[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Re: What authenticates what we Believe?

Sep 17, 1995 02:24 PM
by Lewis Lucas

> Art: He does bring up the issue of what becomes "authoritative": Tradition,
> Reason, Revelation or Experience.


 Been contemplating this for a few days and enjoyed the earlier
post from Murray on this topic.

 The woods are full of trails. Trails arise from repeated
experience of travelers. This way leads to here that way leads you
somewhere else. *Tradition* is somewhat akin to these trails. They are
the accumulated experiences of others. But just as trails in the
woods sometimes lead to places that no longer exist traditions can
loose their revelance to todays traveler because they were for a
different age and time. The trading post is no longer there.

 Joseph Campbell made the arguement that myths had to be updated
for our times. We live in an age so rich and full of experiences.
Centuries ago it would have requried several lifetimes in widely
separate geographical areas and cultures to have the same amount of
experience now available to us in a single lifetime--which is also
twice as long as it once was.

> I am fully aware that the arguement for
> the authenticity of a statement resides in its self authentication in a
> persons Experience. That is one view point.

 Learning from our own experience is such a mystery. How often do
we have to repeat the same mistakes before we finally catch on, begin
to see the cause/effect relationships? Learning from others
experience I think can be done, but is even more challenging. We can
vicariously experience the casue/effects of some action or activity,
but we often tend to discount it as not applying to us. "Oh, that
will never happen to me...I'd never do that!"

> Daniel tends to use Tradition and Scripture to authenticate what is
> true. Daniel has come for whatever reasons to mistrust human
> experience as a means of coming to truth.

Lewis: This point puzzles me. This sounds confused. Tradition and
scripture *is* human experience. I doubt anyone could ignore their
own experiences for long if they contradict the traditions and
scriptures they are using for guidance. We may suspend our judgement
temporarily, but can't do so for very long. Life forces us to
reconcile our ideas with our experiences, and if we don't we usually
experience a mental or emotional breakdown.

> You may have come to mistrust "Revelation" in any body of
> tradition as the means, and I am sure you have reasons for that.


 In sports we recognize the importance the coach plays in the
success of the athelete. Still the athelete must perform the tasks.
The coach can't do that for them. The coach can point out the way,
show us how it should be done and sometimes we will have a moment of

 Revelations can occur when we suddenly understand what the coach
has been trying to get us to see or do. There is a momentary leap
forward in understanding, but that is followed by a lot of *work* to
develop the skill, the idea and bring it under our full control and
understanding (a term I like better than "reason").

 I think revelation is like the blooming of a flower which we have
faithfully watered. We don't exactly know when it will occur. It
doesn't usually happen while we are watering it either.


> Others on the list seem to appeal
> to Theosophical tradition in a manner not unlike Daniel, however not with
> the tone of a Daniel. Answers seem to be decided by what HPB says or Judge,
> or the M.L.

Lewis: Yes, I see your point, but it is because these traditions
and scriptures have been and are being validated by our own

> There is a fourth authenticator on the list and that seems to
> be the use of Reason with a scientific flavour to it perhaps something of a
> methodology.

Lewis: Reason, science, the rational mind, manas I see as the bridge
between the limited understanding of our personal self and the much
wider knowledge/understanding of our inner spiritual self--the
accumulated wisdom of our lives.

> Personally I try to work out authentication as a blend of
> these things.
> But as the early greeks said, Give me a place to stand and I
> will move the world.

Lewis: This idea is also in the biblical mustard seed isn't it?

> Daniel is rather aggressively advocating that we stand
> in one particular place which he considers sure footed. This is why he
> quotes Scripture. I don't know if it is entirely helpful to tell him to
> come up with his own ideas since he has made a concerted effort to find his
> authority outside of himself. I don't agree with him that authority rest
> exclusively on the outside.
Lewis: Good point. I agree authority must come from within.

> Eldon: >The offense that we take to beliefs we don't like is not unique to
> >Daniel's comments, but is equally true of other things that have been
> >said. It's a spiritual practice for us to work on not feeling a sense
> >of offense at ideas that we don't like.
> Art: I am not sure of this. I am very offended by real racism of the
> nazis, I am offended when by totalitarianism. And fundamentalism, in any
> form whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Theosophic which limits the
> freedom of others and degrades them is in fact offensive as well. There are
> limits to tolerance, not where Daniel sets them, but there are some limits
> to what can be tolerated by any group no matter how enlighted.

Lewis: Annie Besant said that righetous indignation was a step in the
right direction. At a later step there is said to come "a peace that
passeth understanding" which is based on a far-seeing and
circuspective view of things. When we can see more clearly the
casue/effect relationships and how they work themselves out. Then we
develop compassion for those who, ignorant of the law of harmony, do
things which will bring suffering to them in the future. But, I ain't
there yet, so I share your limited tolerance!

> >I don't think that the discussions with Daniel will come to an end
> >because of some of us feeling any sense of offense. They will
> >end because there is nothing new for him or us to say to each other,
> >because our discusssions have gotten too repetitive. Or they can
> >continue and be productive because Daniel takes the courageous step
> >to speak with his own tongue, to clothe his thoughts in his own
> >words, and speak as a philosopher rather than simply parrot the
> >authoritative words of another.
> Art: I agree with you only I feel to that the admonition ought to be
> leveled at all of us. We need to personally own our position even if that
> position is one rooted in Tradition or Revelation. I would like to hear
> the perspective of others who feel that they root their authority in
> revelation of some other sort than Daniel so that we could learn how this
> style is differentiated. Or perhaps some one would like to argue from
> personal experience. For instance Why is it important that the Masters
> exit? Because Blavatsky tells me so? Or do I believe in the Masters because
> it is a revered tradition with Tibet or other esoteric places? Are we
> capable of direct personal contact with the Masters, Emerson speaks of a
> direct relationship to Divinity or Higher Consciousness not dependant on
> second hand accounts. Lastly, is there a logical necessity to believe in
> the Masters?

Lewis: In one of my favorite mantras--The Golden Stairs--there is
a verse which says, "...a willingness to give and receive advice and
instruction, a willing obedience to the behests of truth once we have
placed our confidence in and believe that teacher to be in possesion
of it..." I think this goes back to my comments earlier of the value
of a coach/teacher. We all have blind spots in our reasoning and a
good teacher's sage advise and instruction can be an important aide.
Progress can be made without this aide, but it is a much more
difficult path.

 However, the sage advice of one who has been there, so to speak,
can be a real advantage--enter the teacher, the Master.

> In no way am I dishonoring the tradition, experience or revelation by
> asking these questions. I am genuinely interested in the perspectives
> theos-l people have on these issue which for me have been stimulated by
> conversation with Daniel in the Lion's Den.
> Arthur Paul Patterson

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application