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Re: Continued Discussion With Paul

Aug 26, 1994 09:40 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

I enjoyed this post very much, have no
disagreement, but a couple of thoughts:

According to Eldon B. Tucker:

>      We both have to be careful not to draw too many inferences
> from specific comments. When we do so, though, it is find to
> write about them. The only way to know what someone else means is
> to give them feedback--"I hear you as saying this ..."--and allow
> them the chance to clarify miscommunications--"No, what I really
> meant to say was ...".

This is made more necessary by our having different past
histories of encounters with Theosophists of various
orientations.  When you say something that reminds me of person
a, I tend to react to the whole complex of attitudes I've seen at
close range in that person, instead of to just what you say.  And
presumably vice versa is true, for example when you class me as a
skeptic-- which may well imply a lot of attitudes that I really
don't share with those who welcome the classification.

>      You might argue that you were a true believer, but now know
> better, but can understand where I am coming from by remembering
> what you felt at the time. I could make the same argument: I was
> a true skeptic, having moved on, but then found a renewed belief,
> and can remember and understand what you now feel.
>      Where are we left with this line of reasoning? It all comes
> back to personal experience and viewpoint.

There is a certain value to this process as long as one is
careful not to take it too far.  And to present it for validation
or correction rather than just saying "I know where you're coming
from and nothing you can say will convince me otherwise."
Wherever one is at the moment is just a passing stage in the
evolution of one's understanding.  I may well follow suit with
your return to belief; at least I look forward to being able to
read HPB for enlightenment at leisure rather than for historical
evidence under deadlines.  This presumably will reawaken some of
my feeling-orientation to Theosophy.  What I hope I never return
to, though, is the smugness of "mine's better than yours" which
is so pervasive among Theosophical fundamentalists, including
myself during the period I was most active in a local group.
Having been at the receiving end of the hostility this can
generate to any new ideas, maybe I've had enough karmic backlash
to be cured for this lifetime.

>      Rather than using the "finger pointing at the moon" analogy
> to depict the place of the Teachings in our society, I'd use the
> "journey of a thousand miles." There are a near-endless series of
> steps to be taken, in the desired direction, in order to reach

Exactly so, and well stated.  But there's a paradox here.  HPB
claimed that images were reversed in the astral light, which
echoes the kabbalistic idea that alternating planes were somehow
reverse to those above and below them (help me Jerry S.  on this
one).  Also the Zen story about the mountain being real, then
illusory, then real again.  So it really doesn't seem to me that
we go forward in a straight line, but rather around and around in
a spiral, during which at any given time we are going "in the
opposite direction" from where we were a half-cycle ago (viewed
two-dimensionally) and yet going in the same direction in terms
of the third dimension of height.  (Plane to plane if you will).

So when you talk about going the "right direction" this can be
tricky and hard to discern.  And it's especially tricky to see
one's fellow Theosophists as going in the wrong direction, just
because their direction appears opposite from ours.  I like
Lewis's analogy of the train and the TS chart.  This movement is
destined to always have forceful wills going in opposite
directions, and yet the tension among all those wills somehow
moves it all upward.  Or CAN do so.

We appear to be at opposite sides of the spiral, seeing Theosophy
from very different angles.  Yet I think we are both moving
upward at the same time, not taking our current point of view as
the ultimate.  I respect and admire those Theosophists whose
views are more orthodox than mine when they are going forward,
always modifying their understanding, willing to entertain
alternative views.  What is destructive to the movement is when
we become frozen in our positions, unwilling to budge, sure that
the adversary is a tool of the Dark Forces while we are on the
side of the Masters.  My sense is that this fixedness is more
common among non-Adyar Theosophists than among Adyar members.
But there are narrow-minded bigots in the Adyar society just as
there are open-minded explorers in the Pasadena, ULT and Point
Loma contingents.

Maybe we can agree to look on our divergences, not in the light
of "he's headed in the wrong direction" but rather "what I
perceive may counterbalance what he perceives" and "what I do to
act on my perceptions may seem opposed to what he does to act on
his, but both may advance the movement."

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