Re: To Eldon
Oct 09, 1995 06:09 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
> > How about your attitudes about them [psychic powers]?
> > How open are they to mitigation?
> They come from 20 years of reading, contemplating, and needing to
> match philosophy with experience. They are open to alteration and growth,
> but you have not mentioned anything that I haven't heard over and over
> again in Theosophical circles.
I'm 44, and so we're at similar ages. I started in Leadbeater's version
of Theosophy in August 1965, and joined the T.S. at that time. I think
that it was around 1970 that I was introduced to Purucker and adopted his
particular theosophical school.
Being familar with the ideas that I'm discussing and not being satisified
with them, you're not impressed with them. That's fine. Not everyone finds
the ideas useful in their lives. My experience with the ideas has been
different than yours, since I find them highly valuable.
Regarding our discussion of psychic powers, we should probably break out
the numerous powers that come under that general heading, so we can
discuss their respective merits and shortcomings.
> > 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.
> Do you remember how this conversation started? I did not begin by
> asserting "psychic" powers should be developed, or that psychic
> experiences should be spoken about, or that they were higher than any
> other experience. I responded to an initial post of yours in which I
> heard the oft-repeated Theosophical dogma about "psychic" powers being
Then we can say that for this round of discussions my comments came
first. If you want to tell me that there is value to the psychic powers,
you'll need to describe how and why this value exists, and not dismiss
my discounting of them as "oft-repeated Theosophical dogma."
> I began by saying that this position, to me as well as to
> others I know, effectively suppresses the willingness of people to
> discuss experiences that are relevant to their spiritual lives,
How or in what way are the experiences relevant to their spiritual
lives? Is it because of some external validation for some beliefs
that cannot stand on their own? I would suggest that we can have
the same spiritual experience without the psychic, like in gazing
upon a sunset or listening to a moving piece of music. The psychic
provides added variety to the sights and sounds of life, but in itself
is unrelated to what goes on in our minds and hearts.
> and further, that to myself and to at least some others I know,
> that dogmatic model is not sufficient to explain actual experience.
Give an example of where you see things not fitting, and we can
> Several others on
> the list, since the discussion began, have mentioned that this dogma, in
> Theosophical circles, *has* stopped them from even bringing the topic up.
You seem to be calling certain ideas that you disagree with as "dogma".
That implies that the ideas are taken on someone's authority, that one
accepts them without thinking. This seems to be saying that my ideas
are dogmatic, whereas yours are not, since you're not referring to your
ideas as dogma as well.
We may disagree on some of the ideas, but my acceptance of the ideas that
I present is because I'm convinced that they are true, and that what you
belief is in error. We can discuss our respective beliefs and come to
some understanding of each other, but I'm not sure if we'll come to an
If we want to make progress in a discussion, all of us have to give up
our pet authorities and talk from our own understandings. Daniel H.
would have to give up his Bible quotes and say what he thinks. I would
have to speak my views without theosophical quotes. And you would have
to speak your understanding without using personal psychical experiences
in any authoritative sense.
> My position may be "fixed" every bit as much as yours, but it
> does not close conversational doors.
So let's keep the doors open. They remain open when we each can speak
from our own views, apart from any of us resorting to some external
authority to back us up.
> > For purposes of science, we may investigate things that are known to be
> > dangerous, ... 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.
> I don't know where you've learned of these dangers you mention,
> but I have experienced none of them. In fact, to myself, and to the
> others I research with, there seems to be an obsession in Theosophical
> circles with darkness and danger and all manner of spooky things.
What are the dangers? That's another area of discussion that we could
go into. I'll try to mention the few that immmediately come to mind.
Perhaps Daniel C. or Rich Taylor could help out with a few quotes to
illustrate what is said in the theosophical literature.
We could meet a mediumistic person, among whose "spirit guides" include
some kama-rupas. One could follow us home, being attracted to some
weakness in our character to which we fall prey.
We could open up the ability to hear voices, or see various images,
while awake, and have unwelcome voices or images intruding upon our
daily awareness. This would be much like someone living in a bad
neighborhood, when leaving the windows open, hearing the unwholesome
We might take our subjective experiences as objective and real, and
start teaching others about the astral world, as seen through our eyes.
But the world that we see is what we've expected, and is greatly a
product of our own unconscious contents.
There is psychic intoxication, perhaps as powerful as that of any
physical experience. You might call an experience "damn thrilling".
I'd compare one to the same trill as is found in skydiving or a
rollercoater, the thrill of the senses. We're warned of the addictive
nature of the exercise of occult powers.
The possession of occult powers can be an obstacle to spiritual
development, to the extent that it leads to an intensification of
the sense of personal self and ego. Having or not having the powers
does nothing for one's spiritual nature. If their posession leads
to a sens of self-importance and personal pride, they are a new
obstacle to the Path.
With the practice of the iddhis or paranormal powers, there's the
danger than kundalini may be aroused, with the danger of maddness
or physical death if not in the presence of overpowering
spirituality. Desire can be magnified, and if one is sexually
active, or drinks, or uses various drugs, the power over one's
consciousness of these stimulants can be too much to handle.
I'm sure if I had time I'd think of more...
These were all negatives. How about you listing the positives
that readily come to mind with you?
> To me,
> however, this is the equivilent of telling someone I'm going to New York,
> and then being warned that there is dirt in the gutters and that I might
> be deluded by its inhabitants - to which my response would be, so what? I
> have no desire to walk in the gutters, and I'm certainly not gullible
> enough to believe everything someone says simply because they are from
> New York anyway - to me a lot of the Theosophical dogma about such things
> seems like anachronistic superstition.
There may be sorcerers on some subplanes of the astral. They would be
dangerous to encounter. Generally, the biggest danger is taking what
is seen to be real, whereas it is no more real or objective than our
> you have made
> continual appeals to the "authority" of "source" teachings as the
> foundation for justifying your position on inner abilities ... and in
> fact seem to assert the point that the development of abilities is not
> part of the "path" we are offered in Theosophy.
Authority is self-conferred, and if you've read the literature and
find little value in it, you would naturally not accept it in support
of my position.
But I don't say that my position rests solely on being able to find
Blavatsky quotes. My position comes from what I consider to be a
practice of the spiritual/intellectual approach. My experiences in
this regard, though, are no more an authority to you than your
experiences would be to me. And we have differing explanations of
what is really happening in the other's experiences.
> In response, I mentioned that the Third Object seems to make both the
> discussion and use of inner abilities valid "Theosophical" pursuits.
In a theosophical group, if the third object is interpreted in a certain
way, I'd agree that it would be within the charter of the organization.
For people with natural abilities, their exploration with those abilities
might be useful. But I would not take someone's explanations as
authoritative because of their psychic abilities.
> In what way is using the Third object as a foundation, in the same way
> as you use quotes to back up your position, an attempt to "restrict"
> the list?
We're free to share both our personal experiences and our personal
understandings. And we can discuss the theosophical philosophy too,
based upon source Theosophy. We are not a theosophical society, though,
we are an independent group. So the agenda of any group neither gives
us permission to do things nor restricts us as to what we can do.
> > 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.
> Actually, this is my last post on this subject for now. I was
> making an attempt, as I have periodically over the years I've visited
> Theosophy, to assert a particular position that might perhaps make some
> people more comfortable to discuss particular aspects of their spiritual
> life within the Theosophical current
People may feel uncomfortable about talking about their paranormal
experiences if they expect to be met with harsh criticism. They
deserve to be treated with friendliness and kindness. If they are
puzzled or troubled by their experiences, and they are looking to
Theosophy for some answers, we can share our understanding of the
Teachings. But we cannot give them answers; we can only help them
with their studies as fellow students.
What may be resented by a psychic in coming to a theosophical group
is if he is criticized and put down rather than given hope and
encouragement in his personal spiritual quest. When we talk about
Theosophy to him, what we say would seem to be cold, lifeless,
cruel words, unless there's the warmth of spirituality, a sense of
heart, and loving kindness behind the words.
> ... an attempt to put a crack in
> what I perceive to be a very thick wall (and I understand those who
> uphold that wall do not perceive things this way ... but I do.)
The "wall" is not the doctrines and teachings that we have, but
rather a negative psychological attitude that any of us can fall
prey to. The attitude is that we help people by telling them what
to think or how to live their lives. (Here, "we" is you, me, and
all the rest of us, in varying degrees.)
> > 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.
> Yes, but you may not be one of that growing number of people to
> whom such things are arising quite naturally.
For them, they have to deal with their experiences. But the experiences
are those of the senses of future races, enhanced powers of the external
senses and flesh-and-blood man. The experiences are not the Path, but
rather a mutation of our external form, like being born with six toes
on our feet. The Path is something different, and psychic people as well
as non-psychic can be attracted to it, or indifferent to it. Having
psychic abilities is not a sign of advancement nor spiritual status --
not any more than is having blue eyes or black hair.
Regarding various occult powers and paranormal experiences, I'm not
holding my breath while waiting for them in my life. I'm quite happy
to work with self-development and trying to live a creative life in
the world. I don't need astral sight, a spirit guide to talk to, nor
visits to the astral plane to awaken a spiritual awareness nor
enhance my ability to express my higher faculties in this world.
> > 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.
> This seems to be rather re-doing the history of this discussion a
> bit. Where, precisely, have I even *implied* that your approach
> does not exist, or even that it is not valid?
You've talked about mere book learning, as though it is something
less than your approach, without seeming to recognize that there
can be a strong spiritual/intellectual practice associated with
it. I'm glad that you accept the validity of the spiritual/intellectual
> All I've ever said is that it is not *exclusive*, and not the
> only valid path for Theosophists to follow.
Then we can agree on this. But there is a difference between the
many valid paths for us as individuals to follow, and what is in
the highest good for theosophical groups to promote.
> You are the one saying that it is *the* one being spoken of in
> Theosophical literature.
If you read Blavatsky, Judge, and Purucker, you may see a particular
approach being prompted. There are definite statements about
chelaship and the Path to be found in "The Mahatma Letters". We
could discuss what they said, althought I don't have access to
books to quote when writing at work on my laptop, at the start
of the day.
With the third object of the T.S., we have a goal of investigating
unexplained powers in nature and man. That does not, in itself,
imply a path of development, but rather a pursuit of knowledge.
There may be other methods of training spoken of by other
theosophical writers. Perhaps you could outline a few alternate
approaches. There *are* other approaches in the world. The Indians
may have used peyote and sweat lodges in their training, and
physically induced paranormal experiences as a way of awakening
people. In the mideast, dancing may have been used. In India,
there are various forms of yoga. In Tibet, various methods of
visualizations of deities are used.
> To somehow cast this discussion as one
> in which I've been trying to deny the existance of the
> "spiritual/intellectual" approach, while you are simply humbly
> defending it and offering an alternative point of view is
My reaction to some of your writings is that you are either
denying or heavily discounting the approach. Since you say
you're not doing so, I stand corrected.
We *are* both defending our views and offering them as an
alternative viewpoint at times, when we've heard too much
of the other side, and no one else has spoken up.
> - you have said that as a general rule elements of
> what *I* consider to be my path are to be discouraged, because
> Theosophy offers us another, "higher" path.
How or in what way is talking to your non-physical friends
a path? Does it tie in with some formal method of training?
Forced psychic development is to be discouraged. An awakening
heart and soul are to be encouraged. If you are working on
your self-awakening, that's fine. It's just that I would have
to disagree if you were to suggest that there's some connection
between paranormal experiences and the inner awakening. The
paranormal is an incidential side effect, and not always
present; it is not the cause of anyone's spiritual awakening.
(I'm not suggesting here that you've said that it was.)
> > 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.
> But this gets into the "Christian" problem. The founders wrote so
> much that one can enter those "writings" from any angle one wishes, and
> by selectively quoting, can justify many different, and very
> contradictory, positions.
That's true to an extent. When we stop at the dead letter of the
books, and hold fast to literal quotes, we're missing the content,
the message, the Teachings, and there's no real personal understanding
In some clear-cut cases, the quotes can clearly indicate a point.
Other times, they are open to interpretation. But they are an
imperfect attempt at putting into writing various doctrines and
knowledge of the Mahatmas, and that *content* is of significant
value. We cannot discount it by playing word games, nor by an
abuse of the written word.
> Both the Pope and Jerry Falwell read the same Bible. They
> would both say they are seeing "plainly" what is said.
That is why I've said at times that Theosophy is much more than
the mere printed books. We need a living tradition of people that
understanding the Teachings to pass on what they've learned, to
help with study classes, and carry forward in their understanding
a living knowledge of what cannot be contained on the printed
The fact that there are multiple possible interpretations of
writings, and people can interpret things to their own advantage,
points out how writing, as a communication media, is subject to
abuse, and has many shortcomings. It does not disprove the
presence of fragments of Mystery Teachings contained in the
> My view of what Theosophy is includes this current incarnation
> ala HPB, but goes considerably beyond it. I would, for instance,
> include the writings of some neo-Platonists (as HPB herself did
> as well) , and many of them, as well as the Gnostics, showed
> signs of advanced levels of the development and use of inner
I don't say that great teachings cannot be found in other traditions.
And advanced individuals would potentially have occult powers,
although many may not talk about them. But at the same time, they
may also have great faculties of consciousness that they likewise
don't openly speak about.
> Ah yes, but I've said virtually nothing about my actual personal
> experiences. This has been a general discussion ... and before
> I've even offered personal experiences, you've already stated
> clearly the theoretical construct in which they would be placed -
In a sense, yes. The construct is the theosophical doctrines,
and their description of the outer and inner processes of life.
I would use what keys I've been provided in my studies, meditations,
and inner work, to provide an understanding of things that I see
and hear in life.
Until you outline your actual personal experiences, we're talking
in generalities, since I cannot comment on your specific situation.
Any "theoretical construct" that you or I may apply to an experience
is subject to review, growth, and change.
When you use terms like "theoretical construct", you're saying
that the way of knowing about things is either through personal
experience or through theories about life. That seems to be
denying a form of *direct knowing*, a faculty of mind, which I'd
say is available for any of us to unfold.
> and what I've been saying all along is that to myself, and to
> others, this appears as prejudgement. You have evaluated my
> experiences, and are stating your right to hold your evaluations,
> before I've even submitted any specific experience.
I'm evaluating things in the sense of talking about them and
seeking to understand them. I'mnot evaluating them in the sense
of passing personal judgement on you, when all the facts and
evidence has not yet been presented for my review.
> No. My experiences have not yet been discussed. To paint me as
> the poet and yourself as the dispassionate philosopher seems a
> bit condescending.
In writing my comments, my intent was not to be condescending.
As a student of Theosophy, I'd apply its philosophy to your
experiences. And I'd also apply my own views. If there are
aspects of your experiences that would be useful for the list
to consider, you should present them.
> I have been arguing a philosophical position
> about the place of inner abilities in people's spiritual lives.
You keep calling the psychic as "inner abilities" which does
not distinguish them from mental and spiritual faculties. One
difference that we have it that I don't lump it all together
and equate, say, seeing someone's aura with an genuine
enlightenment experience at a Zen retreat.
As to their place in people's spiritual lives, it's the same
as the place of the ability to ice skate, cook pizza, or sing --
they're all faculties of perception and external skills at
doing things. They say nothing of the *content* of our consciousness.
> The point I was making here is that you do *not* seem to be doing
> a philosophical analysis of my experiences, but rather that you
> seem ready to catagorize experience before experience is even
> presented - which is *not* philosophy.
Yes, I cannot analyze *your* experiences, until you tell them.
But I can talk about the nature of the psychic, where it functions
in our life, and its relevance to the Path. I can deal with the
big picture even if you haven't provided sufficient information
for me to comment on your particular life situation.
> My position has been a
> philosophical one: I've been saying that, from the point of view
> of both myself and others who are working with them, the
> *catagories* and *assumptions* at the root of the standard
> Theosophical dogma badly need to be re-thought, as they may not
> match experienctial reality.
I'd like to know where you feel you've experiences a "mismatch".
If you consider the theosophical doctrines to be poorly thought out
dogma, needing revision to match actual life, perhaps you've read
the wrong books, or not gone beyond the dead-letter of the printed
page to see some of the wonders that the books contain. The books
are only the start, the "diving board" off of which we "leap" to
engage a tremendous inner process.
My experience with what is found with the Teachings is different
than yours. I'm not sure that when you talk about your
experiential reality that is validated by yourself and others,
that it's really validated, apart from a subjective, personal
sense. We tend to hang out with others of similar beliefs, those
that reinforce our views, and your "and others" may be such
Experiential reality is found *by doing things*. But "doing
things" is not limited to physical events or psychic experiences.
We can "do" spiritual states of consciousness, and other inner
changes that are as real as any vision or out-of-the-body experience.
> If you wish to be the dispassionate
> philosopher, (IMO) you must be as willing to open your catagories
> and assumptions to question as you are to fit the experience of
> others into them.
We can talk about our various foundation beliefs -- you about yours
and me about mine. As students of Theosophy, we both should be open
to comparing our beliefs to the source teachings, to see how and
why we may differ from them.
> Modern Theosophy, however, is not a "school" ... the Masters may
> run schools, HPB may have run a school, but Theosophy is a large
> set of writings, a number of different philosophical perspectives,
The Masters run and may yet be students in the Mystery Schools.
Some of their representatives like Blavatsky or Purucker may have
junior schools for non-chelas. These are schools in the sense of
there being a Teacher present, acting in the capacity of a Guru,
to the students.
I'd say *the study of Theosophy* itself constitutes a school,
and can lead to an inner awakening, and eventual acceptance
into the Mysteries.
Yes, in the theosophical literature, there are many books, showing
a number of different perspectives. We'd have to consider each
author individually to see if he was speaking of the same Esoteric
Philosophy, or not. All differences are not simply matters of
viewpoint on the same truth. Some differences are simply based
upon error or misunderstanding.
> and was intended (IMO) to be a vehicle (one of very
> many) the Masters could use to serve humanity *through*.
Yes. One of many projects to tend to the needs of infant humanity.
> Theosophy is not a school with "a" method.
Theosophy is not, but the theosophical groups have the literature,
which itself represents *a* method. This does not exclude other
approaches within or without the T.S.
> But there is a difference between the philosophical
> generalization and the institutional generalization. ... saying
> something like "Theosophy teaches a path, and that path is to
> avoid development of the psychic and follow the
> intellectual/spiritual path" ... this is ... the generalization
> of a particular view of Theosophy into a general (or "the") view.
One particular school within Theosophy, which Purucker aptly
describes in his books, does teach avoiding development of the
psychic and the following of the spiritual/intellectual approach.
There are other schools and approaches. If a theosophical group
wishes to itself be a school, it needs to adopt *a* approach. If
it wishes to be a meeting ground for people, but not a school
itself, it needs to adopt *no approaches*. Which way should a
group go? It depends upon the group and its leadership.
> However I do not agree with your view of what "appropriate"
> expressions of passion are. It was the defenses that your
> initial posts sparked in me that began this whole discourse ...
> yet you would say you did nothing inappropriate.
Perhaps we cannot generalize, and say that any manner of
communication is bad, although offensive styles are best to
be avoided, except when there's a good reason for them.
It all depends upon whom we're writing to, and the desired
reaction, and how we want the interchange to go.
> > someone else can see us as being at each other's throats, whereas
> > we're sipping tea, having cookies, and having a lively chat.
> Good point (-:).
Of course, the more concrete and detailed we get in our writings,
the more likely we'll get the other mad, and the more likely we'll
get flamed by others reading this.
We don't really have to have any goals for this discussion.
The ideas are useful to mull over and each of us will learn
as much from one's self, in doing the writing, as from the
other. In writing, we're bringing a sense of consciousness
to a perhaps ill-defined area of disagreement in the
theosophical community. That's useful, even if we don't
work out an agreement on the philosophical ideas.
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