Re: Core Teachings (to RI)
Jun 06, 1996 03:58 PM
by Jerry Schueler
>Capitalized ~Theosophy~ has already been defined by John Algeo, Eldon, and
>others as basically those ideas found in the writings of HPB (and perhaps a
>few other associated materials). John even seems to want to make the
>~Theosophical~ in ~The Theosophical Society~ officially stand for just this
>definition; Eldon has never actually gone that far, but one suspects that
>this development would not disappoint him.
I have no real objection to Algeo here. The problem is that
we have an organization that espouses something called Theosophy,
but the various members of the organization can't decide what this
Theosophy is. So how can we expect the general public to understand
what the organization is all about? I am seeing this from a prgamatic
perspective, rather than doctrinal or theoretical. An organization
needs to be defined in a way that the public can understand, if it
expects to survive. However, if we do define cap T in this way, then
we must define little t in the broader sense. I think we get into
organizational problems when we try to define cap T as both specific
to HPB *and* the broader theo-sophia.
>I have more or less given up trying to persuade people that capitalized
>~Theosophy~ should be restricted to two meanings: 1) the
>organization/movement, and 2) the ineffable universal--Theo-Sophia.
As I noted above, when you have two meanings for one
word, then the public (and maybe most of the membership?) will
never know for sure which you mean.
>However, other than for the purpose of possibly formally announcing that you
>are "signing on" with the majority in regard to the capital ~T~, I guess I do
>not understand the intent of your post.
My intent was to suggest that *if* we separate T from t then we
may as well go ahead and define T. This goes directly to Eldon's "core
teachings." Keep in mind that these core teachings relate to T, not t.
> In other words, do you possibly want to
>establish a ~fourth~ (!) definition for capitalized ~Theosophy~ to mean
>subject matter related to the topics you listed, irrespective of whether or
>not a person's understandings about their content/workings agree with HPB or
No. This would lead to more confusion that we have now.
G de P's list of 7 "jewels" is but one possible list of core teachings.
Awhile back, Eldon and I attempted to list some "core teachings."
When I read the latest Sunrise, I noted that G de P had already made
up his own list of 7 (which is longer than Eldon's or my list, so why
not use it?).
In order to reduce the confusion, the list of core teachings
must come from either HPB or the MLs (and maybe Judge, but I am
not aware of anything new that he taught anyway).
>"Knowledge which has its base in, or at least originally derives from
>transcendental, mystical, or intuitive insight or higher perception."
This is a beautiful, and near-perfect, definition of theosophy.
However, it is a very broad definition and allows for junk as well as
helpful material. It would, for example, include virtually all channeled
material, most of which is very conflicting. Our main reason for
dividing up T and t is to try to reduce the confusion, not to increase it.
For those who already Know, your definition is fine, because they
can sift the chaff from the wheat. But Joe Sixpack would become
so confused, he would leave the organization. In fact, it is the
very nebulousness of the definition that allows such diversity under
the TS "tent" as to render "Theosophy" a mish-mash (doctrines
vs processes, for example). Now admittedly, this has its
advantages and disadvantages, just like trying to define
Theosophy has its advantages and disadvantages.
> It seems that "newbies"
>will get many definitions of both T/theosophies depending upon the purposes
>and generosity-toward-opponents of those who are there to help them. . . .)
Alas, this is true today, and is probably the reason why
Alego wants to define Theosophy once and for all.
>Anyway, Jerry, are you now numbered with those who feel there exists
>somewhere a properly catholic answer to the question "What do theosophists
>believe (!) in?"
From a pragmatic organizational viewpoint, this is essential.
However, I agree with you and Alexis and others that this was never
the intent of the founders, who preferred it to remain a club for
spiritual seekers of whatever persuasion.
The way it is right now has advantages and disadvantages.
The main disadvantage is that most people don't know what
Theosophy is, or what theosophists "believe." Defining some core
teachings, like Eldon suggests, helps to define what we are all
talking about. The disadvantage is the tendency to become a
religion, to become too defined and fossilized. But we are losing
members now, and in danger of dying of our own weight. If the
organizations are to survive, in some form or another, then if
not by definition and clarification, what other methods would
you suggest? Doing nothing is not working. So it seems clear
that we need to do something. One thing I think really is in sad
need of doing is to update the nomenclature. The truly wondrous
postings lately on the planes vs bodies vs principles is an excellent
example of the mess we are in right now.
I don't know if there will ever be a "Catholic" or agreed
upon set of doctrinal core teachings. But if there is, no TS can
hold its members to them without losing even more than we
have now. They must be offered up as suggestions or guidelines,
while leaving most of the details to individual interpretation.
For myself, as a member-at-large with TSP for years,
I accepted the idea of "core teachings" as a matter of course. I
had no problem with this because I knew that Theosophy as
presented by HPB was only a part of theosophy, the T being
exoteric and the t being esoteric. It has only been as a member
of theos-l that I became aware of an opposing viewpoint.
If we really want to open up to Joe Sixpack, then I
think revising the terminology and developing a set of core
teachings ("core" does not mean "only") is essential. If we
want to remain as intellectuals without Joe Sixpacks in our
midst, then we can stay just as we are. Maybe we should all
ask, What and where do we theosophists really want to be?
I think that TSP and ULT have already made their decisions.
So, its really up to Adyar and Wheaton to decide what kind
of future is in store for TSA.
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