Richard Ihle/Captain/General Theosophy
“The Strange Reincarnation of Captain Theosophy” might be a more apt title, I suppose. . . .
The original “Captain Theosophy” has been dead for thirty years, of course. He was a fictional character who appeared a few times in the pages of the American Theosophist. However, perhaps he was only fictional in the sense of one of General Theosophy’s aphorisms: “Let us pity those who are unable to even fictionalize themselves into Mystery and Larger Meaning.”
Anyway, Captain Theosophy was not universally popular. He was either too funny or not funny enough to suit many Theosophists [see reprinted cartoon from 1976].
Reacting to some letters to the editor and a few disparaging references from certain Theosophical podiums, Captain Theosophy grabbed a little sejant-suitable reading material and headed for the Deva-can (Theosophical Bathroom) for thirty years. . . .
But just because a person sets aside a particular “ego-garb” does not mean he or she cannot pick it up again for a future identity illusion of the same type somewhere down the line. It is true, I believe, that from the Ultimate point of view the “I” in “I am . . . [any finished sentence whatever]” is just a Single “Egoic” Thing (Brahman/Atman, One, Self, Undifferentiated Consciousness); however, when it is partially “differentiated” (“contaminated” as the samkhya and yogic philosophies might prefer to say) by/into animating, physical, desire-feeling, desire-mental, mental, and Spirit-mental sub-variants of “Substance” (“Prakriti,” as J.[?]. Mills might prefer to say), then from another point of view we are a multitude of ever-changing “partial egos” (the I-shifting “man machine” as G.I. Gurdjieff might prefer to say)—and therefore it becomes important to continuously “over-See” these lesser egoic “semi-I’s” (“semi-Selves” as R.J. Ihle, sometimes a.k.a. “Captain/General Theosophy,” might prefer to say) by means of the “Higher Self,” “Silent Watcher,” or untransmogrified Remainder of Atma’s Buddhic “vehicle” (“upadhi “ as H.P. Blavatsky might prefer to say). . . .
Whoa! Hmm . . . the foregoing paragraph just made me realize that there is a very good chance that the humor issue might not have been the main reason for Captain Theosophy’s original failure to achieve universal popularity, after all. Perhaps it was really his unfortunate inclination to right-off-the-bat compose way-too-many abstruse word-webs which put some of his audience in a bad mood. But that can’t be helped. Like many others, Captain Theosophy was a Theosophist in the traditional sadomasochistic writing-style sense. “Take your Theosophical literary punishment and give it, if there is no other choice,” he always said. Indeed, even thirty years ago the Captain was willing to return to H.P.B. again and again, despite the fact that her recondite, labyrinthine writing manner was frequently curdling his enthusiasm for genius. Therefore, having always been willing to do his masochistic Theosophical duty, perhaps his readers could have been a little more tolerant of Captain Theosophy, even if some of his articles might have seemed like arcane Theosophical sadism.
But the last time I saw the Captain he was not bitter; neither are my other ego-formations, semi-Selves, or semi-I’s (pick your term, depending upon whether you are a psychologist, metaphysician, or truck driver). In fact, most of “us” (but one at a time, please) try to keep smiling. As General Theosophy says, “If you smile for no reason, a reason will invariably appear later.” Furthermore, as the General also says, “A smile is the greatest yoga posture of all, especially for developing flexibility . . . in others.” And I suppose a little audience flexibility is what Captain Theosophy is hoping for in this latter-day essay.
For, alas, it is the what-is-Theosophy? question which has again incarnated the Captain (damned ineluctable samskaras!), and trying to answer that question is always more pleasant if the opposing teams show a degree of sportsmanship and flexibility. Opposing teams? Well yes, Merriam-Webster, at least, is not shy about defining the disputants: theosophy “1 : teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight; or 2 often capitalized : the teachings of a modern movement originating in the United States in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation.” (For #2, the dictionary authors could undoubtedly have even been less shy, and probably more accurate, by simply saying, “the writings of H.P. Blavatsky.”)
So what does the Theosophical in The Theosophical Society really stand for anyway—the “epistemological” definition #1, the “doctrinaire” definition #2, or both?
“Both,” says Captain Theosophy, “but with the addition of an ancillary, yet still important, definition #3.” This latter analogical characterization was presented by H.P.B. herself. She says [in “What is Theosophy?” The Theosophist, Vol. I, No. 1, October, 1879, p. 2]: “But history shows it [Theosophy] revived by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the Neo-Platonic School. He and his disciples called themselves ‘Philaletheians’—lovers of the truth; while others termed them the ‘Analogists,’ on account of their method of interpreting all sacred legends, symbolical myths and mysteries, by a rule of analogy or correspondence, so that events which had occurred in the external world were regarded as expressing operations and experiences of the human soul.”
It is here where flexibility may be needed. This is because Captain Theosophy is suggesting that H.P.B’s grand systems of Cosmogenesis and Anthropogenesis—Manvantara, Pralaya, Fohat, karma, reincarnation, Rounds, Root Races, Sub-Races, etc.—may serve, at least in part, as modern Theosophy’s sacred legends or symbolical myths. Perhaps just as important as trying to find some corroborating scientific evidence for this consecrated lore—or drudgingly trying to nit-pick precise meanings from this nit-built (and sometimes nit-contra-nit) Mount Everest—might be a definitional #3 effort to simply interpret it all by means of analogy. In any event, with the help of this method, the Captain has become convinced that The Secret Doctrine gives clues about the most profound, down-to-earth “system” of psychology ever to appear on the planet. He calls this ancient esoteric treasure “Psychomaturation and the Doctrine of Seven-Year Cycles.”
Let Captain Theosophy try to be more clear about what is meant by the analogical method. (General Theosophy, of course, would not be concerned with clarity of exposition, only speed unobstructed by mental operation: “If you are thinking that you may be a Master,” he says, “stop thinking and thereby increase the possibility.”) In this regard, many, if not most, Theosophists are familiar with the axiom found in The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus: “As it is Above, so it is below; as it is below, so it is Above.” Often, this is shortened to “As Above, so below.”
As Above, so below. As Above, so below. The curious thing is that although this form of the abbreviation is sometimes repeated almost to the mantra-point, more interest seems to lie in its opposite direction—i.e., positing (or corroborating) what may be Above by making an analogy with what has been noticed going on below. For examples: 1) As below on the microcosmic scale, inactive night generally follows productive day; therefore, so Above on the macrocosmic scale, a Praylaya following a Manvantara might be analogized into existence. 2) As below, people usually use up their allotted daily energy and eventually tire, become “embrangled,” and need to go to sleep in order to be “reborn” the next morning for a fresh start; therefore, so Above, an analogized Doctrine of Reincarnation might be “hypothesized”/”hypostatized.” 3) As below, not only is it obvious that interpersonal and other consequences of a person’s actions carry over to the next day, but seemingly also do the same uncorrected tendencies which habitually incline the person toward those actions; therefore, so Above, a universal, death-defying Doctrine of Karma complete with a detailed elaboration about translifetime-surviving samskaras (“desire-seeds,”) might be given “anal-birth” (okay, so some of the Captain’s old critics were right . . .).
Analogies in the below-to-Above direction may or may not have validity; however, they are perhaps not absolutely compelling or satisfying for many Truth-seekers. Indeed, speaking personally, I would be swayed far more by a burning-bush-with-a-Voice than a Theosopher’s literary device any day. (In the foregoing sentence, “personally” just means speaking as that moment’s particular semi-Self—probably Consciousness which has become partially “tainted” by interaction with the body’s limbic system, thus producing the “desire-feeling” (kama) Level of differentiated consciousness. This ego-formation may or may not be replaced by another type of semi-Self in the next moment.) Lacking a convincing combustion, though, this is where a Captain-Theosophy-of-the-moment usually begins crusading for definition #1 as being the more approachable, time-honored, “catholic,” or “general” form of T/theosophy. (Voila! Perhaps because of slightly increased involvement of the cerebral cortex, a “desire-mental” [kama-manas] semi-Self, which just for amusement has been named “Captain Theosophy,” has now started I-am-ing itself as the new, temporary egoic illusion.)
Indeed, when one thinks about it, should not Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition #1 really be the one which deserves the capital letter? “Mystical insight,” after all, basically means that a person has to some extent “Realized” his or her Divine Nature (Atma-Buddhi) and that his or her Spiritual perception or knowledge has been improved thereby—in other words, that he or she has increased the possibility of being able, at least temporarily, to “utilize”/”become” a Spirit-mental (Buddhi-manas) ego-formation. (There are experiential, utilitarian, and metaphysical reasons for giving Buddhi the alternate, slightly heterodox, translation “Spirit”—H.P.B. also did this several times in The Key to Theosophy.) Mystical insight, intuition, Spiritual perception: call it what you will; certainly many saints and sages have regarded this as the Golden Path toward Theosophical Truth. However, such an approach, facilitated by meditation, prayer, and/or other “psychotechnological” practice is not always guaranteed to give sweeping certitude about a Google of details; rather, it may sometimes just convey a Growing Intimation about the validity some very broad Theosophical concepts.
Take reincarnation, for example. Whether my “Monad” (as per H.P.B.’s Anthropogenesis) was once a headless Asiras “pudding-bag,” a Hyperborean asexual shadow-person, or a Lemurian one-eyed giant I certainly could not even venture an opinion. However, decades of a Theosophically oriented life, especially faithful meditative practice, has given me at least a 51% Growing Intimation that reincarnation may indeed be a Theosophical fact/Law/possibility (“possibility” because I also have a Growing Intimation that after a certain point in “Psychomaturation” not everyone automatically reincarnates for further “earth-adventures”). That means maybe just 49% is left before I have, as Paul said, “the [full] peace which [sur]passeth [mere] understanding” about reincarnation. Now, having passed the half-way point, it does not seem at all strange to have such an Intimation. As a rule, I do not even bother arguing about it anymore. Now, I stand with Voltaire: “It is not more surprising to be born twice than once.”
But regarding the precise details . . . I usually find it best to remember General Theosophy’s advice: “By far the safest way to write or talk about transcendental subjects is to employ the strategy of the medieval mapmakers—that is, just make the shoreline crinkly."
If analogical construction/corroboration may have crinkly limitations in the microcosmic-to-macrocosmic direction, what about the reverse? Captain Theosophy believes that at the minimum it is at least more “checkable,” since it may reveal, again in H.P.B’s words, something about the “experiences of the human soul.” In this sense, perhaps psyche (the Greek root meaning both “soul” and “breath”) would be a better term than human soul, for it is really esoteric psychological (in its modern meaning) insights that the as Above-so-below analogist is after—insights that are verifiable by the success they bring to everyday life. For example, the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice may have provided Ammonius Saccas and his followers an opportunity for some-such practical “macro-to-micro-mining” (okay, so the rest of the Captain’s old critics were right, too.) . . .
Briefly, the story goes like this: Orpheus, a supremely gifted musician and poet, falls in love and marries the beautiful nymph—but not necessarily in its modern meaning—Eurydice (okay, okay, so even the Captain’s new critics are right . . .). She gets bitten by a snake and has to go down into the Underworld. Orpheus is so disconsolate that he resolves to go down after her—crossing the river Styx, defying the fierce, three-headed dog Cerberus etc. Once in the Underworld, Orpheus plays his lyre for King Hades and thus persuades him to release Eurydice. There is one condition, however: on the way upward Orpheus must not turn around to check whether or not Eurydice is following him.
Orpheus turns around to check.
Eurydice is immediately sucked back down into the Underworld.
Eurydice promptly forgets Orpheus and makes a pet out of Cerberus. [Sound of at least one e-magazine clapping—shut.]
The pet part is a lie. However, the rest of this “symbolical myth” is certainly true in the same sense as the question a kindergartener was once was reputed to have asked: “Then do you mean that a myth is something that is false on the outside but true on the inside?” [“Well yes, my little Rudolf-Steiner-Reincarnated-Remnant.”] What is this analogized, in this case, “up-to-earth” psychological truth? Perhaps simply that the consciousness needed for accomplishing things in life can easily be lost by being overly concerned about whether or not we are accomplishing things in life. And/Or, of course, the familiar lesson of the Bhagavad Gita: that the psychological/social/metaphysical order of things entitles us to work but not necessarily to any particular result of that work.
Let me hasten to explain that I do not regard the totality of The Secret Doctrine as only a myth. Indeed, I retain at least a 1% Growing Intimation about the concrete reality of even the most astounding things H.P.B. wrote and which have not yet been conclusively disproven. After all, I also have a minimum of 51% Growing Intimation that the analogical direction of as below so Above may also be a valid theosophical epistemology—that perhaps it really can provide esoteric knowledge and translifetime understandings which cannot be approached by any other means. Ridicule me if you wish, but I continue to walk the earth as a man who at least 1% suspects he once was a pudding-bag. . . .
Unfortunately, though . . . many modern critics seem to 100% suspect that all Theosophists are still pudding-bags. They do not see how anyone can take so much “non-empiricism” seriously. Many may even think that the only individuals who continue to revere The Secret Doctrine are those who were somehow first persuaded to whale-chug the entire three volumes (2,176 pages) on faith—that is, gulled-themselves-to-believe that it was written under the indefectible Guidance of paranormal Masters who could precipitate teacups and float messages down from the astral plane into railway cars. I continue to recline as an agnostic on the “Masters” issue; however, if I were forced to get up and march, it would probably be with K. Paul Johnson [in The Masters Revealed; SUNY Press, 1994, p.244]: “H.P.B.’s adept sponsors were [probably] a succession of human mentors rather than a cosmic hierarchy of supermen. In one sense, these hidden sponsors were indeed her Masters. But in another sense, she may have been greater than any of them.”
Amen. Therefore, it does not bother me in the slightest if Helena Blavatsky was guilty of every work of con-artistry that the Society for Psychical Research accused her of . . . or that she would today probably merit censure from the Anger Management Institute or Weight Watchers, Inc. In my opinion, paging through anything she wrote—and then just trying to lift the rest—should be enough to give a person with any intuition at all the distinct impression that there may be a better chance of seeing the like of an Aristotle or Isaac Newton on earth again rather than a H.P.B. Indeed, comparing oneself with other great people, one can sometimes think of specific, substantial increments in one’s own I.Q. or other natural or developed attributes which might result in one’s nearly matching them. With H.P.B., however, one draws a complete blank as to how one could ever close the Grand Canyon gap with her.
Still, I did not come to “organized” Theosophy, nor stay with it so long, for the purpose of hero-worshiping. I came because I intuitively seemed to notice an underlying structure, not only in Blavatsky’s writing, but also in that of many other Theosophists, which perfectly analogized with what I believe is the second most important Theosophical work of all: that is, not only employing meditation and other psychotechnologies to further Higher Self-realization (first importance), but also learning how to use the resultant development—in short, becoming more adept/Adept at unfolding one’s “latent powers,” as the Third Object of the Theosophical Society puts it. In more callow days the Captain would have called this “Psychomaturation for fun and profit.”
Regrettably, however, none of this may seem to have much prospect for fun, profit, or even intelligibility to a person who has little or no experience watching his or her own psychological states—or I should say watching his or her egoic illusions or semi-Selves. William James once said, “For the moment, what we attend to is reality.” Gurdjieff once said, “Where my attention is, there am I.” At first it may be very difficult for a person to imagine that something like a toothache could be considered “egoic” (in this case a semi-Self of the physical type of differentiated consciousness—“I am my upper molar pain”) in any sense whatsoever, no matter how partial or how transitory. Nevertheless, perhaps a little daily struggle with the focused-attention type of meditation, or even just trying to observe the successive stages of consciousness which naturally occur while falling asleep, may easily turn certain individuals into “Theosophical psychologists.”
Whether one sits in meditation or lies down in bed, the six-fold sequence of differentiated consciousness never varies: 1) first, one’s attention may try to “stray” away from a chosen focus (e.g., the forehead “chakra” point) and go to the breath (actually, to the “vital force,” prana, or “fohat” which underlies the inhalation/exhalation, thus temporarily “attention-creating” a semi-Self at the animating Level); 2) then the attention may stray to little “tingles,” aches, itches, or other sensory phenomena (physical); 3) then to dreamlike visual imagery, either replays or projections having at least a tinge of emotional significance (desire-feeling); 4) then to the “talking-to-oneself” has been added to the feeling-tainted visual imagery (desire-mental); 5) then, after the visual imagery has fallen away, to the dispassionate monologue which goes on and on (mental); 6) then to a more blissful Level where silent verbalization begins to “dissolve” and only a sort of “Ineffable Correlative” or “Place-holding Understanding” begins to hold sway (Spirit-mental).
“The Breath becomes a stone; the stone, a plant; the plant, an animal; the animal, a man; the man, a spirit; and the spirit, a god [H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine; Commentary on Stanza V].” The amazing thing about the foregoing is that it is the only version of the famous Kabalistic axiom I have ever found which starts off with “The Breath” [capital and italic in the original]. In other places throughout both Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine H.P.B. starts the axiom with the conventional “The stone becomes a plant. . . .”
What/Who prompted/Guided H.P.B. to pen an “esoteric” variation? I am sure I do not know . . . and I am sure I do not even care if some stickler-Scribes want to invalidate it because the metaphorical sequence is somewhat inconsistent with the way H.P.B. articulates the “human principles” or the traditional “exoteric” ordering of the chakras. (Captain Theosophy believes that chakra semi-science might be enhanced by understanding that Breath/breath/prana may be “heuristically associated” with all types of solar-plexus-related energy, including vital and sexual, and that the “rising serpent” kundalini may begin its journey from a “first chakra” [swadhisthana—trans. “one’s own abode”] “location” at the front of the body near the genitalia, pass through the legs, and then impact what would then be the “second chakra” [mudlahara] at the base of the spine—the “stone” or physical center.)
Not enough nerve to deviate from the crushing, consensual authority of old, old books and tradition-streams? General Theosophy says, “The first thing a modern Theosophist needs to do is to cultivate an indifference to the condescension of the dead . . . and those who just tend their graves.”
Anyway, apart from the obvious fact that in waking, non-meditative life, differentiated consciousness does not always follow the orderly sequence outlined above—it jumps around—a couple observations may be made. For one thing, while the psychological Levels can be expressed in familiar Eastern terms (prana, anna, kama, kama-manas, manas, Buddhi-manas), there is no Theosophically respectable Seventh Level mentioned. The reason for this is that in pure “I-Spiritual” (Atma-Buddhic) consciousness there would be nothing for the Silent Watcher to watch other than Itself. For another, and perhaps more interesting, thing: not everyone is equal in their ability to remain Higher Self-aware at the progressively more “rarefied” Levels of differentiated consciousness—i.e., some individuals will entirely lose the ability to return to meditative focus or simply fall asleep sooner than others. Some individuals have less Self-awareness; some individuals have more.
The implications of this inequality may be profound. Indeed, Captain Theosophy even predicts that in the Twenty-First Century it will not be the ideas of karma and reincarnation which will continue to draw the most public attention to the Theosophical Society; rather, it will be the open declaration of a psychologically based “Psychospiritual Hierarchy.” This is the somewhat shocking assertion that all human beings fall somewhere along a continuum of Self-awareness, and that it is an individual’s position along this continuum—and not some sham status attained by race, creed, sex, caste, color (as per First Object, T.S.), age, income, occupation, power, intelligence, education, talent, beauty, athleticism, fame, etc.—which gives a person his or her true rank in the world.
Of course, in macrocosmic form the idea of a Hierarchy has been there all along, particularly in H.P.B’s work (although here perhaps “Psychomaterial” might be better a better term than Psychospiritual). Unfortunately, concepts like “young souls” versus “old souls,” Rounds, Root Races, Sub-Races, etc. may be difficult to corroborate on any basis other than Theosophy’s definition #1, a person’s mystical insight or Growing Intimation. Fortunately, however, the Psychospiritual difference between individuals does lend itself to psychological “observation” and possible microcosmic explanation—first by becoming a better “Seer” of one’s own egoic transformations and then by “extrapolating” these inSights to the behavior of others.
For example, it might be hypothesized that one person may be able to remain somewhat Self-aware even while partially transforming into Third-Level (desire-feeling) semi-Self (for instance, when he or she is able to stay in control while at the same time starting to boil because someone has just cut him or her off in traffic). Another person, although he or she might not have any greater natural tendency for irritability (e.g., Mars square Sun?) than the former person, may nonetheless not have enough Psychospiritual development to continue to “ensoul” (“en-Self’) every type of Third-Level semi-Self monstrosity and thus may completely, albeit temporarily, Self-erase—i.e., for a time actually only psychologically BE his or her anger (for instance, when he or she robotically fires-off the Saturn finger). . . .
At some point in Psychomaturation, however, total Higher Self-erasures (actually Higher Self-awareness-erasures) may be dangerous firecrackers for maintaining one’s “esoteric rank” in everyday life; even more ominous, though, they might be atomic bombs in terms of reincarnation. How many times can one wholly indulge various semi-Selves to the point of Self-forgetting and still expect to return for another lifetime? I am sure I do not know. If some saints and sages are correct in their assertion that it is the seeds of uncorrected desires which pull us back into material existence again and again, then presumably one can count on returning for an incalculable number of lifetimes. Nonetheless, there is at least some speculation that there was a “licentious type” of ancient Gnostic who believed that individuals could take themselves out of the reincarnating stream by piling gross indulgence upon gross indulgence. One might imagine that this might be an even more efficient way to accomplish permanent “Self-Re-Undifferentiation” than applying the desire-extinquishing rigorous disciplines of the “ascetic type” of ancient Gnostic.
So . . . here are two possibilities: 1) a person may wish to improve Self-awareness and lessen the unpleasant consequences of contaminated consciousness by using meditation and/or other psychotechnologies (including prayer and/or simply the cultivation of more Mindfulness in daily life); or 2) a person may, either purposely or insentiently, make “diabolical use” of the modern world in order to actually diminish Self-awareness—and perhaps accomplish this even faster than any licentious-type antique Gnostic could have ever wet-dreamed. (The recipe: instead of allowing Higher Self-awareness to return over-See painful psychological aftermaths of complete semi-Self indulgences, a person could try to avoid/”cover” such “instant karma” by immediately piling on other soul-snatching attention-grabbers—for examples, the kamikaze use of non-stop electronic entertainment, pious “workaholism,” actual alcohol, drugs [proscribed and prescribed] . . . and/or compulsive reading of email. . . .)
Self remaining in the presence of semi-Self could well be the formula for both macro- and micro-scale Self-awareness. Certainly, an Above-to-below analogy from universal cosmology to individual psychology is very tempting here. On the macro scale the well-known Eastern view is that the One/Self may have needed to “manifest” Itself into Two and beyond in order to know Itself by contrast; similarly, on the micro scale the Higher Self may need animating, physical, desire-feeling, desire-mental, and Spirit-mental types of differentiated consciousnesses in order to eventually fully Realize Its own existence. This seems like an ambitious project indeed. However, intermittent or incomplete Realization may not be such a daunting task. Perhaps there has never been a member of the Theosophical Society who did not at least have an inkling that he or she had a Higher Self. Indeed, what would be the point of setting out on the “Quest” if all one ever expected to find were lowly, transitory psychological parts of oneself? As General Theosophy says, “Of all the things that happen to a person in life, nothing is less surprising than occasionally finding the Higher Self.”
Fully and uninterruptedly finding It is another matter, of course. Unless a person takes up meditation or other psychotechnology, it may take a great deal of human suffering—courtesy of egoic illusions made progressively possible by “psychomaturing” through the seven-year cycles—before this ho-hum discovery can be made “amid” at least six of the seven Levels of differentiated consciousness. Unfortunately, the common way to become more completely aware of the Higher Self may be just lots and lots of old-fashioned egoic anguish. Perhaps only after innumerable instances of the Higher Self’s Witnessing what It is not during times of Its partial transformation into less pure forms of consciousness can a person be finally convinced that It, the Higher Self, is the only Real, lasting Part of himself or herself—certainly, this is entirely consistent with the Vedantic view that, apart from Brahman/ Atman, all of creation, including any psychological state, must be regarded as just an “illusion” because it will ultimately pass away.
While the Higher Self alone may be Real, It is not always so much fun to have around. For example, using alcohol or drugs for inebriation (an animating semi-Self indulgence—“I really am [for the moment] my exhilaration/wanton energy dissipation”) is undoubtedly pleasant enough; however, a common consequence of this is experiencing vitality/prana depletion (animating semi-Self illusion), alternating with hangover pain (physical semi-Self illusion), alternating with shame (desire-feeling semi-Self illusion), alternating with irrational hopelessness (desire-mental semi-Self illusion), alternating with objective assessment of one’s character flaws (mental semi-Self illusion), etc. These aftermaths are not very pleasant. Perhaps this is not merely because the person experiences negative states, but because painful types of semi-selves do not seem to easily or fully take over as egos-of-the-moment—i.e., some Remnant of the Higher Self may remain untransformed and continue to be “on duty” as the Silent Watcher in times of psychological distress. If the Higher Self could talk (It cannot) about Its compromised condition at these times, It might say, “There’s no way I’m really this crappy consciousness I’ve partially become.”
Thus, the defining characteristic of human suffering may be to suffer and to simultaneously Watch oneself suffer. It is conceivable that when some lower animals have pain, they may simply completely become the pain (and it is not inconceivable that even some humans—sociopaths etc.—are similarly “protected” in this way). The defining characteristic of “elevated” human suffering may be to have achieved a significantly advanced Degree of Self-awareness—reached a “senior rank” in the Psychospiritual Hierarchy—so that there can be Witnessing of even more subtle types of personal, egoic misery.
Therefore, there is no guarantee whatever that an individual who, for example, is at some point in “Fifth-Degree” Self-awareness is automatically going to have a more pleasant life than one who is only at the Fourth-Degree. All Fifth-Degree development really means is that the person now has the potential to keep a “Once-Removed-Vantage” at all Levels of differentiated consciousness up through, but particularly including, any semi-Selves forming at the Fourth (desire-mental) Level. Another example: a Sixth-Degree individual would not have developed the potential to stay Higher Self-aware in Sixth-Level differentiated consciousness (Spirit-mental semi-Self—the egoic illusion “I really am my intuitive ideas/Numinous Understandings”), but he or she would have this potential while only in/utilizing/partially becoming Fifth-Level consciousness (mental semi-Self—the egoic illusion “I really am my thought, knowledge, and ideas which are not tainted by attraction, repulsion, or other emotion”).
But what if an individual does not use his or her advanced Psychospiritual potential? Well . . . then perhaps it is not a “life sucks and then you die” situation, but rather a “life sucks and then you become even more alive to new ways that life sucks” situation. . . .
Fortunately, H.P. Blavatsky [in The Key to Theosophy, T.P.H. London, reprint 1987, p.37] says, “It [Theosophy] is essentially the philosophy of those who suffer, and have lost all hope of being helped out of the mire of life by any other means.”
Now . . . it might be hard to see how this could work for many sufferers if all H.P.B. had meant was some sort of Boethian “consolation of philosophy” resulting from complete mastery of everything she had written about Cosmogenesis and Anthropogenesis. Another ambitious project indeed. Perhaps a case could even be made that over the years, a significant percentage of the people who have grabbed The Secret Doctrine as they were sinking in the mire ended up scratching their heads and thinking that now not only had they not been helped out of the mire, but indeed that now both they and their old mire too were together going down faster than ever in a hitherto unimagined, mostly incomprehensible, word-saturated Super-Mire. . . .
Furthermore . . . it is also not so likely that many sufferers might be helped if H.P.B. had meant that they were required to accept everything she had written as the definitive last word on Theosophy—that individuals must look no further. To the contrary, it is probable that H.P.B., like many other great Theosophists, was also interested in simply cultivating a 51% Growing Intimation about Theosophical ideas and heritage in a large number of Truth-seekers rather than just focusing on the relatively few individuals with enough android DNA to not only earn a Ph.D. in the specific study of, but perhaps also to take a public oath subscribing to, a new Mensa version of the Nicene Creed. . . .
Captain Theosophy believes that a 51% Growing Intimation is the first salvational step out of materialistic mire and onto firm Spiritual soil. From a Theosophical perspective, it may be far better to just gradually become 51% favorably inclined toward the general outline of some logically consistent, intuitively satisfying philosophical ideas about karma, reincarnation, etc. than it is to have a sudden conversion to 100% cocksureness regarding an entire reliquary of conventional theological absurdities/”Mysteries” still basking in all the light of the Dark Ages. The complete yin of unearned belief automatically produces seeds of its opposite and can quickly become the complete yang of disbelief, served up with its unsavory sauces of angst, despair, and meaninglessness.
By contrast, many Theosophists undoubtedly have lasting, highly rewarding religious lives just by remaining open to the possibilities of definitions #1, #2, and #3 as they progress from a glorious 51% to an exponentially even more glorious 52%. Mystical insight into, and personal tailoring of, the “philosophy of those who suffer” perhaps does at first require a “willing suspension of disbelief”; however, it almost certainly does not insist upon a willing suspension of self-reliance, intellectual honesty, and/or I.Q. points. Just an authentic little bit of Theosophically produced Growing Intimation goes a long, long, mire-free way. . . .
Thirty years is hardly even a moment in Theosophical time. When Captain Theosophy first incarnated, the remarkable Virginia Hanson was the editor of the American Theosophist (she was later followed by the outstanding William Quinn). Virginia always encouraged the Captain; once she even published an article of his where he numbered all of its sentences like it was from the Bible or something. Ah yes . . . Virginia’s rank in the Psychospiritual Hierarchy must have been very high for her to have tolerated such stupidities from the semi-Selves of her protégés.
Many other first-rate individuals also deserve recognition for having kept the Society going for the last thirty years, not to mention those stalwarts of the century before that. The Society’s longevity still seems remarkable to the Captain, especially considering that the what-is-Theosophy? question continues to be asked as often as ever, and the answers continue to have just about as many variations and/or nuances as there are members. A very diverse group, the membership. Perhaps it really is the case that the only common denominator among those who have at least been 51% prompted to join the Theosophical Society is that they may all have a certain advancement as the Sub-Race of a Root Race in H.P.B.’s terms—or have Psychomatured to a certain Degree of Self-awareness in Captain Theosophy’s language.
And after 30 years, the Captain continues to believe that analogy is an important tool and addition to Theosophical definitions. But again, so does H.P.B.: “Analogy is the guiding law in Nature, the only true Ariadne’s thread that can lead us, through the inextricable paths of her domain, toward her primal and final mysteries.” [The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, p.163] Unfortunately, analogizing from H.P.B.’s Rounds, the as Above, to the amazing psychological Doctrine of the Seven-Year Cycles, the so below, will have to wait until Captain Theosophy reincarnates again.
And this may happen soon. Why not? As General Theosophy says, “Prayers are answered in Theosophy as well, but priority may be given to those requests which do not require making 2+2 something other than 4.”
Who is General Theosophy? At some point in the last thirty years I had the thought that I maybe I should not be signing my name to certain writings, aphorisms usually, which came a little too easily, almost “thaumaturgically,” as H.P.Blavatsky might prefer to say. I felt “less egoic” than usual about these particular writings; I really didn’t care who got “credit” for writing them. I don’t know . . . perhaps they could have been the byproduct of a few fleeting instances of partial differerentiation into the Spirit-mental (Buddhi-manas) type of semi-Self. I surely hope so. Anyway, I thought that perhaps there were others who felt the same way about certain of their own insights and that therefore maybe it might be interesting if we all started sending contributions here and there with only the same —General Theosophy as our “communal byline.” Not only might this be a nice double entendre (General/general) to emphasize definition #1 as opposed to the cult danger H.P.B. warned about from overdoing definition #2, but it might also be useful to keep semi-Self-aggrandizment under control and provide some nice karma-free anonymity.
Unfortunately, it is already too late to make Captain Theosophy anonymous. Every time he shows up, everyone knows that it is really me (merely my name-illusion, though). Fortunately, however, the Captain has matured a great deal in thirty years, so unlike the old days, there should not be many complaints from readers, now or in the future. INDEED, THERE IS NOT NOW, NOR WILL THERE EVER BE AGAIN, ANY LOW-CALIBER HUMOR TO MAR HIS MESSAGE. (Now Captain Theosophy washes his hands before and after he uses the Deva-can. . . .)
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