Theosophy

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Will
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:28 pm

However odd Theosophy may appear nowadays, in India of late 19th century it had a beneficent effect. Here is the first year of the monthly journal The Theosophist. It contained stories, and interfaith articles about Jainism, Buddhism, Vedanta etc.

https://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/th ... eos-hp.htm
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Will
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:34 am

Upasaka Olcott wrote a little book that endeared him to all Buddhists of Ceylon and South Asia. Since the teachings of Buddha were so clearly set forth, many Mahayana sages accepted this book as solid Dhamma:

Buddhist Catechism.pdf
(103.85 KiB) Downloaded 9 times

It is still in print, I think.
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Will
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:42 pm

There is an offshoot of Blavatsky's theosophy, which is scholarly, proper & scorns Blavatsky. It is called the Perennial Philosophy.
The self-validating certainty of direct awareness cannot in the very nature of things be achieved except by those equipped with the moral 'astrolabe of God's mysteries'. If one is not oneself a sage or saint, the best thing one can do, in the field of metaphysics, is to study the works of those who were, and who, because they had modified their merely human mode of being, were capable of a more than merely human kind and amount of knowledge.
Aldous Huxley
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Re: Theosophy

Post by chownah » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:11 am

There is an offshoot of Blavatsky's theosophy........... It is called the Perennial Philosophy.
I think this is a misrepresentation.
chownah

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Will
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:24 am

chownah wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:11 am
There is an offshoot of Blavatsky's theosophy........... It is called the Perennial Philosophy.
I think this is a misrepresentation.
chownah
Rene Guenon Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion (Le Théosophisme – Histoire d'une pseudo-religion, 1921)

The ground covered by Blavatsky is the same (yet more vast) as that of Guenon, his predecessors and followers. It is just that the charlatan labeling of HPB scared away most scholars, so a purified group was formed with a Traditionalist or Perennialist label.
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Will
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:28 am

The first 19 chapters of Huxley's work which was his commentary on many old or ancient sources:
Chapter i That Art Thou 7
ii The Nature of the Ground 29
in Personality, Sanctity, Divine Incarnation 45
iv God in the World 69
v Charity 95
vi Mortification, Non-Attachment, Right Livelihood 113
vii Truth 145
vin Religion and Temperament 168
ix Self-Knowledge 185
x Grace and Free Will 190
xi Good and Evil 202
xn Time and Eternity 212
xin Salvation, Deliverance, Enlightenment 230
xiv Immortality and Survival 242
xv Silence 247
xvi Prayer 251
xvn Suffering 260
xvm Faith 268
xix God is not mocked 273
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Will
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:33 am

His first chapter begins:
In studying the Perennial Philosophy we can begin either at
the bottom, with practice and morality; or at the top, with a
consideration of metaphysical truths; or, finally, in the middle,
at the focal point where mind and matter, action and thought
have their meeting place in human psychology.

The lower gate is that preferred by strictly practical teachers
men who, like Gautama Buddha, have no use for speculation
and whose primary concern is to put out in men's hearts the
hideous fires of greed, resentment and infatuation. Through
the upper gate go those whose vocation it is to think and speculate
the born philosophers and theologians. The middle gate
gives entrance to the exponents of what has been called
spiritual religion the devout contemplatives of India, the Sufis
of Islam, the Catholic mystics of the later Middle Ages, and,
in the Protestant tradition, such men as Denk and Franck and
Castellio, as Everard and John Smith and the first Quakers and
William Law.

It is through this central door, and just because it is central,
that we shall make our entry into the subject matter of this
book. The psychology of the Perennial Philosophy has its
source in metaphysics and issues logically in a characteristic
way of life and system of ethics. Starting from this mid-point
of doctrine, it is easy for the mind to move in either direction.
May all seek, find and follow the Path of selflessness.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:04 am

A quick overview of the Perennial Philosophy for those who don't know it: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy
rationalwiki wrote:According to perennial philosophy each world religion or spiritual tradition, independent of its cultural or historical context, is simply a different interpretation of a single universal truth. It affirms that a direct insight into the nature of reality is a universal possibility whether gained after practice of spiritual disciplines and study of scriptures or through a wholly unanticipated illuminating experience of union with God or the "Ultimate".[1] Aldous Huxley, who wrote a book on the subject titled The Perennial Philosophy defined it as:

“”The metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical to, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions." (The Perennial Philosophy, p. vii).
:reading:

Here - http://www.religioperennis.org/document ... ialism.pdf - is a longer outline of their ideas, written from within the group (i.e. there may not be much critical distance, let's say, between the writer and the history).

:reading:
Kim

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Will
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:46 pm

Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature. It denies Deity no more than it does the Sun. Esoteric philosophy has never rejected God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract Ens. It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called monotheistic religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Ever-Unknowable.
The Secret Doctrine, 1:xx
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SDC
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Re: Theosophy

Post by SDC » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:10 am

Will wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:46 pm
Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature. It denies Deity no more than it does the Sun. Esoteric philosophy has never rejected God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract Ens. It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called monotheistic religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Ever-Unknowable.
The Secret Doctrine, 1:xx
"Proves the necessity"?

Will, can you unpack that for us?

In this reconciliation: does the theosophist actually strip/reduce to this understanding, retaining that which is irreducible (a nature)? Or...is it done inductively from some assumed position of nothingness, i.e. construct an explanation from the scattered remnants? I believe the distinction to be quite critical.

At best, the alignment could show the likelihood of a natural principle. Do you think the Buddha would go any further than that? Is the Dhamma a construction or a discovery?

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Will
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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:41 am

SDC wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:10 am
Will wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:46 pm
Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature. It denies Deity no more than it does the Sun. Esoteric philosophy has never rejected God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract Ens. It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called monotheistic religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Ever-Unknowable.
The Secret Doctrine, 1:xx
"Proves the necessity"?

Will, can you unpack that for us?

In this reconciliation: does the theosophist actually strip/reduce to this understanding, retaining that which is irreducible (a nature)? Or...is it done inductively from some assumed position of nothingness, i.e. construct an explanation from the scattered remnants? I believe the distinction to be quite critical.

At best, the alignment could show the likelihood of a natural principle. Do you think the Buddha would go any further than that? Is the Dhamma a construction or a discovery?
This is a stab, not satisfactory to me or thee, I am sure.

The Dhamma that Buddha discovered was the same as any buddha has discovered or will discover. However, what he taught by word, thought & deed was a beneficent construction for humanity in general. For certain groups and/or individuals he gave a differing 'construction' based on their temperament & quality of mind.

Similarly, with the Logos religion of the Greeks and Xtians, the Brahman of Hindus etc.

Yet even the Divine Principle, while identical in nature, is only known to be so by the very wisest of sages, buddhas or avatars. Falling back on the elephant and the blind men metaphor that the Jains use... A buddha, or tirthankara or major avatar will see a trunk, or a leg or a tail, but they will know it belongs to the elephant. Most others sages do not realize the identity.

So the shorter response is that the theosophist accepts the reality of the limited personal world and the unlimited Divine, yet knows or believes to always put the mind and heart on the Divine Path to ending the sorrow of beings.
May all seek, find and follow the Path of selflessness.

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SDC
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Re: Theosophy

Post by SDC » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:05 pm

Will wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:41 am
However, what he taught by word, thought & deed was a beneficent construction for humanity in general. For certain groups and/or individuals he gave a differing 'construction' based on their temperament & quality of mind.
The drastic distinction I see is that a description can be arranged around and about a natural principle (Dhamma) in order to describe it most efficiently, whereas a "construction" implies a re-arrangement (not natural, not as it appeared). The difference being, that in describing the Dhamma, the Buddha would refer to that irreducible aspect of experience (things manifest, things appear), careful not to imply or encourage a complete re-creation of events: not to imply a re-creation that would hold precedence over appearance. This subtle distinction would be the difference between indirect access to the nature of things or merely accepting a distortion which has the re-creation taking precedence.

I tend to think esoteric philosophy wouldn't care to make the distinction. Not they aren't hovering in the right place, but they probably wouldn't know why it makes a difference and would oscillate between the two without giving thought to the implication.

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Re: Theosophy

Post by Will » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:43 pm

SDC wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:05 pm
Will wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:41 am
However, what he taught by word, thought & deed was a beneficent construction for humanity in general. For certain groups and/or individuals he gave a differing 'construction' based on their temperament & quality of mind.
The drastic distinction I see is that a description can be arranged around and about a natural principle (Dhamma) in order to describe it most efficiently, whereas a "construction" implies a re-arrangement (not natural, not as it appeared). The difference being, that in describing the Dhamma, the Buddha would refer to that irreducible aspect of experience (things manifest, things appear), careful not to imply or encourage a complete re-creation of events: not to imply a re-creation that would hold precedence over appearance. This subtle distinction would be the difference between indirect access to the nature of things or merely accepting a distortion which has the re-creation taking precedence.

I tend to think esoteric philosophy wouldn't care to make the distinction. Not they aren't hovering in the right place, but they probably wouldn't know why it makes a difference and would oscillate between the two without giving thought to the implication.
Whether Buddha 'arranged' or 'constructed' or radiated, I doubt any such distinction is 'drastic'. In any case, Theosophy is unique in many ways as page viii of The Secret Doctrine suggests:
It is needless to explain that this book is not the Secret Doctrine in its
entirety, but a select number of fragments of its fundamental tenets, special
attention being paid to some facts which have been seized upon by various
writers, and distorted out of all resemblance to the truth.

But it is perhaps desirable to state unequivocally that the teachings, however
fragmentary and incomplete, contained in these volumes, belong neither to the
Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to
Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity exclusively. The Secret Doctrine is
the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious
schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which
every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialised.
This quote could mislead a reader to think Theosophy is the source of religions and nothing else. However, the subtitle of the book says - "The Synthesis of Science, Religion, And Philosophy". In very ancient times there was no separation as is now the case and when HPB's book was written.
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SDC
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Re: Theosophy

Post by SDC » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:43 pm

Will wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:43 pm
Whether Buddha 'arranged' or 'constructed' or radiated, I doubt any such distinction is 'drastic'. In any case, Theosophy is unique in many ways as page viii of The Secret Doctrine suggests:
Instead of "drastic" I should have said "cavernous". In fact, I'm going to push it right over the edge: the discrepancy is irreconcilable. The assumption that data can be arranged in a manner that replicates and stands for the natural principle is the absolute crux of avija.
...Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious
schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which
every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialised.
Sure, but without the distinction being acknowledged, the assumed "merge" is nothing but grounds for further accumulation. Without the premise that the principle must be discerned as opposed to designed, the practitioner is left in limbo between the two. The esoteric philosopher has successfully cleared the ground, but left in place the same blueprint of directional proliferation, i.e. notions extracted from appearance can continue to take precedence over the appearance itself.

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Re: Theosophy

Post by binocular » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:27 pm

Will wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:43 pm
Whether Buddha 'arranged' or 'constructed' or radiated, I doubt any such distinction is 'drastic'. In any case, Theosophy is unique in many ways as page viii of The Secret Doctrine suggests:
It is needless to explain that this book is not the Secret Doctrine in its
entirety, but a select number of fragments of its fundamental tenets, special
attention being paid to some facts which have been seized upon by various
writers, and distorted out of all resemblance to the truth.

But it is perhaps desirable to state unequivocally that the teachings, however
fragmentary and incomplete, contained in these volumes, belong neither to the
Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to
Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity exclusively. The Secret Doctrine is
the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious
schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which
every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialised.
This reads like when Tolkien fans insist that he did not write The Hobbit, LOTR, and so on, but that he merely translated them and prepared them for publication ...
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