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Elitism or Esotericism

Aug 01, 1996 02:50 AM
by Eldon B. Tucker

Paul J:

>> The only problem is when a T.S. fills up with people with no interest in 
>> esotericism, but are rather inclined to reject it as "pompous elitism", and
>> under the freedom of belief in a T.S. advocate an "anything goes" style of
>> belief. Then Theosophy, as a body of occult doctrines and specific spiritual
>> practices ends up going underground in the very organizations that were
>> founded to promote it.

>"The only problem" huh?  Eldon, this is an extreme example of
>what I was talking about a couple of weeks ago: the tendency of
>you "true believer" types to concentrate *all* the blame
>for *everything* wrong with the movement on those *you* consider
>"lukewarm" and deserving of repetitious condemnation.

I was responding to a posting where our need to distinguish what we
have to offer from the New Age stuff was made. My response was 
to state that the "uncola" aspect of the theosophical movement is
in a spiritual path offered: a religious philosophy based upon 
certain occult doctrines. What distinguishes us from other groups
is, I'd say, the doctrines and what is behind them. We are not
distinguished in any other way. Brotherhood, comparative studies,
and paranormal investigations are to be found in a multitude of

>You don't come
>right out and say it, but you might as well:  "Thank God I am
>not like other people; if everyone were like me there would be
>*no problems* in the Theosophical movement."

I'm not judging people. Are you? I'm not the only one to express a
concern about Theosophy being watered down over the generations, but
actually disfigured and lost at times. 

>If you can't get over that
>attitude, can you at least stop expressing it so shamelessly?
>It's a very untheosophical attitude.

My concern is with the "anti" attitude, as I find it, where people
are simply unwilling to allow others to study and promote the
doctrines, and make of it a spiritual path. Statement that
there might be such a thing often elicit anger, as some people 
feel offended when someone says "there's something special here"
when they personally find no such thing.

>Your words reek with contempt for your fellow Theosophists.  No
>interest in esotericism?  Get real!

We must have quite radically different experiences of members
of the T.S.'s. You seem to universally rate them highly, despite
all the T.S. bashing that went on earlier this year. I don't
rate them at all -- neither good nor bad -- but observe that
a majority seem ready to believe almost anything and to be
finding the whole experience of being in a T.S. like joining a
club. This is radically different than a real spiritual practice,
which I'll again say *can* be found with Theosophy.

>Just no interest in the
>version thereof propagated by the ES and its various formal and
>informal heirs.

I'm not sure what the E.S. promotes, but I'm talking about
something real, not something based upon fantasy or wishful

>Everyone I know in any TS is strongly interested in esotericism!

Huh? That's certainly different than my understanding. When I'd
speak of someone "being on the Path" or someone being engaged in
a genuine spiritual process, I'm describing a distinct, discrete,
unique event that has happened in someone's life. One important
goal of Theosophy is to awaken as many people as possible, in 
addition to uplifting the thought life in the west. This can be
approached in many different ways, and western Theosophy is only
one of many options to approach it. But when you say that everything
in the T.S. is interested in esotericism, I'm left a bit puzzled.
If you water down everything regarding the spiritual to the point
of mediocrity, where everyone that walks by on the street qualifies,
you obscure and drive underground any real knowledge of the

>The majority are not at all
>interested in *dogmatism* and *elitism* both of which keep
>getting crammed down our throats by the true believers that control
>everything in the movement.

This may be true in some quarters. But every time someone cries
"dogmatism!" or "elitism!" it isn't necessary true. There are
two important points here.

First, as one of many possible approaches to the spiritual, a
theosophical organization is entitled to follow its own agenda and
carry out its own specialization. It would be inappropriate for a
cooking class to be taken over by people wanting to do basket weaving,
there are basket weaving classes. This is not in denial or suppression
of other approaches, just simple common sense.

Second, when a genuine spiritual approach is taught, e.g. esotericism,
there are many that it may not appeal to. Some are drawn to other
approaches. Others do not yet feel a calling to the spiritual. It is
not judgemental to say that some people are drawn to it and others 
are not. It is disrespectful to deny, mock, and charge with egotism
and pride those that follow a particular path. It is not appropriate
to say: "I find nothing in that stuff, and you say there's something
there, so therefore you're an arrogant, condescending, elitist, 

>Forced to go underground in every organization?  That's absolutely
>preposterous.  Show me a single instance in which either the ULT or the
>Pasadena TS has forced members focused on "core" doctrines and
>practices to go underground.

As far as the doctrines, Jerry Hejka-Ekins could outline the
history of their evolution and digression since Blavatsky's days.
The ULT and Pasadena TS are in less danger of losing their
philosophical foundation, but the danger is real in any organization,
regardless of belief, if it is overrun with people of contrary
beliefs and ideas. The original ideas are left behind and potentially
lost to the world.

>Show me a single instance in
>which the Adyar TS has deviated in recent years from the path
>of steadily increasing insistence on the authority of the core
>doctrines, and steadily increasing pressure to expel or make
>unwelcome those who do not agree with that tendency.

They do try to stick to their brand of Theosophy, although
the politics involved and the expulsions are, to put it mildly,

>Geez!  You guys are in total, absolute control of every
>Theosophical organization.  Your view is the only one allowed
>in any of the periodicals, at least in the US.  (The Quest has
>many non-Theosophical articles, but *never* any that question
>or reevaluate anything considered fundamental by the TSA

I don't think that people that "believe in" Theosophy are
fundamentalists, and that those that don't have an exclusive
claim to being able to reevaluate, rethink, and explore the
philosophy. I'd rather think that those that take the philosophy
seriously and give it the greatest thought would have the
greatest progress in exploring it, although you'd likely
label them among us "fundamentals" and "true believers".

>No one outside your circle of ultraorthodox
>Theosophists has any real influence on anything in the
>movement, and yet you *still* persist in blaming the
>insufficiently-orthodox for the *only* problem in the
>movement-- which is their very existence.

While it would be a problem if the T.S.'s were overrun with
people that did not believe in Theosophy, or even care for it,
in the short run I don't see it as threatening. 

When you say that the "insufficiently-orthodox" people are
"blamed" for the problems of the movement, that's conjecture
on your part. I don't see blame there. I see the blame in
those of us who would work to spread Theosophy, and don't
take responsibility for ourselves as well. The blame is in
would-be Theosophists for not sincerely trying to tread the
Path, not in people of differing philosophies, approaches,
and interests, who won't imitate us and follow the way that
we're taking.
>> But what if the coke and pepsi drinkers outnumber those
>> for the sevenup in the T.S.?

>Make them feel totally unwelcome by constantly harping on how
>superior you are to them!  That should solve the problem

Again the same claim! Why is it that whenever I attempt to
make a case for the genuine nuggets of gold to be found in
Theosophy, and for a bona fide spiritual approach to be
behind it, I get all these claims that I and people that
are equally convinced with me are harping on how superior
we are? That's totally bizarre. There's no comparison of
"I'm up here, she's a little lower, and this guy is way
down there on the scale of things." There's just an somewhat
awed attempt to describe some wonderful treasures that we've
been blessed to have because of the theosophical movement.
Given the consistent nature of this reaction, though, I can
appreciate why esoteric groups are formed, where things can
be talked about where they won't bring immediate misunderstanding
and offense to others. This would be "going underground".

-- Eldon

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