A thing is not esoteric because it is secret or kept hidden. It is esoteric because its existence is in some sense unmanifest, private, and by its very nature not available for examination from the outside: it is only available to participation, not, ultimately, merely to examination. In other words, the realm of the esoteric is, before anything else, the realm of consciousness, of experience.
Weishaupt’s concept of virtue stems from his Rousseauian influences. Jean-Jacques Rousseau equated true virtue with the purity of mankind in its infancy before it was corrupted by civilization. This virtue was still apparent in the “savage” races still being encountered by explorers in the forests and jungles of North and South America. By comparison, the despotism of western culture, with its class structures and inherent inequality, was considered inferior and contemptible.
It was a weary while before they raised him
Boy as he was, none dare disturb his grief.
And for his grief was strong, they loved and praised him
For son’s devotion to their dear dead chief.
Long, long he wept, nor brought with tears relief.
He knew the loss, the old head wise and grey
Well to assoil him of his spirit’s grief,
The twilight dangers of a boy’s dim way,
His dragons to confront, his minotaurs to slay.
Aleister Crowley, Why Jesus Wept
I want everyone watching—whether you’re on the Capitol or the rebel side—to stop for just a moment and think about what this war could mean. For human beings. We almost went extinct fighting one another before. Now our numbers are even fewer. Our conditions more tenuous. Is this really what we want to do? Kill ourselves off completely? In the hopes that—what? Some decent species will inherit the smoking remains of the earth?
These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic. Conditions have got to be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise.
No one, unless they were fanatics, would think of distributing religious tracts to the poor half starved ignorant portion of a large city. The human portion of their natures must be benefitted before any great results in moral improvements can be attained. Commence at the beginning.
Before the beginning there was nothing—no earth, no heavens, no stars, no sky: only the mist world, formless and shapeless, and the fire world, always burning.
Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology