The purpose of this discussion is to come up with new and creative ways that we can use what we learn as Theosophists, from whatever source, to make daily life better.
I'm going to lay out some ground rules.
First, this is NOT a debate about whether or not we should do such a thing. If you want to debate the subject, start another discussion.
In the spirit of Embrace * Compare * Explore, let's find ways that we can use this "wisdom" to make the lives of everyone who comes to our site better. One of the shortcomings of the Theosophical world, quite frankly is this lack of material which exists to bring all of us greater happiness without having to put on the horsehair coat of becoming some kind of "holy being".
Everything from housework to getting along with neighbors to finances (and whatever else you can think of) is fair game.
At the end of this discussion (cutoff on 7/20/2009) we'll put together a list of ideas for daily living. Perhaps someone will take it to the next step and publish it openly to all newsgroups / sites associated with Theosophy. If someone wants to volunteer to do that, let me know.
Wow, that's about the first time I agree with something Charles said!
IMO, theosophy is not about cookbook recipes how to live your life.
It is a philosophy of life, however. A point I agree with is that modern technology could be used better to promulgate ideas. As to self-help, my take is: go ahead if you sea a niche. There is however a ton of self-help material available, online and offline, and a lot of it is free to download. Some of it is of excellent quality.
Martin agreeing with me? I had better buy a powerball ticket!
Ok, to be serious, if you look at the older TS material, particularly from the Years of Madness, you find that Theosophy was trying very hard to be another one of those systems for other people to live in whether they wanted to or not. And the problem is that in many ways it still is.
The trick is to come up with things people can actually use without coming across as saying, "This the Way You Must Live or the Fuhrer (or the Masters) will be displeased!"
I agree, for me: the pursuit of happiness is the problem. if you are happy with what is, there is no reason to pursue. not to be confused with the emotion either; we all feel sad, angry, envious, happy, ecstatic. to cut off one deppreciates the other. i want to be content with the pursuit rather than seeing it as a means to an end.
As to money: this is beautifully illustrated in Local exchange trading systems (LETS) all over the world.
These people experiment already with a different way of valuing goods and services. I know from experience.
That is a psychological thing too, dealing with money and value.
One of my favourites has to do with reacting to what others say or do. This again has to do with valuing (or evaluation). A basic psychological process. I describe that a bit in my ebook in my articles on Vitvan. Others have elaborated on this (cannot put on this website for copyright reasons).
Other ideas pertain to "The secret", also described in my ebook, pertaining to the building and "holding of a vision"; use of socratic method: getting a deeper perspective on things, situations.
Joe: later. I first want to see whether other people come up with ideas/suggestions.
I have given extremely practical ideas and practices in my ebook, starting 15 years ago.
These can be elaborated, further clarified, etc.
What I want to see emerge here is a group of dedicated people who really want to go for it.
Do stuff. Etc. Not endless complaining and doubts.
As I can't find the posting containing four questions of Joe, I'll put my ruminations here as it has to do with developing a vision, putting things into historic perspective, etc.
Some loose ruminations on the TS re: objects, strengths and weaknesses
Original purpose: see the three objects of TS: embrace, compare, explore
Most important purpose: to cause a crack in the materialistic way of thinking in the world. To provide a true philosophy of life, incorporating sound ethical principles, that people can apply in their daily life.
Did it succeed? IMO, partly, so. A lot has happened in the field of East-West cultural exchange, in which the TS initially played an important role.
There has been an enormous spread of info on Eastern religion and philosophy in the West. Buddhism, Zen-Buddhism, Yoga, you name it, lots of teachers, gurus, of different quality and motivation have come to the West. Spin-off in New Age philosophy/ideas/etc. of various quality. Western "gurus" like Eckart Tolle, and many more are now doing some good work.
That is fine and as it should be. Others have taken over some part of the work to be done regarding the spiritualization of the human race. Diversification is natural and good for reaching different target groups.
On the other hand, the intended role as guide for ethical scientific development has not been realized. This has many reasons and is a complex matter, anyway.
The object of "Exploration" is a different thing again. Is it about investigating "psychic powers"?
Perhaps. More likely it is about knowing yourself, probing into the depths of your being. Freeing yourself of crystallized thinking, and developing true creativity, the spontaneous unfolding and flowing of the creative spirit within.
strengths: a.o. provides a start in the study and comparison of myth and religious symbolism; gives some basic ideas about the unity of all life. If you are lucky, you can find a nice group or lodge to discuss ideas with. TSs still do some good work in attracting seekers. Whether they can offer a nurturing environment for these is another matter.
weaknesses: complicated language, too few practical examples of how things work. Lack of creativity. Lack of development of ideas. Lack of development of holistic scientific models. Lack of use of modern communication media, including animations, online networks, Wikis, etc.
What can be done better: see weaknesses. There is plenty of room to develop some practical examples of how things work in the psychological and social realm. One can use material from all kinds of sources and integrate this into a fresh synthesis. There's a goldmine to be exploited here!
Question: what is the target audience/group for the TS, or a more modern form of a spiritual network? This is not an easy question. On first sight, it looks that it simply is the searcher for something deeper than shallow religion. But there is more. The intention has always been to gather spiritual oriented people to form "nuclei of brotherhood", lodges of knowledge, inspiration, etc.
This has proved difficult to realize. Yes, one can get people together to study things. Forming a tightly connected group that works harmoniously together has been proved to be an entirely different matter. This, BTW, is not unique to the TS.
The current mindset in the West, and probably everywhere else in the world, is one of pumped-up egos, inflated sense of self, egocentrism, consumerism, self-seeking, gross materialism, etc. So, is it any wonder that is has been difficult to form harmoniously working lodges? Neither is it a strange thing that the Mystery Schools of old have been closed. Humanity has sunk too deeply into the materialistic orientation. Indifference, nihilism and passivity are rampant. I sometimes wonder whether the human race will eradicate itself by some experiments that have got out of control. Yet there is hope. There is a growing consideration of matters of ecology, and the limits of growth. Perhaps humanity will readjust its course in time to avoid disaster. There is a growing group of people of good will.
As a side-thought, the matter of working together with other groups has hardly ever been raised. Perhaps the cultures are too different between organizations? What are other spiritual organizations doing anyway? Are there common interests?
The most important thing for individuals and organizations alike is to develop a vision on what one purposes to do.
Without a clear vision, one is on a ship without a goal, floating steerlessly on the ocean, probably getting stuck on a sandbank, if not smashed on a rock. Vision is of paramount importance.
Personally, I believe that this forum, a section thereof, could grow into a source of comments, answers, suggestions and help for online seekers of various kinds.