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Fwd: Needing to be the absolute center of the universe

Nov 21, 2002 06:00 AM
by kpauljohnson

--- In 21stCenturyLight@y..., "kpauljohnson" <kpauljohnson@y...> 
Good morning,

Last Saturday I attended the second annual reunion of descendants of 
John Johnson of Bertie County, NC who died in 1861. A week before 
the reunion I went to the State Archives in Raleigh to do research on 
the family's origins; the "brick wall" of our knowledge is John's 
parents Littleton and Nancy. We knew of the extremely prominent 
Johnston family of 18th century Bertie, which included a colonial 
governor, a Clerk of Court, a founder of the local Masonic lodge, and 
other notables, and owned more than 3500 acres. But they left the 
county before the time of our earliest confirmed Johnson ancestors, 
whose names sometimes include the t in 19th century records. I 
solved the mystery the week before the reunion, but in a way that 
leaves a kinda empty feeling-- which relates to the need to see 
oneself as central rather than peripheral.

What I found was a 1767 deed from Isaiah Johnson of Dobbs County to 
his son John in Bertie, giving him 200 acres on the south side of 
Will's Quarter Swamp for the price of one shilling. This is 
precisely the area where Littleton and descendants owned property, 
and by various evidence I've established that Isaiah and John are 
progenitors of our line. But well before the revolution Isaiah, wife 
Mary, and sons Isaiah Jr. and Elijah had moved on 80 miles to the 
southwest, where they established a family prominent enough to have 
an entire local history book written about them in Kinston. All our 
Bertie Johnsons are descended from a single left behind son 
(youngest? black sheep?) of a family central to the history of 
another county. And they were definitely poor Johnsons in the era of 
rich Johnstons. The sense of deflation this discovery caused had to 
do with the fact that I've been studying the history of Bertie County 
for almost two years now, and when the big breakthrough comes it 
shows we have nothing to do with the prominent colonial Johnstons of 
Bertie and instead are a forgotten branch of a Kinston area family. 
(Have made email contact with Isaiah's descendants, none of whom even 
knew he came from Bertie County.)

As this was happening I was finishing a wonderful new book called 
Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes by 
Steve Olson. It presents all the recent exciting advances in 
genetics as applied to human history (or prehistory) which show that 
we are all descended from a couple who lived in Africa 100-200 
thousand years ago, that race is an illusion, that humans all over 
the world are very closely related. It also reports some areas of 
anti-scientific resistance to such research; e.g. Native American 
tribes who submit to genetic testing for medical purposes only after 
demanding that the results not be used to study their history. Why? 
Because their legends tell them that they originated in the lands 
they now inhabit, and if science traces them back to Africa like all 
the rest of us, that is Western Imperialistic Science destroying the 
heritage of Native People. Worse, because on a much larger scale, 
China is totally resistant to the notion that the Han Chinese 
originated anywhere other than China. Even though genetic research 
has definitely shown otherwise, it is still not politically correct 
in China to question the "accepted fact" that Chinese have always 
been Chinese.

I see in this behavior, and in my disappointment at finding myself on 
the periphery rather than at the center of Bertie County history, a 
similar dynamic to what we see with followers of spiritual traditions 
who cannot stand to see them contextualized historically. Just as 
the Chinese want to see China at the center of the universe, the 
Native Americans want to see their individual tribe at the center of 
the universe, I want my family to be at the center of Bertie County 
history, religious disciples must place their movement founder (and 
by extension themselves) at the absolute center of the universe. 
Thus, Theosophy isn't a nineteenth century mixture of Western 
esotericism with elements from Indic traditions; it's the eternal 
truth preserved for millennia secretly hidden from the profane until 
the time came for the Messenger of the Masters to reveal a portion of 
it. And so on with whatever movement one adheres to. It must be at 
the center of the universe, and anyone who places it on the periphery 
is the enemy. Its centrality is absolute and objective, not relative 
and subjective.

Which brings to mind, in closing, a recent post by Adelasie about 
Brigitte, saying in essence that she can only understand her as The 
Enemy of Truth, the Opposing Force-- not a specific individual with 
specific motives for specific behavior, but rather an agent of an 
impersonal force of opposition to eternal truth. This of course 
places Adelasie's version of truth at the center of the universe, and 
Brigitte's attacks on it as direct attempts to undermine central, 
universal truths. But I would propose a relative, rather than 
absolute, approach to such questions. The Fourth Way teachings talk 
about a Law of Three. Affirming, Denying and Reconciling, they're 
called. Any time you strongly affirm something, you evoke a force 
that will deny it-- and vice versa. Any objective you pursue calls 
into play obstacles to overcome. This is called Second Force. The 
only way to go beyond this opposition is by calling into play a 
third, reconciling force by which we can rise above the seeming 
opposition. Therefore, Theosophists should see Brigitte's attacks as 
a manifestation of second force, and understand that their attacks on 
her look like exactly the same thing from the opposite POV. 
Theosophists try to affirm things about HPB and her teachings that 
she denies. She tries to affirm things about her that they deny. No 
one is at the center of *the* universe; everyone is the center of 
*an* individual universe.

Where does Third Force come into this picture? Damdifino exactly, 
but a part of it is the "yes, and..." approach. Rather than see 
opposition to one's ideas as absolute, see it as relative. As 
something that can refine one's understanding, and redefine it, 
rather than as something that will destroy it and must therefore be 
opposed with all one's might.

These are my thoughts upon coming back to theos-talk after a year's 
absence, and seeing the same tug-of-war as before.

--- End forwarded message ---

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