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Re: Theos-World Fundamentalism, religion and reason

Aug 02, 2006 10:29 PM
by pedro oliveira

Dear Cass and Perry,

Thank you for your views. I prefer to take a cautious approach to 
the issue of fundamentalism because I am convinced that it is not 
possible to understand it as if it were a black or white reality. 
The interview I mentioned in my earlier posting, with Professor 
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, made me think afresh about the problem. 

The issue of power in this question, mentioned by Perry, is quite 
evident. But then power-seeking placates every human organisation on 
this earth and is not limited to religion. The dualism in religious 
structures/theologies, mentioned by Cass, is also evident, but I 
would faintheartedly suggest that not even science is free from it, 
and even in the broad daylight of the 21st century it still sees 
consciousness not as a primary reality but as an epiphenomenon of 
the brain chemistry!

The Theosophical Movement is also not without its contradictions in 
its attitude to religion. We have the forceful (and convincing) 
denunciation of religion as being responsible for two thirds of 
human misery (Mahatma Letters) and yet the Founders established a 
Society to study Comparative Religion! See, for example, the 
following letter:

GREETINGS to the Hindu, Parsee, Buddhist, English and other 
Delegates and to the Fellows herewith present.
Remember that though of various nationalities and religions you are 
nearly all the children of one mother, India. Remember and act 
accordingly. You have to make of the Anniversary ceremony 
celebration a grand success. You have to prove to your evil-wishers 
and enemies that your cause, being strong and having taken its stand 
upon the rock of truth, indeed can never be impeded in its progress 
by any opposition, however powerful, if you be all united and act in 
concert. Be true, be loyal to your pledges, to your sacred duty, to 
your country, to your own conscience. Be tolerant to others, respect 
the religious views of others if you would have your own respected. 
Sons of India, of old Aryavarta, whether adopted or sons of her 
blood, remember that you are theosophists and that Theosophy or 
Brahma Vidya is the mother of every old religion, forsaken and 
repudiated though she may now be by most of her ungrateful children. 
Remember this, act accordingly and the rest will follow in due 
With our sincere blessings,

(Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, letter 2)

Did the Mahatmas give so much importance to religious understanding 
because they somehow knew religion would be an explosive influence 
in the twentieth century, when destituted of spiritual insight or 
mysticism? I confess I don't know. But what seems clear to me now is 
that fundamentalism is not an isolated phenomenon, but an integral 
part of the cultural wars that started with the dawning of the 
modern age in the 17th century, with Cartesian and thought-centred 
world views dominating the world. Interestingly enough, this is also 
the period of dramatic expansion of colonialist rules around the 


--- In, Cass Silva <silva_cass@...> wrote:
> My thinking is that all religions are steeped in good/evil, 
reward/punishment axioms coming from a personal god, who for the 
most part does our thinking for us.   The rationale behind this is 
that we are no longer responsible for our actions but are messengers 
or defenders of the faith.
> The skepticism of science is refreshing and provides a balance 
against this ancient thinking.  I would prefer to deal with a 
skeptical scientist that a bible/koran punching believer. Imagine 
trying to explain to a Muslim or a Christian that we are part of a 
quantum universe and that within that universe there are multiple 
choices that can be made.  Imagine telling them that we create our 
own reality and impact on  this reality with our thoughts and 
emotions and that at no point is there the notion that whatever 
choice we make will result in a reward or a punishment.  The result 
of my choices, which will either quicken or slower my evolution.  
IMO, it's as simple as that.
> One of the Masters stated that when mankind is too far in error 
nature will intervene.  I can see this happening in the world right 
now.  It was predicted when the door closed on this evolution.  
Those that slipped through at the last moment had the opportunity to 
re-think their existence.  If some of the sub-races disappear, I 
imagine it is in the normal course of events, as the foundation of 
the sixth root race must take precedence over fourth and fith root 
> What is happening in the Middle East is very sad, but 
understandable, if we are going to accept the teachings of the 
ancient wisdom.
> Cass
> plcoles1 <plcoles1@...> wrote:                                  
Hello Pedro,
>  I hope you are doing well.
>  Thanks for your comments, I just thought I'd put forward a few 
>  For me I think that the problem with the clash between religious 
fundamentalism and 
>  reason really boils down to an issue of power.
>  I have just finished watching an excellent series 
called "Christianity the first 2000 years" 
>  watching that series it really became clear how much of an 
ongoing paradox religion can 
>  be.
>  Religion has been used as a means to control nations and people 
in order to maintain 
>  status quo, any descent to the dogma of the religious 
establishment then becomes a 
>  threat to that `order'.
>  Science and philosophy had to assert themselves in order to be 
able to evolve and 
>  maintain integrity.
>  As seems to happen, things move from one extreme to the other and 
so it's a constant 
>  balancing act.
>  The idea to form a society to comparatively study religion 
philosophy and science was a 
>  brilliant idea.
>  Its interesting that the title page of `Key to Theosophy' reads :
>  "Being a Clear Exposition, in the Form of Question and Answer, of 
>  AND PHILOSOPHY for the Study of which The Theosophical Society 
has been Founded."
>  Interesting that ethics is included here as well.
>  Another statement in the Mahatma letters worth noting is where 
the Mahatma say's 
>  `science is our best ally', it's an interesting statement to 
ponder upon why that may be the 
>  case?
>  Science without ethics is dangerous just as religion with reason 
is also dangerous and so a 
>  synthesis of some kind is needed in order to try and develop a 
healthy balance. 
>  Much emotional attachment can be caught up in some belief systems 
as well as fear based 
>  mindsets which seem to maintain a very strong hold in the 
skandhas, thus they pass on to 
>  the new personality perhaps for many lifetimes to come.
>  I think the purpose of the TS was to try and get people re-
examining their beliefs and 
>  attitudes in order help humanity move forward into a deeper and 
>  understanding of themselves and the cosmos by refining the 
intellectual faculties by 
>  tempered with compassion and tolerance.
>  Cheers
>  Perry
> ---------------------------------
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