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Re: From 26 to 41

Sep 29, 1995 10:10 PM
by Arthur Paul Patterson

At 9:55 AM 9/30/95, K. Paul Johnson wrote:
>Since the issue of youth vs (middle) age has been raised by
>Jerry and Rich, I'd like to throw my 2 cents worth in and ask
>for comment from others of you who have been Theosophists for a

It is educative to think about ourselves "in time". There is some illusion
when we think that what is now has always been and will always be forever
amen:) and yet that is how we are oriented isn't it? There is nothing more
comfortable than an illusion, as RW.Emerson said.

Having not been a theosophist (in JJ's 3rd and 4th sense) for years, I was
hesitant to respond. But I know that changes in ways of holding beliefs as
you mature or at least become older are universal.

What surprises me about this listserv is that the topics I am dealing with
in my life keep coming up in a synchronistic fashion. Below, I sent this
response to someone in my Watershed group about changes in belief or
approach over time. (bracketed by *)

*At the early stages of spiritual development, and that can be until you
are about 40 or 45, it is important to realize that whatever authority you
choose - you are responsible for. For instance, when we were children we
didn't even know there was another world view than the one that our parents
taught us. At the early stage there is a complete identification with what
is around us with absolutely no I/Thou features. If you were a Mennonite
then it was a Mennonite (you could substitute Christian Scientist, Jewish,
Theosophist, Wiccan etc) world the green texture of the hymnal, the sort of
foods, the accents of older relatives and even parents, church and
legalism, were all a deep part of our life which was unquestionable.

When we break out of this Circle, we discover there are other worlds out
there, worlds that at first pose a threat and very quickly offer an option.
Usually these worlds are with our friends at school. Some of us needed to
go even more far afield to check out others worlds even further away.

My middle class fireman's kid world was left behind as I read biographies
of Che Guevara , Mao, John Steward Mill, Buddhism, Communism, Electric Kool
Aid Acid test ect. Music and rock and roll provided abit of a world apart-
I wasn't listening to Chubby Checker forever soon the Beatles and the East
became part of the piece of discovery. Destructive things were often done
at this time things like sniffing gas and glue, mixing drugs, getting in
tangle with police, active political rebellion. At any point this life
could have ended in insanity, death or jail. Luckly it didn't. I got
through my need to be independant quite well, I think (although some would
disagree). As a result of these wierd experiments, I gained responsibility
for what happened. I didn't go to high school (grade nine drop out), I
missed a lot of good stuff as well as bad but as they say it was my life.
This was my little journey, I took it and it was a rush.

 But my waterslide of independence had to slow down and get serious about
life, especially spiritual life. So after a bit I discovered Jesus Christ
Superstar and eventually re-entered my old tradition with a different tune
in my heart. Walla - stage three! become responsible, really believe the
tradition that you inhaled at youth. And so it was. I tried to conform with
my will a way of life that promised certainty and stablity. God knows I
needed it by then, eh? I studied and taught and fought through the
strangest debates from the evils of roller skating, to inerrancy, to
tricotomous vs dicotomous nature of human life, to evolution or creation
and on to salvation and uniqueness of Christ. Tons of history,tons of
learning, lots of commitment and devotion to the cause.

My authentic individual nature came up again and on every issue of faith
when I got down to it, I was not in the fold, not part of the collective.
On one issue I remained "faithful" and that is on the issue of trust faith,
grace, and love as the center of the Spiritual message. That hasn't
changed and so I moved on. To a stage five- I affirm the heart of my old
tradition but individually interpret the details in line with other
resources and traditions. *

That is the story I told my friend and now my Theos-l friends. One of the
things that struck me as I read this is the contrast" between where I was
and where I am". Often in the past, I looked at the distance between these
positions and felt the need to judge where I was and loose critical
evaluation of where I am. This I felt was reflected even historically when
historians called the Medieval age the "dark age" and the 18 Century as the
Age of Reason or Enlightenment. There is a moralizing about so called
progress that disturbs me.

When a young evangelical, I learned to denounce my "sinful" days of drugs,
and rock and roll and feel ever so superior to that time. Later, when I
learned the dark truths of modern scholarship, I denounced my evangelical
naiv=E9ty. I looked back at my intolerance and judged and blamed myself for
adopting the positions I held as if I were those positions. Now in my
agnostic period I look at all my beliefs and say to myself what a fool I
was to believe in anything didn't I realize it was all metaphor and
illusion anyway - my new way is better. But if I have learned anything
about life over this pilgrimage it is that what I am and what I believe
will move and change and what I am obligated to do as I see it is to
passionately state what I feel and believe knowing full well that that too
shall pass away. Perhaps our fall into history is to teach us the lesson of
the paradoxical truth of compassionate detachment - loving our truth and
letting it go - to love more truth; and ultimately I hope to be loved by

I once studied the great social prophet Amos- basically a laborer, not a
prophet. He was a sheep herder and grape picker from Tekoa in Judah. He was
a fiesty sort of fellow, called to denounce certain injustices and to make
a lawsuit between the High Power which Israel called Yahweh and the
nations. One error that was denounced that I didn't understand was "pouring
lye on dead man's bones". That phrase intrigued me as I read about it
originally it had to do with desecrating the remains of ancient kings who
you have no use for anymore. I have been trying to apply that admonision to
my life. I see the past as my dead kings ( reigning pieces of my
consciousness) and I am trying not to exalt the current ideas above them
but to honor their contributions in my life - I may have moved on from them
but I refuse to denigrate them too harshly anyway. For I have stepped on
their backs to get where I am. I am grateful even for my dogmatic moments
however revolting my former words and beliefs are to my new self.

Anyway, that was a long way of saying what I think about the process of
maturing and growing. In short, "I refuse to throw lye on dead men's


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