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colored by the culture of the time

Nov 07, 2002 01:14 PM
by Eldon B Tucker

A few stray comments ...

>From: Morten Nymann Olesen [] 
>Sent: Thursday, November 07, 2002 11:38 AM
>Subject: Re: Theos-World "Answering" Morten Nymann Olesen's 
> questions and points

>Are anyone aware of if there is a particular reason to why the Mahatma
>Letters (as originals) are not scanned in and put online on PDF-file or
>another file-format ?*

The Letters were given to the British Museum. I am not sure who the
current trustees of the Letters are, but the question would be if they
had the right to authorize such a scan or the Museum itself would have
the final say.

>Blavatsky and her book The Secret Doctrine should be
>questioned on the issue of racism when read dead-letter. And
>groups ought to properly deal with the book on the issue RACISM and

Anything written in the 1800's would be colored by the culture of the
time. Popular prejudices and misconceptions would be ingrained in the
language, writing, and manner of speech that people used then. From a
different standpoint, we can look back and see things of which the
people of the time may not have been aware.

If someone reads an older book, the biases of its time will show up. It
is not particular to theosophical books. If we want something to appear
as unbiased, we need to write something new that communicates the
philosophy in modern terms. Even with that, later generations will look
back on anything that we write in the 2000's as being biased in ways we
do not currently realize, just as we do so upon the writings of the

Apart from appearing to be biased or not, there is the basic philosophy
being communicated. Those with an interest and aptitude will pick it up
despite any awkwardness of language in which it may be expressed. Any
confusion by a student reading the works is overcome as the study
progresses. Even so, I am all for having new introductory books
expressed in a fresh, clear, vibrant manner.

>Because of that - a dead-letter knowledge of when they were made public
>first time is of importance to the more down-to-earth reader!

One thing that might assist the newest theosophical students would be a
short introduction to the biases and cultural perspective of HPB's time.
This makes it easier to see through to what was actually said. The
intent would be to remove any cultural barriers that make it harder for
a student to benefit from the philosophy.

The intent is the opposite of what an opponent of Theosophy might do
with the same cultural differences. An antagonist would look for things
that could be misrepresented, painting Theosophy in a bad light, and
making it harder for an inquirer to see and consider what it says. This
is exactly what is done in a political campaign wherein a candidate
looks for any bit of information about the other person running for the
office, looking for things that can be used in attacks and character
smears. The intent is not to be accurate, truthful, or fair, only to do
as much damage as possible to the other's image, with the intent of
getting people to come over to the candidate's side.

I am for making it clear what the philosophy says, apart from the biases
and idiosyncrasies of earlier writers and their particular period of
history. The rest of the stuff is historical nit picking, although
someone has to sort out the exact details of what really happened. The
primary value in Theosophy, as I see it, is the philosophy and spiritual
dharma that may go with it. It is not in its use as a particular obscure
area of western metaphysics needing to be forced into some particular
preconception and proven or disproved according to the bias of any
particular historian.

-- Eldon

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