Jan 14, 1994 07:59 AM
The idea of the astral light, in which information can be obtained
from elsewhere in the world, does bear a correspondence to the new
world-wide information access provided by the Internet. I'd like to
suggest that science, technology, and the shaping of culture is
driven by ideas.
When ideas are first introduced into our religion and philosophy, they
affect how we view the world, and start to show up in our discoveries
and the way that we shape and fashion things.
The ideas introduced into western consciousness by the Mahatmas may
have been selective, with some specific affects in mind, and things
that are showing up as scientific discoveries now may have first
appeared as ideas of philosophy presented by HPB?
Speaking of "weighing and measuring", there's an aspect of this in
any of our principles. We can certainly do so with physical objects.
With our sense perception, we size up our appreciation of the
appearance of a sunset. We do so with our feelings, our desires,
and our thoughts. And there's a similar sense of doing so with our
moral consciousnes, our consciousness of connectedness, relatedness,
direct insight. When we "weight and measure" something, we are
sizing it up, sorting it out as an experience of a certain type, and
giving it a place in our perception or appreciation of life. A good
example of doing so with the mind is in seeing an impressionistic
painting, apparently a splash of colors on the canvas, then making
sense of it and perceiving an intelligible image.
With the moral consciousness, we are perceiving things in terms of
direct relationship, we are experiencing life through our connectedness
with others. We are acutely aware of the rightness or wrongness of
anything we do, of the impact of our actions on the other and on all
of life, because we are functioning in that part of ourselves in which
that connectedness resides.
I would associate this consciousness with the sense of choice, because
that sense resides in the highest part of ourselves, above and beyond
any forms of perception, and that highest part is Buddhi. Atman is
universal, not particular to ourselves, the same in all and everything.
Buddhi, though, is where we first manifest ourselves as distinct from
the whole. In Buddhi, we are aware of life through our connectedness
to everything. We are one step removed from oneness, and we are still
one step short of Manas, wherein we have the sense of distinct,
personal selfhood, apart from others and the rest of life.
As to the word *doubt*, I'd agree it is important if by doubt we mean
a continual self-examination, and re-examination of things that we
take for granted. But I would not agree if there's a sense of the
cynical, of the denial of the possibility of knowing higher things.
I'd say that it is possible, and happens, and the purpose of any sense
of doubt is to goad us into achieving still deeper understandings of
life, to goad us into continual progress, rather than to allow ourselves
to stagnate in a sense of self-satisfied complacency. Doubt, like
boredom, are teachers, in the same sense as enemies are: they challenge
us to grow and change.
There are a number of reasons for the differences in terms used. One
is that there is not a hard-and-fast single definition, or meaning for
many of them. Some terms like the seven principles referred to a number
of different teachings. When I talk about one of the meanings, you may
disagree with me because of wanting the terms to refer to another of
their meanings, whereas both our ideas, perhaps, have a place in the
The terms are confusing to new students until the students learn that
there are multiple possible meanings behind them, and that they may
be presented with different slants at different times. The intent in
such a presentation is to prevent the student from merely building some
new molds of mind, and to learn to think for himself.
Regardless of the words that we may choose to use, the important thing
is to keep the idea clear as we write, and to craft our words in such
a way that we have the best chance of communicating that idea. A
difference in terms used can readily be forgiven when the same
understanding is being expressed and communicated to the reader.
In our discussions, the more that we all write, the greater the
opportunity for disagreement. There's bound to be a certain percentage
of disagreement, but there are different ways to deal with it. It may
be possible to prove or disprove certain points using authoritative
quotes. But some quotes could be argued out of context, or counter
quotes found. And there is only so much that is directly stated.
When I hear something that I would find hard to agree with, I'd
find greater value in a different approach. Quotes would be helpful,
but the most important defense of the idea is in terms of a discussion
of the philosophy. I'd want someone to justify an idea in terms of
the overall philosophy, to show how it fits in with what we have
learned, how it is consistent with the Teachings.
That process would lead the writer to better understand the subject,
and the readers to more fully understand his point of view. This
process allows for the ideas to grow, to be reshaped to a degree, to
move in the direction of the philosophy. It is a different approach
than take in a debate, where a point is proven, the case is closed,
and the loser has to shut up and sit down. This approach emphasizes the
learning process, and draws the participants away from taking hard
positions and getting their thoughts too crystalized.
As to knowing by experience, I'd say that there are different kinds of
experience. We can have the experiences of the senses, we can go
somewhere and see with our eyes, hear with our ears, touch with our
hands. We can have the experience of the rational mind, where we go to
an understanding of something by following well-known paths of logic.
And we can have the experience of spiritual vision, as Purucker has
described it, a form of knowing that is different than the way that we
typically use manas.
How we typically use the mind might be compared to a sense of touch,
whereas with spiritual vision, it would compare to the sense of sight.
We know things by directing our sight at them, without having to
arrive at them by going to them. We are not then limited by our lack
of experience, but only by how penetrating our insight may be.
If we consider these as three ways that we can know about things, we
could know of the other planes by embodied experiences thereon, in
some form or body on them. We could know of them following a scholarly
study of the spiritual literature of the world. Or we could know of
them by using a new, a higher form of *knowing*.
I'm not sure that I'd classify much of what I write as mystical, as
opposed to practical or intellectual. It is possible to consider
Theosophy as simply another system of thought to be studied and
documented. But it is not mystical to consider Theosophy as true, and
to act accordingly.
We may have experiences that we cannot communicate to everyone that we
meet, but that does not mean that those experiences are of the
inexpressible. When, with Theosophy, we don't just *read it*, but we
*do it*, we're not necessarily entering upon experiences that are
intimately personal and that go beyond words.
We have to be careful in talking about what comes next, in talking about
what comes as the next step after we read and study our books like we'd
approach any other subject. When we call that next step as being
mystical, and we equate it with mystical experiences that people have
in general, we're putting up a blind, and concealing something that is
Eldon Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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