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Re: Errors and their importance

Jan 22, 1999 02:42 AM
by Leon Maurer


All I can say about all this linguistic and glossary nit picking stuff is, so
what?  Who cares what foreign or coined word is used to describe a
theosophical truth, when it is the idea and comprehension of its relationship
with other seminal ideas that makes theosophy a living science, philosophy and
ethical teaching.

HPB told us to beware of linguists and philologists who lead us down all sorts
of side issues that make no difference to our understanding of theosophy and
turn it into a dead letter academic study.

As far as I'm concerned, and other sincere searchers for truth, I would
hope--so long as theosophists know what the word "Devachan", as coined by
HPB,
means and describes, who cares whether its a Tibetan or Sanskrit or Chinese
word.  As far as I can see, the word Deva in Sanskrit means God, and the
suffix chan means place.  Why waste our time thinking about the philology
or
linguistics when we're already satisfied with the semantics?

Also, who cares whether certain academic scholars discredit theosophy because
of misuse of foreign words.  If that was how they superficially judge a
philosophical teaching, they wouldn't have any interest in it in any
case--since such "intellectuals" (used as a pejorative) couldn't be real
searchers for truth or self realization if a mere word usage could turn them
away from it.

---------------------------------------------------------

In a message dated 1/21/99 9:43:41 PM, Richtay@aol.com writes:

>
>
>In a message dated 1/21/99 4:17:52 PM, Jerry wrote:
>
>
>
><<>> [Leon] Finding errors that do not refer directly to theosophical ideas
>could also be nit picking.  >>
>
Or it could show that no one, not even HPB, is perfect.>>

So what?

>Despite Dallas' vow to defend HPB from any and all criticism, I intend
>to show once more why "errors" in our Theosophical texts are important,
revealing,
>and need to be corrected by ourselves, the modern custodians of this wisdom.

It's your time to waste?

> And again, this raises the question of who made these errors, HPB, her
Teachers,
>or their students?

Who cares?

>
>
>Example #412 from Rich (seemingly!)
>
>
>
>THE THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY, p. 98, entry "Devachan."
>
>
>
>The entry reads:
>
>
>
>"DEVACHAN (Sk.) The "dwelling of the gods."  A state intermediate between
>two
>
>earth-lives, into which the Ego (Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or the Trinity made
>One)
>
>enters, after its separation from Kama Rupa, and the disintegration of
>the
>
>lower principles on earth."
>
>
>
>Now, one reason why scholars, and thus the public, largely scoff at Theosophy
>
>and its teachings, is because we make such ridiculous mistakes, which seem
>to
>
>indicate we know NOTHING about Asia, and thus, we shouldn't be given a
>second
>
>thought.  The entry above contains very serious errors, which then prompt
>
>learned people to ignore the very valuable teaching.
>
>
>
>The errors are these: Devachan is demonstrably a TIBETAN word, a very common
>
>Tibetan word, with no relationship to Sanskrit except that the Tibetans
>are
>
>translating a totally different word from Sanskrit.  Whoever claims that
>this
>
>word Devachan is Sanskrit, doesn't know a word of Tibetan.  (If that's
>HPB,
>
>then it is clear she didn't know any Tibetan.)  Here's some "Proof" for
>those
>
>who find it hard to trust me.
>
>
>
>From the TIBETAN-ENGLISH DICTIONARY, p. 670, authored by a personal friend
>and
>
>colleague of HPB in India last century, Sarat Chandra Das. I have only
>
>transliterated the Tibetan and Sanskrit into English letters.
>
>
>
>"bDe-wa-chan (Skt: Sukhavati) Dewachan, the paradise of the Northern
Buddhists
>
>which is said to be situated in the west and presided over by Buddha
>
>Amitabha. [the Tibetan Buddhist scripture] BDE-WA-CHAN-gyi-sheng-bkor-pa
>
>(Skt: Sukhavativyuha) [literally] "the plan or design of the Sukhavati"
>is a
>
>work describing this heaven as being full of teraces, lotos-lakes, and
>players
>
>of music, together with swans, cuckoos and peacocks.  The Tibetan version
>as
>
>given in the Kah-gyur is longer than the Sanskrit text which Cowell, under
>the
>
>title of "the smaller Sukhavati-vyuha" has translated for Max Muller's
>SACRED
>
>BOOKS OF THE EAST.  The whole work is one of the latest Mahayana productinos,
>
>probably as late as the 5th century A.D. "
>
>
>
>This is about as much PRIMARY evidence as one can get, namely -- an actual
>
>Tibetan Scripture, of enormous importance to Buddhism and used daily by
>lamas
>
>and laypeople alike, whose Tibetan title is --- "The Description of
DEVACHAN."
>
>There is nothing Sanskrit about the word devachan, but it is a Tibetan
>
>translation of the Sanskrit word Sukhavati, which means literally "abode
>of
>
>the pure."  This is primary evidence.  Anyone who would like a photocopy
>of
>
>the actual Tibetan scripture, please email me, and I will copy the first
>page
>
>of it from the Tibetan Canon (housed in UC Berkeley's library).
>
>
>
>Further, our Theosophical Glossary is horrendously incorrect in translating
>
>Devachan as "the dwelling of the gods."  First, it mistakes the Sanskrit
>word
>
>"deva" with the Tibetan word "bDe-wa" (which means "happy").  Then, in
>further
>
>error, the translator [HPB? WQJ? GRS Mead?] probably mistakes the Tibetan
>
>"-chan" (which means "belongong to, related to, possessed of") with the
>
>Sanskrit "sthan" (meaning "land, place, area"). The mistake may seem minor,
>
>but linguistically it is hideous and totally, totally wrong.  It shows
>a
>
>complete lack of BOTH Tibetan and Sanskrit.  And yet the teaching of Devachan
>
>is absolutely central to Theosophical teachings on death and reincarnation,
>as
>
>well as karmic recompense.
>
>
>
>However, it is quite obvious that all this wrangling over linguistics is
>
>necessarily "Eye Doctrine" (don't even bother to point this out, Dallas
>and
>
>Paul).  However, because Theosophists have so messed-up the Eye Doctrine,
>and
>
>then childishly claim all HPB's works are above criticism, we live with
>this
>
>kind of idiocy for 100 years, and wail how the academics have spurned
>
>Theosophy.  It is largely our own fault, for being both so under-educated
>and
>
>so damn stubborn.
>
>
>
>However, it is also true that any spiritual reader would ignore the botched
>
>language job, and try to understand the "Heart Doctrine" of reincarnation.
>
>HPB has added something significantly different to the teaching of Devachan
>
>than the Buddhists did -- she did not attribute this state to some kind
>of
>
>other-world paradise run by the Buddha Amitabha (and HPB has her teachings
>on
>
>this figure as well).  No, rather, HPB states that this Devachan is the
>future
>
>of all half-way decent folks.  Devachan is an occult resting stop between
>
>lives, a place of assimilation, retention of spiritual learning, etc.
>
>Devachan is also the direct result of the "second death" of the astral
>remains
>
>soon after phyiscal death.
>
>
>
>So we have here a central, occult teaching which HPB importantly gives,
>but
>
>couched in the Glossary, as elsewhere, in horrendous mistakes of language.
>
>And however much I may write about it on this list, the publishers of the
>
>Glossary will refuse to change such "mistakes" (no doubt I've not given
>enough
>
>"proof") and so we continue to embarrass ourselves to the public, and claim
>
>our teachings are superior to all others.  What a laugh, if it weren't
>so
>
>terribly sad.
>
>
>
>This is but one example among scores, probably even hundreds, and not just
>
>from the Glossary.
>
>
>
>Of course my opinion is clear, or should be: if we want the Heart Doctrine
>to
>
>be taken seriously, the least we can do is clean up our act with the Eye
>
>Doctrine.  Why would anyone who reads Sanskrit or Tibetan give our works
>
>another look, when we are so woefully ignorant and then perpetuate our
>
>mistakes?
>
>



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