundings. Second, we sample our surroundings employing one or more of our biologically-limited channels of physical sensation (sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell) using measuring devices and data transformation so to extend the bandwidth of our sensory apparatuses beyond our biological limitations (infrared telescopes, electron microscopes, medical scanning devices and so on). Third, we utilize analytical thought so to rearrange our sensory data, looking for possible, recurring patterns of activity or energy exchange suggestive of underlying physical (or psychological) laws or relations defining how objects interact within our observational system (using simplification and idealization). Fourth, we create testable hypotheses as to how these physical systems operate. Fifth, our hypotheses are refined through designing new experiments so to test the robustness of the model. Investigations of the external world using the rigors of scientific method–observation, analysis, modeling, prediction, testing and observation… are never complete nor absolutely definitive. Science is a finite process very similar in operation to the mathematical concepts of finding the limit of a particular function–a limit which can be specified, but never actually reached in practice.
The search for esoteric knowledge shares both similarities and differences to the search for worldly knowledge. Investigations entering into the sphere of esoteric knowledge are not concerned with uncovering the rules of how the physical universe and its creatures operate on a day-to-day mundane schedule, but in uncovering the structure and operation of the inner realms of the human mind (as to personal and universal purpose) commonly denoted as exploration within the nonphysical or spiritual existence.