What is Esotericism, What Does Esoteric Mean?

What is Esotericism, What Does Esoteric Mean?

July 1, 2021 Off By Felso

It is possible to answer the question of what is esotericism as follows: Esotericism is a teaching system based on the view that the real truths can only be communicated to those who have the ability and knowledge to understand it. Esotericism generally means “Batiniyye” in Arabic and Old Turkish, “Esotérisme” in French, and “Esoterism” or “Esotericism” in English. The newly used equivalent of the word esotericism in Turkish is “İçrekçiler”.

Esotericism can be defined as a system of study and teaching in which knowledge and manners are given gradually and in a closed community. The most important element to be considered in this definition is that the information and manners conveyed in esotericism can be of scientific or moral-religious nature.

Esotericism is a doctrinal system, and the doctrine conveyed by this system can be scientific and contemporary, as well as traditional or religious. However, this feature of Esotericism is often overlooked, and it is almost always mistaken to confuse esotericism with mysticism (mysticism) or Occultism (Occultism).

The word esotericism is derived from the Greek adjective esotericos. Widely used in its esoteric form, this adjective means “internal, i.e. closed and introverted or not self-evident” and can be used to describe a community or an organization, a method or system, a writing or speech. The adjective esoteric is the opposite of the term “exoteric” (exoteric, Exoteric in English, Exotérique in French), meaning “general and all-possible”. For example, religions are exoteric, Mysticism is esoteric. The mystic thinker of the Ancient Age, Pythagoras, divided his students into two as esotericos and exoterikos, and conveyed his secret teaching only to the first.

After the careful selection of the people who will receive the teaching, they are accepted into the community by the method of “initiation” and they are advanced by the same method;
The teaching of the teachings in a series of degrees according to the method of initiation;
Opening the way for the individual to find their own truths by using primarily symbols, allegories and maxims within the scope of the teachings.

As can be seen, Esotericism as a system is independent of the essence of the teaching and basically characterizes a formal operation.


The origin of the esoteric teaching system is as old as Mankind’s starting to reflect on the laws of nature and searching for the truths of nature and the universe. The vast majority of people either could not understand the facts, either reacted to it or tried to abuse them for their own benefit. This situation has created the idea that closure will provide more beneficial results for people and humanity in researching the facts and conveying the truth, and thus Esotericism has emerged.

In esotericism, the reason that the information that is considered undesirable to be announced to everyone can only be understood by people who have reached a certain level of culture, has made it necessary to be closed. In this sense, Aristotle’s teaching should also be considered esoteric; While Aristotle taught his distinguished students in the mornings, he gave lectures to the public in the evenings, and what he taught was separate information.


The vast majority of communities practicing esotericism do not envisage that only their members will benefit from the knowledge and findings of the facts they have reached; They also take care of the society outside themselves and all Humanity. However, they find it helpful, and even necessary, that facts are not casually disclosed and hidden unless a sufficiently harmonious environment is provided. As a natural consequence of this approach, the dissemination of facts outside the community and their appropriation to humanity may be delayed.

The reason for the closure of esotericism can be better understood with the following words of Hermeticism:

“Not every mind can grasp great truths. The majority are either stupid or bad. If they are stupid, they lose their minds in the face of the truth. If they are bad, they do evil by abusing this truth. There is no other way but to hide the truth. It is necessary to find, know, and remain silent…”

It is possible to find a similar approach in Sheikh Bedreddin:

“Every knowledge is right in its own level. If the truth is told to the public at the very beginning, they either deviate their way or blame the one who tells the truth. The people and the truth can be accustomed to each other in a middle way and by considering them separately. But I guess the people should be accustomed to the truth and the truth…”


The function of esotericism is not merely to convey certain facts known to some to those who do not know. Among the functions of esotericism, there is also the fact of providing a harmonious communication between the members of the community. Through this communication, a positive structure is provided to develop, deepen, renew, expand and mature knowledge.

According to the basic rule of esotericism, information should be transferred only to people who have sufficient understanding and can show progress on this path. A person who joins a community operating in the esoteric system has all the information at once.