[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Practical theosophy: was DEFENSE OF HPB and moving on.

Jan 25, 1999 06:15 AM
by Peter Merriott

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your replies.  I want to persist a little longer with this line
of questioning, if you are willing, as it seems to me to touch on Practical
Theosophy.  Perhaps others will also contribute.  Also I am struggling a bit
with some of your replies as I am not quite sure what you are getting at in
terms of practicalities.

> The "brotherly way" may not exclude the use of a verbal/written
> sting in the tail if necessity denotes. It is a question of motive.

Yes, I am sure that it can.  I think you have just said what I had said ie
that it is the intention behind the response that is important.  However, I
would add that it is also *where* that response comes from that is the most
important factor.  Just because HPB or the Master M could deliver a sting in
the tail doesn't mean, at least to me, that we can use that as an excuse for
our own attacks on other people and their ideas.  The Initiate has a
knowledge of the Aura and spiritual state of the person / situation
concerned  that informs their actions and this is something which the rest
of us don't have, or have developed in only a small degree.

> "You must thoroughly put aside the personal element
> if you would get on with occult study . . ." (Letter> XLIII).

Isn't this just saying what I am suggesting.. that *attacking* (which is
different from genuine questioning) people, their ideas etc... , notions
about shaking up the personality, as you put it, are just missing the mark,
and are likely to end up making the whole interaction *even more personal*
than ever?

> > > [Paul]Are there not some things that it is impossible to
> > > take seriously?
> > [Peter] Well that depends on what you mean by "some things."  I try to
take the
> > person who is talking seriously even if I am having trouble
> > with what they  are saying.
> [Paul]How seriously can/should we take a bundle of transcient memories
> "me"?  It - the "me" - is a serious impediment, yes.

Well, that depends on what you see-sense when you 'look' / 'listen' to
another person.  Do you really regard people merely as a bundles of
transient memories hardly worth taking seriously, Paul?

I think we have to take the I / me reasonably seriously.  This is after all
the vehicle of the higher consciousness during incarnation.  And it is
'through' the personal vehicle in each incarnation that most of us either
help or hinder the forward movement of humanity.  As we know from the
theosophical teachings  the conscious link with our higher nature is one
that has to be forged during incarnation.  Humanity as a whole seems to be
incredibly identified with the personality doesn't it.  This identification
won't go away, in my view, just by saying the personality isn't important.

But more importantly the feeling of "I" or "I am I" is derived from Manas.
AS HPB writes in the Key to Theosophy page 33-34..

"We distinguish between the simple fact of self-consciousness, the simple
feeling that "I am I," and the complex thought that "I am Mr. Smith" or
"Mrs. Brown." Believing as we do in a series of births for the same Ego, or
re-incarnation, this distinction is the fundamental pivot of the whole idea.
You see "Mr. Smith" really means a long series of daily experiences strung
together by the thread of memory, and forming what Mr. Smith calls
"himself." But none of these "experiences" are really the "I" or the Ego,
nor do they give "Mr. Smith" the feeling that he is himself, for he forgets
the greater part of his daily experiences, and they produce the feeling of
Egoity in him only while they last. We Theosophists, therefore, distinguish
between this bundle of "experiences," which we call the false (because so
finite and evanescent) personality, and that element in man to which the
feeling of "I am I" is due. It is this "I am I" which we call the true
individuality; and we say that this "Ego" or individuality plays, like an
actor, many parts on the stage of life."

The problem, as I see it, is not simply that we have a personality a "Peter
Merriott" or a "Bazzer" but that we identify with that personality and lose
sight of the individuality, the manasic "self consciousness", and thereby
miss the opportunity to consciously 'link up' via that conscousness with the
Spiritual Ego (Atma-Buddhi).  I think if we just view people as
personalities, as "a bundle of transient memories" then we also lose sight
of that "self consciousness" in the other person which is the true actor
within the personality.  The danger here is that our actions towards people
may then become indifferent rather than theosophical.

It is only this manasic "self consciousness" in the person that can:
- aspire to something higher
- learn not to identify with that "complex thought that 'I am Mr. Smith."
- turn towards Atma-Buddhi
- develop those qualities that are taken into Devachan.

Without this "self consciousness" Buddhi is of no use to man remaining only
the vehicle of Atma.

So I think "yes" we have to take the person seriously by looking out for,
speaking to, and encouraging that aspect their being.  Likewise we endeavour
to identify less with our own personality and so on.

> Is not our object the progress/elevation of Humanity as a WHOLE?
> Why focus on the illusory 'part'?

I'm trying to get a sense of what this might mean for you and me in practice
Paul, I mean as a practicing theosophist?  How do you use this to help you
to relate to the people around you, to those you come into contact with on a
daily basis?  How does this inform the basis for Right Action in the world?
What does it mean to act "with intelligence" as you put in in another part
of your reply?  It is a lofty ideal, but as HPB says, when quoting
Carlylse, - "the end of man is an action not a thought, though it be the

To dismiss people as illusory parts seems un-theosophical for me.  Doesn't
the compassionate One say, "I would not let one cry whom I could save."  In
the Voice of the Silence we find:

"Let not the fierce Sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it
from the sufferer's eye.
But let each burning human tear drop on thy heart and there remain, nor ever
brush it off, until the pain that caused it is removed."

HPB praises Father Damien for being a "true theosphist" (a rare compliment
from HPB) in giving his whole life for the benefit and alleviation of the
suffering of the lepers of Molakai. (Section 12 THe KEY)

In the 3rd Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine we are told that
not only are all Souls Fundamentally at one with the Universal Over-Soul but
also that as a spark of the Over-Soul *each* has to make the journey through
the Cycle of Incarnation.  I know we could say that each soul is only an
illusory part compared to the One Reality,  just as everything, from the
highest to the lowest is only relatively real during a manvantara.  However,
during 'manifestation' Humanity as a Whole is essentially the collective
aspect of these individual parts/ sparks / pilgrims on The Way.

If Father Damien is regarded as a  true theosophist for his unselfish work
with physical suffering then surely to seek to respond to and encourage the
true individuality (manasic self conscousness) in our dealings with each
other must have some real value and be something worth aspiring to, even
though difficult to perform(!) - especially as HPB writes:

"The future state and karmic destiny of man depend on whether Manas
gravitates more downward to Kama Rupa, the seat of animal passions, or
upwards to Buddhi, the spiritual ego...."

Best wishes,


[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application