II would like to make it very clear, these comments do not apply to any specific individuals. In fact, it is very safe to say that among the contributors on this site are some of the warmest, most thoughtful folk I have ever encountered in this movement. It's an honor to be able to discuss, chat with and even work together with all of you who take the time to come to this site. You could spend your time and effort elsewhere and hopefully we are meeting your needs.

What I am discussing here, in general are several troubling memes that seem to have been with, and continue to infect the Theosophical movement. We are not relevant for many reasons and I have tried very hard over the last several years to understand the causes. Here is a summary of those memes, and a thought at the end on a concept common with many leading companies, called a Value Proposition.

So far there seem to be several memes common to the Theosophical movement.

a) Everyone was (and still is) out to get HPB.

See Paul Johnson's fine graphic on Blavatsky Searches on Google. Long term, it tells a very disturbing story. Before long few will be talking about HPB, much less mounting attacks.

b) The Theosophical Movement is openly hostile to questioning. If you do, prepare to become a pariah and labeled a non-believer or at least treated like one. Authority trumps reason or logic.

c) Theosophy has secret knowledge which must be hidden from the profane.

d) Theosophy is not about making people happy. Is there any self-help literature in the Theosophical tradition? Especially anything that is very practical and not loaded with unpronounceable words?

e) Helping people understand everyday life is of no concern to Theosophy/Theosophists.

f) The emotional or material needs of people are automatically considered greed by Theosophists.

To someone just becoming acquainted with our movement, what reactions and feelings do you think these type of memes engender? The reaction of most people who are NOT "true believers" upon finding out that the ES exists is one of shock, horror and indignation. This is a natural reaction.

Are these feelings those you would want your parents, siblings, children and co-workers and friends to have towards you, knowing that you are involved with a movement which demonstrates the above stated values? This is, of course, keeping in mind that most Theosophists are deathly afraid of telling non-Theosophists about Theosophy because of fear of retribution or simply ridicule.

In the world of business, there is this concept of a "Value Proposition". A Value Proposition states what a company seeks to provide their customers in return for payment of goods and services. A Value Proposition goes beyond saying that "I will sell you something for a certain price". More than that, a Value Proposition promises a number of behaviors and benefits that a company agrees to provide to customers in addition to the product. Typically this covers such things as environmental activism, commitments to various causes, and details of how customers should expect to be treated.

What is our Value Proposition? What should we be providing to our users, and that includes you, if you're reading this.

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If you mean the Integral Philosophy or Integral spirituality link, then, no, I would propose a Wiki via this forum, somehow.
For the content, my thoughts are as stated in the last part of my previous reply.
Be careful, we need some volunteers to help with the conceptualization and providing of well-written content. You and I are busy with other projects already and we can't spend much time on this, I think. There is an advantage with choosing for a Wiki: it can be developed very gradually, entry by entry. Wouldn't it be wise to do a little poll as to who wants to participate in this venture? I think it needs at least three people to work on such a project. What do you think? Also, before actual work on content would start, it seems wise to me to do a bit of brainstorming in a workgroup.
I have yet to understand your dream or vision properly is it of another movement or that of the wisdom of love....
A kind of comparative religion, philosophy & science compendium orientated around a theosophical core (?)
That's the broad idea. The word theosophical should be taken in the original sense of the word (Neo-Platonic): Divine Wisdom and intuitive insight, as so often discussed by me and others on this forum.
Spirituality did not begin with madam Blavatsky, nor does it end with her. It refers to the Ever Living Field within which we live and have our being. We stick to the original objects of the TS, and take these seriously. That includes doing research, interfacing with science issues, providing source texts where possible and feasible, dealing with pertinent questions, shedding some light on often misabused concepts, etc.
With modern technology, there is so much more possible than before. Animations, graphics, movies, audio, etc. I suppose, however, that it will be largely text-based in the forseeable future.
Of course Spirituality did not begin with madam Blavatsky, nor end with her, yet her methods (bearing in mind the source/s from which she drew and how she completed her works) were and still are most effective in opening the understanding...

The wiki idea seems on the face of it an excellent undertaking, perhaps this will encourage seekers to dig deeper.... all the best for this.
Dear friends

My views are:

About the Original Objects of the TS - 1875-1891.

In the original Constitution and Rules of the TS we find:
Preamble of the T.S.
Dated October 30, 1875; reprinted in The Theosophical Forum, September 1947, pp. 515-18
"Whatever may be the private opinions of its members, the society has no dogmas to enforce, no creed to disseminate. It is formed neither as a Spiritualistic schism, nor to serve as the foe or friend of any sectarian or philosophic body. Its only axiom is the omnipotence of truth, its only creed a profession of unqualified devotion to its discovery and propagation. In considering the qualifications of applicants for membership, it knows neither race, sex, color, country nor creed."


And in the Constitution and Rules of the TS, Jan. 1891 we find:
Article XII:
"2. No Fellow, Officer, or Council of the Theosophical Society, or of any Section or Branch thereof, shall promulgate or maintain any doctrinas being that advanced, or advocated by the Society. "


A few comments by M. Sufilight:
So now I wonder if what ordinarily is called "theosophy" or "theosophical teachings" in fact in reality merely in 1875-1891 was each individual members own hypotesises about the meaning of life and its truth - inside The Theosophical Society (1875-1891). And that the Esoteric Section was formed in October 1888 as a secret (or semi-secret) group so to help put the TS on the right track, because it somehow lacked altrusism - perhaps because of the behaviour inside TS in India, where people drank alcoholic liquids and where the name of the Masters was abolished - so not to be mentioned at all - (thereby forwarding a "dogma" - i.e. for a while), due to the Hodgson Report (jan. 1886) and other issues.

So since the TS original objects - avoided promoting any creed - we cannot say that the idea and hypothesis about the Masters was a doctrine originally promoted on behalf of the TS and in the time of 1875-1891. The problem was some members turned it into a creed among themselves or outwardly operated as if they were members of a creed. - Later after 1891 it got even worse - People had and even have today problems in dinstinguishing between a creed using dogmas and a group, where each individual are exploring hypotesises about the meaning of life and its truth. One reason is that a great number of persons in the western countries are conditioned very much into thinking about groups as system with dogmas or fanatical ideologies - and cannot understand that a scientific philosophical groups is non-secterian and without dogmas, when it is dealing with occult matters as well. - The Esoteric Section operated, as I see it, with those who through hypothesis or claimed knowledge about the Masters became member of this gorup so to learn in accordance with Blavatsky's teachings and their own among each member of the group. -

The Influence of Teaching
The influence of teaching is very little greater than the capacity of its pupils. When the pupils are mainly of a low quality, teaching momentum is lost, and the pupils dominate what is taught. The teacher has to select, therefore, who can best benefit, for the sake of all.
(Knowing How to Know, by Idries Shah)

Fools' Wisdom
"The wisdom of the fool is to imagine that he understands something just because he thinks it has been understood.
Fools' wisdom is something from which not only fools suffer.
The delinquency of the authority figure is when he tells people that they are understanding something when they are not.
The confusion of the result of this is that people imagine that they can understand anything because they can understand some things, and that if they are not idiots, they are in every way better than idiots."
(Knowing How to Know, by Idries Shah)


Characteristics of Theosophical Litterature
Here are a few characteristics of Theosophical litterature. Read the below carefully and do not underestimate the contents value:

1. Some books, some passages, are intended to be read in a certain order.

2. Some books and passages have to be read under specific environmental conditions.

3. Some have to be read aloud, some silently, some alone, some in company.

4. Some are only vehicles for illustrations or other content generally regarded as extraneous or secondary to the text.

5. Some are of limited use or ephemeral function, being addressed to communities in certain places, at certain stages of development, or for a limited time.

6. Some forms have concealed meanings which yield coherent but misleading meanings, safety-devices to ward of tamperers. Some of these passages in enciphered literature are written using the Seven keys or senzar, or similar. Such passages have oftenon small value on dead-letter thinking and scholary research.

7. Some are interlarded with material deliberately designed to confuse or sidetrack those who are not properly instructed, for their own protection.

8. Some books contain a completely different potential, and they are communicators through another means than the writing contained in them. They are not designed primarily to be read at all.

9. Theosophical litterature is a part of carefully worked out plan. Its abuse lead to nothing of permanent value.

Theosophical teachings, and sometimes keys to it, are sometimes embedded in quite other material, not recognisable as theosophical at all to the uninitiated. Many of these teachings are really meditation-themes. They have deep function almost unknown to the pedestrian conventionalists, enthusiasts, imitators or occultist. '

All the above are just my views...

Any comments?


M. Sufilight
Sufilight>In the original Constitution and Rules of the TS we find:
Preamble of the T.S.
Dated October 30, 1875; reprinted in The Theosophical Forum, September 1947, pp. 515-18
"Whatever may be the private opinions of its members, the society has no dogmas to enforce, no creed to disseminate.
It is formed neither as a Spiritualistic schism, nor to serve as the foe or friend of any sectarian or philosophic body. Its only axiom is the omnipotence of truth, its only creed a profession of unqualified devotion to its discovery and propagation. In considering the qualifications of applicants for membership, it knows neither race, sex, color, country nor creed."

And in the Constitution and Rules of the TS, Jan. 1891 we find:
Article XII:
"2. No Fellow, Officer, or Council of the Theosophical Society, or of any Section or Branch thereof, shall promulgate or maintain any doctrinas being that advanced, or advocated by the Society. "



Comment: Above rules seem contradictory to what the TS movement has done, even in the 19th century.
"unqualified devotion to its discovery and propagation (of truth) sounds rather pretentious [which human being knows absolute truth?] and is contradictory to the non-promulgation of doctrines. Madam Blavatsky named her tome "The secret doctrine", so..what about not maintaining and promulgating doctrines? Her teachings are full of doctrines (karma, reincarnation, hierarchies, etc.), which became dogma to many of her followers. I am aware of the difference between a doctrine and a dogma, but most people do not discriminate very well between the two.

In our 21st century we can avoid dogma and instead of doctrines one can work with "working hypotheses" and develop models of natural process.
This is a much sounder way of operating, especially when one tries to build bridges between the spiritual way of looking at things and scientific findings.
Of course, there is an important role for intuition to play in all this, and I believe that our society should pay a lot more attention to this faculty of the human being.
Martin, you make some excellent points, but I'm confused as to what you see the difference is between "dogma" and "doctrine."

I just looked up both in an online dictionary and appear to be practically the same.

DOGMA:

1.
a system of principles or tenets, as of a church.
2.
a specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church: the dogma of the Assumption.
3.
prescribed doctrine: political dogma.
4.
a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle.

DOCTRINE:

1.
a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government: Catholic doctrines; the Monroe Doctrine.
2.
something that is taught; teachings collectively: religious doctrine.
3.
a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject: the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

—Synonyms
1. tenet, dogma, theory, precept, belief.
Michael, the only difference is that a dogma is usually associated with a church and is set down more authoritive ("as set in stone") than a doctrine. I would not call the doctrine of reincarnation a dogma, although many take it as such. That's all.
While a body of teachings [which forms a doctrine or doctrines] on itself is fine (as far as it goes) - the Neo-Platonics had plenty of teachings- to make an authoritive dogma out of the teaching is to stifle thinking completely. The next step is to bury one's head in the sand!
Michael: the two (dogma and doctrine) have become more or less identical, like I said. In the other reply to Sufilight I stated that we are better off working with "working hypotheses" and develop some models of natural process.
Dear friends

My views are:

Martin Euser wrote:
""unqualified devotion to its discovery and propagation (of truth) sounds rather pretentious [which human being knows absolute truth?] and is contradictory to the non-promulgation of doctrines. "

M. Sufilight says:
Yes, if the words are misunderstood, then I will certainly agree. But, when no doctrines could (or can) be promoted on behalf of the TS as given in the Constitution in the period 1875-1891, - the conclusion must be that each member formulated his or her own truths - while seeking altruism (i.e. the aim to create a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity) and in exchange with other members. (Yet, even then we found: Errare Humanum Est). This is as far as I know in accordance with various ancient mystery schools - including the philosophical exchanges between several Seekers in the old days in India. And I therefore mentioned the short passage "The Influence of Teaching" in my previous post.

Martin Euser wrote:
"Madam Blavatsky named her tome "The secret doctrine", so..what about not maintaining and promulgating doctrines?"

M. Sufilight says:
I will give the following views, others might disagree...The Secret Doctrine was never forwarded as a doctrine on behalf of the Theosophical Society - and was forwarded as a hypothesis for each reader to evaluate on his or her own. And even because Blavatsky was one of the co-founders of the Theosophical Society, one cannot claim that she forwarded The Secret Doctrine on behalf of the Theosophical Society, because she did not, and could not because of the Society's Constitution. She merely forwarded it as a member.

Martin Euser wrote:
"Her teachings are full of doctrines (karma, reincarnation, hierarchies, etc.), which became dogma to many of her followers. I am aware of the difference between a doctrine and a dogma, but most people do not discriminate very well between the two."

M. Sufilight says:
Yes. And this is a predicament, which have happened many times thorugh the ages. The teachings got distorted and the result was quite often the establishment of a fanatical secterian behaviour and dogmatic sects. - Today we have the science of psychology and various theosophical versions of psychology (The Psychological Key so to speak); - and we learn about the problems of Mind Control and coercive techniques, as well as the bad results being yielded by dogmas in various religions. I will say: We are today generally speaking at a beginning stage, where a great number humanity, (also a number of so-called theosophists or esoteric seekers), slowly are going to learn the difference between dogmas, mind control etc. on the one side, - and the use of hypotesises and non-secterian behaviour on the other. And I will say, that: The difference between scholary teaching; which most often today is conditioned teaching and culturally biased teachings, - versus - un-condintioned teaching (by some called wisdom teaching) will also become more visible.

Martin Euser wrote:
"In our 21st century we can avoid dogma and instead of doctrines one can work with "working hypotheses" and develop models of natural process.
This is a much sounder way of operating, especially when one tries to build bridges between the spiritual way of looking at things and scientific findings.
Of course, there is an important role for intuition to play in all this, and I believe that our society should pay a lot more attention to this faculty of the human being."

M. Sufilight says:
I agree very much with you about this.

H. P. Blavatsky said:
"The Neo-Platonists were a large body, and belonged to various religious philosophies*; so do our Theosophists."
(The Key to Theosophy, p. 4)

The Neo-Platonists did not forward one doctrine alone, and Blavatsky only quoted various parts of some of these authors doctrines.

- - - -
SOME DEFINITIONS of WORDS (taken from the Internet)
(1) Esoteric:
Esoteric (Gr.). Hidden, secret. From the Greek esotericos, "inner" concealed.
(Exoterical is the opposite.)

In various dictionaries Esoteric is also:
"private; secret; confidential."
The word are to be understood in broad terms.

(2) Dogma and dogmatic:
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.

(3) Mind control:
Mind control (also known as coercive persuasion, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated - Also implies leaders who disallow wellmeant criticism. --- Here we are only dealing with it in its religious sense.

(4) Altruism:
Altruism is selfless concern for the welfare of others.

(5) Sectarian person:
A narrow or bigoted person or persons.
Sect: The term is occasionally used in a negative way to suggest the broken-off group follows a more negative path than the original.

Bigotry added to explain the word sectarian:
A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. The correct use of the term requires the elements of intolerance, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs or views.
(All the above words definitions have been taken from the Internets online dictionaries and wikipedia.)

- - -
H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
"The Society founded to remedy the glaring evils of Christianity, to shun bigotry and intolerance, cant and superstition and to cultivate real universal love extending even to the dumb brute"
(BCW, Vol. VII. P. 246)

All the above is however just my views...

M. Sufilight
Martin, I appreciate your views and I don't want to belabor the point, but the difference between "dogma" and "doctrine" still remains very thin and a "fuzzy thin" at that. It would seem to depend on the person using it and the context.

Note, the online Dictionary I referenced used the word "doctrine" in defining "dogma" and used the word "dogma" in defining "doctrine." Even M. Sufilight defines "Dogma and Dogmatic" as "the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization." We're caught in an endless loop!

The only view I can come up with is that the two terms are used inter-changeably by the vast majority of people and used slightly differently at other times by some. Evidently there is no official agreement on what's right, for we certainly can't turn to a dictionary for help in this.

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