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historic research is fragmentary and unfinished

Feb 10, 2002 01:20 PM
by Eldon B Tucker


At 02:44 PM 2/7/02 +0000, you wrote:

The temptation to *pretend* that a controversy had been settled years
ago, even when it is abundantly clear that it had not, is
understandable. It allows believers to file the most hot-button
issues away in a drawer marked "not even worth thinking about." ...

All historical research is fragmentary and unfinished. All
historical works include opinion. There is not a finite number
of "sides" past which we can say there aren't any more left; people
will keep looking at new sides as long as the subject in question
attracts new historical research.


I'd agree with the above, and see how it can apply to
all of us. Keeping an open mind and always considering
new things is good when we can actually do it.

The opposite and shadow side to this, which I've also
seen, is when someone presents their current idea as
"brilliant truth," and then finds fault with others whom
won't readily agree and change their views.

The fault is not with the bearer of a different viewpoint,
nor with the people not changing their views to accept it.
The fault is when people refuse to listen to different
views, and berate others for holding (and staying with)
what they currently believe.

There are many sides to the topics that we've considered.
For there to be an open-minded discussion, we all need to
consider our ideas as tentative and keep them flexible.
That's one reason I've liked Purucker's writings, since he
emphasizes this approach to Theosophy, and helps students
with this form of mindfulness.

Part of the problem that I've found with the historic
discussions is that they focus on the who, what, and when.
They attempt to rearrange the historic landscape from what
was traditionally thought. But at the same time, the
discussions are practically devoid of philosophy. The
changes are not accompanied by any attempt to review how
the philosophical system would need to be reconsidered and
held differently because of the proposed historic changes.

The effect of this is to create a certain degree of
confusion in some students, trying to understand what the
proposed historic changes might mean. It also creates some
resistance in other students whom don't want to reconsider
their worldview.

Note that I'm not saying one way or the other whether
certain historic facts are true. And you mention the
importance of keeping looking at different sides.

The problem here is that many historic facts (or
speculations) throw up a lot of "what if's" that people
then need to explain to themselves. Each is something
they have to understand and work into their view of the
world. Having many of these can lead to confusion and
be counterproductive to new theosophical students wanting
an initial grasp of the philosophy.

How can this be resolved? It could be done in part by
the people presenting the historic discussions. Presenting
a lot of historic material and speculations can be as
bad as sending out a massive quantity of quotes -- if not
commented. Perhaps it should be the responsibility of
the person doing a posting of either type of undigested
materials to make more of an effort to say what it means,
to tie it into the theosophical philosophy?

-- Eldon

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