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Re: Core Teachings

Oct 21, 1996 03:46 AM
by Murray Stentiford

Bee, responding to Kim, wrote:

> >I don't see the problem as core versus others.

I'm inclined to agree. This is one I've been wanting to take part in for
some time, but I've been out of town a lot the last 6 weeks and haven't been
able to keep up with the list reading, let alone writing.

I think the analytical separation between "core" and "other" that has been
developing on this list for a while has only a limited value and too often
gets to cloud the issues.

I believe, first, that there IS a need to try and decide what is "core"
theosophy, but that there are at least two levels to this, one more
permanent and archetypal, and one depending on the context. As an example of
the latter, if you were designing a study course on theosophy, you would
decide what were the key ideas and how you would express them to your
expected audience. You'd have made a decision as to what was "core" in this
context, and because it's a teaching situation in the 20th century, the
intellectual component would probably predominate.

This level of the core question is intimately tied up with the perceived
purpose of the Theosophical Society today, and I believe this purpose has a
large dimension of teaching in its broadest sense which, in keeping with the
spirit of the 2nd and 3rd Objects of the Society, has lots of encouragement
of learning and discovery and downplays codification and regimentation.
Lectures and classes would be somewhere in between.

We need to remember that theosophy as taught and written about is very much
in a historical and evolutionary context. Some ideas are absolutely "core"
to everybody's lives, like gravity and various principles of motion, but
because they are commonplace, the TS does not need to encourage their
discovery; other organizations would probably teach them better and people
wouldn't come to the TS to study them. Other core ideas could be so subtle
that hardly anybody in the TS today could comprehend them; the TS wouldn't
be able to do much for them and few would be interested anyway.

The historical relevance affects the 1st Object too; there would be no need
to build a nucleus of humanity if humankind was already a well integrated
network of nuclei, each embodying love in wisest action. The work to be done
would be different.

Because of all this, I believe it is important for people in the TS to work
out what is core to their historical and cultural context without being
overly attached to that particular compilation, while keeping in mind the
more archetypal "core" ideas, insights and experiences of existence.

For instance, we could say that the idea that there's a single Source of all
is about as "core" as it is possible to get, but any intellectual expression
of it can only be a fraction of, and a pointer to, a fuller realisation of
the actual reality. It all depends on how much of our nature is active and
engaged in the process, and to what degree - the intellectual being but one
of the several principles potentially involved.

Come to think of it then; why not recognize core feelings - love for example
- and core intuitions in addition to core concepts? How many shades and
expressions of love are there? How would we transmit a core feeling, for
example? Is a book the best way? And core behaviour patterns?

Even further, people who see themselves in, or have been put into, the
"experiential" camp, could just as well delineate core experiences. They
could set up a vocabulary of them, if there were a big enough base and
enough will!

Truth is, I reckon, that getting to cores is central to the whole process of
theosophy which is about evolutionary gnosis as well as to the products of
such gnosis:- The hidden needing to be sought out, a path being trodden,
difficulties being overcome, the treasure being finally discovered, becoming
one with the goal, etc etc. So if we're going to fling this word around,
don't leave anybody out!!

Getting back to the polarisation we have seen between so-called "core" and
other kinds of theosophists, if we take an example from science, theoretical
physicists acknowledge the importance of experimental physicists, and
vice-versa, and both see the two types as being complementary and very
necessary to each other's work. Science, which is part of the public quest
for knowledge, recognizes the need to advance on two "feet", as it were, one
theoretical and intuitive, the other practical and observational.

Can't theosophists do a similar kind of thing, and let a more theoretical
approach coexist comfortably with a more experiential one? We're all
explorers in the end.

The TS might be a bit crippled, but please let's not try to chop one of its
legs off, whichever it might be! It has enough tendencies toward
self-amputation as it is.

When people start to exclude others from their approval, and express their
judgements, the stage is set for conflict and power struggles which we have
seen several times on this list now.

>There is a Theosophical essence, for want of a better 
>word, and there is theosophy as a stream of knowledge that gets dammed up 
>periodically and turned into a definite teaching by someone who seems to 
>catch the essence of some part of the stream.

This is a great insight, Bee, and beautifully put.

>History seems to say that this 
>teaching rather quickly gets turned into dogma and the essence is lost. That 
>still hasn't stopped 'keen' inquirers from working their way through the 
>dogma in the attempt to find what gave rise to the dogma in the first place.

Yes, and this is why I don't write off any religion, no matter how encrusted
with barnacles it appears to be on the surface.

Maybe the TS just needs a few barnacle-scrapers!

Member TI, and of the TS in NZ

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