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Re: Taking offense, seeking revenge

Jan 08, 2009 03:23 PM
by Pedro Oliveira

--- In, "kpauljohnson" <kpauljohnson@...> 

> During the runup to the November election, an article appeared in 
> Slate that made me think of Theosophists:
> Not just the regular dustups here at theos-talk, but also the 
> organizational brouhaha in Adyar and Wheston, reminds me that 
> Theosophists are extraordinarily disrespectful to one another.  Not 
> just those in one organization attacking those in another, but 
> the Adyar TS even more so.  I wonder if people realize just what 
> of impression of the entire movement is created when people snark 
> another in a public forum like this.  Bad enough when mere members 
> so; far worse when an elected national leader makes a big display 
> arrogance and aggression.
> Yet at the local level over two decades I never noticed any 
> difficulty whatsoever for Theosophists agreeing to disagree.  There 
> was always a great diversity of views in any group I ever attended, 
> in several states.  And no one to my recollection got all offended 
> that someone else had a different estimation of various authors.  
> at the national and international levels there seems to be far less 
> of that live-and-let-live attitude.  I renewed my TSA membership 
> after a ten-year lapse in 2008, but was hugely relieved to see it 
> expire last week.  
> The conclusion of the linked article is worth considering here.  
> The "empty boats" notion would be well applied to most of the 
> disputes here.  Simply to express one's opinion is to risk 
> offending someone else, even if there was no such intention.  And 
> person thus unintentionally offended will often deliberately 
> retaliate with a personal attack, as if the other person's opinion 
> somehow invades their personal space.
> Like any body of literature, the Theosophical writings contain 
> messages.  You can use HPB the same way Christians use the Bible, 
> justify both sides of every dispute.  Pedro's quote indicates that 
> is untheosophical to take offense at differing views and seek 
> on those who express them.  Morten's quote indicates that it is a 
> theosophical duty to do so.  HPB said both; you choose which HPB to 
> emulate.
> PJ

Thanks for the post, and the link, Paul. The empty boats parable is 
indeed a very apt one for it seems to show that the real enemy is 
within. Perhaps Carl Jung was right when he said that the features we 
find annoying and irritating in another are just the projections of 
our shadow side we refuse to look at. 

The relentless demonisation of Leadbeater and other authors of the 
Adyar TS in this and other lists may serve a psychological purpose. 
That his books are still in print after one hundred years would 
perhaps be an indication that there is demand for them and that they 
sell. But the perception of who he was is much stronger than the 
market reasons and therefore a strong notion is created that the 
publishing of his books should be discontinued. And here I am not 
referring only to Morten's views. Many years ago I was shown a letter 
from Geoffrey Farthing to a well-known TS member, in which Farthing 
said pretty much the same thing: "His books should be off the 

So, is it suprising then to see Blavatsky writing in *They Key to 
Theosophy* that every attempt similar to the TS which was made in the 
past sooner of later degenerated into a sect, with hard and fast 
dogmas creeping in? One of her most sobering statements to me has 
always been this:

"The first necessity for obtaining self-knowledge is to become 
profoundly conscious of ignorance; to feel with every fibre of the 
heart that one is ceaselessly self-deceived." (BCW, vol. VIII, p. 108)

It is time for me to sail again and watch for the incoming boats, 
hopefully realising that my own boat is empty too.

Thank you for your caring message during my illness in India. It is 


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