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a fresh approach from the Source

Nov 19, 2002 04:54 PM
by Eldon B Tucker

Bhakti Ananda Goswami:

Your latest message was a good change of pace from the less serious and
hastily written postings I've seen come flying by on the list. You've
written a good description of what you think and how you see Theosophy
-- at least Part I of that description.

You suggest that it's best to go to the source rather than speculate
from the outside. Your statement refers to people going to original
works of the great religions and philosophies of the world. Within
Theosophy, that is frequently mentioned in another context. Theosophical
students are encouraged to read the source writings of Theosophy,
especially those of Blavatsky's. This is so they can learn exactly what
she had said, rather than second-hand opinion of later writers that may
not represent things the same way. Even if one decides to disagree with
Blavatsky, at least one knows what she had actually said.

In a bigger sense, the effort with Theosophy is doing the same thing. It
attempts to get to the source of Truth rather than speculate from the
outside. It is an attempt at original insight into the way things are,
drawing upon various religions and philosophies by way of illustration.
It is an original attempt at a formulation of the basic reality of life
that is not merely an official offshoot or branch of some particular
already existing religion or belief system. It does not claim to be
second hand truth, borrowed from Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity,
Platonism, or anything already established belief system that we know
of. Being a fresh formulation, it is direct to the source rather than a
second-hand reformulation of something else. This is not "direct from
God" in the form of a Prophet or Messiah, but rather from those having a
good understanding of life and seeing a need for the effort.

The theosophical student does not approach the Mahatma Letters and
Blavatsky's writings as "the highest authoritative teaching of the only
true philosophy on earth." Perhaps some may. I hope not too many do so.
It's not the intended approach. There is no claim to being an exclusive
approach, a path that everyone must follow. The materials are useful as
a springboard for deeper thought and may contain some brilliant gems of
truth, but the highest value comes from reading between the lines, from
the intuitive insights that arise from the study. These highest truths
are not the precise ideas spelled out in black-and-white on the printed
page, lofty as some of them may be.

Theosophy does not attempt to establish a church. There is not a
religious hierarchy. There is no one to give orders and no spelled out
spiritual practice that all must follow in order to be a Theosophist.
There are some general principles that one can live one's life by, but
there is not a formal sent of disciplines that one must follow in order
to undertake this particular path. In the absence of established
religious authority, it is easy for dabblers to set themselves up as
experts and claim more knowledge than they have. The same is true with
any popular writer selling books on religion, philosophy, mental health,
politics, and other topics that may draw a following. Wherever there is
freedom of thought, there will be people promoting ill-informed and
worthless schemes alongside those of value. Experts can offer their
opinions, but it's up to the intelligence and common sense of the reader
to pick out the best materials.

A set of ideas can be used for the good or the bad. In order for
Theosophy to be a force for good in the world, it needs to be a living
tradition and not simply a set of ideas found on old books on library
shelves. The living tradition is of people who understand it,
communicate it, benefit from it, and are able to use it to noble
purpose. That is, as long as there are people that continued to practice
the theosophical dharma, it continues as a source of light in the world.
It is these people who "interpret" it or explain what it says and means
so that the doctrines are not misunderstood.

There may also be groups of individuals intend on harmful purposes. They
may perpetuate what might be considered dark or possibly even evil
dharmas. They may borrow ideas from different religions and
philosophies, perhaps even theosophical books, and use them to their own
purposes. They, obviously, give their own interpretations as to what the
books mean. 

When someone is searching for the Path and looks into Theosophy, they
are not abandoning authentic ancient religious and philosophical
sources. The authority is not in the books or public doctrines of
established religions. It is in the wisdom of advanced individuals who
may have little if any recognition in their church or community,
individuals sometimes obvious for their saintliness but other times
obscure, unseen, blending in, and unnoticed. The wisdom of the ages is
in the Mysteries, which may include individuals in any outer tradition.
We might speculate as to who these people are, how they know each other,
how they pass on their knowledge, and where they are. They represent the
living tradition of humanity's inner knowledge.

You may find bits of different religions in Blavatsky's writings,
perhaps not always expressed exactly as a religion would view them, and
when you find errors, difficult to understand statements, or the
appearance of a collage of ideas that isn't fully worked out.
Considering what we're looking at, I'd expect this. If we are looking at
the original giving birth to an entirely new religious philosophy,
seeing it take shape at its point of inception, we'd see such things. If
the basic truths of the universe were being freshly reformulated for a
new era in the West, there would be a bit of effort to find words,
terms, ideas to express it. There would be bugs to work out. The effort
may not start as a finished product. Going from a primal understanding,
perhaps out of deep insight as trained in the Mysteries, Blavatsky might
not begin with a polished system of thought. It would take later
generations, including our own, to continue perfecting it into something
of genuine value in the world.

The esoteric tradition is found in an inner path that one takes. This
may come from the support of an established religion, but religious
authority is not required. The rules of conduct one follows are ethical,
moral, and arise from an inner sense of rightness. They come from
insight into life and not due to an external list of commandments from
an established religion. One is good because one is awakened enough to
realize that is part of the nature of life. One is not good because one
is told to be good by someone with power over one.

Discipline comes from a genuine love of what one is doing and not from a
bitterly-accepted punishing trial that is imposed upon one. There is not
a notion of surrender to something outside one, some higher power in
church or heaven ordering one to be a certain way or do a certain deed.
There rather is self-forgetfulness as one becomes at-one with one's
situation in life. As the notion of a separate self disappears, so does
the notion of an external authority and notion of another than one is
interacting with. There is just what one is doing and a sense of being
creatively absorbed in it.

The first step in a study of Theosophy is to wonder what it is. What is
Theosophy? For what purpose does the Theosophical Society exist? What is
one studying and how is it useful in everyday life? What does it mean
and how does one seek deeper knowledge of it? These basic questions,
sincerely asked, are the first step on taking a genuine path towards the
spiritual. It's possible and all too easy to become distracted and lose
one's way on that path. But the path is there and one can tread it. And
theosophical students often feel inclined to clear out some of the
underbrush to make that path easier to tread by those that follow.

-- Eldon Tucker

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