“The lips of Wisdom are closed” means that Hermetic wisdom should only be shared with those able to understand and appreciate it.
If Hermetic wisdom ever became a creed, cult, or religion, it would inevitably lose its essence.
In other words, it should be kept a secret, except to those students who are ready to receive the information.
In fact, the original and complete phrase says that “the lips of Wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding”.
Because of this, all the main principles behind Hermetic philosophy have been passed along throughout the centuries without ever becoming a cult.
When it was written down at all, its meaning was veiled in terms of alchemy and astrology so that only those possessing the key could read it aright.
The lips of wisdom are closed
The previous quote as well as all the following quotes are taken from The Kybalion, which is a concise explanation of all the main Hermetic laws.
Once again, the authors state that hermetic wisdom should only be shared to those who are ready to receive it, so that the “Flame” can be kept alive.
The original truths taught by him have been kept intact in their original purity by a few men each age, who, refusing great numbers of half-developed students and followers, followed the Hermetic custom and reserved their truth for the few who were ready to comprehend and master it.
They reserve their pearls of wisdom for the few elect, who recognize their value and who wear them in their crowns, instead of casting them before the materialistic vulgar swine, who would trample them in the mud and mix them with their disgusting mental food.
But still these men have never forgotten or overlooked the original teachings of Hermes, regarding the passing on of the words of truth to those ready to receive it, which teaching is stated in The Kybalion as follows: “where fall the footsteps of the Master, the ears of those ready for his Teachings open wide”.
Had the wisdom been spread to everyone, it could have easily deteriorated; it could have lost its original meaning and essence.
After all, this is what happened in India, Persia, Ancient Greece and Rome, and it happened to the Gnostics and Early Christians as well.
Even to this day, we use the term “hermetic” in the sense of “secret”; “sealed so that nothing can escape”; etc, and this by reason of the fact that the followers of Hermes always observed the principle of secrecy in their teachings.
And this policy of careful dissemination of the truth has always characterized the Hermetics, even unto the present day. The Hermetic Teachings are to be found in all lands, among all religions, but never identified with any particular country, nor with any particular religious sect.
This because of the warning of the ancient teachers against allowing the Secret Doctrine to become crystallized into a creed. The wisdom of this caution is apparent to all students of history. The ancient occultism of India and Persia degenerated, and was largely lost (…). So it was with Ancient Greece and Rome.
The seven Hermetic Principles
- 1) Mentalism. The physical, tangible, material world appears real to us human beings, but is merely a reflection of the immutable, infinite world, which is intangible and unknowable, and which can be imagined as a mind. Everything that exists can then be imagined as a creation of such mind.
- 2) Correspondence. Because everything originates from the same source, and is subject to the same laws, there is always a correspondence between all the different manifestations of life; there is always a correspondence between the physical, mental, and spiritual planes.
- 3) Vibration. “Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates”. Vibration can be imagined as a state, or condition, whose frequency (rate of vibration) determines the quality or structure of something, be it mental or material. Much like colors and musical notes, everything in the universe has its own frequency.
- 4) Polarity. Good and evil, light and darkness, pleasant and unpleasant, heat and cold, superior and inferior — everything has two extremes, or poles, and we human beings perceive them depending on how close they are to each pole; however, nothing can be the pole itself because the “range” is infinite.
- 5) Rhythm. Much like daytime and nighttime, everything in the universe follows specific cycles where a high is followed by a low and vice versa. This can be imagined as a pendulum that swings, back and forth, from a pole, or extreme (see the previous principle), to the other, endlessly.
- 6) Causality. Everything has a cause and an effect. But because there are many different Planes of Causation, one may choose to become the cause rather than the effect in what they do, mentally and physically. For example, one may choose to act following external influences (and be the effect), or act consciously, and be the cause.
- 7) Gender. Everything has a gender: masculine or feminine. Again, this is true for the physical as well as the mental world, and even applies to the spiritual world. Understanding the law of gender, one understands that gender permeates the process through which, for example, molecules attract each other; or the creative process of artists.
Guard your wisdom… but use it
The Hermetic Teachings, while always having been kept securely locked up in the minds of the fortunate possessors thereof, for reasons which we have already stated, were never intended to be merely stored away and secreted.
Although knowledge itself can be the goal for those who wish to understand the essence of things, Hermetic wisdom is supposed to be used and applied.
In The Kybalion it is stated that one who has vast knowledge, yet never applies it, can be compared to one who vainly hoards precious metals.
Furthermore, it is stated that there is a Law of Use, and that those who simply “hoard” knowledge go against it, and natural forces will intervene.
The takeaway? Absorb the wisdom of books, and then actually use it. This doesn’t just apply to Hermetic wisdom, but knowledge in general.
If you haven’t read The Kybalion, and you are interested in the principles listed above, I highly recommend you do.
It’s concise — 110 pages or so — and it offers a clear, modern interpretation of a philosophy as old as the oldest Egyptian dynasties.