Some reasons for the conflict
Dec 26, 1994 11:36 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
This is by Eldon Tucker
I can appreciate the humor in your posting regarding
people not to pick an argument with. I'm not sure if being on
the list or being left off is the highest honor. With both
Brenda (my wife) and I on the list, I suppose that we should
beware of each other!
Paul Johnson & Liesel D.:
The open nature of our discussions invites conflict.
There's simply too much that we all have to say, and not all
of it is in agreement! I've had a number of conflicts with
others on theos-l myself, and have tried to respond as if the
other person wasn't angry. It was only a few months ago that
Paul and had an interchange over the nature and place of
history in Theosophy.
The more ideas and viewpoints that we express, the
greater the likelihood that someone will take offense and
respond with some ill-advised words.
We need a free marketplace of theosophical ideas, where
the better ideas tend to win out, and where the challenge is
to be clearer, more lucid, more compelling in our writings.
This approach is far better than trying to sway the minds and
hearts of people by discrediting their heros.
I can appreciate the different sides to the current
discussion. As a teenager, I read all Leadbeater's writings,
became vegetarian, joined the Adyar E.S. at 17, and wanted to
grow up like him. I even got books on the fourth dimension,
and thought about and drew various geometric figures trying to
understand it, because CLW had written that to do so helped
with developing psychic sight. But later in life, I started to
read Purucker and changed to embrace the Point Loma version of
Theosophy. I've also had exposure to statistics and empirical
research methods, and at one point in the early 70's did a
survey that detailed the differences in views between Point
Loma and Adyar views on Theosophy.
From my standpoint, the basic source of the conflict is
not in Leadbeater's character, but in the reliability of his
psychical investigations, and the philosophy that he taught.
In "How Theosophy Came to Me," Leadbeater explains that
he came to Theosophy through reading books of Sinnett. Those
books contained various errors that Blavatsky later corrected
in "The Secret Doctrine." Leadbeater thought he saw the things
that he read and expected to see, even though what he read
turned out later to be wrong.
Leadbeater was assisted in his writings. His personal
secretary, Ernest Wood, helped with book preparation. Wood
wrote, for instance, the three books "Talks on the Path of
Occultism" from lecture notes of CWL's and Annie Besant's.
CLW wrote books on Theosophy that strongly depended upon
his psychical observations. He liked to call his experiences
the result of "positive clairvoyance", as something good and
better than what most people experience; I'd tend to disagree
that there was any difference.
Leadbeater's associates like George Arundale, and
followers like Jinarajadasa, read his books, accepted what he
said, and either repeated their interpretation of the ideas,
or did their own psychical experimentation. Again they saw
what they expected to see. A school of thought has arisen, and
it's not quite like the original Theosophy that we can read
about in "The Mahatma Letters." People of like belief
associated together, had similar psychic experiences, and
provided each other with external validation of their beliefs.
My experience with Leadbeater's writings was that after
I read them, there was nothing left to do. I could try to
become psychic like him, or start reading something else. I
almost got started on Alice Bailey's books--fortunately I met
Lina Psaltis and Ken Small and got introduced to Purucker
instead. Purucker's writings are special, but I won't try to
go into why at this time.
There are perhaps several dozen areas where we could
discuss philosophical differences. Some concern places we'll
never see or go to, like Mars and Mercury. Others concern
basic approaches to the Path. Like in Zen Buddhism, we are
taught to shut down psychic experiences as an early important
step of spiritual training, and to instead to awaken the
"mind's eye." And Leadbeater's version of the astral plane
looks more like the Spiritualist's than what we'd read about
in the early theosophical literature.
I would find the most fruitful discussions about
Leadbeater dealing with basic differences of philosophy, and
not worry too much--except in purely-historic discussions--
about the particular flaws of character that he or other
theosophical writers may have had.
When we find something that brings color to our faces,
and brings up our pulse rate, and makes us fighting mad, we'd
come to something that touches us in a fundamental way. True,
there are other ways to be deeply touched, but regardless of
the way, we have discovered something that is important to us
and we need to deal with. It's important to wait long enough
so that when we respond, it's us talking, and not our anger
that speaks. We've found an important area to spend our useful
energy on, and we should put it to its best use.
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