Astral projection and other beliefs.
Mar 31, 2002 06:21 PM
Jerry S.: "There is, indeed, a devil or two in exoteric Theosophy.
There is a belief in evil per se, even though the MLs say that evil
is but a shadow etc. Esoterically evil does not exist anywhere except in
our own minds. There is constant babble about "black magic"
and "slippery slopes" and "eleventh spheres" and the like, Bruce, don't
tell me that there isn't, and if these are personfied - we have devils. I
would not be surprised to learn that Theosophists check under their
beds at night and fear to let their feet fall over the mattress. Changing
the name devil to black magic changes nothing. It is time, don't you
To grow up and face a reality in which good and evil are mental concepts
rather than external realities or "atmospheres."
Bri.: There is a continuity between psychotic experience and normal
behaviour. There is also a continuity between manifest
schizophrenic illness, and the "delusional disorder" of people loke
Olcott, Blavatsky, Leadbeater,Steiner and Gurdjieff, with Brunton's
paranoid state hovering uneasily somewhere between the two; and
many normal people adrMit to intermittent symptoms
resembling those described by schizophrenics.
Delusions are both exculpatory and explanatory: they preserve self-
esteem by blaming others; interpret anomalies of perceptual experience
in ways which dillinquish the threat of mental chaos; and, when
grandiose, give a much needed injection of self-confidence to a person
who might otherwise feel isolated and insignificant. Religious faiths serve=
similar functions in the economy of the psyche.
Delusions have been defined as
"abnormal beliefs held with absolute conviction; experienced as
self-evident truths usually of great personal significance; not
amenable to reason or modification by experience; whose content
is often fantastic or at best inherently unlikely; and which are not
shared by those of a common social and cultural background."
(P.Mullen, "The phenomenology of disordered mental function, in
Essentials of Postgraduate Psychiatry.")
If we accept this definition, it follows that whether a belief is
considered to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity
with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people
subscribing to it.
Theosopical beliefs like presumed astral projection experinces conform
to the definition of delusions given
above in every respect except one: they cannot be defined as abnormal
if shared by large numbers of people, whether or not they come from
similar social and cultural backgrounds. This underlines the contention
that people are not psychotic just because they express eccentric or
delusional beliefs, unless they are also exhibiting other signs of mental
disorder or social incompetence attributed to a highly developed talent
for phantasy made possible by isolation.
If self-esteem entirely depends upon a private faith or upon a delusional
system, that faith or system is so precious that it must not be shaken.
Returning to the definition of delusions, one can say that the content
of certain Theosophical beliefs is often fantastic or at best inherently
In Christianity, for example, they can point to the Virgin Birth and
the Resurrection as being fantastic because they are so contrary to
biological principles. Many Eastern religions teach the reincarnation
of the soul, which seems inherently unlikely. There is no objective
evidence for either religious faith or delusions. No one can
demonstrate the existence of God. Faiths cannot be tested by
experiment, proved or disproved.
It is hard for us to accept that most human beings are functionally
replaceable. Each one of us is unique;
but only a few men and women of genius are irreplaceable. Most human
beings win be forgotten a few years after their death. Nature is
There are far too many human beings in the world; and the majority
are totally unmemorable. If we are lucky, our friends and relatives
will miss us for a while, but very few of us achieve any permanent
This is difficult to tolerate for those Theosophists who next want to
belief in reincarnation.
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