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Re: Skeptics

Mar 09, 1997 12:13 PM
by Tim Maroney

>Bart, I see a residue of true believerism in your attempt to
>rescue SD anthropogenesis.  Intellectual honesty, IMO, requires
>us to admit that it's just plain wrong from top to bottom.
>That doesn't mean HPB didn't really get it from some esoteric
>traditional source.  Nor that there might be tidbits of truth
>in the scheme.  But as a picture of where humanity was in
>evolutionary terms 10,000, 100,000, a million or 18 million
>years ago, it's hopeless and unsalvageable.  Or, conversely,
>contemporary science is hopelessly and unsalvageably astray.

Hi Paul,

One way to engage material like this is as fiction. Fiction, of course,
has its own quality of truth but is not meant to be engaged on a
literalistic level, or even necessarily as allegory. Blavatsky was the
daughter of a successful novelist and no mean storyteller herself,
publishing a variety of weird tales as well as the largely fictionalized
"Caves and Jungles". While she did present "The Secret Doctrine" in a
literal mode, that should not mean that we are bound to interpret it that
way ourselves. I believe that Blavatsky saw truth and fiction as close
members of the same continuum, and felt free to move easily from one to
the other.

Another way to engage material like this without getting caught in a
struggle about whether it's literally true or not is to treat it as case
study, that is, as a record of the mental process of a particular mystic.
In this case we can easily see it as an answer to the ontological void
created by new findings on the age of the earth that left Western culture
bereft of a creation story and so of a self-definition. The particular
visions involved are also interesting as a case study of the imagistic
experiences of a person with an unusual talent for astral work. We could
look at figures in her visions as dream characters, rearrangements of
known characters from the ordinary worlds, attempts to grapple with the
process of the non-human giving rise to the human, and so on.

Either of these approaches admits the obvious -- this is not really how
people evolved -- while still managing to derive some advance in
understanding from the material, and treating it with respect on its
proper plane.

Tim Maroney

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