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Questions of JEM and Martin

Aug 26, 1996 07:14 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

John Mead asks, in a recent post, why TSA does not show the
same enthusiasm for scholarly investigation of its history that
the ARE does.  I'd say this can be generalized to all the
Theosophical organizations, none of which really embraces the idea
that there is a need for objective, critical, skeptical study
of HPB and the Masters-- or anything that came after.
So what are the relevant differences which would make the ARE
more receptive to someone pursuing research that is potentially
1.  Most important, as John suggests, is the role of the ES in
governing the TS.  The very nature of governance by a
cryptocratic inner group, which derives its legitimacy from a
particular set of historical claims, militates against any
opening to fundamental questioning of those claims.  ARE
governance is also by an elected board, but there is no secret
inner order pulling the strings.
2.  Second is the relative unpopularity of HPB with the public
compared to Cayce.  There are a great many books
attacking HPB or portraying her as less than the heroic figure
Theosophists honor.  Many people have a mainly negative image
of her.  This causes a bunker mentality within the movement, a sense of
polarity between disbelieving outsiders and devoted
disciples.  Cayce on the other hand has
received almost entirely favorable press.  Thus ARE leadership
is not worried about losing face or credibility due to
criticism that might be published about Cayce.  They have a
confidence that their movement is growing in numbers and
influence, and that any attention paid to Cayce will ultimately
benefit them.  Theosophical leaders are aware that their
movement is shrinking in numbers and influence, and are
suspicious and defensive about any revisionist scholarship that
might further undermine their historical claims-- and
accelerate their decline.
3.  The Cayce readings themselves are more definite and
unambiguous about the need for skepticism and caution on the
part of readers than HPB is, although she does say many times
that people should accept nothing on her authority.  The
legitimacy of the ARE does not rest on any implicit claims
about spiritual authority, unlike the TSes, but rather on the
usefulness of the material it publishes and the programs it

Martin asks about what Cayce says on the paranormal.  This is a
huge question, and I can only state a few points.  He explained
his own ability in a reading:
The subconscious mind of Edgar Cayce is in direct communication
with all other subconscious minds, and is capable of
interpreting through his objective mind and imparting
impressions received to other objective minds, gathering in
this way all knowledge possessed by millions of other
subconscious minds.

Although Freud and Jung are clearly influences on the readings'
terminology and concepts, they (the readings) recommend Thomson
Jay Hudson, P.D. Ouspensky, and William James for explanations
of psychic phenomena.

In less than one percent of the readings, discarnate or angelic
spirits spoke through Cayce in mediumistic fashion.  But by and
large the readings discourage Spiritualism, especially
automatic writing and ouija board use-- warning that possession
is a real danger.  Quoting from my ms., "A holistic approach is
strongly recommended; the readings distinguish between the
mystic, the psychic and the occult, saying that although they
are one, `mystic is as the spirit or the activity, whereas the
psychic is the soul, the occult is the mind.  Do not confuse;
for each in their respective sphere--if and when taken alone--
becomes confusing.' As this passage indicates, psychic
experience was always regarded as less important than spiritual
awakening and mental comprehension."

The psychic ability about which Cayce spoke most favorably was
seeing auras, which he was able to do-- the only paranormal
ability he demonstrated in a conscious state.

Hope this helps give a taste of his approach.


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