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Re: Win/lose kama-manas, fruits, blessings in disguise

Jul 07, 1995 06:41 AM
by Brenda S. Tucker

> One helpful and instructive aspect of receiving plenty of
> criticism is learning to recognize something of how people's
> judgments are formulated. A couple of Theosophists have
> recently pointed out to me that it is crucial to understand how
> kama-manas operates. Reflecting on this has indeed been
> helpful, but I'd like to know what others of y'all think about
> it.

I think they're only mentioning kama-manas to you, because they
want to view you as "uninitiated" and they're trying to lower
your standards to personality dealings.

> Basically, the Theosophical teachings postulate that the mental
> faculties (manas) can be in service to either the spiritual
> intuition (buddhi) or the personal desire nature (kama). Or,
> more realistically, both, in different ways at different
> times. Manas by itself is a morally neutral calculator/ word
> processor that takes on the color of the principle "above" or
> "below" depending on circumstances.

I think people are confusing you and your book.  There are times
when I look at what I have written here and just pray, "Please,
don't let them connect me with what I wrote too often.  I'm not
at all like the person who wrote that message just one week ago."

> Buddhi recognizes the fundamental oneness of all life,
> and thus does not approach situations from a win/lose
> perspective, but rather from a win/win outlook. So a buddhi-
> manasic criticism would start from the point of view that the
> book in question represents an effort by a well-meaning and
> fallible author to do his/her best at representing the truth of
> the topic under discussion. It would ask first, "what of value
> is there in this work?" Second, "what would improve it?" The
> kind of criticism that authors ADORE is precisely what one
> would associate with buddhi-manas. Things like "I see a
> pattern here that you have missed" or "there are depths of
> motivation in this character that should have been considered
> more thoroughly" or "the way you express this conveys an
> impression that I don't think is really what you mean." Of
> course a critic is obliged to see flaws and point them out, but
> from a buddhi-manasic point of view this can be done with
> respect for all beings and a wish to maximize the enlightenment
> potential of the discussion. This sort of approach is pretty
> rare in print; I must say however that Joy Mills exemplified it
> to my astonished appreciation in her review of TMR in the Quest.
> So understanding of what I was trying to accomplish; so gentle
> in pointing out the shortcomings; may all struggling
> authors find at least one reviewer like her!

You're not talking about the buddhi-manas I know.  You're just
talking about kindness.  Buddhi-manas has an "intuition" about
right and wrong.  Some of the effects of the book are good and
some are bad.  Some of Paul is good and some of Paul is bad.  How
pure you are should not be reflected here because of course,
purity is stronger here.

> Kama-manas, on the other hand, is the mental apparatus in
> service to personal emotions, desires, needs. It asks first,
> "how does this affect my interests?" If the answer is
> negative, the book is then dealt with as a threat requiring a
> fight-or-flight response. (If the answer is positive, we have
> a "good review" that doesn't sincerely evaluate the work on its
> own terms, but only in terms of the interests of the
> reviewer.) There is a win/lose assumption underlying
> kama-manasic criticism. If the book is perceived as
> threatening to make the reader "lose" something (security in
> one's beliefs, for example) the reaction is to make the author
> "lose" instead. Thus, an effort to punish and humiliate,
> rather than to enlighten, with the goal of making the critic
> "win" and the author "lose." You can read this stuff any day;
> it's epidemic.

This is a more likeable testing ground, because if energy doesn't
make it past kama-manas, it doesn't deserve to make it to the
heaven of buddhi-manas.  It may as well do a "tour of duty" in
hell, because a book reviewer's concern for the author isn't
apparent if the reviewer is searching for "balance" rather than

> The paradox faced by the subject of such criticism is that to
> buy into the win/lose paradigm is in itself to lose in a
> spiritual sense. You cannot play that game without being
> sucked down into your own kama-manas, and yet refusing to play
> is also defined as "losing" by your opponent. Perhaps the
> better part of wisdom is to conclude that you simply can't win
> in a struggle between two kama-manases; everyone loses.

I once saw an interview with an author on television.  He had
begun to write "bestsellers" in mid-life, and reported that he
had since become "estranged" to his wife and children and divorce
resulted.  In my estimation, this man became so taken with his
own worth to society, that his arrogance and success caused him
to lose what normally would be valued so highly in life, one's
family and dignity.

> I've been a public librarian throughout my career, writing
> entirely as a non-remunerative sideline. My emotions (hurt,
> resentment mostly) at being attacked by fellow Theosophists
> have very little to do with my sense of self as a writer or
> scholar, and EVERYTHING to do with being treated as a heretic,
> enemy, "not really one of us" etc. The pain is in the part
> of me that feels, essentially, "I love Theosophy and HPB, have
> done my best to prove that the Masters are real, and all these
> people hate me for it-- WAAAH!"

You say that your writing has been non-remunerative, which is
fine, but does "Kill out desire for the fruit of your actions."
mean anything to you.  Fruit can take many forms.  You may not
desire money, but you are certainly desiring "praise."

If I were you, I would be really grateful for the Cs and Ds.  I
mean, no one is going to fail you.  You have a good job.  Cs and
Ds are so soul-ful.  They're so balanced.  They're so concerned
for the man and his ego and his spirit and his soul.  Pain? Hurt?
I always repeat to myself the teaching that if we can become
truly harmless, we in turn won't be susceptible to hurt.  Are you
vegetarian or have you thought about trying this?

> BTW, for those who may have seen no reviews of The Masters
Revealed, here's my report card thus far.  A is strongly
positive, B is somewhat positive, C is somewhat negative, D is
strongly negative.  Others may perceive the same reviews
differently, of course:

> Claire Walker, in Reflections, A
> Edward Hower, in New York Times Book Review, A+
> Joy Mills, in The Quest, A-
> Richard Smoley, in Parabola, B-
> Anon, in SF Bookdealer's Journal, B
> Jerry H-E, forthcoming, B-
> John Cooper, Australian Theosophist, A
> John Algeo, American Theosophist, D-
> John Algeo, Theosophical History, C-
> Plus recent favorable mentions by Stephan Hoeller in Gnosis,
Jay Kinney in Gnosis, Robert Ellwood in Theosophical History.

Definitely would stay with John Algeo and shun all the rest.

Bye Bye friend.

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