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on 3 March 2010
I came accross this book accidentally - or it came accross me, with an existing interest in philosophy & non-dualism.

Many of the ideas contained in the book are similar to those found in New Age reading and Eastern philosophy; everything in motion, opposites, vibration, you are not the body. There are also some very great differences,and the book is aimed at the magic/manifestation/power end of spiritual belief.

I have only rated with three stars because the book is written in such a strange way; neither well pitched to readers completely new to the philosophy, or to those familiar with some of the ideas. For example it is quite taken for granted that the reader is not body-identified, and other concepts are breezed over with statements along the lines of 'but we shall not expound upon that here'. In other places the detail is there, but without any explanation for how it is so, or how the concept relates to the teachings.

It came accross as poorly written - over punctuated & capitalised and inconsistently swinging from philosophical argument to great presuppositions. I appreciate that some of the style may be of a particular period, and initially I found it quite charming. Here are a couple of sentences from the book showing the style to expect when reading this book:

"There is one more matter of which we desire to speak in this lesson, and that comes very near to an invasion of the Metaphysical field of speculation, although our purpose is merely to show the futility of such speculation."

"At the last, THE ALL is All Reason in Itself; All Law in Itself; All Action in Itself--and it may be said, truthfully, that THE ALL is Its Own Reason; its own Law; its own Act--or still further, that THE ALL; Its Reason; Its Act; is Law; are ONE, all being names for the same thing."

My conclusion is that as an introduction to ideas and concepts it is not an accessible read. To an experienced reader of spiritual philosophy it holds few new ideas. But if you have no expectations and can enjoy the writing style, it is an interesting short read.
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A number of other books has been written about these seven principles, using somewhat more modern language, but this book is the classic. This is not just a theory or a philosophy - the principles, being universal, are down-to-earth practical. If you apply them consciously in your life, your life will change.

While in times long gone by, these may have seemed to be only arbitrary spiritual principles, they are in accord with the view of quantum physics. Kybalion states that universe is mind-like in nature; quantum physics states that the universe is composed out of intelligent energy. The rest of the book describes how to manifest anything with one's thoughts - the process of manifestation, and it reminds me of the book "Dimensional Structure of Consciousness" by Samuel Avery.

The most important part of this book - other than pointing out these principles is that they are UNIVERSAL - they allways work, they express throughout nature and if you use them and apply the consciously, you can create whatever you can possibly desire in your life. You will know then that there is a law and that it works with mathematical precision, and that you can ALWAYS count on it.

The moment you grasp this truth, you will never ever again wish or hope for something to happen, you will know that you have the power to create it and you will be certain of it. And when you use this principles consciously and experience the truth of them - no one in the entire world will ever be able to talk you out of fulfilling your heart's desires. Even if the entire world doubts and laughs at you, you will not care because you'll KNOW that you CAN. You will have the "key".
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on 23 June 2013
"The Kybalion" is a spiritual classic published in 1908 summarizing Hermetic philosophy, or at least a modern adaptation of the same. The text is purportedly a modern commentary on a secret Egyptian text, the Kybalion, known only to initiates. As usual, there is no evidence that the original text exists outside the imagination of the anonymous authors, who call themselves The Three Initiates. Authorship of "The Kybalion" is disputed, but the main suspect is one William Walker Atkinson, who studied New Thought, occultism and yoga. Admirers of Paul Foster Case claim that he was a co-author.

I don't deny that "The Kybalion" is a pretty good introduction to the Hermetic philosophy. Of course, it has to be read with some care, since the evolutionary perspective of Theosophy shows up now and then. This is arguably a typically modern trait. At one point, "The Kybalion" actually claims that Herbert Spencer must be a reincarnation of Heraclitus and an ancient Egyptian priest! Apart from this major howler, the text is refreshingly free of the usual speculations about Atlantis, aliens from Venus and similar stuff.

Personally, I was stuck by the certain contradictions in the message of The Three Initiates. On the one hand, the author or authors have an impersonal view of the Divine, calling it "THE ALL" (caps in original). On the other hand, they refer to The All as "Universal Living Mind". But living mind implies a person. Even if we assume that the term is a symbol for an unfathomable reality, one still wonders why the authors use a personal metaphor, rather than an impersonal one, such as the ocean?

"The Kybalion" further states that everything is part of a polarity, for instance a polarity between Love and Hate, Courage and Fear, or Good and Evil. Since The All is everywhere, this means that evil is part of the divine - a common "pantheist" idea (and perfectly logical, given the premises). However, "The Kybalion" also states that the Negative pole of the polarity is subordinated to the Positive pole. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Love, Courage and Good are positive and hence higher than their negative counterparts. But if so, there is a point on the scale at which Goodness *isn't* relative at all, but an absolute value. How does that square with the idea of an impersonal "All"? Why should it care about "courage" and "fear", two concepts that are meaningless except to persons?

Of course, since "The Kybalion" states that the universe is paradoxical, that every truth is a half-truth and that all truths are reconciled in the higher unity of Hermetism, I suppose The Three Initiates can't really be picked apart in this way, anymore than one can disprove Huston Smith!

"The Kybalion" is a good text, but this reviewer somehow feels that their concept of the Divine might be inadequate. It's as if William Walker Atkinson spotted its personal aspect, but through a glass darkly...
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on 13 March 2010
This is a short book, about one hundred pages, but it stays in the mind for longer than just the time taken to read it. It takes the form of a treatise on the seven hermetic principles which form the basis of hermetic philosophy. This was the ancient wisdom taught by hermes trismegistmus, who became identified with thoth, the ancient egyptian god of knowledge and writing.
Although brief, it is rich and profound, and inspires a personal sensation of deep peace and satisfaction that is better and more powerful than any pharmacologically induced euphoria. Surely this is the wisdom that is eulogised in the first four chapters of the Book of Proverbs.
In summary, and excellent disillation of the ideas of hermetic philosophy, one that can give rise to a true gnosis, or knowledge of god.
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on 21 October 1998
This book originally transmitted orally for generations, Is literally "The Key" to the great work and to 'mastery' of all philosophies. In addition, this book is a must for anyone interested in Alchemy, Hermetic Philosophy, and the origins of the Physical Sciences and Transcendental Sciences.
SUPERB: A work Worthy of the Great Ones!
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on 30 May 2003
A great introduction to occult wisdom. Anyone who is interested in the big questions about life and reality would do well to read this small volume. The writing style is dated, however this does not detract from the teaching or power delivered through the Hermetic principles.

A wise man once said that beautiful words are often not truthful words, and truthful words are often not beautiful words. This book does not contain any beautiful words or fanciful language, but my conviction is that it does contain extraordinary truth and wisdom. Simply the best occult book that I've ever read.
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on 5 February 1999
A very strange little book this, it was lent to me by a good friend and I thought it would take am weekend to read! At the time I failed to understand his analogy of the book to that of an onion. Now I understand. When you read this book you will abosrb a tiny fraction of the material and each time you choose to re-read a chapter, it's as if whole paragraphs are revealed to you for the firts time - a bit like removing successive layers from an onion skin. I find this book to be a foundation for any magik and although perhaps not easily understood in places, the more it is read, somehow the more you are allowed to understand. I now have had to return the book and am about to purchase a copy for myself. I agree with the others, it will be the best $14 I have spent for a very long time. A superb work and an absolute must for any collection worthy of the name.
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on 4 April 2011
I have followed different spiritual ways in my life, but this book seems to describe the underlying truths that unite all teachings. It is incredibly powerful condensed knowledge. Some concepts are explained so clearly, that they brought about a revolution in my thinking and I could instantly feel the difference in my life. I think the knowledge contained in this book can be utilised, and can bring about a deeper understanding of the universe and what we are. I would recommend it to any student of any way - pure universal wisdom.
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on 28 November 2014
A very intriguing booklet. This small booklet provides the reader with an understandable and reasonably thorough exegesis of the principles of hermetic thought. The book was written rather recent (1900's) however general consensus seems to be that this in no way detracts from its credability in relaying ancient hermetic wisdom. I would suggest it is a book that requires re-reading in order to truly appreciate the depth of mystical insight that is being imparted to the reader, this is no problem as it is so small. This should undoubtedly be among your collection of hermetic literature as it seems only to be second to the Corpus Hermeticum itself in importance in hermetic circles. If anything, once the end was reached I felt that there ought to be so much more. It is as if it ended all too prematurely and thus I was unsure of where to turn next. Was this tantalisation deliberate by the author/s, was this designed to inspire further exploration elswhere? Of course I cannot say, but after reading It was left with questions that needed to be answered and I felt that the book could have done this by moving on to other topics. So what I guess what I am trying to say is that it disappointingly felt incomplete.
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on 28 March 2012
This is the BOTA version of "The Kybalion", and Paul Foster Case was one of the "Three Initiates".
It is a beautifully produced version, but massively over-priced everywhere except on BOTA's website ( not sure why, probably greedy sellers trying to con people.
Wonderful and most deep knowledge, also try the Philip Deslippe latest version, some good stuff in there, especially about WWA.
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