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Nov 19, 1995 08:43 PM
by eldon


>I think we can all agree that texts from the past from Plato
>Plotinus Buddhist sages and Blavatsky are invaluable tools in
>that they confer a rationality and a sense of community and
>tradition to the esoteric teachings.

True. The textbooks are useful tools. It still helps to have
a teacher or teaching assistant present to help us understand
the texts but we make do with what we have.

>However we all have different strengths.

>Ken Wilber for instance seems to have the ability to condense and
>psychologize/philosophize many of the difficult teachings
>for a modern audience -he is a self-confessed pandit not guru.

This is something useful for all of us to learn. At some point I'll
have to read his books to study his technique of presentating the
spiritual path. I know that for myself certain approaches have more
appeal than other approaches. A well-digested book on Tibetan Buddhism
is much more understandable to me than a lecture by a high-ranking
lama with ad hoc translation.

>Don from what I can tell has branced off into an almost medical
>examination of the brain possibly in an attempt to explain and lead.

This is useful science. It complements a discussion of the doctrines
and techniques of spiritual practices.

>Eldon to oversimplify again focuses on a need to respect the
>teachers and the teachings as part of the spiritual path.

And also I try to stress the need to find some form of spiritual
practice that takes us beyond the dead-letter of the books. I would
stress the need for specific spiritual practices to be evolved in the
west practices rooted in the spiritual lineages but newly-adapted
to what works with westerners.

>I honor all these paths. I have tried many things as many of you have.

We've all tried different paths. At some point we individualize in
our quest or have flashes of "lucid waking" where we become ensouled
or awake to the vastness of life. Then life takes on new meaning and
we can become productive and active contributors to the welfare of

>We are faced as Don said with a world that is glutted with information
>including occult teachings and a world that would lead us quickly
>away from any serious attempt to put them into practice.

There's a world of possibilities. When we're growing up as teenagers
we may feel we can do anything. In our 20's we try out many adventures
and by the time of our first Saturn return at age 29 we're ready to
settle into some structure for our life. The same may be true of the
Path as it's lived in a particular lifetime. There's the feeling of
limitless possibilities with open doors all around us and no one to tell
us which way to go. After some exploration we settle down into a practice
and then things really start to grow.

>I think of my attempt with Zen meditation. I felt somewhat betrayed
>when I found out that one had to embrace Buddhism with all the statues
>wooden turtles and 13th century bric-a-brac if one was to progress in
>many Zen circles. It's like you have to be a Catholic or >fundamentalist
according to whoever in order to be "saved".

Each practice has its own way of meditating chanting observing altrusim
and selflessness etc. Some aspects are arbitrary but a specific formulation
is needed a specific structure to the practice. If the structure is
unappealing because being too rooted in the trappings of a foreign culture
it may make a particular approach useless for us.

For myself I found the Zen approach useful to a certain degree in
learning patience and how to meditate but it fell short on the
philosophical side and I found it difficult to learn from a Zen Master
that spoke in Japanese and always had to be translated. I went to a
number of week-long Dai Sesshins held by Sasaki Roshi a Rinzai Zen Master
at Mt Baldy Zen Center many years ago. Note that he did speak in English
during Sanzen when speaking in private with students about their koans.

The bells clappers and other trappings made the practice easier because
everything could be done withone thinking and all one's attention could
be given to the meditative practices.

>Of course I don't believe this but why do so many feel that
>Blavatsky had "it" but Bessant and Bailey didn't? Will we ever
>answer that question? I think not.

I'd say that there is an answer to this question but we have to
review our motivations when we bring it up as an issue. The three
are all dead and don't care what we think of them personally.
The important issue is creating and sustaining spiritual lineages
in the west. Keeping the philosophy is also important of course
but it will always be available in different forms like in the
writings of Plato the Gita etc. We need an unbroken line of
people that understand teach and practice the Philosophy if it
is to remain of use in the western world.

>Needless to say I was drawn to theosophy because of its
>almost no holds barred and non-ritualistic approach and strong
>intellectual elements.

Theosophy as presented is the raw materials out of which both
individuals and our western society can formulate spiritual
practices. We as individuals have to devise our own path. And
as westerners we also have to take the materials and make it
into practices that can benefit others as well.

>To be brief I think Eldon is right in that we should honor
>the texts and those that have done essential work

Yes we take what is give us both in the public arena including
the theosophical books and through whatever inner doors that we're
able to open on our own. We take all that we can so that we can
give it to others in our own unique way.

>... but feel also like Don that we have little time to loose in
>hashing over the past but move forward to what might be called
>"practical occultism" in order to encourage a new way of handling
>our massive modern energies whether in the outter world of
>technology or the inner world on the mind and spirit.

I agree that the cultural trappings of the past need to be discarded.
The culture-specific context of Theosophy needs revision or reworking
as the philosophy is clothed in modern words. This is not revision
of the basic occult truths but a reexpression in modern language.

In addition to the reexpression we need to combine what we've learned
of the occult truths from our spiritual lineages theosophical Buddhist
etc. with new knowledge from advances in modern science. As we combine
the two we can arrive at a greater understanding of the mysteries of
life. Still though we are told by KH to 'come to us or settle for
crubs'. That is we're still outsiders from the real body of knowledge
until we engage the spiritual start a living practice in our lives and
wait for it to flower.

-- Eldon

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