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Theosophical Schools

Sep 17, 1993 07:57 PM
by Gerald Schueler

I agree with Don's assessment, that current theosophical schools
(ie TSs) attract people in different stages of development.  But
lets not start thinking that any one school is "more developed"
than another school.

I was told once by Grace Knoche (current Leader, Pasadena TS)
that the different TS schools were a matter of emphasis.  Each
school/society emphasizes different theosophical teachings.  Each
thus faces theosophy in a somewhat different direction, but all
will agree that theosophy, per se, includes all of these
directions within its overall umbrella.  I agree with this view,
and can see that by varying the emphasis, each will attract
different people.  (One of my concerns is that virtually none of
the current theosophical schools seems to be able to hold its
members for any length of time, and all experience a rather high
turnover rate, for whatever reason, although each has its small
"hard core" of devoted members).  Thus I think that most
differences between the schools are a matter of emphasis and
expression, and it is not a question of some right and others
wrong (else we must pose the questions, which one is wrong, and
why?).  For one thing, each one accepts the validity of HPB's
works and the Mahatma Letters, and thus each is built on the same
basic foundation (at least I think this is true).  I would say,
however, that excepting HPB and her Mahatmas, I haven't found one
single writer/teacher who is 100% right (meaning of course, 100%
in agreement to my own worldview).  But I consider this to be an
individual thing rather than a school thing.  And so I find at
least some disagreement with all subsequent theosophical writers
(but usually very small points).  I don't know if anyone else
shares this problem or not, but someone (Einstein, I think) once
said that there are as many religions in the world as there are

With this in mind, I can see where Don is coming from.  The
THEOS.HLP file emphasizes the Besant/Leadbeater school (if we can
call it that?).  In this sense, I would like to refine my comment
to:  the title "Beliefs and Teachings" should be changed to "Some
Theosophical Teachings" or something similar, so as to not give
the impresssion that the four areas addressed are the "main"
theosophical teachings (also, I don't like the word "beliefs"
associated with theosophy, but this is probably my own personal

I like Eldon's characterization of modern theosophy as "a form of
Jnana Yoga" and I think that it hits the mark.  Here we can see a
point where the past discussions between Don and myself can come
together.  The thrust of Jnana Yoga is to read, study, and
contemplate ideas.  This takes the human mind up to a certain
point (a ring-pass-not, if you will) towards the spiritual
realms, but no further.  After continuing with mental
machinations long enough, the mind becomes exhausted and sinks
back into itself (the metaphor often used is a dog chasing its
own tail in never-ending circles).  Then the intuitive idea dawns
that spiritual reality lies beyond/above our mental processes (ie
the spiritual plane is above the mental plane).  Yoga teaches us
that when the thinking processes stop, rather than the death or
annihilation that one might expect, spiritual light shines into
our consciousness in much the same way that sunlight shines onto
the earth between clouds.  Thus if a theosophist studies the
Secret Doctrine, for example, until becoming mentally exhausted
from the effort, the light of spiritual truth, which is beyond
words and beyond our everyday thinking processes, will dawn (Zen
calls this experience satori).  Meanwhile, most of us are not
Adepts, and we are trapped in our mental processes and we must
learn to deal with them.  In other words, for most of us, our
ideas and beliefs are very important and need to be communicated
to others.  We tend to think that our worldview is right, while
other views are wrong.  While to some extent this may be true, we
have to remember the Hindu metaphor of the three blind men
describing an elephant - truth can be seen in different ways, all
of which are valid relative to the observer.

Eldon poses the question, "Do their respective personality flaws
reveal their philosophies to be invalid?"  To this I can only
repeat that you cannot tell a book from its cover (you shouldn't
judge the validity of what someone says by their physical
appearance nor by their social habits) and "by their words, you
shall know them" (look at what a person is saying and judge that,
not the person because no one is perfect).  HPB, like most
Messengers, was somewhat antisocial (because society itself is a
constricting human convention, albeit a necessary one, and
occassionally needs to be tweaked).  She did, however, predict
that modern 20th century science would verify much of what she
taught.  It has done that.


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