"All bona fide revealed religions of the world are based on intuitive knowledge. Each has an exoteric or outer particularity, and an esoteric or inner core. The exoteric aspect is the public image, and includes moral precepts and a body of doctrines, dogmas, dissertations, rules, and customs to guide the general populace of its followers. The esoteric aspect includes methods that focus on actual communion of the soul with God. The exoteric aspect is for the many; the esoteric is for the ardent few. It is the esoteric aspect of religion that leads to intuition, the firsthand knowledge of Reality." (Yogananda, p.240, vol. 1)
According to the Simple Explanation, the exoteric, public image of a religious institution is defined by the memes held by or rejected by that institution. The "moral precepts" and "doctrines, dogmas, dissertations, rules, and customs" are the particular memes and meme chords that define membership in that institution. Many religious meme chords are shared by members of diverse religions. Religions generally share, for example, belief in the overarching "God" meme chord, and generally agree on most of the lesser-included memes that make up the God chord, such as memes concerning God's omniscience and omnipotence, and the importance of communing with God in prayer. Then come the memes religions do not share in common--memes of saints and saviors, histories, and other customary beliefs. The memes they do not share set them apart from each other.
A Simple Explanation of the esoteric aspect referred to by Paramahansa that focuses on "communion of the soul with God" is that such communion is not of the religious meme-sharing variety, but involves its opposite--meme shedding. When one's grip on habitual thought patterns relaxes, their governing UC intuitively aligns itself with the metaversal principles embodied by the Universal UC. During these brief or extended periods of alignment, "firsthand knowledge of Reality" is glimpsed.
|"Glimpsing God" through a toroidal skylight at Sagrada Familia Cathedral.|
Exoteric knowledge is often defined as knowledge available to anyone, whereas esoteric knowledge is reserved for the innermost circle of devotees. This definition makes it seem as though true knowledge is being withheld by those in power. Yet, if one adopts the Simple Explanation's definition of meme-based vs. intuitive knowledge, then esoteric knowledge of God is truly available to any and every believer. The only limitation is the believer's own willingness to suspend attachment to their personal meme bundle long enough to allow their UC to align with the Universal UC.
When the memes are set aside, i.e. thought is suspended; language suspended; the person's governing UC remains. This fractal unit of consciousness underlies the memes. Unencumbered by meme attachments, the person's governing UC aligns with the Universal UC. This condition is called "bliss" in Buddhist and Yogic teachings. "Be still and know that I am God" is how the Bible says it (Psalm 46:10). Verse 16 of the Tao Te Ching says, "Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity," (J. Star translation).
To "be still" is to suspend attachment. Knowing comes during the still point between the pendulum swings of breath and thought. To "be still" is how we hear God. Be still.