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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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
>>>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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