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Apr 23, 1998 04:40 PM
by K Paul Johnson

Dallas writes that the original Theosophical writings are
"coherent" but those of the later generation "show signs of
inchoateness." This is held to be a criterion for accepting the
former and rejecting, or at least not accepting, the latter.
Which brings up two questions: Is this in fact true historically,
and in any event is coherence a valid criterion for what we
accept in spiritual teaching?

My answer to the first question is a strong no. The writings of
HPB are not internally consistent at all, as has been repeatedly
demonstrated. She begins as a Spiritualist, then becomes an
agent of an Egyptian brotherhood teaching "Oriental
Rosicrucianism," in both phases denying reincarnation. Once in
India, her writings endorse reincarnation, and also show an
ever-increasing familiarity with Eastern religion. The orthodox
Theosophical view of HPB is that she knew everything later
expounded in her writings before she ever started writing for
publication. But the evidence is against any such notion.
She was clearly someone constantly learning, expanding,
modifying, sometimes contradicting her earlier views. On the
other hand, people like Alice Bailey and CWL
seem far more consistent than HPB, since they're not
learning from living teachers or avidly acquiring book-learning, but instead
drawing forth from some inner experiences or astral encounters
a body of teachings that is not subject to the kind of reality
checks HPB encountered by consulting with real-life experts in
person or through their writings.

HPB's inconsistency is that of a person who is willing to change
her views according to new evidence and new perspectives from new
sources. Bailey's consistency is that of a monotonous medium who
has only her own inner resources to draw on, IMO. (Similarly,
Krishnamurti kept saying the same thing over and over because he
refused to learn anything new. His unwillingness to read is
repeatedly stated in books about him.)

So that's 2 no answers: HPB is not very consistent; her
self-proclaimed successors however are. The more important question,
though, is one of values rather than facts. Is a consistent teacher
more valuable than an inconsistent one? Does the diversity and evolving
complexity of HPB's teachings make them less valuable than the much simpler and
more consistent teachings of Leadbeater? I would say not,
because HPB's lack of consistency gives us a much bigger window
into the world of spiritual and esoteric literature. She is
simply a bigger figure on the world stage than any of her
successors, far more international in experience and
consciousness, far more eclectic and creative, and thus having a
much wider influence.


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