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Re: Blind Spots, Fundamentalism, and the Mystical

Aug 06, 1996 08:44 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

According to
> Speaking of blind spots is like evoking the mantra of "there is no
> religion higher than truth!" It's easy to find a "blind spot" in
> someone that sees things differently.

And it's easy for another to find a blind spot in our own
communications.  My reference to a blind spot was particularly
directed at not seeing how one's words come across to others.
We all have a blind spot there at times.

 It's another way of saying
> that the only possible explanation that someone else does not
> agree with you is that they're simply blind to certain essential
> truths, that they have a blind spot.

Oh, no, that's not what I meant, since we all have them.  Just
that in a particular case where we feel others consistently
misconstrue what we are saying, maybe we are unconscious of
some part of what we are saying and that is the stumbling block.

 But the reverse could be just
> as well true, where the reason they don't agree with you is that
> they see something that you're still blind to, and that's why
> their disagreement is so hard to understand.

Of course.
> There are a number of areas where we can play word games, using
> semantics to somehow make our approach special, unique, and better
> than others. One is to call an idea an "hypothesis", if it's ours,
> and a "belief" if it's someone else's.

There are different kinds of oneupmanship, and I plead guilty
to some.  But there's nothing special and unique about
entertaining hypotheses, and nothing inherently shameful about
having beliefs.  There is, however, a real difference in how
well Theosophists of different orientations can communicate
based on how tightly they cling to their understandings;
"hypothesizers" are easier to get along with than "believers"
unless you happen to have the same beliefs as the latter.
We have seen plenty of evidence for that on this list.

 Another is to call one's
> favorite set of ideas as a body of occult "doctrines", and
> someone else's as "dogmas".

Those qualities are not inherent in the ideas but in the way
they are held.

 Apart from all the word games, it
> comes down to "This is what I think, and that is what you think."

If what one thinks is more subject to
expansion, revision, correction than what some other
Theosophists think about Theosophy, then *how* one thinks is more
liberating and enlightening.

> Apart from that, the semantics attempts to rate people in terms of
> other qualities like flexibility of mind, and does not address the
> merit of the ideas themselves.

Call that meta-theosophy.  IMO it is more important than any
particular theosophical teaching, as HPB said "the philosophy
of rational explanation of things" rather than "specific
tenets."  I apologize for any implicit rating of you; I don't
mean to do so, nor to rate the merit of the doctrines you
espouse.  What is more important than personalities and
doctrinal specifics is the character of the movement as a whole
and the way it preserves and transmits the doctrines.
> The important thing that we may all agree to would be that there
> be ways for us to talk about the spiritual, the magical side of
> life, and share deep things without alienating others by appearing
> to judge them.

Agreed.  And we have a fair amount of unlearning to do as a
movement before we get there.

 This is both as individuals and as theosophical
> organizations. When we think we've found doorways to special
> things, we can talk about them humbly, in subdued voice, without
> the glare of neon lights and billboards. And then we can let
> people choose what they find of value, and think none the less of
> them if they pass us over, going on to other things instead.

The only challenge here is to provide enough links in our
thoughts and feelings, between Theosophy and "other spiritual
traditions" so that people are not misled by a simple
polarization between "Theosophy" and "not-Theosophy."  If we
postulate such an antagonism, we are likely to end up on the
losing side, in terms of what choices seekers will make.

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