style of writing versus its content
Jan 11, 1994 12:53 PM
Jerry H-E and Arvind:
I'd agree that it's probably time that you start looking at Bailey's
teachings proper. It is in the teachings themselves, and not the
manner of writing, that we can explore the similarities and differences.
I would not agree that quotes would be needed to interest the academic
world. It really depends upon what the purpose of the quotes is for.
Using citations is almost a ritual in writing academic papers; one is
supposed to throw in a few dozen references, from one's growing
collection, to somehow show the value of one's material.
The purpose of a citation is to tell you where you can go to read
further on a particular topic, or to get additional information on
a particular point being made. It is a sort of cross-reference between
different works or papers.
A work of philosophy is great because of the unique, penetrating
insights into life that it communicates. And if it is written in the
style that the Mysteries of old were communicated, then it would
revisit the same subject many times, from different angles, and not
try to exhausively deal with a single topic at a time.
I find Purucker's writings especially helpful in this regard. Some
were based upon articles in "Theosophical Forum", although most were
based upon talks. Books like "Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy"
were based upon series of E.S. classes that he held. The style of their
writing is their strength, and I don't find the absence of extensive
footnotes and citations to be a handicap at all. The materials are
direct in their approach, spiritually direct, inspirational, and
capable of communicating Theosophy is a way that cannot otherwise
be accomplished. Far deeper truths can be conveyed in this manner
than in a more scholarly, academic style of presentation.
It's true that Purucker is not unique in claiming to have his work
supported by the Masters. Key figures in the different Theosophical
Societies had similar claims, as well as others outside any T.S.
Some of the claims may have been mistaken; certain ones, like
Purucker's, I'd personally consider to be true. But it's a matter for
each individual to evaulate and come to his own conclusions. The
fact that all claims are not true does not mean that all are therefore
false. Some claims are true. A situation does not cease to be real
merely because it is difficult to prove to others! If this were the
case, we might as well put aside our theosophical books, for they
deal more directly with the unprovable, the difficult to know, the
truths going beyond our ordinary lives.
It is important to make a distinction between the style of writing and
the content. We are fortunate if there are some deep metaphysical
truths that can be communicated to us. That happens by setting up
the right conditions in us, in our study, for us to arrive at the
ideas ourselves. The method of teaching is to bring us to come to an
understanding from within, rather than just giving us some words to
learn and quote to others.
A Mystery Teaching will not be proven to someone, academic or not,
with any number of citations. It cannot even be communicated, using
simple language, in a plain, straight-forward manner. An attempt to
do so will often fall on deaf ears; people aren't ready to consider
much of the Esoteric Philosophy.
How one approaches "The Secret Doctrine" and other theosophical
writings depends upon what one believes it to consist of. Is "The
Secret Doctrine" an intellectual product of H.P. Blavatsky? We can
say that it is, in the sense that she wrote the book, with help,
guidance, and perhaps corrections by her Teachers. The physical
book, the actual words on paper, came from her hand, and were
phrased in her mind. But is that all there is to it?
I would say that there is much more to our theosohical literature
than would be found with an exoteric reading. There is much more to
it. The intellect is needed, and plays an important role in the
study of Theosophy, but alone, by itself, its use is not enough.
One comes up to a barrier and can go no further.
In one's study, a form of contemplation is needed, a form of
intellectual meditation, and something more as well. And this
takes Theosophy from being just another metaphysical system into
a real religious philosophy, with tangible results for those whom
For myself, I prefer books that are more direct in their teaching of
the esoteric doctrines, because I'm looking to learn and experience
them. I leave the academic and historic aspect of things to those
whose interests go in that direction.
The approach that we take in helping others, in public work, is
entire another matter. How do we choose to clothe the grand concepts in
words that appeal to western thinkers? References, citations, putting
the teachings in a historic context, are all helpful. Bringing others
to an initial introduction to the Teachings, people needing some
reassurance that there's something worth of study, is entirely another
My approach to writing a popular book on the subject would probably be
different that then type of book that I'd turn to for a deeper study,
because I don't need to be convinced of anything, I only want an
opportunity to learn more. The writings of W.Q. Judge and G. de
Purucker help me in this regard, they help with a more direct study,
they form an excellent complement to those of Blavatsky's.
Eldon Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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