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Re: Research Project: Third Object of the T.S.A.

Dec 27, 1999 04:38 PM
by Murray Stentiford


I don't have a large collection of references but there is a set of three
quite extensive articles collectively titled "The Three Objects of the
Theosophical Society" in The American Theosophist of October 1970, pages
284 to 304. The third object is specifically covered on pages 297 to the
end, by Joy Mills. You may be able to get a photocopy from the library at
the Olcott theosophical headquarters at Wheaton, Illinois. If you are
unable to get it by reasonable means in the USA, let me know and I will
post you a photocopy.

As you are evidently aware, the objects of the Adyar TS went through
several different forms before settling into the wording used today.

In my opinion, when we come to read the three Objects today, we have to
apply a certain lens because of the developments in language and of
attitudes in science that have occurred since they were formulated.

"Law of nature" is used in a more cautious way today than a century ago
because of the realisation that what humans call laws are generally a
current understanding of a pattern of causality that has been observed.
Because human understanding (scientific theories, in particular) are
*models* of reality, it is frequently impossible to "prove" them, and often
the best we can hope for to advance our understanding, is to devise a way
to disprove them. Then we have to alter or even discard the current model
and find one with a better fit to current observational knowledge. We had a
discussion on this a few weeks ago and if you have joined this list only
recently, I am willing to post you a longer piece I wrote on this topic, if
you would like it.

So "Law" has a more restricted usefulness today than it used to, in
science. "Explanation" is more limited, too. Put them together, and we have
a phrase "unexplained laws of Nature" that on the surface has a bit of a
mismatch with current ways of seeing things. Hence my saying we need to
apply a certain kind of lens to understand the core of the original intent.
To be fair, the originators doubtless chafed and struggled to find a simple
way to express their vision, and it could even be that some of us today can
understand the Objects better than the originators did. So let's feel
encouraged to turn the spotlight of insight onto these Objects, to see what
greater depths of meaning we can find.

>     To me, the words "unexplained laws of Nature" appear to be
>contradictory - i.e.:  How can a "law", by definition, be "unexplained"?
>And the words "laws of Nature":  What, exactly, were the "laws of Nature"
>they were referring to: Karma? Reincarnation? Clairvoyance?  And
>investigate:  How and by what means and for what purpose(s) were they going
>to conduct their investigations?  In my perusal of the Theosophical

As I see it, this phrase "To investigate unexplained laws of nature" sets
out a willingness to explore outside the well-established fields of
knowledge, where observations are relatively scarce (to the bulk of
humanity anyway) and understanding is infantile or as yet unborn.
"Unexplained" means where we do not understand or have information about a
process, ie cannot establish a relationship between it and what is already
"known" (ie modelled). Putting "laws of nature" next to it is an implied
act of faith, that future discovery will continue to reveal orderliness and
pattern in the universe. There is good precedent for this, of course. In
the context of modern theosophy, there is an added implicit dimension that
whilst most of humanity may not be aware of whole areas of understanding
and pattern, a few pioneers are - the adepts and visioneers so to speek.

Crucial to all this, hinted at by the phrase "powers latent in man", is the
realisation that the key tool of this investigation is the human psyche
itself. That the awakening of its potential is essential to this
exploration, and that the potential itself is a rightful concern of the TS.

So all the fragments of the cosmic net of Sophia - wisdom and understanding
- such as reincarnation, karma, activated subtle senses and powers of
consciousness etc are of course rightful subjects for the open and
further-opening mind that could be attracted to this Object.

>     In closing I need to also state that it is my considered opinion that
>every serious member of the Theosophical Society should have a clear,
>unambigious understanding of what each of the three Objects of the Society
>mean and what they are intended to convey.  The Objects are the mandated
>fundamental principles that we have stated that we are in sympathy with --
>a prerequisite for membership in the Society.

I think it is important to regard such objects as a convenient, simple
verbal centre for us to keep mindful of the general intent of the society.
They are like a set of seeds from which understanding can grow, rather than
as a set of boxes to keep it in.

Good luck in your search,


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