Feb 01, 1995 02:24 PM
by K. Paul Johnson
Following up Keith's idea of applying Jungian personality theory
to the TS, here are some pros and cons of what I imagine to be
the general Theosophical personality type (which just happens to
coincide with mine and his):
1. Introversion. It seems to require a certain
inner-directedness to end up in something as obscure as the TS.
In general, Theosophists have rich inner lives and not much drive
to attach to the group compared to types attached to mainstream
religions or most "cults." Paradoxically, though, the TS itself
is extroverted in that it's more interested in the world outside
than in its own identity. (This is mainly true of Adyar, e.g.
the publications). Whereas extroverts who don't have such inner
resources seem to be attracted to groups that are more
self-referential. For example the ratio of Baha'i discourse that
is explicitly about Baha'i is about 95%; for Theosophists the
ratio is probably more like 45%. As a consequence, we tend to
attract a small minority of seekers, most people needing
something more oriented to their needs for belonging. And most
members are at-large, meaning we have relatively little
interaction. But the quality of our interaction is perhaps
correspondingly more meaningful than that found in many other
2. Thinking types with inferior Feeling: On the plus side, most
religious groups provide far less intellectual stimulation than
found in the TS. Our educational model makes for a relatively
information-dense collective life. On the other hand, if Feeling
is inferior and unconscious, this means that emotional issues
aren't dealt with healthily, but rather are suppressed. Then
they poison discourse which purports to be intellectual but in
fact is often derailed by unacknowledged Feeling.
3. Intuitive types with undeveloped Sensation: Our books would
be totally uninteresting to a Sensation type, one would think.
Just to follow HPB's arguments requires a strongly intuitive
mind. Theosophy offers a body of literature that wonderfully
stimulates the capacity to view the universe in terms of grand
meanings. But perhaps we are so far out on the intuitive limb
that we don't connect very well with the needs of those who want
practical, hands-on, how-to.
Conclusion-- in each of the above cases, Theosophy as a movement
tends to appeal to a minority. E.g. something like 70% of
Americans are extroverts. Feeling and Sensation also seem more
common as dominant functions at least in our culture. So it's as
if we are triply condemned to being small and obscure.
But is that all bad?
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