Naperville, January 2014

Happy new year. Hope you are all doing well.

As of January 2014 the main activities of the Alpheus web site will be conducted on the WordPress blog section.

The opening pages and posts are:

Welcome to the updated Alpheus
Introduction to the changed format and content of Alpheus.

About Alpheus (Amended)
Revised statement about its intentions.

The Jaynesian Paradigm and Beyond (Draft)
First article/blog taking Julian Jaynes’ definition of consciousness as an entry point into a reconsideration of esoteric philosophy and the teachings of Krishnamurti.

Entertaining, Type-II Error-prone, Axiomatic Skepticism: An Incomplete Form of Systemic Doubt. A justification of conspiracy theory based on evolutionary psychology by way of criticizing a problematic skeptical position. (Released earlier on the ‘old’ Alpheus).

Please sign up on the blog to keep informed about new material. I will for a while send updates through Yahoo groups.

Govert Schuller

As my first official post apart from commenting on another, I thought I should bring up a conundrum I’ve been unable to resolve in myself for some time now.  Namely, the question is: what exactly is intuition and what is its source?

To illustrate what I’m trying to get at better, and to let you know how I’m using (or misusing) the word intuition, I’ll try to describe it more experientially.  Most of my decisions are made by relying on some combination of two mental processes.  My little decisions throughout the day are made very quickly and easily through relying on habituated responses, like deciding to wash my face and brush my teeth first thing in the morning. Bigger decisions rely on a mental-emotional analytical process in which I sort out and weigh things, like practical concerns, foreseen consequences, the social impact, how I feel about the situation, and responses of friends, family or those affected by my decision, etc.

However, when I more regularly engage in meditation or other spiritual exercises which quiet the mind and reactive impulses, I find in almost all situations there to be some sort of background urge that is pushing me in a particular direction, which I “know” (or feel or sense) is what I “should” do—the “right” decision.  Continue Reading »

In the overwhelming ocean of information available online, I still find the best way to stay afloat is with a book.  For the surprising issue of Intelligent Design, I’ve decided to focus on one particular book by a proponent of the form of Intelligent Design that I find most worthy of scrutiny, William A. DembskiThe Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design.

The fundamental claim is this:

There are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence. (p. 27)

Put in the most succinct way possible, if true this would represent as great a challenge to institutional science as Darwin did to traditional religion.

The question, then, is whether or not there are natural systems that cannot be explained in such terms.  Or, as Dembski writes, whether the formula “time plus chance plus matter entails life” is truly tenable.

While I’ll engage this work with as an open mind as possible, my position at the outset is that though Theosophy would agree that natural forces are directed, such direction may not be detectable by “probability theory, computer science, molecular biology, the philosophy of science and the concept of information”, the combination of which Dembski believes will justify an intelligent designer.  Rather, Theosophy states that natural forces are subject to natural law, but that higher forces working on higher planes are the ultimate source of such law and that access to such planes is a spiritual act inseparable from personal development.

But first, let’s look at a key concept in Dembski’s work: specified complexity. Continue Reading »

In my last blog post I raised the question of the relationship between Theosophy and Intelligent Design.

My first college level philosophy class was a philosophy of biology class intended for post-grad science students.  At that time, Creationism was vying for equal time in the classroom with Darwinism and the contrast between the two was so obvious as to make the former’s claim to ‘science’ laughable.  The situation made a convenient, if charged, test case for defining the parameters of science.  Creationism’s science was actually natural theology, or the study of god’s work in the natural world, with the Judeo-Christian God of revealed scripture as an unquestioned premise.

Intelligent Design, or ID, emerged into public consciousness several years later, initially as an attempt to replace the term ‘creationism’, which the Supreme Court declared in 1987 could not be taught as science in public schools. It was simply a substitute term, not a substantive difference in theory.

As such, when I raised the question of ID, I was fully prepared to find creationism with a mere patina of psuedo-scientific jargon.  What I have found instead makes explicit claims of difference from creationism and aspires to nothing short of a scientific revolution.
Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

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.

Drawing of bibracte as it might have looked like 100 B.C.E.

Drawing of Bibracte as it might have looked like 100 B.C.E.

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.

Digging out Bibracte

Digging out Bibracte

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. Continue Reading »

In high school, it was, unexpectedly, exposure to biology that first awoke me from the dogmatic slumber of atheism.  I had taken the truth of scientific materialism as a given, assuming with the confidence of a zealot that whatever phenomena had not yet been explained by perfectly rational means would be so soon.  While no doubt in part an adolescent, contrarian reaction to the christian fundamentalism that was the dominant form of spiritual expression around me, religion just seemed . . . well, silly.

However, the more I learned about how much was actually unknown in biology, concurrent with an exposure to to intellectual traditions that took spirituality seriously, theosophy and Joseph Campbell in particular, the more I realized, at the very least, how premature my verdict was.  As a professor later replied to me regarding a direct question about his belief in God, “Well, a whole lot of people a lot smarter than me have taken the idea very seriously.”

So while I ‘believed’ in evolution, or rather, the ability of the theory of evolution to explain observable facts with greater clarity, simplicity, consistency and beauty than any other theory, I saw no discrepancy between such a belief and the possibility of an intelligent order inherent in the universe.  In fact, it began to seem more like evidence of such.

When a classmate followed up my affirmation of evolution with what to her was an obvious and unavoidable consequential, “So you’re an atheist?”, I was surprised and thrown.  Part of the reason the Theosophical Society quickly became such a home for me was that they took it as a given that evolution was both a material and spiritual story.

Does that mean Theosophy is Intelligent Design?

This is a question I’ll be exploring in my next blog post, a response to Will Thackara’s Evolution & Creation: A Theosophic Synthesis.

In the meantime, I’d like to start hearing your thoughts on the debate between evolution, creationism and intelligent design, and theosophy’s place in the discussion.

Theosophical News Blog


I’ve started another blog, this one for theosophical news.

It will be used for links to news articles that theosophists might find of interest.

Please email me if you would like to become a contributor, or if you just want me to post a link you’ve found.

A few videos from Krotona

Below are a few videos from Krotona.  Please pardon the quality, but they were recorded on a very small, cheap camera.

Introductory and concluding remarks from Tim Boyd during his group’s presentation:

Minor Lile’s oral report for Group42’s presentation:

A typical morning at Krotona:

Want better video?  Feel free to donate a digital camcorder!

I thought any fellow Losties out there would appreciate the reference to theosophy in Entertainment Weekly’s Doc Jensen’s column this week!

on failure

As it abundantly apparent by now, I will not being blogging every day of the Krotona invitational.  And most of the video I took turned out to be unwatchable.

At one point during my Krotona group’s conversation, we got onto the subject of effort, risk and failure.  I frequently see the risk of failure subverting effort.  It’s a subtle process, and largely unconscious in most.  Personally, I think one of the most useful practices we can take on as spiritual leaders, as humans, is becoming friendly with failure.

And with all due modesty, I can say that I am one who is on intimate terms with failure.

As has been pointed out to be time and time again, and always deservedly, I have a great, contagious enthusiasm for beginnings, but abyssmal follow through. I have a lot of great ideas, but few them ever live to the light of day.  It certainly isn’t that I am unaware, it’s just that each time I get excited, it really feels like this time will be different.  And I disappoint myself far more freqently than anyone else.  For every eventually failed endeavor I have shared with others, there are two or three more that simply fade into the recesses of my mind with only the spark of promise.

Nonetheless, I do keep trying.  Occassionally, others will join in and the collective will have more endurance that I would individually.  My hope remains that this blog, despite my fits and starts, will stay just active enough that it will provide a platform for others, perhaps those for whom inspiration is in greater balance with steadiness.

My consolation is, oddly enough, found in sports.  Recently, the football quarterback Brett Favre set the NFL record for career passing touchdowns.  Basically, he became the most successful quarterback in football history.  Shortly thereafter, he also set the record for career interceptions.  In baseball, Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.  All sports stats reveal that those that succeed the most are the same who fail the most.  The key is that they keep trying.

Brett Favre

Brett Favre

First Session

First Session

It is actually already Day 3 of the invitational, and I’m finding it hard to do anything but talk and talk.  I’ll try to catch up on what we’ve done so far though: Continue Reading »

Undoubtedly, each one of us brings to our study of Theosophy our own unique viewpoints, and our own particular emphases. To ask several different people what drew them into the study is to hear several different answers. One person may be particularly interested in studying the common, esoteric threads uniting the multiplicity of world religions. Another may devote the vast majority of their study to The Secret Doctrine, coming to the fullest possible understanding of the Three Fundamental Propositions. Still others are drawn more to texts such as The Voice of the Silence or At the Feet of the Master, small but powerfully transformative tomes that illustrate the practical application of high Theosophical ideals to one’s own life. Some find expositions of psychic phenomena fascinating, opening one as they do to a world entirely beyond our everyday sense perceptions.

The Secret Doctrine teaches us that everything in existence stems ultimately from the ineffable, incomprehensible ground of being described as the Absolute. Anything below this level of being is “maya,” illusion. The Society’s motto, “There is no religion higher than truth,” points to the over-arching search that brings most of us to the study of Theosophy: The search for truth. From this it follows that to be bogged down in the illusory nature of anything less than Truth itself is to lose sight of the Path. If the highest Truth is to be found beyond all form, in this boundless Absolute, then anything containing the characteristics of form, limitation and definition falls short of Truth in some way. The logic in this line of thought is sound, but can lead to the development of a value system that looks down upon an interest in phenomena. How often is this word, “phenomena,” used in a condescending manner to describe interests deemed by the speaker to be inferior? What effect does this have?

Which aspect of Theosophical study is most suitable? Most advisable? Most fruitful? What is the yardstick by which we measure the relevance of a given set of Theosophical ideas? Whose is the task of deciding which texts are more or less relevant? What memes are propagated throughout the Society as a result of the exercising of discrimination to this end?

The group facilitators met with Joy Mills this evening to prepare for the coming week.  Joy will be giving a 45 minute talk each morning, but most of the time during the invitational is given to the participants to closely examine a given topic at great depth and from a variety of angles, both individually and with a small group.

With the stated theme ‘The Relevance of Theosophy and Theosophical Literature in the Contemporary World’, Joy is actually providing a context, a loose framework, in which any number of issues can be explored.

For those of you who don’t know, Joy is more than four times my age and has been continuously active in the T.S. for six decades now.  She never fails to astonish me.  Few people within the T.S. are in a more natural position to have an ossified perception of theosophy, yet even fewer are as forward thinking.  Joy offered up a few questions that intrigue her as possible areas of inquiry for us to discuss within our groups:

What does Theosophy have to contribute to the discourse on evolutionary theory?  How should the 2nd Volume of the Secret Doctrine be treated in light of current findings?  If the lost continents, such as Atlantis, are treated as actual in theosophical writings, how do we deal with the lack of evidence for them?  What is the place of western esotericism within theosophy?  What is the relationship between hermeticism and gnosticism?  How should we approach the issues of the Masters, of the Theosophical Society’s own past, the life of HPB, the variations between the different generations’ iterations of the teachings, the schisms, etc.?

Yes, those are just a few of the ideas Joy shared with us.  You know, just to get us started.

Continue Reading »

I am now at the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, CA for an invitational: “The Relevance of Theosophy and Theosophical Literature in the Contemporary World” (more information below).  The actual program begins Monday morning, hence this is day Minus 2.

I will be blogging every day while here and adding pictures and video from the event.

First impression of Ojai is one of overwhelming beauty.  The institute rests up on the hill of a lush valley running east-west below.  Director Nelda Samarel affirmed to me this morning that after nine years here, she still never ceases to be amazed by the view.  Upon arrival after midnight, I went for a walk and was delighted to be reminded of how profoundly a truly starry sky touches the soul.

It is wonderful to see old friends.  A hug and smile from Maria Parisen is worth the trip, as is a laugh with Nelda. Betty Bland, Marina Maestas and Dan Noga are here from Olcott.   I have had several differences of opinion with Betty and have been an occasionally harsh critic, but my immediate reaction to seeing her is always respect and affection.  I suppose we’re all like family in that respect. There is something special about theosophists, and indeed it is this community above all else the continues to keep me involved.

This morning I went for a long walk and eventually found a great little cafe with WiFi.  Nice view, huh?!

in the Ojai Valley

in the Ojai Valley

Stay tuned for more!

Continue Reading »


In another post, I posed some questions about how artificial intelligence and Theosophy might fit together. The ensuing discussion was riveting, but the question is still burning in my mind. Much was brought into the discussion, including the overall progress of research in artificial intelligence, along with some insights that can be gleaned from the way humanity has evolved.  I’d like to reframe the question, beginning with a quote from The Secret Doctrine:

“Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as ‘I am I,’ a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no
emergence of consciousness could ensue.”

Continue Reading »

we’re baaaack!

im-back Welcome to 2009 friends!

This blog, while not dormant (way to keep those comments coming!), hasn’t been active for far too long.  And while it is NOT my New Year’s resolution to get it going again, regular updating falls under my larger intention to turn my face back to the world, the realization of the need for which just happened to come right around our annual shifting of digits.  Wow, that’s some tortured grammar.

I never want this blog to be too personal.  This is a place to talk about theosophy.  However, it is more particularly, and arguably more powerfully, about the personal realization of theosophy, so there is no need to avoid being personal either.

Those of us who invite Spirit to work through our being open ourselves to unceasing transformation.  Rather than being determined by our unconscious and trained reactions to the world, we admit the paucity of our own self in the face of Self and become partners in a dance whose complex rhythms quicken just as we learn the steps.

Continue Reading »

I have been pondering the connection between individual and group karma lately. Specifically: what does it say about a group when it creates ecological problems at the scale humans do today. What does it say about humanity when it causes war, poverty and disease to go rampant at the scale of today, despite all the technology we have at our disposal.

And who pays? Who is responsible?

Ultimately the doctrine of karma insists that what we learn from life continues on into our Higher “Self” (not a self, but we have to call it something). Lessons learned, continue somehow.

But in the meantime we have to deal with what is.

One of the ways to deal with what is, is to prevent future bad karma, by acting right today. We are only held responsible for what we helped co-create… But I’m not sure that’s a comfort, given the trouble humanity is in. Can any of us really say we aren’t co-responsible?

What happens today was caused yesterday. We are part of a given group today, in certain circumstances now, that our previous selves have in some way ‘deserved’. That’s the past and karma. The present and karma is: how to act today, to prevent more problems in the future… All that has to do with karma and time, a fascinating subject, I think.

Group karma is a reasonably new working out of the doctrine of karma. It makes sense though: we see people suffering in groups and have to fit that into the doctrine of karma, or that doctrine doesn’t make sense any more. For instance: how does group karma deal with the economic crunch we are going through? Well – since we all impact on each other anyhow, we might as well make the best of it and help each other out. This is why the doctrine of karma is sometimes summarized as the doctrine of harmony. Only by acting in harmony with all that is can disharmony be solved.
On the upside: that Barack Obama was elected despite the color of his skin says something positive about the group karma of the USA… Do you all agree?

Human Aura

When we hear the word “clairvoyance,” we often think of the ability to perceive objects and entities on planes of existence other than the physical. To Theosophists, the word may conjure images of thought forms, of the human aura, of devas and elementals, all of which surround us at every moment, invisible to most—save for those who possess the ability to see them. The ability is considered to be a form of “extra-sensory perception.” Extra as a prefix probably comes from the Latin exterus, meaning “outward” or “outside.” Thus the term “extra-sensory perception,” implying a phenomenon that is outside that of sensation, seems misleading if by it we are referring to the ability to see auras or thought forms—after all, when someone who has this gift sees such things, is that experience not an aspect of their sense of vision, however attuned that sense may be to things not normally seen? Theosophy teaches that all humans will one day reach a point of development at which this faculty blooms; in other words, it is a perfectly natural and normal aspect of our sense of sight, albeit one that is currently dormant in most people. Continue Reading »

My life has changed a lot recently and I felt it was time I started my own blog about religion, spirituality and of course theosophy.

Many posts have already gotten commented on, which I think is just marvelous for a blog that’s been up only a week.

Check out my post about how I intend to blog and what subjects I’ll likely cover.

An environmental religious discussion started with my post on what I believe.

A reader asked me some questions (through e-mail) which I decided to answer on this blog. There’s Can a person survive on a vegan diet? and Should one be kind even if one doesn’t feel kind? (my paraphrase)

That’s not all – but you will have to check the rest out yourselves 🙂

For those of you who don’t want to check out too many different websites – I’ve made a page with all theosophical blogs (and forums) I know about. So you can easily check where there is something new going on. It also links out to the active theosophical forums and has the most recent posts on theos-talk listed. If you’re wondering why the recent posts on other forums aren’t listed: the technical reason is they don’t have a public RSS feed.

I’ll be sure to post here occasionally as well though. Don’t worry.