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van der Leeuw and the new age

Sep 18, 1995 04:18 AM
by Brenda S. Tucker

>Concerning questions; I have a few that might help to stimulate
>more ideas, and hopefully others will raise more:
> 1. van der Leeuw offers four definitions of Theosophy, all
>of which are used in our theosophical literature. Do you feel
>that distinctions are made between these four definitions among
>most theosophists? What problems do you see arising out of
>having four definitions for this single word?

I don't think theosophists use these four definitions. What you find
happening at the lodge and what you find in the collection of writings are
attempts at best to approach what is meant by theosophy. I also don't agree
with van der Leeuw's analysis of revelation and realization. While
realization may be a primary definition, this doesn't rule out the use of
revelation, which only becomes a more rarified form of response to a need as
it may arise within the Great White Brotherhood. I really believe that
people in the E.S. are at times asked to work in ways of which they are
capable to bring about a furthering of the Great Plan for humanity.
> 2. van der Leeuw argues that the world has changed
>considerable since the 19th century--that there was an antithesis
>between spirit and matter that no longer exists in the 20th
>century. Do you agree? Do you feel that the Present TS still
>operates under this antithesis? Do you feel that Blavatsky's
>writings expressed this antithesis? The Mahatma Letters?

A 1920 new age? This is the first I've heard of it. I would like to beleive
that an abundance of books have solved the problem of gross materialism and
in this way today's America would have both kinds of reading available. I
think Blavatsky's writings express a three-way antithesis existing between
body, soul, and spirit. We may be used to thinking in terms of am I
satisfying the whim of the lower self or listening to my higher self, but
lately I've been studying the question of how only one of these three can
reign. If we subdue the lower self, we are creating a pleasant circumstance
for the soul, but this doesn't seem right completely.

When the purification of the lower self reaches a certain level then neither
the body nor the soul can be said to be suffering. The body receives some
degree of inflicted pain, but to give the soul pain we must sacrifice what
we believe to be necessary for the soul to evolve. What we are sacrificing
is the pain of the lower self. By removing obstacles within the lower self
and not permitting an over abundance of difficulty to entice the soul into
satisfaction with its progress, what remains? Once the lower and higher self
operate in harmony (periodic pain and discomfort followed by moments of joy
and contentment) we can be as van de Leeuw suggests, immersed in the
moments of our life and living those moments to the fullest. The Mahatma
letters (and Paul Johnson) suggest communication with the Mahatmas as a
possible "advanced method of living." Van de Leeuw discourages this.

> 3. van der Leeuw says that "...a thinker is always a
>disturbing influence." and that there has been no place for
>thinkers in the Theosophical Society. Do you agree with van der
>Leeuw's assessment? What about the great thinkers who joined
>during HPB's time but soon left after she died: i.e. Yeats;
>Gandhi etc. Why did they leave?

In THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, the advice ends with the idea of blocking out
thoughts but feeling oneself one with all thought. If you can become one
with a universal mind, you would have no need to permit single thoughts to
enter and disturb the vibrations. Once you are immersed in a universal mind,
you have won the prize. Whether or not people remain within the TS is of no
importance. That they are fulfilling their dharma and making significant
contributions is of more value.

> 4. van der Leeuw says that the "brotherhood" offered by the
>TS actually creates a barrier. What does he mean by this? Do
>you agree?

Again, people being admitted and excluded is a circumstance that is only
appreciable below the consciousness of unity. If alaya soul (one mind) can
be realized, why not alaya brotherhood?

> 5. van der Leeuw says that Lodge life breeds mediocrity.
>What has been you experience in Lodges? Do you find anything
>familiar in van der Leeuw's description?

Sometimes we may be on other roads than in pursuit of truth, so by not
claiming to be acting theosophical necessarily, we are giving ourselves more
freedom to be the best we can at any particular point in time. My t-shirt
says, "A theosophist is who theosophy does." I would say a lodge is not
always acting along the lines of theosophy, but sometimes they are.
> 6. What is your evaluation of van der Leeuw's central
>argument that revelation and Authority have worked
>disharmoniously in the TS? How can the TS conquer this duality?
I don't agree. I think his approach to this subject is less than what it
could be and for this reason is challenging others to think beyond what he
has said to a better and more satisfying attitude. The T.S. can just keep
trying to be the best it can be.

Thanks for listening. Sure was fun. Bye.

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