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Re: message of theosophy -- using English terms

Oct 25, 1996 00:38 AM
by Eldon B. Tucker

(My message got bounced, so I'm sending it again.)


>When you know what you're talking about, it's very easy to use
>understandable, English words, except maybe for a word like Karma, which
>doesn't exist in English, but is by now recognized in 1 form or another by
>just about everybody.

I'd tend to disagree that we can simply adopt English terms. Using
Sanskrit terms allows us an excellent opportunity to present the
basic doctrines in words that aren't buried in negative connotations
in English.

Terms like "demon" in Greek mean one's Higher Self or Guardian Angel, but
Christianity has twisted the term into meaning "devil", and so people
automatically associate devil worship with the word. Or "universal brotherhood"
as an English term was coined to represent an excellent idea, but since it's
come to symbolize the second-class status of women in the past, it evokes
outrage, and no longer communicates the grand ideas behind it.

When we use "Dhyani-Chohan" or "Deva" instead of "demon", and something like
"Sangha" instead of "Universal Brotherhood", we don't convey the wrong idea.
There might be a "huh?" until we explain the term, but we don't get people
putting words in our mouths and insisting that we are saying something that
we most definitely are not.

This is also why various disciplines evolve their own specialized terminology,
to convey ideas that aren't found in popular thought. With Theosophy, we're
putting into words quite a wealth of Eastern Wisdom that has been inaccessible
in the West, although over the past century various versions of that wisdom
have arrived in numerous other forms, including Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.

I'd say, then, keep the Sanskrit terms, and use more, when our English
equivalents are subject to misunderstanding.

-- Eldon

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