Re: authorial reluctance (reply to Kim)
Aug 23, 1996 07:24 PM
by Kim Poulsen
>Are you planning to write an article for the Danish Theosophical
>Society or what?
Actually a book in english. But it is still in the material collecting
phase. I'm working at present mostly on an exact vocabulary, so to speak,
based on terms in HPB's works and the mahatma letters. The preliminary work
is very promising but extremely time consuming (it involves translitering
key text to conduct word searches).
Kim>But anyone can check my translations in the dictionary
> The problem is more in the interpretation than in the translation,
>I think, although one interprets also when one translates of course.
A theosophist needs in fact to interpret less than anybody else (having a
large metaphysical vocabulary). The common problem of translators is that
they feel the need to make everything immediately understandable.What one
needs is the skill to translate a term (when direct translation is of
little use) into the correct principle. And here Shankara comes in, he
commentated on many important texts and his style of writing is often a
"translation" of principles between varying terminologies.
>>will generally be found as self-existence, own-being, luminous existence
> Blavatsky translates it as Father-Mother.
> De Purucker remarks that it is a condition or state of Cosmic
> consciousness-substance where spirit and matter are one, non-dual.
> The reservoir of being, life, consciousness and light and the source
> of the forces of nature. He says that the Nothern Budhists call it
> Adi-Buddhi and that the Brahmanic scriptures call it Akasa.
> The Hebrew Old Testament refers to it as the Cosmic Waters.
> What do you think?
I think that father-mother is another term occuring with svabhavat in the
original stanzas rather than a translation (that is - a description). And I
think that Purucker either confounds a number of principles here *or* uses
a characteristic eastern identification (like "Atman is prana"), where "X
manifests as Y on this plane" is ment, a longer and more complex equation
than the expected X=Y.
Purucker may be working from certain mahatma letters (11 and others).
While the akasha is the first universal principle, svabhavat is the
seventh. This is a very long story and I do not have the time to delve into
> Is the following your own translation and interpretation?
Yes, translation and summary of the really ancient schools as portrayed in
the Mahabharata. Interpretation - all translations of sanskrit are really
interpretations, but mine stay close to the text, at least. I like almost
literal translation - like adhyaatma (adhi+aatma) for over-soul. The term
occurs thousands of times in ancient literature, but has only once or twice
been translated as such (fx Franklin Edgerton's Gita translation).
>>a) Sa.nkhya, literally numerology - esoteric study, indian kabbalah as
>>might put it. Their (the esoteric students) real philosophy is hinted at
>>Vyasa, they start with an immutable principle, etc. The commonly known
>>sutras are only semi-esoteric and are not worth much.
>Do you mean you know less known sutras?
Not necessarily less known, but what I believe to be a real description
of the philosophy is found in the shukaanuprashnaH in the Mokshadharma
parva of the Mahabharata. It makes it clear (with the shorter remarks in
Bhagavad Gita) that there existed 2 schools - the sa.nkhya and the yogins.
The 3 parvas Bhagavad gita, Anugita and mokshadharma are of the highest
quality, and this fact alone makes me trust them to a high degree.
The wellknown sa.nkhya kaarikaa is (as Subba Row says) merely a treatise
on some elemental combinations - but of course the esoteric mathematics
employed in it is still unknown: sa.nkhya kaarikaa literaly means "A
Treatise on Numerology".
>>b) service, improvement of personal karma - insufficient for liberation
> But an essential ingredient, I think.
Of course, but it cannot do it alone. I was merely resuming the position of
the B.G here as a parallel to the modern triplicity study, meditation,
service. In fact only understanding has ever been described as a mean of
liberation - but of course it can be pursued by study or meditation (or
rather both). Interestingly the yogins had a system of philosophy (far
beyond the human character) and the sa.nkhyas would certainly have used
>>c) Yoga - whose goal is samadhi, literally union "with the logos" as
>>Row puts it.
> That leaves aramba, or science, Nyaya and Vaiseshika, out of the
>picture. What is your opinion on the six Schools of Wisdom (Shad Darsana)?
>I'm especially interested in your opinion of Yoga as a School of Wisdom.
>That includes the four types of Yoga commonly known, I suppose?
This Mahabharatean period comes before the alleged sutra period and you
will have found several of these later schools portraying only a limited
perspective of esoteric philosophy. In this case, I think, yogins only
describe a not too homogeneous group, including authors like Patanjali -
and relying more on meditation and self-analysis than books for their
source of information. The sa.nkhyas relied heavily on metaphysics, and
apparently esoteric mathematics. Within these broader *esoteric* groups
(far more important than any philosophical school) the best schools (like
the rajah yogins) would be found - I think. This is my merely conjectural
impression based primarily on the descriptions within the Mahabharata.
>> To travel on more than one path, would just as today be possible, if
>>necessary. So being merely a theosophist or Advaita Vedantin has never
>>constituted a path. Even a swami will have to exercise one of these to
>>anywhere in the right direction.
> So, you're saying that a theosophist has to practice Karma Yoga,
>Raja Yoga, etc. in order to get moving along the Path (as a process)?
Of course, only esoteric study, meditation and service will do as a
My point here is the striking similarity between the most ancient ideas on
these subjects and the modern. Understanding is a process of course, and a
long one in spiritual matters.
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