Re: To Eldon
Oct 03, 1995 11:00 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
>> We can comment on the other ideas from our standpoint, or from
>> the standpoint of the source teachings, without attempting to silence anyone.
>Yes we can, except that the tone we use, and some of those
>opinions we speak can serve to effectively silence numbers of people from
>speaking of a whole range of experiences that to them are as much a part
>of Theosophy as the "source" teachings are.
We can work on the tone that we use. When se speak from an understanding of
the source teachings, we can offer relevant quotes like Rich, or put the ideas
in our own words and perhaps slant the writing to the person we are addressing.
When we speak from our opinion, where we know that we've either gone beyond
what we've read or disagree with it, if we label what we say as our views,
and don't speak harshly, we should be allowed to disagree with the
interpretation of others.
>Clearly you do not wish to
>even slightly mitigate your attitudes about "psychic" abilities, and
>clearly you will forward them as often as you like.
How about your attitudes about them? How open are they to mitigation?
>This does not please
>me, but I have no standing or ability to cause you to re-think anything you
>say, or your manner of saying it. Neither, however, can you cause me to
>cease responding when you do this,
When we see something that we don't agree with, after a while, we feel it
necessary to say something. Since we disagree, there will be that tendency
for either of us to respond to what we see written, offering our alternate
viewpoint. You seem to be saying that I should do all the rethinking, and
don't admit to any being necessary on your part. This sounds like you're
coming from a fixed position.
>and to respond with my own perception
>- which is that some of the ideas you speak do serve to supress the
>pursuit of the Third Object.
For purposes of science, we may investigate things that are known to be
dangerous, like perhaps doing medical experiements with radiation and
x-ray equipment, even though human subjects may be harmed. When the
subjects are informed of the risks, and their participation in the experiments
is for the purposes of scientific investigation, an execption to the
"don't do it -- it's dangerous" rule might apply.
We could also, in scientific experiments, allow for a controlled observation
of phenomena in seances, to question spirit guides, photograph protoplasm,
observe the knocks on tables, etc. There may be harmful consequences from
participation in these activities, but they may advance scientific knowledge
and if the subjects were informed of the risks then it would be ok. Going
to seances, though, is not something that I'd suggest that people do as a
>While you may not evaluate the Objects
>highly in your own understanding of Theosophy, this list, while
>inviting contributions from members of all three Theosophical
>organizations, was nonetheless begun as a discussion list for the TS -
>to whom the Objects are publically stated goals.
Here you seem to be asserting some control over the unrestricted nature of
discussions on 'theos-l' by appeal to authority, the authority being perhaps
some wording or early ideas of what the list could be used for. The list is
a group with its own dynamics and has taken on a life of its own.
>The words "psychic" and "spiritual" have so
>many different meanings as to almost be meaningless here.
We've talked about what respective parts of our nature that they refer
to. We can go over that discussion again. Perhaps another approach would
be to break apart all the different things that might be labelled as "psychic"
and discuss their individual merits and shortcomings, so that they aren't
all lumped into a single category.
>We are offered
>not one, but many paths - some of them that may involve what you refer to
>as "psychic" abilities, and others that focus purely on what you call
I've said this too, that there are many paths. Some schools may involve
the psychic in their training. I'd still want a Mahatma or Chela to oversee
my training, if I were to enter such a school, and not experiment on my own.
>The notion that there is some single approved
>method of travelling the path is not one that I agree with, and smacks
>(to me) of the uniquely modern, western predilection to universalize
>every personal perspective into a general principle.
Each of us travels the path in his own way, although we don't get far without
adopting a tried-and-proven practice. We need to associate ourselves with one
of the many spiritual practices, and there are many. The spiritual/intellectual
approach is not an exclusive one. It's one that is often spoken of in our
theosophical literature, and one that I find valuable. Sometimes when you write
you seem to deny that there is such a school, and I feel inclined to offer
an alternate view.
>There may be many
>humans whose underlying orientations towards life are so different than
>yours that for them the path you say "we" are offered will make little
>sense - and may not even be an appropriate one for them to try to follow.
When we speak of people in general, and not the few that feel a special
awakening, were talking about "the path" rather than "the Path". The former
is the individual search for meaning of people moving along with the progress
of culture and society, for people emersed in the human Lifewave. The later is
for the rare individual looking for a path that is not externally available,
neither understood nor appreciated by external society, for a path that leads
to one of the Mystery Schools.
>When, however, this particular perspective of yours is spoken of in
>universal, general terms as "the" path "we" are offered, you may be
>telling these people that Theosophy is not a place for them.
In our literature, perhaps behind some of our books, can be found fragements of
the Mystery Teachings. A contemplation of these Truths can work as a very
real spiritual practice. Apart from that, we have theosophical groups where
anyone can come and study and compare notes on their personal approaches.
These people you refer to can come, study, and take whatever of value they
find in the books. And they can do whatever practices that they find suitable,
with no one telling them they "have to do this" or "have to do that".
>You may claim that your ideas are based upon
>Theosophical "sources" - but so are mine. You can point to a number texts
>that back up your ideas ... but I may point to the people that *wrote*
>them, many of whom most definately did pursue the development of inner
They had inner abilities, and some also had various paranormal powers.
But what did they say about the powers, their use, and the desire for powers?
>> I'd call it a body of thought or belief system, and say that it is based
>> upon the source teachings of Theosophy, althought I might not be able to
>> do a point-for-point justification of it using HPB quotes.
>Yes, and mine is based upon the *behaviour* of the "source"
>Theosophists. and upon other writings that indicate awareness of the fact
>that abilities were going to start arising spontaneously in many people
>in this century - which they are.
I agree that various abilities will arise spontaneously. And unless a particular
person is involved in an approach to the spiritual which requires the shutting
down of these powers, there's no reason not to explore them. I would expect
that any astral perceptions would be subjective and not very reliable, but
still useful for people to awaken to a sense that there's much more to life than
we see with our physical eyes.
>This "body of thought" or belief system
>is based upon a particular perspective on Theosophical sources - but it
>is not necessarily the only valid perspective.
You're free to have your personal interpretation, as am I. But apart from our
personal views, it should be possible to see what is plainly said in the books,
with the exception of deeply esoteric truths.
>> I've sensed a similar argument with Daniel H., where my different ideas
>> that would describe his subjective experiences, where I don't use the Bible
>> and Jesus and God in my descriptions, may be seen as hostile. With him too,
>> I accept the experience but may not accept the explanation offered. Is that
>> hostile? Only to the fixed ideas.
>With respect, this seems to imply my ideas and Daniel's are "fixed",
>while yours are fluid? Your ideas seem every bit as fixed as you seem to
>be saying mine are.
I'm not saying that my ideas are fluidic and yours are fixed. I agree that
the experiences that you have are real to you, and don't attack the experiences.
When I disagree with you explanation of your experience, I'm not attacking
the experiences, I'm only disagreeing with the explanation. You feel your
experiences are under attack, when they are not. The same is true with Daniel H.
When I might disagree that Jesus is literally speaking to him in a spiritual
experience, I'm not attacking his experience, only his explanation that the
experience involved Jesus personally speaking to him.
>But you do bring up a very important point here: Upon what
>foundation do you claim the wisdom to evaluate and hold opinions about
>someone else's inner experiences?
I cannot evaluate them in terms of what they mean to you. I can evaluate them
in terms of what mechanism or process is going on, based upon your description
and what we are taught in Theosophy, combined with whatever additional insight
I can bring to the analysis. Can I really know for sure? No, not any more than
I can know for sure if OJ really was a killer, even after hearing the
evidence, since I wasn't there to watch the murders.
>This, perhaps, is the source of much of
>what may seem to be my anger - I do not think I have ever placed your
>inner experiences into my paradigm (save to say that what you call
>"higher wisdom" is just as subjective as what you call "psychic"
>experiences and label as unreliable)
The problem here is the distinction between art and philosophy. With art,
you may write a poem, and it has a certain feeling, and it stands without
explanation. With philosophy, we attempt to describe and understand the
things before us in life. Your experience may be akin to a poem, and you
resentment comes from a philosophical analysis of it.
>- in fact I do not know what you
>mean subjectively when you talk about this "inner knowing" ... and would
>not think myself in any way capable of placing it into *my* map of the
>inner worlds (which, by the way, has come from a lot of reading, of
>Theosophy as well as a number of other systems and philosophers, seasoned
>with as much empirical testing as abilities have allowed me to do).
Jerry S. has also asked me about this, and apart from stray comments that
I may write in email, I may have to write an article. What I'm saying is
that just as the psychic senses are extensions of the physical senses beyond
the perceptive powers of the physical body, there are extensions to the
power of the mind to know and understand that go far beyond our normal
method of rational thought and arriving at opinions.
>The trouble your posts give me is that they seem all too easily to place the
>inner experiences of others into your own map of the inner worlds - but
>this evaluation is then described with impersonal pronouns, as though
>this evaluation is *the* "Theosophical" evaluation.
Art P. would probably say here that I was attempting to define "theosophical
canon". The whole process of philosophy is placing a roadmap of ideas over
the raw nature of life, so that we can superimpose human understanding upon
something that otherwise is pure mystery.
Perhaps here you're saying that I'm not clear enough at times to distinguish
my personal views from the theosophical source teachings, and should bring
in more quotes? We can always ask Rich for help with some supporting quotes
from Blavatsky on items that we're discussing, if we're uncertain in
>This, to me, seems
>incredibly arrogant (and this is not an accusation ... I'm not saying
>"Eldon, you are arrogant" ... only that what I have described feels, to
>me, to be terribly judgemental
I do not judge your experiences, just your explanations. And when I judge
your explanations, I'm not trying to just dismiss them and say "that's wrong,"
but to offer alternate ideas and theories, in a theosophical context.
>... and seems to imply that not only do
>you have the standing to evaluate someone else's inner experiences, but
>your evaluations might well be "higher" or *more* "correct" than the
>person's own evaluations
When we say that the experience of a person can only be explained by that
person, then we're back to complete subjectivity, where any opinion goes,
and any attempt by Theosophy to explain things will be ignored. We read,
for instance, that most spirit guides in seances are likely kamarupas, and
not the actual departed people. The Spiritualists, though, have "inner
experiences" where they would say that they believe they are really in
contact with their departed loved ones. I'd say that I'm entitled to offer
an alternate explanation to theirs, based upon what Theosophy says, without
addressing the subjective value of their experiences to themselves.
>- I believe you would be not at all pleased if I
>began continually labelling what you call "inner wisdom" to be merely the
>delusions of the mental plane, starting quoting all sorts of Theosophical
>writings (and there *are* a lot of them) "warning" against the delusions
>of the mental plane, and using language that suggests that this
>evaluation of your experience is more Theosophical than your own.)
True. And I would be made more defensive and forced to find supporting
quotes and sharpen my writing skills on that subject. But we could come
under attack for any idea that we express, whether it is in the literature
or not, and the fact that such an attack is possible does not discredit
a particular idea nor force us to keep silent on all but the most easily
aggreed to subjects.
>> The Path is when we get practical with our lives. Getting practical involves
>> opening ourselves up in unexpected ways. It's not obivious until such an
>> opening happens in what direction it will come. We cannot make a
>> generalization for everyone.
>Yes, Yes! The point I've being trying to make all along! (And
>there is a wonderful paradox in that last sentence of yours, is there not?
It's funny how in a discussion we seem to be at battle for a long time,
then come to some key point where we both find unexpected agreement.
After a discussion with Jerry S. on spiritual evolution, he and I found
the same thing on my statement about "dancing the dance of life".
>(-:) - it reminded me of those paradoxes in classical logic ...
>"This statement is a lie" & etc.). Have you not, all along, been speaking
>of a generalized idea of what the "path" is?
We cannot make a generalization for everyone, that is true. But we can
talk about the inner nature of man, and use the theosophical philosophy to
both describe things and to help us understand them. We can say "this is
a good approach" or "that is bad" and speak in a general sense, although
circumstances may vary on an individual basis.
>And even using this idea to say some activities are related to that path,
>while other behaviour is not?
For a particular school, there may be a method that one is taught to follow.
Followers of another school, or non-students may take different approaches.
Even though each school has its own methods, though, we cannot say that
all behavior is good.
>(I really am not trying to bicker or be divisive here, by the way,
>and please do not take this as a personal attack - it is not meant as
>such, but...) can you see how I might be a bit upset at many of your posts?
I'm not upset, you're not upset, but perhaps our ideas are a bit agitated.
>This is the first time I have spoken, just briefly, of some of
>what I believe comprises the "path" - and it is a notion that both fits
>my personal experience and can be supported by much Theosophical "source"
>literature - but it does not fully agree with your ideas
Perhaps you can write a bit more about it.
>... and hence
>the first reaction from you is "We must not generalize" - but Eldon, with
>all due respect, you generalize almost continually.
Generalizations naturally arise when we -- you or I -- try to write about
general laws or principles of life, like when we discuss the nature of karma.
The opposite of generalizations is writing little descriptions of personal
experiences, saying "this is what I saw, thought, and felt." Both types of
writing are helpful.
>> But the appearance of paranormal powers is more akin to
>> the ability to run a six-minute mile than it is to the ability to write
>> a book or compose a concert. Their presence does not indicate that one
>> is closer to (or farther from) the Path than another person.
>That depends greatly on what you mean by "paranormal" powers.
Yes. We need to define the various powers of perception and of consciousness,
and discuss them in greater detail, to see their relative merits.
>In some people, some abilities may be almost meaningless. In other people,
>other abilities may be an aspect of the final fruition of the spiritual
>entity that we may all someday become.
Various psyhic and occult powers may naturally occur to people
reaching advanced spiritual development, without their seeking
those powers. I'm not sure that we would have abilities that are
meaningless, though, since we are self-made, and whatever faculties
that we have are not given to us, but brought forth from within.
We have a wealth of faculties to use in self-expression, but the
important thing is not so much the particular faculties as our
creative and constructive use of them in the world.
>And my personal feeling is that
>one would have to be fairly close to being a "Master" before they could
>claim they had the wisdom to make such an evaluation of either the
>abilities in another, or where they fit in that person's overall
And I cannot evaluate your abilities, nor can you deny abilities of
others, based upon your belief in the possibilities of those abilities.
We cannot evaluate the abilities of a particular individual, and see into
their particular case, but we can attempt to learn and understand about
what is going on, about the mechanisms involved, about what *may* be happening.
>> >tremendous psychological energies are unleashed ... and in general people
>> >become an *enormous* pain in the ass.
>> They don't *have to be*. That's like driving too fast, and being unable
>> to stay in your own lane on the freeway.
>Well, both some Theosophical writing as well as some evidence
>from the founders might seem to dispute this.
There are vaious forms that tremendous psychological energies can come out in.
We have various forms like a fire-breathing dragon, a trickster, or spellbinding
storyteller. I wouldn't classify the form that overpowering energies come forth
all into a single category.
>"We are taught" that the personality undergoes periods in which
>it is exceedingly difficult to control itself, and that those very
>structures that normally channel our energies begin to be dissolved (and
>in fact will unltimately need to be shattered completely).
True, for certain people, in certain stages. But not for all people at all
stages on the Path.
>Again, with all due respect, I haven't been the one warning of
>the "dangers" of your perspective - and you have been warning people of
>the dangers of mine, no?
True to a certain extent. I make the distinction between forced psychic
development and the exploration of naturally-occurring powers. I also talk
about the unreliable nature of information gathered from the astral senses,
where the experience is not in itself harmful, just an uncritical taking of
the information as accurate and true.
>And if I have had to crank up the emotional
>currents a wee bit, it is because we did not start on even footing - your
>perspective is by far the (currently) dominant one in the Theosophical
We do that to get attention. Once we've gotten attention, then hopefully
there's communication. That doesn't necessarily mean agreement, but mutual
respect and tolerance and understanding. We still can disagree but not have
to be disagreeable. And we won't be as misinformed about the other's viewpoints.
>As do I - and had you been not quite as quick to catagorize my
>experiences, we might have had a different discussion.
And as you explain more of your views, there will be less misunderstanding
about them. You're the best person to speak for what you say.
>yestarday, when reading the post in which you described what you believed
>"angels" to be, that these being haven't the faintest thing to do with
>what I refer to when I use that word. I am aware of the things you speak
>of, but I never bother with them at all and would probably consult the
>cat in my office before I would consult any of them for advice. (And its
>not even that smart of a cat, as cats go (-:).
Why don't you give your explanation of what you mean by "angels", about
where they appear in the theosophical scheme *in terms of the source
literature*, so that we can have a common language of communication?
>But involves *serving*, with every ability one has, in current
>Fourth-Round subrace civilization.
I'd put the "serving" in a different perspective. We do, I think, things for
the common good, and that common good includes all of life, both human and
otherwise. The thought is upon the highest ideals, where we are filled with an
excitement and sense of creativity that seeks expression in the world. The
perspective is that the highest spiritual and beauties of life seek their
place in the world. "Service" implies a sense of "me" and "thou", and we
would be operating without a sense of separation from the other. We feel the
pain and suffering about us. That pain is not from physical existence, I'd say,
but from the desire of the spiritual to find itself expression in those people
from whom it is consciously absent.
>I s'pect its possible Rich is also defending
>his own ideas - many of which he shares with you - more than he is rising
>to your defense based based on a totally impersonal ideal of "defending
>others but remaining silent when attacked" ... as not only has he not
>defended, but has helped to attack those those he does not agree with.
I'll give someone the benefit of the doubt, with regard to motives, until
proved wrong on more than one occasion. Just like I'll do with Paul Johnson
with his books, whereas others might rush to judge him without simply
taking the time to ask why.
>> It's possible that we'll grow from the dialog, but we also need to be
>> cautious about thinking about ourselves in terms that are too grand.
>> It's easy to find something that one is doing in life, and to tell oneself
>> that one is therefore on the "fast track" and stops the hard work of
>> questioning life, and looking in unexpected places for spiritual treasures.
>Again I fear your pronouns confuse me. Are you talking in general
>principles and applying them to everyone equally (in which case you are
>not answering me, but using my post to make a different point), or are
>you saying that *I* am thinking of myself in terms too grand, believing
>myself to be on the "fast track" (which by the way, I don't), that I have
>stopped the hard work of questioning life, and am missing some unexpected
I'm talking about the general tendancy to think in terms too grand. And
hoping *we* don't do so in our dialog. We're not solving the problems of
the universe, and should not make too much of our dialog. I'm not saying
that you think yourself too grand; I'm saying let's not feel too grand
about ourselves because of the dialog.
>This is not to be nasty ... I *really* do not know which of those
>you intend. It *seems* to be a *personal* comment directed at me - and
>perhaps the personal attacks Rich accuses me of making against you come
>from this misunderstanding ...
A greater precision in my writing would have been helpful here.
>... as it is quite possible for people to
>attack others without every using their names - but still make it
>completely clear that it is an individual they are talking about ... and
>it seems to me you are doing this here - and what you are saying (if it
>is personal) is in the tone of a master addressing a pupil ... and when
>that is done, I do not reply with impersonal pronouns, but rather make it
I'm not trying to set myself up as your teacher, nor tell you what to do.
I may comment on my philosophical understanding of your experiences, but
not give you personal direction as to what is right for you to do.
>... because I think this is both more truthful and leads to
>greater clarity - if we are to talk personally, I prefer to use personal
>pronouns and names, and if we are to talk of general principles, then
>impersonal pronouns are suitable. I do not like confusing the two however.
We need to make it clear what we are writing about -- I agree. When I might
refer to you personally, I should clearly note it, and not use any form of
writing that involves indirect criticism.
>If *you* think that *I* have too grand of an idea of myself, or
>have focussed on one thing and because of that *I* believe that *I* am on
>the "fast track", then you are holding a personal and very judgemental
>attitude towards me
This "too grand" stuff is your reading into my earlier comment, which I have
explained above. It was to *us* and *our dialog*, not to *you* and *your
>... and I will respond to you personally - and simply
>because I use your name but you don't use mine does not mean I am
>attacking personally but you are not. Before responding this time,
>however, I will ask, what *did* you mean?
That's always useful to do, rather than simply assuming something. It
applies to both what someone means when they say someting and to what
someone's motives are. We -- you, I, and the rest of us -- need to ask
people rather than presume to know what they mean, when we're not sure
from the words.
>And if you were speaking purely
>impersonally about general principles that you are applying equally to
>yourself, can you understand how this might be misunderstood as being
>personal when it is in response to something I wrote, and seems to relate
>to the topic I was writing on?
Again, it's a matter of clarity in writing. I'm open to improving
my writing style.
>When someone is responding directly to a
>paragraph in a post, is it not quite natural to assume it is a comment
>about that paragraph, regardless of the lack of personal pronouns?
Not always. We can respond with a general principle that the paragraph is
related to, or respond personally to the person that wrote the paragraph.
>It seems clear you have no intention of altering the way you
>communicate, regardless of anything I've said.
You can let me decide about that.
>both you and Rich seem to be continually commenting on how I communicate.
>Neither of you likes it. Fine. There are also others that seem to
>actually appreciate it.
That's your decision. Are you willing to try different approaches at
>Again, when you say "Perhaps *we* can keep the
>passion but find more useful ways to convey it" - don't you mean *me*? -
>as the rest of that paragraph seems to imply yourself to be demonstrating
>the "correct" way to convey passion.
In this case you, and perhaps Rich, when the passionate nature of the message
leads to defenses going up and communication being obstructed.
>I have gotten used to the fact that you will never communicate in
>a way that is comfortable to me ... but likewise you and Rich will have
>accept that I am not very disposed to alter my conversation so as to
>better fit your pictures of a Theosophical discussion list.
There are two parts to our communication. First is the manner of writing,
the means used. Second is the content, the ideas expressed. The manner of
writing can use improvement for every one of us -- you, me, Rich, and the
rest of the list. The content may never be completely agreeable to all
parties, because of our differing views. I'd like to see the media used
-- the manner of writing -- facilitate communication rather than become
another type of barrier.
>I will, however, say that I will not initiate any further of what
>might be perceived as personal attacks (though in my own view, I have
>never initiated them ... but have rather responed in a personal fashion
>when the person seemed to be refering personally to me)
I'm growing accustomed to your manner of writing, but it may be misinterpreted
by some readers. I can accept your statement of your intentions, and not
read anything into you words that you say are not intended.
>- and I will stop
>and consider carefully what you are saying before assuming that you are
>responding to me personally when you are responding to one of my posts
>(though I believe some of this burden of solving possible confusion is in
You can ask me to clarify certain statements, and I can do the same with you.
>... it *is* natural to believe the response is personal when
>it is a specific paragraph being addressed).
It depends upon the content of the paragraph, if a universal principle can
be discussed that applies to you, perhaps to me, and to others, or just
applies to you. I'll have to be clearer to you in my writing, and you will
have to ask me to clarify if you're not sure about something I've said.
>And I will not say anything further about your style of
>conversation, if you agree to cease continual "suggestions" to me about
It's okay to continue talking about our styles, if the comments can lead to
some form of self-reflection and improvement in writing styles -- in your
writing or in my writing.
>I may well sometimes seem like a Baptist preacher to you ... but
>you and Rich often seem to me to be Catholic Bishops speaking down to the
>masses with the tone of authority.
Perhaps Rich and I sound that way at times? It's hard to deal with the tone
of communication, but also something any of us can work on if we will. As it
is pointed out to me, I'll keep that in mind as I write.
>I suppose we must learn to live with
>this (and to me, it actually isn't that important) ... and perhaps try to
>mitigate the sparks for the sake of the larger list.
Yes, because someone else can see us as being at each other's throats, whereas
we're sipping tea, having cookies, and having a lively chat.
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