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On the Atman - to Peter

Nov 13, 2001 04:49 PM
by Gerald Schueler

<<<Not cruel, a fair observation. Why should I scoff? What place does that have in these discussions if we are both serious students? You criticised Dallas for quoting HPB out of context and yet when asked to supply the context you quote a two sentences from the entire Secret Doctrine and Collected Writings. I think "context" requires more. I can't speak for Dallas, but yes I was aware of those two sentences. The difference between us is that you seem to be taking them literally and at face value. I would prefer to look a little deeper, along with understanding the context in which those statements were made.>>>

Peter, we all quote her out of context, and my one and only point was that we can pretty much quote her to suit ourselves. If the quote, to the effect that matter and spirt are both maya, was meant to be literal, then Blavatsky was aware of, and she accepted, one of the "secret" Dzogchen teachings. If the quote was not literal and meant something else, then she was not aware of Dzogchen and does not subscribe to its teachings. I think that this is pretty much what it all comes down to. In spite of your arguments, I prefer to think that she was initiated, and that she gave that tidbit out deliberately.

<<<<You are certainly welcome to that view and I have no desire to change it. But we are trying to establish what HPB is saying. Her view is that ATMA is not a maya and that it is one with Parabrahm. Thus over and over again we find her saying similar things as:>>>

Peter, If Atma is not maya, then a few logic problems will surface. Does Atma change over time? If so, then it can't be permanent and it must be maya because everything effected by space or time is mayavic (or do you have another definition of maya, as well?). If not, then Atma must be above maya and must not be subject to time or space. If this is so, then I can't see what the "radiation" and "ray" and "emanation" business is all about. What is the purpose of evolution, and what is evolving in space-time? I think that how we answer this question will define Atma for us. My interpretation of Blavatsky is that there is a non-dual non-divisible Monad outside of space-time and completely changeless/permanent. It sends out a "ray" into space-time(how it does this is pretty much a faith-based "initial assumption") which is, or at some point becomes, Atma.

I guess my real problem is that I am sick to death of the illogic I see from many Theosophists, and from much of the Theosophical literature, who seem like that say stuff without logically thinking about it. Now, I realize that all of this stuff is manas exercizes, but I think the very least we can all do is to try to come up with a logical system (and there will ALWAYS be initial assumptions that we will have to make, but I mean logical within those assumptions). For just one example, is a "monad" indivisible or not? 

<<<There isn't anything esoteric about saying Atma is a Maya. Nor does HPB say it is a Maya, as far as I can determine.>>

Well, she does give us hints. And there is a danger. It is one that Buddhists are all too familiar with - the (false) claim that they are nihilists, that they ultimately believe in nothingness.

<<<I think you have missed the point. HPB is quoting Wilson because what he says is in agreement with the view she is putting in the Secret Doctrine, ie beyond ISWARA (spirit, Cosmic Ideation, the collective Dhyanis) is ATMA around whose pavilions is MAYA. That's why she draws on Hindu and Vedanta when she wants to consolidate the view she is presenting.>>>

So Atma surrounds itself in mayavic "pavillions" but somehow is itself not mayavic? It seems very illogical to me to say that Atma is "real" while it is located on a cosmic plane of illusion. If Atma is so real and permanent, then what is a "monadic ray?"

<<A raindrop is not 'equal' to the ocean but it is identical in nature. >>

Not a good analogy. Not the same in nature at all, just the same in material composition. The nature of a raindrop is separation and indivuation.

<<Using analogy, we might call it an emanation of the ocean. It is not the essence of the drop that is identical in nature to the ocean, it is the drop itself which is identical in nature to the ocean. There is no need to add an extra layer of essence between the nature of the drop and the Ocean, which is what you do. Atman and Parabraham, Atman and Brahm, Tathagata and Buddha Nature are said to be one. The Maya is that they are two different things when all the time they are of the same nature.>>>

OK, Peter, lets go with this. I would define "maya" a bit differently than you have above, and maybe that is part of our differences here. I would define the raindrop itself as maya, and I would say that this raindrop had no "self" at all, no reality except in the sense of a conventional one. The idea that the raindrop is different from the ocean is not maya, but is ignorance - the arigpa that I mentioned in amother post. Why? Because they are on different planes of existence - the ocean exists in a different place. 

Lets say that the raindrop exists in the air falling down from a cloud and is falling toward the ocean, its ultimate distiny. Both are made of water, but we experience them, at least during the fall, as two separate things. We think that the raindrop actually exists, and that it actually falls down, and that one day in the far future, it will merge with the ocean below. My take on such an analogy is this: the raindrop is maya and the fall is maya, and our experience of these as two separate and distinct things in space-time is our inherent ignorance.

<<<Maybe we could extend the analogy (but not too far!) and say a large 'drop' (Paramatman, or later a Dhyani Buddha) first emanates from the Ocean, and this drop disperses into smaller drops & so on. Still the essential nature of all the drops are the same.>>>

OK, fair analogy here. I would say that from the very first emanation of the drop, the drop itself is maya and the idea that such a drop can ever come about is ignorance.

<<<Perhaps the drop (Atman) can never equal the Ocean (Parabrahm) even when it merges once again with its source and 'knows' it is ONE. But all the time it has always been the same nature.>>>

OK, but why? It has been one and the same nature all the time because of our initial assumption of an emanation - that something could emanate or express itself in the first place. The whole idea/definition of "expression" and of "emanation" is all about like producing like, which BTW is a process called svabhava.

<<<I'll let HPB have the last word.
"I make no difference between my Seventh Principle and the Universal Spirit or Parabrahm; nor do I believe in an individual, segregated spirit in me, as something apart from the whole."
(CW V 52)

OK, and I agree - because if there were to be any "difference" then liberation/enlightenment would be impossible. I do, however, have a problem with Theosophists throwing around terms like Higher Self and Individuality, and even Atman, as if these were indeed "something apart from the whole." 

Jerry S.

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