Why This List?
Jan 26, 2002 05:52 AM
by Gerald Schueler
<<<Among theosophists, or people who study theosophy, I assumed I would find a dedication to the teaching and devotion to the founders. After some discussion, I find this is not the uniformly the case, and I confess to some surprise. I wonder then what is the motivation of those who prefer to
question and doubt, but still participate in a list such as this one. It maybe my own limitation, that I don't see the point in such pursuits.>>>
Adelasie, I had exactly the same expectations when I first started many years ago (I was one of the original list members). I am a Theosophist at large, and have never been a member of a group or lodge. So, I was a bit isolated until computers came along. I was very surprised, even upset, to discover that other Theosophists had such weird (to me) interpretations of Blavatsky. Was it me? Was it they? How could they call themselves Theosophists and be so illogical and so silly (again, to me)? The result was a lot of name-calling and nasty postings, and countless flames.
Gradually, over some years, I learned to adjust. I learned to accept that Theosophy is a very large umbrella that allows for a lot of different thought and levels of understanding and wide variety of practical application. And none of really right, or really wrong. Eldon and I agreed to accept the differences of others, and to try to use the lists (both theos-l and theos-world) as challenges to our patience and compassion. It works very well in that regard.
Anyway, Brigitte and Daniel and Paul and Steve are all historians, and Theosophical history is pretty much a lose cannon, and honest historians can draw very different conclusions and interpretations. This is primarily because the original Theosophical players all said or wrote conflicting things at times, and now it is impossble to know what really went on. Blavatsky herself admittrf to fibbing on occassion, but was an esoterist. Olcott was an honest soldier, but had no clue what esotericism was about. When Blavatsky mentions Buddhism, for example, she usually refers to Mahayana. Olcott on the other hand always refers to Hinayana, and so on.
Blavatsky claimed that her teaching, which she called Theosophy, is ancient, and has been around in one form or another for as long as humanity. Daniel pretty much sides, I think, with this view. Paul has shown in his books that she could have gleaned much of her information from other occultists of her day. Brigitte and Steve take the more opposite extreme position that all of her ideas were known by others during her day, and that she needed to come up with next to nothing of any originality, although they admit that she was able to put the various ideas and theories together in a tidy and useful fashion.
So, is Theosophy an ancient wisdom? Or is it a product of the 18th and 19th centuries? I doubt that either side will "prove" their thesis, and I suspect that, like most things, we Theosophists will have to have faith one way or the other.
Anyway, it is an interesting discussion, and one that everyone of us should be concerned about, and get into. The possibility that Blavatsky is not as ancient as she claims is an important Theosophical issue, and it is, I think, an appropriate topic of discussion here on this list. Whether we can prove anything is not the issue - we need to think about what is being said on both sides, and to accept the possibilities and to see where those possibilities lead us. We are, after all, supposed to be seekers of Truth.
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