Re to Brigitte
Nov 05, 2001 11:32 AM
by Gerald Schueler
<<<We have the Book of Dzyan seen only by Blavatsky, the golden tablets by Joseph Smith, the mayan tablets about Mu recovered by James Churchward, the manuscript about the lost years of Jesus supposedly
seen by Notovich and so on.>>>
JERRY: Yes. But does this mean that the Book of Dzyan was a fabrication? There is an entire school in Tibetan Buddhism that is based on the idea of "hidden texts" where tertons or finders would "find" hidden manuscripts, etc. supposedly from Padmasambhava and so on. Are these fabrications? Does it matter? What are the criteria for "legitimacy" for such things. Many of the ancient occult texts, like the books of Enoch and Gnostic texts, were written accounts of personal altered-state experiences. Whether Blavatsky got the Book of Dzyan from a physical manuscript or from an astral experience doesn't matter unless we are trying to form some kind of "legitimacy" or "authenticity."
<<<Part of Blavatsky's legitimacy as an Esoteric spokesperson lies in autobiographical sections of her writings, notably a story told in Isis according to which she visited Tibet and witnessed a variety of miraculous events. (IU II:598 ff.) >>>>
JERRY: This story provided her "legitimacy" only while the West was unaware of Tibetan teachings. The interesting (from a psychological perspective) thing here is that today we know exactly what these teachings are (thanks in no small part to the inhumanity of China). And her Tibetan excursions no longer legitimize many of her teachings, but just the opposite (Tzongkapa would reject most of her exoteric core teachings, for example, and the Rounds and Root Races are nowhere to be found let alone the Stanzas of Dzyan). However, in fairness, she may have indeed been initiated into several lower Tibetan schools and eclectically took things from various lower schools - monads or partless particles from one, the Higher Self and Beness from another, and so on. And she was clearly knowledgeable about the Mahayana, which was largely unknown in the West at the time. Also, her teaching that maya includes both matter and spirit is a "higher" teaching, found in Dzogchen. However, the Madhyamika Prasangika is generally considered to be the highest school, and this school would reject most of her core teachings as being a form of absolutism.
<<<Anthroposophists will admit in theory that Steiner's clairvoyant faculties are not infallible. In practice, however, Anthroposophy is clearly based on the assumption that Steiner revealed a scientifically accurate as well as objectively true
picture of spiritual realities.>>>
I have read both Blavatsky and Steiner, and consider Steiner a plagarist in that he denounces Blavatsky's Theosophy while teaching a Christianized version of it. I would strongly question his anthroposophy as being "scientifically accurate." I come from a background in Christian Science, and would say that Christian Science is more "scientific" than anthropsophy. The fact of the matter is that there is NO "objectively true picture of spiritual realities" and anyone who makes such statements is simply showing their ignorance (there is no objectively true picture of material realities either).
<<<Each country referred to seems to
have its own role in Esoteric historiography. Egypt is ... One is reminded of similar attempts by Jung to show that there are universal archetypes
and that especially the number four plays a central role in the spiritual heritage of mankind. >>>
JERRY: Some interesting ideas and speculations. What is your point?
<<<Blavatsky taught about the chakras to her inner group.>>>
JERRY: She gives them honorable mention, but never explains their esoteric significance, nor discusses techniques for their stimulation and activation.
<<<But it is Leadbeater who developed this system the way it later became used in the New-Age milieu. Leadbeater associates each chakra with a gland, a nerve plexus, a vertebra and an organ. Similar links, especially those between chakras and glands play a central role in Alice Bailey's version of the subtle anatomy.>>>
JERRY: I cannot agree with you here. I know of no magic or occult school that teaches Leadbeater's view (or Bailey's either) of the charkas. His associations with glands/organs is pretty much his own. The magic and occult schools that I am aware of, all use either Hindu or Buddhist view of chakras (as did Crowley, who never agreed with Leadbeater). The chakras and nadis are in the subtle etheric body and not the physical body, so relationships to physical organs are not only silly but are meaningless from any practical standpoint.
<<The tantric authors would probable have lacked the detailed anatomical knowledge of the human nervous system to construct such specific parallels.>>
JERRY: Such anatomical knowledge is not necessary at all in order to activate and use the chakras. This is an occult red-herring, or what Blavatsky would call a "blind."
<<<However the original system was that of of six chakras. The earliest literary reference to the
yogic physiology of the six chakras and ten nadis is in the eight-century Malati-Madhava by havabhuti.The Hindu tantric schools...>>>
JERRY: Probably the grandfather of Buddhist textual occult knowledge is the Hevajra Tantra. In the very first chapter of this tantra we find 32 nadis in the subtle body, and their Sanskrit names. Four chakras are discussed, which correspond to the four noble truths. Most Tibetan yogic texts use only four charkas (head, throat, heart, and navel), and many only three (associated with the OM, HA, HUM bijas).
<<<Those who believe in a "philosophia perennis" like Blavatsky, still have to explain the differences between religious traditions.>>
JERRY: These can easily be explained as differences in culture and language which, in turn, lead to differences in manasic interpretation of spiritual experiences.
<<< In the SD, Blavatsky presents a legend of the origin of other religions as well as her own
doctrine that try to explain why a allegoric reading of Hindu or Buddhist scriptures is necessary to bring out the inner, hidden meaning of these texts. >>>
JERRY: Yes, and yet her devoted followers somehow fail to see the allegoric quality of the SD itself.
<<<The Secret Doctrine is an elaborate
myth in which a rich tapestry of details fill out the barebones account, of for example reincarnation, that Blavatsky had inherited from Kardec via Kingsford, lady Caithness and others. >>>
JERRY: A question of faith, perhaps?
<<<By liberally applying a strategy of pattern recognition, Blavatsky's reincarnation
doctrine builds on elements deriving from several different sources. Following a view that could be either Hindu or Platonic, but certainly not Buddhist in any orthodox sense, she claims that there
is a unique individuality that incarnates again and again. ...But all the time it is still one and the same Monad, differing only in its incarnations, throughout its ever succeeding cycles of partial or total obscuration into the depths of materiality. (SD I: p.175) >>>
JERRY: The above quote from the SD would not, I agree, pass muster in any Middle Way Buddhist school. A Middle Way Buddhist would say that this monad changes over time, and so it is NOT the "same Monad" at all. This is a good example of absolutism, which the Middle Way school rejects. However, the Mind Only school teaches that such a non-changing and permanent monad does exist (its changing "rays" do not). The above quote would probably pass muster in the Mind Only school.
<<<The constuction of tradition, the bricolage from bits and pieces of such originally distinct
historical sources, masks the novelty of Blavatsky's overall conception.>>>
JERRY: I don't recall her ever claiming originality.
<<<Essentially, the Theosophical view of the transmigration of souls is not so much Oriental or Platonic, as a typically 19th century construction.>>>
JERRY: Her idea of a "closed door" at the turn on this Round is, I think, unique. By this unique idea, she opposes Buddhism and Hinduism, which allow for humans to reimbody as animals. I have never found her rationale for this idea, but it is in conflict with all other reincarnation theories. This idea, together with the idea of evolution being all about self-consciousness, and that humanity is so special that it requires a separate kingdom, all conspire together to suggest an egotistic viewpoint or elitism of human superiority that must be taken on faith (which I still don't have, myself). This is one of those sticky points of the SD that I don't like, cannot be substantiated, and conflicts with existing contemporary philosophies.
<<<Three key ideas run through Blavatsky's
description of the chain of rebirth. The first is the fact of Orientalism itself. The frequent references to India and the East rather than to Plotinus or Paracelsus are in themselves a phenomenon of the post-Enlightenment era.>>>
JERRY: These references to India all address the exoteric view of reincarnation - that every act is a an effect of a past act and will cause a future act. Thus we are hopelessly trapped in a virtual infinite number of reincarnations. This idea is not found in esoteric literature, nor in Tibetan Buddhism.
<<< The second is the placement of
reincarnation within the most overarching meta-narrative of the 19th century evolutionism. Despite Blavatsky's reference to the Buddhist doctrine of suffering, Theosophical reincarnation is the optimistic story of the progress of the human soul. >>>
JERRY: Optimistic only in the sense of eventual liberation at the end of the 7th race of the 7th round. This, to me, is hopelessly pessimistic. Blavatsky not only pretty much ignores suffering, but the other three noble truths as well. Logically, if one accepts that mortality is suffering, the first noble truth, then one would naturally want to find out why (the second) and if such suffering can be avoided (the third) and finally some Path to the avoidance of such suffering (the fourth). This central Buddhist idea is given no emphasis at all in Theosophy.
<<<The third element is the synthesis of these ideas with another meta narrative of the 19th
century: the view that humanity is divided into races and peoples with clearly definable properties. A closer look at the purported ancient wisdom religion shows it to be a mythologization of ideas
characteristic of late 19th century Europe.>>>
JERRY: If Blavatsky were writing her SD today, I have no doubt that she would carefully re-word the whole root race business. The latest DNA evidence shows us that the human races are not really races at all, but are more like breeds. So today she would talk about root-breeds instead of "racial stocks" which suggest differences that simply don't exist.
<<< There can be little doubt that for example Jacolliot's presentation of India as the crucible
of "Aryan" civilisation and religion ,placed in India as the first Brahmins, influenced Blavatsky. >>>
JERRY: And thus the teaching of hierarchies, a central Theosophical tenent, and one that smacks of elitism, and one that is easily misunderstood.
<<<It is known she possessed his books,
and that she quoted liberally - often without acknowledgment ...>>>
JERRY: This sounds like the old "her ideas are stupid and just myth" together with "and she plagarized her ideas from great people" business. Theosophists have heard this criticism for years. Brigitte, you won't get anywhere with this illogical argument.
<<<The deciphering of the hieroglyphs made it possible to gain insights into the actual religion and culture of ancient Egypt that made it more difficult to support fantasy projections. The
Enlightenment philosophies, rejected the old order, whether Christian or Hermeticist. It was part of the project of a revived esotericism of the end of the 18th century to attempt to support the pre-
Enlightenment claim to Egypt as a fountainhead of wisdom. In the Mahatma Letters Egypt is seen as one of a series of historic cultures to have transmitted elements of this "primeval" wisdom religion. >>>
JERRY: And your point is?
<<<Blavatsky had already begun to orient her religious creativity further east, towards the Indian subcontinent. The shift is
underpinned mythologically by the assumption that the Egyptians were actually descendants of the aryans, whose spiritual traditions should
thus represent a purer form of the ancient wisdom religion. Blavatsky refers approvingly to baron Bunsen's imaginative history of Egypt as a source for this hypothesis. (IU II: 437f.)>>>
JERRY: OK, but with today's translations available to the public, can't we now buck these actual teachings against Blavatsky's interpretations?
<<<Nearly every aspect of the Secret Doctrine, is buttered with appeals to scientific legitimacy.>>>
JERRY: And why not? Isn't modern science the new religion of the West? Is not manas in its ascendancy today?
<<<Instead Olcott wrote about the beginnings of the TS: "Our object was to learn, experimentally, whatever was possible about the constitution of man,
his intelligence, and his place in nature. Especially Mind, active as Will, was a grate problem for us. (TH VI/6: 204) Of all the practices, the highest possible achievement of magic is the
separation of the astral body from the physical body (TH III/6:176), because with this separation the astral body becomes almost omnipotent." >>>
JERRY: It is indeed a shame that these were eliminated from the TS. The motive to drop these was that such things would cause elitism and factions within the TS that could cause divisiveness. But divisions came about anyway, didn't they?
<<<In the Circular of May 3.1878 the two meetings at which that society's Preamble and Bylaws were adopted and its officers elected, on October 16 and 30, 1875, ...>>>
JERRY: Interesting history here, but again, what is your point?
<<<The founding of the Theosophical Society can in itself be interpreted as an apogee of 19th century scientism as seen above. Scientism seemingly entered every facet of the Society, from its founding charter to its canonical scriptures.>>>
JERRY: I find it interesting that science has done an about face since then, and now recognizes the inherent uncertainty of reality while Theosophy has not changed at all and still maintains the La Placian view that all we need is more data. Theosophists originally had hoped that science would catch up to the SD, but I think in this regard that science has surpassed the SD and that now its time for Theosophists to catch up with science.
<<<Books presenting the doctrines of Theosophy itself are, with a few exception, apologetic. The overwhelming majority of these works present Theosophy as a fixed set of coherent doctrines, largely eschew discussions of historical
changes, and aim to presenting Theosophical doctrines in an easily understandable format for potential converts.>>>
JERRY: Agreed. This is because Theosophists take a literal interpretation of the SD. This literalism, alias fundamentalism, will surely kill the TM at some point. HH the Dali Lama has had several long meetings with modern scientists. His attitude is that the original Buddhist texts are exoteric and that new scientific data should be allowed to change them. Too bad Theosophists are not as open minded as HH.
<<<The common characteristics of Theosophy, Esoteric science and their similarities with Romantic
science, can be summed up in the following points: For Theosophy, materialism is invalid since matter per se, is only an aspect of the "prima materia", and in a sense does not exist.>>>
JERRY: Right. And I side with Theosophy on this point.
<<< Romantic science similarly contains an element of idealism: positing vital force, a
spiritual element to nature. The worldview of Romanticism has been called natural supernaturalism. ... that it positions
itself against the standard picture of Descartes as the philosopher of dichotomies between body and soul, between subject and object.>>>
JERRY: OK, and I side with the romantic view because I have great skepticism of the Cartesian view.
<<<Theosophy and Esoteric science are clothed in scientific terminology and expressed by means of carefully selected bits and pieces of a scientistic bricolage. In an age where science is devoid
of fundamentally appealing qualities such as goal, meaning and purpose, it remains tempting to claim "reality", status for what are
essentially religious beliefs.>>>
JERRY: Yes, modern science goes far, but fails miserably in the meaning department. It also only accepts observations, all of which are faulty in some regard or another, and it distrusts subjectivity which is totally illogical since all observations are inherently subjective. But science is great for finding relationships between things - such relationships are expressed in the language of mathematics. Science is itself a religious belief, and many scientists acknowledge this today.
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