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Some responses

Aug 28, 1994 02:24 PM
by Gerald Schueler

Eldon writes that my analogy of the finger pointing to the
moon should really be a finger pointing to another finger,
which points to another finger, and so on.  Thats a better
analogy.  I was trying to keep things simple.  He also
writes that "there are a near-endless series of steps to be
taken, in the desired direction" all of which imply an
endless series of initiations and learning experiences.  I
agree with this, of course.  In my earlier analogy, this
series was implied in the act of climbing out to the tip of
the finger.  My point (and I think that Eldon missed it) is
that at some place along the Path, we will each find
ourselves learning and growing no longer.  At some point in
everyone's spiritual growth we will reach a stagnation
level called by Christian mystics, The Dark Night of the
Soul.  This point, this very difficult time in our
progress, will make us or break us, so to speak.  I suppose
that some may bypass this event, but for most of us it will
occur.  In my analogy, this point is when we have climbed
to the tip of the finger, which is to say, when we are
mentally saturated with facts and data, and our mind tires
of its games, and we have visions in our heads of being
like the proverbial dog that chases its own tail until it
finally wearies of the stupidity of what it is doing and
comes to a waiting stop.  Now, I agree with Eldon that this
point is a long way off for most of us.  There is a lot of
theosophical material waiting for us to read and ponder and
the Path seems endless.  But if we are honest with
ourselves, we will acknowledge that stagnation point when,
and if, it does come (and, of course, it may not come in
this life).  We will be tempted to drift aimlessly along.
Often, we will have worn such deep grooves into our mind,
as HPB has it, that we will harden ourselves with the
notion that we now know all there is to know.  Without a
Teacher at this point, most of us will drift along, without
any new knowledge, without the thrill of a new idea,
without the wonder of a new intuitive insight.  This is
when we must jump into the void, or shift our consciousness
to the moon, as it were.  I suppose that the occult laws
that work for us here also work for organizations, so I
suspect that the TS's are open to their Dark Nights of the
Soul as well.

Paul writes, <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.>

Yes, Paul, she says that both objects and numbers are
reversed - see E.S.  Instructions III (CW, Vol XII, p 613).
Your insight amazes me sometimes :-).  You are exactly
right about going in the opposite directions.  During the
Arc of Ascent (where we are now) we are traveling in the
opposite direction that we traveled during the Arc of
Descent.  Also, there are circles within circles, spirals
within spirals, spirals within circles, and circles within
spirals.  Waking (astral to physical) is the opposite
direction from sleeping (physical to astral), and birth is
opposite to death, and so on.  And no, we do not
progress/evolve in a straight line.  Anyone who thinks so
is being terribly naive (IMHO).  Just look at our dreams,
or our life, as examples.  Every day of our lives is not
necessarily better or more spiritual than the last.  Our
dreams do not necessarily improve each night.

The Zen story of the mountains is also applicable to
theosophists.  When we come into theosophy we see mountains
as mountains, the physical world is an independent physical
world.  Then we learn about invisible worlds and planes,
subtle stages and stages of matter and of being.  The
physical world is then seen in a new light; it is a
reflection or expression of the six planes above/beyond it.
Then we progress, hopefully, to the viewpoint of the
Initiate (one who has seen the moon and KNOWS is not yet an
Adept, but rather an Initiate, or Chela) when the physical
is seen as the physical - but not exactly as before (it is
seen to be dependent rather than independent, for example).
The story, I think, illustrates a spiral rather than a

Paul also writes, <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 hope that everyone will agree with this.

Richard writes, <Enter K.  Paul Johnson's book.  I don't
want to go into it in detail until more people have had a
chance to read it, but the more I think about it, the more
I suspect that THE MASTERS REVEALED may be one of the major
shapers of theosophical things to come.  For one thing, I
think it may somewhat modify the overly obsequious way many
people approach HPB.>

You may be right Richard, but as I recall, HPB always
admitted that her Masters were human flesh and blood men.
However, she also said that there were Nirmanakayas lurking
around the astral.  These are, in short, disembodied
Masters, who remain in our atmosphere in order to guide and
help us.  This idea (although not with the term
Nirmanakaya, which is used in the Mahayana in another
sense) is Buddhist, but it can be found in other areas as
well (the Saints of Christianity, for one).  While it is
true, the teaching itself opens up a whole can of worms,
because anyone can now write stuff and claim it was
channeled by a Nirmanakaya (Alice Bailey comes to mind, as
one of the better ones).  Anyway, it is very likely that
HBP communicated with both embodied and disembodied
Masters, so I can't really see where Paul's book will
change much (but then again, I don't have a proper devotee
attitude to them anyway, I suppose, so what do I know?).

Jerry H-E writes, <For all but a small minority on this
planet, the focus of kama-manas is kama--in other words,
our thinking is driven by our feelings--thus the focus of
kama is in the physical brain.  For fifth rounders (our
next evolutionary step), who have shifted over to
manas--then the focus would be on manas.  But these people
are very rare.>

This touches on the "firing order" that I mentioned in my
last posting.  A person's firing order (TFA, AFT, FTA, and
so on) will largely determine a person's ethical behavior.
You are right Jerry, few seem to think first.

Brenda writes, < H.P.B.  has referred to something similar
to the list which Jerry gave as the four aspects and three
principles.  It is found in the fifth volume of THE SECRET
DOCTRINE, which I have loaned to my parents.>

Brenda, this quote from HPB is also found in CW, Vol XII,
page 613.  When applied to the physical plane, the three
aspects are solids, liquids, and gases, and these are said
to be "based on four principles." By the way, I really like
your visualization exercise.  Thanks for sharing it.

Brenda also says, < The most difficult of the principles to
describe are those which lead into realms which are largely
darkness for the personality in incarnation, a world of
darkness existing before the physical and a world of
darkness existing beyond the mental.>

Exactly.  It is like describing a peach to someone who has
never tasted a peach.  The funny thing is, even when our
consciousness goes beyond these limits, it has a hard time
trying to share its experiences there with the human
personality.  In other words, the personality/ego has a
difficult time understanding not only what someone else
says, but what our own higher Self says as well.  HPB
points this out, and says that while we often have
experiences on the causal plane, while in deep dreamless
sleep, we cannot recall those experiences when we wake, but
rather they seem as a coma or blank nothingness.

Brenda, I liked your discussion using teachings from
Trungpa Rinpoche, who wrote a lot of good material about
Tibetan Buddhism.  I expect Jerry H-E to complain, though.
It has recently surfaced that Rinpoche drank a lot, and was
a womanizer, having had sex with many of his female
students.  Terribly unethical, you know.  (see No Right, No
Wrong, an interview with Pema Chodron, in Tricycle, Fall
93, pp 16-24.  This is a fascinating article in which she
says, "Trungpa Rinpoche was a provocative person.  In
'Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism' he says that the
job of the spiritual friend is to insult the student, and
thats the kind of guy he was.  If things got too smooth,
he'd create chaos." Sounds a bit like HPB, doesn't it? )

                                                      Jerry S.

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