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Re: Theos-World RE: Our discussion.

Nov 17, 2004 12:09 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Interesting observation. This mantra suggests to me a third state where 
word and meaning unite. Or perhaps, even that third state is by its 
nature, one of infinite possibilities. 

Regina St Clare wrote:

>Jerry, excellent discourse...equates my favorite sanskrit mantra..."word and meaning united, for right understanding..."and my seven language links of conscious communication.
>MOST relevant to explore.
>-- Jerry Hejka-Ekins <> wrote:
> Hello Dallas,
>In continuing our discussion on communicating Theosophy to this 
>post-modern generation, I now realize that I have been remiss by not 
>taking the time to properly frame and define terms "meditation" and 
>"post modernism." Consequently, we seem to to have been going back and 
>forth on points of Theosophical teaching, which we largely agree upon 
>already, and never getting to the issues we have been trying to discuss. 
>As you point out, "there are a number of definitions" of meditation. I 
>don't claim any special knowledge about it and don't propose to add to 
>the definitions that are already out there. Rather, I just want to 
>speak to what I have observed and learned over the years.
>>DTB Agreed - I would say that meditation is very deep thinking on an
>>abstract plane where there are no special conditions or positions other than
>>a seeking for universal and impersonal truth.
>"Thinking" is not the word that I would choose. Rather, meditation 
>itself is more of a process of observing, experiencing, realizing and 
>being in the present. There are, of course, little exercises that 
>meditators do that involve what we ordinarily call "thinking." For 
>instance there is something called "a loving kindness meditation" where 
>one "sends good thoughts" to people--particularly those whom we might 
>dislike for some reason. Such exercises are designed to "soften the 
>heart" so to speak. But even here, these are very focused exercises. 
>>>DTB: I think that PATANJALI
>>>offers some of the best definitions. In any case it is a use and
>>>development of our "Will." -- But you may disagree on this as there a
>>>number of definitions for both mediation and will. I would add that our
>>>moral intent (desire ?) gives a "tint" to the nature of meditation and the
>Perhaps, it does. However, sometimes definitions get in the way of 
>understanding. We can learn definitions and become confortable in 
>repeating them until they automatically arise and fill in a void with 
>verbage, yet nothing is really understood or communicated. There are a 
>lot of little sayings in Zen about the difference between looking at 
>something and seeing it. In post modernism, there is the distinction 
>between the word, its "official" denotation, and the meaning it has for 
>the person who utters it, which may be completely different to the 
>hearer's. But I will get into that more below. At this point, let's 
>just say that reading a book about meditation is not the same as the 
>practice of meditation. 
>>>DTB: I think he uses the word "concentration" and implies also the use of the
>>>will as a specific kind of desire of a high moral quality (dare I say :
>Concentration is the first step to meditation. One has to first learn 
>how to focus before they can meditate. For me, somedays are easier than 
>others. Sometimes I wakup with my mind full of things I have to do that 
>day. So, when I go in and sit for meditation, I find that my mind 
>wants to think about what I need to do. I call it, "my planning mind." 
> Sometimes it is very powerful, and I don't have a lot of success 
>meditating on those days. Other days, I'll sit and within a couple of 
>minutes I find myself getting into the proper zone. Perhaps you are 
>thinking of the word "contemplation" which is the third step according 
>to Patanjali. There are numberless levels of contemplation, and yes, 
>some of them can be more or less touch into the "Buddhic." 
>>>>DTB: There are many techniques advocated, and some work for some people and
>>>>others for others. The main point is that the individual EGO can control the
>In my case, I can sit in meditation in a Zen group, or a Tibetian 
>Buddhist group or a Theravada group and be quite comfortable in each. 
> The differences are superficial to me. Theosophical meditation 
>techniques are different, and I don't even believe that "meditation" is 
>the right word for them. After the first five minutes of the leader 
>talking on with "know that you are not your body" and "know that you are 
>not your mind" etc, I find myself wishing that he/she would just shut up 
>so that I can meditate. I refuse to participate in those kind of 
>sessions anymore. 
>>>DTB Agreed. No rites, rituals or skimming will get anyone very far.
>>>Study is a kind of meditation.
>Yes: in a manner of speaking study is a kind of meditation. However, I 
>would like to focus upon the meditation that developes the heart, so to 
>speak. Students of Theosophy seem to be already quite expert at 
>developing the head :-)
>You mentioned Patanjali is a good book for definitions. I would add 
>that I have found HPB's Voice of the Silence to be an excellent 
>lmeditation tool. But one must learn meditation first, before it is 
>useful in that way. As for a manuel that teaches meditation, I would 
>recommend "Path With Heart" by Jack Kornfield. It is a manuel on a form 
>called "Insight Meditation." However, I also recommend going to a day 
>long retreat or two for personal instruction from someone qualified to 
>teach the subject. 
>Regarding what I mean by the Post-Modern generation:
>To begin with, I don't mean to refer to any group of people who might be 
>defined as under such and such an age. What I have in mind is a 
>paradigm shift in how people view the world. This shift occurred 
>sometime in the 1960s, and is more or less held by about fifty percent 
>of today's population. While there are a lot of influential 
>philosophical works I could refer to, some of which go back to the 
>ninteenth century, but this is very dry material read mostly by graduate 
>and post graduate students, and not generally known or of interest to 
>the general to the population. So, they are not the source of the 
>paradigm shift, but their influence does continue to drive and bring it 
>into general awareness. A lot of this influencing is very subtile and 
>is done through the arts, movies and television, but few people have any 
>idea that it is going on. I remember once when taking a class in this 
>subject, a television series called "Deep Space Nine" came out. The 
>pilot was a perfect example for post-modern applications to script 
>writing and camera techniques. I did a presentation on it. Abnother 
>member of the class did a presentation on a series called "Northern 
>Exposure" which was really a great study in post-modern writing. 
>The shift itself was actually a social phenomon, the cause of which 
>stimmed from numerous things including the civil rights movement, 
>dissilusionment over the Vietnam war, doubts about the Kennedy's 
>assination etc. The effects of these and other events created a general 
>distrust of authority in general and government in particular. Since 
>then, its continuation has been propelled by a shift as to how subjects 
>are taught in the public school system--a change which occurred around 
>1968. The reason why I brought this up was because, that half of the 
>population which I call "post-modern" experience the modernist methods 
>of teaching Theosophy, which are used by the Theosophical Organizations, 
>to be very unappealing, and the method, and unexpressed agenda serves to 
>drive away people who would have otherwise been perspective students. 
>Below, I have described some of the changes which the modernist methods 
>have been insensitive to:
>1. Hierarchial Authority: The world war II and earlier generations had 
>a prevailing attidude in the home that the children were expected to 
>obey their mother. Mother was expected to obey her husband, and the 
>husband was expected to obey God. In today's society where less that 
>1/3 of the children live with both parents, about 48% of adults do not 
>regularly attend church, this system is no longer workable. Parents and 
>children have learned that authority is not infallible and should be 
>Application: In my experience, the quickest way to empty a room of 
>prospective students of Theosophy is to present Theosophy as a list of 
>tenets emenating from an authority. To say something like: "examine for 
>yourself" is really missing the point, which goes much deeper than 
>merely reminding people that they have the right to accept and reject 
>information as they choose. 
>2.Authoritative credibility and loyalty: You might remember when it 
>became public that President Eisenhauer lied about the U2 incident; 
>President Johnson lied about the Bay of Tonkin incident in the Vietnam 
>War. For completeness, I might add President Clinton's carefully 
>phrased satement, "did did not have sexual relations with that woman" 
>which was devised to hide prescisely what it revealed. Under Johnson 
>the phrase "credibility gap" came into our language (not to be confused 
>with Nixon's 18 minute gap). All of these incidents demonstrated that 
>what is said, though emanating from a respected public trustee is not 
>necessarily the truth. Except for those who operate from loyalty as the 
>highest ethic, one can no longer judge a person's veracity by who they 
>are, or who they claim they are, or by what institution they represent. 
>Application: Unless one is already pre-disposed to believe in such 
>things, any statements of Theosophy's veracity based upon the Mahatmas, 
>Initiates, miracles etc. No longer carries weight. Theosophical notions 
>must be tied into normal reality and have a function there. The rest 
>become fodder for adaption into computer games.
>3. The Signifier and the Signified: A lot of research and discussion 
>have been done on this over the years, and the results of which has been 
>filtering more and more into the general population. Part of this came 
>from the pioneering work of Charles Peirce (a friend of Ralph Waldo 
>Emerson and William James) who defined the relationship between signs 
>and meanings, with a new science called "semiotics." A written word is 
>a sign, or a signifier of something, or of many things. So are things 
>like traffic signals, happy faces, mathematical equations etc. A later 
>stage to this came in the 1970s when it was shown that in written 
>communication, there is a slippage of meaning between the signifier (the 
>word) and the signified (its intended meaning). A text can be 
>understood upon an unspecified number of different levels, many of 
> which can be contradictory to each other, and very different from the 
>apparent intention of the writer. In the 1980's it was further shown 
>that there is a gap between the intentions of the author and the text, 
>and therefore the intentions of the author can never be precisely 
>known--not even to the author! 
>Application: While all of this has had profound implications in 
>academia, institutions of public administration, how government 
>institutions are organized,our legal system, etc. Public implications 
>for these changes is still in a state of evolution. However, one of the 
>more obvious implications that applies to Theosophy is that the modern 
>reader of a hundred-year-old text is living by a very different set of 
>signifiers than the author had when writing it. The slippage of meaning 
>is far more than one suspects. Changes in word meanings is only one 
>small aspect of this. There are also cultural changes that throw things 
>into a different light. In HPB's case, she discusses philosophies, 
>sciences and religions from another time and from cultures very 
>different than ours. It would have been difficult enough to have been 
>familiar with all of the cultures of her time. Now, even those 
>references have changed. 
>Well, that is probably more than enough for now. There are volumes of 
>books on these and other related subjects, which would take another book 
>just to summerize. Let's see if there is any interest in exploring 
>these ideas before I raise any others. 
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