Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Theism Can't Honestly Be Dismissed

Expand Messages
  • rnewman2003
    Greetings. My name is Robert Newman. I m an American Vaishnava and a friend of Bhakti Ananda Goswami, who has been active on this list recently. My own, much
    Message 1 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      Greetings.

      My name is Robert Newman. I'm an American Vaishnava and a friend of
      Bhakti Ananda Goswami, who has been active on this list recently. My
      own, much less learned angle on the Mahatma Letters and Theosophy in
      general, focuses on the denial of the supreme personality of Godhead
      in this philosophy. Unlike BAG, I am not an expert in religious
      history, nor am I what would be called a 'practicing' member of my
      faith tradition. I am a seeker of the truth, plain and simple, and I
      take it where I find it.

      It's admittedly difficult to find satisfactory, reasonable
      metaphysics in the theistic traditions, but it's there. Most
      esotericists, including myself in my younger days, see the exoteric
      aspects of these traditions and decide that they're all nonsense.
      But both Vaishnavism and Christianity (the two theistic traditions
      that I'm most knowledgeable about) contain a similar core of esoteric
      content dealing with transcendence in a most intellectually and
      emotionally satisfying way. It behooves any sincere seeker of the
      truth to view theism from this higher angle, which is not only
      satisfying but remarkably consistent from tradition to tradition (to
      get a glimpse of this last point, see some of BAG's writings at
      http://www.saragrahi.org/columns/).

      Why take so much trouble? (And it is trouble, make no mistake.)
      Well, as one contributor to this list mentioned a few dozen posts
      ago, one of the criteria of truth is the testimony of credible
      people. There are many credible people who have testified to the
      personal experience of a supreme personality at the pinnacle of
      conscious experience. Coupled with the metaphysical rationale that
      intellectually gifted theists have constructed, this evidence for the
      existence of God cannot be simply dismissed or ignored. Well, it
      can, but only to one's spiritual detriment.

      Robert
    • Steve Stubbs
      ... My ... in ... Godhead ... I ... Theosophy does not deny that there are deities. What it denies is that the supreme reality is personal. This position is
      Message 2 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        --- In theos-talk@y..., "rnewman2003" <robertnewman@e...> wrote:
        My
        > own, much less learned angle on the Mahatma Letters and Theosophy
        in
        > general, focuses on the denial of the supreme personality of
        Godhead
        > in this philosophy. Unlike BAG, I am not an expert in religious
        > history, nor am I what would be called a 'practicing' member of my
        > faith tradition. I am a seeker of the truth, plain and simple, and
        I
        > take it where I find it.

        Theosophy does not deny that there are deities. What it denies is
        that the supreme reality is personal. This position is also taken by
        esoteric Christianity in one of its lineages. I refer to the
        Basilidean school which claimed to trace its teachings to the
        esoteric teaching of Matthias and Peter. A sp,ewhat different
        interpretation, also ultimately non-theistic, is seen in the lineage
        which was first disclosed to the public by Valentinus, but which
        claims to represent the esoteric teaching of Paul. Paul, being
        clearly a Kabbalist, taught an esoteric doctrine which resembles the
        modern Kabbalah in many ways, although of course it represented a
        historically earlier strata of evolution.

        I am not a Hindu, but my reading of THE VISHNU PURANA is that that
        document also teaches an ultimately impersonal supreme reality.
        Personal deities such as Indra were apparently yogis who transcended
        the human condition by means of their practice, which did not, as
        many people think, consist merely of reading magazine articles about
        Theosophy. Siva, as lord of yogis, seems to have been a yogi at one
        time. Babaji, who is godlike if anyone is, was clearly a yogi some
        1700 years ago. The Adwaita Vedanta does not teach that supreme
        reality is personal.
      • rnewman2003
        ... personal. Correct. But Adwaita Vedanta is but one interpretation of Vedanta. If you are interested, I refer you to the philosophy of Ananda Tirtha
        Message 3 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
        • 0 Attachment
          --- In theos-talk@y..., "Steve Stubbs" <stevestubbs@y...> wrote:

          >>> The Adwaita Vedanta does not teach that supreme reality is
          personal.

          Correct. But Adwaita Vedanta is but one interpretation of Vedanta.
          If you are interested, I refer you to the philosophy of Ananda Tirtha
          Goswami, better known as Madhvacharya or Madhva, who lived and
          preached around the 12th century in India. Better I think than
          anyone before or after him, he pointed out the logical fallacies in
          the Adwaita Vedanta of Shankara and promulgated his own system,
          called (somewhat imprecisely) Dwaita Vedanta.

          Vedanta itself, i.e., the Brahma Sutras of Badarayana, like the
          Upanishads of which they are a synthesis and concordance, contains
          statements that can be interpreted such that the supreme reality is
          described as either personal or impersonal. Shankara is the most
          famous of the impersonal interpreters, while Ramanuja and Madhva are
          the best-known in the personal camp.

          But this is somewhat beside the point, and perhaps you were aware of
          all this already. The ultimate proof of the existence of anything is
          direct experience. It boils down to the personal experience of
          certain highly advanced souls who have testified that the ultimate
          reality is indeed personal. You may point out, correctly, that there
          are at least an equal number of highly advanced souls who testify the
          opposite. BUT THERE'S THIS DIFFERENCE, AND THERE'S NO REFUTING IT,
          UNFORTUNATELY FOR ADHERENTS OF ADWAITA VEDANTA: Those who have
          experienced and described the supreme personality invariably have
          also experienced and described the impersonal aspect of absolute
          reality, and they state from their direct experience of both that the
          personality is the ultimate aspect. Those who have only experienced
          the impersonal aspect, by definition, are in no position to judge
          between them.

          It is as if a group of mountain climbers who have scaled Mt. Whitney
          claim that it's the highest mountain in the world, while there is a
          group that has scaled both Mt. Whitney and Mt. Everest, and know very
          well that while Whitney is awfully high, Everest is considerably
          higher. In general, when a person offers positive testimony (i.e.,
          that such-and-such exists), it logically supersedes the opposite
          negative testimony (such-and-such does not exist). Indeed, to say
          that something (or someone) does not exist can never be proven either
          empirically or logically. Why would anybody believe it, if there is
          any credibility at all in the positive viewpoint? Beats me.

          Robert
        • Steve Stubbs
          ... the ... That is true if they are devotees of the dualistic (Dwaita) school. Those who study in my school (i.e., Zen) insist that anything which has form is
          Message 4 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
          • 0 Attachment
            --- In theos-talk@y..., "rnewman2003" <robertnewman@e...> wrote:
            > THERE'S THIS DIFFERENCE, AND THERE'S NO REFUTING IT,
            > UNFORTUNATELY FOR ADHERENTS OF ADWAITA VEDANTA: Those who have
            > experienced and described the supreme personality invariably have
            > also experienced and described the impersonal aspect of absolute
            > reality, and they state from their direct experience of both that
            the
            > personality is the ultimate aspect.

            That is true if they are devotees of the dualistic (Dwaita) school.
            Those who study in my school (i.e., Zen) insist that anything which
            has form is intrindicsally illusory and that the ultimate reality is
            necessarily formless and void. One must therefore press on from any
            experience which has form until one arrives at the formless. The
            tesimony of hese masters is the opposite of the ones you quote.

            The teaching of the Buddha was that the personal deities of the
            Hindus may exist, but that they are not enlightened and therefore
            cannot assist others in attaining what they have not themselves
            attained. For them to try to confer what they do not have would be
            the ultimate application of the axiom that those who cannot do teach,
            or the blind leading the blind. Sankara's system is clearly Buddhist
            in origin and Sankara himself was referred to as a crypto-Buddhist.

            Ultimately the only thing that matters is the experience, though, and
            not the theory.

            Anyway, thanks for your interesting comments. Yes, I have read the
            VEDANTA SUTRAS (otherwise known as the BRAHMA SUTRAS).
          • rnewman2003
            ... school. Those who study in my school (i.e., Zen) insist that anything which has form is intrindicsally illusory and that the ultimate reality is
            Message 5 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
            • 0 Attachment
              --- In theos-talk@y..., "Steve Stubbs" <stevestubbs@y...> wrote:

              >>> That is true if they are devotees of the dualistic (Dwaita)
              school. Those who study in my school (i.e., Zen) insist that anything
              which has form is intrindicsally illusory and that the ultimate
              reality is necessarily formless and void. One must therefore press on
              from any experience which has form until one arrives at the formless.
              The tesimony of hese masters is the opposite of the ones you quote.

              No, with all due respect (to them and to you), it is NOT the
              opposite. Opposite in this case implies "of equal force but
              contradictory," and I maintain that the testimony of the masters of
              whom you speak, being essentially negative, cannot be of equal force
              with the "opposite" positive testimony.

              Putting my position in terms similar to yours above, for clarity, I
              would express it as, "There is a level or plane of consciousness
              characterized by form and personality (different in kind, of course,
              from the material forms and personalities with which we are familiar
              on this earthly plane), which is the ultimate stage of spiritual
              evolution. There is nowhere to "press on" to from there, nor can
              there be any possible incentive or even dream of doing so, once this
              stage is reached. Those who have described this ultimate plane have
              also clearly described the plane of absolute formlessness, devoid of
              personality (i.e., beyond all earthly forms and personalities), and
              these descriptions tally with the descriptions of the Adwaita masters
              who claim that that is the ultimate level.

              From the vantage point of the plane of formlessness (please excuse
              all this crude terminology, but by avoiding technical terms I hope to
              make myself clearly understood by people of many backgrounds and
              levels of understanding), the plane of ultimate form I mentioned is
              unknown. But from the latter vantage point, the former IS known. If
              the credibility of the givers of the two types of testimony is
              similar, logic demands the preference of the more inclusive version.
              Q.E.D.

              Robert
            • dalval14@earthlink.net
              Nov 22 2002 Dear Robert: How would you classify the presentation Mme. Blavatsky makes at the beginning of The SECRET DOCTRINE ? Let me paraphrase it: I m sure
              Message 6 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
              • 0 Attachment
                Nov 22 2002

                Dear Robert:

                How would you classify the presentation Mme. Blavatsky makes at the
                beginning of The SECRET DOCTRINE ? Let me paraphrase it:

                I'm sure that Nature (or the Universe as a WHOLE) came up with that a
                good long time ago.

                The idea was, as I grasp it:


                The ABSOLUTE SPIRITUAL ONE (Parabrahman) wanted to know itself and
                therefore needed a "mirror."

                [ There is this most ancient Vedic verse: "Desire first arose in IT
                which was the primal germ of mend; and which sages, searching with
                their intellect, have discovered in their heart to be the bond which
                connects Entity with non-Entity," or Manas with pure Atma-Buddhi --
                S D II p. 176, T. Glossary p. 171 ]

                IT agreed at that most remote period to divide itself into two
                sections

                1. SPIRIT or PERFECTION; and

                2. A "material" ( or substantial but temporary 'form') whereon to
                try to see (or evoke) its own reflection. [ Suddha Sattwa" ? ]

                That primordial matter/substance was almost but not quite SPIRIT --
                As experience accumulated it served as a "memory" to record it, and
                that memory became known as WISDOM or ( Buddhi). However the
                interaction between PERFECTION and "almost Perfection (Buddhi)
                required an intermediary that could see and understand both.

                UNIVERSAL MIND (or Mahat) was born -- able to see past, present and
                future, and able to assume either a supreme idealism or involve itself
                in the grossest limits of form. A "Ray" of this universal MIND is
                present in every Monad or "life-atom" in illimitable SPACE.

                Mankind represents now (as I grasp the concept) the median aspect of
                "Mind." It can like the God Janus, look both ways: past and future,
                while living in the present. It has to be free to enable choice to be
                free. It can look at ideals and it can look at the selfishness of
                isolation and self-interest.

                This dichotomy forced the birth of Kama-deva. The "god" of pure
                desire of universal love, compassion, charity and mercy for all.

                This universal concern may be translated "Brotherhood." An excess (
                loss of balance) of love brings on tyranny. A lack of brotherhood
                brings on the mismanagement of procrastination and inertia. Thus in
                opposition to ideals and "virtues" there came "vice" upon the scene.

                Does this not describe our situation?


                The Thinking instrument -- Mind -- needs contrast and a foundations of
                constancy in order to establish a basis or a platform.

                This platform (where we are in the here and now) includes memory,
                new thought, and anticipation. Anticipation is valuable to preview
                potential benefits or losses which may accrue to us depending on
                whether we are able to so some judicious choosing. But even
                anticipation will be found to be based on memory of past experiences
                of an analogous character.

                The main problem is : Are we (as MIND-BEINGS) independent? Are we
                partially independent? Are we interactive with others and are there
                any limits to this interaction situation ? Further do we actually
                share in the regulation and the laws of the universe?

                Have we been able to establish some idea of what those Laws might be ?

                If there are some ( as in mathematics, chemistry,. physics
                astro-physics, mechanics, etc...) then why should the life and
                interaction of the human family be devoid of law?


                As to "God"

                If we personalize this concept we dwarf it. In reality it has no
                "Form." If we give one mentally to IT, we make it in our mind smaller
                than the Universe or illimitable SPACE.

                If we perceive that the DIVINE PRINCIPLE is universal, we admit that
                it is everything and cannot be separate from or different from
                anything in Nature (the Universe.) We as well as everything else are
                included. God is within each of us, as well as in all else.

                How then will we, as immortal spiritual beings, treat other immortal
                spiritual beings ?

                It is quite fruitless to discuss individual views about "God." They
                are the result of self-limited ideas and premises. If we examine such
                premises, we soon discover where the restriction arises.

                If we use the BIBLE, then we soon realize by going to its SOURCES,
                that the translations which we so commonly use, are very poor
                renditions of the original teachings of the Jews and the Kabalists --
                or of some other philosophy -- therefore to use our present BIBLE as
                a basis is only productive of a continuing error. Once we eliminate
                that, then discussion becomes agreement on principles of universality
                and of co-existence. Everyone is found to be :"right" once we go back
                to SOURCES. And that is what Theosophy seeks to demonstrate.

                If we were to limit our concepts to "Manifestation," we might envisage
                a UNIVERSAL BEING -- a "Spiritual Entity" -- whatever that might be.
                But there is the problem of Non-manifestation.

                Surely "God" is there also -- in which case, we may think of "God"
                immanent (omnipresent) in manifestation, but we are forced by logic to
                conclude that Non-manifestation demands that "God" be immortal and
                transcendent. Such a God as DIVINITY or SPIRITUAL EXCELLENCE can
                never "die" or be eliminated.

                It (HE) is present in each of us, as also in every 'atom" and in
                everything else. If we debate, we are only arguing for or against
                OURSELVES.

                This eliminates debate. All debates concern limitations. DEITY is
                timeless and unlimited. IT IS.

                If "God" is unlimited and permanent, then a philosophy based on its
                ALL-PRESENCE, and EVER-BEING has to be Theosophy. It is also
                ALL-KNOWING. (Omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience.)


                Curious if true.

                Best wishes,

                Dallas

                =====================


                -----Original Message-----
                From: rnewman2003
                Sent: Friday, November 22, 2002 11:26 AM
                To:
                Subject: Theism Can't Honestly Be Dismissed

                Greetings.

                My name is Robert Newman. I'm an American Vaishnava and a friend of
                Bhakti Ananda Goswami, who has been active on this list recently. My
                own, much less learned angle on the Mahatma Letters and Theosophy in
                general, focuses on the denial of the supreme personality of Godhead
                in this philosophy. Unlike BAG, I am not an expert in religious
                history, nor am I what would be called a 'practicing' member of my
                faith tradition. I am a seeker of the truth, plain and simple, and I
                take it where I find it.

                It's admittedly difficult to find satisfactory, reasonable
                metaphysics in the theistic traditions, but it's there. Most
                esotericists, including myself in my younger days, see the exoteric
                aspects of these traditions and decide that they're all nonsense.
                But both Vaishnavism and Christianity (the two theistic traditions
                that I'm most knowledgeable about) contain a similar core of esoteric
                content dealing with transcendence in a most intellectually and
                emotionally satisfying way. It behooves any sincere seeker of the
                truth to view theism from this higher angle, which is not only
                satisfying but remarkably consistent from tradition to tradition (to
                get a glimpse of this last point, see some of BAG's writings at
                http://www.saragrahi.org/columns/).

                Why take so much trouble? (And it is trouble, make no mistake.)
                Well, as one contributor to this list mentioned a few dozen posts
                ago, one of the criteria of truth is the testimony of credible
                people. There are many credible people who have testified to the
                personal experience of a supreme personality at the pinnacle of
                conscious experience. Coupled with the metaphysical rationale that
                intellectually gifted theists have constructed, this evidence for the
                existence of God cannot be simply dismissed or ignored. Well, it
                can, but only to one's spiritual detriment.

                Robert
              • rnewman2003
                Dear Dallas, The first part of your posting (before As to God ) is peripheral (at best) to the point I m trying to make. But I d like to reply to certain
                Message 7 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  Dear Dallas,

                  The first part of your posting (before "As to God") is peripheral (at
                  best) to the point I'm trying to make. But I'd like to reply to
                  certain statements in the second part.

                  >>> If we personalize this concept we dwarf it.

                  On the contrary, if we depersonalize it we sterilize it. "Dwarf" has
                  a material connotation that's inappropriate when discussing
                  transcendental matters (i.e., transcending our notions of physical
                  space).

                  >>> In reality it has no "Form." If we give one mentally to IT, we
                  make it in our mind smaller than the Universe or illimitable SPACE.

                  Again the terminology connoting material size is inappropriate. But
                  a more important objection here is that there is a distinction
                  between an object and our mental image of it. Whatever mental image
                  of God we have, God is not that, and so God cannot be limited by our
                  mental constructs.

                  >>> If we perceive that the DIVINE PRINCIPLE is universal, we admit
                  that it is everything and cannot be separate from or different from
                  anything in Nature (the Universe.)

                  This is an expression of the immanent/transcendent dichotomy, over
                  which many philosophical battles have been fought. Those who have
                  seen directly have described God's situation as BOTH immanent and
                  transcendent simultaneously, in a manner that's probably
                  inconceivable (at least, I've never been able to conceive of it
                  satisfactorily). But "inconceivable" is not at all the same
                  as "impossible."

                  >>> It is quite fruitless to discuss individual views about "God."
                  They are the result of self-limited ideas and premises.

                  Yes, if they're based on speculation. But I'm speaking of direct
                  experience of God. You may accept or not accept the testimony of
                  witnesses, but such testimony is categorically different from
                  speculation.

                  Robert
                • dalval14@earthlink.net
                  Nov 22 2002 Theism and Philosophy Dear Friends: If one tries to secure from Theosophy an outline of the way it views and teaches the basic concepts of
                  Message 8 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Nov 22 2002

                    Theism and Philosophy

                    Dear Friends:

                    If one tries to secure from Theosophy an outline of the way it views
                    and teaches the basic concepts of manifestation and evolution, one
                    also acquires the ability to disentangle special interpretations and
                    even sectarian definitions from the facts. The accounts of the past,
                    traditions, legends, mythology and theogonies can be disentangled and
                    their essence perceived.

                    If one uses the 7-fold study of the PRINCIPLES of Nature and Man, one
                    soon realizes that

                    ATMAN the SUPREME SPIRIT is all-pervasive. Hence it is in NATURE the
                    basis for the many kinds and types of beings and forms that emanate
                    infinitely from the ONE UNIVERSAL and all-encompassing FORM. Further
                    this form does not dissipate, but remains as a "background" to all
                    existence regardless of space, degree of intelligence, or time.

                    Therefore the potential "GOD" is always within every individual. That
                    which separates us from our own inner DIVINITY is the kind and quality
                    of our ideas about our life and its many restrictions. The existence
                    of Sages, Rishis, Dhyanis, Buddhas, merely tells us the tale of
                    successful Monads who have caused their individual
                    "self-consciousness" to rise to the level of "UNIVERSAL
                    SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS." They see the Universe and the powers that
                    motivate evolution, not only as great masses of beings, races, rounds,
                    globes, sub-races, etc..., but down to the seemingly most
                    insignificant individual.

                    No one being or form or Monad is useless or to be discarded in the
                    purview of the whole purposive drive of LIFE'S EVOLUTION. DIVINITY AS
                    A FINAL GOAL IS FOR ALL.

                    The "Theosophical MONAD" is seen to be SPIRIT / MATTER in indissoluble
                    combination -- and this is "eternal" in existence, so far as we can
                    understand. [ The "matter" side is of course BUDDHI, or that "wisdom
                    acquired through experience" in a myriad of forms by reason of
                    reincarnation, and the limits we imposed in the past on ourselves by
                    Karmic choices.]
                    Its purity allows it to become the "vehicle" of ATMA.

                    The important thing for us to consider is: "How does Buddhi (matter)
                    become pure?" What is purity? We then enter the question of ethics,
                    morals, and self-chosen behaviour. This confronts us now, but it is
                    the key to the future we choose for ourselves.

                    ATMA being universal, permeates all, but is 'remote' so to say, from
                    any limited involvement. BUDDHI as the purest form of "matter," is
                    deemed wise, because it is the final repository of all experience over
                    an immensity of years. It is in effect the MONAD in evolution.

                    With BUDDHI is associated MAHAT, or the "mind faculty." it is
                    essential to all living things and provides the logical, reasonable
                    basis for the definition of all "forms." It forms the "bridge"
                    between the "forms" that change, and the one SPIRITUAL FORM that never
                    changes: PARAMATMA. The eternal and inscrutable ABSOLUTE.

                    But what are the "forms?" Why do they constantly change locations?
                    How is it possible to have an INTELLIGENCE which serves as a point of
                    aggregation for other living Monads -- monads of lesser experience?

                    Theosophy states that the whole of the Universe is made up of Monads
                    in various stages of their own evolution. Those who have less
                    experience aggregate around those with greater experience that are
                    consubstantial to them. They then acquire from the "advanced" Monads
                    more experience as those make choices -- and become subject to Karma.

                    To us, limited to thought and observation in this present life, of but
                    a relatively few years, the question of size and of time (space,
                    area, size, and antiquity, novelty and the potential of a dissolution
                    of the present for soon to occur) is important. Instead of thinking
                    about these things, we start emoting and feeling about them. In so
                    doing we lose our equipoise as immortals, and our detachment, and
                    impartiality as tinkers.

                    That these are important is to be seen in the instructions all great
                    Sages have left us.

                    The BHAGAVAD GITA is a good example. We see there the "Great God"
                    Vishnu/Krishna (as Atma/Buddhi, the HIGHER SELF) using a seemingly
                    physical form. He instructs Arjuna his pupil (the Lower Manas that
                    aspires to Buddhi-Manas and an understanding of true living and right
                    choosing). All of us at present are in a condition where the "Lower
                    Manas" (Kama-Manas) the mind bonded by feeling and emotion, is
                    active.

                    The teachings of the Buddha and of Jesus, although framed in a
                    different language and mode, parallel all that Krishna teaches.

                    And it will be found that theosophy teaches the same set of
                    principles, but, in addition provides us with a view of the underlying
                    purposes and operation of Nature and the Universe as a life-supporting
                    WHOLE.

                    In regard to every aspect of this wonderful "mechanism" there are
                    almost endless explanations. Each dove-tails into the rest as the
                    "mechanism" is living, sentient, and educative.

                    One of the great differences between all the sectarian and
                    philosophical apparent differences is that they analyse along their
                    own chosen lines and selected areas of perception. Inevitably the
                    lose sight of the WHOLE.

                    Theosophy on the other hand, uses the power of synthesis, whereby
                    apparent differences are reconciled in the widest and most
                    comprehensive views of why the Universe exists, and where each
                    individual member of it ( and Monad) is going. It further indicates
                    that for any one period of manifestation there is a common goal which
                    for lack of some better term may be called THE GOAL OF SUBLIME
                    PERFECTION.

                    Best wishes,

                    Dallas

                    =================



                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Steve Stubbs
                    To:
                    Subject: Re: Theism Can't Honestly Be Dismissed

                    --- In theos-talk@y..., "rnewman2003" <robertnewman@e...> wrote:
                    My
                    > own, much less learned angle on the Mahatma Letters and Theosophy
                    in
                    > general, focuses on the denial of the supreme personality of
                    Godhead
                    > in this philosophy. Unlike BAG, I am not an expert in religious
                    > history, nor am I what would be called a 'practicing' member of my
                    > faith tradition. I am a seeker of the truth, plain and simple, and
                    I
                    > take it where I find it.

                    Theosophy does not deny that there are deities. What it denies is
                    that the supreme reality is personal. This position is also taken by
                    esoteric Christianity in one of its lineages. I refer to the
                    Basilidean school which claimed to trace its teachings to the
                    esoteric teaching of Matthias and Peter. A sp,ewhat different
                    interpretation, also ultimately non-theistic, is seen in the lineage
                    which was first disclosed to the public by Valentinus, but which
                    claims to represent the esoteric teaching of Paul. Paul, being
                    clearly a Kabbalist, taught an esoteric doctrine which resembles the
                    modern Kabbalah in many ways, although of course it represented a
                    historically earlier strata of evolution.


                    CUT
                  • rnewman2003
                    ... apparent differences are reconciled in the widest and most comprehensive views of why the Universe exists, and where each individual member of it ( and
                    Message 9 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
                    • 0 Attachment
                      --- In theos-talk@y..., <dalval14@e...> wrote:

                      >>> Theosophy on the other hand, uses the power of synthesis, whereby
                      apparent differences are reconciled in the widest and most
                      comprehensive views of why the Universe exists, and where each
                      individual member of it ( and Monad) is going.

                      I'm sorry, but from this long (and very well-written, thank you)
                      explanation, it appears to me that Theosophy, far from reconciling
                      differences widely and comprehensively, achieves synthesis via mere
                      reductionism, not different in principle, though certainly very
                      different in details, from mechanistic science. A real synthesis
                      would include, and not dismiss as merely sectarian and traditional
                      (though much of it certainly is), the vast storehouse of theistic
                      experience to which I have already alluded. Dallas, the view of the
                      universe you have described is beautiful, but so is quantum physics,
                      and neither of these systems constitutes an all-embracing view of
                      life. But if it works for you, I'm the last person who would try to
                      pry you away from it.

                      Peace,

                      Robert
                    • Steve Stubbs
                      ... of ... masters ... First I want to thank you for the most interesting comments I have seen on this list in some time. Regrettably, if these masters have
                      Message 10 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
                      • 0 Attachment
                        --- In theos-talk@y..., "rnewman2003" <robertnewman@e...> wrote:
                        > Those who have described this ultimate plane have
                        > also clearly described the plane of absolute formlessness, devoid
                        of
                        > personality (i.e., beyond all earthly forms and personalities), and
                        > these descriptions tally with the descriptions of the Adwaita
                        masters
                        > who claim that that is the ultimate level.

                        First I want to thank you for the most interesting comments I have
                        seen on this list in some time. Regrettably, if these masters
                        have "described" their experience then the experiences afe
                        necessarily phenomenal in character, else they would not be
                        describable. People who have experienced the ultimate reality are
                        unable to give any descriptions of it because the experience cannot
                        be stated in phenomenal terms. That is the meaning of the Chinese
                        Zen maxim:

                        "He who knows does not speak
                        He who speaks does not know."

                        As Blavatsky riht said, the Absolute can only be "described" in
                        negative terms and the word "described" really cannot be properly
                        used in this context.

                        That said, I am not contending that people do not have experiences of
                        personal sort. When I chant the Babaji mantra I have no
                        difficulty "seeing" Babaji standing before me in my mind's eye with
                        eyes closed. That is rather odd because I find it impossible to
                        maintain any other image in my mind for the twenty minutes or so
                        required to chant the mantra 108 times. However Babaji would be the
                        first to insist that his phenomenal appearance is just that and not
                        ultimate reality.

                        Blavatsky contends, and others concur in this, that your experiences
                        of "God" are actually experiences of youu Higher Ego or buddhi-manas,
                        which is that part of tour Higher Self which resides in your body.
                        This experience is of great value, but it is not proof tat the
                        ultimate reality if personal and phenomenal.
                      • rnewman2003
                        ... then the experiences afe necessarily phenomenal in character, else they would not be describable. People who have experienced the ultimate reality are
                        Message 11 of 16 , Nov 22, 2002
                        • 0 Attachment
                          --- In theos-talk@y..., "Steve Stubbs" <stevestubbs@y...> wrote:

                          >>> Regrettably, if these masters have "described" their experience
                          then the experiences afe necessarily phenomenal in character, else
                          they would not be describable. People who have experienced the
                          ultimate reality are unable to give any descriptions of it because
                          the experience cannot be stated in phenomenal terms.

                          This is simply begging the question; i.e., assuming what you have not
                          yet established.

                          At least since the time of Shankara (and his Western counterparts),
                          there has been a popular tendency in esoteric circles to
                          think, "Well, OF COURSE the ultimate reality must be featureless and
                          undescribable!" But there is no logic here, unless it's the logic of
                          suicidal negation; i.e., since our present reality is so troublesome
                          to us, and since it's characterized by all kinds of phenomena and
                          features and personalities, the ultimate reality, which is the best
                          and highest, must have none of that.

                          It's like a man with chronic nausea who hates to eat, even though he
                          must eat to stay alive, and thinking that to be healthy must mean
                          never having to eat. He doesn't know anything about the pleasure of
                          eating when the body is healthy. Similarly, the simple negation of
                          experience is the poor man's view of ultimate reality, and it is
                          contradicted by the reports of mystics, especially in the Vaishnava
                          tradition, of features or "phenomena" of a different order, to be
                          sure, but still describable, at least in outline, in familiar terms.

                          Robert
                        • dalval14@earthlink.net
                          November 23, 2002 Re: UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE by an individual. SEEING GOD Dear Robert: I am not seeking to employ any one method or phraseology. And in the
                          Message 12 of 16 , Nov 23, 2002
                          • 0 Attachment
                            November 23, 2002

                            Re: UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE by an individual. SEEING GOD

                            Dear Robert:

                            I am not seeking to employ any one method or phraseology. And in the
                            process of writing I employ those analogies (or phrases) that best
                            express the meaning I seek to convey. I also try to take readers into
                            account, and may on occasion offer Theosophical doctrines and
                            reasoning.

                            Therefore unless we agree that we are studying together and seeking to
                            discover things together the conversation has not much future.

                            It is clear that I may have misunderstood your focus. In which case
                            please readjust it.

                            In the metaphysical terms I have learned from Theosophy, I have
                            employed those that best seem to express the undefinable.

                            I do not know what you mean by "transcendental." I hold that there
                            are no matters of any level or limit which the free-mind cannot grasp.
                            Owing to its indissoluble link with the MONAD it finds only the
                            ABSOLUTE impossible to define. To it, therefore the ABSOLUTE is a
                            "logical necessity." There cannot be a "personal god."

                            But then, I also have to include the concept that my mind is directed
                            by me, as I would a tool, and I am NOT solely the embodied and
                            temporary mind, that uses the name "Dallas" in this incarnation. The
                            "real" ME transcends the embodied, lower-mind. Everyone has the same
                            advantages and parameters of their own making, and it is possible to
                            determine to change them.

                            If there is to be any "vision of god" as one might describe it, then
                            it is the "real ME" that impresses the embodied mind I use in this
                            personality with the event. I sense that I am now faced with a
                            choice: Shall I make of this a vision one that I will carry each
                            moment henceforth into my living? It is clear to me, that my
                            lower-mind has been strongly impressed by this event: "You and the
                            ALL, are ONE."

                            The term "god" has many meanings, none of which are of any fixed
                            standard. I would agree that no limits of "form, size, area,
                            substance, or time" can be made to apply. And if used, they only tend
                            to show what "god' is not. Can we define: perfection, truth, law ?
                            Can any image of any kind personate these?

                            I do hold it to be reasonable that there must be some indescribable
                            "background" that is totally apart from and unaffected by limitations
                            of any kind. In Theosophy the word ABSOLUTE or ABSOLUTENESS is
                            employed. The Hindus used the word PARABRAHM or that which is
                            "beyond" Brahma the manifested.

                            I do agree that the "manifested" is by that fact "limited." But still
                            it seems to retain the potential and capacity of visualizing or
                            apprehending that which is unlimited. "Impossible" would then be
                            nonsensical. If asked how this is possible I would say that the
                            "Higher mind" (Buddhi-Manas) is always linked in incarnation with the
                            "Lower mind" (Kama-Manas). This is how I find it expressed in
                            Theosophy. The potential "god" is forever locked within the confines
                            of a form of some kind. [ see KEY TO THEOSOPHY (HPB) 178-184.]

                            As to direct experience of "god." I would tend to say we do it all
                            the time, but are not aware of it. In every human (as also in every
                            manifested 'being,' there is the HIGHER SELF, ATMA) and this is said
                            to be one with the ABSOLUTE. But, we might pause here, and ask: "Why
                            are we not aware of it ?

                            In saying that I think if the ABSOLUTE is unchangeable and truly
                            universal, then we can no more "escape" its "presence" than we can
                            escape SPACE.

                            I would not presume to deny to any one the witnessing of what they
                            might call "god." But I would also say that such an event, merely
                            proves the thesis that the "embodied mind" (with all its limitations)
                            is a "ray" from, and, in essence is "one with" that universal
                            ABSOLUTENESS.

                            I would also add that the way in which any individual "sees" such a
                            personal (yet startling) event, is modified by their situation and
                            experience. Also, when such events occur, they are reviewed. They
                            are for our minds (in the here and now), memory. If anything, one
                            could say that the experiencer is momentarily ONE WITH, and yet,
                            clearly, it does not lose its unique IDENTITY. One may attempt to
                            make a record of such events, but proof lies only in the actual
                            witnessed event and it is "one on ONE."

                            One could express it this way: The purpose of the UNIVERSE in
                            manifestation is for the innumerable "rays" (Monads) of the ONE SPIRIT
                            to undergo, individually and personally, the cooperative and
                            compassionate experience of coexistence in very department of life.
                            The process of reincarnation is then a requirement, so that they may
                            develop in themselves an awareness of their own immortality, and
                            simultaneously, an awareness of the immortality of all the rest. Any
                            sense of uniqueness has to be abandoned here. All Monads have
                            identical potentials and capacities, but they manifest them
                            individually according to their free choices. This personal endowment
                            is what we might call character, capacity and genius. It is unique to
                            each of us and is one of the proofs of reincarnation and the
                            immortality of the superior SELF.

                            This being achieved, the question of continued cooperation arises.
                            Shall they who have such an experience, continue to work in and with
                            Nature (the Universe) as do the Great Men who may have inspired us,
                            and whom we might call prophets, Teachers, Builders, Rishis, Mahatmas,
                            Adepts, Dhyanis, Buddhas, Christs, etc... [ see VOICE OF THE SILENCE
                            (end), pp. 78-9 ]

                            Best wishes,

                            Dallas

                            ================================



                            -----Original Message-----
                            From: r
                            Sent: Friday, November 22, 2002 5:15 PM
                            To:
                            Subject: Re: Theism Can't Honestly Be Dismissed

                            Dear Dallas,

                            The first part of your posting (before "As to God") is peripheral (at
                            best) to the point I'm trying to make. But I'd like to reply to
                            certain statements in the second part.

                            >>> If we personalize this concept we dwarf it.

                            On the contrary, if we depersonalize it we sterilize it. "Dwarf" has
                            a material connotation that's inappropriate when discussing
                            transcendental matters (i.e., transcending our notions of physical
                            space).

                            >>> In reality it has no "Form." If we give one mentally to IT, we
                            make it in our mind smaller than the Universe or illimitable SPACE.

                            Again the terminology connoting material size is inappropriate. But
                            a more important objection here is that there is a distinction
                            between an object and our mental image of it. Whatever mental image
                            of God we have, God is not that, and so God cannot be limited by our
                            mental constructs.

                            >>> If we perceive that the DIVINE PRINCIPLE is universal, we admit
                            that it is everything and cannot be separate from or different from
                            anything in Nature (the Universe.)

                            This is an expression of the immanent/transcendent dichotomy, over
                            which many philosophical battles have been fought. Those who have
                            seen directly have described God's situation as BOTH immanent and
                            transcendent simultaneously, in a manner that's probably
                            inconceivable (at least, I've never been able to conceive of it
                            satisfactorily). But "inconceivable" is not at all the same
                            as "impossible."

                            >>> It is quite fruitless to discuss individual views about "God."
                            They are the result of self-limited ideas and premises.

                            Yes, if they're based on speculation. But I'm speaking of direct
                            experience of God. You may accept or not accept the testimony of
                            witnesses, but such testimony is categorically different from
                            speculation.

                            Robert
                          • rnewman2003
                            ... ...unless we agree that we are studying together and seeking to discover things together the conversation has not much future. Dallas, people cannot
                            Message 13 of 16 , Nov 23, 2002
                            • 0 Attachment
                              --- In theos-talk@y..., <dalval14@e...> wrote:

                              ...unless we agree that we are studying together and seeking to
                              discover things together the conversation has not much future.

                              Dallas, people cannot discover things together unless they agree to
                              accept the same principles of epistemology. I have stated that the
                              only proof of the existence of anything, phenomenal or noumenal,
                              material or transcendental, is direct experience of the same. Either
                              we have such an experience ourselves, in which case the issue is not
                              a matter of faith but of certainty, or we accept the possibility on
                              faith, based on the reported experiences of others whom we find
                              credible, for one reason or another.

                              You, on the other hand, seem to accept only possibilities which fall
                              within the scope of Theosophical metaphysics and psychology. That is
                              certainly your privilege, and again, if it works for you, I wouldn't
                              want to disturb you. But in that case there is no question of
                              fruitful discussion; we're speaking different languages on the most
                              fundamental level.

                              Still, as a fellow seeker, I thank you for this stimulating exchange,
                              and I wish you all the best. Hare Krishna, as we say in the "trade."

                              :-D

                              Robert
                            • Steve Stubbs
                              ... not ... Not really. It is a scientific fact, for example, that the color red does not exist in nature, but only in our consciousness. Red is therefore
                              Message 14 of 16 , Nov 23, 2002
                              • 0 Attachment
                                --- In theos-talk@y..., "rnewman2003" <robertnewman@e...> wrote:
                                > This is simply begging the question; i.e., assuming what you have
                                not
                                > yet established.

                                Not really. It is a scientific fact, for example, that the color red
                                does not exist in nature, but only in our consciousness. Red is
                                therefore said not to be real but ideal, ideal being a word used in
                                philosophy to represent things of the mind, such as ideas. Red is
                                therefore said to be phenomenal (meaning it exists in the mind) but
                                not noumenal (meaning it exists objectively to ourselves.) So if
                                someone said he read a Krishna comic book and then thought he shook
                                hands with Krishna, his experience might be of great value, but it
                                would not be an experience of ultimate reality.

                                > At least since the time of Shankara (and his Western counterparts),
                                > there has been a popular tendency in esoteric circles to
                                > think, "Well, OF COURSE the ultimate reality must be featureless
                                and
                                > undescribable!" But there is no logic here, unless it's the logic
                                of
                                > suicidal negation;

                                Not true. See the above. The concept of voidness existed long
                                before Sankara was born.

                                There is an inferior technique recommended by Vedantins such as
                                Sivananda and Theravadin priests such as Buddhaghosa in which one
                                cultivates a disgust for the world. However, this merely creates
                                conflict in the mind and does not liberate one from attachment.

                                > Similarly, the simple negation of
                                > experience is the poor man's view of ultimate reality

                                I don't think so, given what "the simple negation of experience" is
                                an euphemism for in this sentence. If you want to say that there are
                                a lot of self styled gure out there who don't know what they are
                                talking about and practices which are ancient and totally
                                wrongheaded, then we agree.

                                > contradicted by the reports of mystics, especially in the Vaishnava
                                > tradition, of features or "phenomena" of a different order, to be

                                Sometime when you get a chance, could you briefly tell us which
                                autobiogaphies you sre referring to, and why you think phenomenal
                                experience is actually ultimate reality?
                              • rnewman2003
                                ... autobiogaphies you sre referring to, and why you think phenomenal experience is actually ultimate reality? The best starting place I know of is the book,
                                Message 15 of 16 , Nov 23, 2002
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  --- In theos-talk@y..., "Steve Stubbs" <stevestubbs@y...> wrote:

                                  >>> Sometime when you get a chance, could you briefly tell us which
                                  autobiogaphies you sre referring to, and why you think phenomenal
                                  experience is actually ultimate reality?

                                  The best starting place I know of is the book, Hindu Encounter with
                                  Modernity, by Shukavak N. Dasa. This book is actually a biography,
                                  but is based on autobiographical as well as objective material. It
                                  covers the life and theology of Kedarnatha Dutta, a Bengali Vaishnava
                                  who lived about 100 years ago. Besides being fascinating as a
                                  biography, it's the best introduction to Vaishnava theology I have
                                  ever seen.

                                  As to why I think phenomenal experience is actually ultimate reality,
                                  perhaps that book will explain better than I can. But in a nutshell,
                                  those who (I believe) have actually "been there" have said that
                                  beyond the familiar phenomena of this world, and the several planes
                                  of more subtle existence and phenomena described in numerous esoteric
                                  traditions, including Theosophy, there is a plane of absolute
                                  consciousness without phenomena or identity, which is a resting
                                  (actually, dissolving) place for some. Beyond even that, there is
                                  another realm of existence characterized by phenomena of a different
                                  order. If, some day, I come across a description by a purported
                                  eyewitness of something still further elevated, I will assess the
                                  credibility of the reporter as best I can, and may revise my map of
                                  reality again. But for now, this is where my search for truth has
                                  led me.

                                  Robert
                                • dalval14@earthlink.net
                                  Nov 24 2002 Dear Friend: In my experience, as along-time student of Nature and of Theosophy, I would observe: Theosophy excludes nothing, nor does it set
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Nov 24, 2002
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    Nov 24 2002

                                    Dear Friend:

                                    In my experience, as along-time student of Nature and of Theosophy, I
                                    would observe:

                                    Theosophy excludes nothing, nor does it set parameters or limits for
                                    consideration. I try not to do those things either. Call me a
                                    liberal who hails common sense as the best safeguard we all can use.

                                    For instance "epistemology" by definition, seems to be an exercise in
                                    personal prejudices. In my "For example," who sets the "methods and
                                    bounds of knowledge?" How are "limits or validity" established ? The
                                    Dictionary gives a pretty nasty , almost dogmatic, meaning to
                                    "epistemology."

                                    It seems to me that subjects for study are innumerable. Observations
                                    are then not subject to
                                    any pre-set limits. What may be validity for one, may be yet
                                    unexperienced by others. The lack of experience ought to cause, at
                                    best, the setting of such statements or observations, aside for
                                    future reference and not for obliteration or concealment.

                                    If any one presumes to set limits, it is obviously (to me) only for
                                    themselves, and no one is capable of obscuring the vision and thought
                                    processes of others.

                                    It is admitted that they may try to do that, but then they cease to be
                                    honest and objective, and are found to have adopted some set of rules
                                    purely their own. They seek to establish and maintain their own
                                    limited orthodoxy. It is not the orthodoxy of Nature, which is
                                    sensitive, responsive and quite immovably heterodox. Nature is
                                    admitted to me the repository of rules and laws which being just, fair
                                    and impartial are the basis for all scientific examination, and also
                                    for human inter-relationships.

                                    In my observation, the realm of NATURE and the UNIVERSE, even our
                                    Earth and our own bodies, have plenty of unexplored regions.

                                    We cannot deny to others the right to discover by investigation. If
                                    however those findings upset preset theories, and hypothesis, that
                                    does not make them suspect, but merely draws our attention to the fact
                                    that the original "ground rules" were not set wide or deep enough.

                                    Let me mention a few areas of ignorance.

                                    Medicine and health are not fully explored, discovered or explained.

                                    The human mind has many recesses left unexplored.

                                    The quality and nature of emotion, and its seeming rule over
                                    rationality makes for many unexplained gaps in psychology.

                                    The "Soul" of man is still to be defined. Some say it is the mind.
                                    some say it is a combination of mind and emotion.

                                    Are emotions and desires different from "thought?"

                                    Is there a "SPIRIT?" If so, where, and how identified?

                                    The urges and motivations of our lives need identifying.

                                    Many regions of science show that active discovery still brings to
                                    light facts -- some of which contradict long established theories.

                                    We notice important advances in mathematics, physics, astro-physics,
                                    and the science of vibration and it transmission and effects.

                                    But what are the "fundamentals" you choose to look at? Could they
                                    also be mine? Are they for all ?

                                    Let me also say that Nature was here long before the last 225 years
                                    that Science (established and codified by Napoleon) was established
                                    by his order to make serious investigations, unsupervised by a
                                    prejudiced and dogmatic clergy.

                                    So too, in philosophy, and in the history of religion and theogonies,
                                    there is much to be examined, compared and adjusted.

                                    Myths and legends need to be examined and codified.

                                    I would say that any limits we set to our considerations are set up by
                                    the lack of experience we have.

                                    But of course, I may have misunderstood you and may be giving the
                                    wrong answers.

                                    I have not found the Theosophical philosophy to be exclusive in any
                                    way, and therefore prefer its "open field" approach to investigation.
                                    I don't think any one will not profit from it.

                                    I find that most who are academy trained today are more trained in
                                    impossible and unproved hypotheses which limit the mind and its innate
                                    freedom. The sooner one can escape from those bonds, the better.

                                    Best wishes,

                                    Dallas.



                                    -----Original Message-----
                                    From: rnewman2003 [mailto:robertnewman@...]
                                    Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2002 7:19 AM
                                    To: theos-talk@yahoogroups.com
                                    Subject: Theos-World Re: Theism Can't Honestly Be Dismissed -- SEEING
                                    GOD

                                    --- In theos-talk@y..., <dalval14@e...> wrote:

                                    ...unless we agree that we are studying together and seeking to
                                    discover things together the conversation has not much future.

                                    Dallas, people cannot discover things together unless they agree to
                                    accept the same principles of epistemology. I have stated that the
                                    only proof of the existence of anything, phenomenal or noumenal,
                                    material or transcendental, is direct experience of the same. Either
                                    we have such an experience ourselves, in which case the issue is not
                                    a matter of faith but of certainty, or we accept the possibility on
                                    faith, based on the reported experiences of others whom we find
                                    credible, for one reason or another.

                                    You, on the other hand, seem to accept only possibilities which fall
                                    within the scope of Theosophical metaphysics and psychology. That is
                                    certainly your privilege, and again, if it works for you, I wouldn't
                                    want to disturb you. But in that case there is no question of
                                    fruitful discussion; we're speaking different languages on the most
                                    fundamental level.

                                    Still, as a fellow seeker, I thank you for this stimulating exchange,
                                    and I wish you all the best. Hare Krishna, as we say in the "trade."

                                    :-D

                                    Robert




                                    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
                                    http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.