Welcome everyone to our first discussion on the world's sacred texts!

We will begin by getting our feet wet with an invitation to discuss what we consider a sacred text to be, how we view them, what role they play in our lives and in the life of humanity.

There are works that have been with humanity for ages, since the dawn of recorded history and yet while the civilizations in which they first appeared have long come and gone, these texts remain very much at the heart of the human path of spirituality.

What is it about these works that make them so timeless? What power do they hold for us? What do they mean to humanity and to ourselves?

Comments and questions are welcome!

Also, don't forget to check out our growing library of Sacred Texts, which we'll use to aid us in this study group:

http://www.universaltheosophy.com/sacred-texts/

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Jon;

Thank you very much for getting this going.  This is very exciting chapter in the theosophical life of this web site.

I would like to start by asking the question, what does it mean to make something "sacred"?   It is such a powerful concept.

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This question occurs to me whenever I want to use that word "sacred"... does the work have some inherent power (as some mantras seem to) or is it just a sense of specialness that moves the spirit within on some level?

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I watched a show the other day, in which a native asked a traveler if there was anything sacred in his life. The traveler thought about it and replied that he thinks of some things as important, some things are personal to him, but isn't sure if he thought of anything as sacred. The native replied: "Look around you. What do you see that you think might be sacred to us?"

The traveler looked around and feebly pointed out a couple of carvings and writings. Then he looked back at the native who said: "Everything is sacred to us. The buildings, the ground, the sky, the air. You are sacred to us."

Perhaps everything is sacred, and it's upon us to recognize it. And if so, then perhaps the sacred texts are among the more easily recognizable for us... something that can help re-instill this feeling towards all other things.

Thoughts?

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Kandinksy (who was defending abstract art at the time) wrote that decorative art may seem to lack spiritual expression, BUT it is not lifeless (maybe we just don't recognize it yet). There would then be great personal discretion about what we recognize on a spiritual level.  Here's the excerpt:

Notes from Wassily Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art:

“Painting is an art, and art is not a vague production, transitory and isolated, but a power which must be directed to the improvement and refinement of the human soul—to, in fact, the raising of the spiritual triangle.”

“The artist must watch only the trend of the inner need, and hearken to its worlds alone…. All means are sacred which are called for by the inner need.” [He defines ‘inner need’ as the impulse for spiritual expression; he also sought art’s inherent harmony, an expression of internal truths.] 

To paraphrase, Kandinsky distinguishes between pattern making, as a monotony that is merely decorative activity, and spiritual evolution, linking the inner and outer world:  adding “it must not be thought that pure decoration is lifeless. It has its inner being, but one which is either incomprehensible to us... or which seems mere illogical confusion.”

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To consecrate, or hold something dear. Sacred, in my limited view, means all that I hold dear. If I don’t hold nature dear, then I don’t respect it as sacred, which is a powerful thought. How can nature not be sacred? I must hold all dear, all is sacred. A lesson for me to learn and practice.

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Wonderful Sharisse! A lesson for all of us, I think.

I also this your response brings up an excellent element of the Sacred (which goes along with Di's first post above); I'll just phrase it as an open question: is any thing sacred in and of itself, i.e. on its own, or do things become sacred by our holding them to be so?

Or, to put it another way: what is our role in the sacredness of something?

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Holding something as sacred really is subjective, and varys from person to person. However I also believe that some things or places are sacred in themselves. Last year I visited a chapel at the Paramahansa Yogananda Self Realization Fellowship in Houston. The followers meditate in that chapel for hours, pretty much every day. When I walked in, I immediately felt a spiritual vibration that was remarkably different from the world outside. When I sat down to meditate, there was no transition time from my "monkey mind" to a deep meditation. It was instantaneous. A spirit of peace just took over. That, in my opinion, is a place that is sacred in and of itself.
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I agree Jimmy, it is subjective. I would also agree with The chapel in Houston is Sacred in and of itself as well from your experience alone. However, in my limited view only, if someone didn't have reverence or believe in that at all, they would not hold it Sacred. So in a sense All and Nothing is sacred, the polarity of that, is what we make it. If someone didn't consecrate it as sacred, no one would be the wiser. So to answer Jon's question, and I could be wrong in my view, but would nothing be sacred in and of itself? Until our role of making it such?

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You make a good point here. A person who refuses to acknowledge the spiritual side of existence shuts himself off from the experience of the sacred and divine. Faith is a necessity.

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Hebrews 11:6
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I agree with faith as a necessity, yet couldn't someone who refuses the spiritual side still find and claim things sacred unto himself? Which would still be a faith maybe unknown to him? Maybe I'm not saying it right. They might not hold something sacred that spiritually we would, yet they might hold something else sacred, ie. his lucky shoes, so would that still be a faith in his view? Or does it give him faith, without realizing it?

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This is all good, Jimmy and Sharisse. We're getting to the heart of it, I feel.

Sharisse, I think you're right, and that we can look at everything as sacred and, simultaneously, as not sacred (in and of itself), depending on the view we take. And I think Jimmy is right in that we need to be open to the divine and the sacred in order to recognize and experience it.

A follow up question: if we are open to it, what is it that we're recognizing when we experience something as sacred? Does it relate to the way theosophy views the relationship between Man and Nature or Man and Divinity?

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So far, only in my experience, I am recognizing the extreme feeling or sensations that it is Divine, sanctified, sublime, unworldly. I guess they all mean the same, but the feeling is intense and I am in awe. I'm not sure how it relates yet. Good question, I will have to come back to this question in the future.

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Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 12, 2012 at 4:03pm
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While this explores our personal relationship with creating or perhaps discerning the meaning of the sacred in things and places, I think the original question also begs the question to explore the objective existence of the sacred, ...that we somehow can become aware of (through our openness).  Can sacredness be transmitted to objects, such as mala beads or writings or religious sites, and be held there for others to discover?  Isn't this what many doctrines hold true? The skeptic may say it's just imaginative, but if it's worked for you, you have to say something is going on.

It seems to take a great deal of effort or time or repetitions to impress soemthing that much, so that it holds the energy intended.  This is a good thing too, I think, or people would be creating all kinds of things and not all good.  Again the skeptic may say that the study or the repetitions or meditating on something may change the way you think or live, but it has nothing to do really with the beads or place, etc. It may be a sensory trigger to those thoughts, when you use your beads or you go to a certain place.  When you see a work of art, it may trigger something spiritual that is wholey unrelated to the intent or ideas or the artist.

When spiritual teachers say something is sacred because generations of scholars or practitioners have experienced it that way, there is probably something being triggered in a universal sense.  The implied wisdom that defines the sacred may be there, without translation, in fact.  This may make it seem an intellectual or mental process then, to some.

I think theosophy discusses an inner consistency to the universe, through energy (in a broad sense of the word) or fohat (?) or the astral plane (?).  Like leaving a footprint in the sand to show we thought this or that, or wearing tread marks along a path that we continue to follow, the energy remains at least for a while. It's like walking into a room and sensing the tension or joy generated by others you meet there, but not really having a well defined understanding of it. It's just contagiously spreads like laughter or tears. 

It's been a while since I studied anything like this.  I have tried to follow wave and string theory, and the theory of everything, in today's more popular science, but I can't really speak to them.  Whatever it is, its an objective unity, subjectively perceived.  This radical unity implies a science behind things and places thought sacred.  And then, is it all just relative to the individual how much we receive?

 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 7, 2012 at 11:03am
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Thanks Gerry! That's a wonderful question to begin with, something I've been contemplating a good deal while preparing for this endeavor.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 7, 2012 at 1:12pm
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When we think about our parents and the sacrifices they make on our behalf we have a natural feeling of gratitude and devotion.  Sacred Texts are the utterances of enlightened human beings which are the Elder Brothers of the human race.  These Teachings (capital T) are intended to enlighten us and lift us out of the "mire of lies terrestrial".  If we could imagine a by gone day, many many lifetimes ago perhaps, we might have felt a sense of awe and sanctity to hear the Teachings concerning the Path of Self-Regeneration and Enlightenment. Reading these sacred texts renews these soul memories and hastens us to walk the Path.

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 7, 2012 at 1:28pm
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So, reading the Gita, or Voice, or the Bible, may bring forward these soul memories?  My brother described this kind of feeling when he first experienced some religious rituals (a certain church)...whatever it was, he felt it very deeply on spiritual level.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 7, 2012 at 1:44pm
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So what would you say is the relationship between 'sacredness' and 'connectedness'? Is this feeling we have towards those we love akin to the 'feeling' of the sacredness of something?

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 7, 2012 at 3:02pm
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Does "what is sacred" pull from us some sense of higher virtues and values, so that the "connectedness" is less like attachment to baser things and more like elevating our mental selves toward our Higher Self?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 8, 2012 at 12:29pm
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Ya know, I do feel that the sacredness of something is, in a sense, a resonance on a higher level of ourselves, an inner connection or recognition. It does seem that this has the power to elevate us and that it is, as you say, not the same as our attachments to baser things.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 8, 2012 at 12:30pm
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So what are some of the sacred texts that really speak to you? And what is it about that work that calls to you?

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 8, 2012 at 2:52pm
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Someone once told me that good things will energize you, not drain your energy.  Maybe it’s as simple as that. But a lifetime meditation or constant focus on the Higher Self, Atma, or Christ-center, whatever you call it, would draw your energy toward that, and "call to you."  So to me, sacred texts focus energy where you want (good or not so good, relatively speaking).  That's why reading them before retiring to sleep at night, or before meditation, is a good practice.

The Gita is my go-to text, and I’ve read it dozens of times and studied it for years. Early on, I focused some of my study on the phrase “dear to me,” what was it really saying.  That sense of an answer arrived during a totally unrelated Buddhist meditative event … it was an ah-ha moment for me.  I think it also indicates the sacred speaks to us through an inner ear, a sense of trust or of knowing within oneself.  

Another example, but this time a Christian text: For the past few years I decided to join with the Quakers insofar as community gathering, and out of respect, I revisited the language and texts they use.  I independently studied the Gospel of John for the most part but also tried to find any verses that were meaningful to its history. I also read HPB’s articles, etc.  My Biblical studies were okay but not earth-shaking. I believe theosophy helps us see the universals, the principles, in all religions, so it’s all enriching (or tolerable at least).

Last year, I took a retreat workshop on the Gospel of John, and I had what I would call moment of total delight.  Bringing my theosophical study habits to bear, I focused on the symbolic reading, pulling from my notes and symbolism dictionaries, etc., since I just can't see the logic in the literal or historical view of it. I also looked for patterns, like stanzas of a poem, which was advice I picked up from a book in their library earlier that day (how ideas are introduced, worked through and re-presented in a transformed way). And what I saw after that was incredible. I saw John as an internal dialogue (like the Gita), the transformation into the "spiritualized" (water to wine) self (Christ-principle realized). The macrocosm being the evolution of the spiritualized individuality.

Regarding the pattern: We were each assigned an event (a selection of verses) to then meditate on (lectio divina style) and present to the others. My assignment was John 2.1-22; this verse was sandwiched between "son of Man" phraseology and “son of God,” going from the temple of the body (matter) to the temple of the Spirit (Father). I loved it, even though I was the only one in the room so intrigued by this. It was as if I was discovering a different plane of understanding.  I was what I would call “oozing joy” and feeling very much like I had to defend the beauty of the book of John (to no one in particular).  I wasn’t using the language of theosophy, at all; no involution to evolution, rounds, etc. I may not even have the theosophy part right… But it was there…that step in spiritual evolution.  My internal ear heard the universality of the message, an expression of internal truths.

But I had no one to share it with, sadly, since I was the only one in the room working symbolically. A shared group experience must be very powerful.  Do you think groups can share a sacred connection?

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on November 10, 2012 at 10:06pm
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That was beautiful Di! I can relate to that, and apply it in my own experiences. When the most incredible sunset is in the sky, I never have a camera. And usually just me walking along the shore, with no one around. Or my son is there and he has a completely different view of it. So I often ask that same question. 'Can groups share a sacred connection?'

It seems to me that a lot of people can be in the same situation yet come out with completely different views about it, so each experience is one's own. But if they all had a commonality beyond the situation between them and were aiming at the same goal or view, is it not impossible?

 

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on November 9, 2012 at 7:23pm
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The Upanishads. What is it about them that calls to me? I don't really know; not with my mind anyway. There's an unexplainable attraction toward them. When contemplating certain passages, there's a 'coming home' feeling, a flavor of ancientness, like the strange notion of familiarity that one might feel when visiting the ruins of a forgotton civilization. There's a feeling of largeness, and nobility, royalty, truth, hope, and eternal life - a vague remembrance of what I really am.
Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 10, 2012 at 9:16pm
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Beautifully put!

I haven't studied the Upanishads as a set, specific endeavor, but I must say, when I read a quote from them I'm always touched by the depth and the style. Such wisdom!

I can certainly relate to that 'coming home' feeling. I can remember that the first time I opened the Gita - it was like taking a book off the shelf I had read thousands of times but had recently taken a break from. Same goes for the Voice of the Silence.

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Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 14, 2012 at 7:46am
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I've had a few of those moments too with the Upanishads.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 9, 2012 at 11:22am
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Do the enunciation of sacred texts have a benefit for students beyond the intellectual ability to grasp them?

I am thinking that maybe it is like great music we have an intuitional appreciation that defies analysis or detailed knowledge of the subject.   Put another way, I cannot read music but I can appreciate it.


Any thoughts?

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on November 9, 2012 at 1:05pm
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"Do the enunciation of sacred texts have a benefit for students beyond the intellectual ability to grasp them?"

This certainly seems to be the belief in India and Tibet. Hearing or reading the Hindu Vedas or Buddhist sutras is regarded as providing a kind of contact with their writers, the Vedic Rishis or the Buddha. There is thought to be power in the sacred texts, that is present even when the book is only sitting on one's shelf, although much stronger when it is heard or read.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 10, 2012 at 9:24pm
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There does seem, to me, to be a power in certain works as you describe. Even just sitting in silence with the Gita in hand seems to invoke something deep within.

In terms of the power of sound, I'd have to share this belief with the Indians and Tibetans (even without fully understanding it), and particularly when the work is in sanskrit. When one listens to the Gita being chanted in Sanskrit, for instance, one is exposed to a new dimension of the work.

http://bhagavad-gita.gita-society.com/gita/Bhagavad-gita01.mp3

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 11, 2012 at 11:12pm
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As Theosophists, how might we approach the idea of the "divine origins" of some sacred texts? How might a theosophical view of this differ from traditional views?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 12, 2012 at 10:48am
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There is the notion that for something to be true it must appeal to our reason, intuition and experience.  These  provide three different testing grounds for something to be proclaimed divine or authentic.  You might call it cross-referencing for the truth.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 12, 2012 at 11:33am
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Thanks Gerry. How would we relate these three with "faith"? And given these three exercises, does theosophy approach the idea of faith differently than other systems?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on November 12, 2012 at 9:58pm
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I think that faith is not a test of truth in philosophy and certainly not in theosophy.  Faith does have a different meaning in Theosophy than in conventional thinking.  Faith has a role to play for the student because faith has to do with the soul recognition that within oneself are are the tools and all the strength needed to acquire the truth, so to speak.  Faith might be thought of as an intuition of divinity.  So we have the idea of trusting our best judgement but also testing and questioning it.  These are two sides of the same coin and both essential to the process of learning.  We have to have faith in ourselves that we can learn to play guitar before there is any evidence that we can do it.  So faith plays a key role in learning but is not a test of veracity in and of itself.  Perhaps this is one way to look at it.

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 13, 2012 at 7:18am
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The Gita, Chapter 17, talks about how we live our faith (we are our faith), that our faith follows our nature (pure, passionate, or unworthy).  I usually define faith as "what you trust to be true."  In the Gita, I think you can substitute "focus" or "lifetime focus" as well. Even a materialist or humanist has a focus that constitutes belief, to me. They choose their path. 

When Blavatsky talks about the probability, let's say, of reincarnation, then the decision making in your head relies on all three (reason, intuition and experience).  There is still the open-endedness of a sense of knowing, to me. So it all gets down to "you are your faith," your best sense (self-devised effort to know).  

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 13, 2012 at 10:12am
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Thanks Di! This is well put. :)

I believe in the Gita the word translated as 'faith' is Sraddha, and if I'm not mistaken it comes from the root 'hrd', which means 'heart'. I've also seen it translated as "deep trust", so perhaps the "trust of the heart". (perhaps one of our knowledgeable 'sankritists' can correct or better define this?).

So this seems to match well with your definition of faith.

There's one line in that chapter that really jumps out to me:

"...each man is of the same nature as that ideal on which his faith is fixed." (WQJ recension)

"The faith of every man is in accord with his innate character; man is made up of faith; whatever his object of faith, even so is he." (Gandhi translation)

"The faith of each believer, Indian Prince!
Conforms itself to what he truly is.
Where thou shalt see a worshipper, that one
To what he worships lives assimilate" (Edwin Arnold translation)

And this does seem to include, like you say, an element of "focus" or "attention" in the meaning. It reminds me of the opening lines of the Dhammapada, where Buddha tells us that:

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought: all that we are is founded on our thoughts and formed of our thoughts."

In looking at all this, can we say that this "faith" is a natural mode of our consciousness and that it's the direction of it that makes the difference? And if so, then the question arises: how do we determine that which is worthy of our faith? (which seems to circle back to what Gerry is saying above)

In terms of "what you trust to be true", is there a certain flexibility involved that may not be there with (some) traditional approaches to faith? I'm thinking, the theosophist must be willing to drop what they think to be true if it's shown to be false. So does this perhaps require a slightly different frame-of-mind than we might be accustomed to?

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on November 13, 2012 at 6:33pm
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The word translated as "faith" in chapter 17 of the Bhagavad Gita is indeed śraddhā (not to be confused with śrāddha). According to the Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monier Monier-Williams, it comes from the rare word śrat or śrad, plus the root dhā. The ancient Naighantuka glosses śrat or śrad as satya, "truth." Monier-Williams speculates that śrat or śrad may be connected with Latin credo, etc., Greek words that I cannot read, and English "heart." I do not know what his basis is for this. The verb root dhā that forms the second part of śraddhā means to "put" or "place." 

Regarding the meaning of śraddhā, it certainly includes "faith," but without all the connotations that faith has in English. As we know, faith was one of the big issues over which the Protestant churches parted ways with the Catholic church in the Reformation. The Protestants held that man is saved by faith alone, not by works. They also made faith supreme, superseding the role of reason taught by the earlier church. Neither of these things happened in India, despite a dominating movement of bhakti or devotion in the medieval age, at about the same time the Reformation was taking place in Europe. In India neither the role of works (karma) nor the role of reason was denied their place in religion by those who favored faith and devotion, as occurred in Protestant Europe. So śraddhā in India does not have the same connotations of being opposite of and contradictory to works and reason, as faith often has in English. 

Other helpful translations of śraddhā are "trust" and "confidence." The famous Buddhist classic commonly known as "The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana" would give a more accurate idea if translated as "The Arising of Confidence in the Mahayana." The author is not at all devotional, and tries to describe very succinctly the reasons why one can trust or put confidence in the then new teachings called Mahayana. There is not much of what we call "faith" in this book.

For those who have followed the posts on this site talking about svabhāva, svabhāva is used in the second verse of chapter 17 of the Bhagavad Gita. The three kinds of śraddhā, "faith," are there said to arise in people in accordance with their svabhāva, their "inherent nature." This shows the common and standard use of the word svabhāva.

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 14, 2012 at 3:25pm
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Thank you for adding "confidence" to the definition for me.  Learning to have confidence in my intuition is something I work on (but it's improving). 

Coming from a Protestant background and therefore having many opportunities to see its history at work, I see how "faith-alone, faith-supreme" dogma is very non-negotiable when discussing issues or ideas... very different indeed from a theosophical approach, which has doctrine, but is more like a path traveled.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 14, 2012 at 10:32pm
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Thanks you David! I knew I could count on you to enlighten us on the meaning of the sanskrit term. :)

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 14, 2012 at 7:44am
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Yes! Thank you, Jon, for pulling together these quotes.  To which I would add "There is no religion higher than Truth," the Theosophical motto used all the time, which is exactly your point about flexibility.  Jokingly, a friend of mine and I used the word "zetetic" to describe the kind of inquiry that reaches out from a central idea to test it, and if not why ... everything is infallible.... which we DID, testing everything from the 3 premises of theosophy.... or even other ideas we hold to be true.  Orthodoxy would be rejecting new ideas without asking ourselves why a contradiction exists, or how a paradoxical statement could be true.  In a group situation, we tried to use the Socratic method of questioning each other (with varying success).  But I also was part of a Buddhist group who used something similar to a Socratic approach in their meditations, very effectively.

I think the real crux of the matter is knowing what assumptions you bring with you, including any baggage from your upbringing. The time spent discussing how we know what we know often let's us do that.

 

 

 

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 12, 2012 at 4:54pm
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When I first started studying with theosophy students, we spent a lot of time on how we know what we know, much along these lines you suggest. Apperception is matter of learning with more intuition, more awareness, more assimilation. ...testing ideas alongside the key propositions in the Secret Doctrine, etc.

When I first started visiting with the Quakers, they also had suggestions for how to discern when you're "moved by the Spirit" to vocalize during a silent gathering.  They share some common grounds, including an inner consistency, to their understanding of Spirit-led action and to consistency with teachings (although they believe in constant self-revelation of teachings). Sacred texts, however, are not their first test of what comes from Spirit, but they are considered.

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on November 12, 2012 at 9:28pm
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Sorry to ask this Jon, I'm just not quite sure what you mean by traditional views. Would it be just someone of Christian faith only? I'm just trying to weigh out the question, and not really sure on what would be considered traditional view? Sorry, I know it sounds obtuse. 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 12, 2012 at 10:01pm
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Oh, not obtuse at all. A very good question! I left it deliberately open, as to be applicable to various traditions. For instance, certain (not all, of course) Christians believe the bible to have divine origins (divinely inspired and/or directly given). Certain (but not all) Hindus likewise differentiate between that which is divinely inspired (sruti) from that which comes from man (smriti). Many Muslims have beliefs about the divine authorship/inspiration of the Quran as well. And the same can be found among nearly all traditions, in one manner or another, though differing in details.

So, my question could be answered in regards to the difference between a theosophical view versus any specific one of these (if you want to pick one and contrast it to a theosophical approach), or in regards to a theosophical view versus a generalized concept drawn from all of them.

Any observations will be valuable, of course, from any perspective. :)

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on November 12, 2012 at 10:20pm
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Thank you, I have a better understanding. Would a theosophist search and test the "Divine Orgins" of the text to find his own truths, where as a traditional 'non traditionalist' might just accept it because someone said it was, and never have any truth to their own convictions. Almost a blind faith, I think. 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 13, 2012 at 9:33am
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Thanks Sharisse. You ask:

Would a theosophist search and test the "Divine Orgins" of the text to find his own truth?

I believe so. And this raises the question: how does one "search and test" such a thing? How can we verify for ourselves whether something has "divine origins"?

I think this question becomes central in our own inner journeys, as we need to learn to recognize the higher voice within and differentiate it from the lower, so that we follow the 'divine instructions' within. So, how do we do this both in regards to outer things and inner?

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on November 13, 2012 at 10:36am
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I personally don't concern myself with the supposed divine origin of scriptures. Of all the literature that the world has produced, a few texts are perennial, and are considered to be sacred by the majority. This, in my opinion, is evidence of the work of he universal Mind, or World Spirit, call it what you like. That's good enough for me. Some scriptures appeal to me, some don't. And the Spirit doesn't speak only through scriptures. It could come through a posting at this site, or a comment from a coworker; or like in the biblical story, through the mouth of a donkey.
Permalink Reply by Sharisse on November 13, 2012 at 12:26pm
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I believe in the many messenger's also. I might have overlooked a lot of them, but lately, the messages have been loud and clear.

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 14, 2012 at 3:46pm
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If someone really understands something, then they can see it in whatever form it appears. 

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on November 13, 2012 at 12:23pm
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I’m not quite sure yet on all the fundamentals of Theosophy, as it’s really all new to me. I’m just going on heart, and feelings right now. I see how Gerry and Di bring up ‘reason, intuition, and experience’ and agree. Because the things that have held as true for me, so far without changing, have been mostly through experience and intuition without the minds’ involvement until after the experience, to reflect on it all, when possible. So what moved me was already designed in me, the unconscious, without thinking. I feel that is the higher voice, yet still not sure how to get there, or if we even can, in the conscious and still learning. I’m now starting to feel that action is key also, that if we esteem ourselves sacred, in and of itself, we can then express that in everything outside of us. This is a very limited view; it’s really coming from intuition only right now. As I really need to act upon it. But I’m learning this.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 13, 2012 at 2:58pm
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Wonderful Sharisse.

...the things that have held as true for me, so far without changing, have been mostly through experience and intuition without the minds’ involvement until after the experience, to reflect on it all, when possible.

This very much matches with my experience and approach as well. For me, the 'reason' or logical, rational aspect has served almost primarily as a 'verifier' of intuition. First there's an inward glimpse of something, some idea or inner reality, then there's an attempt to understand and verify it with the 'reasoning mind'. And I must say, once something is verified in that way it does seem to take on an extra element of 'reality' for me, whereas the intuitional glimpse on its own can often seem to recede or feel only quasi-real to my waking consciousness.

This is where I think Gerry and Di are right on with a 'multi-dimensional' approach, so to speak. That way we climb the ladder carefully and deliberately.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on November 13, 2012 at 10:04pm
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On the 'Verifier of Intuition', uh...yes, exactly. Well said!

I see that multi-dimensional approach as sound advice also.   

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 14, 2012 at 3:03pm
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Perhaps we experience that a text holds something of the sacred because it awakens something of the same within ourselves.  We may not even use the term ‘sacred’: perhaps it is a sense of knowing evoked in us, or a sense of being that is larger than our normal everyday self; it might be a sense of connected-ness with the all, or a sense that while our real self is truly ineffable, ungraspable, it is the one thing which alone has any real substance.

This sense of awakening, even though it might fade and need nurturing, is important.  Out of it comes a growing conviction that there IS a reality that underlies the world we find ourselves in and, more importantly, in some real way - which is hard to put into words - we partake in that reality.

David mentioned the Buddhist text, ‘The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana’. In Part 2 of that text we discover that the term Mahayana is not used in the sense of a school that is contrasted with the Hinayana tradition.  In this text the term ‘Mahayana’ stands for the Suchness which never increases nor decreases, it is the essence of all beings and things and all factors that lead to its realisation.  It is this Suchness that the aspirant must learn to place her/his confidence in. (Such a text would most likely be seen to express the Buddha’s teachings in the Third Turning of the Wheel of Dharma.) 

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna seeks to awaken a similar confidence in Arjuna by explaining to him that the Atman, his real nature and true nature of all beings and things, is unborn, undying.

‘It is never born, nor does it ever die, nor, having once been, does, It again since to be  Unborn, eternal, permanent and primeval, It is not slain when the body is slain.’ (BG 2 20)

Perhaps, then, for many aspirants the sacred holds, symbolises, or is an expression of that which truly IS.  And true faith is both connected with and a recognition of that Reality.

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on November 14, 2012 at 3:44pm
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Be-ness, beyond being; religion in contrast to "a religion" -- I think "Suchness" is an incredible expression. Early on, I fell in love with a reading (excepted below) from Seng Ts’an (Stephen Mitchell’s version calls it Believing in Mind):

..."It is round and perfect like vast space,
Lacks nothing, never overflows.
Only because we take and reject
Do we lose the means to know its Suchness."

I imagine I am not expressing it well enough, but it was important expression as I was trying to understand "emptiness." 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 14, 2012 at 10:33pm
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Wonderful quote Di! Thanks for sharing.

I particularly like the way you express that you "fell in love with a reading". I'm sure many of us can relate to that experience! :)

Permalink Reply by Peter on November 15, 2012 at 6:31am
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I think you've expressed it very well, Di.  Thank you.  

"It lacks nothing, never overflows'

That is such a beautiful phrase which calls to mind what is written about the core of our being (Atma-Buddhi) in the Secret Doctrine.

"It stands to reason that a MONAD cannot either progress or develop, or even be affected by the changes of states it passes through. It is not of this world or plane, and may be compared only to an indestructible star of divine light and fire, thrown down on to our Earth as a plank of salvation for the personalities in which it indwells."  (SD i 174)

Now, there's something to have our faith in.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on November 15, 2012 at 2:56pm
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I love that statement from the SD. How truly profound!

That and Di's quote remind me of:

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.

— Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell tr.)