re: Inner Certainty
May 19, 1995 04:00 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
I was just reading your lengthy reply to my posting on "Inner
Certainty" this morning. You raise a number of important points,
which I will try to respond to.
First, I should note that we each have our own distinctive style
of writing and communicating. You indicate your preference when
you say you like talk as though someone is engaged in a search,
but don't like talk sounding like someone has absolute answers,
and is simply waiting for others to understand. It should go
without saying that none of us, in writing to "theos-l", is
making authoritative statements on behalf of the Masters; we all
speak for ourselves, for our personal understanding of the
In your model, you have the duality of universal laws, universal
truths, and personal laws, personal truths. The universal laws
work regardless of personal belief. This distinction usually is
made with different terms: objective and subjective. The
objective truths hold true regardless of how one cares to
understand or relate to them. Subjective truths depend upon
personal belief and interpretation.
It's important to subject to severe scrutiny what we know, feel,
and experience, to freshly rethink things. That is an important
step in keeping our understanding fresh, growing, alive. But it
is only half of the process. It should be immediately followed
by synthesis, where we reunify the ideas that we have broken
apart. Without that second step, we are left with but doubts,
uncertainty, and a gnawing skepticism.
You're correct, though, that some ideas are flawed and with
greater knowledge can be discarded. Not every idea will
withstand the test of time. The ideas that I would consider
among the core concepts of Theosophy would be those that have
been tested and found true, rooted in the ultimate nature of
life. These ideas are not concepts from a couple of eastern
religious traditions, but rather are from Blavatsky, and a few
others, acting as agents of the Masters in presenting some of
their knowledge in the west.
When some of the theosophical ideas are presented to us, we can
wonder, are these really true? How can I prove them? What can I
do to check them out and see if they are real? What tests can I
do to determine to my satisfaction that the ideas are true,
solid, firmly rooted in reality? Much is presented that does not
come with specific tests, trials, or proofs to undertake. Is
First, I'd be glad to have the opportunity to study, to dwell on
high thought and philosophy that go beyond my current ability to
prove it in my life. The study is uplifting, ennobling. Even if
I can't have absolute certainty about these things, I'd rather
benefit from the exposure than remain in the dark until some
future stage of personal readiness.
Second, we are told the general way to obtain irrefutable proof
to the Teachings: live the life and then you shall know. We can
take our first initial steps in the direction of one day entering
upon the Path. With inner transformation comes the ability to
see and understand much that we were blind to before.
Third, we're taught of a second way of "knowing", other than by
personal experience. It's a different way of using the mind to
understand things. If the ordinary way of thinking can be
compared to the sense of touch, this second way could be compared
to that of sight. This inner process of knowing is awakened by a
study of Theosophy, and is a spiritual faculty important to
cultivate. I don't think that it should sound condescending to
talk about it.
(Something might sound condescending if it says: "I know
something important that you don't know, listen carefully to me!"
Taken one way, it's sharing, taken another way, it's
In a discussion when you're questioning the idea of karma, and
asking how we can possibly know about such ideas, it should be ok
for me to reply with the theosophical idea of an Inner Teacher,
or of a theosophic thought-current, that once the student is in
contact with, becomes a source of knowing about things.
It should be ok for me to bring up theosophical ideas, and speak
as though I thought they were true.
Granted, without providing you with a set of tests with which you
can prove to yourself the ideas, you have to take them as my
subjective opinion. To the extent, though, that the ideas remain
rooted in universal nature, they remain just as true regardless
of whether they are proved to your personal satisfaction.
Granted, on the other hand, that to the extent that the ideas are
my subjective views, and unrelated to the Teachings, you have no
reason to give credence to them, when I mention them without any
This is a theosophical discussion group, and we should practice
writing about what we've studied. Something is neglected if we
only question the basic tenants of Theosophy, on the one hand, or
if we simply post lengthy quotes, on the other hand. It's much
better if we give fresh expression to what we've learned!
You make a good point when you say:
"When ... someone *universalizes* their insights, when they
claim ... that the particular formulation of a principle that
they happen to hold at some particular time holds for *everyone*
in *all times*, then something considerable more than "inner
certainty" can, and should, be required from them."
I hope you don't believe that any of us think that our postings
to theos-l' are the final word on anything theosophical! We
quickly see in studying Theosophy that no single set of words can
contain a truth; we see that we have to continually reclothe our
ideas in new words, new expressions, new formulations. Some of
us may find considerable value from exploring the Teachings, and
may be doing a theosophical "show and tell". Let's give people
the benefit of the doubt and attribute to them a good motive. We
don't have to attribute negative motives to people when they
speak positively about the Philosophy.
We get problems in the world when people seek to force their
beliefs onto others. (This is different from, in a discussion,
when multiple views are represented, to speak up to insure that a
particular view has its fair hearing along with the rest.) The
problem appears even when we don't actively seek to convert
others, but settle for belittling others who don't see as we do.
Although some ideas, based upon untruths, break down upon
critical examination, others, as you say, allow for a much wider
appreciation of a truth. I would put the core concepts of
Theosophy in this class. Each idea is an exoteric blind to a
yet-deeper, still esoteric idea behind it. The process of study
and contemplation of these ideas leads to both a growing
understanding of life and an inner connectedness with things.
I do not see a dichotomy between personal, subjective beliefs and
objective, universal truths. First, there is, I'd say, no "the
universe." No matter how big a system we may conceive of, it's
but one unit in yet a bigger scheme of things. The term
"multiverse" seems best, since it does not imply a single
absolute that governs all things.
All that is is alive. There is no such thing as inert matter, or
objective, impersonal laws. For a particular universe, there are
laws, but these laws are the behavior of things in that universe,
and not something with an objective reality of their own. When
we speak of the "laws of physics," we are talking about the
behavior of matter, as we know it, as observed on our physical
I consider an on-going examination of what we think we know as
important. I also consider rational thought, and logic an
essential part of understanding things. But most important of
all, I'd say that most important is our awakening the inner
faculties of knowing, of insight, of learning.
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