We have been talking a lot about these things called "traditional theosophies". So far, the reception seems to be somewhere between "what?" and "...but it doesn't include Blavatsky, why?" Both questions are fair enough and hopefully we can put together something quick and easy to explain.
When we talk about a traditional theosophy we are not talking about a person's teaching. To us HPB has a teaching, Sri Aurobindo and many others has a teaching.
The teachings are not their theosophies.
So, what traditional theosophies boil down to are:
A theosophy is a matter of personal experience. Pure and Simple.
Swedenborg had a theosophy.
Boehme had a theosophy.
Sri Aurobindo had a theosophy.
And many of you have had a theosophy but don't understand what goes into it.
What goes into having this experience?
An experience of Gnosis. Gnosis is different than what we normally call knowledge. Gnosis, rather is a direct experience with a knowledge that is universal, holistic and inclusive in nature. Different cultures give this experience different names but it boils down to the same thing. The I - That, self - other relationship breaks down and you know. Those of you who have experienced this know.
Most people have some kind of contemplation or meditation practice that helps bring about this state, although it is not necessary. The most important part of the meditation is cultivating the imagination. In an article from the Theosophist, August 1884:
"...Occultism does not depend upon one method, but employs both the deductive and the inductive. The student must first learn the general axioms. For the time being, he will of course have to take them as assumptions, if he prefers to call them so."
These axioms are provided by myths, symbols and all of the other correspondences we take as part of esoteric practice. There are as many paths as stars in the heavens.
What is the experience like for many?
It is a wordless-knowing. Viewing from inside out, there is no distinction of this, that or the other. It is not thought. It is a knowing, a pure realization of everything being same in its essential nature. It feels like awareness, pure awareness and there are no thoughts taking place. There is consciousness and connection with all. Nature is truly alive! You, nature and the divine are linked, intimately as one.
It is important to keep in mind that this experience has been had by many through the ages. It is property of no person and no culture. It can be unlocked by exploring the myths, symbols and other tools available in many traditions.
One thing is certain, once you have had this illumination, you know it and can never go back. As Miko Kachu says "This changes everything".
The last thing we need to leave you with. It is up to you to find YOUR theosophy. It is not anyone else's. This journey is as personal and as deep as you.
Those of us at Theosophy.Net, are at best, fellow travelers on a road that has gone back many thousands of years and is even longer going into the future.
Thanks for coming along. Let's see what we can do today!
One of the distinctive feature of the TS brand of theosophy (as taught by Blavatsky and Mahatmas) is that they use one word theosophy to describe the Principles, Processes and the Products. In absence of such clarity, it is natural that thought would be converted into dogma. They themselves were aware of this and tried to warn repeatedly yet did not succeed because of this inherent defect.
So, would it be fair to think that Traditional Theosophy only describes the processes? And since different people may arrive at different results using the sane initial staring point, each of those will be a valid result rather than one standard result?
As so often happens, I do disagree, Anand: teachings become dogmas when people are afraid to practice them. Absence of clarity is a property of language, we have to live with it. Philosophers trying to build an exact language have met the same success than HPB and Mahatmas tryng to make themselves understood hehehehehe.
Have fun today, friends!!!
I agree with that comment, Ferran. Whatever can be called true knowledge has to be experienced directly, otherwise it's as if one were a donkey carrying a load of books. As long as we are stuck with these body things and we have to use language as a substitute for other kinds of communication that we are not used to then all of us will be forever stuck in our own personal Tower of Babel.
English is primarily a language of commerce, not philosophy. It is useful for quantifying and describing things that can be perceived by the physical senses. But in some degree, even the most philosophical-based languages suffer from the same problem. They are, at best a kind of kludge for conveying experience. OTOH, nothing beats having shared experience. No words are necessary.
I also agree with Capt. Kumar. Sometimes we get so caught up on one level of thinking, assuming it is the only valid point of view. Whether that viewpoint is "spiritual" or "physical" is not the end-all, be-all. There are times where the physical reality is more important. From an organization point of view, Capt. Kumar has it pretty much nailed right on the head.
One of the good examples to understand how principle, process and the product are all described using single word is to look at the description of FOHAT.
Fohat as Entity:
Then Svâbhâvat sends Fohat to harden the atoms...Stanza 3.12
Fohat as Principle
“ This something (“that” which links spirit to matter, subject to object), at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by the occultists Fohat. It is the “bridge” by which the “Ideas” existing in the “Divine Thought” are impressed on Cosmic substance as the “laws of Nature”. Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation ; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the “Thought Divine” transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyan Chohans , the Architects of the visible World. SD Vol. 1 Proem pp16.
Fohat as Process
The Dzyu becomes Fohat, the swift son of the Divine sons whose sons are the Lipika, runs circular errands.Stanza 5.2
Fohat as Product
By the power of the Mother of Mercy and Knowledge – Kwan-Yin – the “triple” of Kwan-Shai-Yin, residing in Kwan-yin-Tien, Fohat, the Breath of their Progeny, the Son of the Sons, having called forth, from the lower abyss, the illusive form of Sien-Tchang, and the Seven Element... Stanza 6.1
Since the author tells us that these words are representation of ideas contained in ideograms, it would be natural to presume that the graphics contained in the ideograms would not make such distinction, as those would show the process from the beginning to the end. So why the transmitter will create the confusion, unless the idea has not been grasped in sufficient depth. Or, perhaps deliberately. Who knows?
What about old Catholic women who pray to their rosary several times a day and Muslims who pray towards Mecca 5 times a day? Who determines who is, and isn't practicing?
Good questions, Joe! I'll start with the last one: I dare say that traditional answer in both Catholic and Muslim traditions is that there are angels who take note and will be witnesses in the day of judgement, the day in which the inside will be known.
It may be noted that I have not quoted the traditional Catholic or Muslim words but tried to convey the idea in descriptive terms.
Then, in strictly human terms, the ones I prefer, I can only determine if one fellow is or not, what or how, where or when, practicing: me. I am the only one who is responsible for my practice, and I'm aware that any kind of true spiritual practice means a real extra effort, it means that ordinary troubles and struggles of life are not enough for me, that I'm asking for more.
Becoming afraid of practice is not something that happens in an all-or-nothing way, what usually happens is that the core principles are not applied as they are, but softened, no, let's be civil, "adapted to the situation, to the facts", so the chance of transformation is instantly lost. Yet, there is a facade to keep tidy and nice, an organization to keep on going, so leaders take great interest in the decorative arts while they'll never admit they have lost the knowledge of architecture. They are afraid to say "I don't know. I don't know any more, and I'm not even totally sure of what I've told you". Then, I am afraid of being in such unsafe buildings, so I tend to practice in open spaces.
·If I am honest with my practice, then I have a chance to recognize those who do the same.
But I don't think we can realistically find refuge in any of the historical traditions today, because we are in a different situation. ( I mean us who use to spend time in this kind of websites). I cannot say I belong to the same religious tradition than my elders. Because too much questioning is poisonous to any tradition, and I am stubborn on that I am the one who decides how much is too much, the consequence is that I am out of the tradition of my elders.
Picking any useful idea or whatever anywhere because I'm at need (internal need, need to understand, mostly) it's not the situation of someone who belongs to a definite tradition. If that one does not know where to look, at last he knows where he should look at.
Maybe in a collective effort we can achieve a kind of synthesis of traditional elements (ideas & practices) with reflexive scientific methods that may be useful to those who need something like "theosophy" today.
Is it too much questioning or the wrong type of questioning?
Dear Joe ,
Thank you , very well put and it does help a lot to put some basic ideas in proper clarity , it has helped me get my thoughts a bit more organized -thank you once again , over a period of time it helps when someone takes us back to the basics and helps ''Trim the fat '' that has collected on our concepts.
Thank you Joe, Ive been studying "Theosophy"(various theosophies) for about 6 years and I still find myself confused sometimes. I have recently been studying Qabalah, the study of this tends to clarify a great many things I didnt understand before. The words you have given here had the same effect. I look forward to being more active on the site as I am sure there is a great deal I can learn from this community.
Well Robert, we're all learning together :)
I'm making some changes, as this was written in May and my understanding of the subject has changed since then. Hope this makes life a bit easier.
We're asking you to digest a whole new flavor of theosophy, so we need to make it as easy as possible.
Dear Joe ,
I quite like what you have written as always,It is true - one thing is for sure , unlike a personal god or a personal philosophy of the rabble which we are all are well acquainted with (Ourselves having been part of the same till recently ) -we have to approach these Personal Theosophies (or Theosophists whichever way ) with some reverence since it is Experience Based and and in the larger interests of helping more unfortunate brethern - they have knowingly tried to explain the unexplainable . It is not the path taken by each that is of concern and the words that he uses( which is ultimately futile) , but t did they provoke thinking or proper thought in at least one person , We need not subscribe to their theosophy and I do not think they wrote for that - rather the question is have we become better ? Even if one good thought has touched us - we should have the honesty to acknowledge that and hold our silence . Analysis and scrutiny will only yield more knowledge from the writings of such people and who knows ? Maybe to a receptive intellect which has some humility , they will yield the secrets locked up in their words. After all they are torch bearers who have gone before us illuminating patches of the intellect for others to stay and refresh before moving on , not requiring or expecting anything from us. I am not advocating a whole hearted prostration to their Theosophies , Even in the upanishads they say that to a man of self realization that all the vedas are only a bridge and he is no longer concerned with them . They are only like "dirt between his fingernails''. and they serve no further useful purpose to him .- Thats some realization to be aimed for !!