Theosophy World #41, November 1, 1999
In Support of Genuine Theosophy
by Grigor Vahan Ananikian
[based upon a September 22, 1999 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
What is theosophia? And what is the condition of the relation of the Theosophical Society to Theosophia, today? I suggest that, to the extent that there is a need for the first question, the answer to the second question is that the relation is poor.
Part of the strength and color of HPB, that made her a formidable woman who could endure the harsh conditions of travel in Central Asia, who could find and get into hidden places that usually forbade the admittance of women, is that she was raised in the Caucasus.
Here, in the nineteenth century, the conditions of daily life were harsh and not for the meek at heart. Here, spirituality was that which was superior, stronger, and more real than those harsh conditions and there was little time or luxury or tolerance for any parlor-room neurosis parading as spirituality.
Here was a rich confluence of hardy peoples and tribes, Armenians, Georgians, Turks, Aisors, Kalmucks, Cossacks, and Russians. With them we find Zoroastrianism, Judaism, various forms of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the strong tradition of Naqshibandhi Sufism of Daghestan, Yezidis, Buddhists, and the legacy of nameless religious traditions found in remote valleys hidden in the mountainous regions of the Caucasus.
Here their various religious traditions, whose authenticity and viability were constantly tested by their ability to effectively transform human nature and human existence under the harsh conditions of a region that was the frontier and crossroads of many peoples, were challenged by their exposure to other religious, other perspectives, other ways of life, and by their constant exposure to conditions within which they had to prove their transformative mettle.
Ideas, beliefs, and practices had to pass the acid test of being exposed to other ideas, beliefs and practices, and finally, the acid test of being found valid by a people whose life and survival did not allow them either the luxury nor tolerance for spiritual bunk, bogus guides, parlor tricks, or anything that encouraged a retreat from the realities of life.
If spirituality was to prove itself a real dimension of human life, if it was to prove itself the superior power operating in human life, if it is was real, then it had to show itself to be more real, more important, more powerful, more valuable, and superior to the harsh conditions and hard priorities of earthly life in the Caucasus. It had to make a real difference and transmute strong characters and rugged personalities whose lives gave them a discerning sobriety of what was authentic and what was fake.
In this author's opinion, we need to recapture a little bit of what the conditions of the Caucasus gives to its children and gave to HPB in light of the current condition of the Theosophical Society. As the illimitable Shaykh Sharafuddin ad-Daghestani put it, commenting on the westerners' (Russians) fascination with Spiritualism and Mesmerism, "they have no sense of smell, so they can't avoid stepping in it."
So, what is theosophia? There are three things it is not but which some mistakenly have come to believe that it is. First, theosophy is not something apart from morality. In fact, it is the process of how to become a truly moral person. Yet, few years back some people interested in theosophical ideas were surprised when they heard a quote from HPB's THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY that said practical theosophy was a transformative process of higher moral development.
Some were surprised, some shocked, that theosophy had anything to do with morals because of what had been taught, and because of what had not been taught in some current theosophical publications and in some publications partly derived from theosophical sources and from other New Age, Channeling, and New Thought sources (which this author suggests, HPB would regard as the contemporary forms of Spiritualism and Mesmerism that she criticized as forms of pseudo-spirituality and carefully sought to distinguish true Theosophia from). They correctly thought theosophy was about the soul, higher bodies, evolution, and the meaning of life but mistakenly assumed all this was apart from morals.
Second, theosophy is not about cultivating a process of self-hypnosis that brings about dreamy positive states of feeling and positive moods. Theosophy is not about feeling good through a process of self-hypnosis but being good. Rather it is about morally waking up as the terms bodhi and buddhi both convey. Theosophy is about cultivating buddhi which is the faculty that is the precise opposite of hypnosis. We might make it almost a mathematical equation: buddhi is the wakeful capacity to not be hypnotized and the susceptibility to be hypnotized, suggestibility, is precisely the lack of buddhi.
Again some people were surprised some years back when they learned that the techniques of positive thought, of leaving positive thoughts and resolutions to oneself by some device that would play them to you as you awoke, and all such techniques of self-hypnosis was not, in HPB's opinion, spiritual development. It was hypnosis and she had a low opinion of hypnosis.
The spiritual life, according to her, is precisely the overcoming of our inner susceptibility to be hypnotized. In our ordinary state, we are mass man, a product of the anonymous "they," hypnotized all the time by the world, our emotions, attractions, thoughts, need for esteem and status, and by our own inner self-evasions and hypocrisies.
Because we are not awake (fully), we are inner forms of suggestibility by which the forces of our lower natures, the world, and others have power over us, pull our strings, and push our buttons. As long as suggestibility exists within us, we are neither fully awakened (buddified?) nor free from our inner slavery to every little way the world irritates us and pushes our buttons.
For example, take anger, while anger feels like a powerful thing, it really is an inner form of weakness. Anger is the state where the world disrupts me. It is the state of being negatively overcomed by and mastered by the world. It is a sign of the lack of true and complete self-mastery. The result feels powerful, but then, so does the rush of blood out of an artery.
Anger is when we have lost control and the world controls us.
But to move on, third, theosophy is not about celibacy and vegetarianism, contrary to what some writers and leaders in the Theosophical Society have postulated. These are not ends-in-themselves but mere means, useful at certain phases of spiritual development and not useful at other phases (and even possibly harmful), to the real goal of becoming responsible higher beings assuming our destined roles in a moral universe of immense scale and responsibility.
Given these deplorable conditions, that is, since, for some, these three points about what theosophy is and is not have been forgotten, and since theosophy has also become too much a thing of reading and discussing books, some publications have come out on the path and perils of the spiritual process of transformation by individuals who have not trend the path nor the competence of a life of tried and tested practical theosophy.
Such authors don't know its nature or goal. They synthesize their "map" and "how to guide" from all sorts of sources of mixed and dubious quality without the accomplished and experienced ability to discriminate between the junk and the jewels. Then new aspiring authors, wishing to see their name on a book with a chance to play the lecture and seminar circuit, come out with a new rehash of these earlier and questionable "how to guides" leading to a progressively worsening situation of blind guides inspiring blinder guides to further mislead the blind.
Thankfully, since for many, theosophy has unfortunately become a bookish pastime of vicariously reading about the spiritual life rather than living it, the damaging effect of these blind guides has been minimal.
Interestingly enough, we take great care that our physician is fully qualified, and often, cautiously get a second expert opinion if a procedure is recommended yet we listen to anyone or read anything that, well, looks interesting when it comes to our spiritual life.
Of course, we have standard methods by which a medical expert is trained, qualified, and recognized. And the fact of the matter is, most of us are not qualified to determine whether a physician is a competent doctor or not, let alone, a real one. We depend on other experts who are qualified to recognize a fake or incompetent physician.
There are cultures that had the same sort of thing set up for spiritual experts. Alas, our culture has no such means, and yet, instead of realistically recognizing our plight, we take upon ourselves the task of discerning who is a competent spiritual expert or we experiment as "do it yourselfers."
But consider. We wouldn't study a few books, listen to a few inspiring quacks, and then go out to a buy a "do it yourself" surgical kit to operate on ourselves. We even take better care of our cars than we do our spiritual life. We make damn sure the mechanic is competent and honest. Maybe we do this because one is more tangible and more real to us than the other. Maybe we do this because we really believe in the physical world more than we believe in the spiritual world and higher bodies.
Solovyev once commented that "with that which is important or of known value, a man is always cautious. Those matters in which a man devotes great care are those matters he really believes in and values as matters worth his efforts and esteem."
With things spiritual, we are not cautious nor devote great care. Intellectually, we may wistfully believe in higher bodies and cosmic cycles but in our hearts, habits, and cavalier attitudes towards spiritual things, we don't believe. Intellectually, we have become, perhaps, book-wormish believing theosophists but emotionally we are atheists because experientially we are inexperienced in really following the spiritual path of awakening.
Let us consider some of these points a little more. Turning now to our first point, namely that theosophy is about our higher moral development, let us briefly examine the theosophy within some older traditions and religions.
Practical theosophy, according to the teachings of these traditions, is a path from our moral sleep, inner hypocrisy, and evasive self-hypnosis, by which we become inwardly divided against ourselves and the higher I is refracted into many forms of identification, into integrally whole Selves, in which all our inner parts are in clear and distinct contact with each other, in which no part is out of touch, so that we have no moral unconscious.
Integrity, as the Sufis say, is to have no part or aspect of ourselves or our lives be a form of moral unconsciousness. To have such inner sincerity, as the Sufis call it, to be a state where nothing in me hides from the truth or from other parts of me, a state where all my inner parts know all my other inner parts in an experiential state of lived self-honesty, is to begin to progress in the way of conscience.
Conscience is the embryonic form of the Sophia in us. Conscience is the blueprint, the compass, for all spiritual development that has as its goal Sophia. Note that Sophia is the celestial feminine.
In the theosophical teachings of Jacob Boehme, from whose circle many, such as Walther Balthazar, traveled east to regain this wisdom, we are creatures of contraries which are united by the fire of awakening the soul's power of awareness and uniting it to the inner Divine Sophia. Within this fire, the hellish within us, becomes transmuted in the light of higher wakefulness, to become the energy and vitality of the fully illumined soul united to Sophia.
In earlier Latin alchemical traditions that preserve something of theosophia, this is the development of conscientia into scientia by inwardly integrating and awakening the fallen intellectus (intellectus is buddhi, while ratio is manas) in its union with conscientia by which the anima (soul) is transmuted, and as the early Christian medieval philosopher put it, the body of light is created.
In the Greek traditions as preserved in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, intellectus or buddhi is called the nous. The spiritual process of transformation, called in Eastern forms of Christianity "theosis" (deification) or "theopoesis" (god-making), begins as a process of awakening the inwardly fragmented (hypocritical) and fallen nous from its hypnotized-sleep (hypnos, in Greek, means both sleep and hypnosis), which is also a inner separation of the true inner I (eso ego, or eso anthropos) from all its identifications.
A beginning phase of this process involves an inner separation of nous (buddhi) from the rationalizing and conceptualizing lower mind (dianoia, manas) by inwardly concentrating nous upon itself (enstasis, samadhi) and connecting nous to syneidesis (conscience) so that together the gaining of self-knowledge and experiential skill to remain illumined in all situations and under all conditions, or gnosis, turns nous, syneidesis, and gnosis into Sophia. Syneidesis (conscience) in Orthodox Christianity is the seed of the divine wisdom within us. It is to develop into our inner deification as the Hagia Sophia or Holy Wisdom.
Wisdom is fully developed conscience plus higher consciousness. Contrary to what some have written, higher consciousness is not a trance state, a high, nor an altered state. Rather, it is an intensification of being awake or being conscious.
Trances and altered states are just higher forms of hypnosis that are distorting higher aspects of being awake fully or enlightened. Trances and altered states are distorted experiences of higher powers without buddhi.
In Zoroastrianism, practical theosophy is likewise the process of awakening the khirid (buddhi) and connecting the mortal soul (urvan) to the higher conscience and wisdom (den, the Daena or feminine higher twin of the soul). This Daena, at the postmortem Judgment, appears as either a beautiful maiden or an evil old hag depending upon one's deeds. She is the higher part of the self that is, at first, the implanted seed of wisdom, conscience, that develops into our inner participation in and inner contact with the divine wisdom, the Daena of Ahura Mazda.
As the mortal soul (urvan) in Zoroastrianism becomes inwardly married to the conscience (Den, Daena), it becomes immortalized by the energetic spiritedness of immortal life, the fravashi or fravahr, by which a new immortal diamond body is grown called the "kes i tan."
This same motif appears in Tantric Buddhism, where the faculty of awakening, buddhi (Buddha means awakened), the seed of Buddhahood or conscience (bodhi) are two aspects of the same relation found in Zoroastrianism.
The five Buddhas of the Mandala are the fully awakened forms of the five key dimensions of human existence according to Buddhism (or five aspects of the Adi Buddha, Samanabhadra). Each have a higher consort. She is their wisdom or Prajna (and each of the five Prajna's are aspects of the one Prajna of Samanabhadra). Prajna grows out of conscience or bodhi.
To further show that this is the same motif that we find in Zoroastrianism and Orthodox Christianity, we can refer our readers to the Judgment Scene in Yama's Court in the Bardo Theodol (TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD). Here the individual is confronted with his conscience (and potential Prajna) in the form of two female figures, bad conscience and good conscience.
To become a Buddha is to become so one with one's conscience (Bodhi now transmuted into Prajna, the Consort of a Buddha) that it is represented as a sexual union.
For those who think they have even begun to trend the spiritual path, it is well if they ask themselves, in honest self-evaluation, which attraction is stronger in their life, sex or conscience? To have the sexual force alchemically unite you irreversibly to one's conscience so that conscience is the strongest force in one's life is the meaning of those Tantric images where a Buddha is in sexual union with his Prajna.
Yet, how far are we from that high state if we confronted with a difficult moral dilemma between doing what we know we should do in opposition to doing what we want to do and the temptation is experientially felt as a stronger force than the inner call of conscience. How far are we from that high state if doing the right thing inwardly feels like a cost we would rather not have to pay? For a Buddha compassionately doing the right thing for all sentient beings is the ONLY impulse without this inner conflict.
TO BE CONCLUDED
Theosophy World #42, December 1
IN SUPPORT OF GENUINE THEOSOPHY, PART II
by Grigor Vahan Ananikian
[based upon a September 22, 1999 posting to email@example.com.]
[Many are the traditions that embody the esoteric philosophy, including the Sufi, alchemical, Greek, Zoroastrian, Tantric Buddhism, and even Orthodox Christianity...]
All these traditions describe the first step as one involving separating buddhi from the lower manas, or rather, of awakening buddhi to itself in distinction from manas.
But today, some in the Theosophical Society don't even have a clear and distinct inner experiential sense of the difference between buddhi and manas. Yet, since many do not know how to experientially distinguish between these two faculties, much confusion and erroneous conceptions arise when some speak of the buddhi being this, or that, or the other thing without knowing what they are talking about.
To have an amateur at golf try to pass himself off as a golf-pro in conversation with (unknown to him) a real golf-pro quickly becomes a rather amusing but embarrassing experience for the golf-pro who has to witness another person make a buffoon of themselves.
It is similar to when the young man seeks to conceal the fact of his virginity by posing as an experienced man of the world to an older and wiser woman.
Yet, such situations happen more in the Theosophical Society when someone begins to speak of practical theosophy. The conceptual distinction is only a provisional map of a real distinction that has to be repeatedly explored experientially in order to be known.
Buddhi and manas have a flowing dynamic relation except in some intense degrees of samadhi that are not really useful states to work in.
To practice a martial art as a way in practical theosophy is to have a degree of concentration of the buddhi but not to such a degree that it is altogether withdrawn from the manas or the manas have stopped all function. Rather, it is to keep them distinct in the thick of things, movement, response, timing, blow and countermove.
Sitting meditation is only preparation. Just as being able to stand on a surf board (buddhi) in a still pond (manas and lower faculties in life) is not surfing, neither is sitting meditation the great work of spiritual transformation. Surfing and true spiritual work is where buddhi and manas and the lower faculties in life are in a dynamic situation just like the ability to stay on the board is a dynamic one of staying with the surf.
The ability to be illumined has to become an ability to remain such in the hustle and bustle of life. The distinction between buddhi and manas has to become as experientially clear as the equally experienced difference is between seeing through the eyes and hearing through the ears or between a sensation, emotion, or thought.
Without knowing the difference, experientially, between buddhi and manas, how does one know or have any hope of knowing what to separate from what, since it is commonly accepted that separation of buddhi from manas is one of the key steps in practical theosophy.
Yet, it has been mistakenly suggested by some that buddhi is some kind of high produced by autosuggestion. These writers confuse buddhi with a state that is the exact opposite of buddhi when they associate it with different kinds of trance states which are, again, nothing but specially induced forms of suggestibility and sleep. But not much more can be said on this first point as long as many choose to remain bookworms of theosophy.
Not knowing the nature or purpose of the spiritual path, some theosophical writers have postulated, and brought many after them to believe, that vegetarianism and celibacy are important, if one wanted to progress spiritually, and sometimes, have given the impression that such things are the substance of spirituality itself.
And that is a problem.
The Theosophical Society has become a opiate for spiritual couch potatoes and some want to control the drug and the proceeds from it.
Perhaps, in order that the drug is not discovered to be the counterfeit it is offered by blind guides, authentic practical theosophy has become something it is encouraged to have be forgotten. And the various techniques and forms of askesis (tapas) that are periodically deployed in practical theosophy, as tools for overcoming inner weaknesses and incapacities, as medicines applied to develop spiritual strength, in this situation, have become themselves the goal or a status.
By forgetting the true ends that these tools were to serve and by making these tools themselves the goal, they have become the trappings by which inner weakness, the retreat from life, autosuggestion giving repeated doses of feeling good, and the addiction to these symptoms of malaise dress up as authentic spirituality.
And here returns our thoughts towards HPB and her spirituality forged from life in the Caucasus. Generally, from Caucasian perspective, to be celibate is the precondition for no progress in self-knowledge or spirituality. The firm and steady foundation of self-knowledge is knowledge of oneself in light of conscience in the thick of it. One must have had the chance to be wrong, tested, and learn one's limitations and moral mistakes and regrets as well as concretely encountering one's talents, strengths, and triumphs.
We take our heroes straight, including, lumps, warts, foul breath, farts, and fleas. We don't emaciate them by turning Arjunas of the Gita or Kay Khusrow of the Shahnama into glorified sissies after image of wimps like some second-generation theosophists. Nor do we turn our angels into fat little babies or whispy little girls in Victorian nighties. Nor is spirituality the faded blue lodge atmosphere of an old maid aunt society that would faint with apoplexy over an HPB walking in cussing because the atmosphere was one of perfumed death such as one finds on cancer ward of old hospitals (Hemingway's description of the smell of death is actually the smell of cancer).
Spirit is spiritedness. It is a fierce and vigorous concept and reality. We still speak of a horse that has spirit or of esprit de corp. Spirit is that strong vital bond of life overcoming death.
The word BRAHMAN comes from the old ksatriya word for a powerful true boast that works up others into a readiness to do battle by overcoming fears through collective elan and esprit de corp. It is cognate to the English word BRAG and Norse word for poetry, riddles, and divine power.
Brahman is the boast of the vigor of Being (sat) over the impotence of non-Being (asat). Next, it was applied by Vedic priests to those mantras in the Rig Veda that were particularly potent pieces. Its verbal root means "to swell".
Ever see the super-vigor of a pregnant woman almost smug with the degree of life and health radiating from her? That is the swelling that Brahman is. In Persian, it is fravahr and is cognate to the English word FIERCE. It is the joyful overabundance of life's immortal defeat of death. Thumos in Greek means the same thing. Thumos is cognate to English enthusiasm.
What the meek of heart types call "spiritual" is Victorian weakness, repression, and de-spirited depression laced with autosuggestion (the very opposite of buddhi). It is the false "joy" of the opiate addict or hypochondriac (doctor to hypochondriac: I have bad news and good news. You are a hypochondriac and I can't cure you of it. Doctor to normal mortal patient: I have good news and bad news. You are not a hypochondriac.").
What some fainting lilies, poor specimens of the human race, call "spiritual" is their own glorified incapacity, hypocrisy, and stench of the spiritually dying. They can only faint at the sight of a steak, become sick at the smell of a cigar, swoon or become tipsy after a shot of whiskey or vodka or retsina, or pale at a colorful comment from HPB.
Like the ephemeral mood music that blends with their lilac or lavender incense to create a heard and smelt haze that suits their faded "spirituality," which is actually their de-spirited stupor, and who make lodges smell and feel like a hospital ward for the terminally nostalgic, they recommend celibacy.
Because they are undersexed, under-spirited, and perhaps, will only enjoy, vicariously, rumors of reincarnation and immortality, what's left in them to withstand the shock of death? What of substance has been gathered in this life that is of immortal value? Do they forget there is spiritual death according to HPB?
As the Naqshibandi Imam Shamil of Daghestan is credited as saying, "if a man looses all spiritual composure at seeing a military field surgery, what makes you think that the spiritual composition that was once him will survive when the angel of death takes the body that was really what held him together for inwardly he is nothing?"
Fasting, celibacy, and other such askesis was to overcome and a sign of growing strength, not of the incapacity of the meek-hearted in life.
Judaism, Sufis of Islam, Zoroastrianism, for example, forbid the monkish life as a permanent lifestyle. For them, a monastic retreat is not a retreat from life but an intensified confrontation with it under carefully controlled and monitored conditions under the watchful eye of a Spiritual Director.
For these traditions, a monastery is a laboratory. But, to test the knowledge and strength gained, one most again leave the laboratory and field test it in life. Such forms of askesis are temporary. Being celibate for 90 days by one who enjoys sex frequently is both more difficult and more productive than of one who hasn't developed the capacity for it, the taste for it and enthusiasm for it. Fasting from cognac by one who has never savored it regularly is worthless. Because these are supplementary means to strengthen your mettle for the real test.
For a real man (I do not presume to speak for women on this matter), to fast from the sex and cognac that he dearly loves, while an exercising and development of real spiritual strength, is only preparing for the real battle that is also being set up in the process.
Fasting, as all ancient sources teach, is to do spiritual battle with the emotions. The meek of heart will agree, and then, mistakenly add, fasting quells strong emotions.
But the purpose of fasting as a means to do spiritual battle with the emotions is not to quell them but self-knowledge. And in the early stages, self-knowledge is the gaining of an accurate knowledge of one's angelic aspirations and one's habit of being
We are very complicated entities. Self-mastery requires self-knowledge. Self-knowledge has to see how we inwardly function and malfunction. It must confront the good and bad in us. Fasting, whether from food or sex, is ultimately to see (buddhi).
Fasting for a while from something one dearly loves brings out one's irritability, bad temper, foul mood, and anger very effectively. That is the setting up of the inner battle.
THE REAL TEST IS THEN TO USE AND DEVELOP THE INNER STRENGTH GAINED IN FOREGOING SEX AND COGNAC TO NOT IDENTIFY THE BUDDHI WITH THESE EMOTIONS BUT SEE THEM AND OVERCOME THE RESULTING IRRITABILITY, BAD TEMPER, FOUL MOOD, AND ANGER that invariably results in one not yet perfect. But the real test, fasting inwardly from all the negativity that arises from fasting outwardly from a cherished desire, is still only a test.
The reality is to learn to use this new inner ability, strength, and knowledge (esoteric knowledge, gnosis, jnana, is more like "know how" skill or competence that conceptual information) in the thick of things, in life, where things evoke hurt, anger, and bad temper.
The meek-hearted fast, vegetate, and celibate in order to avoid this process in the first place. No real loves, no real passions, no real angers and animosities, no real addictions, no real lusts, then nothing real to overcome. Self-mastery becomes mistakenly identified by the meek at heart with the composure of not having a life.
Fasting, vegetarianism, and celibacy are limited tools for limited times serving other ends than auto-pacification. Some think they are the end-in-themselves, and thus, stick in their thumb and pull out their shriveled plum, and say how spiritual are we when all they are is full of prunes (those shriveled plums).
No one is born perfect. But to become perfect one must have lived a real life, with real defeats, regrets, real mistakes, blood or dirt on ones hands, while trying to do good, help, contribute - all that is to learn from as a picture of who you are and where you are aiming really. (Are you really aiming at perfecting evolution or use it as a fancy label to mask your nefarious goals?)
Self-knowledge for the imperfect (us) is of the bad and the good we are. We are angels and wolves. We have to be looking not only when our angelic pious Sunday best is in charge (so we can thrill to our piousness) but also catch ourselves in the act when the wolf is in control.
To look at the wolf in us takes courage, some spirit that is strong enough to bear seeing in us what we don't like to see and sometimes have built-up a lifetime of habits to avoid seeing.
We are deluded if we only look at ourselves when we are angels and don't allow ourselves to see the wolf and we are mistaken if we think purpose of seeing the wolf is to eliminate it.
Does this mean we should allow the wolf in us free-rein? Should we increase in our wolfishness? No, we have done that too much already. We are inwardly in our daily routines the wolf most of the time. But to tame the wolf, to reclaim the energies it represents, we need to first know that it is there and what its habits are.
The meek of heart deceive themselves if they believe that their methods of auto-pacification and autosuggestion have eliminated the wolf in them. Rather, what happens is the wolf under these conditions becomes more devious and malicious. It becomes one that is submissive in a face to face confrontation but attacks the hind quarters as soon as the other has turned. The dirtiest underhanded dealings have come from the polite society of those clothed as innocent lambs who can't admit to themselves that they are repressed, and therefore, more dangerous wolves.
We must not deny the wolf but find its proper role and place within the larger moral, spiritual, and cosmic scheme. So, we must study both wolf and angel in us. To do that takes courage, tenacity, and dogged stubbornness that we will know the truth of ourselves. That is spirit, the ability to overcome ourselves. The meek-spirited armchair theosophists mistakenly took the route of weakening ourselves, starving the wolf, killing the spiritual muscle, and deludedly called it spiritual evolution or spiritual self-mastery. Bull!
To truly be a character, one must be an outrageous character. By that I mean we need to see we are all notorious characters of a questionable past and dubious worth as well as angels in training to become a tried and tested character, refined through the fire of life, to become a character that is truly a self-mastered moral character. Our imperfections, our impulses, our angel and our wolf, is the leaden raw material and prima materia for our transmutation. Yet some misguided theosophists wish to beat the lead into a soft plaint powder whose poisonous effect on the mind they mistakenly laud as a higher state. Bah!
In middle east, the best medium of testing and refining one's mettle is family and sex and money and death. As angel and wolf, how does one deal with these dimensions of life is thing first to find out as gauge to one's spiritual worth. Marriage is good for that. As it is said in Caucasus, a man is not a man worth his salt if he hasn't been salted, assaulted, and insulted in holy wedlock.
Of course, marriage is not an exclusive measure nor is it merely the same as sex. But it is a mixed blessing where, like any mixed blessing, the spiritual task is to learn how to turn the obstacles and disappointments in life into opportunities for spiritual development. It is the immensely difficult task to learn how to live the theosophical life as one capable, in one life or many, of taking good times and bad times, opportunities and obstacles, duties and temptations, as lessons. Ibn Ata'illah, the great Sufi, writes in his Hikam, "when God gives to you the object of your desire, he deprives you of the freedom from being tempted, and when God deprives you, he is giving you an opportunity. Whether God gives or deprives, he makes the way available to you to learn."
But the meek and timid who use some of the methods of practical theosophy to evade involvement in key areas of life have no grist for their mill. It's like trying to become world traveler, veteran of adventures and wars, by watching TV and playing video war games. At bottom, it is a fear of who one is and is supposed to become. In cattle-raising countries, such types are called "male-cows." They are cut out of herd and killed to insure health of herd. The Theosophical Society seems to collect them. Precepts for practice have become "read the books and live a vicarious spiritual path."
When the fare of even the original books becomes too strong as they progress towards nonexistence, the precept becomes "feed them the pabulum of even a less nourishing vicarious state of "feeling good vaguely about something I didn't experience or live through myself". The T.S. might as well advertise itself as cross between a New Thought lecture and a Christian Science Reading room offering as fare the spiritual equivalent of the invariable pick stuff found in many nursing home cafeterias, and named, "jello surprise," the sole purpose of which appears to be to make the poor inmates sicker and incapable of ever leaving (thus, procuring a steady income from those rendered helpless to have any say about their treatment) and repel any healthy types who might disrupt things.