Owls and Vultures (to Jerry S)
Jun 05, 1996 07:41 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
Your story about wolves and sheep is a good exercise for
theosophical students to reflect upon. It also gives us a good
lesson in the nature of analogies. Analogies can be used as a
descriptive tool, as a metaphor to describe something difficult
to put in words, or hard to tell someone directly. But they can
also be abused, when they attempt to "prove" something, when they
are carried too far, or when they are inappropriate.
The basic point of the analogy, which I'd agree with, is that
"sheep" refers to those following a group approach, using an
organization or supporting sangha of fellow students to better
themselves and the world. And the "wolves" are individualists,
going out on their own.
Regardless of approach -- through a spiritual organization or on
one's own -- the steps need to be the same. One must awaken an
inner fire, an inner seed needs to germinate and start to sprout,
an inner calling must be heard and responded to. This is the same.
This awakening can and is found in both types of students.
A participant in a group, if it is a bona fide spiritual group, is
not a passive "follower", but just as challenged by life -- both
within and without -- as a loner.
The "sheep versus wolves" analogy does not sit right with me.
There's an unsavory connotation that those mining for gold in the
theosophical doctrines -- taking a Platonic or Jnana Yoga approach
-- are passive followers, people avoiding a real experience of
life. This is simply untrue.
There are, of course, many people in either approach -- the
individual or the group approaches -- that are pretenders,
deluded, with a dead inner life, and perhaps overcome with
psychological inflation. These people are the "smoke" that
proves that there is "fire" nearby.
If I were making an analogy, I'd make it the owls versus the
vultures. The owls are more civilized, wise, etc., while the
vultures are loners that'll pick over anything. We owls have
higher standards, even if our diet isn't as exciting, and we don't
give a hoot over the latest road kill.
(From the above, you can see how an analogy can be both descriptive
*and misleading*, and can be used to argue a point in any
direction that one wants. An analogy can be subject to much abuse,
including our "sheep and wolves" or "owls and vultures" analogies.)
What is needed by students of any approach is a willingness to go
beyond the social norms and conventions, to follow an inner quest.
This means dumping the attempts of government and politics to
manipulate one's speech and behavior, going beyond the
conventional New Age view of the psychical, and leaving behind a
surface reading of texts on the Mysteries, including the better
books of the theosophical literature.
Theosophy needs to be studied *in its own context*. It's highly
helpful to keep up on modern science, and to draw parallels from
it and one's personal experience. But the study is of deep
teachings that go beyond modern society and one's mundane
experience. One has to let one's mind dare step beyond the
confines of one's personality and embrace *something more*.
The deep occult doctrines are made foolish, at times, and made
into a mockery when one indiscriminately attempts to tie them to
modern science. Early this century, for example, there was a
scientific theory that waves like light needed a substance to
propagate through space. This was called "ether". Leadbeater
picked up on this theory and his writings embraced it.
The theory was later discarded by science, but his theosophical
books were left making a connection to something now rejected by
science. The error here was the attempt to connect the timeless
truths with a passing theory of science.
This doesn't mean that we cannot draw upon science for analogy
and metaphor. There are, in fact, many new discoveries that are
rich in symbolism, like the bifurcation curve, strange
attractors, turbulence, quantum physics, and the fractal, rich in
visual metaphor, as seen on the computer screen.
Another problem with Theosophy failing to take on and find wider
value with people is that there seems to be widespread rejection
of the spiritual-intellectual approach. It is possible with this
approach to have *real* experiences too.
People with a strong preference to cultivation of the psychic
tend to heavily discount or entirely deny that such an area of
experience is real and possible for us to have. Hence, we hear
lots of talk of some psychic vision or out-of-the-body experience
as "real experience" and inner experiences of the other kind as
the "fantasy" of people with mere book learning and "no real
experience". Or we hear that the fruits of meditation are "mere
imagination" whereas psychical sight is actual experience, and not
equally-subjective and possibly hallucination, the visual
equalivent to imagination!
I can see that in a person's development, over time (many
lifetimes), elements of both the spiritual-intellectual and the
psychical need to come into play. Were it not for this *denial*
of reality to non-psychic inner development, I think we'd have far
less disagreements on theos-l.
The relative stress one may pay upon the two approaches may
depend upon whether someone prefers "bottup up" (the psychical
or introverted sensation approach) or "top down" (the
spiritual-intellectual, or introverted intuition approach).
We'll get along better, I think, as a group, when there's more
general recognition of the validity of the different approaches.
This doesn't mean simply that the people that aren't pro-psychic
take greater care not to put it down, and show the highest respect
for people that are cultivating it.
It *also means* that the people with a pro-psychic approach stop
their denial that there is no spiritual-intellectual approach
which involves *real experience*, and stop claiming that they are
the only ones with "inner experiences".
(The natural reaction to this would be to have a counter claim
that the pro-psychic people are deluded by their hallucinations,
confused, lacking in clarity of thought and insight, and fairly
useless to learn anything from. This would also be an unfair
characterization, but this would be an understandable *emotional*
response to the equally negative charges of "mere book learning"
by the psychic crowd. It would be wrong to do, but sometimes one's
feelings, including anger, do the talking, silencing one's own
Am I a sheep? No. Am I a wolf? No. Just a student that wants to
get at the deep Truths buried in Theosophy, like many others.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application