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Re: "source teachings"

Sep 24, 1995 10:26 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker

>>> Rich

>>>I agree that the presentation of the teaching need to be in the
>>>lnguage of the people, accessible and understandable. And I agree that
>>>that's our job, to keep the teaching available in that way.

We need to distinguish which version of Theosophy that we're talking about.
There's the general concepts that are intended to spice up the thoughtlife
of the West. These are intended for everyone. And there are those Teachings
that are fragments of Mystery Teachings, and beyond what can be popularly

For the former materials, we certainly would want to clothe them in many
different kinds of words, in music, in poetry, in drama, etc. For the
later materials, a technical language is needed. If we were to simply
substitute typical English words for the Sanskrit, we'd obscure the meanings
rather than make them clear. Every specialty of thought has its own
terminology, and Theosophy is not different in this respect. When we do
something like Trungpa in his Buddhist writings, and simply use English
terms, we force an unnecessary burden upon the reader.

>>Jerry S

>>This from the person who wants me to talk about upper and lower
>>manas, buddhi, kama-manas, buddhi-manas, atma-buddhi-manas, etc., etc..?
>> Who in today's society has ever heard of such things except a handful of
>>theosophists, and how many of them really understand the terms?

That talk is fine, when writing to fellow students, and when working to
preserve the Mystery Teachings. It is inappropriate when speaking to the
general public and trying to reach the millions.


>It is one thing, I think, to teach Theosophy to the public using very clear
>language and presenting the basics. No Sanskrit,, definitely.

Yes, when we are weaving themes of the Esoteric Philosophy into modern
thought, or in introductory lectures. I'd disagree when we have a study
class that attempts to go into the deeper Teachings.

>I only ask that those of us here who really want to hammer out in-depth
>topics like psychism and globes etc. watch our language. Terms are quite
>important when you get down to subtleties.

Having many terms indicates a richness of thoughtlife. Look at the many
terms for spiritual things in Sanskrit, and compare it to English. We
are still mostly inarticulate about the spiritual in the West, we simply
don't have the language for it.

>This is neither a truly "public" forum nor is someone like you likely to be
>confused by a few Sanskrit terms which are comparatively precise.

We shouldn't need to explain why we'd attempt to go beyond the sort of
materials found in public lectures on 'theos-l'. This is a place where we
can experiment with our deeper, if not deepest thoughts on the Philosophy,
knowing there may be some that appreciate our words. And since we're not
"in print", we don't have the same karmic burden for hastily and incorrectly
spoken words, that we would in a published article or book.

>When we
>say "manas," well that's a broad subject. In public, when I am giving the
>teachings, I just give the seven basic principles, and say "mind" and let it
>go at that.

Sometimes there is a direct translation, in a particular context. But it's
best to learn the language. When we study chemistry, we don't learn popular
terms for the elements because we are unfamiliar with terms like "hydrogen"
or "helium".

>When we are questioning what is psychic, what is noetic, what is lower and
>higher, dangerous and safe, spiritual and pernicious, a little more
>sophistication is needed, no?

We have the additional problem of having a borrowed terminology, where the
terms don't necessarily mean the same thing as they do where they were taken
from. Our idea of "nirvana", for instance, is not guaranteed to exactly
match the Buddhist idea.

What I hope will happen over the years is that we evolve a consistent and
agreed-to terminology that will serve to communicate the Teachings, as we
have been presented them, a terminology helps keep the ideas clear rather
than confuses because of misleading connotations.

-- Eldon

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