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Manly P. Hall: The Maestro of Esoteric Philosophy (I)
Part 1 | An Emissary of the Mystery Schools
1. Manly P. Hall: An Emissary of the Mystery Schools
This article is the first in a multi-part series on the life, career, and essential teachings of Manly P. Hall, the great philosopher, initiate, and prophet of 20th century America.
This project follows on the heels of another long multi-part series: one that covered the “secret history” of the 20th century. In this chapter, we will be following up that analysis by examining in greater detail the life and legacy of the century’s most significant spiritual teacher: philosopher Manly P. Hall.
As we will be discovering, Manly P. Hall was a crucial, albeit largely under-appreciated, figure in 20th century world affairs. He was born in 1901 and died in 1990, his life span extending through most of the century. His birthplace was in small town Canada, but he lived almost all of his life in America, moving here with his grandmother when he was 4 years old.
Hall’s home base for most of his life would be the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, where his headquarters, the non-profit “Philosophic Research Society”, was located. Here, he would give thousands of lectures, write hundreds of articles, and publish dozens of books - this accumulated catalogue representing perhaps the finest and most comprehensive outpouring of esoteric wisdom the world has ever seen.
During his lifetime, Hall put out a staggering body of work, all of it essential; none of it wasted. Through this output, Hall gave us an archive of teachings that are invaluable for informing us today about what the ancient wisdom tradition states and what the secret activities, plans, and agendas of the Mystery Schools are in our current age.
Hall was undoubtedly an initiate of these Mystery Schools, and emerged as their representative and ambassador during the 20th century, picking up the torch from Helena Blavatsky, who had occupied the role decades prior, toward the end of the 19th century.
Hall was a true prophet: a revealer of the Doctrine - i.e. the esoteric wisdom teachings - that have been passed down in an unbroken chain from the time of their first articulation, back during the lost era when the gods once walked with men.
Hall revealed the Doctrine to a modern audience, teaching it in a language that the commoner can understand, while also providing a level of depth and detail that even the most dedicated scholar of occultism could spend their lifetime studying and trying to unravel.
Hall’s life and career came at a crucial time in world history: during the rise of American Empire, which took place over the course of two world wars, after which time America consolidated its position as the dominant world “superpower” or imperial forces world affairs.
After establishing itself as the world hegemon during the first half of the 20th century, America, from 1945 on, would rise to extend its financial, corporate, and military power around the world, securing for itself a global economic “lebensraum” or fiefdom.
In the meantime, an entirely secret black projects superstate was built up within the US national security state, its primary purpose being to secretly coordinate the development of a covert arsenal of “exotic” alchemy-based energy technologies of the type Nikola Tesla foretold of back around the turn of the century.
It was during this crucial time period in world history that Manly P. Hall carried out his life’s work as missionary and ambassador of the Mystery Schools. And, as it turns out, he would have much to say on these topics and more.
While Hall is perhaps best known for his work dissecting and analyzing the inner meaning of ancient philosophy and religion, he was also an astute observer and commentator on current affairs.
He had much to say about the state of the world, the significance of global changes taking place during his lifetime, the meaning and purpose of these changes, how they fit into a larger cosmic plan, and how America had a larger destiny that it was gradually, in incremental stages, being pulled towards fulfilling.
Having to date dedicated numerous articles and podcast episodes to the task of breaking down and analyzing Hall’s essential teachings on ancient philosophy and religion, in this chapter I now want to turn our attention toward the investigation of his analysis of contemporary events, ones taking place during his lifetime in the 20th century.
My primary source for this analysis is the vast archive of quarterly journals Hall published throughout his life. These I drew from a database at manlyphall.info - a magnificent website I highly recommend to all Manly P. Hall enthusiasts out there.
Most students of Manly P. Hall’s tend to focus on his books and lectures; while these are priceless treasures, I find that many of his most significant teachings come from his journal articles and from rare, limited-edition manuscripts, ones initially shared only privately with small groups of students, but which now have been uploaded online (thanks again in large part to the work of Alan Harris at manlyphall.info).
In these often-overlooked works, Hall discusses a range of topics that he doesn’t cover in his books; in particular, those pertaining to the current operations and workings of the Mystery Schools. In addition, he also discusses contemporary geopolitical issues like World War II, the UFO phenomenon, the promise of breakthrough science, ongoing changes in world order, etc.
In addition to overviewing and outlining these less-appreciated aspects of Manly P. Hall’s teachings, in this series I also have a second aim: to spell out how I think Hall himself fits into the larger organizational pattern of the Mystery Schools - the “Invisible Government of the World”, which he writes and speaks so eloquently and knowledgeably about.
My goal here is to explore what Hall has to say about his own mystical capacities and esoteric connections. Certainly, he was an initiate of one or more esoteric orders, and speaks of the metaphysical planes surrounding the physical Earth as though he has had direct, personal experiences with them.
Other than his involvement with Freemasonry (Hall was awarded the highest honor Masonry bestows: the Grand Cross), Hall rarely spoke openly of his esoteric connections. But in his writings, he alludes to the contemporary existence of the Mystery Schools and gives important indications about where they can today be found.
Our concern is: what does Manly Hall have to say about how these esoteric orders operate in modern life, how one can come into contact with them, and do how they interface with a greater spiritual reality that metaphysically surrounds and enmeshes the globe? Furthermore, what does he have to say about his own place within the operational hierarchy of this enigmatic and elusive institution - the Mystery Schools? These are topics we will be exploring in this series, beginning with the contents of this article below.
2. An Encyclopedist of the Esoteric Tradition
Manly P. Hall’s core mission in life was to catalogue, outline, synthesize, and overview, in clear, unambiguous terms, the fundamental doctrine of wisdom teachings eternally taught within the Mystery Schools, modernizing them for the modern age. In this way he was what the Chinese call a “Lohan” - a preacher of the Doctrine.
Indeed, anyone who has listened to a lecture by the man can hear that he functioned something like an Oracle: he was a mouthpiece through which a well-organized and well-articulated explanation of the esoteric viewpoint was communicated to the world and made understandable to the layman.
Stephen Hoeller, a contemporary of Hall’s, called him a “sage” and “spiritual giant” and indicated that one of Hall’s primary missions in life was to become an encyclopedist of the esoteric tradition, picking up the torch from his predecessor and kindred spirit, Helena Blavatsky, and carrying it further.
This is a mission he fulfilled with great success, with his legacy of work including dozens of books, hundreds of articles, and thousands of lectures - all dedicated to the task of cataloguing, summarizing, and modernizing the core wisdom teachings of esoteric philosophy, communicating them in a way that they can be picked up and put to use in the modern age.
Perhaps the grandest and most seminal work Hall produced in his role as scholar and encyclopedist was his magnum opus “The Secret Teachings of All Ages”.
This massive encyclopedia of the Western esoteric tradition, first published in 1928 at the age of 27, remains a landmark in the field: an unsurpassed work of inspired genius that reveals, in one volume, the literal “secret teachings of all ages”, as they have been preserved through time and brought down to present day.
Notably, the Eastern lineage of the esoteric tradition is left out of this work; but in successive books, articles, and lectures, he would elaborate upon the Eastern tradition in great detail, giving it the same comprehensive encyclopedic treatment he originally offered the West in his “Secret Teachings” book.
Hall’s accomplishments as an encyclopedist of the esoteric tradition is further indicated by the massive collection of rare esoteric volumes he accumulated and enthroned in his “little Alexandrian research library”, which was located in the headquarters of the Philosophic Research Society, the non-profit philosophic organization he founded as the home base for his work.
Undoubtedly, most people are familiar with Manly Hall due to his well-publicized role as a scholar, teacher, author, and orator of the esoteric tradition. But during his life, Hall also performed other, less well-appreciated roles on behalf of the Mystery Schools he was an initiate of.
Notably, one of Hall’s other core life missions was to herald the coming of the Mystery Schools into the modern age - an initiative Alice Bailey once termed the “Externalization of the Hierarchy”.
Hall fulfilled this mission in a number of ways. One of these ways was to give, in certain key works, veiled indications that the Mystery Schools are still present and its initiates still active as the dominant driving force in world affairs. Not only that, but he also gives vital clues that point to where exactly it is within world society that their current operations are presently concentrated.
More specifically, Hall indicates that the Mystery Schools are now secretly operating within the scientific-industrial complex residing at the heart of American Empire.
The operations of these Mystery Schools were originally ported over to America at the beginning of the nation’s history as part of a long-term plan being carried out by descendants of Francis Bacon’s Rosicrucian Order.
The overarching goal of this secret society, which accomplished its labors through the use of various outer appendages, was to utilize America as the vehicle through which a larger global plan and purpose would be accomplished: the realization of Plato’s prophecy of a Philosophic Empire and Francis Bacon’s vision for a New Atlantis.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, Bacon’s Rosicrucian Order, working through various outer vehicles and appendages such as Freemasonry, were each directed to play their part in setting the stage for a great reformation in human affairs. This was to be carried out through a global sequence of revolutions which would transform the world out of the medieval order dominated by Church and Crown and into a new age characterized by republican democracy, science, and industry.
As historical records indicate, it is clear that they were successful: beginning in the late 18th century, a worldwide age of revolution and transformation commenced, leading first to the American and French Revolutions and later to a wave of successor movements around the world, with the modern world order rising as a result.
During this period we also saw the rise of science, industry, urbanization, and world trade. The old hegemony the Church held over man’s mental development was broken and man was liberated to transform his social and material circumstances as never before.
One consequence of this was that the traditional pattern of agrarian society mankind had been living in for thousands of years was finally evolved out of. A new, science-based, industry-centered, capitalist-oriented economic order was coming into place, and the entire metastructure of world society was being transformed as a result.
With the onset of the industrial age, science rose to become the new dominant worldview-shaping institution in society, and the entire framework of human thinking began to be restructured as a result. This was the plan: one that Francis Bacon and his Rosicrucian Order originally conceived and put into place back during the early decades of the 17th century.
The presence and influence of Francis Bacon and his secret societies on the founding of America and the onset of the scientific age is obvious: almost all of the original Founding Fathers were Masons, and the mark of his society can today still be found on the dollar bill. Furthermore, Bacon was the founder of the Royal Society - the first modern scientific organization in the West - and is still widely regarded as the godfather of the scientific method.
The question is, what happened to Bacon’s Rosicrucian Order after the Revolutions succeeded and the age of science, industry, and republican democracy was successfully set-up and installed around the world? This story is harder to track, but thanks to Manly Hall, we can piece together the puzzle.
Scattered within a series of articles, books, and lectures put out in the years before, during, and after World War II, Hall reveals that the Mystery Schools - originally brought to America by elite descendants of Bacon’s Rosicrucian Order - are presently centered somewhere deep within the heart of American Empire.
More specifically, the ultimate end-goal of Bacon’s “New Atlantis” archetype is still presently being pursued by secret societies operating in a highly concealed manner within the entity I’ve been calling the “technocratic superstate”,
The concept of the “technocratic superstate” references the existence of a hidden transnational governance superstructure comprised of large industrial combines, corporate cartels, central banks, defense contractors, intelligence agencies, and covert operations units.
Its highly compartmentalized portfolio of operations are centered within an extremely secretive “think tank” nested deep within the classified black projects world of the US national security state.
As I explored in my previous chapter on the “secret history” of the 20th century, the most important of the black projects being carried out within the technocratic superstate are ones premised upon “breakthrough”, “exotic” scientific research into the alchemical mysteries of Etheric Energy.
In short, the mission of this secret project is to probe the occult mysteries of alchemy and its reference to Etheric energy, the goal being to develop technologies and social engineering strategies designed to bring mankind into a new stage of evolutionary progression.
If we factor in the idea that, within the compartmentalized structure of the technocratic superstate, the Mystery Schools are secretly operating and quietly controlling the destiny of world affairs, then we come to appreciate that what the technocratic superstate is actually being used for is as a means to “initiate” mankind into a new, collective state of evolutionary development.
What the culminating end-state of this process is to eventually look like was originally previewed by Francis Bacon in his utopian novel “New Atlantis”: it is to be a new, scientific-age version of a Golden Age, one that will be centered around a global university system, which will orbit around a core Mystery School institution, whose initiates will be the leaders and guides of global civilization.
I previously discussed Francis Bacon’s vision for the "New Atlantis” in our previous series on him and his Rosicrucian Order; I also discussed it in the follow-up series I did on the secret history of America. Now, in this series, we will be exploring Manly Hall’s contemporary updates to Bacon’s vision, showing where and how Francis Bacon’s grand vision is playing out today.
Altogether, my aim is to demonstrate that Manly P. Hall was an initiate and ambassador of the Mystery Schools and in his writings and teachings is encoded certain vital clues necessary to unraveling the location of their whereabouts today. Hall also updates Bacon’s vision by articulating in further detail what the Mystery Schools’ plans are for the future evolution of world society, and what symbols and signposts we can discover that mark their secret presence on the planet.
Here we come to an important point: not only did Manly Hall write about the present whereabout of the Mystery Schools, but he was also partly responsible for planing one of its key symbols onto one of the most significant objects in modern history: the American dollar.
Here, I’m referencing the placement of the All-Seeing Eye and the Eagle on the dollar bill - these two images being archetypal symbols and signposts of the Mystery Schools. Together, they form the Great Seal of the United States, first established in the late 18th century by the Bacon-connected Founding Fathers of the nation.
Hall first revealed and discussed these significant symbols in 1927 in the pages of his most famous and revered work, “The Secret Teachings of All Ages”. Less than ten years later, this important symbol would be enthroned on the US $1 dollar bill, where it remains to this day.
The conspiracy to enthrone these images on the dollar bill was orchestrated by a network of elite Freemasons in Washington, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vice President Henry Wallace, and Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau. By this time, in the mid-1930s, Manly Hall was already widely-regarded within elite Masonic circles as a great initiate and master teacher, and there is direct evidence indicating that FDR was familiar with Hall’s work. VP Henry Wallace, meanwhile, was closely connected to an associate of Hall’s, the Russian mystic, artist, Mason, theosophist, and initiate Nicholas Roerich.
Due to these Masonic connections, and due to the fact that Hall had, almost ten years prior, previously been the one to first resurrect the Great Seal from obscurity and bring it back out into public awareness, we can safely assume that he was a major player responsible for spearheading the placement of these landmark esoteric symbols on the dollar bill.
For reasons like this, we discover that Manly P. Hall was secretly one of the central figures of the 20th century - someone who nearly all scholars of history, sociology, and geopolitics overlook.
It is only now, in the modern internet era, that Hall’s teachings have begun amassing a wide audience. He always had a following, but never on the scale of today.
His legacy institution, the Philosophic Research Society, has done a good job keeping his books in print, and archivists on YouTube (like The Manly P. Hall Society) and online (like manlyphall.info) have done excellent work posting his archive of lectures and journal articles.
Through these resources, his entire catalogue of books, articles, and lectures is finally available to be studied, analyzed, and synthesized by the dedicated student. This is exactly what I did for eight or so years, and the material presented in this chapter (and in my larger book on philosophy as a whole) demonstrate what I have come to conclude about the man, his teachings, and his important though under-appreciated role in modern world history.
Having toured extensively through Hall’s archives, one of the things I’ve discover is that Manly Hall sprinkled and scattered throughout his teachings certain key references and signposts indicating where in modern life the contemporary incarnation of the Mystery Schools can be found.
He presents these clues in a deliberately concealed and coy manner, spreading them around a variety of books, lectures, articles, and pamphlets, many of them (before the modern internet age) quite hard to find. But in truth he did reveal much, including certain key indicators about the where the current operations of the Mystery Schools can today be found, how its inner operations are structured and governed, and what its ultimate end goals are for the modern age.
These topics and more are what we will be covering in this chapter. Stay tuned: what follows is an original, groundbreaking analysis of Manly Hall’s life, teachings, and legacy, one that emphasizes several crucial areas of his teachings that as of yet have not been properly recognized, appreciated, or understood.
3. The Ordination of Manly P. Hall
Manly P. Hall was born in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada on March 18th, 1901. His biological parents would not play a significant role in his life; instead, he was raised primarily by his grandmother, Florence Palmer, an enigmatic widow who sold her husband’s assets after his passing and used the proceeds to finance a decades-long tour of the United States, which she conducted with a young Manly P. Hall at her side.
Hall would only live a few years in his birth town in Canada; beginning around age 4, he hit the road with his grandmother and travelled all around the United States, moving from town to town frequently.
Due to their constant travel, Hall had little formal schooling, but he always had an innate attraction to books and learning. As he recounts, by the time he reached school age, when other children were first learning their ABCs, “grandmother and I were deep into Victor Hugo.”
During this period, with none save his grandmother serving as a constant presence in his life, Hall developed his internal capacities to become self-driven, self-teaching, and self-knowing. These would become constant themes in his life: the self-driven pursuit of knowledge, paired with an active intuitive relationship with his own inner life and a deep-rooted desire to teach and serve his fellow man.
One of the formative experiences Hall had during his childhood he recounted in an essay titled “The Last of the Shamen”, which he wrote and published in his early 20s in a newly founded occult journal of his called “The All-Seeing Eye”.
In this essay, Hall recounts having, as a child, befriended and become a pupil of an old Native American shaman nicknamed “Uncle Joe”, who stalked the outskirts of an unnamed desert town in the western United States, which Hall presumably lived in for a period with his grandmother during his early, formative years.
Regarding his early encounters with Native American peoples, Hall confides that “there is something very wonderful and fascinating in the study of the Indian and I must say that I have always liked them. An invisible cord, a mystic bond, drew me even in my childhood to these wandering nomads and I spent many years in the study of them. I lived not far from one of the greatest of the American Indian reservations and have been with them many times, and maybe I am just a little liked by them too.”
Describing Uncle Joe, Hall writes how no one knew where Uncle Joe came from, nor how old he was, and that the one thing that everyone agreed upon about him was that he “was a strange, lonely wanderer who belonged hundreds of years back when the Red Man was in his glory.”
Hall described this old Indian shaman as “a polished gentleman in temperament and nature. He was no fool either, nor was he lacking in education, for he spoke better English than the white men who scorned him. It seemed he had travelled widely, also, for he could tell you of distant countries and he spoke a dozen or more foreign languages.”
Hall reminisces how Uncle Joe “became very friendly with me and we had many talks on the future of the Red Man, his history, his government, and his philosophy.” He remarks how Uncle Joe was “a real scientist and philosopher whose knowledge and shrewdness of mind won my admiration from our first meeting.”
Describing his discipleship under Uncle Joe, Hall states that “I became in the course of three years his closest companion, for I was with him nearly all the time.” Then, “one day, as the third year of our acquaintance was drawing to a close, Uncle Joe laid his hand on my shoulder and his great black eyes seemed to look into my very soul. ‘I am going out in the desert,’ he said, and I shall never come back again, for my gods have called me and my father’s fathers have whispered to me in the night. In all the years that have passed I have never taken anyone with me on this trip, but today my gods have spoken and said that one at least of the coming race shall know the secret of my dying people.”
Hall then recounts a strange, mystical journey he took with Uncle Joe, one that began with a trip by horseback into the remote desert and ended with a mystical revelation of an ancient, divine priesthood, ones whose roots date back to the days of lost Atlantis and which was once responsible for guiding the destiny of the Native American peoples. Now, this priesthood was retiring, returning back to the Spirit realm, where they would await their next adventure in a future age. In the meantime, here on Earth mankind was entering into a new age of its evolutionary development, and it was time for new priestly order to take custodianship over mankind’s future.
Going into the specifics of his account, Hall recalls how, “as we rode along, Uncle Joe told me some of the wonderful things about the Indians, some of them I am not allowed to tell but others I may relate. He told me that among the Red Men was a mystic body who for thousands of years had kept the records of these wandering people. Little was known concerning them: they were hidden from even the Indians themselves, for they are a small body appointed by the Great Spirit to labor with his people.”
“This little band of Sacred Ones had come out from the silent East where the rising sun rose. They came from a wondrous city of shining lights that had vanished forever beneath the waters of the mighty ocean. They were the priests of Malkedek, the priest kings of the ancient Red Men, arrayed in robes of bird feathers and shining gold, possessors of the wealth of emperors and the wisdom of gods. These strange masters had brought out of the silent East the knowledge of the Great Spirit and had formed the Red Man into seven great nations like the planets in the heavens. For thousands of years these wise men had labored with the Indian who before that time had been a straying, savage race, dwelling on the outskirts of a more ancient civilization. They had brought with them, along the path of the sunbeam, the great serpent of wisdom and had guarded the Red Man’s destiny all through the years of his development. But now the Red Man’s work was done, the Manu was calling his people.”
After riding and conversing for an untold period, Hall writes that the two finally reached their destination - an outwardly unassuming location where Uncle Joe stopped, dismounted, and opened, as if by magic, the entrance to a secret gateway, one that lead to a sacred temple. At this point, Hall remarks how he, still a child, “remained spellbound at the strange miracle, for I had never believed in supernatural things up to that to that time.”
The old shaman told him “come, my son, child of another people, you are the first white man who has ever lived to enter the presence of the Red Man’s god. Taking me by the hand, Uncle Joe led me to a small opening”, one leading to “a great room dimly lighted by a blazing fire. … In a great circle sat a row of mummies robed from head to foot in the grandeur of the Red Man, preserved against decay in that subtle atmosphere by some force unknowing. Twelve of them sat crosslegged upon the floor and in the center of this ghastly circle was a great throne. … The great throne was empty and seemed of solid gold, with a glorious sun globe and the Thunderbird carved upon its back.”
Uncle Joe said “these, my son, are the Chiefs of the Red Men. They were the last of the line of priest kings who dwelt here and who came out of the land of the sky-blue waters. One by one, they have passed beyond to the land of their ancestors. … They were the Order of Malkedek, the Priest Sachems of the roving nomads of the world. Here you see all that is left of them, my son, their spirits have returned to the Great Father for their work is done.”
After leaving the temple, the two went back into the sunshine of the day and sat on the ground on the edge of a cliff and talked for many hours, where the old shaman told Hall “the glories of his dying people, and begged that some day I would tell the world of the wonderful labors of his race.”
Here, he told Hall that “I am old for I have lived since the Red Man was born, I was with him in the days of his youth, I was with him in the years of his glory, and one by one I have laid their wise to rest. … I know, for I am the Spirit of the Red Man. None know where I came from, for I came not - I am. … The pyramid builder speaks through me this night, the Pharaohs of Egypt are still alive in my blood, the phantom of the Manu, he too, is with me, and in my soul is the heart of the dying Montezuma. … Yes, I am the Spirit of the Red Man. … I am the last of the Shamen, the last of the priest-kings who came out of the lost Atlantis, I am the last who was ordained in the Temple of the Rising Sun, I am the last to bear the mark of the serpent.”
Uncle Joe then revealed to Hall the mark of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, ornamented upon his breast. Hall writes that, at that moment, he realized that he was “gazing not at a man but a god.”
The two returned to the throne room, where Uncle Joe took up his rightful place at the center of the circle of twelve. “He was robed from head to foot in the garb of the Red Man. … On his forehead was a cross of living gold and from his breast the snake (Quetzalcoatl) gleamed forth in many colored lights.”
He then declared to Hall: “My son, the last of the Red Men, the last of the priests, has been called to rest. … You shall see me no more, for I go to the Land of the Setting Sun. The Manitou has called me, and I obey. But remember, my son, there is no death. I go on to other works.” He then stated: “somewhere in the bonds of the Infinite we shall meet again, you and I, for you, too, are chosen of your gods.”
Therein entails Hall’s account of his discipleship under Uncle Joe. Moving forward now to the later years of his adolescence, we discover that, after traveling extensively throughout his childhood and early teen years, once Hall hit high school age he and his grandmother relocated to the East Coast, first to Washington, DC and then to New York City.
In New York, as a teenager, Hall briefly worked as a bookkeeper and clerk on Wall Street. Here, he also frequented the New York Public Library, where he deepened his researches into the occult, having already, previously in childhood, consumed (and immediately understood) Blavatsky’s voluminous work “The Secret Doctrine”.
After his grandmother died unexpectedly in 1919, Hall, still a teenager, relocated to Santa Monica, California to reunite with his mother, who had spent the previous fifteen years estranged from her son, working instead in Alaska as a chiropractor.
In California, Hall’s career as a philosopher and teacher would formally begin and rapidly blossom. After quickly establishing connections within Southern California’s burgeoning mystical, metaphysical, and new age communities, at age 18 Hall began his lecturing career in the field of esoteric philosophy, starting out with presentations given to small gatherings of mystically minded connoisseurs on topics like karma and reincarnation.
Later that same year (1919), Hall began speaking regularly at a progressive religion organization called the Church of the People, featuring a congregation of around 600 people. At the time Hall became affiliated with it, the Church’s main pastor, Reynold Blight, was a 33rd degree Freemason.
This is perhaps the first instance of Hall developing formal connections to Freemasonry. At the time, many key figures in Los Angeles politics, business, and culture were Masons, as were many notables persons in burgeoning Hollywood. It was therefore an important network for Hall to break into. And when he did, he was prepared: already by this early point, decades before he would formally become a Mason himself, Hall was already writing and teaching on the esoteric secrets and history of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry is one of the main topics Hall would explore in his work during the 1920s, including in his magnum opus, “The Secret Teachings of All Ages.” Further, less than a decade after its publication, Hall would leverage his Masonic connections as part of a secret campaign to place the All-Seeing Eye on the dollar bill, with the other major conspirators involved - FDR, Henry Wallace, Henry Morgenthau, Nicholas Roerich - all being prominent Masons.
Returning back to Hall’s career, we note that, later in 1919, Blight took a sudden leave of absence. Hall, still a teenager, stepped in to take his place, becoming temporary pastor of the Church. Seemingly, the Universe had conspired to place him in his pre-destined occupation: a teacher and lecturer on esoteric philosophy.
Hall retained the post for several years, becoming ordained the Church’s minister in 1923. Upon receiving this ordination, Hall received a gold, platinum, and diamond pendant as a gift from his congregation, it featuring an esoteric Cross custom-designed by Hall as a mandala to encode the foundational teachings of the esoteric doctrine.
Also around this time, Hall published his first works on esoteric philosophy. Two of these works are regarded as early classics: “Initiates of the Flame”, published in 1922, and “The Lost Keys of Freemasonry”, published in 1923.
Also in 1923, Hall began publishing a regular periodical called “The All-Seeing Eye”, which featured further articles, stories, and illustrations on esoteric philosophy from the young genius. To give examples of the type of content it covered, its first few issues feature articles on Chinese Cosmogony, Mystic Masonry, Astrology, and “the Mysteries of Initiation.”
Having read through much of Hall’s early work and compared it with his later output, I can personally attest that, even at this early stage, the quality of Hall’s work is top notch and not in any way inferior to or contradictory of the work he would put out later in his career. It is as through, by age 21 or 22, he emerged onto the scene almost fully formed as a teacher. He was a prodigy, to say the least. His closest followers even took to calling him “Maestro.”
To give an example of the extraordinary knowledge and wisdom Hall possessed even at an early age, consider his history with Freemasonry: although Hall would not become a Mason until the mid-1950s, already by the early 1920s he was writing masterfully on the fraternal order, revealing deep secrets about the history of its founding and the profound philosophic wisdom contained within its rituals and symbolism.
Freemasonry is an order that reveres age and experience. Unsurprisingly then, the upper hierarchy of the order is comprised predominately of aged, learned men. For this reason, it was highly unusual and uncharacteristic for Manly Hall, a young man still in his early 20s, to be giving these aged Masons private discourses and lectures on the philosophy of Freemasonry, teaching them about its hidden secrets and deeper meaning. But that’s exactly what Manly Hall did, soon gaining a reputation as Freemasonry’s greatest philosopher. And, remember, he wasn’t even a Mason for much of that time!
One prominent Mason, Harold S. Stein, Jr., of the 33rd degree, would later remark that “the greatest work (Hall) did in Masonic research he did before he was a Mason. And I was present on occasion, prior to him being a Mason, where he would teach Masonry to officers and students of Masonry. And the fact that he could do so made us recognize that what we possessed and thought was uniquely ours in terms of wisdom was also available to others who dedicated their lives in a certain manner.”
Stein reverentially remembers Hall as a “uniquely enlightening and inspiring individual.” Another fellow 33rd degree Mason who had come to know Hall called him an “old soul” on a “long journey”, noting that “he lived his myth with an extraordinary integrity and honesty. This gave him that particular attraction that he had. That magnetism. He was there, living the fact of his inner life.”
4. A True Initiate
Returning to our timeline, we note that another pivotal development in Manly Hall’s life also took place during the crucial years of the early 1920s: this was the period when Hall first began attracting wealthy, influential, and dedicated patrons and benefactors. The financial and material support they would provide him allowed Hall to pursue his life’s work relatively unimpeded by financial restraints.
One especially notable benefactor was Caroline Lloyd, a wealthy oil baroness who bankrolled much of Hall’s early work during the 20s and 30s. In particular, she helped fund the build-out of Hall’s headquarters in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, along with the vast archive of occult works that would be featured in its library.
One of Hall’s primary missions in life was to establish in Los Angeles a library of rare occult and esoteric works from around the world. His ambition was to create what he thought of as “a little Alexandrian library”. This he would formally accomplish in 1934 with the founding of the Philosophical Research Society, whose headquarters came to feature one of the finest occult libraries in the world, with its archive of material eventually stretching into the tens of thousands of volumes.
In order to build-out this library, Hall, over the course of his life, took several trips around the world. The first and most extensive of these trips took place in the early 1920s, with donations from benefactors like the Lloyds financing the trip. His goal for it was to begin amassing materials for his library, while also meeting with and establishing connections to various secret societies, esoteric orders, and wise men from different nations and cultures, including China, Korea, India, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Italy.
The material Hall accumulated in his travels would inform the writing of what he called his “Big Book” on esoteric philosophy - i.e. the “Secret Teaching of All Ages”, which is his definitive encyclopedia on the western esoteric tradition. It took almost seven years to make and was published finally in 1928, when Hall was only 27 years old.
Discussing the production of this book, Stephen Hoeller, an associate of Hall’s during his later years and a fellow lecturer on esoteric philosophy, states that “he put everything into it that was available to him. And when he said available, he always got that subtle, charming smile that he had. … And you could perhaps deduce from that smile that he gathered his information from sources that were available to others, but perhaps also sources only available to himself.”
In other words, Hall had a deep, intuitive, mystical connection to the source of Truth itself. This internal connection is the primary resource he drew upon in the production of his works, with books and scholarship being secondary factors. In this way, he was a true esotericist, with the word “esoteric” meaning “derived from within”.
In this way, as Hoeller tells us, Mr. Hall “stood for something. … He was not just a learned man and fabulously effective lecturer and teacher and writer, but he was also a representative - I would almost say the embodiment - of a tradition. But this tradition is the inner, the esoteric. … He was someone who was in communication or has been in communication with a power beyond this world.”
Summarizing his view of the great philosopher, Hoeller, one of the few still alive who knew and worked alongside Manly Hall directly, stated in a recent speech that “I can testify to it … (and) I can swear to it that we had a spiritual giant in our midst.”
Hall was a true initiate in other words: his initiation coming not from his participation in an outer organization but the elevation of consciousness within himself.
He more or less directly admits this in his essay “My Philosophy of Life”, writing that: “I sincerely believe that I have been endowed with faculties, powers, and perceptions for the use of which I am morally responsible.”
In one of his early articles for the “All-Seeing Eye”, published in the early 1920s, Hall informs us that “the true initiate is initiated by God and not by man … In the darkness of his own closet, far from his brother man, in the silence of his own soul, the great mystery unfolds.”
Hall then describes what the experience of true initiation is like, discussing it as if it was something he personally experienced and knew firsthand about. He writes: “Thousands of figures gather round him and the Grand Master is there in his robe of Blue and Gold (with) the teachers of the ages (gathering) around him.” The disciple is now “in the great hall of his own body through which he must pass to enter the inner room. There alone he passes through things no mortal tongue can speak of; there he sees the reason for his being; the things that he must do; the greater works he is privileged to accomplish. … Just a silent soul alone, unfolding its wondrous mystery to its own being - that is Initiation.”
Hall emphasizes that the Initiate is not immediately made perfect or infallible, but rather works towards these goals while committed to a Bodhisattva-like ideal of a life of service.
Hall writes that “until the aspirant is living the ritual, he can never learn its mystery. … (But) when he has so lived as to be worthy of it, then comes the Light.” After this crowning experience, “having learned much, his new responsibility is likewise great; having seen the work to be done, he can no longer rest but must wander the world like a lost soul to labor in the endless cause. He lives for one brief moment with those things which are eternal and having glimpsed those wondrous beings, service means everything. He must help all living things to find the light that he has found.”
In this way, over the course of his 60 year career, Hall followed the path of the initiate, one he first spelled out in the early 1920s in this article on initiation. As he put it there, “in the robes of the mendicant the Initiate returns to wander the earth and serve others. While they are apparently imperfect and torn and slandered by the world, yet the hosts of heaven look down and bless them. Those who give up all, … they are the Initiates.”
In a 1955 talk, Hall revealed that he himself was driven by this Bodhisattva-esque ideal in his life, stating that: “Everything I have done for the last thirty-five years was to a considerable degree moved by a necessity in my own consciousness. Thinking back, I guess I was born with that need, for throughout my life nothing has brought me as much consolation of spirit as what I have gained as a human being through a sincere desire to give. So, for better or for worse, whatever I had, I have given.”
As we discover from this passage, when Hall describes the path of the initiate in his work, he is simultaneously describing the path he himself has followed and is following in his own life. In other words, in teaching you about the Mystery Schools, Hall is describing something that he himself is a part of and has unique access to.
Hall was not perfect, but he never claimed to be. He certainly struggled with certain challenges in terms of his health and his personal life; but he was blessed with powerful psychic capacities and spiritual insights and was committed to using them to perform a great work of service for the world - this being to resurrect the sacred wisdom tradition of antiquity and reveal its practical utility for solving the major problems we collectively face as a world today.
Regarding his own imperfections, Hall once wrote that “one cause of disillusionment in metaphysics is for the metaphysical teacher to prove to be more human than originally suspected. The tendency is to so elevate personalities that we endow them with sacred powers. All our faith is put upon them as we hang tinsel on a Christmas tree. The leader is assumed to be infallible, whereas he is no more than one who is well-meaning, quite capable of contributing to the improvement of humanity, but still personally subject to innumerable ills. Doing the best he can, he is a good human being but a poor divinity.” For this reason, “all followers who offer to adorn and deify their teachers set up a false condition. … We should be willing to accept a person who possesses wisdom as a friend, not deify him; it just won’t hold up.”
In his 1945 article “Learned from Experience”, Hall states his own life’s mission directly and transparently: “the basic intention is to apply philosophy to its legitimate end, which is the improvement of the human being.”
In a 1949 article, he elaborated: “We want to supply people with source material, with the actual words of their own spiritual leaders, and encourage if possible the study of comparative religion and comparative philosophy. … All we want to do is to help those working in the fields of science, education, theology, or politics to be better equipped for their respective duties.”
On the individual level, this mission involves teaching philosophy to a new generation of students, so as to create a new lineage of philosophers, ones who will pick up the torch and carry out the next necessary stage in the unfoldment of the Divine Plan.
On a collective scale, Hall’s emphasis on spreading the light of philosophy heralds the coming of a new era of civilization, one featuring, as Hall puts it, “the restoration of what might be termed the Philosophic Empire.” He elaborates: “This is not temporal empire. It is a philosophic domain for the restoration of … human integrity.”
As the Greek sage Plato indicated long ago, the grand ideal of the Philosophic Empire is, and always has been, the secret mission of the Mystery Schools. And, in our modern era, Hall contributed much to its eventual attainment.
Describing his own role in progressing the long-term agenda of the esoteric schools, Hall writes “It has been my dream to set up in the Western world a school of universal thinking, a functioning pattern of enlightenment, one resembling in the mechanics of its operation the great Alexandrian foundation of Neo-Platonism.”
The school Hall envisions “would make available in a definite place at a stated time that information which the world today is desperately seeking and yet has not the facilities to acquire.” Its aim would be “to vitalize the present” and “establish footings for the future” by making “eternal facts obvious again.”
In his essay “My Philosophy of Life,” Hall states directly what these eternal facts are: “The world in which we live, with all its creatures and parts, is a growing and unfolding being, and in the fullness of time, the grace of God within man shall shine forth from him, that he may build a beautiful society in which he can live peacefully, happily, and harmoniously. In those days, there will be good government, freedom from crime and want, and mankind will collectively be aware of its own purpose and will gloriously and gladly serve that purpose. Until such a time, I shall do what I can, according to the means which I possess, to make this possible, with no expectations of immediate reward.”
This is nothing less than Plato’s grand ideal of the Philosophic Empire and Bacon’s vision for the New Atlantis, restated in modern terms.
Just as Plato was 2500 years before him, and Francis Bacon 300 years prior, Hall was an initiate of Earth's one true Mystery School institution. In his life and career, he served the grand initiatory agenda of this sacred organization. For that we should give him our respect and admiration; while also appreciating the fact that his legacy of wisdom teachings is stamped with the mark of the Mystery Schools.
Manly Hall was a true Brahmin; as such, he served as a gatekeeper and guide who pointed us toward the existence of greater truths and realities that lie beyond this world of mortal existence. Thank you for you service, Mr. Hall: we will now do our best to pick up the torch you left us and carry on its flame into a new day and age.
5. The God-Concept in Esoteric Philosophy
In a series of rare, limited-edition manuscripts published early in Manly Hall’s career, these consisting of written transcripts of a series of lectures he gave in the Scottish Rite auditorium in San Francisco in the mid-1920s, Hall offers valuable details about the inner, metaphysical structure of the Mystery Schools and the pivotal role they play in fulfilling mankind’s long-term evolutionary destiny.
To understand the inner mechanics of the Mystery Schools, we have to first consider the God-concept they believe in and advocate for. In one of Hall’s early manuscripts referenced above, one titled “The God of the Atom,” Hall outlines this God-concept and the overall spiritual worldview that it suggests.
He writes: “Our God is an infinite, immeasurable, unformed, impersonal One. He is the first and without a second. He is the sum of everything. He is the thing from which all things come. … Division exists within Him, but he is not divided. Separateness is tolerated for a moment in the building of worlds, but He is God, because He is without the sense of separateness.”
Hall continues: “In God we live and move and have our being. He is the sum of all of us. … Whatever sees or speaks, sees or speaks for Him, for He is the voice, the speech, and the speaker. … And yet, surrounded as we are by the infinite manifestations of the unmanifest One, He is never revealed, but remains forever as the Absolute, the First Cause, the unknowable Root of the tree of creation.”
In this explanation of God, we find the Hermetic notion of “as above, so below” being subtly implied: just as the cells, tissues, and organs of the body come together to serve the will and desire of an invisible principle within - one 20th century psychologist Carl Jung termed the “Self” - “so the Overlord of the cosmos directs and controls His bodies, which are our worlds, and nourishes us who form the vehicles for his manifestation.”
If all of creation is interconnected within the being of a single Divine Life, as this worldview suggests, then we should expect to find some energetic mechanism binding the separate physical forms of the Universe together into a composite symphony of wholeness.
Here’s where the idea of an all-pervading luminiferous Ether comes into play: this world we inhabit of differentiated physical forms exists within the context of a ubiquitous field of universal energy that connects all things, flowing into and out of each physical form as a common energetic medium or substrate.
The God of the Cosmos interfaces with His creation through this all-encompassing field of Etheric energy, which permeates all things, including both the outer body and the inner mind, each operating on different levels or planes of this Etheric field.
Describing the existence of this Etheric field, Hall writes that: “around everything in nature, like a great sea, is Ether and all lives are floating and vibrating in the depths of its luminous body. This was called by the ancients the ‘molten sea’, and no matter how tiny a radiant particle is, it floats and vibrates in the midst of these living waters. … (Likewise,) … planets and solar systems are floating in Ether. … These are surely expressions of divine wisdom and a great spiritual guidance.”
“The God of the Cosmos, with its thundering pageantry of stars, (planets), meteors, and comets, must also be the God of atoms vibrating and scintillating in the Ether of space. He is the Grand Man whose bodies are the bodies of everything. He is made of atoms, electrons, molecules, and cells; his consciousness is the modeler, builder, shaper, and former of all structure, and all structure bears witness to the molding presence of the All-Father.”
As we discover, in esoteric philosophy, God is understood in a dynamic fashion: as a hierarchy of Unities within Unities that all take place within one inconceivably exalted Supreme Unity.
Within the internal being of this single, absolute state of Unity descends an internal hierarchy of Unities within Unities, with our Solar System being one of these lesser Unities or “microcosms” that emerges within the context of the supreme All-Father or Adi-Buddha.
The Solar System, considered as unified whole, is our God: the divine being whose life is made manifest through its evolving internal structure.
Hall elaborates: “The God whom we unconsciously worship is the spirit of our solar system. The planets and ethers are his body. … In these bodies, millions of lesser intelligences, including ourselves, live and move and have their being.”
Hall further states that “this great Solar Man is seeking perfection the same way we are. … In order that he may grow, he gives the opportunity of growth to millions of lives within his aura. His consciousness is in them. It expands as the minute particles of himself expand. Therefore, we grow in Him, while He serves and protects us. We call Him God.”
At a more local level, the Earth also exists as a Unity: a microcosm held with the being of the greater Solar macrocosm.
Within the Earth, the pattern repeats, with Nature itself - the global biosphere - being the unified field within which an internal hierarchy of kingdoms, species, and organisms blossoms forth. In the esoteric teachings, the human kingdom is said to be a microcosm or miniature Unity patterned after the archetype of the World as a whole.
Within humanity, this pattern repeats once more, with the collective human species being a composite wholeness, and each individual human being designed as a miniature or microcosm of this wholeness.
The Solar Deity, manifesting its life through an inner hierarchy of planets and life forms, functions according to a cyclical pattern of operation. First, a great cycle is envisioned, one that involves an initial descent of Consciousness into Matter. Then, once this process is completed, the stage is set for Consciousness to reascend back out of Matter.
These two motions - descent and re-ascent - take place according to a lawful plan and pattern, one that is conceived and held within the Mind of God, which is the divine power responsible for orchestrating this grand meditational exercise taking place within Consciousness.
The descending motion of the Creator, where His Spirit-Power is lowered into material Creation, is termed “involution”. This downward motion is mirrored by a corresponding upward motion called “evolution”, where the Spirit-Power locked within Creation gradually liberates itself and returns to God - the Solar Deity.
In the process of manifesting His consciousness into creation, the Solar Spirit, as He moves into and becomes Earth, descends from an initial unbound, universalized condition and focuses Himself into a limited, bound, and individualized state.
The Mystery Schools used to teach this process using an agricultural analogy: during the involutionary phase of the cycle, Spirit reaches down and plants its seed in the “dark earth” of Matter. From this seed, the life within material creation then proceeds to grow and evolve upward back toward its own spiritual source and root, so as to eventually re-unite the “Son” with the “Father”, so to speak.
This re-union is completed after the “Son” - the aspect of Divinity growing up through Creation - attains to a supreme condition of Self-perfection. This is achieved at the end of evolution: all of evolution is driving us toward this eventual point. When it is finally attained, the World Soul fulfills the idea originally envisioned for it by the Creator.
At this point, once the World Form evolves into a perfect representation of its own archetype, the consciousness of the Creator is liberated and flows back out from the bounded, individualized state it had adopted throughout the Creation process, its Spirit-Power returning now back out into a supreme, unbound, universalized condition.
When this liberation is fully achieved, the cycle of Creation is completed, and the World Soul absorbs back into the consciousness of the Solar Spirit. A period of rest then ensues, before a new cycle on a higher plane of cosmic consciousness commences.
Going deeper into the inner dynamics of this Creation cycle, Hall notes that its two primary motions, involution and evolution, involve “first was the individualizing of the universal, and (second) the universalizing of the individual.”
The first motion, “the individualization of the universal, establishes the sense of separateness. It breaks everything up into a number of parts and views these parts separately. The result of this is ignorance, but a certain form of ignorance is necessary at certain periods of growth.”
Once individualization has been achieved, a corresponding process of universalization sets in. As Hall describes it, this is “the process of fitting man back into the Plan, where he sees his true relationship to everything.”
From these concepts of God and Creation, the purpose and function of the Mystery Schools is made apparent: their divinely ordained task is to guide the consciousness of Deity that has become locked within physical creation back toward a supreme realization of its own inherent Unity.
Hall makes this clear in his book “Light of the Vedas”, where he writes that “Consciousness is one in substance and many in manifestation. It is all-pervading and, by a process of meditation, imagines within itself the objective cosmos.”
“The universal power experiences the creations which it first envisions. To experience these productions of its own thinking, the power accepts voluntarily the reality of the mental images, identifies itself with them, and permits itself to be absorbed into them. This continual process of visualizing and identifying results in the complete emergence of the pattern and the complete submergence of the principle.”
God does not stay locked in His creation forever, however. As Hall explains, “the Deity is released by the reversal of the procedures” - meaning, the original involutionary procedures that resulted in the formation of material existence in the first place.
Here’s where the Mystery Schools come in: “the work of the Great School is to acquaint the divine power locked in the illusion with its own self-appointed way of liberation.” This “way of liberation” is what the Mystery Schools teach; it is what esoteric philosophy is all about.
The esoteric doctrines taught in the Mystery Schools reveal “the secret path of spiritual illumination, … which the planetary Logos has established that His children might learn to know of Him and accomplish His ends.”
This “Great Doctrine” is periodically revealed by him “at regular intervals from His eternal condition. From this vast instruction, the Creator himself achieves in the course of his objective existence to the estate of the perfect sage, and passes into sleep having achieved realization of his own eternal and unconditioned source.”
For the ultimate enlightenment of the Creator to be accomplished, we must eventually each accomplish the great illumination within ourselves. Meaning, we must “conquer gradually by inner strength the dream appearances, which are real only until they are understood.”
Here, the purpose of human life becomes viewed as the task of making oneself into a useful instrument to facilitate the greater awakening of God within creation.
By first working to awaken divinity within ourselves, before then laboring with dedication to inspire the awakening of divinity within others, we become active, constructive participants in the completion of God’s Plan, which is Universal Enlightenment.
Quickening the process of God’s awakening within ourselves and within creation more generally is what the doctrines of esoteric philosophy taught in the Mystery Schools are ultimately all about.
As Manly Hall further elaborates, “the Mystery systems of initiation were organized to teach the science of human regeneration by which the inner faculties of the soul could be stimulated and unfolded according to the laws governing its process.”
Note that this process of liberation is not one that man invents for himself; rather, it is based on an archetypal pattern that Deity originally conceived at the beginning of the creation process. By following the method of liberation Deity has specified for itself, man fulfills the Great Work, and comes to his own evolutionary completion in the process.
The Masters of the Mysteries are those rare souls who have fully awakened God-consciousness within themselves - a feat that involves them having first developed rarified inner faculties that allow them to perceive planes of metaphysical existence beyond the physical realm.
These Masters of the Mysteries were termed Adepts: they are those rare souls who have already accomplished the great awakening of spiritual enlightenment within themselves,
The students of these illuminated teachers were their “initiates”. These souls are on the path of awakening, but have not yet mastered the esoteric arts and sciences that allows the full enlightenment of the Adept to be achieved.
Together, the Adepts, their initiates, and their disciples collectively labor to progress world civilization forward toward the eventual, inevitable attainment of a new golden age, when the Light of Enlightenment will finally be spread to all people.
6. The Great White Lodge
In two of Hall’s other early manuscripts from the mid-1920s, one called “the Masters of Wisdom” and the other “What the Ancient Wisdom Expects of Its Disciples”, the young Maestro delves deeper into the inner dynamics of the Mystery Schools.
He begins by emphasizing that the doctrine of esoteric philosophy taught and practiced within the Mystery Schools is one that promises to put its initiates in tune with the invisible, spiritual realms of Creation.
Indeed, “the ability of the Mystery Schools to communicate with the invisible worlds is the basis of their power; for all the creative hierarchies dwell in the unseen worlds, and there the disciple must go in order to consult them.”
Therefore, “in order to communicate with the gods, man must learn to function consciously in his own invisible bodies. When he is capable of doing this, he can communicate with the spiritual beings who dwell in similar super-physical substances.”
The esoteric doctrines taught in the Mystery Schools are derived from the contact its initiates have with the divine order that over-souls the Earth: “The initiates of the Ancient Wisdom go straight to the fountainhead of wisdom and, learning the will of the gods, make that will the law of their lives. The initiate does not guess, wonder, or soliloquize; he labors with the facts for he is one with the truths of Nature.”
In this manner, “the Schools of the Ancient Mysteries have been established, not by the will of man but by the gods themselves laboring through channels chosen from the most highly evolved children of the Earth.”
“Having established these schools, the superior intelligences became the central invisible powers of the schools and are still in actual communication with the Adepts and Masters who at the present time manipulate the destinies of these secret orders.”
These Adepts and Masters take the abstract, spiritual knowledge they obtain from the gods and the superior divine orders and translate it into a doctrine of teachings their initiates and disciples can understand and profit from.
As Manly Hall puts it, “the adepts and mystics of all nations have given to their disciples the fruitage of their investigations while functioning in the invisible worlds.” In each case, the master translates the teachings “in the manner most acceptable to the people with whom it is to work. … This results in an apparent diversity of teachings, but in essential points the doctrines of all these schools are the same.”
As proof of this fact, Hall remarks that “an investigation of the teachings of the world’s Saviors - Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Hermes, and Jesus - proves beyond all possible doubt that all of these men, living in different ages and among different civilizations, taught one and the same doctrine and taught it in practically the same way.”
In this manner, by means of the Mystery Schools, “a secret teaching has been handed down from the earliest periods of civilization.” This secret teaching includes “a secret science devoted to the consideration of the invisible spiritual phenomena behind Nature.”
More specifically, “the Ancient Wisdom contains the true and accurate knowledge of the Plan whereby the gods, man, and the universe were established, are being maintained, and will later be dissolved into eternity. It is the knowledge of all things in their relation to God, Nature, and themselves, and it is the only guide by which man can be shown the path he must follow if he should liberate himself from the ignorance and darkness of materiality.”
“This knowledge is in the possession of a limited number of persons, to whom it has been communicated orally and who will perpetuate it in the same manner from one generation to another.”
“Those to whom the secret knowledge has been entrusted were called ‘initiates’. They are grouped together in isolated communities where they have established ‘schools’. These are composed of a number of secret orders, where membership is restricted, reclusive, and exclusive. The members of these orders are called ‘brothers’ … (and) have learned to communicate with each other by means of cipher languages and telepathic codes.”
“While the membership in these orders was extremely limited, they were tremendously powerful. In fact, today, as then, they actually control the destinies of governments and peoples. … Altogether, these schools are called ‘The Invisible Government of the Earth.’”
In the esoteric teachings, the gods are said to be seven in number; therefore, the number of Mystery Schools is also seven in number, one for each of the gods. Hall elaborates: “The Mystery Schools, fulfilling the ancient law, are fashioned in the pattern of Nature, and we know them today as the seven Great Schools of the Mysteries. All these are branches of one tree which grows in the center of the Garden of the Lord.”
He continues: “As every ray of light breaks into seven colors when it strikes a prism, so this ancient truth, striking the prismatic body of the material world, appears in a septenary body. This body is called the seven-headed serpent, for although it speak with seven mouths it has but one brain.”
These seven schools “represent the seven planets and the seven great paths. They represent also the seven vital organs of the human body. … All disciples seeking to gain knowledge concerning the laws of Nature must secure that wisdom through one of these seven channels appointed by the Infinite for the furtherance of His peculiar work.
“All growth spiritually must take place through one of (these) seven channels, … and at some stage in his spiritual growth each disciple will enter the planetary path best fitted to evolve the qualities that lie dormant within himself.”
Hall cautions that, until the student is ready, these Schools will remain imperceptible: “Every one of these Mystery Schools is invisible and unknown. They can only be found after long searching and repeated disappointment.”
Once they are found, one discovers that they operate in two worlds: “their gateways are in the material world, otherwise none would know that they exist. But the temples themselves are in the spiritual substances of Nature. In order to reach these temples, candidates must learn to function in the so-called invisible substances.”
For this reason, “there are no initiates who are not clairvoyant, for they cannot receive their spiritual ordination until they are capable of functioning consciously out of the physical body.”
Altogether, “these seven schools, together with their branches in all parts of the Earth, constitute the Great White Lodge. This is the divine institution appointed to give the Ancient Wisdom to our planet. It is composed of all the initiates and adepts of the White Path and forms the ‘Invisible Government of the Earth.’”
The metaphysical temple these initiates and adepts meet in - the Great Temple of the Mysteries - is located at the site of the Earth’s original polar cap, which is where the Spirit-energy of the Solar Deity first moved into earthly creation.
Hall notes that this sacred site is located in the rarified planes over what is today the Gobi Desert. It is “protected like the other great centers by a cloak of invisibility.” It is here that “certain of the advanced disciples of the Mysteries are permitted to go and ‘meet with the immortals’.”
According to Hall, this Lodge “meets every seven years to control the activities and development of the order.” He also states that “every hundred years the voice of the Great School is heard, and into the world comes one to bear witness to the unseen. He speaks with the voice of wisdom, and he is overshadowed by the seven lights.” Could Hall be referring to himself as the one who came forth during the 20th century to preach the Doctrine?
Regarding the internal organizational structure of the Mystery Schools, Hall teaches that they are organized into three major divisions or degrees, which are arranged according to merit - i.e. according to degree of spiritual attainment.
At the lowest level of the hierarchy is the candidate, student, or neophyte. As Hall informs us, this is one who is an “aspirant” on the occult path. Their task is to master the “exoteric side” of occult philosophy, which involves both studying the Doctrine and practicing certain basic rites of self-purification.
Hall writes that the neophyte level is “composed of persons of either sex who have, … of their own free will, joined themselves to the cause of human progress. This does not mean that they have sworn adherence to any individual or material organization. It means that they have sanctified their lives and dedicated their efforts to humanitarian service, which is the true path of mastery.”
“This class of student includes all who think, read, study, and aspire along the lines of the Ancient Wisdom. In its ranks are all so-called independent occultists, various kinds of untrained psychics, mediums, psychologists, and others who have no direct connection with the teachers from any division of the Great School but who are seeking according to their own light to understand the initiates’ words as they have heard them or found them recorded in literature.”
Some readers of this article may fall into this category; I myself identity with it. As Hall states, “in this group we find many student teachers who, while not initiated into the Mysteries, are seeking to assist others on the path of wisdom.”
For aspirants at this level, Hall advises that “during these years of spiritual darkness he must spend his life in self-improvement along those lines which he normally recognizes as virtuous and true. He must consecrate himself to the labor of preparing his nature for the greater responsibilities that are to come.” These labors are to be “used by still greater powers to assist in those great problems which ever confront the world.”
“The duty of every student of the Ancient Wisdom is to make himself valuable to his fellow men, for when he does this he makes himself valuable to the plan of Nature. The student must always realize that he is preparing himself to become the hands and feet of Wisdom.” Therefore, “he must train his mind, control his appetites, and make himself a well-balanced example of human growth.”
Hall teaches that “it is not expected that a student should have clairvoyant powers or any personal spiritual abilities. In fact, it is better that he should not, lest in his unenlightened ignorance he pervert them.”
As such, “the student is not expected to be a great occultist or a great mystic. Such aspirations belong only to the higher grades. It is, however, demanded by the Masters of the student that he shall be simple, humble, honest, and patient, struggling daily to gain mastery with true virtue over the undesirable traits of his own nature.”
Hall emphasizes that the disciple or neophyte must not only study the Doctrine and commit themselves to a life of service toward their fellow man, but they must also labor to self-purify their own mind and body - a task which is vital for their advancement into the higher degrees of the School.
Hall writes that when the student “offers himself to the Master’s service, the student is filled with unworthy thoughts and elements. His higher bodies are a mass of bad Karma, and he is totally unfitted for his labors. Before wisdom can be given to him, it is necessary that his evil nature be cleansed. So the Masters give him the labor of purifying himself as the first test of his sincerity. All that follows depends on how that first work is accomplished.”
“Thus, his consecration often results in years of sorrow for the student; but everything has its price in Nature, and a cleansed soul is the price of wisdom. … All the perversions of the past present their bills and demand payment. A great spiritual housecleaning follows, for all these bills must be paid.”
Hall cautions that “a man does not avoid his responsibilities by becoming spiritual. He is merely given the privilege of paying his debts sooner.”
“As the result of this unexpected Karma, the path of studentship is often beset with infirmity and suffering, but these things are the tests which prove the character of the candidate. He will be accepted by the Masters only if his character survives these misfortunes and comes through them deepened and mellowed by the experiences. The student must labor year after year, waiting in patience and perfect trust until he has so far succeeded that he is found worthy to receive instruction from one of the Masters or their disciples.”
“No student knows when that moment will be, nor should he desire it to be hastened. His present labor is to serve to the best of his ability. In the hands of those wiser than himself, he has entrusted his destiny and his immortal spirt, and in patience he awaits their pleasure.
For those who desire to enter the path and prepare themselves as candidates, Manly Hall offers a few words of practical advice:
He tells us that “the genuine Esoteric Associations always required that disciples prepare themselves for careers of practical service. The student was expected to attain to a state of unequal skill or proficiency in some branch of learning. He was then to practice this profession or craft as a means of extending his sphere of constructive influence. Thus, gradually creating a significant zone of influence, he was available for whatever task the Keepers of the Great Plan required.”
This means that studying esoteric philosophy or pursuing occult exercises on their own won’t get you an invitation to the Mystery Schools. Instead, you must be dedicated and prepared in some practical way to perform a life of service. This means, as he tells us, obtaining an “unequal skill or proficiency in some branch of learning” and practicing “this profession or craft as a means of extending (one’s) sphere of constructive influence.”
By molding oneself into a useful agent of the Plan, the candidate prepares themselves to become a Disciple, which is the next level up in the ladder of initiation.
In the hierarchy of the Mystery Schools, the more advanced students or candidates are invited to study under “accepted disciples”, who comprise the next level of the Mystery School hierarchy.
According to Hall, the title of accepted disciple denotes “one who has prepared himself according to the Law and has been raised to the second step in spiritual preparation.”
“In this grade are the accepted students (chelas) of an Initiate, Master, or Guru. For them, the veil is beginning to lift. They have placed their feet firmly upon the winding path that leads to the Temple of one of the seven Great Schools. Instead of wandering far in the search for wisdom, they gather at the feet of their appointed Master and learn from him.”
At the level of “disciple”, there are two primary degrees, lower and higher: the lower disciples study under higher disciples, and the higher disciples study under Masters, who form the third and highest level of the pyramid.
The passing of a disciple from the lower to higher degrees is a significant step in one’s initiation journey. What separates the lower from the higher is that in the higher degree “disciples are privileged to pass consciously into the invisible worlds with their teachers and study the mysteries of nature at first hand on the astral plane.”
“For the disciple, the day of book-learning is over. The day of personal investigation is at hand. He has been accepted, and now the spiritual worlds centralize upon him and help him in every possible way. We may say that the disciples are the esoteric students.”
Hall informs us that “the disciple is chosen by his Master. … Each Master has a number of disciples, usually twelve. They are his chosen sons.”
Again, “the disciple does not choose his Master; it is the Master who calls his disciples from their various labors to follow him. None who are not actually and actively engaged in the vineyard of life will ever be called to the greater work.”
“When the Masters choose their disciples, they assign to each a labor which they are reasonably certain he can accomplish intelligently.” The initiations the candidate goes through show him “how to use most wisely the knowledge which he already possesses” in order to complete this labor.
Hall writes that “the faculties and talents which we evolve are what we actually offer to the Masters when we offer ourselves. … When we develop qualities useful to the plan of Nature and essential to the good of our fellow creatures, we shall then be accepted by the Masters of Wisdom.”
One of the Master’s responsibilities to the disciple is to guide them in the practice of advanced tantric exercises and meditational techniques. Without the guidance of such a Master, the performance of these exercises should not be attempted.
Hall emphasizes that: “It is this Teacher, the beloved Guru, and this one alone, who has the power and right to prescribe any form of occult exercises such as meditation, concentration, breathing, chanting, visualizing, and so forth.”
The Master is qualified to do this: his prescriptions aren’t chosen arbitrarily, but rather are made after a close examination and diagnosis of the patient. As Hall further explains, “after making a personal examination of the auric bodies of his disciples, he gives them individual instruction concerning the preparation through which they must go before they can be admitted into the Great School itself.”
It is on the metaphysical plane of the astral light that the true initiation of the disciple takes place. Hall elaborates, writing that “there are no spiritual initiations given in the physical world. All the true initiations must take place in the invisible worlds, for that is the only place where there can be found those authorized and fitted to give them.”
The Masters guide their disciples into and through these invisible worlds, teaching them to access and navigate these realms on their own. It is here on these invisible planes, while under the direction of their Teachers, that disciples receive their initiations - these taking place in “the Invisible Temple of a true Mystery School.”
This explains why disciples must study under Masters and why the timeless guru-disciple pattern has always been observed within the Mysteries: the Master “initiates” the disciple by taking him into the spirit realm and teaching him to function there consciously.
As Hall further explains, “the Masters give us birth into the unseen spiritual worlds and assist us to build our super-physical vehicles so that we may function there.”
“With his initiations, the disciple gains certain occult powers that ever increase as he advances along the pathway of adeptship. … As the disciple gradually passes from one initiation to another, he becomes more efficient in the labors which the invisible world expects him to accomplish. As he passes ever higher, he gradually increases in power, wisdom, and understanding.”
As the disciple proceeds in their initiations, they experience increasing degrees of “conscious communication with the invisible spiritual hierarchies of nature.” Hall explains how this takes place:
“It is possible for one of the higher teachers to connect his own mind to that of his student so that the latter will think with the mind of the teacher and not with his own mind. The student will actually do his own thinking, but he will have the mental power of the master at his disposal. The result is that he will transcend himself for a period of time without, in many cases, understanding where his knowledge comes from.”
During this process, the master “builds a thought form in his mental body and the disciple wanders around in the thought form of his master. … This is the system always used when it is necessary to instruct a student in any subject when he has not reached the degree of unfoldment necessary to study it himself.”
Hall then adds, as though he had firsthand knowledge, that “it is very wonderful how real these thought forms can be made by these master instructors of human destiny.”
This style of metaphysical, guru-disciple instruction is the hallmark of esoteric philosophy and esoteric knowledge, with the word “esoteric” meaning “inner” - as in, taught from within, by inner, psychological, mystical methods of communication.
Hall informs us that "all accepted disciples are given their higher instructions in the astral world. Here they wander with their Masters, studying the mysteries of the invisible nature of things.”
Here, “in the invisible worlds, people do not converse with words but with thought forms. You hear words in your brain but no words are spoken. In this way, differences in language are done away with, and each can understand the thought wave sent out by the one conversing with him.”
Before moving on to examine the level of the “Masters” in greater detail, I want to emphasize one more important point Hall makes about the Disciple degree:
Hall emphasizes that just because a student has been accepted by one of the Ancient Schools does not mean that the student has become all-wise. Rather, he or she is merely offered a “more exalted view”, as Hall puts it.
Hall also cautions that the Disciple is still subject to the Laws of Nature, as well as to “his own faults and failings.” Therefore, he is still capable of failure, having not yet become fully centered in the Law.
“Initiates are subject to birth, growth, and old age. Sickness and sorrow still confront them at every turn. They must return to this life again like other normal beings until their development carries them to a state of consciousness much higher than that which the average individual can hope to reach in one lifetime.”
The aforementioned Masters who instruct the initiates and disciples of the Mystery Schools together form the third and highest tier of its inner hierarchy. These masters can take physical form, but rarely do - their primary residence being in “the mind of God”, as Manly Hall puts it.
Hall teaches that the Masters, who are also commonly known as Adepts, Mahatmas, or Higher Initiates, are those who “have been initiated (deep) into the Mysteries and have reached a very high degree of proficiency in the manipulation of the subtle forces of the invisible worlds.”
These are great souls: highly illuminated and spiritualized minds. They have attained spiritual illumination and their third eye is open. Consequently, they are “no longer limited by that ignorance which inhibits normal human beings.”
Manly Hall informs us that “the Masters of Wisdom are not super-physical beings, nor should we view them as gods or demigods. They are but Craftsmen from the world of men, who have reached a little closer towards the goal than we have. They have lived the life and have learned to know the Doctrine. They are directing their ego evolution to the perfection of certain qualities and soul powers and stand a little above the average individual.”
“In their varying degrees, they are just as human as we are, but they are old in experience, which in occultism is the measurement of age.” They are our Elder Brothers in other words: the wise, shamanic sages who have knowledge of the gods and the Law and thus are qualified to be the natural leaders of evolving mankind.
Hall writes that “the Masters of Wisdom do not desire their worship nor do they want man’s veneration. … Man’s duty is to respect these Elder Brothers, but he must not make idols of them. They ask nothing of man but the privilege of cooperating with humanity that the race may attain (enlightenment) more rapidly than it could alone.”
“Each master is laboring for the good of the whole, regardless of color, race, or creed. … The Divine compassion of the Gods pours out as a stream through (their) hearts. … (They) strive together for a single end - the attainment of wisdom by the entire human race. Like loving parents, the initiates point out the way and try to ease the path for their younger brethren.”
Hall notes that the highest form of Adept is termed an “Arhat”. These illumined sages remain in the East and are “capable of manipulating the laws of nature from behind the veil which separates the Causal Universe from the Visible Universe.”
“The Arhats seldom go out into the world, but remain almost continually at their spiritual work in the higher planes of nature.”
The high level of psychic proficiency these enlightened Masters have obtained gives them power “over the visible and invisible worlds.” This “enables them to invoke the forces of Nature to the attainment of any particular end.”
Beyond the level of the Adept and Arhat extend yet further orders and hierarchies of divine beings, notably the demigods or “celestial bodhisattvas” and the gods or “celestial buddhas”. These high spiritual intelligences ultimately extend out of and eventually absorb back into into the being of one Supreme Entity - the Universal Self - which exists alone as the All-Seeing Eye at the apex of the spiritual pyramid.
Note the pattern: the higher realms of gods and demigods become the teachers and inspirers of the Adepts and Arhats, just as the these Masters serve as the gurus and guides to a lesser hierarchy of initiates and disciples.
Regarding the gods and demigods, Hall writes: “There are also in the invisible worlds races of creatures that never come into the physical world at all. Some of these are much higher than the human race, meaning they can function in spheres of consciousness that the human race cannot hope to attain in many life waves.” By means of thought forms sent out by these great spiritual intelligences, “the higher Masters are permitted to glimpse … (divine) mysteries that stretch without end beyond the range of comprehension.”
7. Helena Blavatsky, the Mahatmas, and the Secret Doctrine
In the same series of Scottish Rite lectures given in 1924-5 that we’ve been referencing throughout this article, Manly P. Hall presents a case study of the archetypal master-disciple relationship described above. This comes in the form of his analysis of Helena Blavatsky and her magnum opus, “The Secret Doctrine”.
Regarding the composition of this important occult classic, Blavatsky herself transparently admitted that it was written not by her but through her by an order of esoteric Masters or “Mahatmas” residing in remote Tibet.
Manly Hall explains that the term “Mahatma” is a Sanskrit word meaning “Great Mind”: “The term is used to cover a group of men who, because of their great sincerity, integrity, and devotion, have attained a certain degree of proficiency in the operative science of the Secret Doctrine. These Adepts have reached the place in their intellectual and spiritual unfoldment which the average humanity of our life wave will not attain for many millions of years.”
The Mahatmas that Blavatsky was associated with were themselves part of a larger, global Mystery School institution “composed of initiates from all parts of the Earth.” Together, these esoteric orders "form the Invisible Government of the Earth”
Hall tells us that “the Great White Lodge meets every seven years, and in it each of the (seven) schools of occult philosophy are represented.” Together, these Schools form a law-making body” that decides, with its clearer intelligence, the needs of humanity, and seeks to meet these needs in the most efficient manner.”
According to Helena Blavatsky’s own admission, she was a chela or “disciple” of a small group of initiates based in Tibet but derived from this larger esoteric institution - the Great White Lodge.
Blavatsky was a natural-born psychic and mystic. Growing up in the house of a wealthy noble family in early 19th-century Russia, she, through family connections, began from an early age studying esoteric philosophy and alchemy. As a young adult, she was called to dedicate her life to travel, study, and service, traveling on her own extensively throughout the world, getting into many exciting adventures, meeting many interesting people, and coming into contact with a variety of secret societies, mystics, and occult teachers.
At some point along her journey, Blavatsky was approached by the Mahatmas, and became a disciple of theirs.
Hall believes that, “while she never claimed to be an Initiate, there is every reason to suppose that she had been admitted at least into the lower or lesser mysteries, and consequently was privileged to use the title Initiate.”
Furthermore: “there is no doubt that Madame Blavatsky possessed super-physical powers similar to those of the East Indian Adepts. She demonstrated these many times.”
Under the tutelage of the Mahatmas, Blavatsky wrote two landmark books in the field of esoteric philosophy: Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine.
These books have had an effect on the world that few today appreciate. Indeed, as Manly Hall tells us, “Madame Blavatsky was a pioneer in the Western world, for she brought to Europe and America the first connected account of the Eastern Schools of Occult Philosophy.”
Hall explains that it was “her own viewpoint and philosophy (that) she sets forth
in her first book, "Isis Unveiled.” By contrast, “in ‘the Secret Doctrine’ she acts as the mouthpiece of a very seclusive group of Eastern Adepts, dwelling in the unexplored vastness of Tibet. She makes no claim to having written ‘The Secret Doctrine,’ but states that she was merely a pen in the hand of a ready writer.”
More specifically, “the Masters who assisted in the writing of ‘The Secret Doctrine' were Master M (El Moriah), Master KH (Koot Hoomi), and Master R (Rakoczy). Several other great Adepts lent their services to a lesser degree. … HPB was merely the amanuensis collecting and arranging the material which they gave her.”
In his lecture at the Scottish Rite auditorium, Hall explained how the Masters themselves gained access to the knowledge communicated by them to her.
“The Masters, having access to the depositories of world truth and the Akashic record, were able to give accurate descriptions concerning things which have not appeared in the physical world for millions of years and also things occurring on the invisible planes of Nature about which the average individual knows nothing.”
They communicated this information to Blavatsky, an accomplished psychic, through telepathic means. As Hall explains, “through a projection of the will” the (Mahatmas) were able to take a thought and “build around it a temporary form”, by means of which a message could be telepathically conveyed.
This esoteric method is the primary means the Masters use to communicate with their disciples. “They almost never act openly in the world or reveal themselves to the eyes of the profane. Instead, the Masters present their knowledge to the world through their disciples.”
Hall explains that the reason for this is because "the disciple is comparatively more worldly and can therefore mix more easily with the world, thus attaining the desired end, though always remaining as inconspicuous as possible.”
“The true Initiate, realizing that they will never be understood by the mass of humanity, never reveals himself except to his own students who know and love him. … Realizing that each man must choose for himself, the Chela never states the source of his information. He merely sows the seed and leaves it to the one addressed to nurture the plant (on his own) and finally gather in the harvest according to his own light.”
This is the instructive method of initiator: they teach us, each at his own level, while also orchestrating tests for us to confront. But it is up to us, the candidates, to ourselves, by the union of will and intelligence, successfully complete and overcome these tests, using the knowledge provided to us by the Masters in order to do so. In this way, we evolve ourselves, but we do so with the subtle guiding presence of the Mystery Schools lurking always in the background.
Hall emphasizes that the one of the primary methods Nature uses to instruct us is through the experience of pain. “It is only when everything else fails that we desire this spiritual life. When we are ready the old Schools will come here, because they have always been waiting and always will be.”
Until we are ready to commit ourselves fully to the path of enlightenment, we must experience pain and suffering inevitably as a consequence of our own ignorance of Truth and Law. The Masters reveal the Doctrine and teach the Law so that we may eventually study this Doctrine and learn the Law, and thereby free ourselves from the cycle of suffering that we have become trapped in due to our own ignorance and misdirected willpower.
By preaching the Doctrine, the Masters work to gradually fulfill the Grand Plan of universal enlightenment. Each person must come to this enlightenment on their own, but the Mysteries exist to gradually teach and inspire us toward this goal, thereby quickening the process of human evolution that Nature is continually driving us toward.
The Plan for Universal Enlightenment is first entrusted by the gods to the demigods; then from the demigods to the enlightened Arhats and Adepts of the Mystery Schools, who in turn communicate it to their initiates and disciples, who in turn seed the Doctrine into the outer institutions of collective society.
In this manner, the initiates and disciples of the Mystery Schools labor to gradually sow the seeds of universal enlightenment within the populace as a whole.
In the 19th century, Helena Blavatsky was one of the key instruments they used to forward the Plan. She was not the only one, but she, as an initiated chela or disciple, rose to the occasion and labored during her life to fulfill a vital and necessary task on behalf the Mystery Schools: to help seed the Doctrine into the public consciousness of the West - a feat she accomplished through her published works and through the legacy organization she founded in her wake: the Theosophical Society.
Blavatsky’s epic work The Secret Doctrine - channeled to her from her Masters - was not intended to be a full explication of the esoteric teachings. Rather, as Hall tells us, “It is all the world could safely receive at the time.”
Hall follows this statement up with this own cryptic prophecy that ”during the middle and latter part of the twentieth century, the next messenger appointed by the Great White Brotherhood will continue the Word by a further revelation.”
Is he perhaps referring to himself and the role he would play in revealing the ongoing operations and goals of the Mystery Schools in modern life? If not him, then who?
And what could these revelations be? This is the topic I’ll be exploring in forthcoming articles in this series. In truth, Manly Hall revealed much about the current operations and future plans of the Mystery Schools in modern life. He was the great prophet who revealed the next phase of the Plan. Coming up, we’ll overview what exactly it was that he said and predicted.
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