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Some responses & thoughts

Aug 24, 1994 12:14 PM
by Gerald Schueler

Jerry H-E.  <One of the big attractions of theosophy in the early
days of the T.S.  was the fact that it offered an ethical code that
was not attached to any religion.  I'm frankly very disturbed to
find so many responses from members of the T.S., who now want to
reject ethics.  I see this as more evidence of the further eroding
of what theosophy once was--though I'm sure some of you will
respond that it is an improvement.>

I do not want to reject ethics, Jerry.  Rather, I simply want us to
be aware of the relativity inherent in them.  Any code of ethics
that you want to define would be tenuous and subjective, at best.
Probably the best known ethical code is the Ten Commandments, and
just look at how folks have interpreted those to suit themselves.
You sometimes have to be a Philadelphia Lawyer to determine if you
actually broke one or not.  Let me give you just two quick examples
of what I mean.  First: I remember this like it was yesterday, but
it happened when I was a child.  Friends of my parents would visit
us on weekends, and in the summer they would all go out fishing or
crabbing in the Chesapeak Bay (in those days, crabs were plentiful
and easy to catch).  These friends were all Catholic.  One Sunday
they were arguing about church.  They didn't go to church because
they had gone crabbing instead, and didn't get back in time.  My
own parents had fallen away from the church by then, and were
Episcople at the time, so church attendance wasn't such a big thing
with them.  But to miss church for a good Catholic was a sin.  I
still recall the arguement that ended the discussion.  One of the
men had checked with his priest beforehand, and had found out that
the rule to attend church is waived if you are at sea, so many
miles (I can't recall the exact number, but it was only one or two,
I think) from land.  This fellow then proceeded to point out that
they had, in fact, just crossed over this magical line during the
day, and thus were free from sin.  This rationalization made
everyone happy, and they turned the discussion around to how good
the crabs tasted.  Another case: A good friend of mine was a
preacher's son, and he like to hunt animals.  I asked him one day,
"As a good Christian, how can you kill animals - doesn't a
commandment say Thou Shalt not Kill?" "Oh," he replied, "that only
applies to people.  In Genesis, God gave man dominion over the
Earth, to do whatever he wants to with it.  So if I choose to kill
anmials, it is OK with God." My point is that no matter how well-
intended a rule may be, we can almost always break it and
rationalize our actions away.  The damaging result of this kind of
stuff is an over-inflated ego.

Nancy.  <Thanks for the re-transmission and your comments re
Crowley.  Is his essay on the Voice too long for you to xerox for
me? Don't even consider it if it is.>

Liber LXXI is 100+ pages.

Paul, <It is ABSOLUTELY NOT Theosophy as the ancient, timeless
wisdom, the Gnosis, the Gupta-Vidya, the Perennial Philosophy that
is EVER described, discussed, approached in this (doubting,
cynical, distrustful) manner you describe-- by me or anyone else on
this newsgroup.  >

Right on, Paul!

Aki.  Thanks for your mention of Sri Ramana Maharshi.  He was a big
inspiration for me during my young and impressionable developing
years.  By the way, it is not surprising that Steiner's ideas
dovetail with HPB's, since he left the TS to form his own
Anthroposophy, which IMHO is but a Christianized version of

Eldon.  <My concern, and this is for Theosophy in western society,
is that it is well on the way to becoming an exoteric philosophy,
an empty wine bottle that has lost its valuable contents.  There is
something very real, and it is behind the words that we read.>

I not only agree with Eldon, but I am more than just concerned; I
am afraid that it is already mostly fossilized.  Here we have a
real problem for the future of theosophy.  HPB warned us about it,
and I credit the TS's for doing what they can to prevent it, but
human nature being the way that it is, fossilization or
crystallization of spiritual truth is almost as sure as the sun
rising tomorrow.

HPB told us that there is an exoteric theosophy and an esoteric
theosophy.  The esoteric theosophy cannot be put into words; it is
a living spirit.  Those who KNOW have put into words what they
could, but as soon as esoteric theosophy is put into words it
becomes exoteric theosophy.  Paul's comment, quoted above, is
absolutely true - all of our theosophic literature is exoteric.

Lets consider a symbolic schema, or metaphor, for a moment.  Lets
look at the old Zen teaching of the wise sage who points his finger
at the moon and all of his devoted students look closely at the
finger while missing the moon completely.  Of course, the finger
represents Zen and the moon is symbolic for the Light of Truth, or
Buddhahood.  In our case, lets consider the finger to be exoteric
theosophy and the moon to be esoteric theosophy.

Now, when I read today's theosophical literature, including what
can be found on this network, I see a whole lot of discussion about
the finger - it is carefully measured, it is compared to other
fingers, its historical milieu and cultural development are
elaborated upon, its angle and the bend of its knuckles are
discussed, its nail is scrutinized, and yes, even a few warts that
have grown on it are looked at and analytically dissected.  Now,
all of this is important and necessary, but where is the voice that
reminds us that it is, after all, but a finger that is pointing to
something beyond itself? It would seem that few of us today have
gazed directly at the moon or even have faith, or an intuitive
feel, that the moon really exists.  Like the Zen Master's students,
we seem to be too wrapped up in the finger (someone, please tell me
that I am wrong here!).

One of the problems, of course, is that the moon itself is so
devilishly difficult to detect.  One must climb to the tip of the
finger, stand erect, and then dive head-first outward/downward into
what looks very much like vast empty space.  The student must leap
from the finger tip to the moon.  To realize that the finger is a
pointer and to then use the intuition to see the moon is a good
start, but the view will be distorted.  One must shift one's
consciousness through the intervening spaces, the lower atmosphere
as it were, in order to look at the moon without any distortion.  A
successful leap results in a KNOWER.  Failure has at least three

(1) Nothing happens, and one is no better or worse than before,

(2) One loses one's balance, confounds the planes, and becomes
cognitively dissociated to some degree (ie., madness, where one's
semi-Selves are running amuck), or

(3) One falls kersplat on the bottom of the Abyss (ie., death) and
must perforce resume the nobel attempt in another life.

For most of us, the dangers of such a blind leap outweigh the
benefits.  The question for the future of theosophy then becomes,
Where are the KNOWERS? And, of course, this question poses even
more difficulties, because it sets the stage for the admittance of
self-proclaimed gurus and masters of all sorts.  Only one who KNOWS
can tell if another has seen the moon or whether they are still
looking at the finger.  The difference between a good discussion of
the finger and one of the moon is a hair's breath, and yet all the
difference in the world.

Anyway, I want to thank Eldon for the warning because I think that
it is pertinent, and should be carefully considered by all of us.

                                             Jerry S.

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