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Masters and stuff

Aug 07, 1994 11:33 PM
by Donald DeGracia

Well, Hi everybody.

I've been pretty quiet lately, but I couldn't resist responding
to Richards comments about the Masters in light of John Algeo's
statements in AT recently.

Richard says:

< I would go so far as to say that it does seem at least a little
dangerous if our official plan for the Twenty-First-Century now
includes becoming known as "the organization which believes in
Elder Brothers.">

I would basically agree with Richards sentiment here.  In a
culture such as ours that stresses vaules of individualism, the
idea of "superior" humans, no matter how benevolent, just seems
to cut accross the grain of Western values.  Such a belief in
Masters is predominately an Eastern invention, not a Western one.
Here in the West we tend to think of those in power as inherently
corrupt, and the political expereince of our nation gives much
credence to this attitude.

I start with this point in the context of "planning for the 21st
century", for it seems kind of nieve to ignore our common
societal values when formulating "official" theosophical
positions.  This is ironic in light of John Algeo's statement
that "it is not enough to study in isolation or communicate with
an elite coterie.  We should be pragmatic and popular".  Are we
relly being "pragmatic and popular" when we ignore the common
values of our times?

Basically the choice is: do we keep the authoritarian idea of the
Masters alive in the mythos and teachings of theosophy at an
official level, or do we, as a Society, acknowledge the social
fact of our Western culture with its ever growing emphasis on
decentralization of authority and reliance on internal authority
(as opposed to externally opposed authority)? For the image of
the Masters as currently formulated and promulgated in Theosophy
is one of external authority.  These are people, again, in spite
of the claim of their superiority, that are external to us as
indivduals.  If, instead, we think of the Master as our own inner
conscience and higher potential, we are discussing a different
matter altogether.  However, the present view is one of the
Masters as being external to us, as superior beings whom we
should simply obey.  Like it or not, those that don't mindlessly
accept the idea of the Masters will inevitably see a hint of
fascism in such a conception (especially when the Masters are
construed as running things "for their own purposes.").

Now, this is only one angle, and by no means the deepest or most
significant.  Another level this issue can be validly looked at
on is the following: one must ask: just what is the psychology of
a person that needs to believe in Masters? For, again, as
currently formulated, the idea of the Masters can be construed,
in somewhat Jungian terms, as basic "father figures".  They are a
patriarchal guiding force and we are the children whom shall
learn their wisdom.

However, in the actual pattern of life, do not our physical
parent one day die, and we are left alone to face the world,
supposedely as fully formed, mature and responsible adults? In
other words, our physical parents do not guide us for our whole
life - this is simply impossible - so why do we need to project
this type of guidance on a cosmic level and posit a hiden and
mysterious "parent force" of Masters, whom will guide us on
spiritual levels?

In actual fact, the human psyche progresses through a well
defined series of growth.  As children, the guidance of our
elders is essential as we learn about the world and learn to give
meaning and values to our experience.  However, as we grow
psychologically, we eventually outgrow the need to be told what
to do, and who to be, and how to live by our elders.  We make the
transition from a learner to a teacher as we come on our own as
indivudals.  At this stage of psychological maturity, the idea is
not to follow the rules of elders, but to have the wisdom to
cooperate with other mature indivduals.  And even this stage is
transcended as we grow in wisdom and spirituality and learn to
see God in all things.  Such a progression of psychological
growth is fully described in the Hindu conception of the four
stages of life, and is restated in more modern terms by Jung

So, looking at the issue of the Masters within the context of
this progression of human psychological growth, one can come to
the following conclusion.  The Masters, if formulated as some
external, superior "father figure" will appeal to a mentality at
a stage of psycholgical growth that requires such images to
maintain itself.  And thus, if this is the official platform of
the TS, then such a platform will *select* for a certain type of
person at a very specific stage of growth i.e.  those who still
need father images and images of guidance by their superiors for
psycholgical secuirity.  In other words, such individuals will be
the future members of the TS (again, in the context of planning
for the 21st century).

So, from the perspective stated above, the question boils down
to: what kind of people do we want the TS to appeal to in the
21st century? For we can forumulate the TS ideas to appeal to
people at any stage in the progression of psycholgical growth and

And there is another angle to this in that we must ask ourselves:
where is our society as a whole at in this progression of
psychological growth and maturity? Where is the average indivdual
today in this progression?

I would suggest that the average mentality of the people in our
culture as a whole is considerabley beyond the stage of needing
father figures as an essential component of their world-view.
People of today are at the level of needing to define and explore
who they are *on the inside*.  This is not a new trend, it has
been happening through the entire 20th century.  Thus, I would
suggest that, in sticking to the idea of the Masters as some
mysterious hidden group of so-called superior indivduals who are
outside of us, whom we cannot identify with personally other than
as objects to be worshiped, that we will be ignoring the needs of
society as a whole and instead be appealing to a mentality that
is below the average in terms of their place in the progression
of psycholgical growth and maturity.

So, that's my two cents worth.  Thanks for listening.



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