Theosophy has to change, and it is the perfect tool for changing the world. Theosophy is the bridge between Science and Theology, as HPB pointed out at the conclusion of The Secret Doctrine. At the time of her death in 1891, she was preparing the following article, which was published in the April 1893 issue of Lucifer:
ON AUTHORITIES IN GENERAL AND THE AUTHORITY OF MATERIALISTS, ESPECIALLY

[Lucifer, Vol. XII, No. 68, April, 1893, pp. 97-101]

In assuming the task of contradicting “authorities” and of occasionally setting at nought the well established opinions and hypotheses of men of Science, it becomes necessary in the face of repeated accusations to define our attitude clearly at the very outset. Though, where the truth of our doctrines is concerned, no criticism and no amount of ridicule can intimidate us, we would nevertheless be sorry to give one more handle to our enemies, as a pretext for an extra slaughter of the innocent; nor would we willingly lead our friends into an unjust suspicion of that to which we are not in the least prepared to plead guilty.
One of such suspicions would naturally be the idea that we must be terribly self-opinionated and conceited. This would be false from A to Z. It does not at all stand to reason that because we contradict eminent professors of Science on certain points, we therefore claim to know more than they do of Science; nor, that we even have the benighted vanity of placing ourselves on the same level as these scholars. Those who would accuse us of this would simply be talking nonsense, for even to harbour such a thought would be the madness of conceit—and we have never been guilty of this vice. Hence, we declare loudly to all our readers that most of those “authorities” we find fault with, stand in our own opinion immeasurably higher in scientific knowledge and general information than we do. But, this conceded, the reader is reminded that great scholarship in no way precludes great bias and prejudice; nor is it a safeguard against personal vanity and pride. A Physicist may be an



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undeniable expert in acoustics, wave-vibrations, etc., and be no Musician at all, having no ear for music. None of the modern bootmakers can write as Count Leo Tolstoi does; but any tyro in decent shoemaking can take the great novelist to task for spoiling good materials in trying to make boots. Moreover, it is only in the legitimate defence of our time-honoured Theosophical doctrines, opposed by many on the authority of materialistic Scientists, entirely ignorant of psychic possibilities, in the vindication of ancient Wisdom and its Adepts, that we throw down the gauntlet to Modern Science. If in their inconceivable conceit and blind materialism they will go on dogmatizing upon that about which they know nothing—nor do they want to know—then those who do know something have a right to protest and to say so publicly and in print.
Many must have heard of the suggestive answer made by a lover of Plato to a critic of Thomas Taylor, the translator of the works of this great Sage. Taylor was charged with being but a poor Greek scholar, and not a very good English writer. “True,” was the pert reply; “Tom Taylor may have known far less Greek than his critics; but he knew Plato far better than any of them does.”* And this we take to be our own position.
We claim no scholarship in either dead or living tongues, and we take no stock in Philology as a modern Science. But we do claim to understand the living spirit of Plato’s Philosophy, and the symbolical meaning of the writings of this great Initiate, better than do his modern translators, and for this very simple reason. The Hierophants and Initiates of the Mysteries in the Secret Schools in which all the Sciences inaccessible and useless to the masses of the profane were taught, had one universal, Esoteric tongue—the language of symbolism and allegory. This language has suffered neither modification nor amplification from those remote times down to this day. It still exists and is still

———————
* [Prof. A. Wilder. Also quoted in Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 109 from Intro. to Taylor’s Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries p. 27, 4th. ed.; p. xix, 3rd ed. 1875 (Rpr. by Wizards Bookshelf, 1980.) ]
———————



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taught. There are those who have preserved the knowledge of it, and also of the arcane meaning of the Mysteries; and it is from these Masters that the writer of the present protest had the good fortune of learning, howbeit imperfectly, the said language. Hence her claim to a more correct comprehension of the arcane portion of the ancient texts written by avowed Initiates—such as were Plato and Iamblichus, Pythagoras, and even Plutarch—than can be claimed by, or expected from, those who, knowing nothing whatever of that “language” and even denying its existence altogether, yet set forth authoritative and conclusive views on everything Plato and Pythagoras knew or did not know, believed in or disbelieved. It is not enough to lay down the audacious proposition, “that an ancient Philosopher is to be interpreted from himself [i.e., from the dead-letter texts] and by the contemporary history of thought”;* he who lays it down has first of all to prove to the satisfaction, not of his admirers and himself alone, but of all, that modern thought does not woolgather in the question of Philosophy as it does on the lines of materialistic Science. Modern thought denies Divine Spirit in Nature, and the Divine element in mankind, the Soul’s immortality and every noble conception inherent in man. We all know that in their endeavors to kill that which they have agreed to call “superstition” and the “relics of ignorance” (read “religious feelings and metaphysical concepts of the Universe and Man”), Materialists like Prof. Huxley or Mr. Grant Allen are ready to go to any length in order to ensure the triumph of their soul-killing Science. But when we find Greek and Sanskrit scholars and doctors of theology, playing into the hands of modern materialistic thought, pooh-poohing everything they do not know, or that of which the public—or rather Society, which ever follows in its impulses the craze of fashion, of popularity or unpopularity—disapproves, then we have the right to assume one of two things: the scholars who act on these lines are either moved by personal conceit, or by the fear of public

———————
* [M. A. Jowett, The Dialogues of Plato; Introduction to the Timaeus Vol. III, p. 524 (2nd ed.) 1875]
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opinion; they dare not challenge it at the risk of unpopularity. In both cases they forfeit their right to esteem as authorities. For, if they are blind to facts and sincere in their blindness, then their learning, however great, will do more harm than good, and if, while fully alive to those universal truths which Antiquity knew better than we do—though it did express them in more ambiguous and less scientific language—our Philosophers will still keep them under the bushel for fear of painfully dazzling the majority’s eyes, then the example they set is most pernicious. They suppress the truth and disfigure metaphysical conceptions, as their colleagues in physical Science distort facts in material Nature into mere props to support their respective views, on the lines of popular hypotheses and Darwinian thought. And if so, what right have they to demand a respectful hearing from those to whom TRUTH is the highest, as the noblest, of all religions?
The negation of any fact or claim believed in by the teeming millions of Christians and non-Christians, of a fact, moreover, impossible to disprove, is a serious thing for a man of recognized scientific authority, in the face of its inevitable results. Denials and rejections of certain things, hitherto held sacred, coming from such sources, are for a public taught to respect scientific data and bulls, as good as unqualified assertions. Unless uttered in the broadest spirit of Agnosticism and offered merely as a personal opinion, such a spirit of wholesale negation—especially when confronted with the universal belief of the whole of Antiquity, and of the incalculable hosts of the surviving Eastern nations in the things denied—becomes pregnant with dangers to mankind. Thus the rejection of a Divine Principle in the Universe, of Soul and Spirit in man and of his Immortality, by one set of Scientists; and the repudiation of any Esoteric Philosophy existing in Antiquity, hence, of the presence of any hidden meaning based on that system of revealed learning in the sacred writings of the East (the Bible included), or in the works of those Philosophers who were confessedly Initiates, by another set of “authorities”—are simply fatal to humanity. Between missionary enterprise—encouraged far more on political than religious



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grounds*—and scientific Materialism, both teaching from two diametrically opposite poles that which neither can prove or disprove, and mostly that which they themselves take on blind faith or blind hypothesis, the millions of the growing generations must find themselves at sea. They will not know, any more than their parents know now, what to believe in, whither to turn for truth. Weightier proofs are thus required now by many than the mere personal assumptions and negations of religious fanatics and irreligious Materialists, that such or another thing exists or has no existence.
We, Theosophists, who are not so easily caught on the hook baited with either salvation or annihilation, we claim our right to demand the weightiest, and to us undeniable proofs that truth is in the keeping of Science and Theology. And as we find no answer forthcoming, we claim the right to argue upon every undecided question, by analyzing the assumptions of our opponents. We, who believe in Occultism and the archaic Esoteric Philosophy, do not, as already said, ask our members to believe as we do, nor charge them with ignorance if they do not. We simply leave them to make their choice. Those who decide to study the old Science are given proofs of its existence; and corroborative evidence accumulates and grows in proportion to the personal progress of the student. Why should not the negators of ancient Science—to wit, modern Scholars—do the same in the matter of their denials and assertions; i.e., why don’t they refuse to say either yea or nay in regard to that which they really do not know, instead of denying or affirming it a priori as they all do? Why do not our Scientists proclaim

———————
* We maintain that the fabulous sums spent on, and by, Christian missions, whose propaganda brings forth such wretched moral results and gets so few renegades, are spent with a political object in view. The aim of the missions, which, as in India, are only said to be “tolerated” (sic) seems to be to pervert people from their ancestral religions, rather than to convert them to Christianity, and this is done in order to destroy in them every spark of national feeling. When the spirit of patriotism is dead in a nation, it very easily becomes a mere puppet in the hands of the rulers.
———————



The first portion of the article can be read here

Bearing in mind the scientific changes in the world going on in her time (this was several years before Einstein's Theory of Relativity was published, we can take some inspiration for today's world as well. The important points are:
1) Just because someone is an expert in their field does not mean they are protected from bias and prejudice, personal vanity and pride
2) We claim the right to argue upon every undecided question, by analyzing the assumptions of our opponents, and
3) Between missionary enterprise-encouraged far more on political than religiousgrounds-and scientific Materialism, both teaching from two diametrically opposite poles that which neither can prove or disprove, and mostly that which they themselves take on blind faith or blind hypothesis, the millions of the growing generations must find themselves at sea. The will not know, any more than their parents know now, what to believe in, whither to turn for truth.

What are your thoughts and what do we do to ask the questions that bridge this gap?

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I agree, mostly, with what you said. However, wording aside, as entities, science and religion have a gap between them. Not so much between science and religion, but science and morality. Back in the 70's we used to say that "You can't legislate morality." In today's scientific world, we (any decent moral human beings, some of whom may be theosophists) have an imperative to state our moral positions on genetics, bio-engineering and other scientific projects to which Joe and others refer in other threads. Blavatsky says that back in the day (Lemuria and Atlantis) scientists or inventors or gods or whatever you want to call them, were not able to create living creatures unless they were willing to enter those creatures and ensoul them themselves. She also refers to Mary Wollstonecraft's Frankenstein as being a possibility.
Going out on a very precarious limb here, I have to admit that I have one very vivid memory of an experiment that resulted in a life form, (which still exists today) The sheer terror of what was happening surrounding that memory and that experience is a powerful motivator for me in this arena. It is ABSOLUTELY MORALLY WRONG for scientists to do what they are doing today. (See monkeys with green glowing feet as an example) It is one thing to play around with genetics that give monkeys green glowing feet, whereas it is a whole other ball game that those genetics were passed to offspring. And I do not have the skills to translate what I know into any meaningful dialogue that would encourage any scientist to give up his/her grant money on moral grounds. My plea here is for people who are motivated to help in this dilemma.
If there was any way to express what I know and make it have the power of what I feel, I would do it.
I'm sorry, if there is a way to clone a new spine for my wife, I'm in favor of it and the morality be damned.
start a theosophical study group....
"Negators of Science" is the title of the full article, in CW 13.

One cannot but agree with point no. 1, except that it may apply to theosophists too.

 

Hinduism found Dharma in killing, even the near and dear ones, even those with whom one had no personal issues, through Lord Krsihna's teachings to Prince Arjuna. Yet Gautam Buddha preached Ahimsa. How to reconcile the two positions? When criticizing the Roman Catholic Church, the materialists or the scientists, whose side the theospohists are on - Krishna's or Buddha's? 

 

More than any other thought system, the Theosophists claim to know of the Evolution and the Divine Plan. Do they believe that the current developments in the Genetic Engineering is outside this plan - not approved by the Sanatkumaras of the universe? Is that feasible?

 

History teaches us that Evolution comes at a price. Certain life-forms are eliminated and others are transformed. This is what Genetic Scientists are doing. If human beings have to exist outside of the limits of the physical bodies someday, then we have to pay the price today in the form of all the horrors that is described.

 

More than this understanding, I see the political principle of POWERSHIFT at work here. Most of us will happily accept "Miracles", in the form of of a person healing others with touch, materializing or moving objects out of thin air and all other countless starnge phenomena. We may even call these people Divine or Spiritualists. But what scientists are doing is to give this power to the people. And that is why there is so much of opposition to it. Biotechnology is a direct challenge to the concept of a GOD and its AGENTS. It is only natural that those who derive their "Power" from such concepts, oppose it. But can they stop it?

 

The only alternative for the Theosophists, if they do not change, is to perish. Are they up to it?

Please forgive if the words appear to be too harsh.

Joe, Do you think "mythical superhuman masters" is a garbage idea?  Or that many critics think that  is so? 

Even if the latter is the meaning, where do you think these "ideas, their value and their application" came from?  From those Masters and Their greater Masters and so up the Golden Chain.

The notion of Masters need not be up front all the time or even much, but they cannot be tossed aside by theosophists because they are considered a "garbage idea" by anyone.

Joe Fulton said:

The nature of theosophies lends themselves to being timeless.  Therefore the issue has to be one of expression.

The specific theosophy that most of us find common, that of the tradition identified with Blavatsky has become a caricature of the word theosophy, a mish mash of mythologies involving mythical superhuman masters, founders who need protection from enemies and detractors and all kinds of other garbage ideas clinging on to the kernel of divine wisdom. 

What we have to get back to is the ideas, their value and their application.  More importantly we have to make those our own, not someone elses.  When we start doing this the wisdom will become one that we can share, not as a relic of the Victorian world, but as a guide into an uncertain future.

Well said Joe.


Captain Anand wrote:  "Hinduism found Dharma in killing, even the near and dear ones, even those with whom one had no personal issues, through Lord Krsihna's teachings to Prince Arjuna."

 

This is the literal interpretation of the story, to which I do not adhere. I take the story as symbolical of the struggle between the spiritual side (Krishna - Higher Self) and the selfish elements - his own thoughts: family indeed-  in Arjuna (the type of the human personality). The selfish elements have to be rooted out. One has to do one's duty and especially follow one's dharma or inner pattern.  That's the symbolical meaning of the Bhagavad Gita. No contradiction with Gautama Buddha here!

 

I beg to differ with you on the other points too.

"But what scientists are doing is to give this power to the people"

Really? More often than not, power is given to multinationals who try to force-feed their products through the throats of the people through endless advertising, etc. I hope you do remember my remark on the selling of genetically modified seeds to the Indian farmers and the disastrous consequences of that?


Thanks Martin.

 

There are other meanings for the word Dharma too, in Indian Literature. It also means the principle which brings objects into motion and Adharma being the principle which brings objects into rest. The universe being the manifestation of motion, Dharma and Adharma symbolize the principles behind that manifestation and have nothing to do with good deeds, duty etc, as is popularly believed. The problem for ordinary people like us is to decide which of the meaning the author truly intended to convey, as all of them make sense.

 

Yet if one examines the principle of change, it includes annihilation of old and manifestation of new. Annihilation or elimination of old would be violence. Therefore violence should be an integral principle of evolution. Or, should one take the view that for a gene to change itself over thousand of years is OK but to do the same thing in laboratory in a short period of time is not?

 

Blaming the scientific community for the follies of Multinational Corporations is like blaming Einstein for the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant disaster. Humanity paid the price for the nuclear technology through Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now Fuskushima. In between there would be many which are undocumented. But the same power is also lighting millions of homes in a far cleaner manner than any other means, today.

 

Indian farmers too paid the price and will pay in future too. But GM food is the answer to the hunger of the growing populations of the developing nations. Eventually market forces will sort out the most controversial of them all where the farmer has to purchase new seed before every crop. But, the increase in yield (up to three times), and reduced use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides or pesticides more than make up for that. Uncontrolled profiteering which the Multinationals are accused of, is our failure and not theirs. And, we have failed because we strayed from the basic Theosophical teaching of UNITY. As long as we consider them to be different from us, they shall succeed.

 

It is the scientists and their work which has allowed me to disagree with you, or communicate my views to you. If it was not for the internet, I could never hope to put my views across to a scholar of your stature. I would not have even heard about you or you about me. This is evolution. Let us welcome it. But be prepared to the price.   

 

Ditto...

 

Don't we see the red flags in the drop in membership in most countries and even in the USA? In one of the largest US Cities, Atlanta, Georgia, the long time lodge has been downsized to a study center. A lodge requires a paltry seven members and a study center, just three.

 

What I see is the disconnect between those exposed to theosophy, whether they are formally attached to an organization or not, and the society in which they live. Let us get out of the cocoon and get involved in issues that matter to our fellow men and women and of course the First Object gives us the guiding principle to be used. Finally it is we, you and me, have to seize the opportunity and go forward.

 

 

Capt. Anand Kumar said:

 

The only alternative for the Theosophists, if they do not change, is to perish. Are they up to it?



One cannot but agree with point no. 1, except that it may apply to theosophists too.

 

Hinduism found Dharma in killing, even the near and dear ones, even those with whom one had no personal issues, through Lord Krsihna's teachings to Prince Arjuna. Yet Gautam Buddha preached Ahimsa. How to reconcile the two positions? When criticizing the Roman Catholic Church, the materialists or the scientists, whose side the theospohists are on - Krishna's or Buddha's? 

 

More than any other thought system, the Theosophists claim to know of the Evolution and the Divine Plan. Do they believe that the current developments in the Genetic Engineering is outside this plan - not approved by the Sanatkumaras of the universe? Is that feasible?

 

History teaches us that Evolution comes at a price. Certain life-forms are eliminated and others are transformed. This is what Genetic Scientists are doing. If human beings have to exist outside of the limits of the physical bodies someday, then we have to pay the price today in the form of all the horrors that is described.

 

More than this understanding, I see the political principle of POWERSHIFT at work here. Most of us will happily accept "Miracles", in the form of of a person healing others with touch, materializing or moving objects out of thin air and all other countless starnge phenomena. We may even call these people Divine or Spiritualists. But what scientists are doing is to give this power to the people. And that is why there is so much of opposition to it. Biotechnology is a direct challenge to the concept of a GOD and its AGENTS. It is only natural that those who derive their "Power" from such concepts, oppose it. But can they stop it?

 

The only alternative for the Theosophists, if they do not change, is to perish. Are they up to it?

Please forgive if the words appear to be too harsh.

Thanks Capt. Anand.  Yes, violence (or struggle) is an integral principle of evolution, provided that one does not forget to include the polar opposite: cooperation, mutualism as it is called in biology, etc. These form part of a dynamical process called life which includes evolution. As to genetic manipulation, there are multiple perspectives possible on that. On the one hand, a possible solution to hunger (although there is enough food in this world - only it is not properly distributed,a billion or so of the world population suffering from obesity, and perhaps another billion from undernourishment). But is it wise to allow GMO crops to crossbreed with plants in the wild, something which has already happened in the USA? One can't stop the wind blowing pollens across the country. What are the long-term consequences of this? No-one knows.

Nuclear energy is another story. The military have pushed the development of uranium-plutonium reactors, for obvious purposes - nuclear bombs - which is a questionable thing. Thorium based reactors are safer, as far as I know, and these are now under development.

 

 

"Joe: It is time to get out of this Victorian rabbit hole and join the rest of us in the 21st Century."

Then you had better pull all the Sanskrit, Buddhist, Jain, Theosophist, Path etc. content from this oh so contemporary site.  Those rabbit holes are far deeper than the Victorian. 

And since, (I suspect) that reverence is also a no-no here, better make sure reverence & adoration for the present forms of intellectual expression is muted.  Otherwise the worship of Today will develop into a form of egoism just like my "worship" of the Ancient spiritual ideas.

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