Theosophy and theosophy
Jan 11, 1994 09:47 AM
by K. Paul Johnson
There appears to be a semantic confusion behind recent
exchanges between Eldon and Jerry H-E. Since Eldon's comments
seem obliquely responsive to mine about HPB vs AAB and the role
of experience in the former's development of her teachings--
I'd like to try to offer a way out of the disagreement.
Theosophy with a capital T is generally used to signify the
body of teachings associated with the modern Theosophical
movement, particularly HPB but as developed by G de P, CWL
etc. Like most of you, I have definite opinions about which
"successors" are worth studying, but in the world's
understanding it's all Theosophy.
With a small t, theosophy is divine wisdom, the universal truth
inherent in being itself, as valid on any other planet or for
any other sentient being as for humans who speak in languages
that include words like `theosophy.'
When I wrote that HPB had an incredibly rich life filled with
encounters with teachers of various traditions, and that the
sum total of these experiences determined to a large degree her
teachings, I'm talking about the historical matrix from which
When Eldon says that Theosophy is somehow above and prior to
all individual traditions which have existed in history, he's
talking about that transcendent essential cosmic truth beyond
space and time-- theosophy in my terminology.
Jerry's response tends to focus, as I do, on Theosophy as
something with a specific historical emergence, that can be
defined in terms of the space and time in which it developed.
But these are not either/or choices, and we need to focus on
the relation between the two with a clear understanding that
they are not the same, but that (to paraphrase HPB) Theosophy
is a shadow on this plane of illusion of theosophy which
I recognize that HPB and her teachers were in touch with
transcendent theosophy, but as Eldon says one would have to be
an adept oneself to know how much any specific tradition
(including Theosophy) truly reflects eternal divine wisdom.
Where we get into big trouble-- and make Theosophy an enemy of
theosophy-- is when we confuse the two to such an extent that
what we end up saying is: the specific collection of teachings
given by HPB from her own teachers IS in fact the universal
cosmic wisdom and therefore superior to anything else ever said
by anyone. That's total BS, a disservice to theosophy and to
Theosophy, and an attitude HPB would deplore.
My first instinct in reading Eldon's comment about taking HPB
on faith was to totally reject it. In fact, I do not take any
Theosophical teaching on faith and think she would be horrified
if anyone did. But on reflection I realized that where faith
comes in is the basic faith that there is such a thing as
theosophy. That cannot be proven, we just have to have an
inner feeling guiding us toward it. Perhaps the best
definition of a theosophist is anyone who believes there is
such a thing as theosophy.
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