the value of the original philosophy
Nov 15, 2002 08:34 AM
by Eldon B Tucker
I'm writing some comments in reply to what you wrote to Wes Amerman. I'm
not being critical of you, but think that you may not be aware of how
your approach may be seen by someone following the theosophical approach
> From: Bhakti Ananda Goswami [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Friday, November 15, 2002 5:39 AM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Theos-World Re: The Mahatma Letters
> DEAR MR. WES AMERMAN,
> WHEN I HAVE REFERED TO THE EVOLUTION OF A THOUGHT-SYSTEM AND SOCIAL
> MOVEMENT FROM ONE CENTURY INTO THE NEXT AND FROM SRI LANKA TO GREAT
> BRITAIN AND GERMANY IN THE THIRD REICH, WHY DO YOU TRY TO IMPEACH THE
> HISTORICAL FACTS REGARDING WHAT I HAVE REFERED TO, WITH A STATEMENT
> FROM HPB WRITTEN AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THE DEVELOPEMENT OF THE
> ENTIRE THOUGHT-SYSTEM?
Historical facts provide the basis for many different theories. You tell
a story that attempts to explain the as a single movement evolving in a
certain manner. That story is yours. It is not a fact. It is based upon
your assumptions about the world and how life works.
> I DID NOT INVENT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OLCOTT / THEOSOPHY AND THE
> SINHALESE 'ARYAN' PERSECUTION OF THE TAMILS, BUT I DID GO TO SRI
> LANKA AND STUDY THE SITUATION THERE.
A relationship implies a causative factor, but I do not think there was
any such intent on his part. My understanding is that he is somewhat of
a national hero for his work to restore faith in Buddhism and stop the
corrupting effects of missionaries in their efforts to destroy competing
religions. Which it may be true that things he said or did could become
misused later by people later on, it has nothing to do with him or
Consider Jim Jones and the death by suicide of his Christian community.
I could discuss the relationship between Christianity and the terrible
result of his actions. The suicides are a fact. The involvement of
Christianity is a fact. But if I discuss a "relationship" and imply that
such is a natural evolution of that particular religion, I would be
presenting a theory, not a fact. If I were to make such a foolish claim,
you would likely protest and say that Christianity has nothing to do
with the abuses of people like Jim Jones. I could reply that you're just
another religious crackpot and then flood the list with postings on the
evil of Christianity, with stories about the Crusades, the Inquisition,
the witch hunts, the political corruption and intrigue, the greed,
corruption, and sexual abuse within the church hierarchy, and ignore any
protests you may make that Christians don't have anything to do with
such corruption. This sort of approach is one taken by the political
propagandist. Its intent is to manipulate people.
> I HAVE MERELY REPORTED ON WHAT
> COUNTLESS SOULS IN THE REGION KNOW, THAT SINHALESE RACIST ARYANISM,
> WHICH HAS AN HISTORICAL CONNECTION TO THEOSOPHY, IS AT THE ROOT OF
> THE ONGOING CONFLICT IN THAT REGION. WHY SHOOT THE MESSENGER ?
There is a term, "reification," which means "the mental conversion of a
person or abstract concept into a thing." That has been done with many
terms including "racism" and "Aryanism." Both are concepts, not literal
realities. What is real is prejudice, fear, and an unwillingness to
accept people that are different. This shows up in many ways. One's
so-called race is but one example. One's religion, nation, political
party, or philosophical preference (e.g. deism versus non-deism) are all
objects of this form of hate (the opposite of love and acceptance).
The basic problem with the Sinhalese is the same as everywhere -- in
America, Northern Ireland, Palestine, or the Vatican. It's prejudice.
It's an unwillingness to tolerate the views of others. It's a desire to
destroy what is different rather than allowing it to exist in a
heterogeneous harmony. It happens with so-called racism. It also happens
when followers of a religion feel compelled to destroy other beliefs.
> THEISM IS A SIMPLE CONCEPT. IMPERSONALISM AND VOIDISM ARE NOT ANY
> FORMS OF THEISM. DESPITE ANY KIND OF SOPHISTRY AND WORD JUGGLERY,
> THE VOIDISM OF THE THERAVADIN TRADITION OF SINHALESE BUDDHISM IS ONE
> OF THE MOST VOIDIST AND ATHEISTIC THOUGHT-SYSTEMS ON EARTH. THIS
> TRADITION WAS INFLUENCED BY AND IN TURN INFLUENCED THE TEACHINGS OF
> HPB, OLCOTT AND THEOSOPHY.
Here you're presenting some of your personal philosophical views in the
form of some assertions. In a theosophical forum, we're free to view
things our own way, but usually discuss things. The goal is for everyone
to think for themselves, not for everyone to accept one particular
> THE INFLUENCE OF 'ESOTERIC' BUDDHIST AND SUFI THOUGHT ON THE ANGLO-
> GERMAN ARYANISTS IS WELL ATTESTED. LIKE OLCOTT AND THE SINHALESE,
> SRI LANKAN BUDDHIST ATHEISM, ETC. THE THINGS THAT I HAVE MENTIONED IN
> MY SUMMARIES HAVE ALL BEEN TREATED BY OTHER SCHOLARS.
While it's true that the Germans drew upon theosophical materials for
their racism, the materials themselves were not racist. It's no
different in this regard than someone taking a Biblical quote like "thou
shalt not suffer a witch to live" and use it as an excuse to murder
someone they choose to call a witch. The Bible did not intend to
authorize that killing and was not written with that person's use of it
in mind. It was solely that's person's evil disposition that lead to him
or her abusing the quote to rationalize the hateful act. The same is
true with later abuse of theosophical writings. The fault is with the
hateful person doing the abuse and has nothing to do with the philosophy
or its indented use.
Historians like to tell stories that explain how things are connected.
The stories weave together a collage of events, attempting to find
patterns behind them. The actual facts cannot be disputed, but entirely
different stories can be fabricated depending upon one's biases and
prejudices. That's why it's important to know the background and beliefs
of a historian, since then the biases can be taken into account when we
read what they say.
One example of this is the history of the American Revolution. The
history books in America tell a different version of what happened than
is told in England. The objective facts are available for everyone, but
different viewpoints lead to different so-called objective histories.
Another example is the history of Buddhism that might be told by a
Buddhist, a Chinese communist, or a Jesuit assigned to manipulate the
truth with the goal of finding converts for his church.
> THE LAST CENTURY OF HORRORS INFLICTED ON THE TAMIL SHAIVITES OF SRI
> LANKA BY THE 'ARYAN' SINHALESE BUDDHISTS, AND THE CONNECTIONS OF THE
> THOUGHT-SYSTEM TO THE 'ESOTERISM' OF THE THIRD REICH ARE FACTS OF
> HISTORY, WHICH HAVE BEEN WELL TREATED BY OTHER SCHOLARS. I DO NOT
> NEED TO PROVE ANY OF THIS TO YOU. YOU MAY BE AN EXPERT ON WHAT HPB
> SAID, BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HER ROOT-
> RACES IDEAS AFTER THEY DIFFUSED INTO THE WORLD.
There are many horrors coming out of organized religion. Looking at
Northern Ireland, do we blame Protestant or Catholic Christianity for
the evil? In Palestine, do we blame Judaism or the Islamic faith for the
evil there? We can look to any evil situation in the world and find ways
that it is rationalized by the perpetrators. It's simply another
misfortune, simply additional harm that they do when they pick and
pervert something that originally is good and helpful.
When a crime is committed in the name of religion and you blame the
religion rather than the criminal, you would be blaming one victim for
the harm done to the other, meanwhile ignoring those truly responsible.
It's the same with a philosophy.
> READ THE MAHATMA'S STATEMENTS ON "GOD" IN THE LETTERS. WAS THIS
> CLEAR ATHEISM EVER WHOLLY REJECTED BY HPB ? SEARCH THE MAHATMA
> LETTERS ARCHIVESFOR "GOD". READ EVEN THE POSTS ON THIS LIST !
Here's another philosophical assertion. You can describe what you
believe and why you think it's the best way to think about things. That
would be fine. There can be a discussion. But when you assert a
particular religious stance as absolute truth and use it to judge
things, you start speaking as a dogmatic religious fundamentalist.
Consider the idea of a personal God. Look at how you put it. It's
dogmatic if asserted as an absolute truth that must be believed in. It's
an religious idea. It's fundamentalist if it must strictly adhered to
and not subject to individual interpretation.
> DON'T BLAME ME FOR THE BUUDHIST VOIDISTS'S VOIDISM. ASK MASEO ABE
> ABOUT ABSOLUTE NOTHINGNESS.
Having studied Buddhism, perhaps Steve Stubbs could explain to you the
value of the Buddhist concept of voidness, sunyata.
> I DID NOT INVENT THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WITH NO ULTIMATE MEANING OR
> VALUES USUALLY ARE MORAL RELATIVISTS.
This is an assertion. You are claiming that without certain beliefs like
you hold that people cannot have good moral values. I would disagree.
> WHY DOES A DISCUSSION OF ELEMENTS OF THEOSOPHICAL THOUGHT IN LATER
> ARYANSISM ANGER YOU SO ? I HAVE STATED THAT I DO NOT EQUATE HPB'S
> PERSONAL ARYANISM WITH THAT OF THE NAZIS. SHE ONLY STARTED SOMETHING
> WHICH TURNED UGLY AND DANGEROUS IN THE HANDS OF OTHERS.
When the thought is later abused by Aryanism, it's not proper to call it
theosophical thought anymore. It's no more proper than to call it
Christian thought, since there's elements of abused Christianity there
too. I see no purpose in attempting to claim that Theosophy has anything
to do with the later abuse except to attempt to discredit it with guilt
> HOW CAN YOU USE A STATEMENT MADE IN ONE CENTURY TO 'REFUTE' THE
> EXISTANCE OF AN HISTORICAL REALITY IN THE NEXT ?
A statement by Blavatsky would be representative of theosophical views.
How someone misuses it a century later, someone not a Theosophist nor
accepting the same views -- that is not a "historical reality" about
Theosophy. You cannot discredit Theosophy by showing bad people a
century later, especially when it can be shown that they don't believe
in the theosophical philosophy.
> I ALSO DON'T BLAME JESUS CHRIST FOR THE SPANISH INQUISITION, OR BLAME
> SIDDARTHA GAUTAMA BUDDHA FOR THE SINS OF THE SINHALESE BUDDHISTS.
That's good. But do you write up your history showing a "historic
relationship" between them, writing in a way that sounds like you're
discrediting Jesus and Buddha?
> YOU AND YOUR ALLIES HAVE CREATED A 'STRAW MAN' ENEMY OUT OF ME. I DO
> NOT THINK HPB WAS SOME KIND OF MONSTER. I HAVE NOT DRAGGED HER INTO
> THE THIRD REICH OR THE RECENT DECADES OF GLOBAL HORRORS INFLICTED BY
> ARYANIST RACISTS. THEY USED SOME OF 'HER' IDEAS, THAT IS ALL. WHY DO
> YOU INSIST THAT I AM ASCRIBING THEIR HATRED TO HER?
I think that people object when you don't make it clear that you're
talking about how religions and philosophies get corrupted and abused.
The problem arises when you are not sufficiently clear that you say
nothing bad about Theosophy or Blavatsky, but only of how, like any
other noble system of thought, they can be adapted to ill use by lowly
> I AM INTERESTED
> IN THE HISTORY OF IDEAS, ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS ONES THAT HARM PEOPLE.
Here you're starting to sound a bit biased. Perhaps this is
unintentionally. The theosophical philosophy does not contain dangerous
ideas that harm people. Later people may have abused ideas that can be
traced to Theosophy, but their abuse of the ideas is their own fault.
They could just as well have taken something from the Bible, Koran, or
> I HAVE NO PERSONAL VENDETTA AGAINST HPB. ALTRUISTIC THEOSOPHISTS HAVE
> NOT MURDERED THOUSANDS OF TAMILS, AND ARE NOT BLOWING UP TAMIL
> LIBRARIES AND DESTROYING TEMPLES AND CULTURAL TREASURES BY THE
> HUNDREDS. ALTRUISTIC TS MEMBERS ARE NOT THE NEO-NAZI ARYANISTS WHO
> HAVE SENT ME DEATH THREATS IN THE MAIL. I HAVE NO QUARREL WITH REAL
> ALTUISTS OF ANY KIND. IT IS THE KILLERS AND CULTURE-DESTROYERS THAT
> ARE TRYING TO DESTROY OR OPPRESS NON'ARYAN' PEOPLES THAT I AM
> CONCERNED ABOUT.
I hope you see that the killers and culture destroyers are those who are
out to gain power over others, seeking to bring them to submit to a
particular political, economic, or religious belief. Do you accept other
beliefs, or do you feel a need to destroy them and convert others to
your beliefs? If you practice tolerance, your faith is true. If you seek
to carry out this work of destruction, even if but an apparently
harmless way as with pen and paper, you put yourself in the ranks of the
bad people you're writing about.
> MY INTEREST IN THEOSOPHY IS IN PART BECAUSE IT IS
> STILL GENERATING THE ROOT-RACES IDEAS THAT SO READILY MUTATE
> INTO 'ARYANIST'GENOCIDAL CAMPAIGNS.
The terminology needs to be revised or more clearly explained. None of
us wants theosophical ideas to be fodder for hate groups. We all are
concerned that the theosophical philosophy remain pure and not be abused
or misrepresented by others.
> IF THEOSOPHISTS ARE NOT
> DOGMATISTS, WHY CAN'T THEY TREAT HPB/ THE MAHATMAS AS SOMETHING OTHER
> THAN INFALLIBLE?
Everyone and everything is fallible, from the Priest on the pulpit
claiming to speak for God, to the Bible, the Gita, the Secret Doctrine,
the nightly news on CNN, or anything that you or I say. Even so, the
theosophical philosophy needs to be studied in its entirely before one
can speak accurately of what it propounds. The fallibility of someone
does not discredit the subject on which they speak, only on the accuracy
of any single, particular statement that they may make, when taken out
> WHY CAN'T THEY ADMIT THAT THE ROOT RACES IDEA WAS
> WRONG TO BEGIN WITH ? ARE THE CHINESE OR AFRICANS REALLY DYING
> OUT ?
The idea is not wrong. It is misunderstood and not as you describe it.
We don't want racists twisting it to their purposes. We also don't want
you unintentionally twisting it to your purpose, perhaps because of your
strongly-held religious beliefs bringing you to see things a particular
way. The term is unfortunate because of bad connotations with the term
> DUE TO THE BEHAVIOR OF SOME PEOPLE ON THIS LIST, I WILL PROBABLY NOT
> BE POSTING HERE AGAIN.
Your philosophical statements are proper topics of discussion. But I
what I usually see is that people keep repeating what they believe
without changing their minds. Perhaps the same is true of the historic
discussions as well?
If your intent is to prevent the generation of Theosophy into ideas
harmful to others, we're all in agreement that this is a good thing to
do. If your intent is to obscure the original theosophical ideas by
representing Theosophy as being part of that harmfulness, we'd think
you're simply out to attack, missionary-style, attempting to find more
converts for your particular religion. When you write in a manner that
makes that seem the case, you will certainly find people objecting to
you. If that's not your intent, you might try changing how you write to
make it more clear you hold the original theosophical philosophy in
equal respect with others that people hold in good faith and use as
their legitimate spiritual practice.
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