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Authenticity On Line and In Life

Sep 25, 1995 08:40 PM
by Arthur Paul Patterson

Rich: Art, I totally see your reasons for remaining independent, and I see no
>reasons that anyone should try to convince you otherwise.

Art: I am not a spiritual lone ranger or anything. I live basically in a
spiritual community. It is not economic community but our lives intersect
at a deep level. The community has gone through many struggles together
over ten years but still holds together. While there is not overt hierarchy
I would be considered the "leader" or the founder of this community. To me
that sounds damn pretenious but it is the case. I don't like either leading
or following. I am frightened of both the use and the misuse of power. More
frightening however is pretending that you have no power when you do - that
leads to the greatest abuse.

Rich: >The one big benefit I think I realize in being an associate of a
local ULT is
>that I get to meet with folks regularly who know the philosophy, and I can
>bounce ideas off of them. But I could do this just as well in daily life
>with ANY bunch of people if I were committed to listening and learning from
>them, as I am to the folks at my lodge.

Art: There is a great worth in having fellow pilgrims to bounce ideas off
of but I don't think that it is best just to self select some friends to
sit down and chaw with. To be rooted in some sort of Tradition at the very
least gives you a point to start from, a history to affirm and react to.
There is something profoundly spiritual in my estimate in trying to remain
tethered to the core teachings of your group and yet be flexible enough to
adapt those teaching to new environments or if the teaching prove
inadequate to abandon them altogether after sufficient grappling.

>Another benefit I feel I receive is that I get to be part of a "center of
>force" which Mr. Judge talks about, namely working in a center which is
>already active, and I can add my own energy to the effort to keep the
>teachings alive and make them available to so many in the public who would
>really like them but don't know that they exist, or where to find them. At
>the same time, each individual is a center of force, and the potential for
>activity is infinite, no? It may be that lodges are for weaklings and people
>who need external supports.

Group life, in my estimate, is ambiguous; without it there is a danger of
becoming totally inflated, and to live within a legalistic community can
crush your spirit entirely. To live in community takes a very strong
individual; otherwise, unconscious collectivity sets in and destroys
creative responses. There is some very good work done on how individuals
respond in community based on spiritual development by James Fowler. For
some, the movement of their hearts and lives involves breaking away from
any collective values and finding out what they believe themselves. For
others, the movement involves rediscovering the benefits of group life as a
free agent who is not coersed out of fear to conform but has individually
affirmed the tradition they are in. Within every group there are always
those who need the security of being guided into what to think but the
first step for them is to realize that they are making an individual choice
about where to put there trust. This could be the beginning of their
consciosness of independence. Most of the Theosophists I have read place a
very high value on independent thinking and I really appreciate that
perspective. But how to develop toward that place of independence is really
a question for all of us.

>I can certainly see that, especially in the modern age, with technology
>allowing all of us to exchange ideas instantly on-line, that we on this board
>already form a "center of force" from which true Theosophy radiates, and more
>and more people are signing on. From the comfort and privacy of our own
>homes, we can educate and be educated by literally hundreds, and perhaps
>someday soon, thousands of people. No need for lodges or local affiliations,
>unless one wants and needs them.

Art: Theos-l is one of my places of spiritual nurturance. I come here to
learn but more I come here to commune with those who want to affirm the
spirituality of life in a variety of ways . I don't think cyber
communication is in many ways superior to life on the street - so to speak.
I was telling a friend that what we are on line is often a better self than
what we are in the midst of the emotions in our life (sometimes this is not
true:) ) and that in many way we can share a very deep part of ourselves on
line that our closest colleagues cannot see in life. I need the life in a
historic community of spiritual seekers to check my self perceptions. Yes,
I believe this and that - but how do I react? how do I live those beliefs?
The lack of groundedness in cyber communication has both advantages and
disadvantages. I like to maintain a balance between those two lives. One
way of bring them together which I have engaged in is communicate on line
with those in my life so that they can see another side of who I am.
Another way that has brought these two together is that once a firm basis
of trust has developed and you are very sure you know what you are getting
into a phone call to someone you communicate to on line is helpful. The
voice carries so much communication. I don't advise this lightly however
because God knows we don't want to become cyber snoops or anything but an
occassional action like that is I think helpful.

>I applaud, you, Art, for your thoughtful posts and insightful comments. it
>does not seem to me that you suffer in the slightest for being an independent
>Theosophist and an independent thinker.

I appreciate that affirmation, Rich. I just hope that I can maintain
authenticity in both sides of my life on line and off. Thanks for allowing
me to share this with you.

Arthur Paul Patterson.

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