I’ve been trying to get evolution recently. That is: I’ve been trying to see whether I feel that Amit Goswami, in his book Creative Evolution, solves things for me. I’ve studied a bit of quantum mechanics as a chemistry teacher, and am perhaps a bit more equipped than most to see whether Goswami stays true to his roots as a theoretical physicist. The answer is, unfortunately, that to a very real extent he isn’t. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Theosophy’
The other day I visited David Reigle’s excellent web site of the Eastern Tradition Research Institute and found again his paper on “The Centennial Cycle.” In this paper he discusses the origin of the policy by the Brotherhood of Mahatmas of enlightening the “western barbarians” on a centennial basis. Here I read that the very last of the Druid mystery schools in Europe was according to H.P.B. at Bibracte in Burgundy, France.
Bibracte was the capital of the Celtic tribe the Aedui and around 50 B.C.E. Caesar conquered this important Celtic settlement during his Gallic campaigns. During the reign of Augustus its inhabitants left the place for the newly founded Augustodonum (Augustus-city, now Autun) 14 miles east and nobody else replaced them, leaving the site pristine for archeologists to uncover 1900 years later.
Apparently after this loss the Brotherhood instituted its policy of sending every last quarter of a century somebody to instruct the West in the Wisdom-Religion, with H.P.B. being the one for the 19th century cycle. (more…)
The policy of this blog is to not have too many posts that consist of merely dropping a link. I’m going to break that policy today because I’ve picked up where the deceased Ton den Hartog left off: put the Blavatsky Collected Writings on my website, with the permission of the Wheaton Headquarters obviously.
So without further ado: The H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings
This small essay is an initial attempt to bring to language the “lived, first-personal, experiential characteristics” of the 7 Theosophical principles of our being based on the idea that these are “subjective, introspectivley available features.” (1)
One prerequisite for doing so is to resist the use of any metaphorical or explanatory concepts, which is the major line of contention between metaphysics and descriptive psychology in the spirit of phenomenology. The use of third-person examples is acceptable as long as they can be empathetically entered and made into hypothetical first-person experiences.
Below are the names of the principles in both English and Sanskrit followed by descriptions and examples.
I) Physical (Rupa): our experience of our physical body as a physical body will show in experiences like bumping into something, when you feel the weight and pure physicality of the body, when you realize it is a physical thing among other physical things and is subject to the laws of physical causality.
II) Vital principle (Prana): our experience of our vitality, or lack thereof, will show itself in the way the physical body comes along when we go about our business. Is it nimble, fresh, rested, dynamic, or limp, fatigued and sluggish? The same would apply to our emotional and mental bodies too, or, more accurately, it is the integrated complex of our physical-emotional-mental bodies that we experience as vital or not.
III) Etheric Double (Linga sharira): our experience of the prototypical double of our physical body would be accessible when we would have an unambiguous experience of a phantom limb in the case we lost a physical part of our body, but still experience its (phantom) reality.
IV) Lower Mental Body (Kama Rupa): our experience of our lower mental-desire body is maybe most accessible for reflection in the moment when a physical intention arises and is not yet fulfilled. It’s then that we can feel explicitly the pull of a lower, projected mental-emotional body image towards its physical object for fulfillment. For example, Janet feels the temptation to keep the excessive change she received in order to pay her rent.
V) Upper Mental Body (Manas): our experience of our higher mental-desire body is maybe most accessible for reflection in the moment when a spiritual intention arises and is not yet fulfilled. It’s then that we can feel explicitly the pull of a higher, projected mental-emotional body image towards its spiritual object for fulfillment. Janet feels the obligation to return the excessive change she received for the sake of honesty and justice.
VI) The Spiritual Soul (Budhi): our experience of our higher spiritual being is maybe most accessible for reflection when conscience announces itself as a still voice calling us to self-transcendentally take care of situations of moral ambiguity when we find ourselves in unprecedented limit-situations and all our Manasic maxims and principles fail to lead us to a right decision. This might then lead to a new caring perceptive intuition of a situation and the appropriate actions implied. Janet, torn between principled obligation and ego-centered temptation, has–triggered by her call of conscience–a new intuition of the situation as involving not just herself and the cashier, but also the wider network of relations involved that are directly or indirectly affected by her decision, and therefore resolves, unambiguously, to return the excess change. Mary has had such insights already and appropriated them into her being and therefore returned the excessive change spontaneously, virtuously, without second thoughts.
VII) The Divine Self (Atma): our experience of our divine self is maybe most accessible for reflection just at the beginning and end of an experience when, first, our whole being is integrally (physical, vital, emotional, mental, intuitive, etc.) and self-transcendentally involved in a meditative action of intense spiritual significance and then the grace of consciousness-being-bliss overcomes us, uninvited, all-encompassing and for a timeless moment. This might happen in different settings. To me it happened a few times during work and while hiking in the mountains. Because of the overwhelming, intense and complete nature of the experience it will be probably quite impossible for consciousness to find the attitude and space to reflect upon itself during the height of it. But because of its intensity it will linger or sets itself in memory and then reflection can set in.
The above is an initial experiential grounding of the 7 Theosophical principles in reflective experience and made ready for a future phenomenology of Theosophy, or maybe better-stated–and paraphrasing Kant–a phenomenological prolegomena for any future Theosophy. Phenomena to be explored would be the interconnected nature of our physical-vital-emotional-mental experiences and bring out its essential structures and dynamics.
(1). John J. Drummond ”Moral phenomenology and moral intentionality” in Phenomenology and Cognitive Science (2008): 7:35-49. The examples of Janet and Mary were taken from this article, though slightly adapted to the article. Because the article is of a technical philosophical nature I can only recommend it to those with some philosophical training. For a more accessible text see “Phenomenology of Practice” by Max van Manen in Phenomenology & Practice (2007) 1: 11-30.
In a previous comment Chris asked about the theosophical model of the human constitution, which proposes the existence of a Higher and a lower self, and the statement by Krishnamurti that such a separation is “an idea, not a fact”.
In this kind of subjects, the focus of Krishnamurti and Theosophy differs—but only the focus, not the essential teaching, as I’m going to illustrate below. (more…)
In the last issue of The Theosophist ( May 2008 ) there is an article of mine. In it I examine this topic from a psychological point of view, as presented by J. Krishnamurti, and an Occultist approach according to the writings of some theosophical leaders.
My thesis is that these two approaches are complementary. What do you think?
This is one of Krishnamurti’s statements purported to be against Theosophy, because the Theosophical literature frequently speaks about “the Path”. But the seemingly clash between concepts, I believe, is due to an imperfect understanding of both Krishnamurti’s and Theosophical teachings. (more…)
This post is intended to be an extended philosophical meditation/discussion on the possibility of grounding Theosophy in non-theoretical, non-metaphysical experiential terms.
The question started as comment no. 8 in the post “sort of perplexing” by Latebrake. I invite my first and only discussion partner Pablo to re-submit his comment, then I’ll do mine, etc. till we are updated.
Welcome to the first part of a series of courses that will be hosted here. This is Part I of Essentials of Theosophy – Vol. I – The Sevenfold Constitution. Part 1 is an overview of all seven principles by Pablo Sender.
Note that this is an enhanced podcast with links embedded into the file at the bottom of the images for each chapter. Enjoy!
*We are now included in the iTunes Music Store! If you use iTunes, click here and iTunes will open and you can download the program to listen to on your computer or portable music player.
Here is our first video! It is rough, but it is a start.
I’m reading one of the classics in theosophical literature, from the former leader of the Pasadena TS (which is what I’ll call it for convenience, it’s headquarters have moved about a lot in the past century): ‘Messages to Conventions: and other writings on the politics, work and purposes of the T.S.‘, G. de Purucker (See here for meanings of theosophical abbreviations).
In one of the lectures G. de Purucker says the following – which I’ve heard echoed through theosophical debates a lot as well:
(p. 19) the most ‘practical’ thing … is for us theosophists to concentrate on disseminating Theosophy as it was brought to us by H.P.B. from the Masters.
Well, that rubs me the wrong way on several levels. First of all – theosophy isn’t just the teachings of H.P. Blavatsky (HPB). Theosophy includes the study of the world religions as well. Second – is study really the only way to be practical about theosophy? This ties in with something else de Purucker says on the same page:
in concentrating our thoughts and our minds on the heart of our Theosophical teachings: in living them, in teaching them, in giving them to the world, so that we may change men’s minds and hearts. (italics in original)
I’m not sure I agree that the hearts and minds of people can be changed merely through teachings. I’m not saying the Blavatsky teachings aren’t important. In fact I do feel that one of the implicit duties of the TS is to keep a knowledge of her work alive and to keep her teachings accessible. It does that quite well by publishing books and having study classes. Other theosophical organizations have taken on the work of publishing her work online.
Sure – but do the hearts and minds of people really get affected by book-learning? Don’t practical initiatives not work better in that area? Certainly in most countries, where the divide between rich and poor is larger than in my own (The Netherlands), the poor are hardly going to be impressed by teachings about inner unity if it’s a struggle each day to find a decent place to sleep.
I could go on – I will stick quite simply to saying that there is a TOS for a reason. The Theosophical Order of Service does work all over the world for poor people – for instance to get them food on holidays, help in case of disasters like the Tsunami or Katrina and also organize schooling for unwed mothers and their children. All that without asking people for their opinion on religion and without forcing a theosophical point of view on them.
Each individual has to decide for themselves where the weight of their theosophical work needs to be. It takes all kinds. We need theosophical scholars, but the world also needs people who are willing to get dirty. For myself I have not yet decided where the center of my activity needs to be. I do know that Blavatsky herself gave Annie Besant of her limited monetary supplies in support of Besant’s social work in London. So G. de Purucker doesn’t seem all that Blavatsky based to me in his emphasis on ‘teachings’.
In general: I feel a healthy lifestyle includes volunteer work. Certainly for people who’s profession or personal life generally doesn’t have a reach out aspect. I’m going to protest at the Chinese Ambassy in The Hague later today (sunday the 16th of March) – in the rain. Protesting against things is generally not my thing, but what goes on in Tibet does have my heart. Also, with the Olympics coming up, this is a good time to remind the Chinese government of the importance of respecting human rights.
I guess it comes back to balance. Or in Buddhist terms: the middle path.