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four models of Theosophy

Nov 07, 1993 07:46 AM
by eldon

A number of different models regarding the place of Theosophy in the
world and who speaks authoritatively for it are held by its students.
Understanding the model that someone is using, we can better understand
what he says.

The first model is that Blavatsky is the sole authority for the
expression of Theosophy, that she is, perhaps, the avatara for this
2160-year period of humanity, that she is not only the final word for
theosophical discussions, but is it *only* word. Everyone else, in
this model, are secondary writers. No one may go beyond what she has
said, because everyone else are commentators on Blavatsky.

The second model is that after Blavatsky, there were additional
representatives for the Masters. HPB may have given the initial impulse
to the theosophical cycle, but others followed her, speaking equally
with the authority of the Masters. Where the later Teachers appear to
differ from HPB, we need to carefully study, because it is our own
lack of insight that leads us to think that there is a difference,
whereas, with deeper study and anaylsis, we would come to see that there
was no difference after all.

With the second model, there is considerable room for disagreement and
many different groups of people, on the many branches of the
theosophical family tree. I'd consider my branch the one that might be
called the Point Loma Tradition, where W.Q. Judge, K. Tingley, then
G. de Purucker, were all representatives of the Masters, and of which
any could have given out additional teachings, with equal authority
and weight, to what Blavatsky had given.

I recognize that other branches of the family tree also have similar
claims. Besant and Leadbeater, followed by others like Jinarajadasa,
Arundale, Hodson, etc, form another line of teachings. They have
their followers who equally believe that what they taught is either
consistent with Blavatsky, or if not apparently consistent, then
a revelation of deeper teachings that could be recounciled with further

In my study, I would say that there could be a few dozen major
points where the Besant/Leadbeater ideas go off in another direction,
and that their ideas drifted farther and farther away from HPB's
over the years after her death, with, say Annie Besant's earliest
books being more theosophical, and her later books having a more
psychic New-Age Christian slant.

I'm saying this from a Point Loma perspective, and I recognize that it
would not be seen as such by her students. I know that, for myself,
years ago, when I read primarily Leadbeater's books, I thought that
his works were the best that could be found, and thought that Blavatsky
was too dense to be useful to study. That was years ago, I'm different
now, and personally perfer, now, a study of Purucker, Judge, and
Blavatsky on an equal basis.

The writings of Alice Bailey, Steiner, and Rudyhar, also characterize
different schools of thought.

A third model is that Blavatsky, and everyone else that followed, were
all seekers of truth, pioneers in religion and philosophy, but without
any special authority nor special access to hidden Teachings. In this
model, they were all part of the general trend of humanity's evolution.

This model includes types of thought including the Jungian theosophist,
someone that takes the whole process of the theosophical movement as
a psychological phenomena, and discounts the content of the teachings.
This individual would say that the theosophical teachings are but one
of many types of unconscious content from our society, without value
when taken literally, but only to be approached as one would
interpret a dream.

The fourth model is that the theosophical movement is one of many
forms of New Age delusions, an escape for people unable to face the
harsh light of modern science and the empirical truth that it reveals.
In this model, Theosophy is meaningless, a jumble of mystical
nonsence, and the only fragments of truth to it are psychical
techniques and revealations, to the extent that the psychical knowledge
can be reproduced in a scientific manner. The people that populate
organizations like the Society for Psychical Research might characterize
this mentality.

Now given all these different ways of looking at Theosophy, how is
someone new to it to make sense of it all? Which appeal to authority
should be taken? HPB as the one-and-only Messanger? A succession of
Teachers from the Masters? One source of unconsciousness content of
our modern society? A compost heap with an occasional buried jewel of
the occult arts?

I certainly cannot conclusively *prove* one approach to the general
satisfaction of all. I can say that I am *personally* convienced of
the Point Loma Tradition. Other readers may express similar conviction
in other successions or models of Theosophy. It is a simple fact of
human nature that we all, perhaps, feel our own approaches are the
best, the most true, and are waiting others, over time, to come to
see the light and join us. And if they don't, we feel that they are
just not ready, and are simply at some earlier stage of development.
We are waiting for the brilliance of our ideas to win over others to
our point of view, and do not usually entertain the idea that what
the other people are saying might contain something more for us.

Given the differences of viewpoint in the world, even within the
theosophical movement itself, how do we tell the real from the unreal,
the true from the false, the wisdom teachings from the deluded
psychic babblings of a medium? This itself is quite a difficult,
though valuable and profound question, that we can, I hope, explore
more in the future.

                           Eldon Tucker (

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