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Re: Is "Tradition" really impregnable?

Nov 23, 1995 07:45 PM
by eldon


It's good to read how you feel about what's going on. You also
seem to be speaking for JRC perhaps you're writing from some
private communications you've received from him as well.

> I read JRC's comments with some empathy for obvious reasons
> but also some concern that theos-l may be taken as representative
> of the entire Theosophical movement when it is not.

I'd suggest that it's probably as close to representative as is
possible. There's not the control of any particular organization
and each of us can write on what we want. No one reviews and
allows or disallows anything that any of us choose to post.

> ... In a way it is unfair to the great majority of FTS I've known
> who have shown openness and encouragement for me to give up on
> the whole movement because of a few.

Why would you give up on the movement? Does it matter what
reception your books are given? Do you feel that you're on a
crusade to reform the beliefs of theosophical groups regarding the
Masters? Is it possible for you to benefit from and see merit in
promoting Theosophy to the general public apart from all that?
I'd say that there is tremendous merit to promoting Theosophy
regardless of what is thought about its history and the specific
occult status of Blavatsky's immediate teachers.

> But why are those few so vivid in my thoughts and feelings and
> the many seem to fade into the background? Because people who
> hate a book are 100 times more likely to express their reaction
> to an author than are people who like it perhaps.

As long as you make your books on the Masters a central theme in
your life you'll have this concern. And yes people are more
likely to write and say "I disagree with that" than they are to
voice agreement. But it's not just those two ways. Also useful is
when people write and say "Yes that's true and in addition ..."
offering further thoughts of their own on a subject.

> Similarly I'd suggest that the silent majority are more
> supportive of JRC than he realizes.

But supportive of what? We're all free to speculate on
metaphysics. He you I and everyone else can present various
theories about the way that life works. His experiences have not
been discounted only his metaphysics disagree with.

> JRC has had bad experiences here and elsewhere with
> Theosophists who tend to pooh-pooh or at best patronize
> discussion of inner experience.

The disagreement is not over "inner experience". There is some
disagreement over the validity of psychical experiences and what
they mean. Any of us may write about our experiences. But we
cannot thereby claim authority for what we say authority for our
metaphysics based upon them. We can quote from the writings of
the gurus and sages of the past for second-hand authority but
first-hand authority is self-conferred.

> Which means if my observation is correct that no more than
> one in ten is a know-it-all out to stifle and humiliate anyone
> with new and different perspectives.

New perspectives and original ideas are welcome. But how are they
presented and what reaction is appropriate? Are they presented as
the latest-word in spiritual insight where we're expected to
sweep aside everything we've learned in the past? Are they
presented as extremely-sensitive personal and beyond anything
but glowing praise? Is it a terrible insult and a brutal uncaring
attitude to compare and contrast new theories and descriptions
with the standard theosophical doctrines?

> Unfortunately human nature being what it is the other nine
> are not very likely to challenge that one authoritarian
> dogmatist and may thus be misinterpreted as supporting him/her.

If we feel that "a fight" is in progress we're often likely to
not get involved. But there may be times where you see an
"authoritarian dogmatist" where there is none. Is there anything
wrong about writing about the theosophical doctrines at though
there were some truth to them and to discuss standard Theosophy
alongside Cayce channelling seeing auras the tarot astrology
lucid dreaming politics and a wide spectrum of other topics?

> This is especially likely when the dogmatist is a member of
> long standing well-connected articulate and inexhaustible.
> People go along to get along not because they agree.

I'd say that it's a good thing that at least a few people on
theos-l are interested in writing about the basic theosophical
ideas. Wildly-different views on almost any subject are held by
our subscribers though and it's hard for us to agree on most

Regarding selectivity we're at the open end of the spectrum.
Anyone can subscribe and write on things. The only person that
there was an open call for banishment was Daniel H. when he was
trying to save us from hellfire in Sep. My approach to him
was to simply contrast his writings with what I understood the
basic theosophical ideas to say. I always accepted his experiences
as valid though subjective and suggested that there were other
explanations for them than his having a direct relationship with
God or Jesus. Other people were more inclined to say something
like "Shut this guy up I'm sick of his bothersome nonsense!"

The opposite end of the spectrum of selectivity is found in a
theosophical group in the Netherlands. That group requires
prospective members to attend a year or two of classes and they
if they've demonstrated a reasonable knowledge of the teachings
and sincerity they're invited to join. Anyone regardless of
belief in or knowledge of the theosophical philosophy is not
allowed into membership.

> The good news is that even the worst offenders in this regard
> have some glimmering of understanding that the Movement has
> some bad habits to unlearn and that the reflex of stifling
> condescending humiliating etc. is a long-term bad habit.

We'll all agree that the Movement has bad habits to unlearn. But
the reflex of stifling condenscending humiliating etc. is a
fairly universal shortcoming and not exclusive to T.S. members.
It does not come from a positive belief and a willingness to
articulate it. It comes from a refusal to discuss beliefs with
others of different beliefs where others are simply denounced
told to shut up and listen or put down in various manners.

> But while it's easy to recognize when it's directed
> against us it's also horribly easy to direct the same energy
> at others with blithe disregard for its destructiveness.

I can see how JRC might feel that he is personally under attack
when his beliefs or theories are being disagreed with. And I can
see the same with you. You've mentioned in the past how you feel
under attack when someone is strongly disagreeing with what you

I don't share this feeling and find the disagreement of
others usually as a challenge to better more-creative writing in
support of what I consider to be true.

I also think though that many typical members of theosophical
groups may feel under attack by you or JRC when either of you
would challenge their beliefs. This is for the very same reason
that either of you may feel under attack: through too personal an
identification with closely-held beliefs.

> So JRC the bottom line is that *most* Theosophists have room
> for you and your experiences in their hearts and minds.

There *is* openness for experiences. But don't expect to sweep
away everyone's thinking by the theories you offer with them. And
don't present them with the assumption that *they are true and the
theories of others are not*. Admit to the possibility that each of
us -- not just 'narrow-minded theosophists that only read books'
but JRC and others as well -- could be wrong.

> Those who have excluded you in various ways are excluders by
> habit and it's nothing personal.

The excluding can come from both directions. If JRC comes to
Theosophy with the attitude that he has the truth and
theosophists don't and that he's come to show us the light to
"push the envelope of our thinking" he is excluding the *genuine
truth* in Theosophy.

> You may be right that the rigidity and dogmatism has gone too
> far to be reversed; there may be too much resistance to
> creativity to make it worthwhile to stay.

Sometimes the appearance of "rigidity and dogmatism" is due to
one's relationship to something and not in the thing itself. If
someone does not readily agree with you viewpoint and continues
to think you wrong is that person rigid and dogmatic or do you
concede that it's possible for someone else to know anything that
you don't? The same can be said with regard with creativity.

Daniel H. would find us rigid and dogmatic because we won't accept
the Bible as ultimate truth and embrace Fundamentalist
Christianity and the one-and-only path to salvation. We might
think otherwise.

A healthier attitude which I try to take is not to consider
others with different views as being rigid and dogmatic but just
as people on another path people that's it's possible to talk
with to a certain extent but with which I may not be able to
share all that I think and experience.

> But theos-l is a self-selected microcosm and therefore not a
> very accurate mirror of the overall Movement IMHO.

I see it as a good microcosm but also find it somewhat lacking in
an understanding and appreciation of the theosophical doctrines.
What I find missing is more people willing to write about the
actual philosophy rather than on the one hand simply quote HPB
and on the other hand to dismiss everything as outmoded theories
of the 1800's.

> Perhaps those on theos-l who regret JRC's departure might let
> him know by private email since he won't be reading the list.

His stated reason for going was that he did not want his "sharing
of inner experiences" to be exposed to any more brutal treatment.
But it was his *beliefs* that were discussed and contrasted with
the typical theosophical ideas not his *feelings* nor the
subjective reality of his experiences.

-- Eldon

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