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Multiple meanings

Feb 12, 1998 03:12 PM
by K. Paul Johnson

On further reflection about Bart's question, I think it's pretty
obvious that "Theosophy" and "Masters" have multiple meanings,
and are actually *used* intentionally with plural connotations
and denotations.  But which of the multiple meanings takes
priority is the big question.  We have different agendas
operating within this realm of discourse, and people using these
terms in ways that reflect power dynamics.

Let me construct a simple example of a statement that will elicit
agreement from me as well as the rankest fundamentalist
Theosophist, with virtually no *real* agreement between us:
"Theosophy is the wisdom of the Masters, and the purpose of the
Theosophical Society is to promote its study."

Now let's "unpack" that statement the way I would agree with it.
Theosophy in its broadest sense is the wisdom that can be known
through inner illumination, accessible to all humanity regardless
of belief system.  People throughout recorded history in every
land have experienced the illumination or gnosis or enlightenment
that is inherent in our spiritual potentiality; the purpose of
the Theosophical Society is to promote the study of the finest
fruits of the human spirit wherever they may be found.

The kind of TS we would have if that was the meaning accepted by
the leadership is quite different from what in fact exists.  The
way that statement would seem to be understood by the powers that
be is: the system of teaching in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky
(and a very narrowly defined set of "successors") was given to her
intact by a specific international fraternity of Perfected Men
whom she portrayed accurately in all respects.  The purpose of
the Theosophical Society is to promote these ideas and the claims
about their origin found in HPB's writings, and all other
activities are subsidiary to this.

Daniel Caldwell's having been publicly embraced by John Algeo in
recent issues of the Quest re: "core doctrines" is a mirror image
of the way I was publicly attacked by him, and speaks volumes
about where Algeo''s sentiments are in the matter of broad vs. narrow
definitions of Theosophy and Masters.

My guess is that the membership now, even after a third of the
members have left in the last 10 years, would still split 70/30
in favor of the broader definitions of "Theosophy," "Masters,"
and the purpose of the Society.  But that the present leadership would be
virtually unanimous in favor of the narrower definitions.
Furthermore I reckon 90% of the 2000 members who have left would
go with the broader definition.

Reminds me of the old poem by Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle that shut me out--
heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.

I rejoined the American Section in hope that such
a change of polarity can occur in the TSA.

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