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Re: Is Theosophy becoming a Religion?

Jun 17, 1996 09:21 AM
by Michael W. Grenier wrote:
>           "... A CHURCH ON MY GRAVE."
>                  by S. Treloar
>        (Copyright February 1996 S. L. Treloar)


>        It is to be noted that nowhere in these objects does
> it state that the purpose of the TS is the study and
> acceptance of the writings of HPB and *The Mahatma
> Letters* only, and the few other books that some claim
> as being the only ones fit and proper.

While I tend to agree with the positions taken in this paper,
it is interesting to note how many times that HBP was quoted
to make the point. It is very difficult for anyone in the
organization to present an idea without referencing back
to HPB or the Masters.

The problem seems to be that the writings:
> of HPB and *The Mahatma Letters* only,
> and the few other books
are the only ones recognized by Theosophosts in general.

For me, I'm too ignorant to *know* which truths from among
those proclaimed are actually true. Its easier to fall back
on HPB then to discover the additional truths on one's own.

If life is a classroom, it sure would be nice if we could
agree on the textbooks. But discovering the correct textbook
might we what the class is all about.

    -Mike Grenier

>         H. P. Blavatsky said, shortly before she died,
>  speaking of what she could `foresee would be happening
>  to her T.S.: "... they are going to build a church on my
>  grave." And this said with tears in her eyes. Some have
>  said that this was a prediction of the presence of the
>  Liberal Catholic Church on the grounds of Adyar, or the
>  prevalence of the Liberal Catholic Church amongst many
>  T.S. members, and almost nowhere else. This is not so.
>  H.P.B. was complaining that the TS she helped to found
>  would become a religion, which is now to so many
>  members, if not in actual legal fact, but treated as
>  such. The TS was never intended to be a religion. HPB
>  and the Masters quoted in *The Mahatma Letters* had many
>  condemning words to say against religion and
>  priestcraft, and with good reason, in particular the
>  dogmatism that is part and parcel of any religion. One
>  reads in the masthead page of *The Theosophical Digest*,
>  "Theosophy is not a religion. The term has been used as
>  an expression of the ageless wisdom of life that has
>  existed since time immemorial and which may be found in
>  the great spiritual traditions in the world." The TS was
>  not founded to be a religion nor a set of fixed beliefs
>  which is the prominent characteristic of a religion, yet
>  this is the desired condition of the TS today among many
>  members.
>         The purpose and pursuit of an organization should be
>  those as expressed in its Objects. The organization that
>  concerns me here and now is the TS. It has a set of
>  Objects. These have been changed a bit over the years
>  from the original set, but at present are quite
>  suitable, and all members should follow them, in a broad
>  pursuit of these Objects, and I would suggest that too
>  many do not, but act as if the Society's purpose was to
>  follow a rather restricted path of beliefs and
>  doctrines, which vary somewhat between TS groups, and
>  the word "dogma" also comes in, but never officially
>  acknowledged.
>         The Objects of the Society are:
>  a. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of
>  Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste
>  or colour.
>  b. The study of comparative religion, philosophy and
>  science.
>  c. The investigation of the unexplained laws of Nature
>  and the powers latent in man.
>         The above recited vary slightly as some groups have
>  sought to alter for political correctness. The only one
>  I would alter would be the first to indicate the oneness
>  of all Life, and reword to include at least the Animal
>  Kingdom as well as the Human. However, such a wording
>  thus briefly hinted at, is not the purpose of this
>  essay.
>         It is to be noted that nowhere in these objects does
>  it state that the purpose of the TS is the study and
>  acceptance of the writings of HPB and *The Mahatma
>  Letters* only, and the few other books that some claim
>  as being the only ones fit and proper.
>         In a religion, there are a number of common
>  characteristics, especially in the exoteric form, and
>  especially in the 6th Ray religion, (in this group are
>  Christianity and Islam). There is a bad tendency for
>  humans, to focus on the physical plane, the material,
>  that they can see and fee and bite into. Thus in
>  religions, there is a desired prophet or two, and the
>  personality worship of the prophet or prophetess, and
>  saints, if any, and usually there are, and above all,
>  THE BOOK, something that sets down the what to believe,
>  and what is permissible to believe - the Authority.
>  Reading *The History of the Church* by the 3rd century
>  bishop Eusebius recently, I was struck by the similarity
>  of the formation of a religion of Theosophy by the Loud
>  Minority of its members, with the similar
>  characteristics in the early Christian Church. They had
>  the Book of Authority, the Bible. They were very narrow
>  minded against any unbelievers and of anyone else who
>  might try to redefine or present another viewpoint, one
>  instance being that of Manes or Manichaeus and his
>  followers, the Manicheans. The Christians worshipped at
>  cemeteries, doing so at the graves of saints and
>  martyrs. They were and still are to this day somewhat
>  obsessed with what is actually the worship of relics of
>  saints. This done to the extent that the RC Church has
>  always had a problem of weaning many of its members away
>  from the worship of saints and relics to the worship of
>  at least a little bit of God and Jesus and/or the
>  Christ.
>         This was noted in a book read a couple of years ago
>  on the (current) process of how the Church makes saints.
>  Noted too, in a book about the finding of the bones of
>  St. Peter under the main altar of St. Peter's Cathedral
>  in the Vatican, is the mention of the early Christians'
>  habit of worshipping at the graves of saints, building a
>  church thereon, if possible, therefore leading the
>  archaeologists working in the crypt under the altar in
>  St. Peter's to the conclusion that at least one set of
>  the several skeletons found there was the remains of St.
>  Peter. Eusebius mentions that in the two centuries of
>  the history of the Church that he was covering, (he died
>  339 AD) the Roman Emperors variously allowed
>  Christianity or proscribed it, depending on the frequent
>  change of Emperor. When Christianity was forbidden,
>  along would come an edict banning Christians meeting in
>  cemeteries. Why? Because that is where one could find
>  Christians worshipping at saints' and martyrs' graves,
>  and other religions had no such morbid habit. There is a
>  great tendency for theosophists to do an equivalent form
>  of over attention to what can be seen, the physical,
>  rather than to the Spirit. One finds personality
>  worship, usually HPB but not exclusively so. The
>  Canadian TS favours HPB and the Founders and this may
>  also be found, to some extent, both here and abroad.
>  Other groups include those whom I call the Latter Day
>  Saints - Besant, Leadbeater and perhaps some presidents
>  of the TS in Adyar, providing that they are dead now.
>  Great attention is given to the history of the TS
>  saints, founders and prophets. This is personality
>  worship, a great human trait. It will be acknowledged if
>  deemed glorious, but if it is deemed that someone is
>  suggesting that this worshipping is pejorative, then it
>  will be denied that it is ever done. The denial lie.
>         Where in the writings of HPB which we are supposed to
>  follow if we are "true theosophists", does she say that
>  her personality shall be worshipped or otherwise
>  glorified, and only her writings and those of certain
>  approved (not by her, but by a later Loud Minority!)
>  other writers are to be studied to the exclusion of all
>  other works, excepting favorable commentaries on her
>  writings? Our ultra conservatives deem that this is the
>  only way to go, and all others must go this way too, the
>  6th Ray personality trait.
>         The illusion is that they are purists: the reality is
>  that they are narrow minded.
>         The question of where did HPB say that her writings
>  only and her personality to be given extreme attention,
>  was put to some members earlier in 1995, (and then
>  spread around many more, not at my expense, which was my
>  idea and intent for an economical dissemination) and not
>  yet has there been an answer given, because there is
>  none. HPB was a very advanced Soul, and as such would
>  have no patience with the waste of time of personality
>  worship. She was also very broad minded and knew and
>  could quote of the writings of very, very many, thus
>  implying, if nothing else, the setting of an example for
>  following theosophists. Being beyond the need for
>  personal accolades and ego pumping. HPB would never have
>  approved of being the object of personality worship, or
>  a Blavatsky personality cult, which, unfortunately,
>  exists, nor would she approve of the notion, which
>  exists in some quarters, that her writings were to be
>  for exclusive use and belief. That being so, why do
>  those who would follow her as an ideal not follow her
>  teachings in all things? The answer is obvious: human
>  nature which tends to exalt that which can be seen and
>  touched, the Prophet or Saint, and the chosen bible, the
>  form and not the spirit. Thus are religions formed of
>  the exoteric type, and theosophy as presently practiced
>  by so many is exoteric, of the form and not the spirit.
>  In view of HPB's attitudes on these subjects discussed
>  in this paragraph, why do not her avid followers not pay
>  attention to her intention?
>         HPB wrote: "Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither
>  possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion,
>  within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical
>  Society a living and healthy body, its many ugly
>  features notwithstanding. Were it not also for the
>  existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds
>  of the students of Theosophy, such healthy divergences
>  would be impossible, and the Society would degenerate
>  into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed
>  would take the place of the living and breathing spirit
>  of Truth and an ever growing knowledge." [It is ironic,
>  in a matter that will be discussed here later, that this
>  quote is from a letter that HPB wrote to the American
>  Section of the TS.] It is the contention of this essay
>  that "... a narrow and stereotyped creed" already
>  exists, contrary to HPB's wishes, and created and
>  maintained by those who hold her pronouncements as of
>  supreme importance. But it was ever thus, only what
>  suits one's predilections are used, the rest
>  conveniently ignored.
>         To be more specific: a characteristic of the 6th Ray
>  person, (which 6th Ray represents Devotion to an Ideal)
>  and of some others too, on other Rays, is that they
>  chose only that which they want from their "Truth
>  Sources" based on personal preferences, while claiming
>  to follow their Ideal Source, and ignore what is said by
>  the honoured Source where it does not fit their
>  preferences. Authority through the filter of their
>  personality: not everything goes through. Another 6th
>  Ray characteristic is that all others must believe as
>  the 6th Ray person does: no exceptions. If you do not so
>  believe, you are going straight to Hell.
>         In the TS, as with other organizations one finds
>  those individuals who know it all, *self appointed*
>  custodians of Truth, I call these the Loud Minority, and
>  these get a following of sheep, who can't or won't study
>  enough for themselves, so believe what the LM's say, and
>  thus often from the Loud Minority we often actually get
>  a majority. The L.M.'s decide what is Truth, and
>  therefore what can be believed and taught, and thereby
>  what books are correct. It was ever thus. Christianity
>  has the Bible as the only book. The Moslems have their
>  Koran. A Moslem general who once said that the Koran was
>  the only book that needs to be read, then proceeded to
>  burn down the library at Alexandria. (Not its first
>  burning - one sees a bad habit forming)
>         HPB took the trouble to quote the Buddha: "The only
>  Truth in this world is that there is no Truth in it."
>  The Buddha meant the physical world. While rummaging
>  through *The Secret Doctrine* a few years ago for a
>  suitable quotation to begin an Annual Members' Meeting,
>  I read a few other things here and there that caught my
>  eye. HPB said in Vol. 2, if my eidetic memory serves,
>  that while there is no truth in the lower planes, (only
>  maya and illusion) there was still a degree of relative
>  truth, but no real truth as our Deity (or God) would
>  know it. The truth of anything can only begin to be
>  found when one can lift one's consciousness to the level
>  of the Nirvanic Plane, (3rd from the top) as this is the
>  lowest direct manifestation of the Solar Logos, or Deity
>  of our system, or God, choose your favorite name. I
>  recall once mentioning this in an article, to which
>  someone took offense, taking this statement apart
>  (showing that she had not read too much if anything of
>  her *Secret Doctrine* bible) and asked "What is my
>  authority for such a statement?" (for quotation). There
>  is a problem with too many especially the "academics",
>  they have no trust in their own powers of mind or
>  reasoning, perhaps have none, and must base all that
>  they allow themselves to believe on some other person,
>  an "authority" rather than allowing an idea of their own
>  leak in, and they will not allow another person to have
>  an original idea or conclusion. It is to be noted well,
>  that those who require authorities, be it HPB or
>  whoever, chose from any authority only that which suits
>  their own predilections and prejudices, and also only
>  that which is the realm of their ken or state of
>  education (or lack). Requiring "authorities" is a great
>  fault among theosophists, - others too, - but I am
>  concerned here chiefly with the health or lack, of the
>  TS.
>         "Diversity of opinion" and "... a large amount of
>  uncertainty" are those things which can lead the
>  brighter to inquire further and broadly, and thereby
>  have a chance of eventually finding Truth. On this
>  physical plane truth will always be relative, but more
>  of even that is still desirable. This is impossible if a
>  broad scope of study is not allowed, or frowned upon.
>  Krishnamurti said "Truth is a Pathless Land." Meaning
>  that each one of us must find the way to Truth by our
>  own wanderings, there is no set roadway. It is the
>  intention of the Deity of our system that each of us
>  shall find our way back to Him, the Source, by our own
>  differing way. This is His Plan, and by the diversity He
>  becomes perfected in a most broad way. Were it
>  otherwise, there would be no need for Him to have
>  created so many Monads. Why have a thousand or million
>  people (read Souls or Monads) treading identical paths,
>  having identical experiences, when to accomplish this,
>  only one Monad would be needed, not a million.
>         A religion accepts only orthodox control of what can
>  be taught, and believed. This has entered the TS as its
>  members have shifted the TS into a religion. The Loud
>  Minority have decided what is correct and what is not.
>  Those who do not accept this are frowned upon, made
>  uncomfortable so that they will leave, shown the door,
>  or so discouraged as not to join in the first place, as
>  happened with two of my relatives - who still studied of
>  things occult. The decision as to what is acceptable is
>  arbitrary, a position seized upon by the pushy, the
>  L.M.'s, by some who have studied a fair amount and in so
>  doing assume they know more, and know best, impressing a
>  few sheep in the process. If HPB is the ideal, her
>  intentions if followed by these purists are purely co-
>  incidental. I know of an incident in the past year where
>  a member was literally escorted to the door. I learned
>  from another that this ousted person was much more broad
>  minded that was generally favoured in that lodge. In a
>  religion, of the 6th Ray at any rate, and in semi
>  religions (those in the making) much energy is spent in
>  seeing that all are believers of the official line, Like
>  political dictatorships, which sooner or later (usually
>  sooner) spend a neurotic amount of energy on political
>  pureness of the masses and seeking out the dissenters
>  and unbelievers, religions too get to a stage where too
>  much energy is spent in seeing that the members are not
>  heretics of the official line. This to the extent of
>  mass murder and torture as in the Inquisition. This
>  deviated 180 degrees from what the Founder of
>  Christianity taught, but this never bothered the
>  participants, they choose only from their sources and
>  authorities that which suits their predilections. The
>  R.C. Church is and has been so obviously *not* based on
>  the Bible, as one might expect it to be, that even the
>  clergy enlightened enough to see this and admit it,
>  excuse the Church by saying that the Church is based on
>  tradition. The TS has this quality too of not being
>  properly based on the Founders' intentions, and has been
>  for some time. No Inquisitions (yet) for which thanks be
>  given,just out-easing. The TS'ers who claim HPB is the
>  one and only actually do not follow her line, as I have
>  complained about herein. The only reason we do not hear
>  her turning over in her grave is because she was
>  cremated and her ashes scattered.
>         Control of beliefs in religion or theosophy,
>  orthodoxy of beliefs brought into official control, are
>  all contrary to HPB's statement the "orthodoxy in
>  theosophy is impossible and undesirable.", thus it is
>  obvious that the interpretation of what is meant by
>  "theosophy" is *not* by HPB's instructions or teachings
>  but by the arbitrary whims and dictates of others, who
>  set themselves up as the "true" interpreters. Are these
>  others to be regarded as more qualified than HPB? There
>  are recent by-law changes in another country that will
>  enable the dictating of what can be taught, which
>  implies that someone must set themselves up as
>  interpreters of the "truth". I challenge the HPB-only's
>  to come up with glorious excuses and explanations as to
>  why they deviate so willingly from the example and
>  teachings of HPB whom they adore and falsely claim to
>  follow, taking only what suits their predilections from
>  her writings.
>         HPB was a grand lady with great revelations for our
>  development. What a pit so few want to follow her broad-
>  minded example. One finds in her greatest advocates her
>  greatest distorters.
>         While I mostly deal with the matters as found
>  prominent in the Canadian end of the TS, as seeing what
>  has been closest to me for over 50 years better than
>  what is distant. I have to report on a matter that has
>  just recently come up in a country very close
>  geographically to Canada. In that country they recently
>  adopted some by-law changes. This happens all the time,
>  as you might say, so what. Among several changes are two
>  that are quite nasty and dangerous, and the sign that
>  religionism has taken over. One by-law says that the
>  headquarters can now dictate to lodges, (and members by
>  implication one may assume) what can be taught. This
>  implies also dictating what can be believed, in order
>  that the "taught" person can safely assume it to be a
>  "theosophical" belief. This has the approval of Adyar,
>  and is touted to be right and proper and in consonance
>  with the Rules of the International (Adyar) TS. If it is
>  now, what was it before so that a change was deemed
>  necessary, or was it not strict enough in the previous
>  wording? It has been said for a long time now, probably
>  predating my existence on the physical plane, that the
>  Adyar Rules in parts are very undemocratic, placing
>  dictatorial powers in the hands of whoever may be
>  president. This and the obedience requirement for the ES
>  members to the Outer Head - and the ES is dominant in
>  the Adyarian TS world-wide - places too much power in
>  one person. Thus the deciding of what is "kosher" to be
>  taught has the potential for abuse, and I would suggest,
>  has been abused already, which I will later deal with.
>         The other objectionable part to these by-law changes
>  is that they state that all assets of the lodges belong
>  to Headquarters. This can mean the national headquarters
>  and by implication, and in past performances, Adyar.
>  This is to apply even if the regional lodge is a
>  corporation. The by-law has passed. It has been
>  suggested by critics of the by-law change in that
>  country that the vote was light, and perhaps not all who
>  participated in the vote fully understood the
>  implications. Be that as it may, several lodges are very
>  much opposed to these two changes, the other changes in
>  the by-law amendment are rather innocuous. If this is
>  what the members of that Section want, I agree that each
>  has the right to go to Hell in their own way, and if
>  their way is wrong, Karma will adjust, rewarding or
>  biting. I do not agree with the two parts that some find
>  objectionable, but cannot directly interfere at this
>  distance, and won't, other than to express an opinion. I
>  strongly object to the idea of asset seizure. This is
>  robbery, theft, unless done when a lodge collapses and
>  there are no more members, then reversion of the assets
>  to the headquarters is justified. If the lodge is still
>  alive, and its direction does not suit headquarters, or
>  the lodge wants to separate, they should be able to and
>  take their assets with them on separation, which assets,
>  in my opinion belong to them.
>         The dictating of what can be taught and claiming to
>  own all assets of branches is a thing well noted in
>  religions, so this is another step in TS religionism, (a
>  favorite word of the late Alvin B Kuhn). HPB, Judge and
>  Besant all said that there was autonomy of lodges and
>  Sections, and that there was no "parent" society. The
>  current management in Adyar may say that there is
>  autonomy, but their actions in the past few years show
>  that they believe otherwise. I am a strong believer that
>  there is and should be autonomy of lodges and Sections.
>  When a lodge wants to leave, they should go intact. I
>  know of court decisions where the headquarters can grab
>  the assets, and of court decisions where the courts
>  decided otherwise. When lodges left in the Canadian TS,
>  I did not even bother to inform the Board of Directors
>  of this, (various court decisions) as a decision either
>  way would be up to the judge that one got and the
>  astuteness of the lawyers, and since the outcome would
>  almost as a flip of the coin, only the lawyers with
>  their large fees could win. Ask Adyar how much they
>  spent to lose the Denmark affair. Besides, I believe in
>  the autonomy of lodges etc.
>         Either there is autonomy or there is not. There is no
>  grey area. Obviously Adyar and its obedient affiliates
>  believe that there is not autonomy. This and the control
>  of what can be taught, which can be called the
>  episcopalian system, is what this nearby country's TS
>  has now. That its president, whose writings I have
>  publicly expressed as a great breath of fresh air, has
>  adopted - gone along with - this narrow concept, can
>  best be explained by the fact that he once was in
>  training to be a Roman Catholic priest. Thus such
>  control would not be an unfamiliar thing to him. To
>  objections to the changes in the bylaws, officialdom has
>  claimed that such strictures and control of teachings
>  and assets were already in place, and these changes but
>  emphasized them. All the defenses for the changes I can
>  argue against, but that is not my purpose here, only to
>  point out that it is a crystallizing event and a further
>  consolidation of theosophy as a religion.
>         One of the leaders of a lodge objecting to these
>  changes in by-laws has said that part of the reason is
>  fear of some lodges teaching or allowing to be taught,
>  classes on Bailey books. His lodge is very broad minded
>  and allows anything along occult lines to be taught. He
>  pointed out that in the past few years that the
>  interference by Adyar into the affairs of lodges and
>  sections, in Jugoslavia, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Denmark
>  and Canada's excommunication, were based on the fact
>  that Alice Bailey's books were being used in some
>  classes. In this he was almost completely correct.
>  Canada and possibly Ireland's incidents were not for
>  this reason. He said that obviously Adyar and certain
>  others who toed the party line were in fear of Bailey,
>  and felt threatened. I agree completely with this as a
>  valid psychological assessment.
>  (To be concluded in July-August 1996 issue).
>  ________________________________________
>  The Canadian Theosophist, Vol. 77, No. 2., May-June
>  1996, pp. 26-34
>  Mail address of Canadian Theosophist:
>  R.R. No. 3, Burk's Falls
>  Ontario P0A 1C0
>  Canada

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