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To be a Theosophist

Oct 30, 1995 11:29 PM
by K. Paul Johnson

Eldon's remarks about required beliefs, Daniel's comments about
my works leading people astray, the ARE material I'm now
studying, and the present passage of transiting Neptune
opposing natal Uranus all contribute to these thoughts. As do
other things which might be guessed from the message.

1995, which started out as the most wonderful year of my life,
with the great NYTBR and Quest reviews and excellent sales of The
Masters Revealed, and completion of a sequel, rather quickly became
an annus horribilus. Theos-l played a major role in that, as
did other avenues of theosophical communication. Despite
harmonious interaction with Theosophists across the country,
it's been a year of nearly constant agonizing over the karmic
consequences of my books in terms of my relations with the

Only now do I feel I understand *where* it hurts, and thus can
diagnose the illness and find a cure. The Cayce material I'm
working with defines fear as "a defensive reaction of mind and
body to circumstances perceived as threatening to the
continuity of our self-image." 1995 has definitely been marked
by a lot of defensive reactivity on my part, to circumstances
that have been clearly threatening. But what's the self-image
that's being attacked? My level of scholarship? No, I never
imagined myself to be a great scholar or a thorough analyst of
the material I've studied-- just a pioneer with some fruitful
new ideas. The self-image that's been slashed away at, by
Caldwell, Algeo, and others, is simply "I am a Theosophist,
entitled to respect as a loyal member of the movement to
which I've devoted much of my time, energy and money for the
last 17 years." So every time someone made it clear that
he/she *didn't* respect, in fact vociferously *disrespected* my
identity as a Theosophist, it hurt like hell. Call me dumb,
call me sloppy, and it rolls off my back. Say or imply that
you disrespect me as a Theosophist, and I fall apart-- or *did*. Perhaps
Dara Eklund's letter saying "it is a sad fact that the author is a
Theosophist..." was the most striking evidence of this-- it tore
me up.

Sorry to be so confessional, but this is going somewhere. When
Eldon talks about *required beliefs* it sounds to me very much
like he wants a basis for *excluding* people, saying "you're no
Theosophist if your thoughts don't pass my litmus test." When
all of y'all go round and round interminably about what
Theosophy is, what it's not, what to respect, what to
disrespect, it reminds me of "I'm Chevy Chase and YOU'RE NOT."
Who the hell cares, anyhow? I don't think HPB and Olcott
intended to create a movement of exclusivistic, elitist
nitpickers, and if they are/will be reborn I bet they'll put
their energies someplace far more productive.

Since rejoining ARE, and starting to do research on Cayce, I've
realized to my surprise that my level of commonly-held beliefs
and values is *much* higher with ARE members than with
Theosophists. Although fairly high in both cases. There are
also other aspects, like level of trust, that differentiate my
feelings about the two groups-- but I don't want to get into a
"mine's better than yours" game since that's exactly what I'm
sick of about organized Theosophy.

It is with a sense of tremendous relief and liberation that I
say to you, I am NOT a Theosophist. Joining ARE doesn't give
you a predicate nominative. You can't say "I am a Cayceite"
(well you could but would be laughed at). There's no label,
and there's much more respect for diversity-- perhaps because
the organization is built on thousands of readings for diverse
individuals. You're just one person, doing his or her best to
live by the light you have and to gain more enlightenment as
you go.

That doesn't mean I'm unsubscribing from theos-l, but that from
here on out I intend to be a witness to this truth: There are
thousands and thousands of people who are interested in HPB and
other Theosophical writers, who may have at one time joined a
Theosophical organization, and have moved on not in anger
but in regret. Regret that a great rushing torrent of
spiritual energy that transformed the world has now become a
muddy trickle incapable of transforming the dysfunctional
organizations that commemorate its heroic past. Regret that
the most creative, interesting people who have passed through
the movement in this century-- like Ouspensky, David-Neel, and
Dharmapala-- were stifled by its conformity and felt obliged to
move on. Regret that "What is Theosophy" and "What is a
Theosophist" have become ways of excluding and feeling superior
to the outside world, rather than embracing and including the
best it has to offer. This by no means describes all or even most
of the individuals I have known in the Theosophical movement. But it surely
describes the organizations and their inner circles.

In closing, I found Theosophy as Uranus transited conjunct my
Mercury and Sun. That was all about finding an elaborately
detailed map of the cosmos, following the lead of a
revolutionary thinker, pursuing a "higher wisdom" in the
possession of an elite. But now that Neptune-- which as a more
"outer" planet "trumps" Uranus-- is opposing natal Uranus, all
that stuff seems irrelevant compared to the Neptunian themes
embodied in the Cayce material. Themes like being one with all
humanity, devoting yourself to service, gaining direct
experience of inner realms, seeking to transcend an overly
intellectual approach.

Thank you, Theosophists, for a fascinating, stimulating and
inspiring presence in my life for many years.

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