Open mindness, Doctrines, Dogmas and Hashish
Sep 25, 1993 00:26 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
I'm glad to see your comments concerning open mindedness. It
is indeed easy to reject ideas that conflict with ones own, and
pass people off as somehow off the track. I would hope that the
participants to this board are here for the purpose of mutual
enlightenment in the pursuit of truth in whatever form it appears.
We all are unique in our experiences, and the expression of our
view points can shed many different lights upon any subject. Yet we
are also enough alike that we can share and benefit from each
other's experiences and views. I feel that, this open minded
sharing of ideas implies two responsibilities: First, when
presenting information, we have an obligation to others to be very
careful about its accuracy; and when presenting opinions, they
should be clearly stated as such. Our second responsibility was
already well presented by Eldon--to benefit each other, we must be
open to ideas that may conflict with our own. Such a confrontation
is an invitation for us to not only critically examine both
compatible and incompatible ideas, but also our own. The likelihood
is that the truth lies somewhere between the two.
I hope this doesn't sound too pedagogical, but I feel that it
needs to be said.
To John Mead:
I think your paraphrase of Michael Meyers' point beautifully
touches the spirit of the theosophical movement. The movement as
always been with us, but as H.P.B. demonstrates in her introduction
to THE SECRET DOCTRINE, that its doctrines, which she here calls
"the Secret Doctrine of the Archaic ages" (p. xxii, orig. ed.),
cyclically appeared and disappeared in different cultures through
the millenniums, and reappeared in the 1870's because of literary
efforts and scholarship made earlier in that same century.
Concerning your statement: "There can be *no* "Doctrine",
since to create a "Doctrine" is to form a Dogma, doomed to
inaccuracies and the ultimate transgression of Truth." --There are
many relevant quotes showing Blavatsky to say that the Theosophical
Society has no dogmas (save the first object). An example will be
found in THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, p. 60, where she writes: "What is
meant by the Society having no tenets or doctrines of its own is,
that no special doctrines or beliefs are OBLIGATORY to its
members..." But I doubt that you will find a quote by her saying
that there are no doctrines. In fact, on p. 218 of the same book,
in response to the question of what is the purpose of joining the
Theosophical Society, she answers: "Many are interested in our
doctrines and feel instinctively that they are truer than those of
any dogmatic religion." So you see, the Theosophical Society of
H.P.S.'s day had doctrines but no dogmas.
The best treatment of this subject that I have seen was
published in a short editorial by Boris de Zirkoff in THEOSOPHIA,
Spring 1976. Boris spent fifty years collecting and editing
H.P.B.'s collected writings into the 15 volumes published by T.P.H.
This gave him a unique opportunity to have a much deeper knowledge
of H.P.B.'s writings and the Theosophical Society of her day than
most. I will be happy to make this article available to anyone
I'm well aware of a commonly held position in the Adyar
Theosophical Society (I have been a member of this organization for
30 years) that Theosophy is undefinable and there are no doctrines.
But since H.P.B. expounded on doctrines in her five books and
almost 1000 articles, and identified them as such--a fact easily
confirmable by even a casual reading of her writings, I find that
this position inevitably creates confusion among its membership.
The Pasadena Theosophical Society and U.L.T. (I also hold
membership in these organizations) hold the idea that H.P.B. had
doctrines as a given; and the acceptance of H.P.B.'s doctrines not
being a condition of membership is also a given. So I agree with
you that the three theosophical organizations have no dogmas, but
only the Adyar Theosophical Society has no teachings.
To Jerry Schuler:
Concerning your statement that H.P.B. smoked hashish: It is
true that biographers have repeated this about her as if it were an
undisputed fact, but if you look into the background of it, the
situation becomes less clear, though not impossible. The
accusations were clearly denied on several occasions by Olcott, who
had daily contact with Blavatsky from 1874, and by Besant who was
with her on and off from 1889. If Blavatsky experimented with
hashish, it would have been prior to mid 1874. I think it needs to
be kept in mind, however, that she publicly opposed the use of
drugs. In THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY she says: "Wine and spirit drinking
is only less destructive to the development of the inner powers,
than the habitual use of hashish, opium, and similar drugs" (262).
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