Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Tadashi, Jan 12, 2014.
HAHAHAHAHA!! ACOT, you crack me up!
Thanks, but I know Thomas won't let me! lol...
That's right, you told me that before, and that's something I need to look into. Cleary all the four gospels mention 'eternal life', but I guess it doesn't necessarily mean 'eternity in heaven'?
I still haven't properly understood the idea of heaven and nirvana being a different place (though I got the gist from your earlier posts), I really need to read The Secret Doctrine, see if I can wrap my head around it. When I start reading it, I know I'm gonna have tons of questions for you and Skull (I'll create a new thread specially for that) to the point it may annoy you guys! ...Just giving you a courtesy warning
Nick said "I would add that one of the most difficulty things to do, and at the same time one of the most important things to do, is to acknowledge another person's point of view when having a discussion with that person."
Nick, could you elaborate on this some more. I am not seeing the benefit. I can acknowledge another person's point of view, and I do not see how that helps.
I can acknowledge, for example, that someone I am talking to believes in a literal Hell; how does that help me discuss the subject when I absolutely do not believe in a literal hell.
Tad said "I get what you mean. I know this can be frustrating to some. But the way I see it is, if there is no universal truth, then why do so many people want to know about it? and join a forum to talk about it?"
It is my thought that people want to discuss a universal truth because we humans like to distill complicated concepts into something more manageable. To say that all religions have at their center a truth that they all share is comforting, and appealing.
To say that religions have formed now and in the past for different purposes and to serve different needs is much more complex. That is closer to the truth though, at least as I look at religions. They may share some similarities certainly, but there are more differences than there are similarities.
I suppose if one simplifies all religions down enough, one might come up with a universal truth. But in doing so, one has discarded the majority of what each religion is that makes it distinct. That seems to me to be doing a disservice to each religion just to achieve what is essentially an arbitrary goal.
Does that make sense? I feel like I am thinking through a fog here. Not at all sure I am stating what I wish to get across as effectively as I would like. It's getting past my bedtime, so I think I'd better say G'nite for now.
Theosophy, as Blavatsky & her gurus taught it, does not say "all religions share a single, universal truth". It does teach that all religions came from one Source. But one needs to be a buddha or great avatar to be close enough to that one Source, to know THE truth.
And then as it passes down through the lesser minds, then a conceptual mind, then language, then a specific culture - one comes up with A truth or A religion.
Tad: The source of ideas has another source much lower than the Absolute. It is called the akasa and on this planet ideas are much more likely to come from a lower aspect of akasa, called the astral light. All that has ever been thought - simple, difficult, wise or foolish is all recorded there. Depending on the vasanas, or the tendency & quality of a person's mind, it will attract similar notions from this reservoir of thoughts.
Truly original thoughts are most unlikely.
Thank you, Tadashi. It's my mutual pleasure!
My background includes joining the Theosophical Society in America when I was ~17 ... some 25 years ago. My parents are Lutherans, and a rather open-minded, educated sort of intellectual people, not at all drawn to what some would call `high church,' with pomp & circumstance, lots of ceremony, nor are they the evangelical and proselytizing sort. As an adopted child, however, I have always been curious about identity issues, thus I was asking questions - perhaps more from a precocious standpoint than anything else - before I was even aware I was adopted.
By age three I had already had the only full-fledged, bona fide `out-of-body experience' which I remember with such detail ... and I had also `met' my spiritual guru, one of the Theosophical Mahatmas of much familiarity, with whom I have been fortunate enough to study for many years. During college, when I found the sketch of this Tibetan Master, I recognized the figure at once ... and much as in the case of Alice Bailey, I was able to see the Theosophical Society, work and Purpose from another angle.
I know about Theosophical teachings, some of the Teachers and plenty of the Work from several points of view, with perspective I have gained from being an earnest student of Alice Bailey's writings, those of Helena Roerich, of Lucille Cedercrans, and of many others. I have been fortunate enough to meet many dozens of followers of both Theosophy and latter-day, Theosopically-inspired movements and Group activities, and I've been a member of a few esoteric meditation, study and service groups over the years.
The concept of the `New Group of World Servers' should be investigated by anyone with serious interest in a perennial philosophy ... since many of those who comprise the former are the truest Perennialists the planet has ever known. The more you learn about the NGWS, through whatever means and in whatever sincere presentation, the better you will understand the Perennial Tradition. A great irony is that many of the best exponents of the Sacred Doctrine do not even claim themselves to be religious, or spiritual people per se ... since many of the greatest workers for Good do so silently, behind the scenes, even with a true veil of ignorance temporarily cast across the memory of their former lives [and this, voluntarily, from the point of view of the Soul].
St. Augustine's comments - on the Christianity which existed before Christ - are relevant here, although I believe time will show us that Shakyamuni Buddha's exoteric religion is the closest thing to the Perennial Philosophy, or Theos Sophia, as has yet emerged upon the planet. This, at least, is the opinion of several of the Theosophical Mahatmas, who both were and are students of the past, present and future Buddhas, and Christs. In contrast to all this, ecclesiasticism and `churchianity' has deposed the original message & mission of the Christ, yet I believe we will see a rightful Order restored ... with such figures as the new Holy Father moving into (and directing) the Light.
Also, any old posts on this forum you see from Taijasi, AndrewX or Ecumenist are also mine. Some of them reference Theosophical subjects, or at least my personal experiences and views in light of what I've learned ... largely thanks to such wonderful, `diamond souls' as Annie Besant, H.P. Blavatsky, W.Q. Judge, H.S. Olcott, C.W. Leadbeater, and the hosts and generations of those who came in the 20th century following in their footsteps.
Please feel free to ask me anything you like about Theosophy, or about my take on the River Alpheus, Sacred Tradition, Perennial Philosophy, etc.
Again, good to make your virtual acquaintance!
Tad, you mentioned 'eternal life' and 'eternity in heaven'. The two ideas are very different. Theosophy does not teach of an eternal heaven. But Theosophy does not talk about eternal life either. There is a reason for this. According to Theosophy, one of the biggest problems with Genesis is that Genesis only talks about this universe. According to Theosophy, there have been many universes, this universe is only one in a long line of universes ("Jesus has had many brothers and sisters."), and Genesis leaves out the part about the time between universes and the time during previous universes. Genesis begins its story just before this universe begins (the part in Genesis 1 when the spirit moves across the waters, which is just before the universe began, just before the Big Bang, just before "God" said "let there be light", with the Light being our universe.)
Now, let me tie together the two ideas of eternal life and the beginning of our universe. Theosophy teaches about the conditions between universes. This period is called the period of Non-Being. "Existence" during this time is not described as "life", so the term "eternal life" is not used in Theosophy.
"I still haven't properly understood the idea of heaven and nirvana being a different place…"
--> Heaven is the rest period between human incarnations. It can last a few years, hundreds of years, or thousands of years. Nirvana is the state of consciousness we experience after we stop reincarnating, and nirvana lasts billions of years.
"…I really need to read The Secret Doctrine, see if I can wrap my head around it."
--> I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Here is one thing about the connection between The Secret Doctrine and Genesis. The Secret Doctrine is the explanation of a poem called the Stanzas of Dzyan. The Secret Doctrine and Genesis are the exact same story, just told from different perspectives. According to Theosophy, the big problem with Genesis is that is has been translated into language after language many, many times over many, many centuries. (Theosophy teaches that God did not give Genesis to the Jews directly, or that it was originally written in Hebrew.) The idea is, Genesis was originally written millions of years ago, then translated many, many times, until finally being translated into Hebrew and then English (and then Japanese). But according to Theosophy, the Stanzas of Dzyan is a direct translation from the original language into English, an amazing feat, and removes many of the mistakes in the Genesis version of the same story.
"When I start reading it, I know I'm gonna have tons of questions for you and Skull…)
--> I am looking forward to it. Ask away!
GK, you said,
"I can acknowledge another person's point of view, and I do not see how that helps. I can acknowledge, for example, that someone I am talking to believes in a literal Hell; how does that help me discuss the subject when I absolutely do not believe in a literal hell."
--> When we acknowledge another person's point of view, we are showing respect for what they think, believe, and feel. Without showing mutual respect, true communication is impossible. In addition, without showing mutual respect, conversations usually deteriorate into preaching, condescending ways of talking, and then into downright arguing.
Atheist: "I know you think that there is a literal hell, but I disagree."
Christian: "I know you think that there no literal hell, but I disagree."
This simple act of acknowledging the other person's point of view makes all the difference in the world. For example, elsewhere on this forum we are presently having a debate about creationism vs. science. Here is how it would work:
Atheist: "I know you think that creationism should be taught as science in school, but I disagree."
Creationist: "I know you think that creationism is not as valid a way of explaining the origin of the universe as science is, but I disagree."
There is one more important point. When one person is having a debate with another person, the first person should first determine whether the second person is willing to acknowledge the first person's point of view. If the second person is unwilling to do this, then it is probably time to stop such a debate.
GK, you said,
"To say that religions have formed now and in the past for different purposes and to serve different needs is much more complex. That is closer to the truth though, at least as I look at religions. They may share some similarities certainly, but there are more differences than there are similarities."
--> My belief system says there are different kinds of people, so we need different kinds of religions. For example, Christianity is a religion that stresses the glorifying of a deity, whereas glorifying a deity is not important in Buddhism. Both types of religions are needed, because some people naturally want to glorify a deity whereas others do not. I certainly disagree with the Christian idea that one religion (Christianity) fits all. Christianity is definitely a glorifying-based religion, which is one of the reasons I am not a Christian.
"I suppose if one simplifies all religions down enough, one might come up with a universal truth."
--> I like Skull’s choice of words instead. It’s not a matter of all religions sharing a single, universal truth (on the contrary, different religions emphasize different ideas), but rather that all religions came from one source.
All religions boil down to one universal truth, we should all strive to be happy, but that is a huge oversimplification, and boiling all religions down to this "one universal truth" serves no purpose.
Tad [or anyone else]: Before you jump into The Secret Doctrine itself, study this booklet. It gives Blavatsky's advice on how to study it and what parts to focus on and master first.
An Invitation to "The Secret Doctrine" by H. P. Blavatsky
Nick said "I like Skull’s choice of words instead. It’s not a matter of all religions sharing a single, universal truth (on the contrary, different religions emphasize different ideas), but rather that all religions came from one source."
If all religions come from a common source - What is this source?
"All religions boil down to one universal truth, we should all strive to be happy, but that is a huge oversimplification, and boiling all religions down to this "one universal truth" serves no purpose."
I completely agree with this. Boiling religions down this way serves no purpose that I can see. It does become one huge oversimplification.
The one universal truth is to love and be loved. Its that simple.
The Source of Divine Wisdom or Theosophy is - surprise - Divine Beings. Call them buddhas or avatars. Here is Blavatsky in an article giving an explanation:
GK, your observation is insightful and you make good points.
To me, religions are like treasure maps written by different people of different cultures and languages, so I expect them to be different. If so many people wrote a map trying to show where the treasure is buried, then may be there IS a hidden treasure somewhere. Once I was convinced (in my own way) that there is, examining and comparing the maps became quite exciting. I think maps may show different paths, but they ultimately lead to One True Destination. And I want to find out which path on which map works best for me.
And I think many religions extol 'selflessness' and promote the idea of our 'oneness', that could be the Truth, that we are all one?
Thank you for your encouragement and helpful advice regarding learning Theosophy. It may take me a while to read it all and digest it, but I'll start a little by little. It may be a slow process, so bear with me... (I call myself a cow-reader 'cause I have to ruminate a lot, haha...)
And I still want to get to the bottom of what Christianity is to me. I feel a strong special attachment to Jesus, and my girlfriend (most likely my future wife if she doesn't get tired of me!) and her family are all devout Christians and I love them deeply, they treat me as their own son. I want to spiritually stay connected with them, and be able to have meaningful conversations about Jesus and the Bible.
Thank you so very much for such a detailed, in-depth introduction. Wow, you had an OBE? I envy you seriously! And you sure sound very well-seasoned in Theosophy teachings, I am sure I'll learn a lot from you.
I currently have a guest from Japan staying with me, so I may not find much time for this forum, but I'll try to read your past posts as you mentioned. Again, thank you!
Oh, I would if you 'fit the bill' ...
It's well known that the next pope will be accompanied by his wife, the one after that will be accompanied by her husband, and the one after that by his husband ... so pick which one's for you, and go for it! You'll have my nomination!
Thomas, please start a new thread for these thoughts...
While they've gotta be a little tongue in cheek...I'd like to know a. Where you think the church is headed over the next 50-100 years...and b. where you think it should be headed.
The Church, Catholic Church....secondary discussion would be Christendom at large.
A few thoughts on Religion in the light of the Perennial Philosophy —
The religio perennis, like traditional theosophy, philosophy or metaphysics (and those distinctions are relatively modern subsets) cannot be called 'a religion' in its own right, simply because it's dependent on the data of the Revealed religions for its axioms. It's aim is to make known the underlying unicity of religious ideas, to does not infer a unity at anything more than a notional level.
The point here is that each Revealed Tradition is entirely and complete in itself, in that it holds the One as its object, the human as its subject, and seeks to unite the two in a common union at the highest level that such a union can be said to be.
No authentic Revealed Tradition is wanting; although differentiated, and therefore diverse and distinct in its outward appearance, each contains and transmits all that is necessary for its realisation, that is the discernment between the Real and the Illusory, between Atma and Maya, the One and the Many.
Nor is any one religion dependent on a component from outside of itself to be complete. This is a common and understandable misconception, a failure to make the primary and necessary distinction.
Rather, the Perennial Tradition is a commentary on the universals common to all religion; common because man is one, and faces the same 'unknown' (or 'aporia' as the Greek has it), and asks the same question.
Another name for this, when speaking of the human in universal terms, is 'the religion of the heart' or the religio cordis. One can be a 'perennialist', (and, again, a philosopher, or theologian, or metaphysician), but one cannot practice the religio perennis as if it is itself a religion. Its axioms are subsequent to those of Revealed Tradition, it is dependent upon that data for its own discernment and determination.
Perennialism is a synthesis of metaphysical contemplation, but unlike some of its later contemporaries it does not claim to be a 'Way' in its own right. It looks to the One as revealed by the Traditions, but it claims no revelation of its own. For the Perennialist, there is no spiritual path outside of a Religion, which provides the spiritual seeker not only with a doctrine and a method, but also with a spiritual environment under the cover of, and within which, the seeker can flourish.
As an example of this, an axiom of the Perennial Tradition is that 'prayer fashions the man' (Frithjof Schuon), and there is no higher prayer on the spiritual path than the Invocation of the Divine Name, in whatever form that takes with regard to its Tradition. In Christianity, it is 'the Prayer of the Heart'. (Among Hindu esoterists such invocations are considered the most providential means of realization at the end of the Kali Yuga.)
The Hindu saint Ramakrishna, said that the 'mystery' of the invocatory path is that God and his Name are one. In the Christian Tradition it is not we who pray, but God who prays in us "For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you" (Matthew 10:20, cf Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6). In what might be mistaken for an assumed pantheist insight, St Augustine said: "You are more me than I am myself".
If there is a 'Perrenialist Doctrine' it is the discernment between the "Real" and the "illusory", and the practice of virtue. These two aspects correspond to a metaphysical doctrine and its spiritual method: To know the Truth and will the Good.
Perennialism is unfashionable today because it stands against the uncompromising relativism that underlies many modern philosophies. Schuon, for example, points out the intrinsic absurdity of those philosophies for whom 'relativism' is put forward as an absolute truth. Relativism assumes subject as its first principle, seemingly unaware that it is for that very reason deprived of any objectivity.
From a Perennialist viewpoint, the perceived 'problems' with any sacra doctrina is more a matter of reception, rather than any 'fault' or 'error' of the text. (Suffice to say the Great Texts have produced their saints and sages beyond number, and the text seemed entirely sufficient for them ... )
I would go further and add that anyone who immerses him or herself in the sacred page finds themselves on the liminal edge of the infinite and the inexhaustible; any horizon is purely subjective.
The will never come the day when 'everything has been said' with regard to the commentaries on Sacred Scripture.
How can there be?
Sorry on that one. Too many unknowns for me to say.
Into its Founder, it always ever is.
Separate names with a comma.