what can we communicate?
Jan 16, 1994 08:06 AM
Theosophy starts with simple truths. Fit for a child, these beautiful
thoughts bright light and hope to people without regard for age or
Theosophy does not stop there. It has its depths. The Teachings go
deeper and deeper, past the point where the student can talk about them
to most people. And still, it goes yet deeper.
There is not a dicotomy, not a simple breakdown of the philosophy into
two opposites: the intellectual, citeable, written materials on the
one hand, and unspeakable, intensely-personal mystical experiences on
the other hand.
With Theosophy, there is a spectrum or continuum of levels of
understanding. Every Teaching has deeper meanings, without end. There
is never a time where a concept is nailed down, known with certainity,
and can be expressed in a final form. We have to be careful to not
attempt to define Theosophy to only consist of what we personally know!
In its study, changes are needed in the consciousness and life of the
student to progress beyond a certain point. A purely intellectual
study of the literature is only the first stage of understanding.
This study is not the only form of knowing, and the following stages
are not arbitrary, personal, mystical experiences.
The theosophical teachings, as a body of literature--and hopefully,
in places, accompanied with groups of people whom study and have some
understanding of them--are a form of the Lesser Mysteries. They
represent an very real approach to the Path. Granted, there may be
groups of people calling themselves Theosophists that might as well be
Baptists or Jungians, for what little they know of the actual doctrines,
but this dbes not deny the existence of the real thing, of the
presence, in some places, of the Mysteries.
The first three initiations consist of learning, of study, with perhaps
some aspect of ritual, but are all done here on the earth, in our
personalities. It is only with the fourth initiation, at the Winter
Solstice, when experiences are had out-of-the-body, and the
consciousness of the individuality is being awakened in new and
There is a general manner of describing these first three steps. The
first is an intellectual acquaintance with the Teachings. We have the
potential of taking this step by our study of the books we have.
The second is a form of contact with our inner teachers, with the
theosophical thought current, with our ability to know and have original
thought on Theosophy. This faulty is sometimes called spiritual sight or
The third is where we are teaching, sharing our insights, entering into
a stage of communicating an understanding of the philosophy. With this
step, we have gone beyond being an listener, and have become a teacher
in our own, small way.
Each of these three initiations is an opening into a new form of
experience, but there are considerable individual differences in
capacity and personal development in these three areas of life.
One can be a great intellect, and have highly developed skills in
scholastic inquiry and criticism, or have trouble reading. One can have
tremendous original insights, or never be able to go far beyond what
he's read. And one can communicate grand truths, and touch and affect
the lives of many people, or can be continually misunderstood and
ineffectual in his attempts at expression.
Regardless of one's stage, and what one has experienced, there are
some ideas, insights, and teachings that cannot be shared. And there
are a number of reasons why the sharing cannot happen.
When we say that there are some things that can't or shouldn't be
put into words, we have to qualify our statement. We have to consider
our own personal stage of development, our relationship to the ideas or
experiences that we would communicate, and the person with whom we would
Let's consider ourselves, and the affect that a particular communication
may have on us. Our understanding of certain of the Teachings may be
intimately tied up with our spiritual development, and the experiences
of life at the current time. We may not be ready to speak of certain
ideas at a particular moment.
The act of *prematurely* attempting to define in words, certain
experiences and understandings we are having, may harm the process.
Certain truths and insights need to be well-established in our lives
before we can talk about them. This process can be adversely affected
if talked about at an early stage.
In the study of Theosophy, we reach the point where we engage an
intellectual and spiritual process. This process is a new aspect of
life, a form of initiation, and it is much more real, and quite
different than any physical or psychical activity. It can be engaged
by a sincere Theosophist, and there have been various estoeric groups
seeking to foster it.
Consider the process of learning to type. We learn the position of
the letters on the keyboard, and think of each finger reaching for the
next letter that we'd time. But the time comes when a change happens
in our minds, where we no longer think of the individual letters, but
rather of the words that we would type, and of the sentences as we
compose them. There has been a change in our understanding of typing,
we have engaged a new process and no longer type in the old manner.
The study of the theosohical literature is similiar. We read the books
and work to acquire an understanding of what was written. But then
there comes a point where a higher process is engaged, and our approach
is no longer the same. We still study the books, but are operating out
of a different manner of understanding the material.
There is also the matter of what is appropriate to speak about to the
other person. We may be greatly familiar with one of our doctrines, and
quite capable of expressing it. But it may not be appropriate to plainly
state it to the other person. Some things are not inexpressible due to
their nature, nor due to our capability to express them, but due to
the individual before us, and his circumstances, which demand of us that
we keep our mouths shut, or craft our words with the greatest of care.
The general method of teaching the Mysteries is to evoke an
understanding in the student. We do not steal the chance of the other
to understand first for himself, and thereby acquire a deeper
knowledge or experience.
We allow the other the karmic responsibility for his ideas, allowing
him to originate them. This does not bind us to the other, being
responsible for the future affects of the ideas that we have plainly
conveyed to him. And it allows the other practice in originating the
ideas *from within*, where he acquires experience in learning from
his inner teacher.
There are other reasons for silence, or indirect speech, at times.
Until the other person is ready to hear some truth, we waste our words.
And depending upon the concept, we may not have the capacity to
communicate it. Some of what we have come to know is too new to us,
not yet firmly a part of our lives, and we are not yet ready to share
it, for it is not truly ours yet, not yet ours to share.
If we are not ready to communicate a truth, or the other not yet ready
to receive it, an attempt at communication could be harmful. If the
idea is misunderstood, the other person could be turned off by it, and
misled. The person may be brought into taking a detour, away from the
truth, a detour that he might not have otherwise taken. Also, if the
truth is partially understood, and applied incorrectly, it could cause
harm to the other person.
We must carefully consider each of our communications regarding the
philosophy. The Masters have said that we have to come to them, or
settle for those crumbs of the Teachings that may come our way. The
Esoteric Philosophy is something that cannot be communicated by simply
stating what one knows.
When we know a little bit more, we must cannot assume that because
we know something, that we would be any better at expressing it than the
Masters themselves. Knowing something does not confer the capability of
communicating it. And it is not that it is necessarily inexpressible,
but rather it may be something that can only be talked about with others
whom have come to understand the same truths.
If you come to the theosophical books as you would to any other books
on metaphysics, you will find many rewarding ideas. There will be much
for your mind, a rich treasure of concepts about life and existence.
But still, there is a natural barrier, beyond which you cannot go,
unless you change yourself, engage a new process, and bring yourself
into contact with Theosophy as an actual, living, real branch of the
This step can be taken based upon our willingness to take it. It does
not require an advanced stage of intellectual or spiritual progress.
The process can be engaged regardless of the holiness of one's life.
We can start it now, if we'd only do it, if we'd only realize that it
is there, believe that it is real, and make it happen in our lives!
Eldon Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application