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Re: changing teachings is it ethical?

Sep 20, 2004 01:07 PM
by kpauljohnson

Dear Perry,

Since you address this to "all" I'll step up to the plate. It is odd
to me that there seems to be vastly more outrage expressed at CWL's
doctrinal innovations than his fraudulent psychism or his crimes
against children. Virtually every spiritual movement experiences
doctrinal changes in the generation following its founding, and I
don't see anything inherently unethical in this. False claims to
spiritual authority, derived from false narratives of personal
experience made to legitimize those teachings, are profoundly
unethical. Abusing the trust of parents and children is even more so.
You ask:

> Form your point of view are any core teachings in theosophy?
I presume you use the non-capitalized form for a reason; on that basis
I'd say that the idea of gnosis is just about the only core teaching
of theosophia.

> If yes then what constitutes them to be such, what is the criteria
to make this judgment?
Universality; when we get to what gnosis tells us we immediately
descend into the realm of conflicting particulars.

> I personally feel a sense of duty to present the teachings the 
> Mahatma's as they gave them out,

but that changed during the course of HPB's career quite dramatically,
from John King through Serapis and Tuitit, thence to Dayananda and
eventually KH and M the content of whose teaching evolved over time
showing an increasing level of understanding of Tibetan Buddhism.

not because I believe them or
> think they are infallible but because to deliberately change the 
> teachings of an established tradition such as the Mahatma's belong 
> to,

I'd suggest that there is a seriously mistaken assumption contained in
that phrase. There were several different traditions combined in
HPB's teachings and derived from different teachers she knew. She
herself was a doctrinal innovator as much as CWL, with the important
distinction that she was synthesizing genuine material from authentic
traditions as opposed to spewing out whatever her imagination created
on the spur of the moment.

is to me the height of not only arrogance but complete disrespect 
> for that tradition.
> It is in this context I ask is it ethical to change these teachings?
Steiner went off on his tangent, Gurdjieff on his, Heindel on his,
Bailey on hers, CWL on his, Cayce on his, EC Prophet on hers, etc. 
I'd look to motive and intention to judge the ethical character of the
tangents rather than the simple fact that they were tangents. 
Conservative Theosophical dogma would have them all equally unethical
because they were tangents; but it would deny that HPB was tangential
in various ways to things that went before.
> I am trying to follow a rational here and see if it holds any 
> validity, and work through issues without playing games or side 
> tracking.
Hope my thoughts are of some help rather than side tracking or game
playing. I agree that CWL was an unmitigated disaster for the
Theosophical movement, but don't perceive the reasons for that in the
same light that you, Daniel, and others appear to.



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