Re: Does Theosophy have Core Doctrines or Basic Teachings?
Jul 11, 1996 04:34 PM
Richard Ihle writes>
Thank you for sharing this, Daniel. As usual, I am "stuck in the middle" on
this issue as well.
>Daniel H. Caldwell shares Boris de Zirkoff> ]
>"For some years past, a tendency has existed among
>some [theosophical] students...to consider theosophy as
>some sort of *generalized approach* to truth. . . .
>"We should never lose sight of the fact that the Esoteric
>Philosophy is a very definite doctrine, a system of
>thought based on specific postulates, on well-defined
>propositions....Even a cursory glance at the pages of
>*The Secret Doctrine* would confirm this fact. That
>work contains innumerable instances where H.P.B.
>(and the Adept-Brothers speaking through her) uses such
>expressions as: "the Secret Doctrine teaches," "secret
>records declare," "The Esoteric Philosophy states
Richard Ihle writes>
This is good because it clearly illustrates the "begging the question"
technique which is often used. Do you notice that the essay begins as though
it is going to examine the question of what ~theosophy~ is or isn't, but then
immediately starts talking about the specificity of ~The Esoteric Philosophy~
as HPB conveys it in THE SECRET DOCTRINE? Thus, when one is forced to agree
that the referred-to Esoteric Philosophy contains Core Doctrines, if one
isn't too sharp in matters of logic one may assume that it has therefore been
proven that the general ~theosophy~ is also made up of ~only~ these same Core
I strongly disagree that ~theosophy~ is limited in any such way; this
epistemological term characterizes a ~type~ of knowledge--viz., "knowledge
which has its base in, or at least originally derives from, transcendental,
mystical, or intuitive insight, or higher perception." It has been used in
this general way, they tell me, long before the advent of HPB.
Now capitalized ~Theosophy~ is a different story. It ~can~ be made a synonym
for HPB's version of "The Esoteric Philosophy," "Wisdom-Religion," "Archaic
Doctrine" or whatever else one calls what is in THE SECRET DOCTRINE--just
like a "brand name," so to speak. However, as I have stated many times
previously, I do not think it is in the best interest of The Theosophical
Society to do this--simply because it is too complicated a doctrine-package
to interest newcomers as compared with the Society's original "draw" as a
society of Truth Seekers (traditionally, those who found the Core Doctrines
as their Truth could proceed to the more specific "Wisdom-Religion" found
within the Esoteric Section--a happy arrangement, I always thought).
Furthermore, of course, ~Theosophy~ used merely as the name brand for the
Theosophical Society's "Basic Teachings" compromises the mystical/universal
element HPB often seemed fond of when she used the term--e.g.: ". .
.Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love, and wisdom,
reflecting its radiance on the earth, while the Theosophical Society is only
a visible bubble on that reflection." (KEY)
>Boris de Zirkoff>
>"In the meantime---and far from any acceptance of ideas on
>merely a blind belief---we can investigate the coherence
>of that system of thought, its logical interrelatedness, its
>appeal to both reason and intuition, its application in both
>great and small ways, and its practical value in relation
>to others. Thereby we may become gradually convinced of the
>truth of the propositions and postulates of the Esoteric
>Philosophy, long before the time when it will have become
>possible for us to undertake a 'clinical' investigation of the
>laws involved therein and to manipulate the forces and
>energies of the occult aspects of Nature."
Well, as I said, I am caught in the middle: On the one hand, except for one
word, de Zirkoff is just using wishful thinking if he believes that the
elaborate, translifetime details of anthropogenesis, for example, can be
validated simply by determining that the system has coherence, logical
interrelatedness, appeal to the reason (this would be a tough one, anyway),
and practical applications.
On the other hand, the one word which saves the Core Doctrines and makes de
Zirkoff a real theosophist, after all, is ~intuition~. I am convinced that
the Core Doctrines can appeal to the intuition--perhaps not with the
sudden-conversion quality which often characterizes desire-mentalism, but
with an inexorable, ineffable ~growing certainty~. I am more and more
persuaded that the Basic Teachings one has not derived for oneself are not
simply the subject matter for conventional belief/disbelief; they still must
be approached ~theosophically~ by every individual for himself or
herself--that is, by means of transcendental, mystical, or intuitive insight,
or higher perception.
In short, live with them for a while . . . and then live with them for an
even longer while if they still keep you interested: study, meditate, and
then perhaps begin to See them for yourself one day. . . .
So . . . yes, I believe there are Core Doctrines contained within THE SECRET
DOCTRINE. Yes, I have a growing certainty that there is truth in many of
them. But no, I don't think de Zirkoff or anyone else has yet shown me why
it is so important to compromise the "process" term ~theosophy~ or the
universal term ~Theosophy~ by making either or both into portmanteau
synonyms for doctrines and teachings which already have their own names.
To the extent that HPB's version of Cosmogenesis, Anthropogenesis, The
Esoteric Philosophy, Wisdom-Religion, Archaic Doctrine etc. can be approached
by theosophy and partake of Theosophy, they will always be associated with
The Theosophical Society--don't you think?
Thanks again, Daniel, for finding this interesting material.
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