The Founder / Interviews

Capital Magazine – The Hermetic Phenomena

Dr. Salas Sommer, a Chilean, better known as John Baines, is a “best selling” author.  His books are a sensation in far away and remote countries. In his books, he states that we are asleep, that we are the slaves of our brains which are controlled by animal impulses. But, thankfully, he also states that if we work hard enough, we will be able to attain the highest peak of evolution. Thank goodness for that!

By Daniel Trujillo

For most people the name Dario Salas  Sommer refers to a traditional college in Santiago. Some cultured individuals are aware that the name of the college is Dario Salas because it pays homage to a prestigious educator from the first part of the last century who reformed the educational system by opening education up to all social levels. However, in such different countries as Bulgaria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, that name is known because of the grandson of the same name – a best selling philosopher who is 68 years of age and who has published literary works already translated into several languages under the pen name of John Baines.

This international popularity is very interesting since his philosophy originates in pre-pharaonic Egypt, from the wisest of the wise, called Hermes Trismegistus, hence the name “Hermeticism.”  For this reason, the works of this author can be found on the shelves of bookstores either under esotericism or under self-help.

Moreover, and this point is not the least of his reasons for  passing unnoticed, he founded the Institute for Hermetic Philosophy more than thirty years ago which imparts his teachings and also has branches in Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Spain, United States, Russia and Chile, where the Institute’s  headquarters is located.

For some, this School and its Master are nothing more than a weird sect with a guru. But this idea begins to crumble merely by taking a look at any of John Baines’ books. Totally absent from his books are magical formulae or fancy beliefs related to astral travels, telepathy or communications with angels. In fact, when we asked him about the subject of reincarnation with our director’s reluctance because this is not a welcome subject for her), he seriously responds “it’s the same for me as well.” What kind of mysticism are you interested in then? In a risky attempt to make a summary of it, one could say that he simply states that spirituality is something that one has to work on in the same way that an athlete trains to run a marathon, that is, in accordance with totally scientific, natural laws of physics. This is a rather different concept of esotericism from the one available in the overstocked market of superstition.

Since 1965 when he published his debut work The Secret Science, John Baines –Dario Salas Sommer- has given interviews only on rare occasions. This interview with our magazine (Capital) is an exception.  The meeting takes place at his residence in La Reina Alta. Neither fetishes nor mysterious icons decorate his surroundings. If one expects to see an eccentric figure, one will be disappointed because his appearance is nothing special. True, his hair is a little long, but this is something rather common with such figures. In the end,  he has a Masters in Philosophy –he studied in the United States-  and he has graduated as a movie director from the Hollywood Institute in Los Angeles (currently, in his free time, he is making a low budget movie, Valentina’s Awakening,  but remarks that he would like to direct a more ambitious project as well). However, it is clear for him that academic education was not essential for him and the many different jobs he had during his youth, such as being a welder, taxi driver, bus driver and truck driver, were of greater importance. He attributes his Hermetic knowledge, however, to a gift from God.

--- I don’t need to hide this. My mother always said that I only started to laugh when I was 11 years old and that I was a completely introverted child. I remember being 4 or 5 years old and thinking about things that no one thinks about at that age. That’s why I say that these things are gifts from God. Mozart was a composer at the age of 5. Every person is good at something. Why can’t I be good at this myself? ---

He remembers his grandfather, Dario Salas Diaz as a gentleman “with great presence.” He died when he was only a child but, he affirms, “for certain he passed on to me a very well defined genetic inheritance.

The Automatic Man

“Since your books talk about spirituality, how can you define this concept?”

--- It is rather interesting that the concept of spirituality doesn’t exist on the cultural level even though it is so important. Spirituality is related to being a priest, to becoming a monk, or to doing charity, but nobody relates it to internal work aimed at development and perfection. When one talks about spirituality, people get lost. Some people even think about spiritism. The truth is that to reach spirituality is very difficult; it is a work that takes many years. This work is characterized by certain faculties or abilities that the person acquires, and these faculties aren’t paranormal or para-psychological at all. They refer to much more simple things, for example, to have dominion over oneself, to control one’s emotions, to be able to communicate better with people, to understand others better, to know how to forgive, to be generous.


“Does this have something to do with education or is it something innate?”

--- Look, it has been totally proven by neurophysiology that the human brain is mechanical. Steven Pinker, an MIT professor and author of The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, states that there is no difference between the human brain and a machine. So, to be spiritual, means to develop something different and to stop being an automaton. If we develop ourselves spiritually, we will be able to overcome negative emotions, depression, impulses such as rage, overwhelming reactions, which are all recorded by our animal brain...

Whether we like it or not, and as Nicanor Parra said, we are a mixed sausage of both angel and beast. But John Baines goes further for the doctoral thesis that he is working on and proposes that the next step for mankind with reference to evolution is to individually assume that spirituality is a natural obligation. And, how this can be achieved?  By practicing what he defines as moral physics: the correct energetic harmony between our behavior and the laws of Nature. This theme is broadly dealt with in his latest title Morals for the 21st Century.

This last book is a hit. Bulgarian National Television, for example, contracted local satellite services to have a direct interview with the author. In Saudi Arabia, this book was able to pass through strict Muslim censorship rules and there were some who placed it just slightly below The Koran.

“Why does observing a specific code of moral behavior have to be an obligation? Where then does individual freedom lie?”

--- “What do people understand by the concept of freedom?  Something rather capricious. People presume to be free but, if their brains are automatic, what kind of liberty can one talk about if people are programmed? Is your computer possibly free? We have a hard drive in our heads that is not downloaded by us. It has been downloaded by society, by the media, movies, parents, others’ opinions, etc. One’s only freedom is to overcome oneself. I sustain that if a person is not spiritual in life, inevitably, his/her life is going to be a disaster.”


Dr. Salas Sommer not only states that the human species is out of synch with natural law, but that the human species is asleep and is enslaved.  He exposed this concept in his book The Stellar Man (1970) through the metaphor that we are connected to a central computer just like in the movie The Matrix.

---Imagine for a moment what would happen if, out of the blue, everyone would develop consciousness and, as a result, be immune to advertising. The system would collapse. That’s when one realizes that the world needs brainwashed and obedient people in order to continue functioning. It is a savage level of culture and evolution. We get shocked when we read the way in which slaves were treated in the United States but the reality is that those slaves were very aware of their condition and had the chance therefore to aim at freedom. It is worse today. We are slaves of the financial system but we cannot run away because we are not aware of it. The system makes you get into debt, borrow money for various purchases, and therefore, spend the rest of your lives working hard in order to pay the interest on what you have spent. This is the origin of poverty. People lie when they say that poverty can be blamed on the big companies since people themselves also ask for loans from the banks.

Can we free ourselves from the system?

--- “Maybe the individual can, but this is not a question for the species. We cannot think of saving everyone; only the individual can save himself/herself and then help others if he/she wants to, but it is not a question of obliging anyone.

“Is this what you refer to when you talk about maintaining an energetic harmony between human actions and natural laws?”

-- “The Universe is all music. There is a universal rhythm, and if you behave arbitrarily and do not harmonize with that rhythm, you isolate yourself and are destroyed. It is the same as when you don’t follow the law, and you don’t obey authority, and you do whatever you want, you will inevitably end up by destroying yourself. We get mentally and physically sick because we are not in harmony with the universal rhythm, simply because we give in to our instinctive part. Of course entertainment and pleasure are fine, but pleasure doesn’t lead us to happiness since it cannot be accumulated as virtue can. That’s why I say that “morality” is profitable. If you are a good worker, if you are honest, if want to give others the best of your work, you are never going to get fired or find yourself without money. To be successful, spiritual work must rule over materialism.  One cannot pretend to be spiritual if one is not punctual, if one doesn’t keep one’s word, or if one is not organized.

“You also say that Morality is a powerful tool for success.”

--- “Exactly.  Think how important morals are for companies. It doesn’t matter what your work is, for example, or how small or big you are, if you use your moral values to provide a good service, and instead of giving 100%, you give others 110%, I assure you that you will become a millionaire.


Dr. Salas Sommer’s statements are esoterically based, since when he speaks about natural laws, he doesn’t refer only to traditional scientific parameters. He refers also to the principles that according to Hermeticism rule all of creation. These laws are the basis of the classic esoteric book called “The Kyballion.” These principles are the central theme of his entire work and form the basis of study in the schools he directs.

“You say that being spiritual requires work. Does Hermeticism know of any magical formula in order to skip that effort?”

--- Ideas like this one are precisely the kind of harm that false esotericism has done.  Personally, I believe that 98% of existing esoteric movements are the worst since they use a language that is truthful but they don’t understand what they say nor do they fulfill the purposes of what it means to be spiritual. People look to them for personal power; power to manipulate others but not to overcome themselves which is precisely what it means to be spiritual.

“Then what does Esotericism mean?”

--- Is not the most profound reality perhaps esoteric? The world is esoteric. Like it or not, the world is Hermeticism, whether you do or don’t like the director of the magazine, the President or even the Pope! The world is esoteric. Women are esoteric to men, each person is esoteric to himself or herself, children are esoteric to their parents, parents are esoteric to their children, politicians are all esoteric among themselves since no one understands anyone …True spiritualism is searching for that part of reality that we don’t regularly see just because we are cerebrally limited.  Hermeticism offers the possibility to enlarge one’s ability to see reality since the brain is not an instrument of perfect knowledge and doesn’t allow us to see reality as it is.


--- Human beings were made incomplete by God in order for each individual to become responsible for completing the task.

“This is what you think, but why should what you say be the truth when so many other theories exist?”

--- I don’t want to convince anybody that this is the truth. It’s all the same to me. One of the laws of Hermeticism says that we cannot convince anyone and that each person has to research and do whatever they want with their own theory. And if this theory works for that person to become successful, for getting rid of stress, for having better communication with their partner, well then … that’s good.

“Then, why are you writing and why you did you found a School?”

--- What one has achieved, one has to try to share with others, even if no one recognizes this. And anyway why should they?

“Do you aspire to become a universal philosopher?”

--- No. I aspire to nothing

“But do you feel yourself part of a tradition?”

--- No. I feel myself as part of a tradition of philosophers who are unknown. It is much more agreeable to be unknown. One has a better quality of life. That’s precisely why I chose to write under a pseudonym. It’s a question of character. I am not interested in being famous. I prefer anonymity. But, if at any moment I become famous and as a result I am able to help others, well, I am ready for that too.

“Does this mean that there is no plan behind  the various editions and translations of your books?”

--- No. This all came about little by little. In the case of Bulgaria, for example, the books were translated after a Bulgarian visiting New York found my books and wanted to bring them to his country. I don’t even know how many books have been sold.

“ What do you think about those who say that the Institute for Hermetic Philosophy is a sect united by weird rites?”

--- Well, people are the owners of their own heads and so it’s not hard to guess where they get that from. There are always envious people. There are people who believe in having a monopoly on the truth; some others presume that we are atheists. But ours is an institution where there is absolute tolerance in every sense of the word and absolute freedom for people to quit whenever they want to. Each Institute branch is independent and has its own assets. I only intervene with regard to the Teachings. Themes are the same for everybody since spiritual life is the same for people whether they are white, black, mixed, poor, or rich. But I don’t feel that I own anything, not even this house, nothing at all. I consider myself an administrator of things, which in the end is the same for everyone. And it is nicer in this way because one feels freer.

Titles and quantity

Books from John Baines (The Secret Science, The Stellar Man, HypsoConsciousness, Depression and Anguish, The Science of Love, Does Woman Exist?, The Development of the Inner World, and Morals for the 21st Century) have been published in Spanish, English, German, Italian, Latvian, Portuguese, Bulgarian and Russian. And the sales in every market confirm the level of seriousness with which the books are being received: South America 111,500 copies, Russia 28,000 copies, USA 35,000 copies, Spain 15,000 copies, Bulgaria 8,000 copies, Germany 6,000 copies, Italy 3,000 copies, Latvia and Portugal 3,000 copies. The picture correspond to the last edition of Morals….in Arabic.

Dr. Salas as Consul

Dr. Salas Sommer has added another acknowledgement  to his unique journey. Russia has appointed him as its scientific consul for all of Latin America and this nomination will be made official by a Russian delegation who will visit the country specifically for that purpose. The award ceremony will take place at the end of September at the University of Chile to which the Chilean president has been invited.

This consular representation means representing the following organizations in the region,  the Academy of Sciences and Arts of The Union of the Russian Federation, and the associated Vernadzcovo Award given by  the Academy of Russian Encyclopedias (ARE) which distinguishes personalities who excel in their contributions to the development and perfection of humanity. The delegation coming to Chile will be comprised of, among others, Serguei Artamonov, Vice President of ARE and ANIS, and Vladimir Platonov, member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and President of the Moscow Parliament (DUMA).

Print page
Send to friend
Website optimized for 1024x768 px. for Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows, Safari 4.0 on Mac / Windows, and Mozilla Firefox 3.0 on Windows, or higher versions