Re: Concerning the quote about THEORETICAL QUESTIONS, etc.
Aug 07, 2008 02:02 PM
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "danielhcaldwell"
With several dealines gnawing at me I can only respond to your post
briefly. I am sorry to hear about you moether's passing. Please accept
my deep sympathy.
In order to reply I need to include Subba Row's quote in full:
"Let us then each take the solution that best suits our mental and
spiritual constitution, and let us leave our neighbours an equal
freedom of choice; let us never hesitate to state and defend our own
views and oppose those other views that we think wrong, but let us do
all this as we would defend our own and oppose our opponent´s game at
chess, with no more feeling against our opponents than we have against
an adversary at the noble game.
Above all let us remember that in this present life, the high
theoretical questions of Personal, Impersonal, and No-God, are of less
concern to us than our own everyday life about the right conduct of
which no similar difficulties exist."
(Subba Row, T., Esoteric Writings, Theosophical Publishing House,
Madras, 1931, p.457.)
My understanding of the above quote is that he was addressing TS
members and students of Theosophy. And remember that both he and HPB
exchanged highly energetic views in "The Theosophist" at that time on
the human constitution and human principles. I don't think SR is
necesarily denying the value of theoretical questions and questioning.
Perhaps is he drawing attention to the fact that students of Theosophy
should also recognise what is really essential: how one lives his or
her life. Did not HPB write that the essence of Theosophy is Altruism?
True, she also wrote thousands of pages of Theosophical (and
theoretical) teachings, but why would she say that the very core of it
is Altruism - a deep, sustained, selfless, life-long concern and
dedication for others?
Take the Buddha's own example according to the Majjhima Nikaya. When
confronted with the direct questions of the wanderer Vachagotta about
the existence or non existence of a permanent self in man, the
Tathagata remained silent. According to the tradition, the Buddha
explained to Ananda why he remained silent. If he had said 'yes' "that
would be siding with the recluses and Brahmins who are eternalists".
If he had said 'no', he "would be siding with those recluses and
Brahmins who are annihilationists.
In the same text the following dialogue is mentioned. Vacchagotta
asks: "But has Gotama any theory of his own?" The Buddha says: "The
Tathagata, O Vaccha, is free from all theories. But this, Vaccha, does
the Tathagata know - the nature of form, and how form arises and how
form perishes. ... Therefore the Tathagata has attained deliverance
and is free from attachment, inasmuch as all imaginings, or
agitations, or false notions, concerning an Ego or anything pertaining
to an Ego, have perished, have faded away, have ceased, have been
given up and relinquished.
(Majjhima Nikaya, I, p. 486 (Dis. 72) Trans. by Warren - "Buddhism in
Translations: p. 125 - quoted from "The Central Philosophy in Buddhism
- A Study of the Madhyamika System" by T. R. V. Murti, Unwin
Paperbacks, London, 1987, p. 45)
Perhaps there is a need to realize, particularly among students of
Theosophy, that one should hold ones' opinions lightly. After all, the
"mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs
the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our
illusions. Seek O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul."
Sorry for the rambling. I can now hear the deadlines barking at me.
> Good to know that you are still reading postings on Theos-Talk!
> There are a number of your comments and observations that I would
> like to respond to. To do justice to the issues you raise I would
> have to write at least several pages on each point and unfortunately,
> I do not have time today or in the immediate future to spend the
> hours it would take to adequately comment on what you have said.
> But I will take a "jab" at addressing one point in your posting.
> You give a quote of which I give only one extract:
> "Above all let us remember that in this present life, the HIGH
> THEORETICAL QUESTIONS of Personal, Impersonal, and No-God, are of less
> concern to us than OUR OWN EVERYDAY LIFE ABOUT THE RIGHT CONDUCT of
> which no similar difficulties exist." Caps added.
> The writer may be trying to get several points across. Maybe not.
> But I will focus on a point that comes to my mind upon reading this
> I can understand quite well the view that concerning such THEORETICAL
> QUESTIONS the average person is simply not in a good position to know
> the real truth of whether "God" is personal or impersonal or perhaps
> whether there is any kind of God??period.
> Yes, such issues can and indeed may take our focus off EVERYDAY LIFE
> and actually living life.
> For example, I have a friend whom I have known for 26 years as of
> 2008. All this time his basic view has been that of a materialist
> and atheist. He is totally convinced that there is ONLY a physical
> world. Humans do not have some sort of soul or spirit that is non-
> physical or superphysical or however one might word it. He tells me
> that each person is simply a biological entity who is born and when
> that physical entity dies there is no survival of personality or of
> consciousness or of soul. When the physical body and brain dies,
> whatever we consider to be our personality, our consciousness dies
> (ceases to exist) just as the physical body just dies and returns one
> way or the other to the environment from which it came.
> He doesn't believe in any kind of God whether it is personal or
> impersonal or however you might describe it. He thinks what HPB
> writes about the Absolute is just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. --- mere
> words. But all theologians of ALL religions and cults write just
> mumbo-jumbo, he would add!
> Now my friend is a nice guy, friendly, sociable. He loves his wife,
> his son. He's kindhearted, a giving person. He tries to be honest,
> etc. etc. He's doesn't claim to be perfect or a saint. He is just a
> good guy trying to live EVERY MINUTE OF HIS LIFE.
> He simply doesn't believe that all these "THEORETICAL QUESTIONS"
> of "god", life after death , Masters, auras, the paranormal in
> general, even religion in general, really mean anything and in fact
> from his perspective none of it is REAL or TRUE. Empty beliefs.
> Now I haven't asked him about this today but I believe he probably
> would say yes the focus should be on:
> OUR OWN EVERYDAY LIFE and RIGHT CONDUCT.
> My friend I think tries to live everyday life to the fullest and he
> certainly tries to follow the path of RIGHT CONDUCT.
> So I ask you: what is there found in the writings of either C.W.
> Leadbeater or in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky which doesn't go in
> the category of THEORETICAL QUESTIONS?????? Yes, they may teach some
> ethical precepts. But other than that, what is not in the realm of
> the debatable, in the category of theoretical questions?
> I dare say that there is NOT one theosophical or occult teachings in
> either Leadbeater or Blavatsky's writings that is not debateable. I
> would think that there are a wide variety of views on any of these
> Theosophical teachings. And I'm not just talking about the "views"
> of the limited audience of Theosophical students but the much much
> wider audience of what we might call the "public marketplace of
> ideas" that is out there on the world stage.
> What I'm attempting to say is:
> what is not a THEORETICAL QUESTION concerning any of these
> Theosophical teachings?
> Does it really matter whether one believes in the Masters or in life
> after death or in planes or ?? ???
> To make it more personable, let us suppose that you Pedro discovered
> tomorrow that all your views and beliefs about reality were just
> wrong and false.
> Would that really change how you LIVE THIS life? Would you become a
> different person or act somehow differently if all your beliefs were
> total nonsense?
> Would you be less kind or generous or giving towards your family,
> your friends, your community, etc.?
> I'm not trying to put you on the spot but I am in effect asking every
> reader of this posting (all 4 of them!) to ask yourself these
> questions?. at least in the privacy of your own thoughts??
> Take another example?..
> My mother who recently died lived a long life. She actually lived
> more than twice as long as my older sister.
> Now what did my mother believe about the ultimate meaning and purpose
> of life?
> Well I will say she believed in what I would call a version
> of "orthodox Christianity".
> That was her belief system and whatever she believed she was a
> wonderful loving person. Sorry. I'm prejudiced.
> Now over the years it is true that I sometimes talked to her about
> Blavatsky and Theosophy but never in any depth at all. She only knew
> I was intrigued with that strange Russian lady!!
> I remember just a few months before she died, when I was visiting her
> in an adult care home, she all of a sudden asked me: "What do you
> think happens after death?" "What do you think happened to my sister
> who had already died?"
> Well, I was sorta taken aback by these questions. Paused and
> wondered to myself what I should say. I finally said something
> like: "Well, mother, what do you think happens?"
> I have no idea to this very day what I should have said to her.
> Reflecting upon this since then, I realized that we (or at least I)
> may really KNOW next to nothing about any of these THEORETICAL
> QUESTIONS. We have beliefs, sometimes strong beliefs, maybe well
> thought out "answers," but how many of us really KNOW and does it
> really matter what we believe in such matters and if it does matter,
> how?? why??
> Take another example from my own life.
> I have a friend who is a mystic and once he was in Eckankar. He
> would get out of his body and see the various Eck Masters, go to the
> various Eck temples on the inner planes, and would even see while
> wide awake the Eck Master Rebazar Tarz in his own living room!
> Pretty real and vivid experiences yet he no longer believes those
> experiences about the Eck Masters were really real --- having read,
> for example, David Lane's critical book on Eckankar.
> See the online edition of Lane's book at:
> To this day my friend does NOT deny that he had these very "real"
> experiences even while wide awake but his interpretation of some of
> them is quite different than what it was back then!!!!!
> So when people have experiences with the dead or near death
> experiences or out of body experiences, encounters with Masters or
> angels, or WITH GOD, etc. no doubt they probably have such
> experiences but how do you explain the experience? What really is
> going on in each of these experiences?
> Aren't we once again confronted here with those THEORETICAL QUESTIONS
> from the quote you gave?
> Now my mystic friend is still convinced that there are dimensions
> beyond the physical, that our "consciousness" survives the death of
> the physical body, based primarily upon what he has experienced
> when "out of the body", etc.
> But he is not so sure that those Eckankar Masters really exist!!
> And my other friend, the highly skeptical materialist and atheist,
> thinks my mystic friend is simply a victim of hallucinations
> generated in the brain!
> Again we come up against THEORETICAL QUESTIONS.
> But both of them are good people, kind hearted, etc. etc. They try
> to help other people, etc. etc.
> So concerning OUR OWN EVERYDAY LIFE and even when we consider RIGHT
> CONDUCT (whatever that may be referring to), does it really matter
> what they or we believe or disbelieve or think they or we know?
> I have pondered a great deal about this.
> But to end this rather long rambling posting, I will mention that I
> have another friend who has no interest whatsoever in believing or
> disbelieving any of this stuff we have been discussing. And he is
> happy, etc.etc. Also a nice guy but just has no interest in anything
> mystical or paranormal or religious. But he also would at the same
> time have no interest either in embracing materialism or atheism like
> my one friend does. This third friend is interested in sports,
> movies, rock music, etc. and is totally UNAWARE that there are
> THEORETICAL QUESTIONS!!!! He accepts life the way it is and lives it
> to his fullest ---as far as I can tell! Again he is kind, loves
> animals, is good to his family and friends, helps in the community,
> has helped the homeless, gives to the community food bank, etc..
> So in the end --- does it really matter what beliefs or disbeliefs we
> have about life, death, etc.? Cannot all of "this" be relegated to
> the realm of THEORETICAL QUESTIONS???
> Food for thought?.
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