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JRC to Eldon: Inner Abilities

Sep 13, 1995 11:38 AM
by jrcecon

 [To other theos-l'ers ... this might be a long post - worthy
of deletion if the issue has not interested you (-:)]
 As several posts have gone by with continued concerns being
raised about inner abilities, and as I've withheld any comment
until I had thought through our previous interaction, I s'pect
its time again to speak ... only this time perhaps with a
different tone. I've spent years in Theosophy hearing the same,
oft-repeated warnings (only, however, from what Jerry would call
the "intellectual" type - most of the feeling and intuitive types
seem to have little problem with the subject), and at this point
will not try to convince anyone to hold other ideas than they do,
but have decided that I also can't simply let these ideas be
perpetuated without answering them - as I will continue now to do
whenever I hear them mentioned.
 That said, I also think it was a mistake to have simply
reacted to your posts - instead of taking the trouble to build
the foundation that underlies my perspective, I instead reacted
with little pieces of it, and hence became frustrated and a wee
bit short with you - and further, may have lead you to believe
that I was simply reacting to personal affronts from an poorly
conceived position - and this is my fault. What I'd like to
relate here, then, is the philosophical and spiritual foundation
for the position I've been advocating - and while I do not expect
to change your mind about the issue, I do hope that you may
acknowledge that, while conflicting with yours, it is at least as
viable, worthy of respect, and as well thought out as your own.
 I'll begin by responding to a couple of comments from two
recent posts (by way of introduction - as they seem to fairly sum
up some dominant thoughts in the Theosophical world) and then
move to generalized themes.

JERRY <In your response, you seem to totally disregard the third
objective of the TS. Would you care to write an article on just
how we should accomplish the third objective?>
ELDON <The objects of a Theosophical Society are not words of
divine revelation, but simply an attempt to formulate a useful
purpose for the organization as a particular project of the
Masters. We can do or not do anything that is spiritually
 While this is true, it also sums up (IMO) a large problem in
current Theosophy. By analogy, the US Constitution is not divine
revelation either ... but rather a crystallized form of the
Democratic thought of the time in which it was written. Certainly
there is an enormous body of literature from that time, and it is
even possible to, for instance, use various writings in the
Federalist Papers to argue *against* many parts of the
Constitution - but ultimately, precisely *because* almost anyone
could find justification for *any* position by quoting the
writings of the US founders, it is ultimately the Constitution
.. as much of a compromise as it is ... that defines the US.
 When an organization publishes its *Objects*, it is
publishing its stated goals. While the TS Objects are not divine,
they can neither be dismissed as arbitrary statements that were
not subject to much thought and conversation and that hence can
be lightly dismissed as holding no weight, especially in
discussions of what activities are or are not appropriate in
 I believe it possible for you to justifiably hold that you
frame Theosophy in much different, or larger terms than those
stated in the Objects (as many Americans hold democracy to be
something different or larger than what is written in the
Constitution). I also believe, however, that if I suggest a type
of activity that seems not only not at odds with one of the
Objects, but even further (IMO) actively furthers that Object
(which really *is* supposed to be a *goal*) ... in fact is
nothing but a means of expressing that Object - that it is
somewhat disingenuous to respond to this by seeming to downplay
the relevance of the Objects themselves.
 As you have expressed your ideas of what Theosophy is, and
what appropriate Theosophical activity is composed of, I can see
clearly where in Theosophical writings you draw your perspective
from and would not claim that perspective to be in any way
invalid - but much of what you say seems a very personal reading
of Theosophy, and is not necessarily indicated anywhere in the
Objects ... and when we come to speaking of what Theosophy is, or
ought to be, or do, ... it is not your perspective, but the Three
Objects that we *publically* state, with every issue of the AT,
to be what the Theosophical Society *is*. If, as some members
seem to feel, the Third Object is too discomforting, or contains
too many potential problems, then I'd like to see those members
make a case for *getting rid of it* (though, as I'll try to argue
later, I believe it to be an integral part of a much larger
philosophy that is embedded in the Three Objects). So long as it
remains, however, I would claim that it is every bit as solid a
foundation to build an argument for "correct" Theosophical
activity as any personal reading of source literature is.

 * * * * * * * * * *
ELDON <The psychic is fun, seductive, glamorous, and ego-
gratifying. Having experiences or paranormal abilities impresses
others much more than knowing some deeper philosophical truths
that may be difficult to talk about. Why would people want
anything different? There comes an inner hunger for something
more to life, and that hunger leads to the path of wisdom and
 Those to whom inner abilities are "fun, seductive,
glamorous, and ego-gratifying" (and I've certainly met a number)
are almost inevitably in the midst of either playing games, or
being subject to a few tiny and partial glimpses of some ability.
It is precisely *because* not only the general public, but even
some Theosophists lump *all* manifestations of abilities into
this catagory, and even further, implicitly draw univeral
conclusions about those who possess and use them, that anyone who
*doesn't* fit that picture is likely to clam up. I know a number
of people, some of whom I work in concert with on projects and
experiments, who would be appalled at how inapplicable your
statement is to them. There is an alternative, and equally valid
view of these abilities, that applies (at least in my circle of
friends) to as many people as yours does: to this "group" these
abilities are anything but fun, or glamorous, or ego-gratifying
.. in fact the discipline required to turn them into tools for
service is hard, torturous and boring work (learning multivariate
calculus was *nothing* compared to the continual work of vision
clarification and stabilization); exercising them is not fun, but
often quite draining; and I believe they are only "glamorous" to
those that do not possess them - as fame of any sort is to those
that don't have it. Far from being ego-gratifying, the
overwhelming urge in this "second" group is to keep absolute
silence about them - *you* may worry about people confusing the
spiritual with the "merely" psychic, but neither I or my co-
workers have any such confusion, and frankly the cheap thrill of
wowing people who would overevaluate what such abilities really
are is not only not sought, but is rather a distraction that is
vigorously avoided. I personally have not spoken a word of this
even to many of my nearest and dearest friends.
 Your second statement here, that having experiences or
paranormal abilities impresses people more than knowing some
"deeper" philsophical truths that are "harder" to articulate
requires a response ... but I must be careful here. This idea is
one I've heard around Theosophy since I've been a member, and was
used to shut me up in the past. It is the idea I wish to address,
however, and not *your* (Eldon's) motives. At least a couple of
members I came in contact with said the same thing - and frankly,
the motives came down to this: *They* were accustomed to having
respect and veneration, were used to *impressing people* with
those "deeper" philosophical truths, and whenever I started
talking, even a bit, about a few things I had seen, *they* no
longer seemed as impressive ... in fact, *a source of *their*
"ego-gratification" had been removed from them*. (And again, I am
*not* saying this is your motive).
 My motives for speaking were not, however, to do this. I
hope you can understand what prompted me, when I first joined a
TS and *read its Objects* - its a dynamic that is (curiously
enough) remarkably similar to one that a gay friend of mine had
when he finally found a gay/lesbian outdoor club ... the feeling
that *finally* one has entered a room where one *no longer has to
pretend to be only part of what one is*. Speaking of abilities
and experiences was not even remotely connected to trying to
impress anyone, or attempt to imply I was "spiritual", or to in
any way discount spiritual study, contemplation and meditation,
but just kind of happened when I thought I had finally found a
place where they would be accepted as *Matter-of-fact* things,
neither pedestaled (as some new agers seem to do), or condemned
as dangerous (as some Christians - and for that matter
Theosophists - seem to do). Well enough on this point - I just
hope you will consider that there is a whole seperate set of
attitudes than those you seem to believe motivate everyone with
abilities, and they are held by perhaps as many as hold those you
rightfully complain about - but so long as any manifestation is
lumped into one generalized catagory, most of the people holding
that alternative set of attitudes will simply keep their mouths
shut - feeling (as I have off and on in the last week or two)
that it just isn't worth it.

 * * * * * * * * * *

ELDON <I cannot help feeilng concerned that when we talk about
our psychic experiences, that we're both offering people
"wonders" and implicitly setting ourselves up as authorities on
matters spiritual. People tend to be more impressed with what
someone says if they can recount stories of their visions and
out-of-the-body experiences, than if they simply talk
 Several points here. First, it is not talking about
abilities and experiences that composes setting oneself up as an
authority - but the *attitude of setting oneself up as an
authority* ... a trait that I, with you, think is not that good
of an idea. But if you are concerned about it, consider this:
Looking for a moment just at this list, while there are a number
of people that have had great numbers of inner experiences, and a
few that really do have abilities in some stage of development,
has there *ever* been a post in which such a person used such
experiences as a foundation to claim authority in matters
"spiritual"? In fact most have offered such experiences very
tentatively ... and often, in fact, went out of their way to make
it clear that while they believed what they were expressing had
value, they were explicitly *not* claiming it to be a foundation
for some high spiritual wisdom.
 In fact, surveying both this list and recent Theosophical
journals ... there *have* been people setting themselves up as
authorities on matters spiritual, but they have *not* been
psychics using inner abilities as a foundation, but rather
intellectuals using either their knowledge of Theosophical
literature or the implied claim of a deeper wisdom that had come
from study and meditation as a foundation. If someone has studied
the SD for 50 years, I'll fully acknowledge them as more
knowledgeable than I about the SD. If someone integrates the
entire "map" of globes and rounds into their worldview, I'll
acknowledge that they can speak with more authority than I about
that map. (Just as I *will* claim that while I by no means
understand the totality of what clairvoyance is, I *can* speak
with more authority about it than someone whose has never
experienced it.) Point is, I don't consider *any* of these things
to be foundations of *spiritual authority*. If there *is* such a
thing as genuine spiritual authority, it is (IMO) a condition of
the energy-system of the person as a *whole*, and has almost
nothing to do with any individual abilities, any body of
knowledge or philosophical perspective. [In fact, if you don't
mind a bit of "claivoyance - with no claim to absolute truth (-
:), the largest and most beautiful aura I've ever seen belonged
to a housewife who had no particular ties to religion, and
wouldn't be able to tell you the difference between the Buddha
and Brahma - but as I watched her now and then (she was a
neighbor for awhile) I was absolutely awed ... she would walk
into a restaurant and sit at a table next to a arguing couple,
and in all of five minutes harmony would be reigning ... her mere
presence in a room altered the entire environment, and as far as
I could tell, she never had any idea she was doing anything ...
and people had no idea why they unconsciously felt so much
pleasure in her presence].
 I *am* concerned about the fact that Theosophy, and the TS,
has such a tiny membership in an age increasingly full of (IMO)
genuinely advanced, compassionate souls - and that I believe many
of these people touch Theosophy and are chased away by what seems
to be incredibly arrogant and condescending attitudes present in
the Theosophical current, by people setting themselves up as
authoroties in matters spiritual, by the pervasive attitude that
holds that most people are too lazy, or too desirous of cheap
thrills to do the *real* spiritual work that *real* Theosophists
do (as though spiritual growth is some sort of gawdammed *macho*
thing (-:) ... but at least in recent times, the vast majority of
this arrogance has not come from "psychics" saying "I see things
you don't" ... but by intellectuals saying "I *know* things that
you don't".
 The second point is what you mentioned about "wonders". In
this attitude, as in your concern about people setting themselves
up as authorities, I seem to see an attitude that assumes we're
dealing with children that are incapable of putting things in
perspective. Precisely what is *wrong* with offering a few
"wonders" ... in fact, I must say that I consider the sense of
awe, of wonder, the very *foundation* of my own personal
spiritual orientation. It is not "fear of the Lord" (as Daniel
might say), but a continually growing awe at the enormity, the
complexity, the absolute beauty of this 'ol universe that drives
me ... and all clairvoyance has done has opened yet another
avenue through which to glimpse this. In some stupid old movie (I
think Joe vs. the Volcano), a character says something like "Most
people spend their days fast asleep, they walk in their sleep,
work in their sleep, and play in their sleep, but for those few
who are awake, life is spent in a state of continual and utter
amazement" - and I don't think this is at odds with spiritual
 In fact, not only do I believe wonders are not negative,
they can provide substantial boosts - a personality incapable of
resonating with joy, with wonder, incapable of saying "wow!
that's remarkable!" is (IMO) *unfit* to touch higher states of
awareness. I would agree with you that there may be some who
might initially overevaluate "signs and wonders" ... but they are
far more likely to be found in Fundamentalist churches than in
Theosophical circles.
 I have certainly done my share of study, of meditation, of
discipline and character reformation ... but if HPB walked into
my house today and asked me if I'd like her to manifest a letter
from the Masters, I'd say "hell *yes* what are you waiting for?!"
.. and the wonder I felt at the manifestation would not cause me
to downplay or miss the actual words of the Masters in the
letter. In short, I see absolutely no conflict between the
possession and exercise of inner abilities and the pursuit of
"genuine" spirituality ... and in fact consider the pursuit of
some sort of path absolutely *essential* for anyone born with
some sort of ability. I do not believe anyone (for instance) on
this list confused anything I said about the angels with some
transcendent spiritual insight, or in fact as anything other than
simply another avenue of input, another perspective, in a
conversation. You seem to imply that to simply mention an ability
and report input gained through it is synonymous with setting
oneself up as a spriritual authority, and even further that
somehow many people cannot handle the task of evaluating such
input. Where are these people? Sure as heck not on this list ...
and in fact the only people in Theosphical circles who seemed
(IMO) to overevaluate such things have been those of the
intellectual type who felt in some way threatened. There were
problems in the history of the TS with this sort of stuff ... but
we have grown substantially - the Krishnamurti fiasco *could not
happen in today's Theosophy* ... I believe we have grown beyond
such things. It is not too much belief unbalanced by reflective
thought that threatens us, but the urge to institutionalize, to
make solid decisions about what is permissable and what is not,
to *shrink* Theosophy into a controllable form composed of little
other than quiet "deep" study that is our greatest (IMO) threat.
Headquaters is currently locked up by a little group of people
absolutely determining (or attempting to) what Theosophy is or is
not ... passing laws that increase control ... and would love to
squeeze out *any* mention of actual abilities (expect in
historical accounts), any mention of people who believe the
Masters work with them, in their attempt to make Theosophy
"acceptable" to the mainstream academic and philosophical worlds.
That dynamic balance between the ordered and chaotic, between
known and the unknown, between the existant and the possible,
seems to have swung far to the side of order and form. 40 years
ago, I would have agreed with *everything* you've said, but I
believe that today we could use some fresh life, we could use
something to upset the applecart. We could use a few *wonders*.

 As with abilities in general you *seem* (and I may be wrong)
to be implying that it either has to be the "psychic" *or* the
spiritual, that one can *either* experience wonders *or* do the
hard and long work of the path ... and I just don't get this, as
these thing not only don't seem mutually exclusive to me, but
actually seem to quite harmonious when integrated and kept in
 Well, I've gone on too long as it is here, and will have to
save the case I wished to make about the Objects until a "Part 2"
of this post.
 [And by the by, I s'pect your right about the "sandpaper"
.. I've noticed your language and tone have altered ... and hope
that mine has as well (-:)].
 w/ real love & respect, -JRC

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