METHOD, SYSTEM AND CONDITIONING
Oct 13, 2010 09:46 AM
by M. Sufilight
My views are:
A part of the theosophical teaching is repetition.
Here I will repeat an article, which I posted some months back on this website.
With all the talk about Esoterical School in the last few days the following might be interesting to some readers. To others not.
METHOD, SYSTEM AND CONDITIONING
There are four main factors which, when applied to human beings, "programme" them almost like machines. These are factors which are used in indoctrination and conditioning. By their use, deliberate or otherwise, the human mind is made more mechanical, and will tend to think along stereotyped lines.
Innumerable experiments, recent and ancient, have fully verified the presence and effect of these factors. They are: tension alternating with relaxation, sloganisation and repetition.
Because most human beings are trained to accept these factors as part of their "learning" process, almost everything which is presented to a human being to be learned is generally converted by him into material which he applies by these methods.
The test of a teaching system, and of its succes, is whether (1) it is applied by these methods, knowingly or otherwise; (2) it develops into a system which uses these methods.
In the various groupings of people engaged in this kind of teaching whom I have contacted during the past few years, virtually none is free from this element or these factors. The result is that one set of slogans has been changed for another: and phrases like "man is asleep", words like "essence", certain exercises and techniques as well as literary material, have been studied so closely and dilligently that they have succeeded in the main only in indoctrination. Their instrumental effect is spent.
It is mainly for this reason that tradition repeatedly says that the formulation must change in accordance with the people, the place and the Work. Some groups, which call themselves theosophical tend to forget about this.
It is extremely easy to test the individuals who have developed (through no fault of their own) this 'conditioned-reflex' response to work-terms and other teaching stimuli. Such people always respond in a typical manner to approaches made to them, and in this respect they do not differ from people who have been indoctrinated into any static or linear system: political, patriotic, economic, religious, philosophical, and perhaps even a claimed theosophical one, where the extra dimension of understanding is weak or absent.
If we retrace our position to the point just before the learning and teaching became 'established' as a conditioning in the mind of the individuals, we can reclaim the flexibility which the work demands.
People ordinarily do not reach deeply enough into themselves to find out how to learn about what Theosophists call Reality. They make premature assumptions about how to learn, and what attracts them must be good, and so on, which in the end defeats their putative purpose.
The repeated upsurge of apparently different schools of higher study in various epochs and cultures is due in large part to the need to rescue genuine traditional teachings from the automatism and social-psychological-entertainment functions which regularly and deeply invade and, for the most part, eventually possess them.
Therefore it could be well to some readers to ponder, that some af the schools are maybe not at all using the names "Theosophy" or "Theoosphical" in their teachings.
Certain physical and mental exercises, as an example, are of extremely significant importance for the furthering of higher human functions. If these are practised by people who use things for emotional, social or callisthenic purposes, they will not operate on a higher level with such people. They become merely a means of getting rid of surplus energy, or of assuaging a sense of frustration. The practioners, however, regularly and almost invariably mistake their subjective experiences of them for "something higher".
It is for this reason that legitimate traditonal higher teachings are parsimonious with their materials and exercises.
Where there is ideology, conditioning and indoctrination, a mechanical element is introduced which drives out the factor of extradimensional reality perception which connects the higher functions of the mind with the higher reality.
Theosophical or spiritual experiences are designed to maintain a harmony with and nearness to this Reality, while mechanical systems effectively distance people from it.
(Rewritten from an article given by a friend)
- - - - - - -
Idries Shah says:
"Suppose we get a group of 20 people past the stage where they no longer expect us to give them miracles and stimulation and attention. We sit them down in a room and give them 20 or 30 stories, asking them to tell us what they see in the stories, what they like, and what the don't like. The stories first operate as a sorting out process. They sort out both the very clever people who need psychotherapy and who have come only to put you down, and the people who have come to worship."
"In responsible Sufi circles, no one attempts to handle either the sneerers or the worshippers, and they are very politely detached from the others. "
"They have something else to do first. And what they need is offered abundantly elsewhere."
"There's no reason for them to bother us. Next we begin to work with people who are left. In order to do this, we must cool it. We must not have any spooky atmosphere, any strange robes or gongs or intonations. The new students generally react to the stories either as they think you would like them to react or as their background tells them they should react. Once they realize that no prizes are being given for correct answers, they begin to see that their previous conditioning determines the way they are seeing the material in the stories.
So, the second use of the stories is to provide a protected situation in which people can realize the extent of the conditionings in their ordinary lives. The third use comes later, rather like when you get the oil to the surface of a well after you burn of the gases. After we have burnt off the conditioning, we start getting completely new interpretations and reactions to stories. At last, as the student becomes less emotional, we can begin to deal with the real person, not the artifact that society has made him."
(From Sufi Wisdom: Idries Shah Interview, 1975 by Elizabeth Hall)
Interview with Idries Shah - by Elizabeth Hall
"EH: One can't help getting the feeling that not all gurus are trying to serve their fellowman.
IS: Some are frankly phonies, and they don't try to hide it from me. They think that I am one, too, so when we meet they begin the most disturbing conversations. They want to know how I get money, how I control people, and so on.
EH: They want to swap secrets.
IS: That's going a little too far. But they feel safety in numbers. They actually feel there is something wrong with what they are doing, and they feel better if they talk to somebody else who is doing it. I always tell them that I think it would be much better if they gave up the guru role in their own minds and realize that they are providing a perfectly good social service.
EH: How do they take to that advice?
IS: Sometimes they laugh and sometimes they cry. The general impression is that one of us is wrong. Because I don't make the same kind of noises that they do, they seem to believe that either I am a lunatic or that I am starting some new kind of con. Perhaps I have found a new racket."
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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