Oct 30, 1994 01:39 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
Arthur 1> This tendency to desire more and more purity is part
and parcel of the sectarian perspective. I see it in many groups
that seek to live a more disciplined or higher life than the
collective. The early Anabaptists from which the Mennonite,
Hutterites and Halderman come were differentiating themselves
from the more lax Lutherans and Calvinist. Their emphasis on
discipleship and suffering got them into a denial of the world
situation. Little did many Mennonites realize that they created
a "new world" with its lower instinctual legalism. This has
harmed many who are unaware of the difficulty of breaking out of
the earth bound perspectives.
It is extremely difficult to break the habits even though you may
change your ideology. There are legalistic New agers, dare I
imagine Theosophists?, legalistic Liberals as well as legalistic
Fundamentalists. Because we share the same propensity toward
demanding conforming and being intolerant I think it important to
find the roots of dogmatism in something larger, perhaps more
spiritual than any given ideology.
Jerry 1> I see what you mean. A friend once jokingly told me
that I would probably be shot if I stumbled into the Halderman
community down here. But the insulation is quite evident. Those
on the outside cannot even dine with those on the inside. It
reminds me of the Brahmans, who don't eat in the presence of the
lower casts. Yes, I've known a lot of theosophists who are
pretty insulated too. I think you have the key here. The
insulated theosophists I've known are also into discipleship, and
maybe a type of suffering too. It seems to be the pitfall of
organizations. You get too holed up in them, and loose touch
with the rest of the world. As for intolerance, my experience is
that theosophists tend to be quite tolerant towards others, but
not so tolerant toward each other. I agree that one needs to
look to something larger than any given ideology, but in practice
it seems to be tricky. Even when we escape the ideologies, we
can still get caught up in the one we create for ourselves.
Art 4> Indeed. I am however at the very beginning of my formal
Theosophical search. Some people have suggest that I start with
Steiner because he is more Western as opposed to HPB. Let me
know what you think.
Jerry> You'll be attracted to whoever you will be attracted to.
I like Blavatsky, but her expression is not Christian. Actually
it is really not representative of any other religion either.
She tried to be universal, though she primarily draws from
Sanskrit for terminology. Steiner is very Christian, so you
might find a more familiar vernacular with him. I do like
Steiner's Organization's practical application of his teachings--
such as biodynamic gardening, eurythmy, and educational theories.
The only caution I have, is don't make the assumption that all
theosophical writers are saying the same thing. Treat each one
as an individual with their own point of view. I have met so
many students of theosophy who assume that all of these writers
are the receiver of some common "divine revelation", and try to
force obviously contradictory statements into complementary ones.
Discrimination is important, otherwise you'll end up with a
Art4> What I understand from what you say is that Theosophy has
to do with the roots of human spirituality. The grand over
arching schemata so to speak. I hope that it is true. I need
some work at intergration. I have deep doubts that it is because
I have hear claims to ultimacy before and am slightly suspicious
but I am also open to testing. Unlike my former conversions I am
not going to swallow things without passing them through what I
have already tested to be experientially sustaining. So I follow
a hermeneutic of experience with a dose of suspicion.
Jerry> Yes, I believe theosophy does have to do with the "roots
of human spirituality," as you say--at least the core teachings
do. But, on the other hand, how can "spiritual truths" written
in a book be any more than *relative* truths? To know spiritual
truths requires spiritual perception. The ~Voice of the
Silence~, which was "dedicated to the few", was written for those
who desire to go beyond relative truths. Yet, I don't think you
will find anything in the ~Voice~ that you can't find in
Christianity, Buddhism, or any other major religion, but I see
that as an argument in favor of the value of the book. I
understand your suspicions. It won't take you long to figure out
that students of theosophy are no better that anyone else (I hope
no one objects to my saying so). Blavatsky made a distinction
between a theosophist and a student of theosophy. She said that
a true theosophist lives a life of pure altruism. Blavatsky also
mentioned once that she had met about six theosophists in her
life time. She never said whether or not any of them were also
members of the Theosophical Society. She did write that the
Catholic Priest, Damien was a theosophist, however. What I feel
is unique about the theosophical movement (regardless of what
form it takes) is its universality.
Art> Jerry, I wanted to ask about "history". Are we talking
about "heilsgeschite", salvation history here or is there a
literal group of Mahatmas or a literal civilization of Atlaneans?
In my studies I have found that symbolist interpretation helps me
more than historial critical or literal ones. For instance the
evangelical believes in Creation in seven days with a talking
snake to boot. I believe the Creation account is a polemic
response to other competing religious mythologies and not a
scientific account of what happened. This of course demands that
the meaning of Creation be addressed at the deeper level. The
meaning would be that there is a sovereign God called YHWH who is
not in competition and creates in peacefulness. etc... I could
go on but won't... You do see however what I mean is HPB to be
taken literally or symbolically?
Jerry> Blavatsky spoke of literal Mahatmas. By that she met
historical physical beings. Though these Mahatmas may have been
spiritually enlightened, they were still just people. Their
primary mode of transportation in those days was by horseback.
Today, they probably would drive cars, or at least take the bus.
I'm making this distinction because of the common belief in
"Ascended Masters" that speak through people, and live on some
"astral plane." This is all a later invention, and did not come
from H.P.B. There are a lot of people around who claim to
"channel" the same Mahatmas that H.P.B. knew. Blavatsky's
Mahatmas on the other hand, were quite human, and a lot of people
other than H.P.B. also knew them in the flesh, and testified so.
H.P.B.'s Mahatmas didn't speak through people, but wrote letters.
For instance, their correspondence with A.P. Sinnett, an early
Theosophist, is in the British Museum, available to be seen by
any researcher. As for "Atlantis": H.P.B.'s idea of Atlantis is
also quite different from the current popular thought. Atlantis
to H.P.B., was not "the eighth continent" but represented a
period in our physical evolution when people where more animal
than human. The Atlantian period, according to H.P.B., came to
an end about one million years ago. Plato's Atlantis, she
claims, was a small Island that sank around 10,000 B.C. Yet, she
writes about the mythologies as having symbolic meaning, but with
a drop of history in them also. Witness the finding of Troy, for
instance. She would agree with you that religious mythologies
are not a "scientific account of what happened" as you say. But
she would also say that encoded within the mythologies are deep
truths, and sometimes even scientific ones. Embedded within her
teachings is a method for decoding those mythologies. As for
God, H.P.B. did not believe in a personal God. She was a
pantheist of sorts, and yet taught that "a god" dwells within
each of us. This really doesn't contradict because she
postulates the identity of every soul with the oversoul.
Further, though she claimed that all of the great religions
possess great spiritual truths, she also says that their modern
expressions have a lot of superstition in them. But when I
mentioned "history", I was thinking about the history of the
various theosophical organizations and the many esoteric
societies that spun off of them. I'm also interested in
intellectual history--that is the source of ideas and how they
Art 5> I went out directy and bought this book. I started
reading it and find it very eastern but not unfamiliar. Being a
novice I am unfamiliar with the Tibetian, Hindu terms but when I
read in the index I am familiar with concepts that seem parallel
in some of the traditions I have looked into.
Art> What I would like to do if anyone is interest is to read
very small snippets of this book. And then translate them into
the familiar concepts and interact with each other on the list.
I will post something on say the first few sentences on the
Fragment and then have those who know much more than I comment on
my response, make their own more informed comments and continue
in that manner. Does this seem possible on the listserv, Jerry?
Perhaps there is a better way of doing this but let me know.
Jerry> Sounds good to me. However, if you get ten people to take
you up on this, you will probably get at least ten viewpoints for
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