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To: AP Patterson, Re: This Theosophy stuff

Oct 31, 1994 07:42 AM
by Liesel F. Deutsch

The Reverend Arthur wrote

Art 1>"...Look out, my new friend toleration is not plentiful in
the Evangelical world.......  If you are a minister and therefore
in a position where you must uphold the tradition you are more
accountable than most to be orthodox, look out it might box you

Liesel 1> First off, I think this is a problem in other religions
as well.  People get used to doing things one way over the years
& centuries, resist change, & get "boxed in." The Buddhists say
that change is the one thing in life that one can count on, and
theosophists believe this as well.  I think that if one can't at
least try to live with this idea in mind, one tends to stagnate,
be "boxed in" again, I guess.

I try to associate myself with people & organizations which are
dynamic, instead of stagnant.  I'm looking to grow, & to evolve,
& that to me is much more interesting & fulfilling than standing
still.  I try to live "in the Now", using yesterday only for the
lesson it contains for use today, or for trying to create a
better tomorrow.

That's the theosophical way.  Don't cling.  I'm especially aware
of this mode of thinking, because I'm a senior citizen, & most of
my age group gets wrapped up reminiscing about "the good old
days".  They also try to keep on doing things the way they've
always been used to doing them, whether they've been improved
upon in the last 20 years or not.  Here I am, bragging, but I
also notice that it's become more difficult with age to change my
ways, & some of them I can't change anymore at all.

That's what you've run into with your church, I think.  You're
younger & more plyable, & looking for new & better ways, & they
want to stick to the "old tried & true" & worn out.  It's an old
battle you're caught in, and you're fighting it with much
courage.  Just keep on going.  You'll make it.

Art 2> Thanks for the encouragement Liesel.  On the other hand, I
have been kicked out of the church for expanding beyond the
limits of consenus.  Now I am counselling and teaching, writing
and doing workshops in a variety of areas including Jungian
studies and Western Esoteric work.  There is a lot of hurt and
pain involved in "excommunication" but it does say more about
them than it does me, in many ways.  The struggles I am having
now is connection to a greater Traditionthan just my own ideas
about things.  This is where theosophy looks like a possible

Liesel 2>I started out life being Jewish.  Jews have the same
quarrels between the traditional Orthodox and the Reformed, who
also try to preserve tradition, but modify it to fit in with the
times.  I've known several Moslems, & the same dichotomy exists
among them.  There are people with immoveable minds all over.  My
yardstick in trying to find a compatible church or denomination
has, for a long time, been an article called "Doctrine & Dogma",
which Shirley Nicholson wrote for the October '83 "American

I've quoted it often.  I'm going to copy part of it here for you,
in the hope that it will be of some help.  The first paragraph is
an introduction to theosophy.  The rest contains the crux of the

     "....volumes have been written to explicate the doctrines of
     theosophy.  Though they are very broad, they are still
     definite and specific.  The fact that they have been
     expressed in various ways throughout history does not make
     them any less explicit.  The oneness of all life, the law of
     cycles, the unity of the individual soul with the Oversoul,
     man's pilgrimage through many lifetimes - these are among
     the universal principles stressed by HPB.  They are
     understood in various degrees of depth by different members.

     In addition to required belief, dogma has connotations which
     relate to how a doctrine is understood.  Fritjof Schuon,
     reknowned authority in the study of religions, equates
     dogmatism with the purely theoretical understanding of an
     idea.  If a spiritual idea is stated in a particular way,
     given a certain form, and this is repeated without a deep
     understanding of its inner significance, this he would say
     is dogma.  There results a 'sort of confusion of the idea
     with the form in which it is clothed,' and then 'paralysis
     of this form [comes about] by attributing to it an
     absoluteness.  ' Giving form to a genuine intuition does not
     constitute dogmatism for Schuon, but after the form is
     given, the idea should then 'rejoin the formless and total
     truth' from which it sprang.  Symbols which express
     religious truth have deep inner meaning, but dogmatism
     misses 'the inward or implicit illimitabilty of the symbol.'
     Nor can a dogmatic view recognize the 'inward connection'
     between two apparently contradictory truths, though true
     insight 'can make of them complementary aspects of one & the
     same truth'.

Art 3> Carl Jung says that dogma insulates us from religious
experience and in doing so inoculates us from true spiritual
experience.  A living experience is quite different from rote
recitation of belief.

     "According to Schuon, in true esotericism a dogma is no
     longer limited and dogmatic, 'once it is understood in the
     light of its inherent truth, which is of a universal order.'
     But he claims that even metaphysical truth can be turned
     into dogma when not properly understood.  In other words, we
     can make truth into dogma by repeating it verbally without
     true understanding.

Art 4> This is why I am striving to develop a theology or
hermeneutic of exper- ience rather than a hermeneutic of words.
Word are metaphors for direct exper- ience and as such can not be
relied on to carry us.

     "...  to come to understand [theosophy's] principles for
     ourselves & begin to bring them into our experience, not
     merely to rely on the authority of others....  we can touch
     the reality behind theosophical teaching & keep alive 'the
     vitality which living truth alone can bring' This will lead
     to varied & creative expressions of the ancient truths...."

Liesel 3> I think what Shirley wrote in this last paragraph
concerning theosophy applies to any religious principles.

Hope this is able to help you clarify where you want to go.

Art 5> Yes it did help, Liesel.  One question that came up in the
above is the doctrine of reincarnation.  Does a theosophist
attempt to connect with themselves with their past incarnation?
Just interested because I have some strange premonitions about
who or what I a may have been if past lives are indeed true.  Of
course, I tend to be a bit sceptical here since I think all dogma
is metaphor

Look forward to further posting.  I am not sure of the protocol
of Theo-l but I assume any one can respond to what I have written
and is welcome to do so.

Under the Mercy,

Arthur Paul Patterson


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