Sep 14, 1995 10:58 AM
by Eldon B. Tucker
>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
Granted, that in joining the Adyar T.S., one now belongs to an
organization that as its stated goal advocates the exploration
of the unknown, and the powers latent in man. The wording of the
object is open to interpretation. Are these powers of the spirit
or of the lower siddhis?
I'm not trying to interpret the object in a particular way in order
to impeach it as a justification for psychical investigations within
the Adyar T.S.
>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
Yes, within the Adyar T.S. we have quite a liberal situation;
we can practice many different approaches without being considered
too out of line. But there have been explusions at time, both at
the lodge and national section level. Sometimes people are considered
as having gone too far. Where is that dividing line? I suppose it's
up to the current T.S. leadership to decide.
For myself, how should I limit my practice? I belong to the Los
Angeles Lodge of the Adyar T.S. I also have an Associate Card on
file at the Santa Barbara ULT and am a member of the Pasadena T.S.
Each group has their own guidelines. Is my personal practice to be
limited to the specialized agenda of any one of these groups? Should
it be restricted to only what any of the three groups define as
>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.
When I'm writing, I don't picture myself as a good, card-carrying
theosophist of a particular theosophical group, living within its
stated guidelines and fighting to defend its particular "faith".
I see no reason to want to impose any restrictions upon you based
upon any organizational guidelines, when I don't limit myself to
>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
And I should be free to communicate it and promote it as an
useful path to the spiritual.
- but much of what you say seems a very personal reading
>of Theosophy, and is not necessarily indicated anywhere in the
I'm trying to asimilate the theosophical ideas by taking them
to heart, putting them in my own words, and working them out
as far as I can take them. I don't want to hold myself back to
what I can find quotes for. Then I'd be like Daniel, not, perhaps,
daring to stray from his biblical quotes for something to believe in.
> ... 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*.
True, the Adyar Theosophical Society is a framework for study and
shared spiritual growth within the guidelines of its stated
objectives. This is quite independent of what any of us personally
know of Theosophy, either from an intellectual study of the source
Teachings nor from our own personal insights into it.
>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).
That's up to them to decide. I would say that a good case can be
made for an approach to the spiritual that stresses an initial
avoidance of the psychical. That approach is not exclusive, and
can coexist with other approaches that either are indifferent to
it or encourage it. The approach is one I subscribe to, at least
at this point in my life, and I feel that there is value to my
writing about it. Can my writing about that approach in a positive
manner be done in such a way as to not seem an attach on other
approaches that take a different direction?
>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.
True, as an activity in the Adyar T.S. I'm not sure it would
find acceptance in the Pasadena T.S., but I haven't asked anyone
there what they personally think of the question.
>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.
That's true. We may have a tendency to over-generalize, and
ascribe a motivation to everyone when it only applies to some.
>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.
They shouldn't be appalled. It should be clear that it is an
over-generalization, and not a personal attach directed at them.
If they react that way, they are making an equally big mistake
of reading motives into the actions of others that simple aren't
> ... and I believe [these abilities] they are only "glamorous" to
>those that do not possess them - as fame of any sort is to those
>that don't have it.
That's true, and it applies to both those who might like to
take a path towards their development, and those who might be
candidates for the approach that I prefer to follow. Are we
"competiting for converts"?
>Far from being ego-gratifying, the
>overwhelming urge in this "second" group is to keep absolute
>silence about them
I can see this. Especially when one is growing up and does not
have other people to talk to whom are either knowledgable about
what is going on or having similar experiences.
> - *you* may worry about people confusing the
>spiritual with the "merely" psychic, but neither I or my co-
>workers have any such confusion,
I can take your statement on this, and also go by what you write
to evaluate where you're coming from and what you seem to
understand. The term "merely" would be used when the psychic is
given primary emphasis, with the spiritual either ignored, unknown,
or not considered important. With some people, the psychic may be
an "instead of" situation, with others it would be an "in addition
to" situation. I would be opposed to the former and in sympathy
with, but not an active supporter, of the later.
>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
I'm glad to hear this. Not all people are this way, though, and
if you are lumped in with them, you've been unfairly critized
through an over-generalization.
>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.
The basic intent with most people, in voicing the idea, I assume,
is to direct people in one direction, to follow one approach, and
to avoid the other. Better reasons should be used, so that the
seeker can make an informed choice.
>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
There's the statement: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance,
baffle them with bullshit." Some do this. It's a trap that all of
us can fall into if we're not careful. I'm sure I've had my share
of off-the-wall obscure, dogmatic-sounding comments.
It's true that people can sometimes put down things that they
don't have or can't do, as a form of ego defense, to keep themselves
seeming more important than others. It's certainly a trait that we
should try to avoid.
>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).
This reminds me of a theosophical class that I was giving in
San Diego perhaps 10 to 15 years ago. We were reading from "The
Mahatma Letters." For some reason, I got talking, and started getting
into Buddhist themes, and ended up speaking for about 45 minutes.
(This was the first and only time that ever happened to me in a class.)
An older man in the class, a long time conservative student, then
stood up, and blasted me nonstop for about fifteen minutes, telling
me in half-a-dozen ways how what I was saying had nothing to do
with Theosophy. He concluded with the pronouncement that he, his
wife, and their friends would never attend that class again. And then
>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*.
We all need a place where we can feel "at home". That is part of
the process of seeking, where we find a set of supporting friends
and a school of the spiritual to associate with.
>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).
True. We should not give any special status to people for having
different, more advanced senses than we do. And we should not
condemn them either. But at the same time, some spiritual practices
are more tolerant of the active use of the psychic than others,
and the particular approach that I would follow may make different
recommendations than the approach that you may follow.
Perhaps I should say "if you take this particular approach, you
will be told to stop using the psychic, but there are many
approaches, some of which don't make this recommendation."
We should both express things in a way that indicates that we are
talking about one of many differing approaches and not the one
and only exclusive way.
>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
I'll concede this. You might likewise concede that thare are perhaps
experiences from the approach that I advocate that are equally
difficult to communicate, equally of value, and to be found in
the direction of spiritual-intellectual practices.
>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.
This works both ways. There are perhaps some readers from the
Pasadena T.S. that keep their mouths shut for a similar motivation,
not wanting the spiritual-intellectual approach lumped in with
religious dogma, false teachers, and countless theories of
speculative philosophy. The two of us may be exceptions to our
respective groups, daring a bit to come out in the open and write
about things that most would rather keep secret.
>It is not talking about
>abilities and experiences that composes setting oneself up as an
Unless one states or implies that only by having such experiences
can one really *know*. (I'm not saying that you have made such
>but the *attitude of setting oneself up as an authority*
Agreed. This is what a preacher does when using the words "God says"
to back up his own personal religious opinions.
>a trait that I, with you, think is not that good of an idea.
>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
No one has explicitly made such a claim. We sometimes tend to react
to statements about such abilities as an implied claim to authority
when none is intended. And "inner experiences" and "abilities in some
stage of development" can refer to psychic, noetic, and higher
faculties, not to one particular kind of development.
>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.
That's a good thing to do.
>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.
It is quite possible to also use that claim to set oneself
up as an authority too. You're probably referring to me a
bit, in a less confrontational manner, here, and I'm not
entirely without blame in this respect. But it should be possible
to speak with conviction and certainity, without having to also
establish oneself as an authority, requiring others to follow
or believe in what one says merely on one's say so. I would
never try to claim that I'm special, and that what I say should
be believed *because I said it*. The theosophical ideas stand or
fall on their own merits, and all I can do it work on being better
able to express those that I believe that I know.
I would say that speaking with conviction and a feeling of
certainity (though not finality) is not necessarily wrong, and
does not imply the assertion of personal authority.
>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
I don't accept "authority" as primary, but rather the integration
of understanding in one's life and the ability to clearly share
or express that understanding. This doesn't mean that I won't
respect more advanced students, like HPB, and give serious study
to her works. The use that I'd put to "authority" is in terms of
deciding what to study, not in accepting anything "on faith" or
simply on someone's say so.
>(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
You can speak from personal experience of it. But I would suggest
that there are ways of understanding things without having to do
them, and that I can also have some understanding of them without
being psychic myself.
>Point is, I don't consider *any* of these things
>to be foundations of *spiritual authority*.
True. But authority in a spiritual sense is when we trust a
guru to tell us what to do, when we're not in "self-training."
We don't need spiritual authority as much as we need spiritual
influences and teaching.
>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.
We are genuine when we act from wholeness, when we act from all
our principles without any part of us supressed or left out of
> [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].
>From what you say, she seems to have a positive effect on others.
I'm not sure that we can, though, judge her spiritual status from
either the attributes of her current personality, nor of the
visible size of her aura.
>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
Yes, we could do more good work and reach more people.
>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
>authorities in matters spiritual
This is possible for some people. And it is true of many, if
not most spiritual organizations. But if the newcomer loves
what he finds in the theosohical teachings, he won't really
mind, and will go at the books, and establish close ties with
fellow students, despite any organizational arrogance.
>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*
That attitude results from pride and lazy thinking. When you're
deeply involved in something that you really love, there's no
sense of pride nor of judgement of others who take a different path.
... 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
In the Adyar T.S., this would be the backlash against the pro-psychic
tilt of the 1920's. It's too bad that we cannot establish a balance
without having to tilt things in either direction.
>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
When we simple say "don't do that" and leave it at that, you're
right. But I hope that we don't simple tell people what to do,
but offer explanations and some philosophical basis for what we
>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.
It's not having the wonders or not that is important, but how
you use them in your life. If it spices things up, and special
weight is not put upon seeking "wonders", then as a general rule
I would say "that's fine." But I would want to discourage people
from anything that they use as an excuse for not taking the
self-initiative in their own spiritual quest, and that includes
the dependency on psychic wonders for external validation of
something they should readily *sense* and *know* within.
>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
The sense of amazement is wonderful, and we can go through
phases where it colors our events. Buddhism also tells us about
the value of boredom, that boredom brings great insights too.
I don't think we should expecially seek either, but be equally
open to enjoy either as it comes in our lives.
> 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
Yes. But a wonder can be a baby's smile, an unexpected phone
call, or simple a general other-worldly sense of amazement during
a day when one breezes through life as though in a world of magic.
>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
And we can say the same of people that make philosophical and
religious pronouncements, and overevaluate their own cognative
>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
I'd say "yes" too. It would be like visiting a factory and seeing
how something is manufactured, or going to an observatory and
looking in the telescope, or visiting the offices of a newspaper.
We get a glimpse into an area of life that we don't ordinarily
>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.
There's at least one guru that takes the approach of using wonders
to encourage the faithful, Sai Baba, using materialization after
materialization to stimulate his followers enthusiasm.
And yes, it's especially for anyone born with some sort of ability
to seek a spiritual path, regardless of the nature of the ability,
be it of the mind, heart, or senses.
>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
Perhaps. But outside the list may be another story. And we all --
myself included -- can be tempted to write at times as though
we were warning people in general of dangers that we may be
too mature to fall prey to. Is it possible that you are also
tempted to warn us of the dangers of being caught up in the
dogmatic thoughtlife of the past? Could we all be warning each
other of dangers we don't really face, because we're so used to
warning non-Theosophists of them?
>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.
Probably an automatic reaction on my part to warn people of such
a danger. Most of us certainly know too much to fall prey to it.
>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.
We may all threaten each other in different ways. What is your
reaction when told that there are other avenues to direct experience
of the spiritual, based upon an spiritual-intellectual approach,
avenues that are just as real and substantial in our lives as
>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
History often repeats itself. I would keep an eye out for any
type of human failing leading to damage in the theosophical
>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.
As a specific spiritual practice, we can formulate approaches that
work for some of us. These approaches can coexist with others in
the greater framework of theosophical groups. We do not "shrink"
Theosophy when trying to understand and explain in greater detail
one such approach. On the other hand, we're not trying to be everything
to everyone. Other groups may make a stronger appeal to particular
people, and they should participate in the one that makes the
biggest impact in their lives for the good.
>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 ...
The control is probably well-intentioned, although I cannot speak
for the motivation of other people. I would have to ask them their
There's always the question of what is taught within the T.S., and
how much latitute in personal views is tolerated under the unwritten
charter of the organization. (This is what I would consider as
preserving the theosophical philosophy intact, *as the current
leadership understands it*.) We quickly get into issues of power
and control that sometimes cannot be resolved, and then there are
>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.
When this happens, we see an attempt to formalize things into an
orthodox religion, where "revelation" and direct experince of the
spiritual is not possible, except through the second-hand
pronouncements of the organizational authorities. I would suggest
that "revelation" and direct insight is not only possible, but
readily available *to any of us*.
>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.
Time for some turbulance? Making waves won't work execpt at
crucial points when there is the traditional "sensitive dependence
on initial conditions," and small causes bring about big effects.
>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*.
Fresh life is needed, but we have both *wonders of the mind* as
well as *wonders of the senses* possible to us. We need both
amazing, miraculous events as well as breathtaking words that
thunder wisdom into our souls.
>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
There *are* different approachs, and the one that I prefer
downplays the psychic, when not actually calling for its supression.
But that doesn't mean I can't openly allow you to take a different
It's not really an either/or situation, but different approaches
have their own emphasis. And the alternate to the psychic and its
wonders is the spiritual-intellectual with its own wonders. And
its wonders include the same intensity of amazement and awe at life
that you may feel in and through your approach.
>... 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
Again, it's a difference of approach. In the approach that I would
take and promote to others, we seek the highest spiritual within,
and the outer life naturally rearranges itself on its own accord.
This includes the eventual natural occurence of the psychic, in due
course, at some unspecified time in the future, but it does not
focus on fine-tuning the attributes and failings of the personality.
> 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 this has taken quite a while to reply to.
> [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 (-:)].
Yes. The only other thing to remember with that analogy is that
the sandpaper is appropriate when we put on our armor, it works
fine on softening its rough edges. But when we take off the armor
and open up, the sandpaper will only tear into skin and draw blood.
The approach in communication that is taken should be appropriate
to the other person. I've seen on 'theos-l' this forgotten at times,
with resulting ill will between people that's hard to heal.
Look forward to part two, hopefully shorter than this one.
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