The Critical Path
Nov 01, 1994 06:37 AM
by Arthur Patterson
AP 1> Thank you for your insightful response. I can imagine no
better way into exploring a new path but to be in dialogue with
both you and Liesel. The pace is bound to slow down. I still
haven't written my first impressions on Silence but I have read
it several times and right now I am putting the chinese or
sanskrit terms into english in the margin of the text. I think
the publisher should put the notes as end notes. My impressions
will come but I am in no rush. At least about this.
> I only skipped a day, and already several messages behind.
> I don't know if I'll be able to keep us at this pace.
> AP> The problem that the Protestant sectarian groups, at least,
> had was that the spirit was so important to them that the body
> and its embodiment were denied in the name of mortification of
> the flesh. This is the putting to death of the flesh. This
> concept however does seem to come up in some of the material in
> the Voice. I will be writing about that later but for now I see
> that in Blavatsky there appears to be a rejection of the life of
> the senses in preference to a life of the spirit. I understand
> the value of this since embodiment can and has lead to a sort of
> entombment- ie prison house of the soul idea. But there is
> something about this emphasis, where found in the East or in
> Gnoticism, that refuses to honor actual existence and see nature
> as sacramental. Like I said I will try to spell this out later.
> Keep in mind that the ~Voice~ was not written by H.P.B., but
> is a translation of what is essentially a training manual for
> chelas in the Chinese Buddhist schools. These chelas lived a
> monastic life of a type that would be unrealistic to duplicate
> here. As these chelas advanced the became even more insulated.
> I think HPB published this book to give those members of the TS
> an idea of the sacrifices they would have to make if they were to
> tread the path of her teachers (the Masters). But on the other
> hand, it is a statement of the nature of the spiritual path (yes,
> in Eastern metaphors), and what Theosophy is about at its very
AP 2 >My training and habit of doing critical work on texts is
showing up here. I will tell you what I am up to. I know that
BHP is claiming to be translating Chinese Tibetian material but I
think that translation is a more subjective matter than what
first meets the eyes. If you add to that the real possibility
that BHP wrote in a altered state of consciousness through an
inner Teacher, which I think is not uncommon for her to assert,
then we are drifting considerably from the idea that this is a
strictly "literal translation" of the Books of Dzyan. I have
been reading Boris De Zirkoff on the "Sources of Secret
Doctrine". This is found in an anthology by Virgina Hanson.
About that Eastern flavor. I am by no means familiar with a lot
of Eastern thought beyond intro courses in comparitive religion
but I have read and expreienced that the Western psyche is on
another track. I will give my HO as to what I think the central
difference is. The East for all its use of images is striving
for an Apophatic Spirituality, that is an imageless spirituality
where the distinction between the One and the Many is eradicated.
The West seems to be striving for relationship between the One
and the many through a kataphatic spirituality, a spirituality of
images. The greatest example of this in my estimate is Dante The
While appreciating the Eastern value of neti neti, that is not
knowing, I am much more at home with the West. Where is HPB in
all of this. She is living on the dividing line between both
being a Russian. Just some scattered thoughts on this but these
are the rattlings in my brain.
> LD> Also, one tries to achieve a more spiritual path not only for
> a beautiful hereafter, but also to achieve a more fulfilling
> life in this body, for oneself & for others. Speaking of
> suffering, it took me a very long time to find out that
> meditating was suppposed to be a joyful experience. I was so
> tangled up in German ideas that I thought all religious quests
> were realized through suffering.
> Perhaps your German ideas aren't so far off after all. It
> seems to be human nature that we learn fastest by suffering the
> consequences of our mistakes.
> AP> There are many ways of accounting for the spread of a
> spirituality. Joseph Campbell boils them down to dispersion or
> migration or the collective unconsciousness that links all
> people right now, at least today, I favor the fact that we as
> human beings have the same archetypal structure built into the
> physiciality of our psyche and that we fill those potentiality
> creating patterns with cultural artifacts. If this theory is so
> then it is not surprizing that Blavatsky found a common thread.
> C. G. Jung has been the most helpful to me in understanding
> this. Perhaps Blavatsky is looking at the same phenomonen with a
> different set of metaphors. Perhaps this is too psychologizing
> or reductionistic, I would like to hear what others think about
> Campbell of course, ultimately got the Collective Uns. idea
> from Jung. Jung was very closely involved with Theosophy (though
> he didn't like most theosophists very much), and resonated very
> closely with the core teachings. The collective uns. idea is
> clearly stated in HPB's ~The Secret Doctrine.~ I'm not
> suggesting that Jung got the idea from HPB (though it is quite
> possible), but that the idea predates Jung, and is part of the
> body of theosophical teachings.
AP3>I would be very interested if you knew where Jung spoke of
Theosophical thought. Don't go out of your way but if it comes
to mind just note it if you would be so kind.
> AP> This is why I am striving to develop a theology or
> hermeneutic of experience rather than a hermeneutic of words.
> Word are metaphors for direct experience and as such can not be
> relied on to carry us.
> Interesting. Or to put it into semiotic jargon, you are
> trying to get past the signifiers to reach the signified. But
> each signifier creates more signifieds, thus creating signifying
> chains. In semiotics, this symbolization works by both metaphor
> and metonymy. The trick is to find your way back to the
> primordial signifier.
> From this point of view, all "dogma" is indeed "metaphor,"
> but each metaphor is a signifier for a deeper reality that is not
> accessible through language. Or to put it in HPB's terminology,
> until we get beyond the limitations of our earthly type of
> perceptions, we will have to be satisfied with relative truths.
> Deeper truths require a deeper state of consciousness.
AP 4>As confusing as taking this hermeneutic is. It does seem to
lead to a state of non-knowing, a truly admirable place if you
are a mystic. As a "word child" I am not comfortable here in the
dark place of unknowing where some speak of the light of the
darkness. ie Eckhart. But after all is said and done the
correct response to the truth is not analysis but perhaps
something akin to worship or contemplation. It is hard not to
see conceptual clarity as the end all be all of experience. But
there I go sounding awful eastern, eh (Canadianism).
Look forward to your response and anyone who want to jump in.
You too Martin. Welcome to the group I'm a newbe too!
Under the Mercy,
Arthur Paul Patterson
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