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Absolute thinking and moral exclusion

Feb 05, 2002 07:01 AM
by kpauljohnson

Thanks, Bill, for raising these questions. Just this morning I read 
something that seems to apply. It was from a social psychology book 
about attitudes towards gays and lesbians. You noticed that Dallas 

we are all brother and sister
> SPIRITUAL MONADS and have been and will be reincarnating
> together. So we might as well treat each other from here on as
> members of an immortal family.

> > I have not been reading fully the posts by Brigitte or Paul
> > Johnson -- they disgust me.

Now, it is arguable that people do sometimes publicly express disgust 
for their siblings; thus there's no real contradiction between 
Dallas's spiritual ideal and its earthly manifestation. He is, in 
fact, treating Brigitte and me just like some people *do* treat their 
brothers and sisters. But one would think that he was referring to 
how the human family *ought* to treat one another, and not how the 
human family *actually does* behave. 

The problem here is, IMO, twofold: absolute thinking and moral 
exclusion. First, absolute thinking means, as applied to writings 
about HPB, an extremist approach. For example, any author not 
seeking to present HPB as a saint must be out to destroy her 
reputation and thereby harm the Theosophical movement. There are no 
alternatives; there is no middle ground. You're either a Theosophist 
as defined by the absolutist, or you're undeserving of the name at 
all. HPB was either a spotless virgin, or a total fraud. All down 
the line, everything is black and white with no shades of gray. 
Relative thinking, the kind that sees nuances and ambiguities, is for 

Second, this kind of thinking leads to moral exclusion. Certain 
persons, in other words, are totally excluded from moral 
consideration. The rules that apply when dealing with "one of us" 
are completely suspended when dealing with "them." "They" are fair 
game for relentless attack, for insults, sometimes for physical and 
not just psychological violence. And anything "they" say or do in 
response to abuse is taken as further proof of how much they deserved 

Hence a person can spout the most wonderful moral principles because 
some source of absolute knowledge was alleged to have revealed them. 
But those principles only apply to those who have not strayed into 
moral exclusion. Once a person has crossed the line and become a 
moral nonperson, harming them is at least excusable and at worst 

That's a rough paraphrase; perhaps I should post a direct quote.

You ask:
what exactly disgusts you -- the posts that you don't read fully
> or Brigitte and Paul Johnson? 

I predict you won't get a straight answer or a moment of self-
critical reflection in response.

I am interested in this feeling of disgust to
> which you refer. I have felt it before myself. I could not 
identify the source of such a feeling. Do you feel it at the 
spiritual level or just superficially by the personality?

In light of a previous reference to nausea caused by my posts, I'd 
say Dallas feels it in his gut-- but then assumes that because it's 
the gut of someone absolutely devoted to HPB and the Masters, that it 
must be in alignment with absolute truth and justice.

If it is deep and abiding within the
> spirit, what does it mean to say "they disgust me"? For instance 
if we are
> all destined to reincarnate again together, will "they disgust me" 
again and
> again until they change their stripes or I change mine?

Thanks for that encouraging thought :)



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