The Kybalion is a concise, easy-to-read interpretation of all the basic principles of Hermetic philosophy.
It is only about 110 pages long, although different editions, especially illustrated ones, may be closer to 170 pages or so.
The essence of the book is the explanation of the seven main Hermetic laws, or principles.
These are laws that permeate the universe and all that exists, and the student, through understanding of the laws, may use them to their advantage.
The seven Hermetic principles are, in order: Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity, Rhythm, Causality, and Gender.
The following is a list of my favorite eight quotes from the book, each followed by a brief comment. Without further ado…
Kybalion: quotes about freedom
The majority of people are more or less the slaves of heredity, environment, etc, and manifest very little Freedom. They are swayed by the opinions, customs, and thoughts of the outside world, and also by their emotions, feelings, moods, etc. They manifest no Mastery (…).(Chapter XII)
As spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff would say, the majority of people are “machines”. Life simply happens to them. They may believe they are responsible for their own actions, yet those actions originate somewhere else.
The same is true for their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Spiritually, the masses can be imagined as empty containers through which the energy of others (people, structures, or entities) flow, without conscious awareness.
By rising above these influencing causes, the advanced Hermetists seek a higher plane of mental action, and by dominating their moods, emotions, impulses, and feelings, they create for themselves new characters, qualities, and powers (…).(Chapter XV)
There is a way out, luckily. We are not doomed to be puppets or slaves. Through knowledge of the principles of the universe, as well as one’s own inner awareness, man can become a cause rather than an effect.
In other words, we can reach a point in which the majority of our own thoughts, feelings, and decisions come from within and then shape the outer world, rather than the other way around.
Kybalion: quotes about the universe
Under and behind all outward appearances or manifestations, there must always be a Substantial Reality. This is the Law. Man considering the Universe, of which he is a unit, sees nothing but change in matter, forces, and mental states.(Chapter IV)
This is similar to what Plato would refer to as the theory of forms. As a quick note, all the principles and concepts of the Kybalion originate from the oldest dynasties of ancient Egypt — thousands of years ago.
The physical, tangible world is constantly changing. Everything changes, always. However, Hermetic philosophy suggests that, behind this physical, tangible layer, there is a Substantial Reality.
To take familiar illustrations, we all recognize the fact that matter “exists” to our senses — we will fare badly if we do not. And yet, even our finite minds understand the scientific dictum that there is no such thing as Matter from a scientific point of view (…).(Chapter VI)
Is life an illusion? Is it real? This is the fascinating question that countless philosophers have reflected on. Well, what if both statements — life is an illusion; life is real — were true?
It is likely that all things are relatively real. That is, they exist and can be considered real in relation to our own awareness of them, and in relation to the dimension we find ourselves in.
There is a harmony, agreement, and correspondence between the several planes of Manifestation, Life, and Being. This truth is a truth because all that is included in The Universe emanates from the same source, and the same laws, principles, and characteristics apply to each unit (…).(Chapter VIII)
This is the law of Correspondence, which is the second great Hermetic principle. I have written an entire article on the principle, so feel free to check it out here.
In short, Correspondence means that because everything that exists comes from the same source, and because it must be subject to the same laws, there will always be similarities or relationships between them.
Kybalion: quotes about psychology
Every thought, emotion, or mental state has its corresponding rate and mode of vibration. And by effort of the will of the person, or of other persons, these mental states may be reproduced, just as musical tone may be reproduced (…).(Chapter IX)
This refers to the third great Hermetic principle, which states that “nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates”. The concept of vibrations, then, is quite a bit older than some influencer’s YouTube channel.
Not only does the principle suggest that every thought, emotion, and mental state has its own frequency, but also that one may tune in to that same frequency to obtain the same state.
Light and darkness are poles of the same thing, with many degrees between them. The musical scale is the same (…). The scale of color is the same — higher and lower vibrations being the only difference between high violet and low red.(Chapter X)
What is good, what is bad? Hot, cold? Simplicity, complexity? Sharpness, dullness? These are manifestations of the same thing, only, their position between the two “poles” or “extremes” is different.
Again, we find that everything we perceive must be relative. We may say that fire is hot, but only relatively to us. Relatively to other dimensions, fire may be cold.
This principle is known to modern psychologists, who apply it to the breaking up of undesirable habits (…). If you are possessed of Fear, do not waste time trying to “kill out” fear, but instead cultivate the quality of Courage, and the fear will disappear.(Chapter XV)
It’s a well-known concept about personal development, positive thinking, and even spiritual evolution, yet it is often overlooked. Luckily, The Kybalion reminds us of its power.
Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Use your psychic energy — in other words, your thoughts and your imagination — to work toward what you like rather than fighting what you dislike.