re: source and secondary literature
Sep 04, 1995 03:04 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
JHE> Therefore, we devised this rhetoric, not to divide
>theosophists (the Adyar policy of not recognizing Judge already
>did that), but to bring them together again by pointing out that
>they are already united by a core set of teachings from which
>each tradition has evolved.
BT>This is very good, but this is not how people are using it
>today. They are using it to kick out any mention of people or
>to poke fun at what the "second?" group might be saying. It
>seems selfish to call this a secondary group of writers, because
>they should be looked at as the product of the first group and
>by doing this we could maybe view their positions as closer
>to our position in the sense that we are trying to follow in
Then we are agreed that it is not the term, but how it is
used that can hurt. Fire can warm my soup or burn down my house.
Similarly, I can use "source literature" or "core concepts"
rhetoric in any number of ways. I think the sting comes when
someone suggests that the secondary literature might be inferior
to the primary literature. That is a judgement call. Obviously
there is a majority who prefer the secondary literature over the
primary. It is easier to read, the concepts are generally less
abstruse, stylistically much of it is more appealing to the
imagination. As Tillett pointed out, it is the secondary
literature that caught on in the popular culture. People talk
about Masters, Astral Bodies, Astral Projection, clairvoyance
etc. in the way that CWL understood these things, not as HPB
understood them. So popular culture made a choice and CWL won
This classification of primary and secondary literature
indeed suggests that the second group of writers followed the
first, but it doesn't suggest that there are no inconsistencies
or that they came from a common revelation. It only indicates
that the second defers to the first as the earlier literature.
Whether one is better, more accurate, or superior in some way is
a judgement call that can be argued either way. When the
secondary literature discusses something not in the primary, or
clearly contradicts the primary literature, then we have an
inconsistency. For example, both HPB and the Mahatma letters
writes that Mars is in obscuration. That means that there is no
life evolving on Mars at the present time. However CWL's
clairvoyant observations are inconsistent with the source
writings. Are the secondary writings automatically wrong when
they are inconsistent with the primary? No. It only means that
they are inconsistent.
Keep in mind also, however, that under the classification of
"neo-theosophical writings", the secondary theosophical writings
become the primary writings in the neo-theosophical
However, inconsistencies between the primary and secondary
literature has created frustrations for me, because many people
are reluctant to accept that such inconsistencies exist. For 20
plus years, I tried to teach HPB's philosophy using HPB's books.
Without fail, I get at least one student who is well read in CWL
or in Alice Bailey, and it is automatically an uphill battle to
get any of HPB's ideas across, because the student almost always
assumes that CWL and Bailey are consistent with HPB. Therefore,
everything they read in Blavatsky, they filter through the Bailey
or CWL skeins, and never can get to what HPB is trying to say.
To counter this, I have to begin by telling that person that HPB
does not necessarily use her terms in the same way as CWL or
Alice Bailey. Automatic confusion immediately sets in because
they usually never even considered that possibility before. When
we begin talking about the seven principles, I have to explain
that HPB's "astral body" is not what CWL means by "astral body."
that HPB's "Linga Sarira" is different from CWL's "Etheric body",
that the "Causal body" is not a principle per se in HPB's
schemas...and the eyes begin to glaze over. It makes me want to
beat my head against a wall.
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