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Archive for the ‘Theosophy’ Category

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?

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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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?

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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.

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Never content to not understand anything related to theosophy – I looked up this phenomonoly (hope I spelled that correctly) Govert and Chris talk so much about, without ever explaining it. 🙂

Anyhow – I still don’t really understand Govert’s posts on the subject, but I did read some interesting bits on self transcendence last night. They go a bit beyond ‘Expanding our centre of consciousness‘ into a terrain I’m not personally familiar with – the centre disappears totally. This is something Krishnamurti did talk about, but to me – there always is a centre. (more…)

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