The Adepts and the Original Teachings
Aug 09, 1994 06:33 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
This is from Eldon Tucker.
The Adepts and the Original Teachings
Theosophy is a religious philosophy. It consists of a well-
defined body of Teachings. There are the core concepts of
Theosophy that new students are taught. More advanced topics,
though, are difficult to approach in a study class.
There are many reasons why Theosophy seems confusing to new
students. The terminology is different; a new vocabulary needs to
be learned. There is a difference in the use of some terms and a
difference in ideas between the writings of Blavatsky and Judge,
and the writings of Besant, Leadbeater, and Bailey. And there is
the nature of the subject matter itself, dealing with ideas that
cannot be expressed by simply telling them, ideas that have to be
evoked from within.
No external measure exists to show, to the satisfaction of
all, the extent of someone's theosophical insight. One saying
goes: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with
bullshit." I'm sure it happens. But also consider: "Where there's
smoke, there's fire." And I'm convinced that there is definite
knowledge to be had, that we have a real Wisdom Tradition which
goes beyond the latest fad in thinking in any particular country.
Politics enters our discussion, because we are surrounded
with political thought, and can be affected. We need to be aware
of the influences that would manipulate us, to account for their
effects on us. Some may be well intentioned, "for our own good,"
but we should maintain our objectivity. A good example of this is
the "politically correct" movement in the US, which would change
every aspect of our lives, from employment, living conditions,
dress, lifestyle activities, speech, and even thought. There are
a growing number of taboos placed on our lives to externally
change us into other peoples' ideas of a better way to live.
Theosophy is a timeless philosophy; it is something
derived from the work of countless generations of Adepts. It does
not change as various ideas and approaches fall into disfavor, or
come into style, in any particular country. What changes is its
expression. What aspects of Theosophy that would be helpful or
useful to the people of a country facing famine and death, for
instance, would be different from those aspects helpful to a
country that is wealthy, bored, and spiritually lifeless.
There are two aspects to Theosophy as we find it in the
Theosophical Movement. One is the special, esoteric, hidden side.
This part deals with a spiritual practice that involves
philosophical thought, leading to one of the Lesser Mysteries.
The other is in public work, in adjusting whatever society we
find ourselves in, changes to make things a bit better for all.
This second aspect is like adding salt to a soup that is a bit
too bland, an entirely different activity than studying the cook-
One effort of the politically correct movement is to do away
with any sense of individual differences, to consider any thought
of being better than others as wrong, because it might adversely
affect the self-esteem of those who are less intelligent, less
successful, less able to learn. Applied to Theosophy, it leads to
such questions as: How can you say that this person is more
evolved than the other? Are not both people? Do not both have an
equal right to live? Cannot both exist in the world?
The problem with this comes with the assumption that to
recognize individual differences is to devalue or to fail to
appreciate those who are not the best, the winners, the leaders
in intelligence and accomplishment. This is not true. A society
recognizes and rewards those traits that it considers to be
valuable. I hope that in the US we still recognize, appreciate,
and reward individual achievement!
A gifted child should be given training appropriate to the
child's capacity to learn. We would not say that the child is
smug, and disdains other children of lessor intelligence, unless
the child happened to be socially maladjusted. And being socially
maladjusted is a problem that any child may have, and not a
unique problem directly resulting from being more intelligent
than other children, nor from studying more advanced materials
than other children.
The same is true with a study of the theosphical Teachings.
It is possible to be in a program for "spiritual gifted children"
without feeling aloof, isolated, better than others. That feeling
comes from a lack of spiritual rootedness in life. If Theosophy
is approached as an intellectual game, apart from being a
religious philosophy deeply rooted in life, then that feeling
could arise and one may have to back off from Theosophy until his
spiritual life is in order. Joesph Campbell has a well-known
saying: "Follow your bliss," which means to undertake those
activities that really stimulate and bring life to your inner
nature. The study of Theosophy, as a particular practice, is not
meant for everyone, and the 20 percent annual turnover we see in
the T.S. in America illustrates this.
Regarding the Masters, the original theosophical idea of
them was that they were not directing things in the world. The
idea of them as a "World Government" came in the Alice Bailey
variant, and perhaps a bit in Leadbeater's writings, but was not
part of the original presentation.
They are not authority figures, no more than a university
professor at Oxford would be an authority figure to someone
living in another country and not going to school. There is no
interaction, and even if you met one personally, what would you
say? And what would it matter what the reply was? They are
involved with activities appropriate to their station in life,
including things that we could not follow, because of our lack of
the appropriate training and background.
In "The Mahatma Letters," it is said that up to the last and
supreme initiation the Chela is left to his own device and
counsel. And it could not be otherwise. We cannot learn to do
things on our own initiative, and become spiritual forces for
good in the world, if there is someone else giving us orders,
someone telling us what to do at every step of the way.
Some people may have an abnormal need for an authority
figure. If it cannot be God or Christ telling them what to do in
response to their prayers, it could be applied to Masters. But
that is an abuse of the grand idea of what a Master is, and takes
the idea out of the context of the theosophical Teachings.
Someone with a lack of faith in our judicial system, seeing
injustice in the world, may also need to believe in a higher form
of justice. The doctrine of karma, as another grand idea of our
philosophy, does not, though, arise from a compulsive need to
believe in something better than what we find about us in the
Similarly, the idea of the astral light does not merely
come from a need to believe in a higher form of reporting than we
find in the news media, and the idea of an astral plane is not
merely an escapist desire for a world where we can get away from
the unpleasant, perhaps unchangeable, circumstances that we find
ourselves caught in externally.
Theosophy, as presented to us in the literature, is a body
of doctrines of high philosophy. The core concepts make a useful
cornerstone to any edifice of thought we may build for ourselves.
The deeper Teachings could fuel our contemplation for many
lifetimes to come!
The nature of Theosophy may not be as apparent in the Adyar
T.S., because of its more liberal approach to membership. You can
disbelieve in any part of the philosophy, or reject it entirely,
and still join. If you keep a low profile, or do not run for
office, your membership is safe. In 1965 the National President
was forced to resign. Lodges are sometimes dissolved. On
occasion, a National Section, with its entire membership, is
expelled, as was the Canadian Section, but a few years ago.
(Someone once said to me that was "because they had gone over to
Point Loma," but I suspect the reason was that too many people in
that Section were Alice Bailey devotees?) I'm sure that such
steps are not taken lightly, but steps are taken to control the
general nature of the beliefs of the membership.
Within the Adyar T.S., there are many factions of belief.
There are some factions that I would find inconsistent with
Theosophy. As members, we're free to believe whatever we choose,
and there may be many lodges where not one person has a good idea
of the basic philosophy, and we have "the blind leading the
blind." The danger in this situation is that over time we will
end with a T.S. that has entirely left Theosophy.
It's different with the ULT, Pasadena, and Point Loma
Theosophical Societies. They may be a bit rigid at times, but are
generally true to the original Teachings, and there is a very
good chance that someone coming to them to learn about Theosophy
will at least come away with an intellectual grasp of the core
concepts. I wish we could say the same of the Adyar T.S. I know
that the Los Angeles Lodge is true to the original. I hope that
it is not in too small a minority!
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