Re: Various comments made by Eldon and Jerry HE
Oct 23, 1995 09:22 PM
Thanks Jerry HE and Eldon for your most interesting dialogue. I'm sure
many people on theos-l are finding your discussion most thought provoking.
JHE writes: "Nor has their [the Masters'] existence been proved."
Eldon comments: "Not proven, perhaps, *to you*. But there are different
definitions of proof. Consider that in the American judicial system.
The highest standard is `without a shadow of doubt'. This is used in criminal
trials. If there exists a single doubt, the indictment is thrown out."
Eldon, I'm afraid you have a misunderstanding here. The standard in a
criminal case is "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT." That is, is the defendant
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Or in other words, in light of the evidence
presented, is there a reasonable doubt that he is guilty? If there is a
reasonable doubt, then the defendant should be found NOT GUILTY.
You write: "If there exists a single doubt, the indictment is thrown out."
This is true IF you mean REASONABLE doubt. But the law states that all
human endeavors are subject to doubt, that is, *possible* doubt. But a
possible doubt or any doubt is not necessarily reasonable doubt. You can
have UNREASONABLE doubt. And that is why the emphasis is on *reasonable* in
the phrase "reasonable doubt."
So the phrase "guilty beyond any doubt" is NOT the same as "guilty beyond
reasonable doubt." NOr does "guilty beyond reasonable doubt" mean that
you have to be 100% certain of the defendant's guilt.
So in a criminal case, you can have doubts but you must ask: "Are these
reasonable doubts?" And are these doubts mere *posssibilities*? Is there
any evidence to support these doubts?
Eldon writes: A lower standard is `the preponderance of evidence',
and it is used in civil lawsuits...." This is true and the standard
is lower than in a criminal case.
In the O.J. Simpson trial, a doubt was raised: "Is it possible that Mark
Furhman, the racist cop, planted the glove at O.J.'s estate?"
Now, the answer would have to be: YES, it is POSSIBLE that Furhman planted
the glove. YES, is is *possible* but to say that does not mean that he
planted the glove. I could also say YES it is also POSSIBLE that Furhman
did NOT plant the glove. Both cases are equally possible in the theoretical
realm. But the deciding question is: Is there any evidence to point toward
or even suggest that Fuhrman planted the glove. That is the issue that the
jury must grapple with in deciding about the doubt and reasonable doubt
raised by the suggestion that Fuhrman planted the glove.
All human endeavors are suggest to doubt. That doesn't mean that the doubt is
real, reasonable and substantiated. but just that there is room for possible
Jerry HE writes: "Nor has their existence been proved." that is the existence
or reality of the Masters of HPB.
Proof is a word subject to much debate and can mean different things
to different people.
As a historian of Theosophy, I would say that a case can be made for the
existence of the Mahatmas. That is, I believe, there is more than enough
evidence to "prove" the existence of HPB's Masters. No not proof beyond
any doubt or UNreasonale doubt. But a good case can be made for their
existence based on the evidence and I would say that a reasonable case can
be made. Or to say it differently or with less certainly, the preponderance
of evidence would indicate that a reasonable case can be made for the reality
and existence of HPB's teachers. And the evidence I speak of is the cumulative
testimony given by those witnesses during HPB's lifetime who saw and/or talked
with the Masters.
Now I'm sure someone will ask how we can believe these testimonies? But this
sketical view is always a problem in any human endeavor, especially in
Here is a relevant quote:
"Facing the doubtful in all Reports"
"`But,' says the skeptic, `you were not there. All you know is what others
choose to tell you---in memoirs, newspapers, and your other vaunted
evidences. How can you be sure? Most people are notoriously bad observers;
some are deliberate or unconscious liars; there is no such thing as a perfect
witness. And yet you naively trust any casual passerby, and on his say-so
you proclaim: `This is what happened.'"
Now this quote is not from some work skeptical of psychic phenomena. This quote
is not by a skeptical writer or academic viewing those theosophical testimonies
of encounters with etherial Masters. This quote is dealing with "plain"
history (no parnormal, no Theosophy, etc.) and is extracted from THE MODERN
RESEARCHER written by two historians, Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff.
Barzun's and Graff's reply to the skeptic of history is as follows:
"Except for the words `nairvely trust,' everything said above is true. But
in its effort to discredit history it proves too much. The key sentences
are `You were not there' and `There is no such thing as a perfect witnesss'.
Granting the force of these two statements, what follows? *It is that if
any of us had been there, there would simply have been one more imperfect
witness on the scene. We might be convinced that our vision, our recollection,
our interpretation was *the* right one, but other witnesses would still
feel no less certain about theirs.*"
There is no 100% proof of anything. There is no scientific test or medical
test that is 100% accurate all the time in all places and circumstances.
There are no 100% perfect "scientific" witnesses or observers. There are
no perfect witnesses of historical events. But having said all that, that
doesn't mean one can't have a reasonable degree of proof, an accurate medical
test, etc. etc.
Eldon writes: "The [the Masters] can be presumed to exist....With the Masters,
we can likewise have a necessary place for them in the Teachings, and
someday progress to the point where they are proven *to us*, by our personal
What does Eldon mean by "our personal experience"? I have a friend who has
seen in meditative states and even in his waking state, Rebazar Tarzs, one
of the Eckankar Masters made famous to the public by Paul Twitchell. Rebazar
was not physically in the room with my friend, but his "astral body" [??]
seemed to be there. My friend could close his eyes and he would not see
the Eck Master. AGain he would open his eyes and Rebazar was still there!
For years my friend was convinced that because of his personal experience,
Rebazar was real and Paul Twitchell was a genuine messenger of this Masters
and of other Masters. Nowadays, my friend is not so sure that Rebazar is
real. In fact, he has come to beleive that Rebazar is some sort of "thought
form" that was induced in my friend's subconscious by reading books on
Eckankar and by meditation. David Lane's book exposing Paul Twitchell as a
fraud first got my friend rethinking his own assumptions and his own
Should we or do we accept 100% all of our own personal experiences? I beleive
we should examine critically our own experiences as much as we would be
inclined to examine critically another person's personal experiences?
Must close for now.
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