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May 13, 2006 01:48 PM
by Eldon B Tucker

[Read this carefully if you are actively participating in the mailing
list or are considering doing so.]

The past few months have been a wild time at theos-talk, but now it is
time for things to return to the type of discussion for which
theos-talk was intended.

The purpose of the list is to allow people of all backgrounds to share
their interests as seekers and as students of the theosophical
philosophy. The list is independent. It is not subject to the
particular agenda and politics of any theosophical organization.

The list does not have any special people that are entitled to write
on behalf of Theosophy, correcting others and telling them they are
wrong when they disagree. People can think differently and do not have
to adhere to the outlook of anyone's favorite theosophical organization.

It is a place for learning and sharing ideas. With people from all the
different theosophical traditions welcome, there will be differing
views on things. Disagreement is fine, although we can learn new
things from one another. 

The hope is that people will come to respect others of different
backgrounds, form a growing brotherhood, broaden their thinking,
clarify their ideas, and learn from the experience.

The first important rule of behavior is being respectful of others.
Remember that you are talking to people. It is not any different than
if you had a theosophical meeting in your living room and you are
conversing face to face with them. Watch how you express yourself.
Stop and listen to how you are putting your ideas into words.

We should tolerate differing views. We are all entitled to write and
have our own views. We should not find ourselves attacked when we
disagree with someone else's favorite author.

Ad hominem attacks are unacceptable. This is when we reply in a
discussion with an attack on the other person or the person's motives.
This is a discussion list, not a fighting club. Everyone, try to stick
to the points under discussion without name calling or saying others
are acting with bad motives.

What does this mean? You do not tell everyone what someone else's
agenda is, nor call someone else a liar or slanderer, nor judge and
tell everyone if he or she is a Theosophist or not, nor speak for him
or her about what his or her motives may be. Stick to positions and
premises rather than attack personalities.

If you are unclear about what someone said, ask them. Each person is
entitled to speak for himself or herself about what is meant. You are
not entitled to tell them and everyone else what they actually mean.

An additional rule of good behavior is that you do not hound someone
about things they have not been discussing and do not want to talk
about. If, say, Paul Johnson were to be on the list again and write
about an interesting book he had read, he would be within his rights
as a theosophical seeker to want to talk about it without being called
to task by sharp critics of books he wrote many years earlier.

This is not a historical research list nor is it a mouthpiece for the
United Lodge of Theosophists, the Theosophical Society [Adyar], the
Theosophical Society [Pasadena], nor any other particular group.
Long-running fights between groups should not be bitterly fought out
here between hard-line supporters.

Right now, there are some active threads of discussion that are
getting tiresome. They are getting nowhere and have had the effect of
driving people away. In the past week, three people have unsubscribed,
including one that lasted less than a day, someone that initially
indicated great interest in learning about Theosophy and that was
likely gravely disappointed in what she read.

One thread is about there being two editorial styles of gathering and
offering historic information on Blavatsky. We have repeatedly read of
the merits of each approach and been exposed to far too much name-calling.

A second thread is about there being plots to subvert Theosophy and
the suggestion that some participants on the list might be somehow

We are here on the list to learn about Theosophy and consider a broad
spectrum of emerging ideas that might broaden our thinking on life. We
are not here to squabble over styles of historic books nor are we here
to play a game of "Who is the real Dugpa?"

It is time that we move on, so I am stating that as of Monday morning,
the two threads be closed. That gives everyone about a day to write
any final thoughts on the subject. I am also stating that the ad
hominem attacks must stop. Granted, someone might lose his or her
temper and have a one-time outburst, and then express sorrow about the
mistake. But a persistent pattern of lashing out at people must not

This is an unmoderated list and I would like it to remain that way.
But if any individual cannot behave, he or she might face personal
moderation (or expulsion in extreme cases). Each person has the right
to express himself or herself, but not to deny others their equal
rights of expression.

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