Theos-World Responses to Peter
Mar 23, 1999 11:33 AM
by Gerald Schueler
>>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
If the mountain climber,...<<
Peter, we seem to be talking apples and oranges here.
I was talking about liberation in a single lifetime, not
the doctrines of reincarnation and karma. These are
two separte things. The mountain climber is not an
applicable simile here, because spiritual advancement
is linked to imagination and self-image which can
be changed in an instant. The spiritual mountain
climber must clearly visualize that he/she is already
at the top of the hill.
>>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. >>
Agreed, but these "guides" have clearly said that it can
be done in one dy. It ain't easy, they say, but it is
possible. Karma, according to what these guides have
told us, can be consumed (to a degree) in a second of
>>At best we will be bitterly disappointed when the day ends and the
goal is still far away. <<
Actually, we soon find that the goal is the Path itself
and that there is no "goal" to get to. When that idea
really hits home, we are already there.
>>At worst we will not properly prepare ourselves for the journey ahead
and risk breaking ourselves in the attempt.<<
This attitude, while emminantly practical, will never get us
anywhere. How much "preparation" do we still need if we
have already been reincarnating millions of lifetimes?
>>Right attitude relies on Right Knowledge to be transformed into right
I can't disagree with this one. Yes.
>>With wrong knowledge we defeat ourselves before we have even started
along the way.>>
But what, exactly, is wrong knowledge? Perhaps the idea
that "I am not ready in this lifetime" is wrong knowledge?
>>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
We have to have hope in order to even take a first step.
>>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
But the "person" who either believes or doesn't believe
is not reincarnated. Only the Higher Self, which Knows
and doesn't have to believe. Karma, as cause and effect,
works across planes as well as within them.
>>With regards the statement by HPB, are you referring to Devachan
Yes. She says that just as some people can't recall
their dreams, so some will seem to have a blank
>>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. <<
It is impossible not to have done at least one kind deed, or
to have been the recipient of a kind act. Everyone goes
to Devachan except those Initates or Adepts who
>>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
One is from the head, and the other from the heart.
Best if we have both, I think.
>> 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?>>
I personally think that everyone has a Devachan, just like
modern science has shown that everyone dreams.
<<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.>>
This is all head-doctrine and mind-stuff. She uses "seven"
in ways that are not necessarily literal. The teaching of
seven more lifetimes is poetic, and not meant to be taken
>> 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.>>
Every life experience is some kind of initiation. Occult
folks throw this word around a lot and there are many
interpretations of what it means. The ONLY way to
know if we are somewhere in the seven required lifetimes
is to determine our desire for liberation. Without such
a strong desire, we almost surely aren't. When this desire,
the desire to Know, is stronger than the desire for life
itself (the Dark Night of the Soul, as I understand it), then
we can be pretty confident that we are within
the seven lifetimes somewhere.
>> 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.<<
Although this would seem to be so, it is not necessarily.
There have been many Adepts (HH the Dali Lama, for
one) who do not recall specfic pastlives (most of which
are lower psychism stuff anyway).
<<I can sense you optimism rather than your logic at
work here, Jerry ;-)>>
I am indeed optimistic. But there is a logic here too, I think.
Perhaps I am not describing this well but its there.
>>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
This is perfectly natural and to be expected. It happens
to me all the time. I have cycled between spiritual work and
entertainment (i.e, reading HPB and reading science fiction
or fantasy), back and forth, throughout this entire
lifetime. During the entertainment or rest phase, the mind
is digesting or asssimilating what was learned during the
work phase (hopefully).
>>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. <<
Agreed. There is an Arc of Ascent and an Arc of Descent,
and we cycle through a miriad of minor such cycles all the
>>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.>>
I agree. Treading a spiritual Path, if sincere, should
be humbling rather than ego-building. We may be more
or less awake than our neighbors, but we are all
>>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
Agreed, and well said.
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