What is Theosophy?

lunamoth

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I'm not actually sure where to post this thread, but I wanted to open one up where Theosophy could be discussed and people can ask questions. I think we have at least one member who is a theosophist (Andrew?) whom I hope would be willing to host this thread. As always I hope that respect will be the rule of the day.

So my starting question is, what is Theosophy? What are the basic beliefs?

cheers,
lunamoth
 
From wikipedia, a discussion starter.

Theosophy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theosophy is a body of ideas which holds that all religions are attempts by man to ascertain "the Divine," and as such each religion has a portion of the truth. Theosophy, as a coherent system of thought, developed from the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (also Hélène). Together with Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others she founded the Theosophical Society in 1875.

A more formal definition from the Concise Oxford Dictionary describes Theosophy as "any of various philosophies professing to achieve a knowledge of God by spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual relations, esp. a modern movement following Hindu and Buddhist teachings and seeking universal brotherhood." Christian Theosophy is a branch that strives for the knowledge of God and Jesus obtained by the direct intuition of the Divine essence.

Adherents of Theosophy maintain that it is a "body of truth" that forms the basis of all religions. Theosophy, they claim, represents a modern face of Sanatana Dharma, "the Eternal Truth," as the proper religion.

The five prominent symbols visible in the seal of the Theosophical Society are the Star of David, the Ankh, the Swastika, the Ouroboros, and above the seal is the Aum. Around the seal are written the words: There is no religion higher than truth.

lunamoth
 
I was briefly a member of the TSA - Theosophical Society of America - about 15 years ago. I visited the National Headquarters (in Wheaton, a suburb of Chicago). I met some wonderful people there, from as far away as Hawaii, during the Summer Convention of '91. So I do have some firsthand experience.

I also used to post to a youth forum online, more than 10 years ago, and I think it still exists. My ideas have evolved over 15+ years, but I still look to Theosophy as the Beacon of Light in my adult life - and without its influence, I do not think my spiritual path would be as meaningful or as rewarding.

Many related movements exist, yet they all universally agree (along with the TSA and International Theosophical Society) ... that Theos Sophia, or the Divine Wisdom, predates the Society that was founded in 1875. Many regard Ammonius Saccas (3rd Century AD, Founder of the NeoPlatonic School) as the first modern Theosophist. The ideas (doctrines, tenets) that Theosophy proposes, however ... are certainly ancient. It is not unusual for Theosophists to hold that our world's history easily dates back literally millions of years (both in terms of civilization & culture, with all that these entail), rather than the few tens of thousands of years admitted by modern archaeologists & anthropologists.

I would only mention further (since I'm not sure how well folks at CR know this symbol), that the swastika mentioned as part of the TS logo ... is the reverse of the one used by Hitler & the Nazi party - which purposefully sought to distort esoteric teachings and misuse (or direct to destructive ends) the inherent powers of Creation. The swastika is a positive, and spiritual symbol - properly oriented - and this Wiki article might help.

Thank you, Lunamoth, for starting this thread ...

Namaskar,

andrew
 
Hi Lunamoth -

Perhaps my obvious antipathy towards the Theosophical Society might preclude me from this discussion, but the reasoning behind it is not personal, but theological and ultimately metaphysical - therefore I would say I question its validity from a Catholic standpoint as well as that of the esoterists of the Sophia Perennis, or the Primordial Tradition, whom I believe do champion a true theosophy in the modern world.

This is a big subject, and therefore I shall address it in stages.

Before approaching the TS as such, we must distinguish between what is traditionally understood by Theosophy, and how the TS presents it.

'Theo Sophia' is the science of Divine Wisdom, and can be applied to anyone at any time who meditates or contemplates the Divine Nature. The word itself was coined by the Greeks, and can be applied to the speculations of Anaximander, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle ... even though their views and determinations were markedly different. It's practice, however, is universal, and to a large degree Hindu speculation can rightly be termed theosophy.

Theosophy then, as a belief, relies on the idea that man can know God through the operation of the intellect alone. How this is possible depends upon the nature of the theosophical system and its doctrine or its metaphysics. The Hindu Vedas, for example, regarded as sacred texts, are believed not to be 'revealed' as are believe not in revelatioin but in

In the West theosophic teaching comes to the fore in certain schools of Hermeticism (Egyptian), Philosophy (Greek) and Gnosticism (Persian) - all of which, like the Asiatic traditions, are at root, forms of monistic pantheism.

The JudeoChristian tradition is neither monistic nor pantheistic, and this was why Christianity refused (as had the Jews before them) any accommodation with the pagan world.

Theosophy saw new interest revived in the Renaissance when large works of Greek philosophy, until then lost to the west, became available, like so much else, through trade with the Arab (by then Islamic) world. The works of St Thomas Aquinas, for example, are founded on the application of Aristotelian principle learned at the hand of Moslem scholars.

The Renaissance brought a resurgence of interest in all things theosophic - Platonism, Kabbala, Alchemy, magic and the occult - and flavoured German speculative theology, especially The Theologia Germanica, and the works of the Dominican mystics Eckhart, Susso and Tauler, as well as the mystic Jacob Boehme.

Boehme's mysticism, although expressed in Christian terms, nevertheless regards all formal appearances as at best signs, empty in themselves, but pointing towards a transcedant reality.

Inevitably and periodically attempts were made to unify Christianity to one or more of these varied threads, but the fundamental difference of theology - the knowledge of God made known by Revelation - and theosophy - the knowledge of God made known through the operation of the intellect - led to confrontation, each side arguing the superiority of the other. Whilst there is room to move and resolve this issue in Catholic theology - that man works with God towards his own salvation - the Reformed Protestant denominations - Lutheran, Calvin, Prysbeterian, etc., insisted on salvation by grace alone and the utter inability of man to do anything towards his own redemption.

This was to have a significant impact later on.

Theosophic elements, be they heretical, heterodox and even orthodox, but who challenged the authority of the magisterium, went underground, into the initiatic orders, modelled on the texts which were their inspiration, and took names by which they claimed both an origin and lineage as old if not older than the Church itself.

Thus Freemasons hold they are in receipt of a Secret Doctrine which dates back to the time of Solomon, and the symbolism of the Temple.

The Rosicrucians, another example, are founded on the teaching of the mythical Christian Rosenkreutz, a young man who travelled to the East, met up with certain sages there, who initiated him into the Secret Doctrine, which he caried back to Europe.

+++

This is brief and far from all-inclusive, but it is something of an overview of theosophy as a speculative science, before we look at the nature of the doctrine of The Theosophiocal Society itself.

Thomas
 
Thank you both, Thomas and Andrew, for your interest and participation in this thread. I find it all very interesting and hope to see the discussion continue.

Andrew, perhaps you would expound upon this:

It is not unusual for Theosophists to hold that our world's history easily dates back literally millions of years (both in terms of civilization & culture, with all that these entail), rather than the few tens of thousands of years admitted by modern archaeologists & anthropologists.

To me this sounds like you believe that perhaps the earth was seeded by alien life, in order for 'culture' to predate the emergence of humans by evolution.

Thomas, so far from your description theosophy sounds quiet a bit like gnosticism (and I am not making any value judgements here, just trying to find what distinguishes the two). Am I reading you correctly that theosophy has a legitimate role in Catholic thought? I remember some posts by Abogado del Diablo about the formation of Christianity by merging Greek and Jewish philosophy/theology. I'll have to find those old threads and re-read them.

lunamoth
 
BTW, it's not my intention to micro-manage this thread. Just thought I'd ask a couple questions to let you know I am interested! I hope others will participate as well.

lunamoth
 
Hi Lunamoth -

... theosophy sounds quiet a bit like gnosticism
Yes, gnosticism comes under the banner of theosophy generally.

Am I reading you correctly that theosophy has a legitimate role in Catholic thought?
In Catholic more than any other Christian denomination, I think.

Catholicism allows for the possibility that by his own efforts man can become aware of God - Aquinas' 5 proofs of God, for example, are based on reason and logic, but they are 5 proofs of a God whom he 'knows' by Revelation far more and far more intimately than he knows by reason alone.

The Catholic view is that Christ will only enter the soul by invitation - the Christian image of soul and saviour as bride and groom speaks of this intimacy, and whilst God 'moves in mysterious ways' to bring man to enlightenment, man is always free to deny God, and thus deny salvation.

I remember some posts by Abogado del Diablo about the formation of Christianity by merging Greek and Jewish philosophy/theology.

I would rather say, as the Fathers do, that Christianity is formed by Revelation (her Hebraic ancestry), and informed by rational philosophical reflection (her Hellenic ancestry).

Thomas
 
Andrew said:
It is not unusual for Theosophists to hold that our world's history easily dates back literally millions of years (both in terms of civilization & culture, with all that these entail), rather than the few tens of thousands of years admitted by modern archaeologists & anthropologists.
lunamoth said:
To me this sounds like you believe that perhaps the earth was seeded by alien life, in order for 'culture' to predate the emergence of humans by evolution.
I don't mean to give this question short shrift, since it's actually a subject of much fascination to me. But I've just found myself erasing many paragraphs of rambling that never seemed to actually address the question! My thinking may be a bit convoluted at the moment (bad cold, or flu) ... but let me try to give a sensible response.

If we can avoid thinking in material terms ... (and that's a big IF) ... then yes, it could be said that our earth life was seeded from elsewhere. But even science has led us to this conclusion, by teaching us that we are literally stardust - in terms of our material being. The elements that now compose our bodies (and all matter on this planet, in fact), were born in supernovae (Super-Births? hmmm) many billions of years ago!

But that doesn't satisfactorily answer the question as to our spiritual origins, or the development of consciousness as a principle ... and the more direct role of the Divine in our lives. To answer then, perhaps enigmatically (because I don't think there is any other way!), I believe that this very involvement of other Humanities (not native to our planet) in the past ... did indeed play a prominent role in helping our Humanity get to its present state. Thus, as agents of spiritual evolution (whether assisting in our material development or of the principle of consciousness), we have indeed been assisted by ET.

The difficulty in understanding this comes from our limited understanding even of our own constitution. Thomas makes some very good points about the intellect and revelation in his post, and I would like to respond to that next. But in terms of our understanding even of ourselves ... we are as yet almost completely unaware, imho, of who and what we really are. And thus my great fondness for St. Paul's statement:
For now we see through a glass darkly, and then face to face.
Esoteric studies regarding Humanity's origins upon this planet focus on the subject from the point of view of our purpose here, and also from the viewpoint of consciousness itself. Humanity's past in terms of cultures and civilization also becomes of interest if we are to fully grasp the forces at work, and influences present, on the planet today. But to be direct ... no matter how great the fascination with ancient civilizations and their accomplishments (such as my own great interest in Egyptology) ... nothing will substitute for a genuine regard for Humanity's well-being, and a commitment to improving both one's own life, and the life of the greater whole.

If it can be born in mind that assisting Humanities from elsewhere in our Solar System, and even from other Solar Systems, are here to help, then I would readily say that yes - I think we have always been visited, and the seeding of our evolution was a part of the Service rendered by many, many different spiritual agencies throughout Earth's past. But if it causes apprehension, then it would be better to simply trust that the Divine Plan will see to it that Earth receives the assistance she needs - and not become too concerned on the outward agency. After all, the appeal to the Divine is what generates the response, and I believe it was the Christ who said:
"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?
or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?"
Even when spiritual aid is not explicitly sought, I do believe that evolution requires the participation of many, many great spiritual beings, and a myriad host of lesser lives. The Divine Plan (and its wise & illumined custodians) see to it that our development progresses as well as possible given planetary (and greater) karma ... so even if Humanity is not making conscious appeal to the Divine (such as in periods of spiritual darkness) - we are not forsaken. Always, there are those in the spiritual worlds who see to it that our evolution is safe-guarded. And these presences are not alien, or external to our Planet ... save those forces of tremendous spiritual potency & standing who may be termed Interplanetary, or Extra-Planetary.

andrew
 
Thomas said:
Theosophy then, as a belief, relies on the idea that man can know God through the operation of the intellect alone. How this is possible depends upon the nature of the theosophical system and its doctrine or its metaphysics. The Hindu Vedas, for example, regarded as sacred texts, are believed not to be 'revealed' as are believe not in revelatioin but in

Inevitably and periodically attempts were made to unify Christianity to one or more of these varied threads, but the fundamental difference of theology - the knowledge of God made known by Revelation - and theosophy - the knowledge of God made known through the operation of the intellect - led to confrontation, each side arguing the superiority of the other. Whilst there is room to move and resolve this issue in Catholic theology - that man works with God towards his own salvation - the Reformed Protestant denominations - Lutheran, Calvin, Prysbeterian, etc., insisted on salvation by grace alone and the utter inability of man to do anything towards his own redemption.
I think there are two things I might add here. As for the emphasis on Grace alone, yes, I think this a point where theosophical thinking will diverge from Protestanism. I would be interested in dialogue within this area (as I think this is actually where bridges might still need creating). But first it might help if I said something about Theosophical teachings regarding human consciousness & constitution.

Concerning the point Thomas made about intellect, I think many Theosophists would agree that the intellect is a valid means for approaching, understanding, and relating to the Divine ... but it is certainly not the only means, nor the greatest means. This is because intellect is but one of three spiritual faculties of awareness which we all inherently possess. And the notion that these faculties are already a part of our spiritual constitution, as God created us, is the key point.

These faculties are Atma, Buddhi, and Manas, to use the Sanskrit terms, though they might be roughly translated as Divine Will, Divine Love-Wisdom, and Divine Intellect, respectively. As such, they are understood as something we share with Deity, or rather partake of - because we are created in the image of the Divine. To provide a simple, yet effective distinction - between Humanity and the Divine - we should regard Deity as representing the infinite possibilities that open before us once we've fully developed Atma, Buddhi, and Manas. Humanity, in contrast to Deity, has these Aspects in potential, but not fully developed. And yes, in this sense, we are different than Deity in degree, and not in quality (or essential nature). I believe this undertanding is quite Biblical, and can be found repeatedly emphasized both in the Hebrew Scriptures, and by the Christ.

Now there is certainly Divine Revelation present within Theosophy, and Esotericism. It comes by very virtue of the fact that we share in common with more Divine, or Celestial, beings ... these principles of Higher Manas, Buddhi, and Atma. Manas may afford us insight into the Divine Mind, but it is the lowest aspect of the Spiritual Triad. Buddhi, on the other hand, is the very principle which makes of man a Christ - when fully developed (see Ephesians 4:13). It provides direct knowledge - infallible and perfect understanding - of whatever it beholds. Needless to say, it is as yet but an embryonic quality within most of us, yet for the Christ, and the Buddha before him, it was in full perfection.

And the princple of Atma, likewise was fully unfolded by them - considerably in advance of the rest of Humanity, but still in accordance with the Divine Plan, which indicates that in time, this same spiritual unfoldment is what is destined for us all. And again, the Christ Himself confirmed this when he indicated for us our spiritual potential ... (For is it not said in your Scriptures, "Ye are Gods" ... and Greater things than this, ye shall do). Understandably, the average Christian - finding it difficult to reconcile these direct statements of the Christ - looks back to the Church's various commentaries on what these indications might mean. But I suggest that our own Intuition (the Buddhic principle of Straight Knowledge and true understanding) - will provide the correct answer. Again, it has to do with our fundamental Unity with - God ... and our potential relative to God's already-unfolded perfection!

Now the Revelation that comes via Theosophy is nothing new in the 19th century, because the Teaching is that Progressive Revelation means that God will continue to inspire His people, and always lead us forth - through His Messengers and Saviors. But as the Bible also clearly states - The Lord helps the one who helps himself. And thus, we have a responsibility to aspire spiritually toward enlightenment, or Salvation/Liberation ... and also to assist others - though the greatest way we can do this is by example, and not by attempted conversion. If, and only if, we sense that a person is genuinely aspiring toward esoteric wisdom, then it would be appropriate to share with them to the best of our understanding. And in this, Theosophists are a bit like Freemasons. "To be one, ask one." You don't find Freemasons going door to door, seeking converts, because it is a fundamental tenet and strong point of that organization that a person is ready for the esoteric path (or life as a Freemason) only when s/he evidences this through inquiry - and by demonstrating the desire to serve Humanity.

And perhaps it is this reason why the Elder Brothers, or `Great Ones' of Theosophy are so seldom contacted by seemingly-sincere seekers. One must be pure of motive, and seek only to serve - if one expects to be taken on as a probationary disciple. Even then, as we are told, many are called, but few are chosen - because the trials of the path of discipleship are severe. The idea that the 12 Apostles were simpletons - uneducated and but humble fishermen - is only partially correct. For certainly, we may rest assured - if they were called by the Christ (the Greatest of all Masters, to Theosophists), then in former lives they would have proved themselves worthy, and were known to be the "right men and women" for the job. I take it as granted, at this point, that the majority of Christ's disciples were actually women ... since women are inherently more receptive to spiritual teachings. And it bothers be not one iota that the Church has changed the story to suit itself. But alas, Christ will remain a sexist - in the minds of those for whom sexism still holds sway.

At any rate, Theosophy since its revival by H.P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and Charles Leadbeater ... let alone since the times of Alice Bailey (NOT a Theosophist, but rather, another Messenger of the Esoteric Wisdom, publishing from 1919 to 1949) ... is most certainly a tradition of Revelation - every bit as much as Christianity has ever been! And while any sincere student understands that the Founders, and various leaders of the Theosophical Movement are themselves human, flawed, and far from perfect, it is viewed as somewhat obvious that the same can be said of the various writers of the Gospels, and the Hebrew Scriptures ... except that in the latter case we are dealing with texts dating back thousands of years ago, translated many times over, carefully edited, selected, inspected, infected, neglected, injected - and all kinds of groovy things ...

... and the result is that - while Theosphists consider the Bible a book of Wisdom, and regard the Christ as the Head of the spiritual Hierarchy on Earth ... the teachings of Messengers (Prophets) since Biblical times are considered as more useful in providing insight into Humanity's past, present, and possible future (if we can get our act together). And the fact that these recent Revealers of God's Wisdom have done so in English - and other current tongues - any of which are easy to translate in the worlds many dialects ... means that error is less likely, and thus confusion is more easily avoided.

Now I can give many, many examples of this, including samples of teachings from more than a dozen different esoteric Teachers, and many Theosophists cherish these as dearly as the fundamentalist Christian cherishes his old & new testament. But the Masters have always insisted that students think for themselves, and they have no need or use for blind devotees, falling over themselves to make alms and kiss feet. What the Masters have asked is that any true Theosophist accept the responsibility and challenge of selflessly & lovingly serving - one's fellow man. And thus, further serving, by becoming a Beacon Light for fellow seekers on the Path. In this sense, it doesn't matter what religion or outward spiritual path a person chooses - the only concern (or hope) of a Theosophist would be that we do our best to Love & Serve God and Love & Serve our fellow man ... which I believe is precisely what the Christ asked of us. And some will do this as ultra-intellectuals, and others as very simple folk, but isn't it interesting how often the latter prove the more loving, loyal, and worthy servers? ;) Would that I could be more like these Doves!

Ultimately, yes, the greatest revelation for esotericists is that which comes interiorly, without one's own heart ... and it is only by this kind of experience that esotericists believe a person can come to know God, know Wisdom, and fulfil our Purpose here - which is Loving Service. And yet, because most of us are as yet still learning to contact God in the still of our Hearts ... it is acceptable (and helpful) to look to the teachings of the Great Ones, for guidance upon the Path. And these Teachings are numerous, and they are profound, and they are found the world over - and they form, in fact, the very Heart and Soul of every world religion, and every sacred spirituality ... and as esotericists would say - they have at their center a common Truth, which is God's, and every faith or tradition are as the spokes of this wheel. Every spoke is vital to this wheel, yet they are nothing without the common and unifying hub.

Nasti paro dharma ... There is no religion, higher than Truth.​
 
... and every faith or tradition are as the spokes of this wheel. Every spoke is vital to this wheel, yet they are nothing without the common and unifying hub.

Compare the above to quotes from a TS publication, "The Esoteric Basis of Christianity":
"Theosophy claims to be the truth underlying all religions in their exoteric or popular form; and it claims this in virtue of its being a presentation or interpretation of a very ancient system known as the Secret Doctrine, or ancient Wisdom Religion."

"Let me point out here the great mistake which is made by all religionists and sectarians with regard to what they call the truth of their own particular doctrines..."

"what is called the truth of a doctrine is merely a term for its relativity..."

"There is no inner or spiritual meaning in its teachings apart from their literal acceptation. There is no Esoteric Christianity in the Church, we must go elsewhere for it; and it is Theosophy which now proclaims it."

"... the collection of writings known as the Bible, constitutes but one of a number of records which are all derived from, and based upon one unifying system, known at times as the Ancient Wisdom Religion, or the Secret Doctrine."
http://www.twelvestar.com/Sourceworks/Theosophy and Christianity.html

The import of the above statement is undeniable. As The Theosophical Society holds the proper understanding of The Secret Doctrine, it is apparent that The Theosophical Society claims itself to be the very hub of the wheel of religion, and without the correct interpretation of the world's great religious scriptures, as mediated by the TS, all religions are bankrupt, lost and meaningless.

All claims of univerality and an ecumenism evaporate in the face of a stated and explicit exclusivity and elitism - how else can it claim that every other religion is in error, and that it alone possess the means to diseminate the truth 'underlying' all the world's religious traditions?

Thomas
 
I think we would do well to quote additional statements by this same author, from the exact same webpage to which Thomas refers ....

"Uniformity of doctrine and belief is impossible, except in a world where every individual is at the same level or point of evolution, and all progressing, or may be retrogressing, at the same rate."

"The mistake which is made by the individual, the sect, or the Church, (and Theosophists need to be warned against this quite as much as others) is in supposing that which is true to them, or true of their own experience, must be true for all the rest of humanity. It is this constant tendency to individualize and restrict, which gives rise to dogmatism, hatred, bigotry, and all the uncharitableness of sectarian religion..." (emphasis added)

"...The test of truth therefore is its universality; it must harmonize all known phenomena, and every factor in human experience; and if we find any set of doctrines dealing merely with a limited portion, and inapplicable to the rest, we have to reject them for wider and deeper principles."

"[scientists] have made up their minds that there cannot be anything supernatural or superhuman, and they define these as anything which lies outside the range of their own particular experience.

"The Christian makes exactly the same mistake in the opposite direction. He has made up his mind that his Bible is superhuman and revealed, and not only so, but that there is no other record in the world which can make a similar claim, or can be compared in any respect with this book; and starting from this principle he is compelled to reject all other records, religions, and experience as false and mischievous..." (emphasis added)

And to put one of your quotes back into context:

"The Church gives us no alternative but to accept or reject its dogmas. There is no inner or spiritual meaning in its teachings apart from their literal acceptation. There is no Esoteric Christianity in the Church, we must go elsewhere for it; and it is Theosophy which now proclaims it." (emphasis added)

Clearly the author means by this statement that the Church does not present an Esoteric Christianity because of it's emphsis on dead-letter interpretations ... and it's insistence on being the only true source of Wisdom and sound doctrine. No small wonder that people turn away, looking for a deeper meaning, since the pat answers given do not satisfty.

"...The Bible as we now have it is a collection of a number of scattered records, selected from a great many more of a similar character. There is no reason for regarding those which have been selected as of greater value or inspiration that those which have been left out. Not only is this so, but we have in other languages, and coming down to us from nations antedating the Jewish race, similar records, dealing with the creation of the world and the relation of man to the universe, in a totally different way, though still to all appearances historically.

Now these accounts cannot all be true; they are on the face of them quite at variance with each other. Either the Bible is true as history -- I am referring now to the account in Genesis -- and all others false, or the Bible is false and the others true; or there is a third alternative, that they are all allegorical...We must call to our aid the result of literary research into ancient civilizations, customs, religions, and symbology; and by careful comparison we shall soon discover the key which we require. For there is a great mass of research and literature available for those who really desire to get at the truth."

I believe if a person will read these additional quotations, and perhaps the rest of the excerpts from this presentation, s/he will see why it is that the author, among many (but not necessarily all) Theosophists do reject Christianity as it has been presented by the Church over the centuries. The rejection is not of the validity of the Christian Teachings, but rather, of their distortion, intentional mis-representation, and the insistence by the Church that it holds the only true doctrine and path to Salvation ... which is what I have argued all along.

In this sense, yes, Theosophy does claim that is presents a deeper meaning, and a better answer to the questions of a sincere spiritual seeker, since Theosophy explains why things are as they are ... and goes beyond the appeal, again & again, to the Holy Bible as the source for all Wisdom and answers (while the Church utterly refuses to explain this same Bible to the satisfaction of her intelligent followers - because she cannot).

Now this will seem elitism to some, but it is not. To me it is like this. If I have an ailment, I may go to a doctor for a diagnosis and prognosis. If this doctor has some good advice and a suggested regimen for improvement, I will follow it. But if he does not, then I will not continue to visit him, inquire of him, and describe my ailment to him. He has had his chance, and he was unable to help.

Thus I will seek out a doctor who does have something to offer, and even he cannot offer me a miracle cure, I will be satisfied with him because he is able to help ... and very likely I will follow his regimen, and make a return visit, and so forth. Theosophy but tries to be the doctor for an ailing and very sick Humanity ... knowing full well that it does not possess all the answers, but being happy to share of the Wisdom that it can offer.

And the Theosophical Society does not purport to hold all the keys to spiritual Wisdom, sitting in some kind of vantage point relative to all the empty & meaningless exoteric religions of the world. I would be wary of such an attitude or claim - and I do think that that shows elitism.

Most Theosophists I've met, and certainly what I call esotericists (who are seldom members of the TS) ... are loving, inclusive, humble people ... and believe in Ecumenism as just about the only hope left for reconciling some of the religious differences so accentuated in our world today. I don't see how it could be any other way.

But this does not mean coming in, dismissing whatever faith is being practiced, and supplanting it with another doctrine. If this is someone's idea of Ecumenism, then they have a lot to learn!

Namaskar,

andrew
 
"The Christian makes exactly the same mistake in the opposite direction. He has made up his mind that his Bible is superhuman and revealed, and not only so, but that there is no other record in the world which can make a similar claim, or can be compared in any respect with this book; and starting from this principle he is compelled to reject all other records, religions, and experience as false and mischievous..." (emphasis added)

Your emphasis, Andrew, and your error, although I will admit that we do believe the Bible is Revealed. Have we got that wrong too?

The Catholic Church acknowledges the Sacred Texts of the world's religions as issuing from a sacred source, and furthermore regards all other religions as valid and authentic means of attaining salvation - but then Theosphy would say that we are wrong on that point, too.

the insistence by the Church that it holds the only true doctrine and path to Salvation ... which is what I have argued all along.

But it does not insist on that. She states quite emphatically that the world's religions are salvific. You have argued all along that the church does not understand her own teaching ... hence:

In this sense, yes, Theosophy does claim that is presents a deeper meaning, and a better answer to the questions of a sincere spiritual seeker, since Theosophy explains why things are as they are ... and goes beyond the appeal, again & again, to the Holy Bible as the source for all Wisdom and answers (while the Church utterly refuses to explain this same Bible to the satisfaction of her intelligent followers - because she cannot).

So all Christians of good faith are unintelligent then? And by the same measure so are all Buddhists? All Hindus? All Moslems (although the Secret doctrine seems mysteriously quiet about Islam).

And all our doctors, saints and mystics down through the ages ... all of whom were unintelligent, too?

because of it's emphsis on dead-letter interpretations.

Really? dead-letter? You consider Origen on metaphysical principle, Gregory of Nyssa on Being, Irenaeus on Revelation, Athanasius on Doctrine, Clement of Alexandria on 'The New Song', Gregory Nazianzen on Doctrine again, Dionysius the pseudoAreopagite on the Mysteries, Ephrem the Syrian on the Ascetic Life, St Maximus on Christology, Eckhart on Essence and Substance, St John of the Cross on Divine Union, St Thomas on metaphysics, St Bonaventure on the Divine Ascent, St Francis on Charity, St Theresa on Prayer, St Catherine on Faith, Thomas Merton and his dialogue with Zen ... all 'dead letter'?

Dare I mention Ibn'Arabi? Or Shankara? Or Rumi? All dead-letter?

... and it's insistence on being the only true source of Wisdom and sound doctrine.

No, that's Theosophy's claim, not the church's, else TS would not be making such bold statements in the first place.

Thomas
 
taijasi said:
[/font][/indent]Even when spiritual aid is not explicitly sought, I do believe that evolution requires the participation of many, many great spiritual beings, and a myriad host of lesser lives. The Divine Plan (and its wise & illumined custodians) see to it that our development progresses as well as possible given planetary (and greater) karma ... so even if Humanity is not making conscious appeal to the Divine (such as in periods of spiritual darkness) - we are not forsaken. Always, there are those in the spiritual worlds who see to it that our evolution is safe-guarded. And these presences are not alien, or external to our Planet ... save those forces of tremendous spiritual potency & standing who may be termed Interplanetary, or Extra-Planetary.

andrew

Thank you for answering my question, Andrew. I can't really say that I understand it all, but I get the impression that you beleive in something like an ancient, or perhaps eternal, primordial Soul, which is a source of enlightenment and spiritual advancement for us on earth and for any and all other living beings in our universe.

peace,
lunamoth
 
Thomas said:
"The Christian makes exactly the same mistake in the opposite direction. He has made up his mind that his Bible is superhuman and revealed, and not only so, but that there is no other record in the world which can make a similar claim, or can be compared in any respect with this book; and starting from this principle he is compelled to reject all other records, religions, and experience as false and mischievous..." (emphasis added)

Your emphasis, Andrew, and your error, although I will admit that we do believe the Bible is Revealed. Have we got that wrong too?

The Catholic Church acknowledges the Sacred Texts of the world's religions as issuing from a sacred source, and furthermore regards all other religions as valid and authentic means of attaining salvation - but then Theosphy would say that we are wrong on that point, too.

the insistence by the Church that it holds the only true doctrine and path to Salvation ... which is what I have argued all along.

But it does not insist on that. She states quite emphatically that the world's religions are salvific. You have argued all along that the church does not understand her own teaching ... hence:

In this sense, yes, Theosophy does claim that is presents a deeper meaning, and a better answer to the questions of a sincere spiritual seeker, since Theosophy explains why things are as they are ... and goes beyond the appeal, again & again, to the Holy Bible as the source for all Wisdom and answers (while the Church utterly refuses to explain this same Bible to the satisfaction of her intelligent followers - because she cannot).

So all Christians of good faith are unintelligent then? And by the same measure so are all Buddhists? All Hindus? All Moslems (although the Secret doctrine seems mysteriously quiet about Islam).

And all our doctors, saints and mystics down through the ages ... all of whom were unintelligent, too?

because of it's emphsis on dead-letter interpretations.

Really? dead-letter? You consider Origen on metaphysical principle, Gregory of Nyssa on Being, Irenaeus on Revelation, Athanasius on Doctrine, Clement of Alexandria on 'The New Song', Gregory Nazianzen on Doctrine again, Dionysius the pseudoAreopagite on the Mysteries, Ephrem the Syrian on the Ascetic Life, St Maximus on Christology, Eckhart on Essence and Substance, St John of the Cross on Divine Union, St Thomas on metaphysics, St Bonaventure on the Divine Ascent, St Francis on Charity, St Theresa on Prayer, St Catherine on Faith, Thomas Merton and his dialogue with Zen ... all 'dead letter'?

Dare I mention Ibn'Arabi? Or Shankara? Or Rumi? All dead-letter?

... and it's insistence on being the only true source of Wisdom and sound doctrine.

No, that's Theosophy's claim, not the church's, else TS would not be making such bold statements in the first place.

Thomas
The "spirit" of Theosophy, fits me from what I see: to quote the old "new Age" line-I do think we're spiritual beings having a human experience as opposed to the converse. I do think there are multiple "bodies" esoterically speaking. I do believe each person did not start with birth nor will end with death so to speak. As with Huston Smith, I believe almost all world religions were divinely inspired and as you say Thomas, are valid paths. I can easily accept that there are "beings" on "other levels" who can lend a form of assistance to us individually and collectively. What I don't appreciate in some of the Theosophical belief system is what seems to be taking what looks more mythical and symbolic and taking it for concrete historical fact including apparent shoe-horning facts into a shape that better fits their views.

Love your list of the spiritual greats Thomas. I'm particularly a fan of Eckhart and Ibn' Arabi, (a wonderful mystical writer). Would love to see a thread here re Ibn' Arabi. I started one here when I first joined re Eckhart. Let me seed a potential one re Ibn' Arabi-here's one of his:

"It is none other than He who progresses or journeys as you. There is nothing to know but He; and since He is being itself, He is also the journeyer. There is no knower but He; so who are you? Know your true reality. He is the essential self of all. But He conceals it by appearance of otherness, which is you.

If you hold to multiplicity, you are with the world; and if you hold to Unity, you are with the truth...our names are but the names of God; at the same time, our individual selves are His shadow. He is at once our identity and not our identity...consider."

Have a good one, Earl
 
Here's a bit of rambling, but I believe this is the right thread for it ...

Ibn' Arabi, Rumi, Shankara, and these various other Saints - do indeed sound like what Theosophists consider world servers ... or disciples. Anyone who is responding to the call of the Soul (the Divine within), has begun to tread the spiritual Path.

Esoteric teachings will distinguish between those who resonate more closely with mysticism, and those who adopt a more scientific (or intellectual) approach - and the latter group have traditionally been called occultists. Since the recent decades (and even earlier), when `occult' has ceased to mean hidden, or Inner - and has been equated with `Satanic,' or evil - the term I prefer for Occultism is Esotericism. And many thinkers on Thomas' list fit into the category of Esotericists, while many are the true Mystics. And together, both serve to illustrate that indeed, there is an Inner Wisdom within all religions.

As such, all paths are valid, so long as these paths tend toward Unity, self-improvement, harmlessness ... and active altruism. These qualities will be stressed in differing degrees and in different ways, according to the time period that the religion is introduced, the political and social climate at the time, the inherent disposition - or esoteric makeup - of the people to whom a Prophet/Savior comes, and a host of additional esoteric factors that fall under the category of astrological influences - although many of the affecting energies certainly emanate from (or are at least directed through) our own planet.

And another note. The intellectual, or scientific approach, which I refer to as Occultism proper (or Esotericism) ... is not regarded as superior to the Mystical Path, since one is considered the natural precursor to the other, and thus necessary if one ever aspires to become an accepted disciple. And from the most general point of view, Theosophists probably all agree (as the Masters have always taught) that the whole world, or the entire Human population, are probationary disciples.

The distinction only comes in when a person begins to awaken to the call of the Soul (the call to Loving Service). The first responses move a person out of the realm of the intelligentsia, and into the world of Aspirants. Surely this group would number many, many millions in the world of today, though even a few hundred years ago the number was much smaller. Theosophists regard the work of the Christ (and the Buddha before Him, as well as all other lesser Teachers, and certainly also the work of Mohammad since the times of Christ) ... as greatly assisting Humanity in moving closer to God. As such, all are Saviours, and this is a characteristic of the Aquarian disciple, or those who think in terms of Groups, and the Group Good, rather than just individuals. [The Greater Zodiac ends in Pisces - being the reverse of our lesser zodiac - and so the Piscean Disciple is the World Saviour, as an archetype (such as demonstrated by Hercules in his 12 Labours) ... of which the Christ was the example par excellence.]

For esotericists, Accepted Discipleship marks the point after which a person consciously knows him or herself to be treading the spiritual Path under the tutelage of a Teacher (such as the Master Jesus, one among many). This leads on to the goal of Liberation or Salvation which the many religions preach, or at least, so Theosophists believe. The true purpose of discipleship, however, is not that of one's own attainment of redemption, for this is considered but a form of self-centeredness, if not outright selfishness. Thus the first goal of the disciple is to learn to reverse the flow, and practice the Science of Loving Service - which necessitates an acceptance of and a patience with others, with a crowning virtue being the ability to meet others where they are. And such perfect examples as that of the Buddha and the Christ shine forth, while many additional examples, of other Teachers in every world religion and tradition, show us that we too, can do as these Great Ones did, as they spoke to the masses, while also addressing each individual based on his or her particular (spiritual) need.

Yes, Earl, I think it is a great error to try and rubber stamp certain archetypes, mythologies, or symbolisms onto various cultures, religious traditions, or even esoteric paths ... without carefully studying the path under consideration. Many, but not all, Theosophists continue to follow an exoteric religious path, whether Christian, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Wiccan, or what-have-you. And I would suggest that in most cases they probably bring an approach, and an understanding to this faith, which might not otherwise be readily found.

The Lutheran church service, for example, is something I grew up with, and I am fairly familiar with its various elements, the hymns, the order of the readings, and so forth. I am used to Communion, which some also call the Eucharist, though I know for many Protestants this is foreign. And I know something of the various colors of robes and vestments that the clergy wear, though I don't go to church often enough to remember them clearly. But I think it is safe to say, that without having studied various esoteric teachings regarding the evolution of the Christian tradition, liturgy, and doctrines, I would regard the Lutheran service in an altogether different light. I might not attend any more or less often, but I feel confident in stating that I would be blind to much of the meaning, or intended meaning, behind the service. Or, if I did have an understanding, it might be limited to what I was taught in Sunday School, leading up to my Confirmation. And while yes, this was all of much value and helpful, I will gladly state that I consider Theosphy to have been immensely more helpful for me - in understanding what's going on and why ... and this is to say nothing of all the rest of the esoteric literature (including non-Theosophical teachings), meditation groups, meditation experiences, and so forth, that I've been through.

Now some will gain more from an esoteric study, and some less, but esoteric teachers have always clearly indicated that only the sincere student - who seeks more than to but satisfy an idle curiosity - will truly benefit. And the benefit comes when the student has ceased to be concerned about him/herself, and is focused entirely on the well-being of others, and on serving God - which means to serve Humanity. Did Christ not say, I come not to be served, but to serve? As the Christian hymn indicates ... Christ was born for this! And yet, it is curious that so many who claim to follow him, are loathe to model their lives after his. Thank goodness there are World Servers of all traditions.

It is true, the soteriology and metaphysics of esotericists does differ considerably from that of most Christians, and also from that of most Buddhists - since Theosophists generally do admit of an `Atman,' or surviving, individual Soul - one's true spiritual Self. Yet Theosophy is also not Hinduism, even if many of its inspiring thinkers were Indian Rishis. There is equally an influence from the Masters of Ancient Egypt, this line of approach being closer to the Western mind and style of thinking. But from Blavatsky's day (1875) forward, a new emphasis has been placed upon the key idea, or core tenets, of these varying & various spiritual traditions in an effort to show (to the intelligent wo/man, who can ascertain this truth for him/herself) ... that indeed, each tradition proceeded from the Heart, and Mind, and Will of God (of the Divine). And if all proceeded thus, then surely each is valid. Upon such ground, I stand firm - knowing that this rock will not wash away. For New Revelation does not render null & void that which proceeded before. Christ says, I come not to destroy, but to fulfil the Law.

And that is what I believe Christ did. The Messengers of God whom esotericists revere and would emulate, are not considered perfect, as was the Christ, but they do help prepare the world for Christ's return - which is their Highest Purpose at the moment. And if a person finds use in studying the esoteric teachings, then that is well & good, so long as s/he is ready and willing to put such knowledge to good use. Otherwise, it is better to keep to what is deemed of better use for one's spiritual progress. And this is certianly left up to the student to decide! Thus, no esotericist ever asks that another accept something just because it is purported to have some auspicious character, or source. This only leads to blind obedience and an unhealthy, fanatical devotion. The Buddha knew this, and cautioned his bhikkus to use their own reason and consciousness. He further advised:
[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]"I taught you not to believe merely because you have heard, but when you believed of your consciousness, then to act accordingly and abundantly."
[/font]​
So let it be ...

(and help us to do our part)
.

Andrew
 
lunamoth said:
Thank you for answering my question, Andrew. I can't really say that I understand it all, but I get the impression that you beleive in something like an ancient, or perhaps eternal, primordial Soul, which is a source of enlightenment and spiritual advancement for us on earth and for any and all other living beings in our universe.

peace,
lunamoth
Yes, the Theosophist regards this "primordial Soul" as incarnate and representative to us via the being Christians call Jehovah, or YHWH. In simplest terms, this is what is indicated by Planetary Logos, or in Sanskrit, Sanat Kumara (`Eternal Youth'). The use of Planetary Logos is distinguished from SOLAR LOGOS, because the former is understood to be a student, or Disciple, or the LOGOS of our (Solar) System ... which is the higher correspondence to, and model upon which Earth's spiritual Teachers draw.

Technically, the LOGOS even of our planet is said to exist in far, far Higher Worlds than Human evolution will ever reach - and that is why there is both a Way of Higher Evolution (entered by the Christ and Buddha after their Service to our Planet is finished) ... and also why there is the Being called YHWH, or Sanat Kumara. This being is like the personality, or Incarnation, of God the Father, though it is a perfect personality, as distinct from our imperfect lesser ego/persona ... and obviously on a far, far greater scale.

CHRIST then serves as the Head of Hierarchy, which consists of the 63 Members who have been called the Masters, or Great Ones (the term They prefer and have used most often is Elder Brothers). And CHRIST (with Hierarchy as His Ashram), is the mediating principle of LOVE for our planet, and is understood as the LOGOS incarnate, representing for us both the Planetary Logos, or GOD, and that Greater Being, the Solar LOGOS (or - SuperGod???).

HUMANITY, as the creative aspect of the Planet Itself (the Throat Chakra of Gaia, so to speak) .... is considered as a whole to be a vital center in the body of the Planetary Logos - and therefore it is a profound, even critical statement, to say that God needs us. On a personal level, I can say this makes me feel much better about myself, than to hear people going around saying, "we are nothing in the eyes of God," and "God certainly does not need us, only vice versa." That we need God, should NOT be in dispute, unless somewhere a person has confused the meaning and significance of latent Divinity, the Spark within, of which St. Paul spoke thus: Christ in you, the Hope of Glory. He did not say, sit around and watch the Spark burst forth into Flame. The TV will not make it happen. Not even the Discovery Channel, but that one might not hurt, either. :p

I can only imagine what Humanity, as an integrated, harmonius, spiritually-galvanized, fully functioning Throat Center might be like in the Logoic Body. With Christ as the Heart (Love), and God the Father as the Head Center (Will), the Spiritual Creativity that would result might enable our little planet to actually be of benefit and service to the rest of the Spiritual Evolutions in our System - not to mention neighboring Systems. Currently, I suspect that we are largely a drain, being a very sick and troubled planet indeed. No small wonder aid is sent from so many directions (spiritually "vertical," down to us ... and spiritually "horizontal" - hmmmm).

The other Planetary Logoi, btw, are the rest of the Seven Elohim, or Spirits before the Throne - the THRONE being that of the Solar LOGOS. Esoterically, God's Heart Center is the SUN Itself, and the 7 Sacred Planets are the energy centers, or chakras, in his BODY - which is the Solar System itself. As yet, they are obviously not all functioning, harmonious, and so forth. But each planet is viewed as the incarnation of a Mighty Being, our Earth Logos (YHWH) being a younger Brother, as it were ... something like James the Lesser in relation to James the Great, or Simon the Zealot in relation to Simon Peter. Mars, and Earth, are then not among the 7 Sacred Planets ... yet since all is evolving, and non-Sacred planets become Sacred Ones, we are told that this very transition (from Pisces to Aquarius, and from the Kali Yug to Satya Yuga, or Iron Age to Golden) ... is changing things. And rapidly, faster than a speeding electron! :)

I find this to be a profound Teaching, and it requires at least an elementary knowledge of esoteric astrology, and the Science of the Rays, which are considerably deep studies, and well beyond my ken. Yet even for a fraction of it to come together, is like Amrita! Heavenly Bliss!!! It is Light amidst the darkness, Wisdom where there would be ignorance, and the promise of Eternal Life amidst a world still much obsessed with materialism and death!

I am convinced, from my experience(s), that we receive the streams of Love, Light, and spiritual Empowerment from many sources - though each represents, or is an expression of - the One Divine. And thus entire movements and ideologies, from the very dawn of Human civilization and culture, have been inspired by Divine Emissaries, always living among us. Today, they return to public view, though it is not always easy to make an appointment. The Occult adage is, When the student is the ready, the Master will appear. And in my experience, this is true. Perhaps when the world is ready, the Master of Masters will appear ... and to this end, esoteric students participate in Group Meditation, Group Study, and in Group Service. They also use the Science of Invocation, as part of their group and individual meditations, and this is quite similar to both mantra and prayer - perhaps something like the two blended. Outward ceremony is less prevalent, though sometimes observed ... though music (and fragrance) is considered to be a powerful influence - allowing cooperation of various classes of Devas (the spiritual classes of Angels), and also calming the personality.

In practice, this is what an esotericist may look like, though I like to think things like, "I wonder if this postal worker might be an esoteric student." And sometimes, as I've discovered, it can be surprising who turns out to be! Certainly, they are known by their fruit. To quote from The Voice of the Silence (or The Book of Dzyan - the ancient book which Blavatsky's Masters translated for her, and some of whose stanzas she learnt by heart):
Sow kindly acts and thou shalt reap their fruition. Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin. . . .
Shalt thou abstain from action? Not so shall gain thy soul her freedom. To reach Nirvâna one must reach Self-Knowledge, and Self-Knowledge is of loving deeds the child. (p. 31)
Something which many Theosophists repeat daily, as I did for a long time, is the Golden Stairs, a mantram of sorts (also from Blavatsky):
THE GOLDEN STAIRS

A clean life, an open mind,
A pure heart, an eager intellect,
An unveiled spiritual perception,
A brotherliness for all;

A readiness to give and receive advice and instruction,
A loyal sense of duty to the Teacher*,
A willing obedience to the behests of TRUTH,
Once we have placed our confidence in,
And believe that Teacher to be in possession of it;

A courageous endurance of personal injustice,
A brave declaration of principles,
A valiant defence of those who are unjustly attacked,
And a constant eye to the ideal of human progression
And perfection which the secret science depicts;

These are the golden stairs
Up the steps of which the learner may climb
To the Temple of Divine Wisdom.
Namaskar,

andrew

 
The "spirit" of Theosophy, fits me from what I see:
Me too.

What I don't appreciate in some of the Theosophical belief system is what seems to be taking what looks more mythical and symbolic and taking it for concrete historical fact including apparent shoe-horning facts into a shape that better fits their views.

I think the problem lies at the metaphysical level.

Without some form of containment, pure speculation necessarily must rely on its own subjectivity - it must produce a theoretical object, which can only be the fruit of its own subjectivity, and then work towards it. But pure theory is limitless, and how is one to test it? How does one distinguish between theoria and fantasia?

Revelation is God saying "Here I am," and immediately the speculation is then ordered towards its object. Immediately man has something he can, in a sense, come to grips with.

Eckhart, whilst on the one hand is a Prince among Christian mystics, on the other hand was actually employed reforming various Dominican houses which had got carried away by just such ill-focused theosophical speculations.

We can see this is the Neoplatonism of Plotinus, who fought against the gnostics of his time, and rued the fact he was unable to convert them from their beliefs.

Ibn' Arabi! A good friend of mine wags his finger at me regularly for not reading him. I must try and make time.

Thomas
 
we started with "Theosophy is a body of ideas which holds that all religions are attempts by man to ascertain "the Divine," and as such each religion has a portion of the truth" and I would only add that not only does each religion have a portion of the truth, many ancient ways of life have a portion of the truth ....


in the Popol Vuh the gods created the first four men with perfect vision .... only this was not satisfactory because these men were almost as perfect as the gods and therefore could not pay homage to them properly .... so the gods brought a fog down into the eyes of the first four and they could not see as well .... what is the lesson .... each has their own piece of the great puzzle and only together can they see the whole .....

in australia each section of a song-cycle belongs to a person and the entire song-cycle belongs to the clan - thus in order for a song-cycle to achieve complete identity,it must be rendfered by the entire group ....

call it theosophy, call it religion, call it a way of life, call it mana .... mana is the energy flowing through all living things, it can be harnessed and gathered by man to increase his own power but only if he can find the source .... we spend our whole lives seeking its source .... the seed of all things lies buried within us until the gift of mana is offered to it .... a seed regenerates and never dies .... it sprouts and grows again .... all our strength and power lies in finding our source of mana ... in a small book called ano'ano (the seed) by K. Zambuka lies a source of wisdom that stems from the ancients of hawaii-nei .... but they were not the only ancients with this knowledge, it is universal and each holds a piece of the truth .... it is found in the oral tradition and in the sounds .... he hawai'i au, pohaikawahine
 
Hi Pohaikawahine -

Agreed.

I think one has to determine the difference between 'theosophy' and 'theology' and I would suggest the answer lies in their mode of knowing.

Theosophy is arrived at through the operations of the reason and the intellect applied to the phenomenal world - Ammonius Saccas being, in the west, widely regarded as the 'founder' of theosophy - more accurately he is a proponent - everyone engages in theosophy, even if they determine there is nothing there.

Theology is arrived at through the operations of the reason and the intellect applied to the data Revelation. By its very name that which is 'revealed' lies beyond the powers of human nature to discern.

+++

Your comment on The Seed brought to mind this:
"This Atma, which dwells in the heart, is smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a grain of barley, smaller than a grain of mustard, smaller than a grain of millet, smaller than the germ which is in the grain of millet; this Atma, which dwells in the heart, is also greater than the earth (gross manifestation), greater than the atmosphere (subtle manifestation), greater than the sky (formless manifestation), greater than all the worlds together (beyond all modes of manifestation)."
Chhandogya Upanishad III.14.3

"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."
Matthew 13:31-32

The tree, in this case, comprises the ontological source of all modes of manifestation, formal (subtle and gross) and formless. The 'birds of the air' represent higher or angelic modes of being, which in themselves have parallels with another Hindu text:

"Two birds, inseparably united companions, dwell in the same tree, the one eats of the fruit of the tree, while the other looks on without eating."
Mundaka Upanishad III.1.1; Shvetashvatara Upanisdhad IV.6)
The first bird is jivatma, involved in the realm of action and consequence (karma), the second is unconditioned Atma, pure Knowledge.
(René Guénon "Man and His Becoming According to the Vedanta")

And if we pursue the birds allegory, then we have to acknowledge "The Conference of Birds" by Farid Ud-Din Attar, a twelfth-century Persian Sufi poet and mystic.

Thomas
 
Speaking of Eckhart, I think a few quotations might be helpful in demonstrating that that within Theosophy, or more properly, the Esoteric Teachings which the Theosophical Movement has helped promote ... there is indeed Revelation, since there is a spiritual faculty by which we can know.

Esotericists call this faculty the Intuition, and distinguish it from emotion, and from any vague sentiment that we often confound with this faculty of straight knowledge ... or certainty. Nor is the intuition the function of Intellect, or Manas (mind), although of necessity the knowing must reflect itself into the mind, in order to then become impressed upon the brain, the outer instrument of awareness.

The Theosophical and esoteric model of human awareness describes our personality, or strictly mortal self, as consisting of three faculties, or aspects of consciousness. Of these, the physical body is not one, for it is but the vehicle, or outer covering of the Hebrew nephesh, or Breath of Life ... also called prana, chi, and the elan vital - or `vital self.' This prana itself resides in the etheric body, which Egyptians called `ka,' and which is technically, still physical - being the model body, upon which the dense body is molded.

We also have an emotional body, and a mental body (or mind), which are ensouled by kama-manas, or our emotions and our thoughts, respectively. So together, the kama-manas, or human personality, manifests through its outward vital soul, the three coming together as one through the agency of the brain, nervous system, and senses of the dense body. The personality, as a triplicity, can be expressed thus:
  1. Mind
  2. Emotions
  3. Etheric Body (or outer activity)
The second and Higher Trinity, of every human soul ... is the Inner Person, or Higher Self, the "inner man" which esoteric teachings reveal in dozens of various symbolisms, and which every sacred teaching reveals ... as our true self. Theosophically, these princples are as follows:
  1. Atma - Universal Spirit
  2. Buddhi - Spiritual Soul
  3. Manas - Individualized Soul, or Higher Mind
And these are a higher trinity of human faculties, shared by every man and woman upon the planet, and also shared with our Divine Parent, the Biblical ONE in Whom we live and move and have our Being. The Elder among Brethren is therefore different than us in degree, and not in Essence. For in Essence, all are Spirit, and in some future cycle of evolution, our stature will be as God's. This, even a child can sense and know, in its purity ... yet only a fool will declare, "I am God," as if such attainment were possible in the present cycle. Only by steps do we climb Jacob's Ladder, yet rung by rung do we verily ascend. And lovingly, the Divine looks down upon us, knowing us from that high position ... as well as through the very Presence of Spirit within us.

The functioning of Higher Mind, or Divine Intellect, is something which Theosophists and esotericists certainly believe is possible ... for any thinker who can elevate him or herself beyond self-centered and purely earthly thinking, has already touched this higher potential. Higher Manas unfolds gradually, yet it is the first Divine Aspect of consciousness to display itself in our outer awareness ... and it could be said to unfold as a triplicity, in connection with lower mind, with emotions, and with outward physical activity. Its perfection may not occur for many lifetimes, but anyone who has experienced Divine Inspiration and Illumination, however briefly, has known the Light of Wisdom which rays itself forth from the Principle of Manas.

But the Theosophist or esotericist who has followed faithfully the path of spiritual unfoldment, has aspired toward an even greater faculty of consciousness ... and that is Buddhi, or the Intuition. Sometimes called Straight Knowledge, the Intuition simply knows, because it allows the knower to become ONE with the object (sentient or non-sentient) of cognition. Unlike intellect, which always distinguishes between object and knower (even in Divine mode), Buddhi is able to simply behold ... or as the Christian Scripture puts it, "Be still, and Know that I am God" (although technically, this Revelation also belongs to the faculty of Atma).

No person who has experienced the Bliss and Unity of Buddhic awareness could confuse this with some kind of false awareness, or delusion. Just the opposite, such fortunate experiencers are finally able to see the reason why the delusion of self (or sakkayadhitti) is so dangerous. Never again, after an experience of Buddhic Unity, or Bliss, can a person be completely submerged in the illusion of separativeness. Always, s/he will strive for the Light, and for the all-embracing Love which is to be found upon the Buddhic plane. And if developed, and applied to a particular matter, the Buddhic faculty will immediately reveal the truth of things. No confusion or doubt can enter in, save in the interpretation imposed by the personality ... and that is the shortfall, even of those who might have such a spiritual experience - since lower mind must gradually become illumined and attuned to the higher faculties, if proper and accurate interpretation is to ensue.

But to receive such training from the wise sages of both East and West, especially if taken into their immediate company, and prepared for the mission of Messenger and Revealer of the Wisdom Teaching ... is surely grounds enough to take seriously the contributions of those who have received such an honor, and who have fulfilled the work assigned to them. Among Theosophists, almost without dispute the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, a Russian immigrant to the US in the mid-nineteenth century, fit into such a category ... of Divine Revelation, precisely because they were dictated by those for whom Atmic, Buddhic, and Higher Manasic consciousness is fully unfolded and perfected, and for whom error, as we know it, is practically non-existent. That HPB made errors is not questioned, but her works remain, for both Theosophists and nearly all esotericists, as perhaps the single greatest contribution in the spirit of Wisdom and Divine Revelation in the modern era.

Other contributions, such as the works of Alice Bailey, Helena Roerich, and others, are also regarded in this light, because likewise, they are seen as the evidence, themselves, of the functioning of the higher spiritual faculties in the authors ... through which, and via their lower correspondence (an illumined mind, a steady emotional calm - upon which can be reflected the inner realities of the spiritual worlds, and an outer organism finely attuned to the vibrations of the dictating Master) - Revelation most certainly has come. But the ultimate test comes, not in the blind acceptance of some proclamation from the unknowing, but in the inward verification by the student him or herself, via his or her own Intuition. When this inner certainty arrives, there can be no doubt, and swift action is then what is expected ... putting into practice whatever ideal one has been striving toward, and using all skillful means at one's disposal.

As for Revelation, a quote from Alice Bailey, from the book The Reappearance of the Christ, is in order:
"[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]Ever down the ages, and at every great human crisis, always in the hours of necessity, at the founding of a new race, or in the awakening of a prepared humanity to a new and wider vision, the Heart of God - impelled by the Law of Compassion - sends forth a Teacher, a world Savior, an Illuminator, an Avatar, a transmitting Intermediary, a Christ. He gives the message which will heal, which will indicate the next step to be taken by the race of men, which will illumine a dark world problem and give to man an expression of some hitherto unrealized aspect of divinity. Upon this fact of the continuity of revelation and upon the sequence of this progressive manifestation of the divine Nature, is based the doctrine of Avatars, divine Messengers, divine Appearances and Saviors. To Them all, history unmistakenly testifies. It is upon the fact of this continuity, this sequence of Messengers and Avatars, and upon the dire and dreadful need of humanity at this time, that the worldwide expectancy of the reappearance of the Christ is based. It is the innate recognition of all these facts that has led to the steadily mounting invocative cry of humanity in every land for some form of divine relief or divine intervention; it is the recognition of these facts which also prompts the order which has gone forth from "the center where the will of God is known" [the Father's House] that the Avatar should come again; it is the knowledge of both these demands which has led the Christ to let His disciples in every land know that He will reappear when they have done the needed preparatory work." (pp. 10-11)
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I believe that is clear enough.

As for the development of the faculty of Intuition, which will eventually supersede the Intellect within all of Humanity (albeit after vast eons), consider that only as we break through the highest realms of Intellect can we hope to reach the Buddhic Realm (the Buddhist Sambhogakaya), and thus Meister Eckhart's words ring true:
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]"There is one power in the soul: intellect, of prime importance to the soul for making her aware of, for detecting, God... The soundest arguments expressly state (what is the truth) that the kernel of eternal life lies rather in knowledge than in love... The soul is not dependent upon temporal things but in the exaltation of her mind is in communication with the things of God."
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Thus the Knower does direct the Intellect upon the object of his search, in this case, God. And not as the mystic, but as one who seeks to balance the highest faculties of mind with those of loving aspiration, does he proceed. [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]As Dr. Müller-Freienfels puts it, he
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[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]"no longer speak of 'his' soul, but of the universal soul which manifests itself in him, and unfolds itself in him as in all other creatures, and will endure even though this illusion of individuality perishes... He will live his life as 'life', that is, as self-realization and self-completion, with the consciousness that it is not merely his own self that is being realized and perfected, but the universe, the deity, of whom this apparent self is a part." - Mysteries of the Soul, p. 336.
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Again, I cannot say it better than Meister Eckhart:
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]"Knowledge raises the soul to the rank of God; love unites the soul with God; use perfects the soul to God. These three transport the soul right out of time into eternity."
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This speaks directly of the Intuitive faculty of Buddhi, and perhaps also of the Atmic consciousness, which lies beyond - where Unity is known, not as the coming together of distinct entities, but rather as an underlying synthesis, or a pre-existent, inherent whole ... called in the East, non-duality.

And finally
, Alice Bailey puts this all into context, by explaining it thus:
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]"The illumination of the mind by the soul, and the throwing down into the waiting and attentive "mind-stuff" of that knowledge and wisdom which is the prerogative of the soul, produce, in the truly unified and coordinated man, results which differ according to the part of his instrument with which contact is effected.

[/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]The effect on the mind is direct apprehension of truth and direct understanding of a knowledge which is so wide and synthetic in its grasps that we cover it by the nebulous term, the Universal Mind. This type of knowledge is sometimes called the Intuition, and is one of the main characteristics of illumination."
- From Intellect to Intuition, p. 160
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Now in comparison with Alice, I am a dolt, so I expect I've managed to muck this up somehow, but I do think I understand what she's getting at. And while my intellect is about as dull as they come, it is not without that bright glimmer, or spark within, which is even yet capable of registering something of the subtler realities ... of which Alice, Meister Eckhart, and others speak. What is required, as esotericists put it, of one who would come to know Truth ... is the ability to hold the mind steady in the Light. And this is what affords for Divine Revelation, allowing a higher knowing, an altogether greater state of being and of awareness, to demonstrate itself in our lesser being. But again, unless we are coordinated, properly attuned, and prepared through long & arduous discipline for such Revelation, we should probably not expect to find the Greater Mysteries suddenly pouring through. For that, I trust, we must keep on keeping on, as Alice would say.

My essay of the day, apologies for the usual length, and extensive quotations ...

Andrew
 
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