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What's Missing from our Groups?

Dec 27, 1996 08:29 AM
by Eldon B Tucker


Following are some stray comments in response to your posting,
along with a few related ideas that have been sitting on my mind

-- Eldon Tucker


I'd look on the materials presented by HPB as having various
depths. Some are basic, simple, soul-satisfying ideas about the
nature and purpose of life. Others go into Mysteries that we
might guess at. But outside the doorway to the Mysteries we're
left on our own to intepret them.

At one level, there are simple truths in the literature. We
could pick out central ideas and write simple books for popular
consumption that would strike a chord with people and do them
good. We can also pick out other materials for intermediate
books. And there's more for yet deeper studies.

You're right that there's more than simple truths in books like
THE SECRET DOCTRINE. And merely reading the books does nothing
for one. The earnest student needs the intellectual desire to
know to go hand-in-hand with the spiritual quest. The quest is
not just to find answers for the mind, but Wisdom, which is
understanding that integrates the soul, heart, mind, and external
life. The occult doctrines become a unified part of our everyday
lives and perceptions, and not merely theories, word-games, and
abstractions that describe but shy away from participating in

As you say, students decide themselves what is appropriate to
study. There are many writers expressing Theosophy from
different perspectives. They may appeal to different students.

As Gail mentioned, though, it's important to compare our writings
and the writings of our favorite authors to HPB's. Why? Because
we'd be dealing with a known source of the Mahatma-Dharma to an
uncertain source. Also because of the differences in
interpretaton, we'd need to recouncil the differences. Perhaps
we'd conclude that the later writer was wrong. Or we might
consider the later writer as offering a logical extension of the
same occult truths. A third reason is that there's a certain
thought-stream behind HPB's writings, a certain atmosphere that
we dwell in when we read her works that is akin to visiting a
"sacred place".

When you point the importance of searching to know the answers
ourselves, I also concur. But this isn't an either/or situation.
It's not either taking (a) dogmatic beliefs versus a living quest
for truth or (b) studying the occult Wisdom-Religion versus
staying lost in a swamp of personal opinions and delusions.

Both the quest and the prizes are good. We need to learn both
*process* and *content*. We need clarity in our experiences in
life and depth to them. It's important to discover how to learn
as well as to have something worthy of study.

In opening ourselves to the chela-life, there should be the
awakening of an inner fire, a heart-light, a quest as a living
force in our lives. And there should be significant content to
our lives, including the occult doctrines, which put life in
context and help us understand, and including creative outlets
for our expression of the grand Virtues, including compassion,
beauty, wisdom, and harmony.

Each student does decide himself what to study. And that study
consists of learning/training from others that know more, and of
putting what was learned into practice in the student's life.
The student can learn skills, including how to learn, and
perhaps, if fortunate, get set aflame inwardly and enter upon the

This does not mean that a few select students at a theosophical
group are acting in the role of Guru, offering spiritual training
and teaching. The typical group consistings of fellow students,
each with something to offer the others. The newer students can
be aided and inspired in their studies of the doctrines. And the
older students can learn from the wisdom and life-experiences of
the new members. The number of years of study in this lifetime
say nothing about how advanced that a particular person may be
along the Path.

While I'd agree that some theosophical groups may need to loosen
up a bit and not adhere so rigidly to the basic doctrines, making
them into rigid dogmas, I'd want a balancing act. On the one
hand are the doctines, including information on the "tried and
proven methods" of imparting the occult. On the other hand we
have the spiritual tradition, the religious side, the role of
making the ideas a living reality in life. The learning and
study need to be integrated with how one's life is led, and that
includes the kindling of a spiritual fire, a dynamic process of
self-genesis in the students.

I might find theosophical groups to be too doctrine-centric,
intellectual but turned sour for the lack of an accompaning
heart-life. It's not, I think, that it would be better if it
were solely a group for spiritual quests without any teaching or
philosophy of its own. Both are needed in a healthy balance.

And we certainly shouldn't sit around, doing nothing, waiting for
a Master to come and give us orders. (Not that we could ever
expect such a thing, since they've said, in their own words, that
chelas are not given orders, but are left to their own device and
council up to the last and supreme initiation.)

>From the moment that we first assert the spiritual in our lives
and start taking steps to bring it forth into the world, we've
entered into the Stream, we've placed our feet on the Path, we've
planted the seeds that will one day germinate in our Buddhahood
and our becoming a savior of humanity.

At that point, we've first encountered a divine disconent, an
hunger or itch that makes us unsatisfied with the everyday,
unconscious, habitual nature of our external, perhaps selfish
lives. One important purpose of theosophical groups is to help
people with this discontent to search for new meaning in life, to
grow and expand and widen the horizons of the narrow world that
they find themselves in. Both the theosophical doctrines and any
self-help or spiritual practices that groups may offer can assist
in this.

This divine discontent is really a gathering of "dry tinder", of
things to think, feel, and do that are capable of spiritual
combustion. What is this combustion? It is the stage where one's
inner fire is lit, where Buddhi plays a conscious role in one's
life, where what we think, feel, and act out in life start to
carry a divine majesty, a radience, a feeling of compassion,
wisdom, and transcendence. It's like life having gone from a
silent, black-and-white movie, to a movie in color, with a
deeply-moving soundtrack.

A Master isn't needed to get this going in our lives. We are
capable of self-combustion, based upon events in life with
sufficient "friction". Or we can meet someone, perhaps a chela,
although we may not know that they are, and through knowing them
have our fire lit from theirs.

When or why would we need to meet and deal with a Master? If we
were in specialized occult training that only a Master could offer
us. This is, though, highly unlikely and unnecessary for us to be
of good in the world.

Perhaps the closest we may come is getting an important idea "put
in our head" when we're writing or talking to someone and there's
an important need for the idea. But even then, the idea may be
self-arising, arising out of the need for it to exist, and not
needing to be planted in our minds. Where could it have come from?
Perhaps there's a river or current of thought that we're in
touch with because of our theosophical studies out of which the
idea would naturally tend to arise?

The proper balance, I think, for theosophical groups, is a mix of
(a) study of the source writings, offering a "reality check" for
other ideas that come up, (b) study of other materials, relating
them to Theosophy, (c) exercizes that help the student relate the
ideas learned to everyday life, and (d) spiritual and religious
practices, of perhaps a spontaneous, creative nature, that attempt
to bring forth the heart-life of the students.

The thing that would distinguish a theosophical group from a
religious group, from a church, is the doctrines, and the
continual training to maintain fluidity of thought, to think
things through from scratch each time. The doctrines are really
seed ideas, symbols, gylphs, that start as simple ideas but
contain layer after layer, deeper and yet deeper truths, as veil
after veil are torn away in the explorer's mind. At each step
along the way, I think, the older, simpler truths are not
discarded as false. They were true, from a certain standpoint, and
remain yet true. It's just that they are now seen as a specific
instance of some more general rule.

We shouldn't be too quick to discard the basic, soul-satisfying
truths that are offered by Theosophy to beginners, because we've
moved to deeper studies. We forget the value they had to us when
we first start seeking, and forget about how many millions of
people are ripe for such wisdom.

A good parent remembers what it was like to be a child, and
appreciates and structures things for his children based upon
putting himself in their place. The same is true of a good
Theosophist, never forgetting the desire to know, the fears and
uncertainity of the inquirer, of the seeker.

I'm not trying here to make a special claim for Theosophists and
theosophical groups. We're not the only spiritual tradition nor
the only gateway to the Lessor Mysteries. But if we and our groups
are not dead to the spiritual, we do find ourselves in this
position, in the position of having something to offer others
enter upon the Stream in this lifetime.

Have too many theosophical groups died, lost their inner life and
become soulless book clubs? I hope not. If the movement is to
survive into the future, the groups need a new vitality. A hundred
years from now we'll still have THE SECRET DOCTRINE and other key
literature. But will the philosophy have become a dead language,
with no one living at the time to interpret, explain, and speak
it? If so, it would be a great loss to western society.

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