Why is esoteric freemasonry frowned upon
In certain jurisdictions ?
I would counter your statement by saying that nobody has a problem with esoteric Freemasonry but what they do have is have a problem with people who wish to drag all manner of non-Masonic esoteric content into Freemasonry because it is "esoteric" with no basis in Freemasonry.
I have a stock answer that I use on Reddit that addresses it, reproduced below:
Stock response alert
- a brief explanation from my own perspective might be useful to those who don't really get it. I am often worried because many who describe themselves as having an "esoteric bent" actually mean that they are drawn to the "mystical" and/or the "occult". Unfortunately many treat these words as if they are the same thing but in actuality they are merely similar. A look at an old dictionary such as the 1828 Merriam Webster (as modern ones seem to homogenise all synonyms until they become generic) shows that these words are not the same.
ESO'TERIC, a. [Gr. interior, from within.] Private; an epithet applied to the private instructions and doctrines of Pythagoras; opposed to exoteric, or public.
MYS'TICAL, a. [L.mysticus.] Obscure; hid; secret. 1. Sacredly obscure or secret; remote from human comprehension. 2. Involving some secret meaning; allegorical; emblematical; as mystic dance; mystic Babylon.
OCCULT', a. [L. occultus, occulo; ob and celo, to conceal.] Hidden from the eye or understanding; invisible; secret; unknown; undiscovered; undetected; as the occult qualities of matter. The occult sciences are magic, necromancy, &c. Occult lines, in geometry, are such as are drawn with the compasses or a pencil, and are scarcely visible.
So now that we understand that these phrases are not actually the same thing or interchangeable, on to the point.
I suppose to understand the term 'esoteric' we have to understand that it is one side of a coin the other being 'exoteric'. The exoteric nature of anything (including Freemasonry) is there for anybody who looks at a thing, it can be summed up as the "face value" of it. In Freemasonry the exoteric is the surface layer of teachings and rites taken at face value. These teachings are themselves made clear by merely having a dictionary understanding of the language and taking what is said as it is commonly used.
Esoteric Freemasonry means that we dig a bit deeper to see if there is a possible further understanding of the ritual and practices that lies beyond the surface. It is that which is not revealed until one has been taught how to find it and then one delves deeper into the meaning and significance of the words and actions.
How do I know this is right? Well it's quite simple, during our Initiation we are presented with an esoteric lecture, it is called the working tools. Not only does it teach a particular moral lesson it is also our first lesson on how to look for the esoteric within the Rituals. We are visually and mentally presented with the implements of the builders trade and told what they meant (exoteric) to the builders that employed them, this is followed by what they mean to us as Speculative Masons, that is their esoteric (understood only by Free & Accepted Masons) meaning!