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Re: Theos-World Blavatsky & Krishnamurti (3)

Feb 28, 2009 11:39 AM
by Govert Schuller

Dear Pedro,

Thanks again for taking time to elucidate some of your points. I especially appreciate your interpretation of Theosophy as a "stream of inquiry," where every seer and beginner will have to check all claims for himself and where mere belief is counter-productive.

Now, coming back to your response as far as it addresses my original question to you, which was whether I made a "fair reconstruction" of your argument. You seem to say "no." 

Maybe, for clarity's sake, we'll have to break up my post in two sections: 1) my attempted reconstruction of your argument about the HPB-inspired, analogical, tri-partite structure of meaning of a body of spiritual writings as applied to HPB and K, and 2) my own interpretation of the underlying intent of your original article.

I'm glad that on the second point you state explicitly that it's not K who could or should "lead the Theosophical Movement back to its original spirit and therefore may occupy now a preferential position" and that it is the spirit of free inquiry that would trump that idea. 

Meanwhile I do detect the tendency within the TS to give K preferential treatment and I say so on empirical grounds, one of which is the recent attempt by our explicitly pro-K PTS to 'give' away the PTS position to another Krishnamurti-ite, and another the hanging of an almost life-size portrait of a young K in the hallway of Olcott where all the photographs hang of TS-luminaries like all past and present PTSA's, and the third example, to bring this back to our conversation, the publication of your own article on the alleged "timeless dialogue" between HPB and K. (More examples could and will be given in due course)

So, back to your response. Let me ask then on what grounds you come to the conclusion on the basis of this (hermeneutic) construct of body-soul-spirit, that both HPB and K, as far as their 'body' of teachings is concerned are part of the perennial tradition (I'd agree, but with the caveat that HPB belongs also to the western esoteric tradition and K not), that the 'soul' of their teachings is in both cases selflessness and their spirit freedom? It sounds nice and plausible, but to me it looks like just your own interpretation (which is fine as long as you can justify it), as almost any other set of transcendental concepts could work as well. For example, the case could be made that the soul of their teachings is 'transformation' and their spirit 'truth,' or 'inquiry' and 'enlightenment,' and so on. 

Maybe all these concepts hang-together to such an extent that they actually intimately imply each other and that to pick out 2 amongst them might be a matter of personal preference, which, again, is fine with me as long as there is some justification.

The problem though is that this hermeneutic device you apply here might paper over some of the very perturbing differences within the body of their teachings by just stating that their soul and spirit are basically similar, or at least, compatible, the justification for which apparently based on the semi-superficial similarities that you present in your original article. I use 'semi-superficial' in an empirical sense as, so far, most of the similarities, when looked at in depth, seem to break down and turn into their opposite and, so far, without any protest. But that's my interpretation and nobody has to follow into its muddy depths. 

Anyway, thanks again for letting me tease your brain. Another installment of my interpretation of your article will soon be posted. 


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Pedro Oliveira 
  Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2009 7:10 PM
  Subject: Re: Theos-World Blavatsky & Krishnamurti (3)

  --- In, "Govert Schuller" <schuller@...> wrote:

  > Dear Pedro,
  > Thanks for taking some time while facing deadlines.
  > Before responding I like to reconstruct your argument, just to be
  sure I understand it.Your argument seems to go as follows:
  > The original writings of Marx were distorted by the emerging
  ideology and political activism of Marxism. Marx had to be saved from
  > Parallel to this:
  > The spirit of HPB's original thought has to be saved from the
  Theosophical Movement as the latter became fundamentalist
  Blavatsky-ism. HPB has to be saved from Theosophy.
  > To retrieve the spirit one can do so through the analogous idea that
  any set of writings has a body, soul and spirit and that by careful
  differentiation between the three the spirit can be discerned and
  > Applied to HPB: the body of her writing is the whole of the
  Perennial Wisdom, its soul is Selflessness, and its spirit is Freedom,
  especially the freedom from the illusion of separateness, as the
  concept of the Tao and HPB's TRUTH indicate. 
  > Different authors of the Perennial Wisdom have given different
  emphases on the different parts, but all have indicated the need to
  transcend the mind, and this has to be done by oneself.
  > Therefore (and this seems to be the underlying conclusion and aim of
  your argument):
  > Krishnamurti--being a thinker within the Perennial Wisdom Tradition
  emphasizing liberation from mentation, images, outer authority and
  other separateness inducing activities--is closer to the spirit of
  HPB's teachings than any fundamentalist Blavatskyite or
  neo-Theosophist might be aware of (even to the point that it is
  Krishnamurti par excellence who can lead the Theosophical Movement
  back to its original spirit and therefore may occupy now a
  preferential position). 
  > Fair reconstruction?

  Not really, Govert. As I wrote in plain English I don't see a need to
  apply a hermeneutic approach to what I said. Having said that, you are
  nonetheless free to do so as long as it is clear that the above is
  your reading of what I wrote.

  Your last paragraph is a case in point. While saying that Krishnamurti
  shares some similar emphasis with other teachers in the Perennial
  Wisdom I did not say, nor do I believe, that Krishnamurti should "lead
  the Theosophical Movement back to its original spirit and therefore
  may occupy now a preferential position." 

  I see Theosophy, the Perennial Wisdom, as essentially a stream of
  inquiry into the deeper aspects of life. This Wisdom-Teaching is an
  inquiry-based teaching, not a belief-based one. If what HPB wrote in
  The Secret Doctrine (vol. 1, Summing Up) is correct, this
  Wisdom-Tradition has come to us from the hoary past through "countless
  generations of initiated Seers" who fathomed the "soul of things".
  Every successive generation of Seers, Madame Blavatsky added, would
  not just accept what the previous generation had discovered, but would
  themselves check and verify it for themselves.

  Therefore I would say, tentatively again, that what can "lead"
  Theosophical work in the world, in whatever organisation, is not a
  particular teacher or teachers, but this spirit of free inquiry into
  life's mysteries. For example, this is what Madame Blavatsky wrote
  when asked about the future of the TS:

  "Its future will depend almost entirely upon the degree of
  selflessness, earnestness, devotion, and last, but not least, on the
  amount of knowledge and wisdom possessed by those members, on whom it
  will fall to carry on the work, and to direct the Society after the
  death of the Founders." (The Key to Theosophy)

  Another way of saying the same thing would be, perhaps, to suggest
  that what can truly lead one into this work is the light of Buddhi,
  intuitional wisdom. The following passage from The Mahatma Letters
  presents the case quite eloquently:

  "Once separated from the common influences of Society, nothing draws
  us to any outsider save his evolving spirituality. He may be a Bacon
  or an Aristotle in knowledge, and still not even make his current felt
  a feather's weight by us, if his power is confined to the Manas. The
  supreme energy resides in the Buddhi; latent - when wedded to Atman
  alone, active and irresistible when galvanized by the essence of
  "Manas" and when none of the dross of the latter commingles with that
  pure essence to weigh it down by its finite nature. Manas, pure and
  simple, is of a lower degree, and of the earth earthly: and so your
  greatest men count but as nonentities in the arena where greatness is
  measured by the standard of spiritual development." (Letter 111,
  chronological ed.)

  Finally, I remembered what the late Ianthe H. Hoskins told me at Adyar
  in 1994, during her last visit: "Belief is the tomb of Truth."



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