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RE: To Brigitte Re: Your comments on theosophical History

Nov 11, 2001 03:50 AM
by dalval14

Sunday, November 11, 2001

Re: source material on Theosophical History.

Dear Brigitte:

Forgive me if I send you this rather direct an probably annoying
comment. It is not criticism, but it is perhaps the result of
what I have bee through in the past. The only way that a
historian can become invulnerable is by making sure that all
original texts are reviewed and accurately quoted -- both the
CONS and the PROS.

I have been reading your posts.

I would say you show a tendency to voice opinions that are echoes
of earlier OPINIONS and are not based on the actual DOCUMENTS
available. Unfamiliarity with the documentary sequence of
Theosophical History ought not to annoy you if you have every
document carefully sequenced.

You seek (this is my evaluation, and I know you have not asked
for it) apparently to advance some ideas you have, but, your
evidence is insufficient, if not lacking.

I apologise for this seeming abruptness and critical statement.
But I have been a student of Theosophy and its history for over
60 years, and before you write and expose your opinions I would
suggest you carefully review the early issues of the Magazines

Also, you have to be thoroughly familiar with ISIS UNVEILED and

If you with to discuss the Theosophical teachings in regard to
pre-history your familiarity with those sources should form the
basis for comparative discussion. This is especially so if you
wish to discuss Cosmogenesis and Anthropogenesis as presented
therein. Additionally you might study MAHATMA LETTERS and H. P.
Countess Wachmeister and H P B -- the Biography by Sylvia

I say this if you wish to be seriously considered as an impartial
scholar of facts. Opinions are all to be abandoned. Facts are to
be presented [ see for instance Gomes THEOSOPHY IN THE 19th
CENTURY -- An Annotated Bibliography. ] All early documents are
carefully recorded and reviewed there.

Many books have been written by opinionated writers on aspects of
Theosophical History. They remain OPINIONS until they are able
to actually display and reveal the actual timing and nature of
the events they record. I assume that any real Historian desires
to be minutely careful and accurate -- nothing is suppressed.

The opinions of the 2nd and 3rd level students and writers are
OPINIONS. If you desire to be an accurate historian, then first
acquaint yourself with the basic documents. Or alternatively,
ask questions from those who have studied ahead of you to see if
your theories are valid in their eyes.

But you are quite free to doubt the reasonableness of what I
write, and only a most careful review of the material that I
outline above will really assist you and any one else in their
assessment of what actually happened. Of course those who write
usually desire to be interpretive -- to see for hidden motives,
etc.... One can air one's hobbies along these lines, but they
are NOT HISTORY. Real historians (those who are impartial) will
recognize this at once.

This is a very friendly suggestion, as many view-points float
around, and if you desire the security of sound scholarship, then
GO TO THE ORIGINALS and build from there.

Best wishes,



-----Original Message-----
From: Gerald Schueler []
Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2001 6:11 PM
To: Theosophy Study List
Subject: Re: To Brigitte

<<<Brigitte: By discovering the roots of humanity in India, by
adopting its monistic idealism and studying its primeval language
Sanskrit, Romanticism
hoped to further their ideals of a restoration of a past golden
age, to build a future utopia on a vision of unity of the various
nations, of
mankind with nature, and of science and philosophy with art.>>>

JERRY: Maybe so, but this was certainly not Blavatsky's goal. Her
restoration lies millions of years in the future and thus remains
purely theoretical.

<<<<In German-speaking states, this positive Orientalism
developed into a German nationalist agenda. The affinities
between the German and Sanskrit language were used to construct a
mythic history in which the germans were heirs to the glorious
civilisation of the ancient Indians. A fanciful etymology,
linking the Indian self-designation arya with the German word
Ehre, underpinned this nationalist history.
Germans and Aryans were soon conceived as a "race" with superiour
qualities. If one mode of positive Orientalism was pan-Germanic
and racist, a different Orientalist discourse developed the
themes of
Romanticism. A particulary important form of the Oriental
Renaisance was the influence of the East on American
transcendentalism. Theosophy maybe partly can be seen as an
amalgam of both discourses:
Blavatsky's synthezising genius adopted both the Romantic and the
racial versions of positive Orientalism. She constructed a
historical myth wich
incorporated races and sub- races.>>>


<<<Isis bears witness to the shift eastward: the title alludes to
Egyptian mysteries, while the work itself contains numerous
references to India.
However , India is still described as one recipient among many
others of a primeval wisdom.>>>

JERRY: Yes, because India is the home of Hinduism, Vedanta, and
Buddhism. And most "recipients" came to be such through Indian
missionaries and translators. In early Tibet, for example,
Buddhist teachings were only considered legitamite if written in
Sanskrit. And Indian teachings are said to have entered Egyptian
thought via the famous library at Alexandria.

<<<By the time the theosophical doctrines expounded in the
Mahatma Letters, the references to ancient India had become so
central to theosophy as to
motivate Alfred Sinnet to choose to name the new doctrine
Esoteric Buddhism. Blavatsky herself was hardly overjoyed by
Sinnet's equation, calling his book 'an excellent work with a
very unfortunat title.>>>

JERRY: Here I have to agree with Blavatsky. Sinnet's book should
have been titled Exoteric Buddhism. There is, in point of fact,
little to no esotericism in it. Where are the 4 Nobel truths?
Where is vajrayana or tantricism? Where is the meaning of
mandalas and mantras revealed?

<<<The India that has entered theosophy however is an imagined
India. Throughout Blavatsky's work, the Orient continues to be a
homogenized and
generalized culture.>>>

JERRY: Yes, especially when viewed from our 21st century
perspective. There are many errors in her teachings of Buddhism
too, which we all must acknowledge in light of the countless
excellent English translations now available. But, for her time
and with the tools that she had at hand, I think she did a
princely job.

<<<In the Mahatma Letters there are passages where Tibetan lamas
and Theravada (Pali) scriptures coexist without any sense of the

JERRY: Agreed. I don't think Blavatsky was aware of all of the
various schools and levels of Tibetan teachings. Her Masters
certainly should have been, but perhaps they preferred not to go
into that in their letters, I don't know. In fairness, HH the
Dali Lama has said that all levels of Tibetan Buddhism are
"right" but some simply go farther than others in expounding the
esoteric teachings.

<<< Items of theosophical vocabulary are taken from Sanskrit or
coined in a kind of Theosophical Hybrid Sanskrit.>>>

JERRY: Agreed. I consider the poor Theosophical terminology to be
one of the major reasons that Theosophy never caught on with the
public, and the main reason why I usually put things in my own
words. Illogical terms like "dual monad" don't help anyone.

<<<Concepts are taken from Hindu or Budhist sources and subjected
to varying degrees of modification.>>>

JERRY: But not consciously/deliberately.

<<<It started with the idea of an "Oriental Cabbalah" in
Blavatsky's Hiraf article, wher she mentioned. The idea of an
"Oriental Cabbalah"was common in Western, esoteric circles
during the time of Blavatsky, but these where Western,
misconcepted ideas of the Orient of wich Blavatsky probably read
in the litterature of the time.>>>

JERRY: Agreed. She quotes from many experts of her day, and
therein got some wrong ideas. But again, for her time, I think
she did quite well, and she does have more correct things than

<<<It is rather in these quarters that we have to look for
expressions by HPB early on regarding "the eastern Cabalah" and
so on. ...
And as proof, it is a transformed version of exactly this,
"western" caballah of renaissance Italy instead of India, that
Blavatsky takes
as the foundation of her "synthesis" by. Blavatsky?s Globes in
the SD correspond with the Sephiroth, and her planes are
identical with those on the Tree of Life. All she did was to
re-arrange their positions so that they are circular or
chain-like instead of tree-like. Meaning the basis of this
structure is "western Cabbalah", and then gradually at the rate
she finds them, ads more and more Sanskrit names to it wich she
learned from Subba Row and so on.. >>>

JERRY: I have said this for years. Her figure in SD vol 1
compares her globes and planes with those of the Tree. Actually,
I prefer her arrangement, because it forces all motions and
forces to be circular. Few Theosophists understand this, and
image all sorts of weird things about the globes and planes,
trying to conceptualize on the basis of her own descriptions in
the SD, while knowing virtually nothing of the Qabala. The
origins of the Qabala, like the origins of her circular model,
make no difference to me at all. When used as a model of the
inner worlds, they work quite well. Thats enough for me.

<<<By the way I just finished reading "Integral Psychology" by
Ken Wilbur, (for a pro a discussion on it see;,1546
Do you know this book and how do you see this in relation to
other modern attempts of new paradigms. ? (see also; )
Wilbur had its first(long time ago) book published by Quest by
the way and also wrote some articles for Quest Magazine. Do you
think there is anybody today about to come up with a similar
synthesis as Blavatsky's, but using modern (21th century) source
? Brigitte>>>>>>

JERRY: I came across Wilber while working on my 2nd Ph.D.
minoring in transpersonal psychology. He is a leader in the
field. I do like most of his work, and I have several of his
books. He merges Theosophy, or at least theosophy and Eastern
ideas, with modern psychology, and I applaud him for it.

Jerry S.

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