Great question. Who cares? Their existence (or lack thereof) is of no importance.
We need to stand on our own and look for truth in the things that can be proven and not in the realm of useless speculation.
Perhaps if we lived be best lives that we could, loved wisdom for its own sake and treated others as a reflection of ourselves, we wouldn't need to be concerned with such useless matters.
When that day arrives we will regard such silliness as chasing after mahatmas, gurus, masters, etc. the way we react to the idea of eating rocks.
Yes you are correct , I am presently in India ,I am to be blamed for writing about Sanskrit and then jumping to a discourse on Malayalam !. My mother tongue is a Southern Indian language called Malayalam - the script is circular and is known as a Dravidian Language . Much like how Thai is written - well this is something like that . The state I am from is called Kerala and is the birthplace of Shankaracharya. We have Nasal sounds much like how the Chinese,Koreans,Japanese and Thai pronounce but they are more general nasals (if I may so put it) rounded soft and does not carry a sharp ring or sort of tinny sound that you get in those languages. it is quite a difficult language to learn if you are not born into it , Some word clusters cannot be properly pronounced by Hindi speakers however much they try as their tongues do not have that physical dexterity that is required . However it is easy for most people who speak Malayalam to learn and pronounce other Indian languages with ease and sanskrit is also (with some effort) gained to. It is generally a soft language unlike say Russian where everything is spoken with a strength "away' from you. For a westerner it comes across as a language that is spoken very rapidly and just slips away , indistinct and maybe only some sounds corresponding to the letters D, T ,or R may be discernible . But strangely enough the first Malayalam lexicon was by a German , and also the first book on the flora and fauna of Kerala (or Malabar Coast as it is also known ) was also by a German. We have the largest population of Christians in any single state in India , we have Jews , There is a Dutch church which is the oldest in India , Saint Thomas first came to India in Kerala. The place is lush with greenery and lakes and rivers . It is also among the very few places in India which did not come under the direct rule of Britain during their occupation of India . Generally we are percieved as a peaceful people (most south Indians are ) our history being that we were mainly an agricultural community and not much into wars . The kings of kerala were not as wealthy and opulent as those in other parts of India as they had only small tracts and populations which constituted their kingdom , so they were not autocratic rather they encouraged studies , opened schools , arts ,education , health and health care . Themselves being artists and poets and visionaries. The families are still there and - the general people still respect the lineage and they are called upon as a matter of right to administer some cultural duties as rulers. Unlike in other parts of India the state is a urban - village continuum , the cities itself approximating something like a village and the villages not quite as backward as a typical indian village. Amongst the hindus the matrilineal succession was followed - women were held in high esteem since olden times and as a result the women here are very educated and well informed . arrival of Christianity only helped to bolster this. Almost all the Christians here are Hindus who embraced the religion once it appeared. Many of my friends have traced their hindu ancestry to within as close as three generations. As trivia the word Malayalam written in English is the only pallindromic spelling for a language. Kerala is one of the smallest states in India , but we are 30 million people (which by Indian standards is low ). Hope to see you here some day - Namaste .
Paulo Batista: Right.
Hari Menon: Very interesting your insight about languages. I had tought of that too myself. you can SEE the objects with your mind, in some languages. Teachers they should teach that in school, makes to kids more easily to LEARN. They said that some languages -like Chinese- makes use BOTH brain hemispheres, because you can SEE with your mind the word you're about to pronounce, that is also because Chinese is a very visual language too.
Some languages are more easy to learn to me than others. Portuguese i find it very difficult. French...phew...French is also a very complex language, a bit more complex than Spanish-at least to me, that English is NOT my native language and still i learned it since a child, and find it that French is more complex to me than English language. English language is a very plain tongue, and i didn't realize that for you is a non-visual language, because to me, as i was child daughter of the hippie generation, everything to us was 'visual' from start -from psycodelia itself- and I learned English the visual way. not the same as French, that i started to learned it recently and find it quite difficult to me. Still, French is a very very complex tongue, with nasal pronuntiations, gramatical forms and phonetics, verbal conjuntions that the English language makes it more easily to learn. still English is the poorest of the tongues, the least complex, -exceptions itself, of course, the verbal English of folk yore ,as it in Spanish .
Spanish is a very colored language. speaks of warmth, of color and softness. German yes it is true it is more rude. The beauty of the Hindostanic words, by themselves, as it happens in Chinese , is the hability of the sound corresponding to the thing your mind is thinking, and then LANGUAGE becomes like a river, an it flows within yourself.
YOU point well what i've been thinking of language since a child...we all us X and Y' Gen are very visual, indeed...
Thanks for welcoming some of my ideas.
First of all, I guess that the expression "Ascended Masters" is not found in Blavatsky's writings nor in the texts produced by the pioneers of the theosophical modern movement. The Mahatmas were real, they lived in a flesh body. I don´t know who entitled them "ascended".
Concerning Jesus, in the Mahatmas/HPB literature is said that his story is based on the life of a man called Jehoshua that was born around 100 BC. There will never be proof of which version is correct (Christianity vs Theosophy)...
I think I know what you mean when you say that there are theosophists that talk of Ascended Masters like the Catholic Saints. Probably they are very influenced by Leadbeater and Alice Bailey books, in which that kind of devotion is much more present.
What I was trying to say is that if Blavatsky made up the story behind the Masters, how can you believe in anything else she put forth?
If you read her personal correspondence and consider the hypothesis that I mentioned above, I guess you could consider her a very deluded woman or on the verge of sociopathic behaviour!
For me, it just doesn't make sense! In order to trust the message you have to trust the messenger if not completely, at least a great deal.
I would not consider Washington's book a very reliable source. It is full of mistakes and is based on testimonies of some of Blavatsky's bitter enemies.
Where were the Masters before Blavatsky? Aren't there reports of men like them before? Check David Pratt's latest text about the Count of St. Germain, for instance. I think Pratt is someone who is respected in the theosophical community...
Blavatsky never claimed that Theosophy was something new. On the contrary, she stated more than once than in the past others presented the very same ideas (check the 1st chapter of "The Key to Theosophy").
But I have noticed that in other threads here on theos.ning some forget that Blavatsky herself wrote that.
Being a believer in the existence of Masters (mostly because it is something that it is logical if you study the evolution of man), I am not expecting them to appear now and I don´t know if what happened in the late 19th century will ever repeat again. I think we have a lot of material in our hands.
It is up to us to know what do with it.
"No matter who is "out" there ultimately it is what is inside us that matters."
I agree completely and you can find in the Blavatsky/Mahatmas literature the same idea often repeated.
The portrayal of the Mahatmas that you can find in Blavatsky's theosophy is quite different from the one of her successors in the TS, and this is a line that must be drawn. On one side of that line I really see people getting lost in "the muddle of the [ascended] masters".
Here is a link to a text written by HPB in 1885 about Spiritual Progress. Is she in any way counseling students to worship the Mahatmas?
Curiously, on Theosophy Watch, Odin Townley's blog which I have been following in the last years there is a new post entitled "Mahatma of the Himavat". I can´t remember seeing this topic dealt with in the last couple of years, so, it is really a coincidence that he brought up this subject while we are having this discussion.
Here is the link:
I know that you are a very well-known person in the theosophical community and judging by your picture I have no doubt that you had much more time to read and study than I have had. I am not being impolite, it is just a fact; you are probably old enough to be my father. However it must be said that many others have also extensively studied much of the available theosophical literature and have a completely different opinion about Blavatsky and her Theosophy. And as you surely know we are talking of a lot of people. Some of them, academic scholars (I don´t know if this gives "extra points") . So, it should not be inferred from your words that if someone read and study all the literature connected with the Mahatmas/Blavatsky, he/she would automatically reach the same conclusion you did (and I'm sure you did not want to say this) concerning HPB and the version of Theosophy she brought to the world.
I'm sorry but I disagree with you about Paul Johnson's book. I still find very odd how one can build a whole theory around assumptions without firm ground (in my opinion).
I must also say that I do not think that Blavatsky had an aura of perfection. Her faults are very well described in the Mahatma Letters. However, it should be noticed that some have a particular inclination to exaggerate her defects, while completely neglecting her many qualities.
Finally, I don´t understand why one cannot discuss HPB/Masters or even neo-theosophy on theos.ning? Shouldn't this community be more open-minded?
"The Kingdom of God is Within You"
I actually think he was directing his audience to look inward and realize their own divinity. Jesus was most certainly a Theosophist.
the key to the understanding how "hierarchy" and "masters" work is given in the Gospels, in Luke, 22, 26 "But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve"
my conscise description (not the same than a definition) of "masters" as "those who have learnt to use mind for common good" is no more than another way to express the idea given in the Gospel ;-)
Ive actually been able to make sense of a great deal of the parables and other parts of the bible through learning Qabalah. It is a very Qabalistic book, I would even venture to say it was a product of Qabalah. As far as his really existing, I personally have no reason to believe he didnt exist(his being the most influential person to ever walk the face of the earth is enough reason for me) but really I dont get into debating that. His message has been very much misconstrued by religion and dogmatic distortion. There is a great deal to be learned from Jesus and his message was very much a Theosophy.
There really are no masters simply because true spirituality cannot be passed on. How does anyone explain the inexplicable?
I learned recently the secret of the 33rd degree Mason. Now if there was ever such a person he would be a master; however, those that claim the 33rd degree status in Masonry is everything but a 33rd degree because they are still hanging around the lodge..
You see, once you reach the so-called 33rd degree you have gone beyond all that you can possibly learn: all the fixed ideas and conceptual themes. There is no realm that contemplative thought can attach itself to.
Christ could not die or ascend back into the Kingdom of God until he reached his 33rd year.
Did you know that there is exactly 33-panels on the ceiling of hte Sistine Chapel?
There are 33-parts to the globe in the United Nation's flag.
There are 32-paths to the Kabbalist Tree of Life. The 33rd path is Daat. Is there any wonder why it cannot be seen?
There are 32-feathers on one side of the Eagle on the seal of the United States and 33-feathers on the other side of the eagle.
Are all of these things coincidences?
The temptation of freezing is 32-degrees and free flowing water is at 33-degree. There is a vast chasm between 32 and 33-degrees.
The point is that once 33 is reached one should leave the 32 behind.
The story of the Buddha is an apt story to relay here.
There was a young man that wanted to go to the land of Navana and so he joined a monastery. Buddhism is called the Little Ferry Boat on a symbolic level, which will convey the initiate to the land of Navana. The neophyte is taught to raise the sails and do his daily chores besides putting on the monk's robes and fingering the prayer beads. Life from afar appears to be very sweet to the outsider. Some three decades or more later the initiate find himself on the shore of the land of Navana. He gets off the Little Ferry Boat and walks inland and go off and is never seen again. One of the new fledging neophytes askes, "why did he not take the Little Ferry Boat with him?" and his teacher answered, "because once you reach the land of Navana you do not need the Little Ferry Boat any longer."
Thus, one has to ask oneself, "can there really be any masters?" For if there were any to be found what would a master say to a neophyte that he or she could understand? The chasm between the first and second degree is as vast as the one between the 32nd and the 33rd; Thus the distance between the first and the 33rd degree is infintite in comparison. Would anybody on earth be qualified to speak to a master? One must consider that one can drink a glass of water but not a glass of ice.
William, please do not understand my reply as a personal attack, this is not my intention.
I cannot understand how is it that "true spirituality cannot be passed on". My experience is that it can be passed on, just like any other teaching, IF someone wants to learn and someone wants to teach. These are the only required conditions for the process.
I understand "true spirituality" as that which makes humanity progress, in any of the human fields of activity, so this is a collective effort in which each individual has a share. This is not my idea, it can be found in Alice A Bailey's books.
I was told this 33rd degree "secret" years ago, and if I understood it properly, it means that the 33rd degree initiate needs the Lodge and its rituals no more, that he (or she, depending on the particular masonic affiliation) is free to move at will... and Enoch came to my mind, Enoch, who "walked with God" "and was not found, because God had translated him"... and the words in John's Gospel about anyone born of the spirit, that it cannot be said how such one comes and goes.
So I cannot understand how people write about what Christ cannot do, as you have done above. I don't understand why Churches have ascended him to "Heaven above" or "the Kingdom of God". Do priests, bishops and theologians fear him? The fact is that in every century, including the present one, some people have claimed that they have met him. Of course they all may be insane, but if those are insane, what about theologians? They may be insane, too...
But maybe the root issue is "common good", if there is a real common good and a "master" is someone who has learnt to use mind to serve common good, then there is no communication gap between such a master and the neophytes who want to learn to use mind to serve common good. But this does not mean that learning will be easy and that no mistakes will be made, it just means that it can be done.
Very interesting, I never looked at it that deeply.