Exoteric religions tell you that a dogma can set you free.
Esoteric religious thought instructs you to explore and discover.
The best parts of esoteric thought are the hermeticists, the Hindus, and the Perennialists.
If religions were more like those... we'd all join.
But they're not very individualist/populist. More like solitary and contemplative. That's not a big seller in Idiocracy-land.
I see what you did there.
As another data point, there are a great deal of esoteric Christian paths to explore. Meister Eckhart springs immediately to mind. William Blake espoused a pseudo-Xtianity. On the modern lighter side you have "almost-not-Christian" Emerson, and a more hard line in C.S. Lewis.
I think you made a good distinction. Popular religions tell you to be one of them
, while esoteric ones explore how to be
. Their respective numbers and influence is a good reflection of the human population.
What would be interesting is to explore these two human trends, which this umbrella of sites does from a political perspective. Do they run concurrently with little interaction? It sure seems this way, with occasional breaches this way or that.