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Should We Mention the Masters?

Dec 27, 1996 01:22 PM
by Eldon B Tucker

On the 22nd, Richard Ihle commented on theos-l,

> In my opinion, the reason THE MASTERS REVEALED is the most
> important theosophical book to come out in many decades is not
> for what it proves or disproves; rather, it is for delivering the
> diamond-cutter's blow perfectly: either the Theosophical Society
> of the future will rest upon the foundation of indefectable
> doctrine brought via VERY preternatural Masters, or all
> theosophical teachings, including HPB's, must stand or fall on
> their own merit.

And another comment by JRC:

> The current leadership ... have ... made the TS into ... not ...
> a very interesting [philosophy club]. ... The FOUNDATION for
> whatever power the institutional leaders have lies not in the
> fact that the TS is in any way actually serving the current world
> -- but in the implied connection to "the Masters" that membership
> in the TS is believed to give. There is a huge vested interest in
> KEEPING the Masters mysterious because the leadership has NOT
> made the TS into something that is in active service to today's
> world.

I'd like to use these quotes as an opening to comment on the
issues raised.

One issue is related to the depth of the theosophical materials.
The basic ideas are both fit and useful to the general public, and
a typical theosophical student should be able to express them in
their own words. These doctrines can be argued on their own merits
and presented without regard as to their source.

The intermediate materials can be presented as useful theories,
and described to a degree, but may deal with things that go beyond
the experience of the student or the people that he's talking to.

And then there are the advanced materials that the student will
only be grasping at, things that may never be understood. These
cannot be talked about, since they're beyond the student's current
experience and ability to understand.

There may be two types of arguments against mentioning the Masters
and their teachings, the Mahatma-Dharma, in regard to Theosophy
and theosophical groups.

One argument is from someone holding the belief that there is no
such dharma or lineage of teaching. From this standpoint, the
false claims made by Blavatsky and others are foolish and give
Theosophy a bad name. She should, in this view, be given full
credit for the philosophy that she made up and the TS should stop
claiming a connection to them. We stopped believing in Santa Claus
as we grew up; why don't we give up the idea of Mahatmas too?

To this, I'd have to reply that there's no proof other than the
philosophical necessity for them. And there's an intuitive sense
that there are such more highly evolved humans in the scheme of
things. But as to tangible proof of their existence, I wouldn't
wait for a precipitated letter or materialization before I'd
accept them. Nor would such phenomena carry much weight as proof.

(Detailed information about them is not readily available. They
have been portrayed as anything from powerful, almost supernatural
beings of other planes to almost-ordinary men and women, seekers
but little removed from any of us. It can be said, though, that
the general ordering of development takes us from:

 . ordinary people
 . seekers and aspirants
 . chelas, disciples
 . mahatmas
 . bodhisattvas
 . buddhas

That is, that the Mahatmas are more advanced than the chelas, and
less advanced than the Bodhisattvas.)

The other argument is that we may attract into our membership the
wrong kind of individual. Some people may be motivated by an
appeal to their ego, by flattery, by the thought that they belong
to a special group.

If they were told that they were in a group that was organized
and watched over, to a degree, by the Mahatmas, they may join.
But there may be little interest in things spiritual, and they
may fall prey to the appeal of money, power, fame, and other

This is the wrong kind of people to attract. And there are
others that come to Theosophy with an entirely different, a far
nobler motivation. They feel an immediate attraction to the
philosophy, a sense of deja vu, a feeling that it rings true, a
tremendous valuing of what it offers. This is regardless of the
out-of-date language that some books are written in, regardless
of the structure of the theosophical group, regardless of the
character and motivation of other group members. It's like an
bountiful meal to someone starving; that person eats with total
pleasure, perfect fulfillment, and is oblivious to the looks of
the dining hall and fellow diners.

The deeper teachings of Theosophy are meant for this latter group,
for the select few that will benefit from them. This is regardless
of any appeal to authority. Such appeals count for nothing.

Regardless of the appeals to authority, to the assertion that
Blavatsky was a Messanger of the Masters and spoke on their
behalf, it's important to preserve her message for the future.

These materials may form the cornerstone of future Lesser
Mysteries. We need to preserve them in their pristine purity, so
that they are available in their entire depth. Secondary writers
may give different perspectives on the materials, and sometimes
make bits and pieces of the philosophy more lucid, but they are
limited by their respective depths, and all fall short in
different ways.

We need to offer the pure philosophy, without an appeal to the
vain and egotistical, in order to help form centers for the study
of the philosophy, centers that will help foster the budding
chelaship and entry onto the Path of those that draw near.

Do existing theosophical groups measure up to this challenge? We'd
have to look at each group and evaluate them individually. Some of
the food offered may only have traces of the nourishing
philosophy. Other servings may be so lacking that they'd almost
turn away a starving man. What do we offer in the groups that we
participate in?

At this point, someone may argue that since everyone is on an
individual voyage of self-discovery, and has to realize these
truths for themselves, that there's nothing that we can offer
them. This argument would say that the theosophical doctrines are
but one of many arbitrary philosophical approaches, and none
really matter. The only thing that is important is that someone
get thinking on their own.

To this argument, I'd disagree, and say that the doctrines are
rooted in the way that nature works, that they are based upon
experience, the collective experience of the most gifted of
humanity. I'd say that there are special insights that we can
learn from the wise ones, insights based upon far greater
experience of life than we've encountered.

To the extent that we can learn from the knowledge and experience
of others, it's valuable to study these things, to study the
occult philosophy and join the dharma. All of us have to take each
step of the way on our own initiative. No one can do it for us.
But training, tutoring, mentoring, and education from those that
know more is valuable, even if but second-hand (by way of
Blavatsky). And if I found myself in unfamiliar territory, I
wouldn't reject a roadmap from a seasoned traveller.

-- Eldon Tucker

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