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Universal Ethics

Aug 15, 1994 09:34 AM
by Gerald Schueler

Jerry H-E writes: "I would like to see an open discussion generated
here concerning what is "theosophical" and what is a "theosophical
principle." To kick off such a discussion, I have the following
observations ...  Thus, I suggest that one example of a
theosophical principle would be "universal ethics." "

Jerry, I'm not sure that I follow your drift here.  By
"theosophical" do you mean pertaining only to the modern
theosophical movement started by HPB? As opposed to "theosophical
principles" which never change? It seems to me that any
"theosophical principles" you could mention would also be, de
facto, theosophical.  Could you perhaps give me some examples of
what you mean?

Also, I have trouble coming to grips with "universal ethics."
Except perhaps for being civil, or actually having a sincere
respect for others even while loathing their behaviors, what could
possibly be universal about ethics? Personally, I find killing
animals for "sport" to be unethical.  Yet many otherwise ethical
Christians (and others) do so every day without guilt.  They
rationalize it away (animals have no souls, or God gave man
dominion over animals and so we can do as we will, etc).  Even
killing other people is usually considered OK in some circumstances

such as self defense, when fighting for your country in a war, or
in the line of duty of a police officer, and so on.  In what way
(if any?) do theosophists sometimes rationalize things away? Will
love in one's heart make one ethical? What would you do for a loved
one who is dying of cancer or aids and who begs you to please pull
the plugs on their medical instruments, or who begs you to give
them a bottle of sleeping pills so that they can end it all? What
is the right, or loving, or ethical, thing to do in such a case?
What do you tell the 13 year old girl in the ghetto who find
herself pregnant and who wants to have an abortion? Which one of us
can say which road is the most ethical? Is healing always the right
path to take? Is death always wrong?

Are reincarnation and karma theosophical principles? To me they
are, but others may feel differently.  Also, how do we define these
terms, because theosophical literature contains many different
meanings for most terms?

When I say that I can overlook one's personal behaviors, see beyond
their personalities, and still find spiritual/occult jewels hidden
in their writings, I am not saying that I condone those behaviors,
or that I would personally tolerate them.  Let me give just one
example.  In my studies on magic, I have read just about everything
that Aleister Crowley wrote, together with numerous books and
articles on his life, as well as his own autobiography.  Virtually
every theosophist that I have talked to, has told me that Crowley
was a black magician of the worst sort, and they wonder how I can
quote from him in my own books.  Now, Crowley did, in fact,
practice with mind-altering drugs and sex of all kinds.  He made
numerous unkind statements about others, some of which have been
called racist.  He also hunted animals for sport and was proud of
the fact.  None of these things do I like, nor would I condone, nor
would I do, nor suggest that others do.  They are not theosophical
nor do they match my own ethical standards.  I would not, for
example, have accompanied him on a hunting trip.  Nor would I have
had sex with him nor with anyone other than my wife for that
matter.  However, I do find that some of his writings are
spiritually inspired, and I can tell that he did, in fact, cross
the Abyss.  His writings indicate that he KNEW.  The "ethical"
problem here, in a nutshell, is this: how can someone who does
terrible things; things that our society, and probably all the
worlds Bibles, say are unethical, cross the Abyss (ie., how can
they have a mystical experience or otherwise gaze directly upon the
spiritual planes and obtain gnosis?).  This is a nasty prick in the
finger of most theosophists who see ethics as the stepping stone to
spirituality.  Yet, HPB can also be accused of unethical (or at
least unladylike) behaviors.  In her case, most theosophists can
make excuses.  The truth of the matter is (in MHO) that ethics and
ethical development *should* be the stepping stone to spiritual
gnosis, but it doesn't *have* to be.  Some folks can KNOW and yet
maintain their own ethical system that somehow seems to work for
them.  Do we then throw out the baby with the bath water, so to
speak, with such people? I prefer to let each person face their own
karmic burden by themselves, while I worry about my own.  But if I
find a nugget or two of wisdom in their writings, then I will take
that and try to benefit from it.

There is also the question of good and evil.  What is evil, and why
do so many theosophists seem to fear it? For my part, I like the
definition given to us by KH when he wrote, "Evil has no existence
per se and is but the absence of good and exists but for him who is
made its victim." (Mahatma Letter X).

Jerry S.

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