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Availability of guidance

May 04, 1998 07:42 AM
by K Paul Johnson

Bjorn, you commented that my presentation of ARE and Theosophical
groups as having different attitudes about spiritual guidance and
its availability did not ring true with your experience.  Let me
make my comments more subtle and qualified.

First I'll mention that this is good practice in applying some of
the things learned from reading the Deborah Tannen book I
recently recommended.  Lesson #1: don't present complex issues in
terms of simple polarities.  Therefore, I should admit up from
that individual Theosophists have a great variety of approaches
to this subject, and different organizations vary too.  So when I
generalized to say that "Theosophists perceive spiritual guidance
as a rare commodity available only through an exclusive
hierarchy" that is not quite what I meant to say.  And when I
present ARE and the TSes as opposed alternatives, it should be
stated that these are the two spiritual environments in which
I've spent my adult life, so are *my two* reference points, not
some absolute standard.

Now, to restate the thesis.  In my observation, although
there are sometimes statements in the Theosophical literature
that encourage the Third Object, i.e. that encourage people to
explore psychic phenomena, spiritual growth techniques, etc.,
these are outweighed by the negative messages that are found in
the same body of literature.  Fear messages prevail over hope
messages.  Messages about the rarity of true Masters and how
everyone else is on the wrong track are often implicit, but they
are very strong.  My experience of the ARE is very different.  No
subtle fear messages, although there are warnings about
discarnate influences and kundalini.  The "explore freely"
messages outweigh the caution messages by a very large margin.
An examination of Venture Inward (just the name tells a lot), the
ARE's magazine, and The Quest or Sunrise will show an
overwhelming preponderance of practical emphasis in ARE and
theoretical emphasis in Theosophy.

Perhaps that's why I keep one foot in either camp, but I must say
that the ARE (which has never divided into competing sects) feels
like a much healthier environment nowadays than the Theosophical
movement does.  Of course there's a subjective element in that
evaluation, but there are also objective measures that could be


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