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Re: Elitism and Esotericiam

Aug 01, 1996 07:48 AM
by Ann E. Bermingham

>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.  . .

Two ideas immediately occurred to me when I read this.  One is that I have found
active Theosophists have vastly different beliefs and are usually ready *not* to
believe anything.  As a group, they consistently seem to display a "prove it to
me attitude", followed by "let's argue about it."  If they were otherwise, they
would enjoying a mainstream religion or sitting home watching sitcoms.
Theosophy attracts people who are independent and their independence is going to
show up even within the organization, fights and all.

TS seems like a club?  What would you like to be?  More like a university
atmosphere, esoteric school, ashram, footbal team?

> This is radically different than a real spiritual practice,
>which I'll again say *can* be found with Theosophy.

What is this "real spiritual practice" you are referring to?  Are you talking
about something along the lines of a yogic path, where a teacher counsels the
disciple and give certain disciplines?

Why am I asking these questions?  Because I find this whole issue confusing.  I
have never gotten the impression that the Theosophical movement offered a set of
specific steps that would lead to enlightenment.  I ascertained that by the time
an individual became independent enough to have come to Theosophy, they would
have become the path themselves.  Not needing a "system", they could engage in
studying other paths and other materials made available to them through the
Society.  By coming together, they could schmooze and fight and eat veggie meals
together, bouncing ideas off each other's heads and learning from it, without
anyone trying to convince the other that they had "the way".

There was a time when I did not even know what a Theosophist was.  To my good
fortune, I attended my first summer school led by John Algeo.  His words are
permanently burned into my brain.  He said, "A Theosphist meditates, studies and
serves."  (Forgive me, John, if that is not the right order.)

If that's what you're talking about, then we agree that those three things make
up the Theosohical path.  But if you mean something more specific and detailed,
then we're in trouble and I ain't talking about you and me.

You can't take a group of very independent, feisty, intellectual and
passionately spiritual people, who have, for the most part, found their own
spiritual path, straight-jacket them into a philosophy and funnel them into a
system.  If you try, they are going to run like you-know-what to somewhere else.

- Ann E. Bermingham

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