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Dec 23, 1994 01:29 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Liesel and Paul,

Please forgive this intrusion into your dialogue.  I believe that
this discussion touches upon many vital points that are important
to the health and well being of those physical embodiments of the
Theosophical Movement, that we call Theosophical Organizations.
As an historian, I feel that some of the points the two of you
have raised require further comment.  I hope that both of you
will continue with this dialogue, as it seems to be central to
Liesel's expressed hope and, I believe, Paul's unexpressed one,
that we "come to agreements between theosophical factions."
However, Coming to "agreements" means continued dialogue, even
when it feels uncomfortable and threatening to do so.  Every
accusation deserves an answer, even if it had been answered a
thousand times before.  If the accuser turn a deaf ear to your
answer, that is OK too.  At least you have fulfilled your
obligation not to allow what you believe to be a false accusation
to go unanswered.

One observation I would like to make concerns the different ways
that one can approach theosophical study.  Liesel touched upon
this issue, but I would like to restate it according to my own

Some years ago, we had a guest stay with us from a Northern
California Study Group.  I remember questioning her in some depth
concerning the methodologies and activities she used in the study
of theosophy.  She told me that they read Blavatsky, Leadbeater,
Jinarajadasa, Sri Ram, Bailey, Steiner, Krishnamurti etc.  etc.,
and discussed them.  I asked how the group handles contradictions
between these writers.  She replied that they talk about the
contradictions until they are resolved.  In other words, she was
coming form the assumption that all of these writers are writing
from a common revelation, therefore the possibility of any real
contradictions in the teachings would be unthinkable.  Any
contradiction is only an illusion created by the ignorance of the

In our study group, we also read Blavatsky, Leadbeater, Besant,
Bailey etc.  etc.  but we neither assume a common revelation, nor
do we reject the possibility of its existence.  Therefore, we ask
very different questions--such as: How does the word-choice of
this author compare with that author? Though this author is using
the same term as that author, do they really have the same
understanding of this term? This author has come up with new
information; so what is the probable source of it? How does this
teaching fit with earlier teachings by the same author, and by
earlier authors? In short, the difference between our group and
hers, is one of taking the teachings on faith, as opposed to
approaching them with discrimination.

Like theosophical study, I think history can also be approached
in different ways.  We can approach it on the faith that our
leaders are above reproach, or with discrimination.  Or we can
take a position anywhere between these views.  But we have to
remain aware of how our own attitudes can color what we think we
know.  Or as Liesel says, we view through our "personal lens."
Liesel is right when she suggests that we cannot know everything
about the past, but this doesn't mean that the past is
unknowable--or that we can't come to a reasonable understanding
of it.  It is also true that the same history can be seen from
different perspectives.  Indeed, a standard textbook on American
History can be very different from one written through a minority
view point.  Both accounts can be equally factual yet represent
different views of the same events.  But I don't believe that
just because history can be seen from more than view point
lessens it value.  I think an intellectually honest reader is
enriched by a multiplicity of historical views.  Such a person
has the opportunity to critically examine the facts, take the
merits of the viewpoints into consideration, and come away with a
more thorough understanding of the event than before.

But minority views can only be effectively expressed in a
atmosphere of openness created by those who represent the
majority views.  For instance, that American history textbook
presenting minority views in our public schools would have been
unthinkable in 1950.  But we as a society have grown.
Unfortunately, our growth has only come after a hundred years of
racial oppression, riots and bloodshed.  But now we are beginning
to enter a new era of what Paul calls "healthy dialogue." Isn't
it about time that the Theosophical Society adopts this method
also? Liesel's point is very well taken that the Leadbeater issue
has been discussed for sixty years and that we have considerable
polarization on this issue.  Much the same can be said for the
Judge case, the Coulomb conspiracy the Krishnamurti issue, and
much more.  But it isn't that people won't stop talking about
these controversies that is the problem.  The failure occurs when
the different sides of these controversies stop *listening* to
each other.  I have to agree with Paul's view that healthy
dialogue means ", honest, and respectful of one another's
integrity." But I would add that a healthy dialogue that is open
and honest, cannot at the same time avoid discussing anything
that the other party might not agree with, or would prefer not to
hear.  Forcing ~honesty~ to lie with we are to have any hope of
coming to agreements between theosophical factions, it will have
to be done through "healthy dialogue." Other methods have been
tried, as theosophical historians well know.  In the past,
members have been expelled, a Lodge charter pulled, information
suppressed and "politically correct" histories written to silence
opposing view points--but none of these things have silenced the
controversies.  On the contrary, they have probably contributed
to assuring their continuing survival.

Now that this is off of my mind, I can go back to writing papers.

Happy holidays.

Jerry Hejka-Ekins

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