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Re: What authenticates what we Believe?

Sep 18, 1995 08:18 PM
by Arthur Paul Patterson

To Lewis and Theos-l

> 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.

Lewis, I am grateful to you for using this image. I have been so wrapped up
in the theological and philosophical image of what revelation is and how it
functions that I have missed the simplicity of the trail. I once tried to
talk to a seminary professor I had in Boston about the fact that Revelation
is rooted in experience. What I think happens is what Emerson calls a
settling for a secondary and not a direct experience with the Universe. If
I travel the ancient trail of Christianity I find that it dead ends for me
around the time just after the Reformation when emphasis on dogma and
facile logic were applied to faith. The very Ancient path can still be
walked to good effect I think but the trading post must be in the now.

>> 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.

Art: I wish you were right here Lewis, I have experienced the power of
dogmatic ideology and it can take years (20 in my case) before you take
your experience seriously. Part of the dogma is that you can't trust the
human perception because it is intrinsically corrupted and depraved, set
toward evil. So when your experience begins to question anything in the
tradition the thought that you are being tempted immediately comes up and
the cycle begins again. I agree of with you about the nearness of mental
breakdown when you have dishonored your own perception for so long. I had a
terrible transition from evangelicalism to faith -the structure had
collapsed and it has taken a few years to build a small cabin for faith
(Walden Pond) to live in. I was used to living in a basilica:) (Christian
Tradition) now I am in this cabin of faith looking out the window meeting
strangers who pass by and enjoying the company of fellow seekers. Endless

> 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

This image makes me think about the difference between revelation as a
traditional concept and revelation as an inbreaking of new experience.
Traditional revelation is a coach in your analogy, whereas, inbreaking
occurs when we are on our own in a state of receptivity. I like your
comments about revelation.

> 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

Art: This may be true but I don't hear too much about that on line.
Abstraction and theory seem to prevail. I am not at all adverse to that it
is just that I would like to see how theosophical philosophy is
authenticated in experience. For instance, has anyone directly and
unequivically meet any of the Masters or are they a guiding "construct" a
helpful idea?

>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.

Art: Mentor is a word that I think makes some sense in my life. A mentor is
a guide. I have had very few contemporary mentors perhaps a few professors
and others but ultimately I have never found a Master in those I have
bumped into. Aspects of mentoring, I have been graciously given through
others in combination with others. My main experience of mentoring has been
with people who have left a legacy people like: Jesus Christ, CG. Jung
(who I considered mentored me from beyond the grave for about 10 years);
currently I have discovered a new mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. I feel as if
there is a relationship between myself and these people that is not rooted
in history but in spirit and that I am called in some way to their
guidance. I think of them as inner wisdom figures even though they have had
an external existence which, of course, I am very interested in as well.

Lewis, thank you for your comments they were clarifying and encouraging.

Arthur Paul Patterson

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