RE: Theos-World More Responses to Peter
Mar 23, 1999 04:22 AM
by Peter Merriott
Jerry, (and any others who may wish to comment)
> >> - what is the basis for your view that people are reborn just
> because they think they will be?>>
> I don't believe I ever said that, Peter.
Perhaps that isn't what you meant? However you wrote:
"I keep hearing Theosophists talk about
7 more lifetimes, and countless lifetimes, and so on,
and I know that this attitude is self-defeating, and that
therefore a rebirth would be a self-fulfilling prophesy."
My understanding of Theosophy is that the Law Karma & Reincarnation is an
impersonal Law. I don't have a sense that people are reborn on the basis
that they believe they have 7 or more lifetimes ahead of them. I would also
want to question the phrase - "I know this attitude is self defeating."
If the mountain climber, taking stock of his journey, calculates that he has
yet another 7000 feet to climb before he reaches the lofty heights above
him, you may say you "know" he has a 'self defeating attitude' if you wish.
But he is entitled to believe that making a realistic assessment of the
journey ahead of him is a much healthier attitude than believing he is at
the top already, but just doesn't realise it.
And if he is following the map of this journey, passed down to him by
reliable guides who have reached the summit long before, and who now devote
their lives to helping other travellers reach the goal - then he is likely
to tell us that if those guides indicate that the journey ahead will take
many days it is foolish to pretend we can make it in just one. At best we
will be bitterly disappointed when the day ends and the goal is still far
away. At worst we will not properly prepare ourselves for the journey ahead
and risk breaking ourselves in the attempt.
Right attitude relies on Right Knowledge to be transformed into right
With wrong knowledge we defeat ourselves before we have even started along
I like what you say about the need for 'hope', to start the journey *now*
and aim for the top. This seems to me to be a good example of 'right
> ... it is true that most of what happens to us is
> the result of our beliefs. HPB said that those who
> don't believe in an afterlife won't have one.
I think I would say "influenced by our beliefs" rather than "is the result
of". After all, people are reborn even though they don't believe in
reincarnation, aren't they? There is no self fulfilling prophecy there,
With regards the statement by HPB, are you referring to Devachan experience?
I've always understood that statement by HPB to refer to a 'complete
materialist', ie someone who not only disbelieves in anything to do with a
spiritual life but who also has done nothing (in action or aspiration) in
their lifetime that could be taken into Devachan, by Buddhi-Manas. HPB adds
that such an individual is quite rare, fortunately.
I'm struck by the number of people there are who appear to hold no spiritual
beliefs at all, who don't believe in an afterlife or reincarnation etc.,
and yet who give so much of their lives to helping others. And yet there
seem to be so many of us who hold plenty of spiritual beliefs that do far
less, if nothing at all, for our fellows. It doesn't seem to add up, does
it, that the former group of people, those exemplars of Brotherhood in
Action if not in thought, would have no Devachan just because of their
conscious disbeliefs? While the latter group, despite their inaction, have
a great Devachan because they believe there will be one.
> >>- - what support can you offer for your belief that this might be our
> 'seventh life' but we just don't know it?<<
> Common sense. Unless we can recall our past six lives,
> how can we know for sure?
Yes, I can see your logic here, Jerry. I would just offer a reminder that
we are talking about the "seventh life" in the sense that HPB uses it with
regards the Four Paths and the Seven Stages of Initiation leading to the
highest form of Adeptship. The chela who 'enters the stream', (with seven
successive lives remaining), may possibly not be able to recall her previous
six lives. Yet this is already a relatively 'high' stage, I would say.
Perhaps the important point for us to keep in mind is that the 'seventh
life' is a stage of Initiation. My sense is that the Initiate at that stage
will already have developed the capacity to remember his previous lives and
would be conscious of what 'stage of Initiation' s/he had reached.
> Here is a litmus test: The very fact that we have a
> desire for liberation indicates that we are ready for it
> regardless of the number of lifetimes we may have had.
> If we have no such desire, then we aren't ready yet.
I can sense you optimism rather than your logic at work here, Jerry ;-)
I don't know if you have observed a similar thing to me, but I have noticed
that of the many people who come across the 'spiritual path', a great many
wander off from it after a time. They have felt 'the call' but for one
reason or another they have not been able to sustain it. Some come, leave
and return a number of different times in just one life time. I am not
judging, by the way. It seems to me a similar thing happens to us on a daily
basis. We touch the 'inner note' for a moment, then the personality reacts
to something and we forget our-Self, then return & so on.
I have a sense that a similar thing happens to us over many lifetimes. In
one life we may feel the call and devote some or most of that life to it.
Yet, in another life we may reach a 'stage' where we 'feel' unable to
maintain the momentum. We also make mistakes, loose our footing, slip back
down into the dark woods below and lose sight of the lofty peaks above for
quite some time - perhaps even lifetimes. Our karma, as a result of our
previous actions and inactions, places us in either favourable or
unfavourable positions in which to take up our spiritual journey in each
life. In the journey of many lifetimes, we are each the victim of our own
causes, by and large.
So I would say that there are many who feel the desire but are "not yet
ready". And those that do not feel the desire, at the moment, may have felt
it very keenly in previous lives and done much good work. They may be far
ahead of us on the path, the noble light of their 'soul-life' being
obscured, temporarily, by the hand of Karma. But as yet they have still to
reach the entrance of the Path of Chelaship and Initiation where there are
only seven *successive* lives still remaining.
It seems to me that this is why the idea of Brotherhood is so important.
For it is through this ideal that we help each other to re-awaken that
burning desire for Liberation, and through mutual support help each other to
sustain that living flame throughout all the trials of life.
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