Theosophy with Nick

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Theosophy with Nick

Post by Nick_A » September 11th, 2009, 12:21 am

Hi Nick, and let me begin this interview by welcoming you to Online Philosophy Club and congratulating you on a fine user name. :) We'll start with basics and then delve into questions like the nature of the universe and man's place on earth within it.

I respect you as having a sincere interest in Theosophy. Could you provide a short explanation of what Theosophy is that includes your attraction to it? Do you consider Theosophy part of a perennial tradition? Is it a philosophy that was part of your family or did you discover it? Is it just a matter of belief or does it answer more basic questions for you in a way that supplies deeper "meaning?" Would you say your attraction is more mental or emotional?

When I read the "Three Chief Objects," I see how Theosophy can be attractive both mentally and emotionally. Is that how you've experienced it?
Three chief objects:
1. Brotherhood of man, without distinction of race, colour, religion, or social position
2. The serious study of the ancient world-religions for purposes of comparison and the selection therefrom of universal ethics
3. The study and development of the latent divine powers in man
- from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky.1889
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

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Post by Nick » September 11th, 2009, 8:37 am

“…let me begin this interview by welcoming you to Online Philosophy Club….”

--> Thank you. I appreciate the warm welcome.

“I respect you as having a sincere interest in Theosophy.”

--> Thank you. I have been a Theosophist most of my life, and I have written two books on Theosophy that I hope to publish.

“Could you provide a short explanation of what Theosophy is that includes your attraction to it?”

--> I could give you a very complicated answer, but let me start with a simple answer. One thing that attracts me to Theosophy is that it makes absolute, perfect, logical sense to me. I can find no flaws in Theosophical teachings whatsoever. I used to be a Christian, but I left when I found things in Christianity that I disagreed with. I used to call myself a Buddhist, but there are a couple of things in Buddhism that I cannot accept, so I call myself a “fair-weather” Buddhist. But I have yet to to find even one objectionable idea in Theosophy. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Theosophy, I can say that it is based on the two ideas of reincarnation and karma. The beauty of both ideas is that we are all ultimately responsible for what we do. It is on these two simple ideas that all of Theosophy is based.

“Do you consider Theosophy part of a perennial tradition?”

--> Yes. Theosophy is said to be a storehouse of what is called the Ancient Wisdom. It is said that the all religious scriptures – the Bible, the Upanishads, Buddhist sutras, etc. – all sprouted from this single source.

“Is it a philosophy that was part of your family or did you discover it?”

--> It certainly was not part of my main family. But my brother got married when I was 12 years old. At that time, his mother-in-law became part of our family, and she was a Theosophist. She got me started on the road to Theosophy, and I have never looked back.

“Is it just a matter of belief or does it answer more basic questions for you in a way that supplies deeper “meaning?’ ”

--> It is both. It provides me with a very structured belief system (I like to use the term belief system instead of the word religion). It also provides me with a very deep understanding of the meaning of life, in terms of where we came from, why we are here, and what our purpose of life is.

“Would you say your attraction is more mental or emotional?”

--> For me, it is both. Many Theosophists are criticized for taking a very cerebral and intellectual approach to studying Theosophy, and I think that is a fair criticism to make for some Theosophists. But it also provides us with an emotional basis. Theosophy teaches us that one’s intellectual framework is a form of consciousness than is higher than one’s emotional framework, so perhaps I could say it is more of a mental attraction. However, Theosophy teaches that intellectual consciousness and emotional consciousness are only two forms of consciousness, and that we should strive for even higher forms of consciousness than these two. Theosophy points us in the direction of how to do just that.

“When I read the ‘Three Chief Objects,’ I see how Theosophy can be attractive both mentally and emotionally. Is that how you've experienced it?”

--> Yes, but as I said before, it becomes a pathway to even more attractive (and higher) forms of consciousness.
Last edited by Nick on September 12th, 2009, 6:51 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Nick » September 11th, 2009, 8:43 am

Hi everybody!

I want to say that there are a couple of typos in my post above, but this Forum does not seem to allow me to edit my post. Sorry for the typos.

~~

My typos have now been corrected.
Last edited by Nick on September 12th, 2009, 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Nick_A » September 11th, 2009, 3:21 pm

Hi Nick

I wrote to Scott about the mising edit function and he fixed the problem.

Before getting into specifics such as reincarnation and karma, I'd like to understand the broad perspective beginning with the God concept. Does a personal god exist for Theosophy? If impersonal, is it similar to Panentheism? How would you describe that which is really beyond our comprehension but have an instinctive awareness of?

Was Creation itself necessary? Assume for a moment that "I Am" at its depth is a description of God ("I") and its expression into Creation as (Am.) Could the source exist as "I" or was "(Am") a necessity? Does Theosophy assert a reason for Creation?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

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Post by Nick » September 12th, 2009, 6:44 am

“Does a personal god exist for Theosophy? If impersonal, is it similar to Panentheism?”

--> No. Yes. But the questions require answers at several levels.

God

In Theosophy, God exists, but there is something higher than God. Theosophy teaches of something called the Absolute. The Absolute is the One Reality, and everything else is only a manifestation of the Absolute. The Absolute is very difficult to describe and understand, and we do not spend a lot of time trying to describe or understand it. It has been said that trying to describe the Absolute is like trying to list characteristics for something that has no characteristics.

Regarding God, God is seen as a temporary emanation from the Absolute. God is the universe, and the universe is God. But let me back up a couple of steps. From the Absolute. two things emerge at the beginning of the appearance of a universe – Spirit and Matter. (They are also called Father and Mother in their Christian-sounding names, and Purusha and Mulaprakriti in their Sanskrit names.) From Spirit and Matter emanates the universe – the Son. Take a look at this picture of the Catholic concept called the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Image

It is a picture of Mary holding the infant Jesus.

Now, take a look at this Buddhist diety named Kwan Yin:

Image

It is a picture of Kwan Yin holding a vase, and pouring water from the vase.

According to Theosophy, both Mary and Kwan Yin symbolize the same thing. Both Jesus and the water symbolize our universe. Again, according to Theosophy, Jesus has had many brothers and sisters – there have been countless numbers of universes.

God is Jesus, which is the manifested universe (which is also referred to in Theosophy by its Sanskrit name, Mahat). But Mahat – God – is only a manifestation of the Absolute. There are some fascinating references in Genesis that indicate that the original Christian and Jewish teaching taught the same ideas. If anyone is interested, I will point out such teachings in Genesis.

(Theosophy also answers the age-old question of whether Jesus is God or the Son of God.)

Panentheism

According to Theosophy, there is a great deal of “delegating of authority” going on in the universe. The whole universe is one consciousness, but each galaxy is controlled by its own central consciousness (“central deity”). Likewise, each solar system is controlled by its own central consciousness (“central deity”). It goes further down the ladder, with a semi-deity in charge of the human race, and even lower level semi-deities in charge of sections of the human race. This has one effect, of negating the idea of having a personal relationship with God, as such a relationship is understood in Christianity. It also supports the idea of a pantheism/panentheism, in that each deity and semi-deity has a group of lower dieties or semi-deities working for him. All of this ties together into one large Hierarchy.

Acccoring to Theosophy, even Genensis says that such a pantheism/panentheism “created” the human race. In Genesis 1:26, it clearly says that the human race was created by a plural group of gods. Christians have tried for a long time to explain away why Genesis says that the human race was created by a group of gods, but that is exactly what Genesis says, and that is exactly what Theosophy says.

“How would you describe that which is really beyond our comprehension but have an instinctive awareness of?”

--> We are all aware of the emotional and intellectual forms of consciousness that all humans engage in. But Theosophy says that there are many levels of consciousness above these two. And, when we have finally raised ourselves to a level of consciousness higher than emotional and intellectual levels, we will stop using emotional and intellectual ways to communicate. People who are hearing such an idea f0or the first cannot fathom such an idea, but it is a basic Theosophical teaching.

“Was Creation itself necessary?”

--> It is a minor point, but we say the universe emanated rather than it was created.

“Assume for a moment that "I Am" at its depth is a description of God ("I") and its expression into Creation as (Am.)”

--> This is similar to basic Theosophical teachings.

“Could the source exist as "I" or was "(Am") a necessity?”

--> No. Yes. Theosophy uses different terminology to refer to this event. The I Am concept is the manifesting of the physical universe. But the physical universe (“God”) is only an emanation from the Absolute. Theosophy sees a universe as being the result of pure spirit interacting with pure matter (with the emanating of the universe as a result). I suppose you could say that Spirit is the I and the resulting universe is the Am.

“Does Theosophy assert a reason for Creation?”

--> A great deal of time has been spent speculating on why our universe, galaxy, solar system, planet, and human race have appeared. Sadly, Theosophy does not have a really good answer as to this question. All we can say is that some form of knowledge can be gained from manifestation that can be gained in no other way. But other than that, to try to get to the “motivation” of why the Absolute causes universes to appear is pure human conjecture. It has been said that the finite (human) mind cannot comprehend the infinite, and that it is hopeless to try. But it is still fun to try.
Last edited by Nick on September 14th, 2009, 8:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Nick_A » September 12th, 2009, 11:24 am

Would Theosophy agree with this concept of the Transcendent unity of religions described by Frithjof Schuon in this link:

http://www.integralscience.org/unity.html

Where the universe exists as levels of reality, Man as a mini universe corresponds to this same structure and exists as levels of reality reflected through the relationship between the exoteric -- esoteric -- and transcendent -- levels of reality

You seem to be describing what I know of from esoteric Christianity as cosmology or levels of reality. I read Father Sylvan say that its comprehension is the first concept lost as transcendent awareness devolves into the exoteric level or the shadows on the wall in Plato's cave. Does Theosophy agree that this relates to the idea of man "asleep" asserted in all the great traditions

Meister Eckhart seems to be describing what you wrote of as the Absolute higher than God:
"When I came out from God, that is, into multiplicity, then all proclaimed, 'There is a God' (i.e., the personal God, Creator of all things). Now this cannot make me blessed, for hereby I realize myself as creature. But in the breaking through (i.e. through all limitations), I am more than all creatures, I am neither God nor creature; I am that which I was and shall remain evermore. There I receive a thrust which carries me above all angels. By this sudden touch I am become so rich that God (i.e., God as opposed to the Godhead) is not sufficient for me, so far as he is only God and in all his divine works. For in this breaking through I perceive what God and I are in common. There I am what I was. There I neither increase nor decrease. For there I am the immovable which moves all things. Here man has won again what he is eternally (i.e., in his essential being) and ever shall be. Here God (i.e., the Godhead) is received into the soul."
I've pondered if this idea of universal structure that you describe is not also what Jesus referred to as needing new eyes and ears to fully appreciate. My own experiences proved to me that I couldn't have come to understand these things on my own but needed a certain help from above to open to this new direction.

Is this a bit like your own experience? Did opening to this new direction of levels of reality open you to something not previously experienced?

As you suggest the idea is at the core of Theosophy. Neo-Platonism was surely aware of it as described in this excerpt:
Neoplatonism is the modern name given to the form of Platonism developed by Plotinus in the 3rd century ad and modified by his successors. It came to dominate the Greek philosophical schools and remained predominant until the teaching of philosophy by pagans ended in the second half of the 6th century ad. It represents the final form of pagan Greek philosophy. It was not a mere syncretism (or combination of diverse beliefs) but a genuine, if one-sided, development of ideas to be found in Plato and earlier Platonism—though it incorporated important Aristotelian and Stoic elements as well. There is no real evidence for Oriental influence. A certain Gnostic (relating to intuitive knowledge acquired by privileged individuals and immune to empirical verification) tone or colouring sometimes may be discerned in the thought of Plotinus. But he was consciously a passionate opponent of Gnosticism, and in any case there was often a large element of popular Platonism in the Gnostic systems then current. Moreover, the theosophical works of the late 2nd century ad known as the Chaldean Oracles, which were taken as inspired authorities by the later Neoplatonists, seem to have been a hodgepodge of popular Greek religious philosophy.

Neoplatonism began as a complex (and in some ways ambiguous) philosophy and grew vigorously in a variety of forms over a long period; it is therefore not easy to generalize about it. But the leading ideas in the thought of philosophers who can properly be described as Neoplatonists seem always to have included the following:

1. There is a plurality of levels of being, arranged in hierarchical descending order, the last and lowest comprising the physical universe, which exists in time and space and is perceptible to the senses.

2. Each level of being is derived from its superior, a derivation that is not a process in time or space.

3. Each derived being is established in its own reality by turning back toward its superior in a movement of contemplative desire, which is implicit in the original creative impulse of outgoing that it receives from its superior; thus the Neoplatonic universe is characterized by a double movement of outgoing and return.

4. Each level of being is an image or expression on a lower level of the one above it. The relation of archetype and image runs through all Neoplatonic schemes.

5. Degrees of being are also degrees of unity; as one goes down the scale of being there is greater multiplicity, more separateness, and increasing limitation—until the atomic individualization of the spatiotemporal world is reached.

6. The highest level of being, and through it all of what in any sense exists, derives from the ultimate principle, which is absolutely free from determinations and limitations and utterly transcends any conceivable reality, so that it may be said to be “beyond being.” Because it has no limitations, it has no division, attributes, or qualifications; it cannot really be named, or even properly described as being, but may be called “the One” to designate its complete simplicity. It may also be called “the Good” as the source of all perfections and the ultimate goal of return, for the impulse of outgoing and return that constitutes the hierarchy of derived reality comes from and leads back to the Good.

7. Since this supreme principle is absolutely simple and undetermined (or devoid of specific traits), man’s knowledge of it must be radically different from any other kind of knowledge. It is not an object (a separate, determined, limited thing) and no predicates can be applied to it; hence it can be known only if it raises the mind to an immediate union with itself, which cannot be imagined or described.
Levels of reality again. The reason I'm including all of this is to invite you to expand on what I believe to be an important concept normally excluded from ontological discussion. Yet it seems essential to do so for it to become truly meaningful.

We seem to always try and understand a transcendent perspective from our exoteric perspective which cannot lead anywhere. Does Theosophy caution on the need to acquire this cosmological perspective you've described before any real understanding can become possible?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

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Post by Nick » September 12th, 2009, 1:46 pm

“Would Theosophy agree with this concept of the Transcendent unity of religions described by Frithjof Schuon…?”

--> Yes. This is a basic theosophical teaching. I was surprised to learn that there is a great deal in common between the Buddhist, Kabalistic, and Hindu teachings. According to Theosophy, these three religions all came from one common source, just as Schoun is saying. Your link’s idea that “…while there is one and only one Truth, there are many expressions of it,” is a key Theosophical teaching. The Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu religions have a lot more in common than most people realize.

“Does Theosophy agree that this relates to the idea of man "asleep" asserted in all the great traditions?”

--> Yes. The level of consciousness above the intellectual level is the Buddhic level. Once we achieve Buddhic consciousness, we no longer need our astral bodies and “mental bodies.” They will instantly vanish when we achieve Buddhic consciousness.

“Meister Eckhart seems to be describing what you wrote of as the Absolute higher than God:”

--> Yes. Theosphy teaches that there are four agents in the emanation of reality; the Absolute, Spirit, Matter, and the physical universe. Spirit, Matter, and the physical universe (called the First, Second, and Third Logos in Theosophy) are the Trinity that Catholicism has publicized for centuries. These four agents are responsible for the appearance of the manifested universe. Here is a chart I have put together, showing how these four agents correspond in the world’s major religions:

http : // users . ez2 . net / nick29 / theosophy / tabulation . htm

Please note how Genesis uses the name the Void to refer to the Absolute, and how Eckheart uses the name Godhead to also refer to the Absolute. It is also important to note how the New Testament and the Old Testament use different words to refer to the Absolute and the Third Logos. Your quote refers to God vs. Godhead, which is the difference between the Absolute and the Third Logos (the manifested universe). Your quote also implies that God and Godhead are the same yet different, and fortunately Theosophy clears up the confusion.

“I've pondered if this idea of universal structure that you describe is not also what Jesus referred to as needing new eyes and ears to fully appreciate.”

--> I think they are the same.

“Is this a bit like your own experience? Did opening to this new direction of levels of reality open you to something not previously experienced?”

--> Yes. Our present purpose of existence (the purpose of life) is to rise up and achieve the level of consciousness that is right above the intellectual level of consciousness. Fortunately, Theosophy "guarantees" that we will ultimately be successful in such a quest.

“As you suggest the idea is at the core of Theosophy. Neo-Platonism was surely aware of it....”

--> Plato has been recognized as one of the greatest Theosophists of all time.

“… the theosophical works of the late 2nd century ad known as the Chaldean Oracles, which were taken as inspired authorities by the later Neoplatonists, seem to have been a hodgepodge of popular Greek religious philosophy.”

--> The idea that Theosophy is a hodgepodge of ideas needs to be addressed. I prefer the opposite idea, that Theosophy, the Chaldean Oracles, Neoplatonists, etc., all refer to a single set of teachings that is the original set of teachings that Christianity, Kabalism, Hinduism, etc., come from. It seems hodgepodge only in that the teachings have been given out in a hodgepodge way. Theosophy shows how all of these teaching are actually part of one very-well organized set of teachings.

“The reason I'm including all of this is to invite you to expand on what I believe to be an important concept normally excluded from ontological discussion. Yet it seems essential to do so for it to become truly meaningful.”

--> I think we have covered the main points. But please feel free to ask more questions, so that you can clarify your understanding of the subject.

“We seem to always try and understand a transcendent perspective from our exoteric perspective which cannot lead anywhere.”

--> Yes. The only way to really understand the nature of the universe is to perceive it directly via first-hand esoteric observations. The true nature of the universe can never be understood via intellectual discussions such as this one.

“Does Theosophy caution on the need to acquire this cosmological perspective you've described before any real understanding can become possible?”

--> Yes. Theosophy cautions that an accurate cosmological perspective can never be accurately acquired via intellectual discussion. According to Theosophy, many universal concepts cannot be described or explained while a person is receiving perceptions via a mental brain. A higher level of consciousness is required, to begin to fully comprehend a cosmological perspective of the manifested universe. Once we achieve Buddhic consciousness, some aspects of the true nature of the universe will become obvious to us. But we will need to achieve even higher levels of consciousness, in order to understand aspects of the true nature of the universe that cannot be understood even on the Buddhic level of consciousness. Life (both physical life and super-physical life) is a seemingly never-ending striving to achieve the next higher level of consciousness.

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Post by Nick_A » September 12th, 2009, 4:35 pm

Hi Nick

I know there is a requirement for posting links that you have to have a certain amount of posts. This is necessary to discourage spammers from joining. I'll write to Scott and suggest that it be abandoned for interviews like this which include really deep ideas. Charts and the like make them more comprehensible. Obviously you are not a spammer.

I received a reply from Scott. You should now be able to post links.

Anyhow your chart:

http://users.ez2.net/nick29/theosophy/tabulation.htm


I see the connection between the Secret Doctrine and the Old Testament on the upper left as first describing the union of the three essential forces that are the basis of all of created individualities. The Seven Dhyani-Chohans and the Seven Elohim are expressions of a lawful cosmological descent and the expression of the universe as a living cosmological Octave based on principles described by Pythagoras in his Law of Octaves.

Do you see this same connection in Theosophy? Does Theosophy explain how the cosmoses are connected?

I know this process of connection as the cyclical flows of Involution and Evolution where the cosmological descent into creation or unity into diversity is the process of involution and evolution is the assent through cosmoses back to the source. In Christianity it is expressed as the way to the Father is through the Son. The way to the Father is through the middle cosmos or Son.

Is it similar in Theosophy?
The idea that Theosophy is a hodgepodge of ideas needs to be addressed. I prefer the opposite idea, that Theosophy, the Chaldean Oracles, Neoplatonists, etc., all refer to a single set of teachings that is the original set of teachings that Christianity, Kabalism, Hinduism, etc., come from. It seems hodgepodge only in that the teachings have been given out in a hodgepodge way. Theosophy shows how all of these teaching are actually part of one very-well organized set of teachings.
I'd rather save this for the end. First I'd like to gradually clarify what we both value even if from slightly different directions and then psychologically why the world rejects it. But first we have to be clear on what is being rejected in Theosophy.

You've mentioned "consciousness." Does Theosophy have a definition of consciousness? A lot of modern thought explains consciousness as something in us that we create, I prefer Jacob Needleman's explanation of consciousness:

http://www.rawpaint.com/library/jneedleman/jnch1d.html
In order to warn us about this tendency in ourselves, the traditional teachings--as expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita, for example--make a fundamental distinction between consciousness on the one hand and the contents of consciousness such as our perceptions of things, our sense of personal identity, our emotions and our thoughts in all their color and gradations on the other hand.

This ancient distinction has two crucial messages for us. On the one hand, it tell us that what we feel to be the best of ourselves as human beings is only part of a total structure containing layers of mind, feeling and sensation far more active, subtle and encompassing (like the cosmic spheres) than what we have settled for as our best. These layers are very numerous and need to be peeled back, as it were, or broken through one by one along the path of inner growth, until an individual touches in himself the fundamental intelligent forces in the cosmos.

At the same time, this distinction also communicates that the search for consciousness is a constant necessity for man. It is telling us that anything in ourselves, no matter how fine, subtle or intelligent, no matter how virtuous or close to reality, no matter how still or violent--any action, any thought, any intuition or experience--immediately absorbs all our attention and automatically becomes transformed into contents around which gather all the opinions, feelings and distorted sensations that are the supports of our secondhand sense of identity. In short, we are told that the evolution of consciousness is always "vertical" to the constant stream of mental, emotional and sensory associations within the human organism, and comprehensive of them (somewhat like a "fourth dimension"). And, seen in this light, it is not really a question of concentric layers of awareness embedded like the skins of an onion within the self, but only one skin, one veil, that constantly forms regardless of the quality or intensity of the psychic field at any given moment.

Thus, in order to understand the nature of consciousness, I must here and now in this present moment be searching for a better state of consciousness. All definitions, no matter how profound, are secondary. Even the formulations of ancient masters on this subject can be a diversion if I take them in a way that does not support the immediate personal effort to be aware of what is taking place in myself in the present moment.

In all that follows in this book, we shall continue to speak about levels of consciousness and intelligence within man and within the universe, for this idea is crucial in any attempt to reach a new understanding of science. But I wish, for the reader and for myself, that this more inner, personal meaning of the idea be constantly kept in mind.
Could you provide some insights into how Theosophy distinguishes between consciousness and contents of consciousness?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

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Post by Nick » September 14th, 2009, 12:38 am

“I see the connection between the Secret Doctrine and the Old Testament on the upper left as first describing the union of the three essential forces that are the basis of all of created individualities. The Seven Dhyani-Chohans and the Seven Elohim are expressions of a lawful cosmological descent…”

--> Yes. The seven Elohim are the group of gods mentioned in Genesis 1:26.

“Then God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...” (underlines added.)

This part of Genesis was intentionally and wrongfully changed, and originally said, “Then the gods said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...” (underlines added.)

“Does Theosophy explain how the cosmoses are connected?”

--> This requires a complicated answer. Let’s just say that all of the universe is consciousness, and that different things in the universe are just different forms of consciousness. Every part of the universe is connected to every other part. Our sense of separateness from other parts of the universe is artificial, is necessary, and will disappear when it is no longer necessary.

“I know this process of connection as the cyclical flows of Involution and Evolution where the cosmological descent into creation or unity into diversity is the process of involution and evolution is the assent through cosmoses back to the source.”

--> This is exactly what Theosophy teaches. Involution is just as much a part of the Theosophical story as evolution is.

“In Christianity it is expressed as the way to the Father is through the Son. The way to the Father is through the middle cosmos or Son. Is it similar in Theosophy?”

--> Yes, but the terminology is different. Also, the final goal in Theosophy is not the Father (Spirit) but the next step beyond Spirit, which is the Absolute. According to Theosophy, the Father (Spirit) is only an intermediary between us and the Absolute. Also, it is Theosophy's sad duty to say that Genesis originally said that God comes from the Absolute, but that that part was intentionally and wrongfully changed, the part about the Absolute was removed, and God was made the final goal.

“You've mentioned "consciousness." Does Theosophy have a definition of consciousness?”

--> Everything in the universe is consciousness. There is nothing that is not a form of consciousness. We cannot define consciousness, because there is nothing that is non-consciousness that can be compared to consciousness in order to define consciousness. Even a brick wall is nothing more than “solidified consciousness.” One Theosophical writer has described humans as being pieces of "lightening standing still," and I think that is a very accurate desription. We are 100% composed of energy, which is nothing more than a form of consciousness.

“A lot of modern thought explains consciousness as something in us that we create….”

--> Theosophy distinguishes consciousness from self-consciousness (self-awareness), as does your quote. We humans are aware of the fact that we exist – that we have self-awareness or self-consciousness. According to Theosophy, humans have self-awareness (I am aware that I exist) and animals do not. But everything, even rocks and stones are a form of consciousness.

“…in order to understand the nature of consciousness, I must here and now in this present moment be searching for a better state of consciousness.”

--> According to Theosophy, our goal is to be constantly raising our level of consciousness.

“Could you provide some insights into how Theosophy distinguishes between consciousness and contents of consciousness?”

--> I think it is only a difference of the self-awareness that humans have and animals do not have. And, according to Theosophy, once we no longer need to exist at the human level, and we evolve up to the next level of consciousness (the Buddhic level of consciousness), we will experience a whole new way of perceiving the universe. (By the way, Theosophy also teaches that today's animals will eventually evolve high enough to finally achieve self-awareness, and finally embark on their first human reincarnation. And it is a one-way street -- once an animal becomes a human, it cannot never go back to the animal stage.)

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Post by Nick_A » September 14th, 2009, 11:19 am

Hi Nick. I trust the weekend went well. You previously wrote:
According to Theosophy, there is a great deal of “delegating of authority” going on in the universe. The whole universe is one consciousness, but each galaxy is controlled by its own central consciousness (“central deity”). Likewise, each solar system is controlled by its own central consciousness (“central deity”). It goes further down the ladder, with a semi-deity in charge of the human race, and even lower level semi-deities in charge of sections of the human race. This has one effect, of negating the idea of having a personal relationship with God, as such a relationship is understood in Christianity. It also supports the idea of a pantheism/panentheism, in that each deity and semi-deity has a group of lower dieties or semi-deities working for him. All of this ties together into one large Hierarchy.
Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems that this enormous universe wasn't created for man on this speck within it called planet earth but rather man on earth is to serve this conscious universe. Does Theosophy suggest an objective meaning and purpose for Man in accordance with the above hierarchy?

This is a big question I'm inviting you to elaborate on but what is Man? Does Theosophy agree that Man as unique from other organic life on earth is in the image of God? What does it mean to be "in the image?"

Is "Man" the same as man on earth or is man on earth a devolution or "atom" of a higher level of reality which is the origin of Man?

What is the source of man on earth within the above hierarchy?
Acts 17

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
I read this from a cosmological perspective where the devolution of man as inner unity involves into forming diverse man beginning with the races of man. Does Theosophy explain the process?

One reason for asking about this is that this has been misunderstood and has resulted in some harmful misconceptions so I'd like to invite you to explain the origin without any negative influences.

I see the development of races of man for example as law conformable mechanical adaptations of the physical and psychological presence of man to the design and needs of the earth.

I know this requires a long answer but to add one more question that I hope we will elaborate on: what is the relationship between an individual and race? It seems that regardless of the commonalities of race within cultural confines, there are always these "black sheep" that seem to be open to man's conscious evolution much to the annoyance of many around them. Is this at least partially because of a stronger divine spark capable of being drawn to the truth of human meaning and purpose as more then the results of daily life in Plato's Cave??
"We assert that the divine spark in man being one and identical in its essence with the Universal Spirit, our "spiritual Self" is practically omniscient, but that it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter." - from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
"The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is; and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God." Meister Eckhart
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

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Post by Nick » September 14th, 2009, 11:05 pm

“Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems that this enormous universe wasn't created for man on this speck within it called planet earth but rather man on earth is to serve this conscious universe.”

--> The idea that the universe was created for humanity is an idea that comes from the Bible, and is not in agreement with theosophical ideas. The idea that humanity is here to serve the universe is more in line with Theosophical thinking, but the idea of serfs serving a king is still in line with the idea of God as king, and is not in line with theosophical thinking. Theosophy sees humanity as being one with the universe, but that oneness has been disguised through an artificial sense of separateness that has been imposed on us. (This is the real story of Genesis.) Instead of using the word “serve.” I think a more correct word would be “compassion.” When we reach a higher level of consciousness, we will become much more compassionate, and spend all of our time doing nothing but going around doing nice things for each other. It will not be out of servitude, but out of compassion.

“Does Theosophy suggest an objective meaning and purpose for Man in accordance with the above hierarchy?”

--> In one short phrase, our objective is to help each other improve along the lines of spiritual advancement. There are those who were humans before we were humans, and they helped us get this far. There will be those who become human after us, and our main job will be to help them journey through the world of human existence.

“This is a big question I'm inviting you to elaborate on but what is Man? Does Theosophy agree that Man is unique from other organic life on earth is in the image of God?”

--> Yes. But humanity is only part of a chain of all kinds of beings at all kinds of levels of consciousness. Your question has a certain Christian-type bias to it. The Christian bias says that (except for a few minor examples of angels) the main focus is humanity and God. On the other hand, Theosophy says there are a seemingly endless number of levels between humanity and the Absolute. Christianity sadly ignores those intermediate levels, while Theosophy emphasizes them.

“What does it mean to be "in the image?" “

--> It is a phrase that is meant to taken literally. Let me explain. Humans consist of a physical body, an astral body, a “mental” body, etc. Humans were “created” in stages, that is, our mental bodies were created, then our astral bodies, then our physical bodies. Millions of years passed between each stage. (Theosophy refutes the idea that humans were created instantly.) The phrase “in the image” refers to the creation of our astral bodies. Our creators – the Elohim – took parts of their astral bodies, broke off parts of their astral bodies, and used them to created our astral bodies. In this way, we are literally “in the image” of the Elohim, because our astral bodies are literally from them, in their image.

“Is "Man" the same as man on earth or is man on earth a devolution or "atom" of a higher level of reality which is the origin of Man?”

--> Neither. Each human is a spark of the One Reality. Everything else in the universe is also a spark of the One Reality. I would not say we are products of devolution, but that we are products of involution. There is a big difference between the two.

“What is the source of man on earth within the above hierarchy?”

--> There are two sources. One is that we are sparks that have been continually involving and evolving since the beginning of the universe. We are also products of the specific efforts of the Elohim who took parts of their astral bodies to create our astral bodies, and made it possible for us to exist as humans on earth.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.”

--> Theosophy rejects such an anthropomorphic view of God. God is more of an impersonal principle than a deity who changes His mind on a whim. Theosophy specifically rejects a God who gets angry, as in Genesis. Also, Theosophists do not say that God created the universe, but that the universe emanated from the Absolute. Also, God did not create the world, a group of gods created the world.

Also, Theosophy does not use theistic terminology. Theosophists do not say that God wants us to do this, God wants us to do that, etc. We do what we need to because it needs to be done, not because a God wants us to do it. Theosophy is devoid of such theistic terminology.

“God did this so that men would seek him….”

--> Rather, Theosophists would say that the gods did this so that humanity would be given the opportunity to become compassionate. Theosophy rejects the idea that God needs to be seeked, needs to be worshiped, etc. Such anthropomorphism has no place in Theosophy.

“I read this from a cosmological perspective where the devolution of man as inner unity involves into forming diverse man beginning with the races of man. Does Theosophy explain the process?”

--> Humanity involved into diverse beings, but it is a process that began way before we appeared on earth. The process of involution has taken countless billions of years. Our time here on earth has been only a fraction of that time, and will be only a fraction of the time we will spend in additional evolution once we leave earth for good.

“I see the development of races of man for example as law conformable mechanical adaptations of the physical and psychological presence of man to the design and needs of the earth.”

--> That makes it sound like humanity was adapted to live on earth in an artificial way. I would say we have been adapted to live here on earth, but that it is part of our natural evolution, not an adaptation.

“…what is the relationship between an individual and race?”

--> Reincarnation is the most basic of theosophical teachings. We all spend time as whites, blacks, Orientals, etc. We must not over-identify with one race, because we are members of all races in a chronological way.

“…there are always … "black sheep" that seem to be open to man's conscious evolution much to the annoyance of many around them.”

--> The decision to make the difficult effort to strive for and achieve Buddhic consciousness is a decision that must be made freely. There must be no coercion. This requires that we must be absolutely free to decide our own path. Unfortunately, many people take advantage of this freedom, and move backwards in their progress towards enlightenment. It is an ugly system, but there is no better system.

“Is this at least partially because of a stronger divine spark capable of being drawn to the truth of human meaning and purpose as more then the results of daily life in Plato's Cave??”

--> It is because involution is a very selfish state of being. While we were involving, the more selfish we acted, the more progress we made. But our job is to now stop involving and start evolving. Unfortunately, many people are still trying to selfishly involve, and they are losing progress along their present path as a result.

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Post by Nick_A » September 15th, 2009, 2:31 am

Hi Nick

I wasn't clear on my question of objective meaning and purpose. I should have asked what the purpose is of organic life on earth of which physical man is a part? Does Theosophy speculate on why it was necessary for organic life to arise on earth?

You suggest that the Elohim took parts of their astral body to create our astral bodies making it possible for us to exist on earth. Does Theosophy suggest why? The appearance of organic life on earth was either accidental or intentional as I believe. If intentional, it must be to serve a purpose. Does Theosophy suggest a purpose for organic life on earth and why man on earth became part of it?

Does Theosophy suggest an enormous difference between conscious or awakened man on earth and regular humanity in Plato's cave?
The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face? - Thoreau, Walden
I've often felt that we vastly underestimate the potential for human being even in the presence of the physical body while on earth. Does Theosophy agree?
Rather, Theosophists would say that the gods did this so that humanity would be given the opportunity to become compassionate. Theosophy rejects the idea that God needs to be seeked, needs to be worshiped, etc. Such anthropomorphism has no place in Theosophy.
Wouldn't compassion be a part of Buddhic consciousness? If so, why should man initially involve into becoming a part of organic life on earth just to rediscover compassion. Does Theosophy shed light on this question?

I should make it clear that I am not a traditional Christian. My interests are more with esoteric Christianity which allows me to appreciate levels of reality. There is no personal God in esoteric Christianity. Its purpose is connecting mechanical evolution with our potential for conscious evolution which seems similar to what you've explained.

http://www.katinkahesselink.net/christi ... ianity.htm
"We assert that the divine spark in man being one and identical in its essence with the Universal Spirit, our "spiritual Self" is practically omniscient, but that it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter." - from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
What is the origin of the divine spark that is beyond the mental and astral bodies?? Does it arise at a level of reality within creation or with the Absolute?

I'm trying to appreciate Theosophy as the functioning living whole you suggest. I'm inviting you to elaborate so that I and readers can appreciate the sublime common sense that I believe is within Theosophy and later, your own experiences with it.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

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Post by Nick » September 16th, 2009, 3:22 am

“…what the purpose is of organic life on earth of which physical man is a part? Does Theosophy speculate on why it was necessary for organic life to arise on earth?”

--> Organic life – plants, animals, and humans – are three essential steps in the path to eventual higher consciousness. Theosophy also includes minerals with these three other steps so let’s start with minerals. According to Theosophy, minerals have a form of consciousness, but it is a very low level of consciousness. The mineral kingdom is the first level on which a type of “soul” has the chance to “incarnate” and ensoul material. It can be thought of as being the first stage where physical matter and “soul-matter” get used to the idea of existing inside of each other. Plants are the second stage, where the ability to run a very simple organism metabolism is learned. (Plants are also where the concept of an astral emotions are first encountered, but at a very low level. Scientific experiments have shown that plants do respond in an emotional – astral – way to what is happening around them.) The animal kingdom is the first place where mobility is learned, as well as beginning social interaction. Some animals have emotions that are much more evolved than plants, but still less evolved than humans. It is also at the animal stage where the first vague hints of mental activity occur. Humans go on to develop high levels of mental activity, and begin to have the first vague hints of Buddhic consciousness. All of these stages of organic life are absolutely necessary for the progression of spirit from a very basic form to a super-human form.

“You suggest that the Elohim took parts of their astral body to create our astral bodies making it possible for us to exist on earth. Does Theosophy suggest why?”

--> Early humans did not have astral bodies, and so the Elohim merely took parts of their astral bodies, broke off bits and pieces, and used them to create human astral bodies. It was the best and most economical way to do it. This explains the Genesis phrase, “made in their image.”

“The appearance of organic life on earth was either accidental or intentional as I believe. If intentional, it must be to serve a purpose. Does Theosophy suggest a purpose for organic life on earth and why man on earth became part of it?”

--> There are two answers to your question. One is that organic life is a necessary step along the path to super-human consciousness, as previously described, and is very intentional. Man is a necessary and integral part of organic life on earth.

Another question is why all of this – pre-physical, physical, and super-physical existence – is happening. We just do not know. We do not know why the universe appeared. We can only guess at the motivations that made the appearance of countless universes a necessity.

“Does Theosophy suggest an enormous difference between conscious or awakened man on earth and regular humanity in Plato's cave?”

--> I think you mean the difference between average humans on earth, and humans who have already achieved enlightenment and have qualified to enter Nirvana. Does that sound like what you and Walden are describing? Theosophy suggests a huge difference between the two. Enlightened humans have the ability to now achieve Buddhic consciousness. They also are no longer required to reincarnate.

“I've often felt that we vastly underestimate the potential for human being even in the presence of the physical body while on earth. Does Theosophy agree?”

--> Yes. I think the biggest thing holding us back is our bad karma. Some Theosophists disagree with me on this one, but I feel that we cannot achieve enlightenment and Nirvana until we have burned off all of our bad karma. It is bad karma which shackles us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When we finally remove our bad karmic shackles, we will experience great progress.

“Wouldn't compassion be a part of Buddhic consciousness?”

--> I would say that compassion is THE most important aspect of Buddhic consciousness. When a person does something out of compassion, and has no desire to profit from the act, to only help, then he or she is beginning to experience compassion and Buddhic consciousness.

“If so, why should man initially involve into becoming a part of organic life on earth just to rediscover compassion. Does Theosophy shed light on this question?”

--> Organic life is nothing more than a series of necessary steps along the path to enlightenment. Once organic life becomes unnecessary for us, we will discard it forever. But organic life is necessary for us at the present time. We cannot discover the true nature of compassion until we have experienced various aspects of organic life. Physical life is a great training ground. But that is all it is – a training ground, a very necessary training ground.

[Esoteric Christianity’s] “…purpose is connecting mechanical evolution with our potential for conscious evolution which seems similar to what you've explained.”

--> If so, then I think Theosophy and esoteric completely agree on this point.

“What is the origin of the divine spark that is beyond the mental and astral bodies?? Does it arise at a level of reality within creation or with the Absolute?”

--> The divine sparks appeared at the very beginning of our universe – the very beginning of a “Creation.” (This part of the story is at the very beginning of the story told in Genesis, but the Theosophy story contains much more detail. than the Genesis story.) By the way, Theosophy does not usually use Creation terminology, but I will use it here, in order to facilitate my explanation. In Genesis, there are a couple of very important statements. First is the statement, “…darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:2-3) The true meaning of these sentences explains the theosophical version of the creation story. Darkness is the Absolute. The only way we can describe the Absolute is by calling it darkness. Spirit can be described as a type of pre-light. Pre-universe matter, in this quote from Genesis, is symbolized by water. It has been said that we can consider such water as having countless billions of little waves. As the pre-light from Spirit hits the countless billions of little waves (“moves across the waters”), countless billions of tiny reflections are formed. These are the sparks. We are those sparks. The accumulative sparks are the Light of Genesis 1:3, also called the universe, also called God. That is why God is called Light. Since God is Light, we can then only refer to its source (the Absolute) as darkness. The story in Genesis 1:2-3 is a fascinating story, but unfortunately, a great deal of the story has been left out in the Genesis version.

“I'm inviting you to elaborate so that I and readers can appreciate the sublime common sense that I believe is within Theosophy and later, your own experiences with it.”

--> If I were to write out the theosophical teaching in detail, I’m afraid I would end up writing volumes of material. Your Forum does not allow me to use that much space. It is difficult for me to choose what to write and what not to write. I think the best way is for you to keep asking me questions, and I keep answering them. Otherwise, I will use up more space in this Forum than I am allowed.

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Post by Nick_A » September 16th, 2009, 11:08 am

Hi Nick

Could you elaborate on what reincarnation is and what it is that reincarnates. Does it refer to the divine spark or something that results from the interaction of the divine spark with the phenomenal world?

What is "karma" according to Theosophy and if bad, how does one cleanse themselves. Does it refer to doing something or more the way in which it is done.

I believe Karma Yoga as described in the following excerpt as the key to dealing with karma. Is it the same with Theosophy?
Karma-Yoga is the science of action with non-identifying. This phrase must be remembered by everyone. It must not be changed into "the science of action without identifying." The essence of the idea of Karma-Yoga is to meet with unpleasant things equally with pleasant things. That is, in practicing Karma-Yoga one does not seek always to avoid unpleasant things, as people ordinarily do. Life is to be met with non-identifying. Life becomes a teacher, for life taken by itself is meaningless, but taken as an exercise it becomes a teacher. It is not life that is a teacher, but ones relation through non-identifying makes it become a teacher. Nothing can change being so much as this practice - namely to take the unpleasant things in life as an exercise...................................................................
Of course this is far easier said than done since our habitual nature struggles against such revelation and usually wins, but is the basic idea within theosophy?
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

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Post by Nick » September 17th, 2009, 7:51 am

“Could you elaborate on what reincarnation is and what it is that reincarnates. Does it refer to the divine spark or something that results from the interaction of the divine spark with the phenomenal world?”

--> It does not refer to the divine spark. It refers to the seven principles of man, which are at a much lower level of existence than our divine sparks. The seven principles of man are:

--- The Three Higher Principles ---

1st. Atma (the Atma level of consciousness)
2nd. Buddhi (the Buddhi level of consciousness)
3rd. Manas (our present mental level of consciousness)

--- The Four Lower Principles ---

4th: Kama – Passions and Animal Desires
5th. Prana – the Life-Principle (energy that energizes us)
6th. our astral body
7th. our physical body

Here is a chart of the seven principles in man (according to Theosophy).

Image

At death, the three higher principles detach themselves from the four lower principles. The four lower principles whither away, and eventually disintegrate. The three higher principles eventually enter Heaven (we call Heaven by the name Devachan), and the person ponders all of the events of their life, and gleans as much knowledge as they can from their recently-ended experiences on earth. (Heaven/Devachan is also a rest-period, just as all of the world’s religions say it is.) When the person has rested, and when he or she has gleaned all that can be gleaned from the previous incarnation’s learning experiences, it is time for another “field-trip,” and the person begins another reincarnation.

It is also important to note that Theosophy teaches both the ideas of Heaven and Nirvana, and sees no conflict at all between the two ideas.

“What is "karma" according to Theosophy and if bad, how does one cleanse themselves.”

--> If someone does a bad thing, then they must either do a comparative amount of good to balance out the previous bad thing, or they must suffer an equal amount of suffering in order to bring the score to zero. Any bad act, no matter how small, throws the universe out of balance. Karma is nature's way of putting the universe back into balance.

“Does it refer to doing something or more the way in which it is done.”

--> Theosophists and Buddhists have spent a great deal of time discussing whether an evil act creates more bad karma, or whether the evil intent behind the act creates more bad karma. Quite frankly, I do not know. I imagine that both an evil intent and an evil act both create bad karma, but this is really only a guess on my part.

“I believe Karma Yoga ... [is] the key to dealing with karma. Is it the same with Theosophy?”

--> I think your quote is saying that, when we have negative experiences, we need to remain positive about what is happening, not react with anger, not seek to avoid such unpleasant things, but that we must allow such negative experiences to be our teacher. Theosophy agrees with such a philosophy, even though such a philosophy is very difficult for many of us to accept.

The thing I like most about karma is that it is 100% fair. The idea of karma removes the unfairness that exists in other philosophies and religions. Not too long ago, a friend of a friend’s six-year-old daughter died. Our first reaction was to say how unfair it was for such a thing to have happened. Fortunately, karma says there was nothing unfair at all about the young girl’s death. It is this fairness within the idea of karma that draws me so strongly to the idea of karma.

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