Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter what?

Discussion in 'Alternative' started by Nick the Pilot, Jul 7, 2007.

  1. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    ^.^

    Thomas, you said,

    "Even from my distant perspective, a lot of what passes for 'Buddhism' in the West is far from what a Buddhist of the East would recognise."

    --> Theosophy would add one more layer to that. Buddhism as practiced today in many parts of the world may not be (according to Theosoph) what Buddha actually said. Theosophy also advances the theory that Buddha (and Jesus) taught ideas to their inner circle of students that were not taught to the public. All of this leads to quite a mish-mash of arguments about who taught what.

    "That I make no comment does not mean I have ignored them...."

    --> What, you do not have enough hours in the day, either??

    "Books! More books! Books, the bane of my life!"

    --> People keep telling me, "You have just got to read this book." Yeah, right. Put in on the pile....

    "...the symbol can be interpreted accurately, if one is cognizant of the hermeneutic and epistemological structure that contains it."

    --> Ah, but that is the trick, isn't it? Unfortunately, I think this is much more difficult to do in Theosophy than in Christianity.

    "...I once read an exegesis of the parable of the camel and the eye of a needle that was pages of rich information on Hebrew pun and linguistics."

    --> Have you read the Lamsa Bible version of that story?

    "...Tradition begins with the call of Abraham...."

    --> I see Abraham as one more Guide in a long line of Guides. My very curiosity would make me wonder what Guides there were before Abraham. (You feel there were no Guides before Abraham that were at the same level as Abraham?)

    "...The 'real' story for us begins with Abraham, and the Covenant between God, and Abraham and his seed...."

    --> I am not trying to criticise, I just want to know. What of the people before Abraham? They did not have access to this Covenent?

    ~~~

    I did want to revisit two of your previous questions, and add to my answers.

    "...How does one contact an Initiate?"

    --> Here is one quote that I cannot find the author of:

    "...We should not seek out [discipleship]. We should work hard at improving ourselves, and let [discipleship] suddenly descend upon us one day from above."

    You previously asked,

    "If sex is the issue ... are you saying the act alone is forbidden?"

    --> Sex, itself, is not bad. What I failed to say before is, having a burning desire for anything is bad. It is bad because it causes us trouble (according to Theosophy) in Purgatory. According to Theosphy, no one can enter Heaven until their lower desires have been burned out — the newly-dead simply cannot bring these lower desires into Heaven. It is not that such a thing is forbidden, it is simply physically impossible.

    [Different parts of a human] "...die more or less with what is called the physical death.... [Lower-Desires] has [Purgatory] for its abode, where it suffers the throes of disintegration in proportion to the intensity of those lower desires...." (Five Years of Theosophy, p. 92)

    The key phrase here is, "in proportion to the intensity of those lower desires." According to Theosophy, we will spend more time in Purgatory (and that time will be more uncomfortable) according to the number and strengths of burning desires we had in physical Life. Sex is fine, but when we allow it cross over into burning desire, we automatically reserve a special place for ourselves in Purgatory (according to Theosophy).
     
  2. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    I will enjoy reading the ongoing discussion between the two of you, Thomas and Nick.

    As for me, I know what I have experienced, and much as Socrates is supposed to have said, I know how little I actually know.

    One of the things I shall not relinquish, however, is an understanding of the Initiatory tradition which has gotten me this far ... until I have something better to replace it with. And I am 99.9% confident that NOTHING which exoteric Christianity has to offer can give me better insight - than that which I have already experienced.

    I do leave room, plenty of room, for the insights which Gnostic, or Esoteric Christianity has to offer. And I mean EXACTLY what I say, not `an Christian esotericism,' or some such.

    Thus, Thomas, we shall part company here. Enjoy your discussion with Nick, and if you happen to realise, some time down the road, that the Syrian Master is indeed - but one of several dozen, with numerous other Teachers of equal standing, all serving the One Christ in the One Occult Brotherhood ... ahhh, well THEN we can resume our dialogue, and perhaps at long last have some things to exchange with each other.

    Till then, Best of Luck in your search, in your research, and in your spiritual endeavors. We are on two, very different pages, and I know that I do not have the inclination in the least - to continue shouting across the divide.

    Namaskar,

    ~Andrew
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Re: ^.^

    Hi Nick —

    Well, if you'll allow me to wax lyrical for a moment, sadly that is no new theory to us. The idea of a secret transmission of Christian doctrine is not unique to Theosophy, the Apostles found themselves having to deal with such speculation almost from the word go! St John's Gospel was written against Cerinthus, who although not himself a gnostic, pre-empted many of their speculations.

    St Irenaeus provides most of the data on the arguments then, in refuting their errors. Recent scholarship has softened some of his views, but his central arguments stand ... for the authentic and unbroken tradition of transmission through the Apostles and their chosen successors.

    Origen was another genius in unravelling the false doctrines of his day, as were all the Fathers ... curiously many of our greatest mystics were also great reformers, their luminous charism itself illuminating the Way for those who had gone astray.

    We've been tried on that front for 2,000 years, and never found wanting. If you're under no obligation to accept the theory, I would at least in friendship ask you to put it to one side. We've had centuries to practice and refine our arguments, it'd be a long haul for anyone wanting to take it on, and dare I suggest too much of a diversion?

    Even the most secular social theory of the development of cultures observes that what is considered the 'orthodox' history of Christianity is most probably the authentic tradition. It used to be argued that orthodoxy won out because it was stronger ... now its understood that stronger cultures are such because they deviate least, if at all, from their source.

    Too many spent here!!!

    "Books! More books! Books, the bane of my life!"

    I known, and I've sorted my birthday and Christmas present list for the next 18 years.

    Worth every effort though, the language of symbol is one of the forgotten languages in this material world in which we find ourselves.

    No.

    Well there was Melchisedech, to whom Abraham paid tithes, but then we're in deep Christian symbol again. Abraham's uniqueness was his calling to be the Father of nations:
    "As for me, behold, my covenant [is] with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."
    (Genesis 17:4-5)
    And again, the change in name from Abram to Abraham signifies a change and a new direction. In that sense many forbears led Abram to his momentous calling, but his calling was a new covenant, a different order of engagement with the Divine.

    No problem ... Not the Covenant with Abraham, which was the founding of a people ... however we read the first covenant as being with Adam and Eve, and was broken by their transgression.

    God's grace is infinite however, and the covenant is periodically renewed and reshaped according to Providence. Noah, for example, had a covenant that extended to his immediate family ... Enoch, we are told, "walked with God, and was not, for God took him" (Genesis 5:24) ... so his predecessors did not have access tothat covenant, but they did have access to God.

    Ah, with you now. We say concupiscence, although Protestant theology views the term differently. They consider human nature to be essentially corrupted by it, thus man is hopelessly lost without Divine intervention. We view human nature as wounded, so still retaining a potentiality towards the good. In Catholicism most of all, we recognise man can contribute towards his own salvation, albeit unable to engineer it without Divine assistance.

    I wonder is that clear, and I wonder if Theosophy has a tendency towards either?

    Hoho! I thought for as moment you meant Theosophists only in Purgatory (until I read your parenthetical remark!).

    Yes indeed, and at the riske of being riske — such a long time of trouble, for such a brief moment of pleasure!

    Without going into detail, I would say there is much common ground here, in eschatalogical outlook — you mention 'proportion' and I think we're on the same ground ... if I may regard it in the same (somewhat lighter) sense of Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado: "To let the punishment fit the crime"?

    Thomas
     
  4. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    ~(='.'=)~

    Thomas, you said,
    "...sadly that is no new theory to us. The idea of a secret transmission of Christian doctrine is not unique to Theosophy...."

    --> Happily, the idea of Intiates and Initiations is a key difference between Theosophy and Christianity.
    "Have you read the Lamsa Bible version of that story? --> No."

    --> That version of the Bible (supposidly translated directly from Southern Aramaic -- supposidely the language Jesus spoke) says putting a camel through the eye of a needle means to put a thread made from a camel-hair through the eye of a needle. It is Lamsa's contention that many confusing terms in the Bible are merely bad translations of Aramaic idioms, and Lamsa offers several examples.
    "...his calling was a new covenant...."

    --> That is an interesting idea. Theosophy, on the other hand, would say humanity began its "covenant" with "God" when the universe first appeared.
    "...we read the first covenant as being with Adam and Eve.... Noah, for example, had a covenant...."

    --> Christianity, then seems to a series of covenants. Theosophy would assert there may have been covenants before Adam and Eve's covenant. Theosophy would consider the idea that humans who appeared after Day Six (yet appeared before Adam and Eve) may also have had "covenants".
    "...man is hopelessly lost without Divine intervention."

    --> This is a key difference betwen Christianity and Theosophy. Theosophy would replace the prase Divine Interverntion with Divine Guidance. It is Theosophy's contention that humanity has never been without Divine Guidance, again, pointing out a key difference between the two traditions.
    "We view human nature as wounded...."

    --> We do not. We see humans as making progress along a Path in a normal and positive way.
    "In Catholicism most of all, we recognise man can contribute towards his own salvation, albeit unable to engineer it without Divine assistance."

    --> Theosophy would replace the word "salvation" with "Enlightenment", and would say man's ability to automaticaly make progress towards Enlightenment is an innate, built-in ability. (Divine Guidance does, however, make things move more efficiently.) I suppose my distinction between Divine Assistance and Divine Guidance is different than yours. Perhaps the single most important difference between Christianity and Theosophy is the difference between a salvation/resurrection theory and a karma/reincarnation theory.
    "Hoho! I thought for as moment you meant Theosophists only in Purgatory (until I read your parenthetical remark!)."
    --> By the way, the Catholic Church has recently stopped teaching the idea of Purgatory, correct? (Theosophy has not.)
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Re: ~(='.'=)~

    hi Nick —

    You may be right. We do have initiates and initiatic rites, but they are not always perceived that way. Quite how ours compare to yours, I have no idea.

    The essay, as I recall, spoke of passing a rope through the eye of a needle.

    There is much speculation, Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth, 55b speaks of "nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle" — so in both cases I would suggest we're dealing with wonderful instance of Hebraic (or Aramaic) hyperbole. Camels, ropes, elephants ... something big, anyway.

    I don't think we differ, as the first act of the Covenant was placing humanity in the Garden of Paradise. Humanity's part of the contract was to tend and keep it.

    Yes, but the foundation of them all is the same.

    Different terms, same meaning, I think. By intervention we mean that God is not of the Deist kind, one who sets the ball in motion, then leaves it to its own devices (a clockwork creation). For us guidance is an intervention.

    I don't think you've got that right ... God is always Immanently present to the pure of heart.

    That is a difference. We see nothing 'normal' or 'positive' in the Fall.

    Again we are not dissimilar, I think. St Thomas Aquinas, for example states that man by nature 'tends to the good, which is its own perfection' — although Aristotle beat him to it.

    We would draw a distinction between he who is enlightened is not automatically saved ... I think we'd base the difference on 'knowing' and 'being', but there's a whole discussion of semantics here ... people know the right thing to do (by the intellect) but don't necessarily do it (weakness of will). On the other hand, the strong willed are not necessarily enlightened (although invariable act in the assumption that they are).

    Then again, true enlightenment is 'living' what you 'know' — we include the faculty of the will as a principle constituent ... I think a discussion of will and intellect comes in here?

    Another idea is of transcendence. In the Greek philosophical tradition, we hold that a nature cannot transcend itself ... were it possible, then that to which it aspires would be natural to it, it would simply be fulfilling its natural potential, not transcending it.

    To transcend self requires a new nature, and necessarily a new nature that is pre-existing, rather than a chance permutation, or man inventing and becoming something superior to his own nature ... I assume the East views transcendence differently.

    I would think so ... unless you've got any other surprises tucked up your sleeve :eek: I seem to recall monotheism/pantheism discussed between us some while ago(?) ... that would be pretty fundamental.

    No ... although there has been a lot of confusion promulgated by nervous rumour and scandal mongers.

    In fact Pope Benedict is a big believer in the doctrine of Purgatory, there's a tale you can read here:
    Oremus.com/pray-purgatory.shtml - Helping those in need of prayer!
    apocryphal, of course!

    Our doctrine on Purgatory is quite concise:
    1 that a purification after death exists,
    2 that it can involve some kind of suffering,
    3 that the purification can be assisted by the prayers of the living, the saints and the angels.

    That's it. The more colourful stuff owes mostly to the imagination of Dante in his Divine Comedy.

    It is the idea of Limbo that we have decided not to continue. Limbo was suggested as the destiny of those who die unbaptised was deemed to be based on an "unduly restrictive view of salvation" and that God "wants all human beings to be saved".

    Thomas
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Actually Nick, something does occur from that bit about Limbo that might show a patch (at least) of common ground with regard to our respective notions of freedom of speculation. The way it presents itself is in a somewhat roundabout fashion, so allow me, if you will, to be a little longwinded.

    The Rule of Faith is founded on a hierarchical structure, according to its transmission.

    First and foremost, what Christ says, goes. This is, for us, non-negotiable.
    Secondly, Apostolic Tradition — this covers all the Canonical Books of the New Testament, and the oral tradition of the Church. This too, is non-negotiable. It encompasses the first, in that we know nothing about what Christ said with any degree of reliability outside of Scrpture.

    First aside:
    It is a common assumption that the Faith of the Church is founded on Scripture alone. This is in fact not quite the case. The Liturgy and the Sacramental Rites are older than Scripture, and these comprise the oral traditions that help formulate and shape the written tradition.

    Second aside:
    We believe the same to be the case with the Old Testament, its data was the faith of Israel as logically prior to its being consigned to a written text ... the text is itself a means of transmission of the faith, not its inception. That's why we cannot separate the people from the text.

    Third aside:
    The content of Scripture is only infallible on the question of faith and morals. We draw a distinction between material truth (which might be subject to error) and formal truth — the spiritual realities it intends to convey. Thus when we read of the feeding of the five thousand, we are not obliged to believe that it was precisely five thousand who were fed. It is unlikely that even the larger group of disciples engaged in a head-count. The point is a great number was fed, so great a number that it stands as a miracle. The symbolism of five loaves and two fishes is ancilliary to that fact.

    The precise number is immaterial, as long as one does not thereby imply a non-miraculous event. If the suggestion was that only five, and not five thousand, were fed, it would render the meaning fo the text a nonsense, so it would be considered ludicrous on both counts.

    Back to the plot:

    The third tier of the hierarchy is Patristic Tradition, the successors to the Apostles (and perhaps witnesses of Christ Himself), and here's the point in question:
    It is agreed and understood in the Church that the Fathers are not infallible. In fact we only hold of one Patristic source — St John of Damascus — as never having been found in error. All the more remarkable because he is the author of "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" — this was written when the Church at large was one.

    In respect of doctrine it is believed that the Fathers are infallible when they are all in accord ... logically if they all agree on a point of doctrine, then we can assume that doctrine is sound, we have no grounds to assume otherwise.

    Lastly, the Pope and the Magisterium. A contentious point indeed, but we believe the Pope (as head of the Magisterium) is infallible ex cathedra, or as we say, "when he speaks from the Chair of St Peter" — by which we mean the office is infallible, not the man who occupies it. Many assume that Pope Bendict's recent book, "Jesus of Nazareth" is doctrine because he wrote it. This is not the case, it is his speculation on the matter. It is a personal document, not a magisterial one.

    On a technicality, an extreme case which thank God has never need been tested, is the possibility for the Church to declare a Pope to be in error, even though the infallibility of the Petrine Office is assured by Christ: "And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). In this instance, by his heresy, it is obvious he speaks not with the mind of the Church, and thus in so doing has vacated the Chair, sede vacante is the technical term.

    Likewise, our saints, mystics and sages (and, at the bottom of the pile, theologians!) are not by their own virtue infallible. They can err, and indeed have done so, even Popes, and indeed even Popes have been martyred by Christians for their belief (right belief, in this instance — Pope Martin I was invited from Rome to Constantinople, and there arrested, tried and found guilty of heresy and executed in a sham trial organised by the Eastern Emmperor.)

    The point I am approaching, by way of various digressions, is that, under the Rule of Faith, there is an allowance for a diversity of opinion, speculation and expression, as long as one does not refute the primary data of Scripture, and the guarantee of its right and authentic transmission through Apostolic Succession.

    It sounds a bit like a Catch-22, but when considered, is eminently reasonable. If a body of believers cannot state what they believe, then what is there to be believed?

    And I believe Theosophy possesses at least one 'Rule of Faith'?

    +++

    If people are allowed to believe what they like, then logically they can believe in nothing at all, and still call themselves Christian — but this defies reason and thus renders itself illogical, QED.

    The Faith of the Church is contained entire in 12 propositions (the Creed). The Hope of the Church is contained entire in 7 petitions (The Lord's Prayer). The Love of the Church is contained entire in 1 supreme gesture of self sacrifice.
    It has given rise to a pan-cultural diversity that is rich and manifold, being human, sometimes tragic, sometimes glorious, ever faithful.

    Thomas
     
  7. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    ~(=*.*=)~

    Thomas, we discussed,
    "Theosophy would replace the phrase Divine Interverntion with Divine Guidance. --> Different terms, same meaning, I think. By intervention we mean that God is not of the Deist kind, one who sets the ball in motion, then leaves it to its own devices (a clockwork creation). For us guidance is an intervention."

    --> For us, it is not. Theosophy places a great deal more responsibility upon the person. While Christians can depend on God to forgive their sins, Theosophists cannot. Theosophy is a more difficult Path to travel, but I would not have it any other way.
    "We see humans as making progress along a Path in a normal and positive way. --> That is a difference. We see nothing 'normal' or 'positive' in the Fall."

    --> We do. Can you see why some people say Christianity is basically negative (as it is based on a primarily not-normal or negative first-experience), while Buddhism and Theosophy are basically positive (as they are based on a primarily positive first-experience)? As a matter of fact, this difference is one of the main reasons I left Christiantiy, many years ago.
    "...man by nature 'tends to the good, which is its own perfection'...."

    --> I would contrast this with the idea that man by nature is guilty of Original Sin. I cannot escape from the Christian idea that we are all suffering from Original Sin, we are all basically bad, and we are all going to Hell if we do not change our ways.
    "We would draw a distinction between he who is enlightened is not automatically saved...."

    --> That is definitely how we view Christian Salvation.
    "...people know the right thing to do (by the intellect) but don't necessarily do it (weakness of will). On the other hand, the strong willed are not necessarily enlightened (although invariable act in the assumption that they are)."

    --> This suggests that Enlightenment is mainly knowledge, while Salvation is mainly an act. I would disagree, although I think many Buddhists would agree. (This gets into differences between Buddhist and Theosophical interpretations of what Enlightenment is.) Enlightenment is the pinnacle of knowledge and action that a human can achieve. (Most Buddhists would leave out the action part, in my opinion.)
    "Then again, true enlightenment is 'living' what you 'know' — we include the faculty of the will as a principle constituent...."
    --> I would agree with that statement, but using a different interpretation of what Enlightenment is. According to Theosophy, Enlightenment opens up abilities in humanity that were unavailable before. Enlightenment changes the very way we perceive reality, and the way we interact with it.

    Your phrase, "true enlightenment is living what you 'know" is true, but I feel misleading. According to Theosophy, a great deal of "knowledge" is gained at the instant of Enlightenment. To us, Enlightenment is much more than just "figuring out" experiences in the physical world. It is much more than just an "aha" experience.
    "Another idea is of transcendence. In the Greek philosophical tradition, we hold that a nature cannot transcend itself...."

    --> I am not sure what you mean by transcendence.
    "To transcend self requires a new nature, and necessarily a new nature that is pre-existing, rather than a chance permutation, or man inventing and becoming something superior to his own nature ... I assume the East views transcendence differently."
    --> I think the East agrees with this idea, although in a different way.

    A person's personality is a dim reflection of something much higher. A personality is unfortunately necessary now, but the need for it will eventually disappear. When that happens, a transcendence of consciousness will happen, with the appearance of a new nature (as you have mentioned).

    Our true nature is pre-existing, it is not a chance permutation, nor is it man's invention. It is a becoming of something superior to our own nature, in that the next level will be a much superior form of reality than the one we are presently experiencing.

    The next level of consciousness is something I can only describe as cosmic consciousness. For us, it is a return to cosmic consciousness. We came from that higher level of consciousness, and we will return to it (which is one of our interpretations of the Adam and Eve story). For us, the Garden of Eden is not a place, it is a level of consciousness.
    "Perhaps the single most important difference between Christianity and Theosophy is the difference between a salvation/resurrection theory and a karma/reincarnation theory. --> I would think so...."

    --> This is an important difference, because I see a lot of people trying to incorporate both Christianity and Buddhism into their belief system. It is a noble effort, and I commend them for trying. However, the two systems are as different as night and day (people either believe in the forgiveness of sin or they do not), so it seems they are traveling an impossible path. But there is no question that a lot of people say they are both Christian and Buddhist.
    "Our doctrine on Purgatory is quite concise:
    1 that a purification after death exists,
    2 that it can involve some kind of suffering...."
    --> I see a contradiction. If a person accepts Jesus, Salvation, etc., they go to Heaven, right? I think the whole idea behind Christianity is the forgiving of conditions that would send a person to Purgatory. Is the forgiveness of sins conditional?

    You are correct, I confused Christian Limbo with Christian Purgatory. Wasn't Limbo taught by the church for hundreds of years? (Wasn't there one Pope who was particularly fond of the idea?) Is Limbo does not happen, why was it taught for so many years?
    "we believe the Pope (as head of the Magisterium) is infallible ex cathedra, or as we say, "when he speaks from the Chair of St Peter" — by which we mean the office is infallible, not the man who occupies it. Many assume that Pope Bendict's recent book, "Jesus of Nazareth" is doctrine because he wrote it. This is not the case, it is his speculation on the matter. It is a personal document, not a magisterial one."
    --> You must forgive me, but it strikes me as strange that a Pope's words can be labeled fallible or infallible depending on the circumstances. You are free to adapt such an idea into your belief system. Fortunately, I am free to discard such an idea.
    "And I believe Theosophy possesses at least one 'Rule of Faith'?"
    --> Which rule are you referring to?
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Re: ~(=*.*=)~

    In traditional (ie pre-Reformation) Doctrine, the ultimate responsibility rests with the person ... some of the Post-Reformation denominations believe otherwise.

    Our God is a God of Love. How would you describe yours?

    From a Catholic perspective of what is required of a Theosophist, I find hard to see anything difficult at all. No Theosophic teaching is insisted upon, it seems, so you are free to choose what you like, where's the difficulty in that?

    It terms of a 'Way', I would view 'difficult' as a perception of self-denial, and I regard the Monastic Rule (be it Christian, Buddhist or otherwise) as indeed difficult and thereby heroic. I am deeply drawn to the Carthusian Rule, but doubt I have the stamina to sustain it.

    I can certainly see why, but I see it a misunderstood, even if I may sao so, by yourself. Our 'first experience' is absolutely positive ... there was a time before the Fall ... we are first and foremost creatures made in the image and likeness' of God — can't get more positive than that, I would have thought.

    In my experience people generally who brand Christianity — a religion of love — as 'negative' is because as a Way it demands a greater effort than they are prepared to make. Personally I see no greater optimism for humanity than in Christianity.

    Interesting viewpoint, again I would say that's a matter of perspective.

    For Catholics, Buddhism's first premise is human suffering as a condition of human nature, whereas we view it as not the proper natural condition ... and to us, Theosophy's premise seems to put an interminable if not an infinite number of intermediate states between man and God. From there, the Catholic would view both as pessimistic.

    I would agree with regard to Original Sin, but point out that sin as such is not a constituent of human nature (in fact 'sin' is the absence of something, not a presence). Man has a capacity to sin precisely because he is free, but nevertheless, the tendency of human nature is toward the good, the tragedy is, in his ignorance, he tends to settle for an immediate and lesser good.

    That's not a Catholic idea. Again, that's a post-reformation perspective. Very Lutheran, if I might say. A Calvinist would be even worse: whether or not you are saved is not up to you, the die is already cast.

    That's very interesting ... how does it do that? where does it come from ... how is someone enlightened?

    Let me clarify for you ... For us, 'enlightenent' is the Presence of the Holy Spirit that illuminates our true nature ... so the degree of 'enlightenment' is the degree to which we are true to who and what we are. There is a direct correlation for us, between 'light' and the Divine.

    In that sense knowledge is immaterial, it's all a matter of being, it's way beyond knowledge: "The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him. But you shall know him; because he shall abide with you and shall be in you." (John 14:17) — so one can be enlightened, but know 'nothing' (according to the world) this is in the idea of "Fool for God" ... Jeremias was quite outsppoken on this:
    "Every man is become a fool for knowledge, every artist is confounded in his graven idol: for what he hath cast is false, and there is no spirit in them" (Jeremias 10:14)

    Agreed. we say in the image and likeness of its creator.

     
  9. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Thomas,

    I want to apologize for taking so long to respond, but I am presently attending a two-week Theosophy class in the Los Angeles area.


    We discussed,
    "While Christians can depend on God to forgive their sins, Theosophists cannot. --> Our God is a God of Love. How would you describe yours?"

    --> We do not go around saying that our "God" is this or that. We would say our belief system is more fair.
    "From a Catholic perspective of what is required of a Theosophist, I find hard to see anything difficult at all. No Theosophical teaching is insisted upon, it seems, so you are free to choose what you like, where's the difficulty in that?"

    --> There are two ways of looking at it. In order to join the Theosophical Society, a person only needs to believe in one dogma. This, then, is easy. In order to gain Enlightenment, a person must do many difficult things. It has been said that working towards Enlightenment is the most difficult thing we will ever do (by far). Some people (especially Buddhists) think Enlightenment will merely be some kind of "aha" experience. Theosophy paints an entirely different picture.
    "It terms of a 'Way', I would view 'difficult' as a perception of self-denial, and I regard the Monastic Rule (be it Christian, Buddhist or otherwise) as indeed difficult and thereby heroic. I am deeply drawn to the Carthusian Rule, but doubt I have the stamina to sustain it."

    --> Self-denial is part of the Path to Enlightenment. However, as you probably know, Buddha taught that sever asceticism is a mistake, and proves nothing. The way to Enlightenment is the Middle Way.
    "we are first and foremost creatures made in the image and likeness' of God - can't get more positive than that, I would have thought."

    --> But Christians have the curse of Original Sin hanging over their heads. It has been said that Christians are born in sin (which makes them basically bad) and they are going to Hell if they do not change their ways. I see this as basically a negative orientation. I am also concerned that Christians do not know this is how some non-Christians see Christians.
    "In my experience people generally who brand Christianity - a religion of love - as 'negative' is because as a Way it demands a greater effort than they are prepared to make."

    --> I see Christianity as just the opposite. I see Christianity as one of the easiest roads to Heaven. I believe this is what attracts many people to Christianity.
    "For Catholics, Buddhism's first premise is human suffering as a condition of human nature, whereas we view it as not the proper natural condition ... and to us, Theosophy's premise seems to put an interminable if not an infinite number of intermediate states between man and God. From there, the Catholic would view both as pessimistic."

    --> I find it fascinating that Catholics do not see suffering as a normal nor natural condition. Buddhism and Theosophy see suffering as a key part of being a human. Someone was once asked why they do not want to be a (Jew). Their response was, because it is a religion that is not specifically oriented to removing suffering.
    "...sin as such is not a constituent of human nature...."

    --> Where sin comes from is a moot point. Christians are saddled with Original Sin, no matter where it comes from.
    "...the tendency of human nature is toward the good...."

    --> Christianity seems to say the opposite. I have heard many times that, if a person simply lives and dies without any religion, they will go to Hell. (Theosophy teaches the opposite result.)
    "...we are all going to Hell if we do not change our ways. --> That's not a Catholic idea. Again, that's a post-reformation perspective. Very Lutheran, if I might say."

    --> It does not matter if it is Lutheran, etc. I have read the Bible, and that is what it says to me - we are all going to Hell if we do not change our ways (accept Jesus, etc.) Catholicism says this if false?
    "...how is someone enlightened?"
    "For us, 'enlightenment' is the Presence of the Holy Spirit that illuminates our true nature...."
    --> Enlightenment requires:
    1. a minimum level of spirituality
    2. a removal of all bad karma
    3. a removal of specific character flaws (The list is long.)
    4. a record of proven service to humanity
    5. a willingness to spend the rest of "eternity" helping others, and doing nothing for one's own benefit or advancement (This is actually a continuation of #4.)
    6. the enduring of specific tests to show the person is ready to move onto the next level.
    I would like to share one book, although it is not a Theosophical book, nor is anything like it taught in Theosophy.
    Initiation, by Elizabeth Haich

    Amazon.com: Used and New: Initiation

    By they way, the entire book can be read online for free.

    Amazon Online Reader : Initiation

    The book characterizes the actual Initiation "ceremony" of Enlightenment as a series of temptations. A person is presented with every type of tantalizing temptation, and the person must show they do not have an interest in such things. The book also gets into the personal characteristics required. Sadly, the book also gets into what happens is a person fails an Initiation.


    Since we are considering the Christian version of Enlightenment, it needs to be mentioned that the question of a person's belief system (Do you believe in Jesus?) never comes up during an Enlightenment Initiation.
    "In that sense knowledge is immaterial, it's all a matter of being, it's way beyond knowledge...."

    --> This is a key difference between our two traditions. No one in my tradition has the goal of becoming a "Fool for God". Our goal is the opposite.
    "...we say in the image and likeness of its creator."

    --> We say in the image and likeness of our creators — literally. We saying being created in the image and likeness of the Absolute is impossible.
    "We believe the person will continue, but the negative aspects will disappear."

    --> Wow, this is a huge difference between our two traditions.
    "We do not believe in the pre-existence of the individual soul..."

    --> The Christian idea that each person is created just before they are born is very different than what Theosophy teaches.
    "We believe that human nature exists just one step down from the Divine."
    --> Theosophists wish it was so easy!


    Regarding the idea of Limbo, it is not specifically cover in Theosophical literature, but I have read several cases in other literatures. Basically, people are said to die, then enter a tunnel ("the light at the end of the tunnel") It is said that some people choose to not enter the tunnel. This causes them to float in a never-never land between Earth and the next world. It is also said a person can stay there for thousands of years. I have heard stories of volunteers who go meet these "floating people" and convince them to enter the tunnel of light. It seems to me to be a very satisfying type of volunteer work.
    "The next level of consciousness is something I can only describe as cosmic consciousness. --> I would say in theory, we agree...."
    --> Theosophy gives a little more detail. In Nirvana, our artificial sense of separateness (so necessary in this physical world) disappears. I BECOME you, and you BECOME me.
     
  10. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    4. a record of proven service to humanity
    5. a willingness to spend the rest of "eternity" helping others, and doing nothing for one's own benefit or advancement (This is actually a continuation of #4.)

    I'd like to chime in and add something rather by way of a personal testimony. It took me the greater portion of my spiritual journey in this lifetime (and this cannot be contested, even you don't believe in rebirth) ... perhaps also many, many previous turns around the wheel ... to come to understand - and accept - something of #4, as well as #5.

    And not that I disagree with you one bit, Nick, yet I would like to suggest the following. Rather than say, we must be willing to embrace Eternity as SERVICE-centric, rather than personal growth-centric, or even Peace-centric, or Bliss-focused, etc. ... how about saying, `We must demonstrate that we have discovered the true JOY which comes only from Serving Others ... and that BLISS which results from knowing that in the Grand Scheme of things -
    "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
    Not that one's own growth is wrong, or that in fact, it isn't the real reason why we're here to begin with (!) - considered from one point of view. Yet in accord with what we understand in the Ancient Wisdom teachings, a deeper understanding of why our Souls, as our Innermost Selves, are here, must include a reference to the insight that is being conveyed in Romans 8:28.

    This is because a much Greater Purpose is being worked out upon this planet, whereby the Human & Angelic Hierarchies, the Kingdom we call Shambhala (or the Father's House), and even the very Will of the Planetary Logos Itself (`Himself') ... brings the Human Kingdom, and even the lower kingdoms, into harmony and alignment - eventually full and complete - much in the same way that an individual human being will align the esoteric energy centers (chakras, `khorlos' in Tibetan).

    We do not know what is the ultimate Purpose of the Planetary Logos ... or, as Master DK puts it, "the reason why the Logos has deemed it wise to submit Himself to incarnation." Yes, the Sacrifice is voluntary and one of the greatest acts of pure GOOD that we are capable of understanding (or Grace, as it is emphasized in Christian theology) ... yet there is also the law of correspondences, which reminds us that according to the cycles of necessity, all beings Reincarnate.

    The Ancient Wisdom teaches that even in a sense, the Absolute may be said to reincarnate, though we must always understand that this original emanation is so utterly beyond our ken, that we may only study what transpired (and eternally recurs, or re-transpires, getting `better and better each time') after the original manifestation of the Absolute ... or the differentiation of Kether from the Ain Soph Aur.

    But this is all an aside, and my real point was just that SERVICE itself, is pure JOY ... especially when it is the spontaneous and uninhibited expression of the Soul, rather than some kind of forced tithing, or paying of what feels must be one's dues. Giving may be good, per se ... yet the Spirit in which one gives is what determines the real effectiveness - not just for oneself, but even for others. For where there is no inner, Soul motivation (and expression), there is really nothing for the recipient to gain, except the outer form, or material expression.

    Should we not feed the hungry? Of course we should feed them! Yet feeding the Soul is different than feeding the mouth, or even the stomach. Trite, platitudinous ... but true. :)

    And nothing we can read, study, learn or repeat, will bring to us the JOY which we are seeking. This Joy can come only from Giving, and from doing Service for Service's sake. Serving Humanity, which is what the Spiritual Hierarchy is primarily committed to doing at this point in our Planetary development, is the greatest form of Service to God of which any of us are capable ... even including the Christ and the Great Ones.

    When asked by the young aspirant how he might serve the Christ, the Great One responded by saying, "The Son of Man comes not to be served, but to Serve." So, too, the Masters seek not for devotees, but only for those who show the willingness (in part) to sacrifice the demands of the lesser self, in order to meet the Needs of the Whole. And that One Body, consisting of many members, requires extraordinary measures at this particular point in our world's evolution, in order for us to move through the present crisis ...

    ... yet we were not put here to suffer, or to sore travail for some unknown purpose, groping blindly in the darkness of incurable ignorance and hopelessless.

    Thus, the Great Ones of all times, the Saviors of every Tradition, some of Whom can be named, others long since forgotten ... and Their prophets, emissaries, and Messengers who have come to us as often as world karma permits - to show the Way.

    Theosophy (Theos Sophia, the Ancient Wisdom) cannot accept a God Who has only recently decided to make Himself known to Humanity.

    What is accepted is that Humanity has grown, phase by phase, just as we all do individually, and is only now reaching a level of intellectual maturity - and potential Spiritual maturity ... so that we can TAKE the proverbial bull by its horns (wrestling with the astrological energies of TAURUS, which most oppose those of Aquarius, the current water sign), and take the next few steps which God would have us take.

    These steps are best for us, best for God, best for All. Yet this is where I think we move beyond basics, and I only feel I can used the word `God' reservedly ... because as an esotericist (even but an aspirant), I feel that my will should be the Master's Will - and this comes, full circle, back to what is Good for the current progress of Humanity.

    It must be understood that this is not some kind of - cooked-up, intellectually hatched, consensus. If there is a Hierarchy, much less a Higher Governing BODY - a `Council Chamber of Shambhala,' or Father's House - then surely both GROUPS are not just assemblages of old, super-learned MEN who want to wrestle with (against) Humanity in order to establish THEIR Kingdom supreme ... like the bastardized versions of the Greek Gods & Goddesses of old, having come down to us as our heavenly rivals, instead of the Wise and Loving Intelligences guiding our progress as Spiritual Beings.

    Theosophy insists, early on, that Human beings are SPIRITUAL first, and material only second. Even when it is admitted that our Intellectual Principle is what is currently under evolutionary stimulation, and focus, and that such has its Higher - or Divine - Aspect, as well as its lower, or material aspect (`Demon est Deus Inversus'), we are talking not about some kind of homonculus in the brain ... but about the Augoeides, and about an actual, living ENTITY (Self-Conscious, fully Individualized and AWARE of its Spiritual Nature ... relative to us, though material in relation to Higher Kingdoms).

    HPB put it thus, and students come back to this again and again:
    Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence, and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all. (SD, v.I, p.49)
    So much for service for service's sake ... I seem to have rambled! Imagine that! :rolleyes:


    As the expression goes, sooner or later, somethin's gotta give - and I even acknowledge at times, this can actually be taken quite literally. The School which I briefly attended spoke of this as `reversing the flow.' And I think when we have learned to do that, our true, spiritual Work (and growth) on this planet will finally have begun.

    We can't put it off forever, though I almost feel sometimes as if there are those of us who try! :eek:

    I am almost in dangerous water, here, so it probably couldn't hurt to ponder ... if Joy might even be an antidote of sorts, and even what might be called our Saving Grace - given all that I said in the first few paragraphs!

    I remember a discussion some time ago with Dondi, I think, about how to avoid the catch-22, and know that one is really, truly serving for service's sake - and not just to experience the reward, or to receive some kind of recompense ... even a spiritual one. The answer is, we will know Service (or we already do) when we are truly rendering it, and thus the question provides its own answer.

    So long as we feel the need to ask it, we aren't quite there yet, though `arriving' is not what we are seeking, either. In true, Zen fashion, we must simply learn to do, and this not mechanically or somehow as the expression of a coming to terms with our purpose here as an inevitability. All of this - still falls short of our Goal. As we read in The Voice of the Silence:
    Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become that Path itself.
    Our greatest reward in this life, is that we might indeed become the Path, and learn to travel it ... rather than arrive at the destination, or reach the Goal. The former insures the latter, and Joy is the sharing of the Journey, along the Way.

    It has taken me so incredibly long to feel I have learned that, and even a little bit longer to finally put it into practice! Or I mean - to begin to! :eek: :)

    As one great Teacher said, "I die daily." And witnessing the same, another expressed it, "For He must increase, and I must decrease."

    Namaskara
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Hi Nick -

    Such is the nature of the human being, I think.

    That is not accurate, and i have explained so, previously.

    So it would seem, which is a shame. One should account for 'made in the image and likeness' - as I have stated often, Christianity regards the person as essentially good, and their being directed towards the good. Sin is exterior to human nature, in that it separates man from his true being.

    So am I. That accounts for most of my posts here.

    Love makes it so. Love is never a burden, or a difficulty, or a hardship.

    Pity

    Oh Nick - that's s hardly a philosophical answer, where sin comes from is absolutely the point! You will never understand Christianity if you discount the causes of Original Sin.

    OK. Then it seems in our discussions, we have run our useful course. There is only so much benefit from the comparison of positions.

    Much of your subsequent post touches on enlightenment, and there is much I could say, but time and complexity does not allow. Perhaps the simplest response would be from our own Scripture:
    "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" John 14:16

    In peace,

    Thomas
     
  12. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Originally Posted by Nick the Pilot [​IMG]
    Buddhism and Theosophy see suffering as a key part of being a human.

    Isn't this simply a statement of fact? Each of us has to suffer to some extent during this human life. Each of us has to go through the experience of birth, of growing old, of becoming diseased and then ultimately of death, and also experience all our loved ones go through the same thing. It's no picnic.

    Don't both Buddhism and Theosophy offer a release (either in this very life, or in the next) from this mix of temporary enjoyment & suffering, isn't that the point?

    I'm not taking any 'sides', with this post (quite happy on the fence here), but from a philosophical viewpoint, I don't see the the identification of suffering as being a negative thing. The first step in solving a problem is usually to identify it?

    Also I wanted to throw this in (I believe it's an old text and thus free of copyright). It's simply beautiful! :

    One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly. St. Francis called to Brother Leo, who was walking a bit ahead of him, and he said: "Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that."

    ...

    And going on a bit, St. Francis cried out again in a strong voice: "Brother Leo, if a Friar Minor knew all languages and all sciences and Scripture, if he also knew bow to prophesy and to reveal not only the future but also the secrets of the consciences and minds of others, write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that."

    And as they walked on, after a while St. Francis called again forcefully: 'Brother Leo, Little Lamb of God, even if a Friar minor could speak with the voice of an angel, and knew the courses of the stars and the powers of herbs, and knew all about the treasures in the earth, and if be knew the qualities of birds and fishes, animals, humans, roots, trees, rocks, and waters, write down and note carefully that true joy is not in that."

    And going on a bit farther, St. Francis called again strongly: "Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor could preach so well that be should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that perfect joy is not there."

    Now when he had been talking this way for a distance of two miles, Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: "Father, I beg you in God's name to tell me where perfect joy is."
    And St. Francis replied; "When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily: 'Who are you?' And we say: 'We are two of your brothers.' And he contradicts us, saying: 'You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away]' And he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls-then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humbly and charitably that that porter really knows us and that God makes him speak against us, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!
    'And if we continue to knock, and the porter comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying; 'Get away from here, you dirty thieves-go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? You certainly won't eat or sleep here'--and if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, Oh, Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy!

    And if later, suffering intensely from hunger and the painful cold, with night falling, we still knock and call, and crying loudly beg them to open for us and let us come in for the love of God, and he grows still more angry and says: 'Those fellows are bold and shameless ruffians. I'll give them what they deserve.' And he comes out with a knotty club, and grasping us by the cowl throws us onto the ground, rolling us in the mud and snow, and beats us with that club so much that he covers our bodies with wounds--if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, reflecting that we must accept and bear the sufferings of the Blessed Christ patiently for love of Him, oh, Brother Leo, write: that is perfect joy!

    'And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo. Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God's, as the Apostle says: 'What have you that you have not received?' But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostle says: 'I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.'"


    ... Neemai :)
     
  13. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    ~~(='.'=)~~

    Thomas, You quoted,
    "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" John 14:16
    --> I thought it would be good to give the Theosophical version of what this verse signifies.

    Theosophy (at least the non-Christian forms of it) do not see Jesus of Nazareth as the embodiment of a divine principle. Rather, the divine principle being referred to is just that — a principle. (We call this principle by many names, and one of those names is Mahat.) According to Theosophy, Mahat is an impersonal, universal principle, rather than something that was condensed and contained within one human being (Jesus).

    Mahat is the principle which caused the universe to appear. Indeed, Mahat IS the universe. We see the Father as the principle of super-universal Spirit, and Mother as the principle of super-universal Matter. It is the interaction of these two principles (the ensouling of Matter by Spirit) that caused the universe (Mahat) to appear.

    I would like to again give the Theosophical metaphor of the beginning of the universe, as it may help people to better visualize the principles. Spirit is Light, and Mother is Water. At the beginning of a universe, Spirit shines on the Water. We think of the Water as having milions of tiny waves. Each wave causes the Light to be reflected as tiny dots of Light. We are those tiny dots. (Actually, everything in the universe is those tiny dots, according to Theosophy.) These dots, in their entirety, comprise Mahat (the Son).

    We ARE those dots, those Sparks of Light. Everything in the universe is in a state of unfolding, from within to without, and we are unfolding along with everything else. Mahat is the vehicle which allows us to do this.


    Which brings us back to your quote. It is our experieces as Sparks of Mahat that being us closer to Spirit. Thus, we believe the same thing as your quote, but within a much different context.
    "Buddhism and Theosophy see suffering as a key part of being a human. --> Pity."
    --> All of Buddhism and Theosophy can be summed up in one word — compassion. Our main goal is to be compassionate, which means eliminating suffering wherever we can find it. I cannot think of any nobler goal in life. You seem to be scoffing at people who make compassion the single most important thing in their lives.

    This brings me to another definition of Enlightenment. Enlightenment means going around and doing nothing but compassionate things for others, doing this non-stop for millions of years, without having any thought of self-advancement. I am very much looking forward to having this experience.
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Hi Neemai —

    In the Christian Tradition, suffering is the result of the Fall, it is not intrinsic to man's nature — God did not create a creature with the intention that he should suffer, quite the opposite — God expressly informed him of the suffering that would result if he pursued a specific course of action ... which of course, he did.

    Hope that explains it.

    Thomas
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2007
  15. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Re: ~~(='.'=)~~

    Yes, I think the crux of the distinction, as you've outlined it, is between hypostatic and ontologic union.

    And all of Christianity in one word — Love.

    Thomas
     
  16. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Hi Thomas, ditto for the beliefs of my tradition... what you say above is in-line with Vaishnavism.

    ... Neemai :)
     
  17. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    Re: ~~(='.'=)~~

    It's really hard to say what the "Christian" version of it actually is, as the New Testament wasn't a manual for its own interpretation, but a collection of narratives and documents discussing the challenges that the various communities (churches) faced.

    Sure, when it was first written down, the meaning was clear. Over the ages and generations, however, the intended meaning was lost, and possibly, sadly, not preserved. The various churches that have sprung up have, over the last 2,000 years, formed various philosophies in an attempt to explain what it meant. The oldest churches claim to have a tradition that preserves that intended meaning.

    By "divine principle" or even just "principle" that depends on what kind of principle we are discussing. A lot of creeds attempt to explain Christ in terms of his nature, reconciling that with the nature of God, the nature and structure of the universe, etc.

    I don't know much about Theosophy so I thought I might find out . . . Perhaps I could present my view of what the passage above might really mean, as since the Christian texts are pieces of literature, they're open to interpretation just like any kind of literature. Often due to a knee-jerk reaction Christians will proclaim, that there is no need to speculate, we know what it means, it means this. Then you could perhaps tell me what Theosophy says . . .

    My individual view is that Jesus wasn't talking about the nature or structure of anything when he said that. Yes, Jesus was divine, as it said in John 3:13, where it says, "no one has ever gone into heaven except the one how came from heaven." It seems more likely, to me, that Jesus was talking about what he had been doing for the years leading up to the crucifixion, which is what the Four Gospels recorded. While it was most likely that Jesus was indeed, talking about some "divine principle," it wasn't about the nature and structure of God or the universe, but instead, how his work in the years leading up to his death told about the heavenly kingdom that he came to present. It was more like he was saying, "If you believe in and understand everything I've told you and shown you, you're fit to be in the kingdom." Nothing about the nature or structure of God or the universe. Just a personal understanding.

    The passage is open to interpretation, but it seems to me that with all the philosophies Christianity has produced, most have focused on contemplating the nature of God and the universe. I think for the last 2,000 years a lot of us may have been "missing the mark" with regards to understanding what Jesus meant. We've gone down the wrong paths and tried to determine the nature of God, structure of the universe, etc.

    The definition of hell is one example. Did Jesus, for example, ever give a definition of hell? Did he say it was 5 metres wide, 5 metres high, or that you spend either eternity or a 5-year sentence in it? Is there fire and hot coals? Do you get parole? Corporal punishment? Do you get to talk to your old-time friends from high school? Oh yes, he gave descriptions. He gave depictions. He didn't go beyond that. Never an exact definition. I don't think it was really all that new. Good and bad people go to hell. Wasn't Jesus just stating the obvious with regards to what people already believed? He described the people who went to heaven and those who went to hell, but there was never a definition. It was more like . . . if you were in that situation then $&*#@*(!!!!!. He wasn't creating labels for people. "Good and bad" was just an abstraction.

    But once again, this doesn't have anything to do with the nature or structure of the universe, but our relationship with society, and possibly with God.

    This thread spans quite a few pages, and I haven't got around to reading all of them, so I'd be interested in how Theosophy's notion of hell relates to what I've just said.

    I think it was the confidence with which Jesus said things, not that they were anything new. Jesus was divine. Not an ordinary man. Being divine meant you had life pretty much all figured out. The rest of us either have screwed up lives or are figuring things out along the way. It meant Jesus knew what to say, when to say it, how to greet people, etc. He was good with people. He could have chosen to be a martyr if he wanted, and he would have been dead sure he was dying for the right and noble purpose.

    I believe Justice for Christians was meant to be the same as Justice for all, including non-Christians. In many ways we may have missed the whole point of the crucifixion, that it was really meant to be a sign for the oppressed and persecuted, the meek, the lowly, the poor . . . a sign of divine support for those who were suffering because of their social standing. For a lot of our history we've defined "Christian-ness" or "salvation" in terms of conformity to a creed or philosophy. I don't think that's right. It should not be about conformity but about a pursuit, a pursuit for an answer to a question, a question of what Christianity is and was meant to be. We should be assuming that we don't know or can never know the exact purpose Christianity represents. We should say we're trying to re-discover its true purpose. A Christian, therefore, is not necessarily someone closer to God, but someone who wants to relive the Christian spiritual journey, re-discover the real Christianity buried in all the dogmatic baggage we've created, and explain what he's found and experienced.

    It's still Christianity, but more like a Christianity that has not discovered its true purpose and is still groping around in the dark.:D Christianity may be going in the wrong direction, but that doesn't make it less "Christian" in its pursuit. Christianity is a process, a process of re-discovery, re-discovery of what the NT was trying to say. After 2,000 years we're still trying to work things out. It's not all set in stone unfortunately. Every new generation has to re-learn our struggles. Such a shame I guess. When I die, my descendents are going to have to re-learn what I learnt.
     
  18. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Saltmeister, you said,
    "Sure, when it was first written down, the meaning was clear. Over the ages and generations, however, the intended meaning was lost, and possibly, sadly, not preserved."

    --> I contend that some parts were intentionally changed, and they did us a great disservice.
    "The oldest churches claim to have a tradition that preserves that intended meaning."

    --> I contend that several entire civilizations (and traditions) have disappeared during the history of the world. (Some people say ancient Egypt was merely the remnants of an earlier culture.) It has been said these traditions have changed times over the centuries, and the original meaning has been lost in antiquity.
    "A lot of creeds attempt to explain Christ in terms of his nature, reconciling that with the nature of God, the nature and structure of the universe, etc."
    --> Other creeds explain nature without using the name Christ.

    "I don't know much about Theosophy so I thought I might find out . . . Perhaps I could present my view of what the passage above might really mean...."

    --> The Theosophical interpretation of that Biblical quote is that we are all part of a particular cosmic principle. We have been split off of that principle, and we are merely trying to re-unite with it. Theosophy says that principle has been anthropomorphied into Jesus, and such anthropomorphizing was a mistake.
    "Often due to a knee-jerk reaction Christians will proclaim, that there is no need to speculate, we know what it means, it means this."

    --> I have already been told by one fundamentalist Christian here at this Forum that questions on one particular part of the Bible are not acceptable!
    "My individual view is that Jesus wasn't talking about the nature or structure of anything when he said that."

    --> I would say he was talking about one universal principle.
    "Yes, Jesus was divine...."

    --> I would say he was divine, but no more divine than the rest of us. He had merely achieved what I would call divine consciousness.
    "...as it said in John 3:13, where it says, "no one has ever gone into heaven except the one how came from heaven."

    --> I would agree. To use Christian terminology, I would say we are trying to return to Heaven.
    "While it was most likely that Jesus was indeed, talking about some "divine principle," it wasn't about the nature and structure of God or the universe, but instead, how his work in the years leading up to his death told about the heavenly kingdom that he came to present."

    --> I think it could be said he did both.
    "It was more like he was saying, "If you believe in and understand everything I've told you and shown you, you're fit to be in the kingdom." Nothing about the nature or structure of God or the universe. Just a personal understanding."

    --> That is a fascinating interpretation.
    "I think for the last 2,000 years a lot of us may have been "missing the mark" with regards to understanding what Jesus meant."

    --> I agree.
    "We've gone down the wrong paths and tried to determine the nature of God, structure of the universe, etc."
    --> I think it is good that we try to determine the nature of the universe, even though it may seem futile and impossible. What little we know of it, the more we know of the nature of the universe, the more we can synchronize ourselves to universal principles around us.

    "The definition of hell is one example.... Is there fire and hot coals?"

    --> As a matter of fact, some Theosophists say that people in the next life "float" to a kind of "specific gravity" level in the astral world. The "specifc-gravity" level of the worst criminals places them at a level below the surface of the physical world. (It has also been said the astral specific-gravity of the greatest saints in death puts them at a level that really is above the level of the physical world.) Therefore, some Theosophists really do believe in a Heaven literally above, and a Hell literally below. Regarding brimstone, if there are astral criminals floating at a level below the Earth's surface, they would be seeing hot lava around them. This would explain the brimstone stories.
    "Do you get parole?"

    --> I believe we ascend out of lower levels of Hell as we burn off the vibrations of those levels. This is called Purgatory, and it makes a lot of sense to me.
    "Corporal punishment?"

    --> Have you heard the story of Sysifus (sp), the guy in Hell, who pushes a rock up a hill, just to have it roll back downhill? I believe this is symbolic of actual conditions for one particular kind of person in Hell.
    "Do you get to talk to your old-time friends from high school?"

    --> I think we do.
    "He wasn't creating labels for people. "Good and bad" was just an abstraction."

    --> I like the theory that we cause are own conditions after death, that we do not have a God telling us where to go. If we go to Hell, we cause ourselves to go there, rather than being sent there by a God.
    "But once again, this doesn't have anything to do with the nature or structure of the universe, but our relationship with society, and possibly with God."

    --> I would say it is due to our relationship with Law rather than with God.
    "This thread spans quite a few pages, and I haven't got around to reading all of them, so I'd be interested in how Theosophy's notion of hell relates to what I've just said."

    --> Has my explanation here been helpful?
    "I think it was the confidence with which Jesus said things, not that they were anything new."

    --> It has been said various great teachers reappear on a regular basis, and they are merely re-teaching the same Ancient Wisdom.
    "Being divine meant you had life pretty much all figured out."

    --> I would use the term Enlightened.
    "I believe Justice for Christians was meant to be the same as Justice for all, including non-Christians."

    --> In my belief system, that is exactly what happens.
    "In many ways we may have missed the whole point of the crucifixion...."

    --> Some Theosophists attach to it a whole different meaning than the present Christian interpretation.
    "For a lot of our history we've defined "Christian-ness" or "salvation" in terms of conformity to a creed or philosophy."

    --> As a matter of fact, theosophy does use the word "saved", but in the meaning that we are saved from required future reincarnating.
    "It should not be about conformity but about a pursuit...."

    --> For me, it is both. However, I see the rules that we are conforming to as different than the ones Christians put forth.
    "We should be assuming that we don't know or can never know the exact purpose Christianity represents."

    --> I see the original Christianity as a roadmap to Nirvana.
    "We should say we're trying to re-discover its true purpose."

    --> I do!
    "A Christian, therefore, is not necessarily someone closer to God...."

    --> I think different people are at different spiritual levels. Whether they call themselves Christian is immaterial. It has been said that, when we apply for admission into Nirvana, we are not asked if we believe in Jesus, Buddha, etc. (I see the conditions to enter Heaven as quite different than those of Nirvana.)
    "...but someone who wants to relive the Christian spiritual journey, re-discover the real Christianity buried in all the dogmatic baggage we've created, and explain what he's found and experienced."
    --> You have described my religious journey perfectly.

    "Christianity may be going in the wrong direction, but that doesn't make it less "Christian" in its pursuit."

    --> I believe a good, pious person is making progress towards both Heaven and Nirvana. It does not matter in the least whether they call themselves a Christian, Buddhist, etc.
    "After 2,000 years we're still trying to work things out."

    --> I believe it has been going on much longer than that.
    "Every new generation has to re-learn our struggles."

    --> And new teachers keep reappearing on a regular basis to help us with the learning process.
    "When I die, my descendents are going to have to re-learn what I learnt."
    --> Each of us must follow our own path to Nirvana and Enlightenment.
     
  19. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Does that mean that, in essence, we're not really human? Is the humanity of our existence just an illusion?

    Who? In this thread? Thomas? Thomas is no fundamentalist. He's Catholic. Well . . . I take "fundamentalist" to mean a Protestant who takes a "hard-line" approach to Christianity based on the notion of sola scriptura. Catholics base their beliefs on sacred tradition rather than sola scriptura. Catholics claim prima scriptura.

    I think in Christianity he was divine originally, having been "born" in that state. The rest of us have to "inherit" that nature. I suppose at this point it depends on what one means by "divine." Does "divine" mean an immensely powerful being (like a "demi-god," angel or a superhuman mind), or just a heavenly equivalent of something earthly? In one view, Christ was an immensely powerful being; in another Christ was a human being with human limitations and no superhuman powers, just a heavenly version of one, a person who lived his life with purer intentions (ie. pure of heart, true of spirit). The rest of us are corrupt . . .

    I guess we could say our ancestor Adam was divine. He tasted the forbidden fruit and was banished to an "earthly" realm. Now we want to go back and become divine again. An area of overlap, possibly with Theosophy? Do you express that differently?

    Indeed. What if the nature and structure of the universe didn't matter? Just the heart? Scrap the roadmap. Follow the magnetic compass in your head. Like a bird.:D

    I suppose if we did try and visualise the nature and structure of the universe, it could just be a tool for understanding. In some religions it's important to see the structure of the universe one way. In others . . . just a means to an end. Just a tool.

    I recall something like that in Greek/Roman mythology. I can't remember the guy's name. The closest thing to it I can remember with a name is Prometheus who has his stomach pecked out by a bird every day and Atlas who has to hold up the world . . . or something like that. I know these two stories aren't it, as I am convinced that I've heard something in Greek mythology about a guy who has to roll something up a hill.

    Are you referring to legalism there?

    My goal wasn't actually to just ask one question and then . . . make off!!!!:D It may not actually be a discussion that involves question and answer. I just thought I might "chime in" and start interacting. What you've said about hell might be similar to what someone posted in the Christianity forum a while back on Near Death Experiences. The mention of hell might have been a cold start to a discussion. Getting one small detail of a religion might please some, but I would find it interesting to see the whole spectrum. Perhaps, for example, I could ask (to change the subject), what role does symbolism play in Theosophy?:) Is it, for example, essential in Theosophy's view of the universe or just a means to an end?

    I'd be curious to know . . . :)

    Rules. Does Theosophy require any essential conformity or is it morally and ethically acceptable for individual adherents to pursue whatever path they desire?

    I think if a person decided to be a follower of a particular path it's because they see themselves as a part of a particular story. A Jew, for instance, would see as his role, as part of his sacred duty to uphold the Law and the various other traditions in Judaism. For a Christian, it'd be a question of spreading the Gospel. That would be his sacred duty. For others, it may be the pursuit of Enlightenment.

    With regards to spreading the Gospel, I guess it depends what you mean by "spreading Gospel." Does it mean "to convert" or "to inform" (to be messengers). Conversion implies conformity. Conformity implies upholding a banner, chanting slogans, or throwing bumper stickers around. I'm personally not an advocate of conformity as I don't see conformity as being part of the true spirit of the Gospel, or most importantly, anything spiritual.

    Adherents of the Abrahamic faiths mostly see things in terms of one's relationship with God. Those pursuing Enlightenment . . . there's either no God or it's a different kind of God. . . . Or you are God. Self-improvement.
     
  20. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Re: Theosophy: Can we agree that tormenting people for all time is wrong no matter w

    Saltmeister, you asked,
    "Does that mean that, in essence, we're not really human?"

    --> We are human.
    "Is the humanity of our existence just an illusion?"

    --> Everything of this universe is just an illusion.
    "I think in Christianity [Jesus] was divine originally, having been "born" in that state. The rest of us have to "inherit" that nature."

    --> I disagree with that interpretation. The way I see it, he had to "inherit" it, just like the rest of us.
    "I suppose at this point it depends on what one means by "divine."

    --> I have seen the word divine used many different ways. Some people say that it is any being above the human level. (I disagree.) Some people say that it is any being which is so advanced that it does not reincarnate, etc., during the life of a solar system. (I like this definition.) Some pople say that divine only applies to the single Universal Mind. (This is the theistic definition that is common today.)
    "Christ was an immensely powerful being; in another Christ was a human being with human limitations and no superhuman powers, just a heavenly version of one, a person who lived his life with purer intentions (ie. pure of heart, true of spirit). The rest of us are corrupt . . ."

    --> I see Jesus as someone who has risen up to a level where he no longer needs to reincarnate. I would say that, just because we still need to reincarnate does not mean we are corrupt. I would describe a person in Avitchi as corrupt.
    "I guess we could say our ancestor Adam was divine. He tasted the forbidden fruit and was banished to an "earthly" realm. Now we want to go back and become divine again. An area of overlap, possibly with Theosophy? Do you express that differently?"

    --> There is a big difference between the Christian and Theosophical view of the story of Adam and Eve. According to Theosophy, as soon as the human race became capable of having sex, a great deal of "improper" sexual activity began. (Thus the phallic "snake" pursuing the "fruit".) There is a time schedule for the human race to evolve, and our improprieties have put us behind schedule.
    "What if the nature and structure of the universe didn't matter?"

    --> We are here for one reason -- to help each other become better people. That is what gives us structure.
    "I suppose if we did try and visualise the nature and structure of the universe, it could just be a tool for understanding. In some religions it's important to see the structure of the universe one way. In others . . . just a means to an end. Just a tool."

    --> Knowing the nature and structure of the universe is a great help. However, for some people, the pursuit of such knowedge distracts them from the work that needs to be done. It is all a matter of keeping everything in perspective.
    "The closest thing to it I can remember with a name is Prometheus who has his stomach pecked out by a bird every day..."

    --> Prometheus symbolizes people in Hell who overindulge in physical desires while on Earth.
    "...and Atlas who has to hold up the world...."

    --> Atlas symbolizes people in Hell who are too attached to the happenings on Earth, and are unable to stop thinking about such things after they die.
    "...I am convinced that I've heard something in Greek mythology about a guy who has to roll something up a hill."

    --> That is Sisyphus (I finally got the right spelling....) His mistake is he was too ambitious. In life, he was always trying to increase the size of his financial empire. (He symbolzes the ruthless millionaires in life.) The rock symbolizes the great financial plans he puts together while in Hell, only to see them evaporate, because financial empires are impossible in Hell. He tries again and again to concoct financial dealings, each one being a total waste of time.
    "I would say it is due to our relationship with Law rather than with God. --> Are you referring to legalism there?"

    --> No. I am referring to something called Universal Law, which is what Theosophy says exists instead of God. According to theists, God has the power to suspend natural law in order to perform miracles. Such a thing is impossible, according to Theosophy. According to Theosophy, nothing can suspend natural law, which is why we use the word Law.
    "...what role does symbolism play in Theosophy? Is it, for example, essential in Theosophy's view of the universe or just a means to an end?"

    --> There is a great deal of symbolism in Theosophy. There are various reasons for the use of symbolism. They are used so that uninformed people can participate in deep and profound discussions about cosmic concepts. Sisyphus is a good example.
    "Some Theosophists attach to it a whole different meaning than the present Christian interpretation. --> I'd be curious to know . . ."
    Oh my goodness, this could turn into a long story, and there are several aspects to the story. I will try to make it as brief as possible. According the Theosophy, we were originally created as Sparks of the Light (another meaning of the story of Adam and Eve.) At that point, we were waaaay too pure to incarnate into physical matter. But we needed all types of experiences, so we plunged down into physical matter. (1) We have encased oursleves in physical matter which is an unpleasant condition, compared to what it was like when we were Sparks. (2) Our entering into matter was a good thing, not the bad thing the story of Adama nd Eve describes it to be. (3) We (we Theosophists who are not Christians) see Christ as the sum total of everything in the universe, not one human being. (Many Theosophists do not use the word Christ at all.)
    "Does Theosophy require any essential conformity or is it morally and ethically acceptable for individual adherents to pursue whatever path they desire?"

    --> According to Theosophy, a person most certainly cannot pursue whatever path they desire. I am not sure if you are familiar with Nirvana, but Nirvana is the goal of every Theosophist. Some people think Nirvana means floating around the universe for millions of year like some kind of tourist, watching supernovas, etc. Nirvana is not like that at all. Nirvana means going around and doing nice things for others, 24/7, for millions of years. Nirvana requires a person to have no ambition whatsoever. Conforming to such an idea is an "essential conformity", and most people today (for example, Sisyphus) are not anywhere near to such a conformity.
    "I think if a person decided to be a follower of a particular path it's because they see themselves as a part of a particular story. A Jew, for instance, would see as his role, as part of his sacred duty to uphold the Law and the various other traditions in Judaism. For a Christian, it'd be a question of spreading the Gospel. That would be his sacred duty. For others, it may be the pursuit of Enlightenment."

    --> What do you think of people who change traditions? Are they then breaking that tradition? Do the rules of the Jews apply to others?
    "With regards to spreading the Gospel, I guess it depends what you mean by "spreading Gospel."

    --> I want to say proselytizing is forbidden in Theosophy.
    "Those pursuing Enlightenment . . . there's either no God or it's a different kind of God...."
    --> The great thing about Enlightenment is, you can pursue it whether you believe in God or not. The pursuit of Enlightenment does not require the reciting of any dogma. It has been said that, when we apply for admission to Nirvana, we are not asked if we believe in God, Jesus, etc.
     

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