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Western Occultism

Oct 19, 1993 05:18 PM
by Gerald Schueler

Theosophy has been predicted to form the cornerstone of a new
western occultism (by Judge and others). Exactly what this new
western occultism is, is as yet unknown. But I think that the
rudiments of it are already forming. It seems to be taking the
form of a westernized Karma Yoga in which good deeds and moral
development are emphasized and psychic development is devalued.
Certainly at least one of its tenants is that spiritual
development is a long-term effort and that there is no "quick and
easy" path toward spiritual enlightenment. The doctrines of
karma and reincarnation have a prominent place in this new
occultism as well. The Gupta Vidya Model as outlined by HPB in
The Secret Doctrine will also play a part. If nothing else, to
serve as a mental structure or framework for students to help
flesh out the myriad invisible regions that surround us. But the
final form of this occultism (if it ever materializes to the
point of being "final") has yet to be determined.

Most theosophists will agree on the basics of the universe model,
the Globes and Paths of our planetary chain and the flow of
lifewaves around it. Most will agree on the fundamental
doctrines, or "core teachings" left to us by HPB and her
teachers. But precious little has been given out concerning
techniques. Is theosophy to be merely a library of ideas? This
is exactly what Dion Fortune once claimed (she left theosophy to
found The Society of Light and to write occult novels and books
on magic). She said that theosophy provides the theory, while
magic provides the practice (she was a member of the Golden Dawn
school of magic). I will admit that I sometimes find myself
almost agreeing with her. I think that this is because the TSs
emphasize theory more than practice, except perhaps in the sense
of a Karma Yoga that I noted above. Now, traditionally in the
east, Karma Yoga has been viewed as the lowest of the yoga
schools - the easiest and safest to practice, but the slowest to
obtain results (even its strongest adherents admit that many
lifetimes are required). In our fast-paced instant-result
society, its little wonder that the turnover of membership is
high. The question is, what, if anything, in the arena of
practical application can theosophy offer beyond the safe but
long-term gratification of Karma Yoga?

For an example, theosophy emphases reincarnation, and the
literature is very detailed on the mechanics of reimbodiment. G
de Purucker, especially, goes into acute detail on the cyclic
processes of death and rebirth. But he, and everyone else, is
strangely silent on the question of how we go about remembering
our past lives. You can find several books on this subject in
any New Age section of your local bookstore, but nothing by a
theosophist. In fact, G de P takes the tack that such
remembering should be discouraged because it could cause regret
and suffering to know what we did in past lives. While I agree
that remembering past lives is not essential to our current
situation or to our spiritual development, it is exactly this
question that readers/students of reincarnation will ask. The
question then becomes, what techniques could be safely practiced
by students?

Many theosophists practice Raja Yoga, or a form of it wherein one
sits in a certain rock-steady posture and contemplates on
something for a time. I have nothing against this, and have used
it myself on occassion. But the eastern teachings regarding Raja
Yoga are not conducive to western application. I, for one, can't
get into a lotus or half-lotus position, and get headaches from
staring at the tip of my nose. Hatha Yoga is completely
impossible for me (I don't think any TS encourages Hatha Yoga
anyway). The only really effective yoga that I have tried is
Kundalini Yoga, and yes, it is dangerous, and no, I don't
especially recommend it to anyone else. But it has helped me in
a variety of ways and so I am not sorry that I have practiced it
over many years and would probably do it again (i.e., it works
for me, but may not do so for you). The question is, where
should theosophists draw the line? Where does safe practice
become unsafe practice? How unsafe is still OK? There does, in
point of fact, seem to be a direct correlation between the
inherent danger and the effectiveness of practical applications
or yogic techniques. The safest are the least effective. Until
we can devise effective techniques that are safe to use (and I
don't know of any, else I would be the first to offer them), I
suspect that this will remain an open issue.

                                         Jerry S.

PS. Nancy Coker wanted to know why past life regression has
seemed to be so useful in handling some psychological
disturbances. One answer lies in the fact that what we are today
is the product of what we were in the past. Our past, our sense
of history, gives us a sense of having roots that (rightly or
wrongly) can help add some structure (and therefore rationality)
to our otherwise seeming chaotic lives. But because of
unpleasantness, or some other reason, we often will block out
particularly troublesome memories (those that lack integration
into our current worldview). While this serves as a balm to our
wounds, it is a double-edged sword, because another part of us
will demand to know what was going on during that missing time
period. Health, at least mental health, demands memory of the
past. As long as we are embedded in time, we need a sense of our
past and of our future. In the same way, sooner or later, as we
theosophists tread the Path, a part of us will demand to know
what was going on during those past lives. When this still small
voice gets loud enough to conquer our fears, the necessary
memories will pour out automatically into our awareness and the
healing process will begin. Full Adepts are always in touch with
their past lives.

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