General Theosophy will be the last religion left standing on Earth, of course.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote to John Adams [April 11, 1823], "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
Ditto, probably eventually, for all the miraculous lore and “Special Contacts” supporting most religions, spiritual movements, and, maybe sooner rather than later, the specific, un-analogized teachings of H.P. Blavatsky. Unfortunately, these latter esoteric teachings may already be on shaky legs in the modern scientific world, thanks to over a hundred years of "true-believers" within various Theosophical organizations having almost succeeded in making the remarkable 19th century Russian woman’s writings the preferred actual definition for the word Theosophy—in the same faulty way, perhaps, that the writings of Frederick Nietzsche—and only the writings of Frederick Nietzsche—might be twisted into the preferred actual definition for the word philosophy.
THE TRUE BELIEVER, of course, is also the title of a book by the longshoreman/philosopher Eric Hoffer. Here is a slight variation of one of his memorable insights: "Every great cause begins as an idea, becomes a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."
Let me hasten to say that I do not think that merely the narrowing of a definition has turned every Theosophical organization into a racket. Within The Theosophical Society in America, for example, there still is a significant, original-idea “searching-for-Truth" component among the membership—even if such a “Quest” might not always exactly mean that a person can, on an entirely equal organizational footing with other members, rely on his or her own intuitive understandings rather than submit to the written authority of H.P. Blavatsky and/or her "Masters."
No, my view is that at least the national and international Theosophical organizations I am familiar with are not yet rackets; rather, they may still only be in their penultimate "business" phases. . . . But it should be noted, however, that I did not even suspect that they might have degenerated from their “movement” phases until a few years ago when there occurred so much commotion over the American Section’s decision not to publish Paul Johnson’s remarkably interesting and valuable book, THE MASTERS REVEALED. Not only was this title not published by the Society, but it also seemed to me that certain well-placed individuals sort of publicly “leaned against it” in a very defensive way that I had not seen before regarding any other book.
Johnson’s problem: Probably his suggestion that Madam Blavatsky’s “Masters” might have been, or at least modeled after, some historical, too-down-to-earth human beings, none of whom had been known for their ability to do preternatural things like appearing and disappearing at will or "precipitating" bossy written notes out of the "ether" and then dropping them from ceilings into people’s laps.
The Society’s problem: Probably its realization that Johnson’s merely mortal, all-too-common-caliber Master-prospects might diminish H.P. Blavatsky’s my-Messenger-is-better-than-yours authority regarding what had been reputedly “Communicated” to her about the creation of the universe, the exact details about after-life existence and reincarnation, and what a “proto-person” (“Lemurian”) living 18 million years ago had for breakfast. After all, take away the Angel Moroni and the Golden Plates, and all that is left is Joseph Smith, Jr., just from his own personal knowledge, telling prospective new Mormons that the American Indians are really the lost tribe of Israel.
And of course such a downgrade from well-advertised Extra-Extra-Priority Mail would undoubtedly be bad for religio-business in Salt Lake City, Utah; similarly, undoubtedly bad for religio-business in Wheaton, Illinois, and Adyar, India, too.
If the teachings of HP. Blavatsky may or may not now have been transmogrified into a specific business franchise, the Corporate Operational Guidelines for which the current owner-employees do not dare deviate from, what could Theosophy have been as an original, general idea?
Answer: A special type of epistemology.
There are potentially a few problems with this answer, though. For one thing, epistemology in philosophy usually means something like "the study of what constitutes valid knowledge," whereas in general Theosophy it can mean something more like "the study of what constitutes a possible valid intuition about knowledge which may be unapproachable in any other way."
For another thing, it can often be tempting to have a lack of humility regarding one's own intuitions. It is possible, however, that many—especially the full-blown, pre-packaged notions and philosophies—are simply wish-fulfillments. On the other hand, an authentic intuition about something like reincarnation, for example, seems to me unlikely to always arrive in completely convincing, overly detailed form at the very first moment a person hears about the subject. Such a moment may only be where the “Theosophical Quest” begins. What this suggests is that while a person may immediately be 100% certain that reincarnation is a valid intuitive possibility which should be investigated further, it might take an entire lifetime of progress toward Self-realization to approach anything even close to 100% certainty that an intuition about reincarnation can be relied upon as valid knowledge.
Still . . . when one stops to think about it . . . even having a lowly 1% "Intimation" about something so totally Transcendental as reincarnation is a big, big deal . . . and a deal which perhaps makes a person far, far different than some others who might merely be cherishing “existential wishes cleverly disguised as sacred beliefs." Indeed, it is a wonder-filled thing to be more or less intuitively forced throughout life to keep suspecting, even a little bit, that perhaps “trailing clouds of glory [from past lives] do we come!” as William Wordsworth might say [“Ode on Intimations [[not Certainties]] of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”].
Thus, the special epistemological definition: Theosophy: "Intuitive knowledge or wisdom associated with improved realization of one's own Transcendent ('Divine') Nature."
This definition provides the reason why the “T” in general Theosophy should continue to be capitalized, even though some English teachers might object that this is not justified because it is not referring to a specific “brand” or particular organization. Any pettifogging problem with this, however, is very minor compared with the major difficulty which often results when certain people see the root Theo in the word. Because many still think of God as an anthropomorphic, Jehovah-type Being rather than any beyond-further-words abstraction like Atman/Brahman, there can be a false assumption that even general Theosophists/Theosophers are claiming that they have indefectible knowledge about God, the soul, and perhaps even some super-valuable, "Insider-Trading" techniques that can supposedly be used to produce Magical Profits on earth.
—This may as well be said boldly: It is highly unlikely that a person can really be a general Theosophist if he or she has not already at least somewhat Realized that he or she is “Divine” . . . and, even more importantly, that he or she has the potential to become even more “Divine.”. . . Such a Realization, of course, is only to be understood in the no-thunderbolts-available-today, psycho-philosophical sense of participating in the “Self,” the “One-Without-a-Second,” the “I,” the “Undifferentiated Consciousness,” the “Over-Soul,” the “Universal Mind,” or something else so similarly abstractly All-Inclusive that a person might just as well cut the Uppity red tape and say “God” and be done with it. . . .
Becoming more “Divine,” though, is a perhaps not a matter of actually eliminating all the various “psychological contaminators” (differentiated/“deluded” states of consciousness can be called “semi-Selves”) of a human being’s God-part, since these are also the “egoic tools” which are commonly utilized in everyday life; however, the Great Work (possibly translifetime) of general Theosophy is undoubtedly to improve a person’s ability to keep a “Once-Removed-Vantage” (remain Mindful) even while “partially being transmogrified” into these often only momentary, ever-changing states of consciousness which have been “tainted” by their psychological association with the animating, physical, emotional, mental, and “semi-Undifferentiated” developments in human biological evolution (Darwinian).
—This, therefore, may as well also be said boldly: It is highly unlikely that a person who has never had much of a meditation- or prayer-life will be a good prospect for general Theosophy. To say the least, it is very valuable to have experienced again and again—even in the most fleeting way— the condition of not sensing, feeling, or thinking about anything specific, yet remaining fully Conscious nevertheless. Without some significant time logged in meditation or “wordless prayer,” it may be quite difficult to get even an inkling about what the Theo in Theosophy means. And indeed, this missing Self-insight might be the real reason why there are now perhaps many more Theosophists who identify themselves as followers of H.P. Blavatsky's teachings than there are Theosophists/Theosophers who consider themselves lifelong developers of their own “Teachings.”
But what are these “Teachings” and how do you get them?
Perhaps just by giving up one eye.
Scandinavian mythology often shows the god Odin’s face as having a straight horizontal line where one of his eyes had been. The reason for this is that he apparently had to slightly impair his regular vision in order to get a drink from the Well of Wisdom near the Great World Tree Yggdrasil. This organ-donor transaction resulted in Odin obtaining knowledge, wisdom, and foresight that none of the other gods had.
In a somewhat similar way, general Theosophy may include the idea that it is sometimes valuable to set aside a completely objective, scientific way of looking at things and instead experiment with a few subjective, intuitive perspectives. Indeed, show me a genuine Theosophist/Theosopher, and I will most likely show you a man or woman who is happily living with a thriving little collection of largely unprovable, intuitive ideas, opinions, hunches, leanings, tentative acceptances, persuasions, near-beliefs, etc. regarding just about anything and everything. It would be rare, of course, for such an individual to have an entire, unmodified version of H.P. Blavatsky’s Cosmogenesis or Anthropogenesis in his or her personal collection; however, it would probably be even more rare if his or her collection did not also include at least some parts or traces of THE SECRET DOCTRINE which had previously “Theosophically resonated” with the individual.
In the same way, I am hopeful that at least a few of the following aphorisms will resonate with the reader. The words must stand on their own stronger or weaker human legs, though, and not on any Preternatural Pillars . . . since Communication-wise, Odin has, of late, been religiously keeping to himself his own Teachings. . . .
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