Group Project Art: Part 2
Sep 23, 1995 04:40 AM
by Arthur Paul Patterson
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?
I was amazed to hear that as early as Leeuw there was a synthesis being
formed between natural science and spirituality. I know that it is implied
in many writers but the synthesis between Materialism and Idealism is quite
surprising to find in 1930. Reductionistic scientism was the root of many
19th Century and early 20 C. approaches to psychology and spirituality.
Baron von Hugel a spiritual guide in the 18 C. suggested that science and
spirituality should not be separated and the integration of such would lead
to a mature spirituality.
I just got my copy of quest as Jerry's question came. Rupert Sheldrake has
written an excellent article connecting physical and spiritual reality,
"Spiritual Practise and Morphic Fields". Since Quest is a Theosophical
journal, I think of the finest quality, I see that the idealism charge of
van Leeuw has to be at least modified. On line I have tried to follow the
dialogue especially between Jerry S. and Eldon on physics subjects, and I
have heard of Liesel's interest in new physics so I conclude that a change
has occurred. I am by temperament not a scientist so much of this is beyond
me. I find that in the integration I am slow and immature in my
spirituality. It the Karma of being a grade nine drop out:)
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?
What van der Leeuw is driving at is the rejection of creativity by the
collective, even the enlightened collective. I just finished writing to a
friend about Emerson's take on Thinkers. Here is a snippet of that
Usually we evolve as a world community when creative individuals have done
their job. Where would South Africa be without Nelson Mandela or Scotland
without William Wallace (Braveheart)? These are radical individuals who
because they are at the right place at the right time - evoke world change.
They are history makers. Listen to what Emerson says about them:
Beware when the Great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all
things are at risk.. The very hopes of man, the thoughts of his heart, the
religion of nations, the manners and morals of mankind, are all at the
mercy of a new generalisation. Generalisation is always a new influx of
divinity into the mind. Hence the thrill that attends it. p. 138
The generalisation Emerson speaks of is the message that is incarnate in
these people. The message is one that is timely and transforms the
consciousness of the world. It breaks history out of its current circle or
ripple and plunges it toward a new one with great pain. I wonder as we
approach the twentieth century if a new individual or group of individuals
will be the ones to more us to the next circle. Right now the pain is here
but the message is not as clear.
On a personal note, I am very reluctant to be very involved in any
theosophical or spiritual organization that is formalised in any way. I
realise that I gain from the organisations that promote the materials but
the fact that I am a questioner of all tradition and adhere to my own
version of epistemological agnosticism buts me at great risk. Perhaps, as I
get further away from the sad events of my evangelical past this approach
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? 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?
First off it is impossible today to ignore the word "brotherhood" it must
be translated into human community or siblinghood or something but it is
distracting and tones the discussion with a flavour of undue patriarchy
which was never the intention of the early Theosophist. I am particularly
sensitive to this because the movement I was a part of was called the
Mennonite Brethren. At every gathering I had to always say that I was not
in a men's religious club. Although with the antiquated views of women I
may as well have been.
Seeing the TS as a family has the advantage of a sense of deep connection
and also the danger of unconscious collectivity. Families are both
wonderful and dysfunctionally horrible to generalise concerning them is
truly dangerous. All this "family values" rhetoric I hear is subject to an
purely instinctual identification not unlike the blood and soil doctrines
of the Germans. So it is not the mere nomenclature that creates
brotherhood. I paid my $35.00 to Adyar am I in the family? I read Quest
magazine regularly and am learning about Blavatsky and Theosophical
history. Does this make me a family member? I enjoy, learn from, and
struggle with the cyber community of Theos-l. Does that make me a part of
the Theosophical family. If I am a sort of fringe person I will receive a
latitude that many do not have. The explanation will be oh, he's new and
doesn't know any better, poor sot. Indulge him. On the other hand as the
Theosophical movement takes up a deeper residence in my heart and mind then
more will be expected of me. Like a family I will be expected to reflect
group values and not to miss the family gatherings and not to dishonour the
family by being different. Interesting, that this is precisely what Van Der
Leeuw is getting at in the third and fourth definitions of Theosophy.
A concept of siblinghood that is not broad enough to include all genuine
spiritual seekers is too small for Theosophy - it would eventually lead to
an us/them dichotomy of exclusivity. On the other hand what happens when
there are no levels of commitment or deepening - there is something
extremely insipid about collective democracy where every one regardless of
skill, dedication, or commitment have the same input in decision making
ect. This is why right now I prefer to stay deeply committed to definition
number one and avoid the historical local relationship to theosophy. Any
ideas how to over come that dilemma? Or is it something that ought not to
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 see both revelation and realisation working in our theo-l group.This is
the only "lodge" I have to go by. The most outspoken advocates of
realisation in my estimate seem to be Jerry EH, Paul Johnson, Liesel,
Lewis, and Eldon Tucker. I don't know what I am stepping into as I suggest
that but from the posts and my impressions these people are geared toward
Experience as a root. Again this is just impression, but I shall share it
anyway, Daniel H. Jerry S. maybe Rich and some others tend toward a
Traditional/Experiential modality. Patrick and Brenda while blending the
above approaches appear to me to have a revelational cast to their posts.
None of these perspectives are superior or inferior intrinsically, in my
opinion, since all can work together to form a balancing corrective to one
another. The only problem, as I see it, is when we get too identified with
our opinions. In a book I am reading on the Esoteric Emerson, the author
Geldard writes:" Our philosophical and theological speculations are often
passionately debated, as if our lives depended on them. What creates the
passion is being wedded to these speculations and opinions, so that our
personal worth and identity is bound up with them." Esoteric Emerson p.
125. I passionately state the things I believe but I hope that beneath
this impassioned energy that propels me forward is a centred Self that
observes and is disinterested in the circumstances I find myself embroiled.
Incrementally, this paradox of passion and disinterestedness might combine
to form a spiritual character, I live hopefully live toward that
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