welcoming fellow seekers
Nov 09, 2002 01:34 PM
by Eldon B Tucker
My first thought when reading the post by Gowsami was that here
was another fictional character made up by Brigitte, so I did a
quick search of the Internet and see that there really is someone
with that name. There is. He did not introduce himself very
fully, so I found something about him at the following site.
In that description, there are a few other points that may be of
interest to fellow truth seekers.
> In 1972 David Sherman, a Christian historian of religion, began his
> study of bhakti yoga ... Later David moved with his family to
> Dallas, Texas and began full-time service to the Lord, becoming a
> formal disciple of Srila Prabhupada's by the name Deva Deva das
> ... at times persecuted ... has given Bhakti Ananda Swami ...
> great empathy for persons who have been rejected and persecuted
> for being 'different." ... In spite of illness related to
> post-polio syndrome, Bhakti Ananda Goswami has continued his
> service to the Vaishnava community through religious scholarship
> and pastoral care ... as a Catholic he has continued his
> bhakti-yoga practice of life-long devotion to Jesus Christ. He
> advocates holiness of life for everyone in both celibate chastity
> and marital faithfulness ... "If my God and Savior has called and
> fitted me to serve souls in some capacity, who am I to refuse to
> do it?"
I would like to welcome Goswami to the list, since our
discussions can be deepened as we draw people from an even-wider
range of backgrounds. The intended emphasis of the list is not,
though, a "witch hunt," where we are looking for and trying to
draw out the dark side of people.
There may be groups that foster prejudice and unify themselves by
defining and hating some common enemy, but that approach is not
welcome in theosophical circles. The emphasis in Theosophy is on
finding the spiritual light hidden in every person and
encouraging it to come out.
His background seems to prefer theism, theistic Buddhism,
Vedanta, and Christianity. It is what I understand the Bhakti
approach to prefer. We each adopt a philosophical model of life
and the universe that matches our inner life. In that regard, he
is no different from any of us. Some may prefer non-theistic
philosophy to explain things, even though our inner light shines
just as brightly and as we make equally valuable, unique
contributions to bringing light into the world.
What constitutes a hate group? What are its characteristics? How
do we watch out for trends in that direction so that we can
counteract them? How do we identify them in other groups and
people? What can we do to help them?
In the book, PSYCHIC DICTATORSHIP IN AMERICA, we find some hints.
Hate groups "work insidiously, under false fronts and colors, and
only when they have achieved some degree of influence and power
will their subversive nature be revealed." (page 159) Our
openness is good and we could be ever clear in telling people
what Theosophy is about.
A group attempts "to make ... people ... into automatons,
fitted only to obey the mandates of some dictator." Theosophy
teaches that the Masters leave the students to their own device
and council even up to the last and supreme Initiation. The
emphasis is on self-directed evolution rather than devotion and
obedience to the authority of someone else. The goal is to turn
people into unique, independent sources of light in the world
rather than into making them into pawns in someone's strategic
manipulation of world affairs. Anyone making demands for
obedience is immediately suspect to us.
Theosophy does not teach "paranoiac doctrines" (page 160) nor
strive to "kill our individualism, our ideals of religious and
political freedom." (page 160) Individual insight is a key
element of the theosophical path, which often leads one to
leaving traditional theosophical groups and going one's own way.
It may also lead to leaving behind the basic theosophical
doctrines as well, since the purpose is to set one's feet on the
Path, not to put chains on them and force someone to take one's
personal approach except out of their own free will, if that
appeals the most to them.
Individuals in the theosophical movement can become confused and
write things that are inconsistent with the philosophy or that
seek to control others. Others may write prejudiced materials.
This is true in any movement. Because of the freedom and
autonomous nature of theosophical groups, though, there is no
religious authority to approve of or ban books. There is no boss
in Theosophy, although each theosophical group has its own
preferred interpretation that it publishes and promotes. This
freedom is found to be especially refreshing to ex-Catholics,
coming to it from a background where there are mandatory beliefs
(dogmas) and one is considered a heretic if one's views don't
submit to Papal Infallibility.
With Theosophy, there are many groups, and one is free to move in
or out of them as one will, and many prefer to be independents,
depending on what approach they are taking and which particular
flavor of the theosophical doctrines they may be interested in
learning more of.
The book goes on to say, "no real Master of the Divine Wisdom
would ever interfere with a pupil's God-given right of
independent and initiative action." (page 161) In this respect,
Theosophy is far ahead of religious sects and the various cults,
some of which may have borrowed and twisted a few theosophical
ideas to their own hateful purposes.
A final comment from the book is that "their avowed purpose is to
save the people from certain 'enemies'" (page 163) and they are
"dominated usually by some racial or religious intolerance."
(page 165) As soon as any of us starting picking out some group
of people as "the bad guys," and build up prejudices against them
(forming opinions without really knowing them), we are doing
this. Groups might fall into this trap. All of us need to be
aware of any trends or tendencies in this direction.
We can watch ourselves and our actions, striving to be the best
people we can. We can watch the group dynamics at play in the
meetings we attend, seeking to keep any darkness. We only get
into trouble when we start to play policeman, seeking to
interfere in the behavior of others and other groups. Without
really knowing them or knowing how they see things, we must not
let ourselves become prejudiced, forming opinions without actual
knowledge and experience. As soon as we start along that path,
we soon take on those qualities of prejudice, bigotry,
hatefulness of others, arrogance, and elitism that we might be
telling ourselves we are trying to combat in others.
Besides learning to think for ourselves, which includes working
on metaphysical thought and the ability to have original
insights, there are other basic skills needed. It is important
to know basic psychology and know how other people and
organizations may try to manipulate us. This includes businesses
with their advertising, the cunning actions of unethical
missionaries for some member-hungry church, or the psychological
ploys of some would be political or religious despot.
One type of manipulation is telling a group of people that they
are better than others are. Perhaps it is simply because they
have converted to the "one, true faith," or perhaps it is as
foolish (and stupid) as an accident of birth, perhaps because of
the race, caste, or nation they have been born into. Helping
people see through that foolishness, we can improve their lives
-- if the prejudice really was there.
We must take care not to moralize to someone about some prejudice
that they do not have. Instead of providing any actual help,
such action is harmful and leaves them viewing us as
narrow-minded, bigoted, and undesirable to be around. Picture,
for instance, someone casting an astrological chart being
confronted by a religious zealot shouting at one to stop his or
her devil worship! (Such would be especially funny to the
astrologer. It is only the zealot that believes in that devil,
attributing power to it and living his or her life in fear of
such a fiction.)
I was reading an interesting novel recently, THE TREASURE OF
MONTSEGUR by Sophy Burnham. It is a fictional account of life
among the Cathars. They considered themselves the pure ones.
These chaste followers of Christ were pacifist and vegetarian.
They may have believed in reincarnation. They had the Bible in
the local language and did not title to nor respect the political
authority of the Catholic Church.
Their destruction, instigated by the Catholic Church, was perhaps
one of the most thorough cases of religion-based genocide that I
recall. "To raise his army in 1209, the Pope promised any
soldier who fought for forty days a freeze on his debts, the
remission of all sins, and the possibility of plunder ... This
made it a popular war."
The entire population of Cathar cities was killed, and the cities
were leveled. Even people saying they knew a Cathar were subject
to torture and death by the Inquisition. The Church burned the
final Perfectus in 1321. "With that, after nearly three hundred
years of effort, the Catholic Church succeeded in stamping out
the heresy and establishing the political boundaries of France.
The Inquisition then turned its attention to new enemies, finding
them in dissidents and Jews." (page ix)
An historian could find fault with the Catholic Church, looking
back into what it did in earlier centuries. We might acknowledge
that its present membership is more tolerant and enlightened. We
can say the same of any organization -- be it religious,
political, or metaphysical. The early history of a group is
irrelevant. What matters is how the group has evolved and of
what use it currently is in making the world a better place.
Look at each person's actions. Are they working to bring peace,
harmony, tolerance, brotherhood, cooperation among peoples? Do
they seek to help people learn and thing for themselves? Do they
seek the Light everywhere it may be found, with making
prejudicial judgments about anyone's backgrounds? If so, they are
a friend of the Spirit and coworkers with us. If not, we do best
to simply ignore them, and they will take their dirty work
elsewhere, seeking more fertile ground for darkness and discord.
The world will become a better place and we all have our roles in
helping it happen. Any of us must ask a basic question. This
question is the key to our purpose in life. The question is not:
What awful thing is there in the world and how do I destroy it?
No. Rather, I'd say, the question is: What is it that I truly
love doing, loving it so much that the world disappears when I'm
engaged in it, that thing that I am truly uniquely myself in
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