LETTERS-QUESTIONS-COMMENT

(a NEW grouping)

Compiler's note: This Department ran in THEOSOPHY magazine from November 1962 to September 1998. If it turns out to be in every monthly issue, it will end up being a total of 414 articles. I'll keep listing the dates of the latest ones that I've scanned, numbering them as I go along. If I run into a month here and there where it wasn't run, I'll point it out. So far the first 27 articles (inclusive of the extra item in number 3) were scanned from a total of 95 pages in the magazine, which is an average of 3.5 pages per article. Once I finish proofreading an article, the link will appear. As of this moment there are (27) finished articles.

All of the articles have the same Department name; there are no sub-titles. So to try and be somewhat helpful to the reader, who might want to come back, or point to, or provide the link to, any particular article on this index page, as I proofread each one, and come to know the question or questions being asked and answered, I will list only the questions next to each date and link. And when not a question, but a letter from a reader that is being answered, when I come to know the main idea being discussed, I will do my best to provide a brief description of what it is. I'll do this by providing a few key words, or a sentence, or both. Keep in mind that whatever I provide, hoping for it to be useful reference, it won't cover every idea or subject that is spoken of in the article. But hopefully what I provide will at least be enough to help the reader to recall a lot of the other things that are discussed in it, making it somewhat easier to find and get back to whenever desired and/or necessary.

(1) November 1962 [A letter writer speaks about not letting Theosophy become dogmatic, and offers suggestions as to how. The reply by the Editors.]

(2) December 1962 [Based on the "Three Fundamental Propositions", a letter writer suggests three subject headings ("KNOW THYSELF" -- LAW -- THE WAY), and the types of things that could be placed under each one, in order for THEOSOPHY magazine to be more helpful to newcomers and others. The reply by the Editors.]

(3) January 1963 [This Question is answered: Not alone Theosophists but many other "reincarnationists" wonder why the philosophy of rebirth does not count a majority instead of a minority of adherents. Schopenhauer has been quoted to the effect that reincarnation "presents itself as a natural conviction of a man whenever he reflects at all in an unprejudiced manner." But what are the sources of those prejudices which so often prevent the teaching of rebirth from finding "natural" acceptance?] [Note: At the end of this article, I have provided a copy of the almost 6-pages from the August 1962 "On the Lookout" Department of THEOSOPHY magazine that was pointed to in the answer to the above question.--Compiler]

(4) February 1963 [A letter writer and a question are answered: (1) The letter writer wants to know why a lot of leading intellectuals who employ Theosophical ideas are not actually affiliated with groups of H.P.B. Theosophists. (2) This is the question: It is said that even the greatest of Masters "always have hope," yet in The Bhagavad-Gita we find this statement: "He who has attained to meditation should constantly strive to stay at rest in the Supreme, remaining in solitude and seclusion, having his body and his thoughts under control, without possessions and free from hope." How does one reconcile these two emphases?]

(5) March 1963 [This Question is answered: Is it advised in the teachings of Theosophy that people in general do as the Great Teachers do and not defend themselves from untruths? Supposing that personal jealousy, implemented by false or slanderous statements, results in the discharge of an employee from a firm where a bright future seemed assured. A "victim" in such an instance will understandably be hurt and frustrated and confused. He might simply accept the circumstances, but later realize that in the interests of truth and justice a spirited defense of himself might have been in order. I am thinking of one case in particular where the employee was discredited by the false allegation that confidential information had been passed on to a competitor. Just how, then, would a Theosophist benefit others by applying to such a mundane matter the principle of restraint which Great Teachers have practiced?]

(6) April 1963 [This Question is answered: In The Secret Doctrine I, 196, H. P. Blavatsky says: "The Astral Light ... is dual and bisexual. ... The female portion ... is tainted, in one sense, with matter, is indeed matter, and therefore is evil already. It is the life-principle of every living creature...." This seems to give a metaphysical basis for such a statement as Martin Luther's: "The carnal man ... though he may work good, yet he has no taste for it ... always having the contrary desire." In what ways, if any, does the Theosophic concept cited differ from the Christian dogma of "original sin"?]

(7) May 1963 [This Comment is answered: It would, of course, be nearly impossible as well as mostly irrelevant to try to determine how many persons involved in the Theosophical Movement are essentially of religious temperament and how many are agnostic. Certain it is that Theosophy has appealed and may appeal equally to both, though the initial approaches may seem so different as to almost constitute opposites. In such a consideration, and for those of "agnostic" bent, a sort of perpetual puzzle is posed by H. P. Blavatsky's many open statements concerning her direct connection with living Mahatmas, or Masters of Wisdom -- whom the Theosophical student may feel he knows about only from indirect testimony. Now the agnostic seems determined to seek truth on the basis of direct experience alone and, traditionally, is disposed to disregard any representations of sources of "special knowledge" unless these may be examined at first hand. He cannot, in short, honestly "believe" in H.P.B.'s contact with "Masters" in the same way that a Christian can believe in special communications from, Jesus as a transcendent being. Yet the same agnostic may feel a profound respect for H.P.B. and be inclined to regard everything she said as likely to contain the essence of that which needs to be known.]

(8) June 1963 [This Question is answered: I notice THEOSOPHY gives favorable presentation of the Unitarian-Universalist platform -- one which gives tolerance toward all faiths. At the same time, H. P. Blavatsky implied that a continual grim struggle was inevitable between the Theosophist and the conventional Christian, (cf. "Theosophy or Jesuitism", THEOSOPHY 42:389, 437). Does not the Theosophist seem less tolerant than the Unitarian when he attacks all anthropomorphic conceptions of deity? Why should not each have the faith that best suits his emotional needs -- the Roman Catholic faith, the Protestant faith, or Theosophy?]

(9) July 1963 [This Question is answered: I have been more than a little surprised on attending Theosophical study groups in several areas to encounter only one class in which sympathetic attention to some of the biblical scriptures was attempted. It is easy enough to realize why the Theosophist would emphasize the value of Eastern philosophies and religions, since we are already "surrounded," so to speak, by the atmosphere of Christianity, but is it not precisely the Theosophical presentation of biblical scriptures which is needed? This would seem to be indicated in many of H. P. Blavatsky's writings.]

(10) August 1963 [This Question is answered: William Q. Judge, in his article "How Should We Treat Others?" quotes a Master as saying that "the man who goes to denounce a criminal or an offender works not with nature and harmony but against both." In later comment in this same article Mr. Judge says "I have never found an insistence on my so-called rights at all necessary. They preserve themselves, and it must be true if the law of karma is the truth that no man offends against me unless I in the past have offended against him."
    To many this view might seem unduly passive and utopian. Do we not owe a debt to our fellow citizens that they be protected against the predatory activities of criminals?]

(11) September 1963 [This Question is answered: It is likely that this question has been asked and commented upon a number of times previously, though I am not, myself, able to recall any such occasions. In H. P. Blavatsky's statement of the Third Proposition of The Secret Doctrine, she speaks of an "obligatory pilgrimage" of the soul. This compound term sometimes seems to have unwelcome connotations, since "obligatory" often carries with it the thought of being forced -- and, in this instance, "forced" in a predetermined direction. One phrase of the Gayatri speaks of a return back to the Sacred Seat, and, since each one of us tends to labor to preserve individuality, the question arises as to whether that individuality is simply on probation, so to speak, preceding a return to the All -- the fully harmonious state of being.]

(12) October 1963 [Because a letter writer's comments to the Editors take up about half of this 6-page article, which is then followed by the reply by the Editors, this first paragraph by the writer should be enough for you to get a good general starting-idea of what the overall article deals with and is about:
    Editors, THEOSOPHY: "Comment" for May seems to me somewhat dogmatic in tone. I would feel that it would be better to rephrase such statements as, "There are good and bad religions," and, "An authoritarian God is a dangerous God, and any religion which claims to draw strength from a single miraculous individual is a dangerous religion." If we believe in reincarnation and evolution, then we should be able to go along with the idea that certain aspects of religion are good for the one who embraces them at a particular time. You quote H.P.B., and she says that "there is one truth which finds expression in all the various religions." It is only the feeling that one possesses all the truth in his particular version of religion that is wrong. I go along with the idea that truth is ever changing and that the search for it is continuous.]

(13) November 1963 [This Question is answered: I detect in Theosophists a tendency to retreat behind philosophical generalities whenever crucial matters of current debate arise. Yet our daily living is made of choices which involve specifics. We live in history, not outside it, and to say that choices made by nations or factions within nations are simply "Karma" seems to me to beg all questions of immediacy.
    Recently, in a Theosophical discussion group, American entry into World War II was mentioned -- with reference to the then President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Now, presidents are obviously political figures, as well as whatever else they may be, and implicit criticism of any course of action taken by a president usually awakens counteractive partisanships. It is clear that such arguments are definitely "side-issues" from the standpoint of Theosophical philosophy, but it also appears unnatural to exclude, on principle, any subject from the area of Theosophical discussion. Many Theosophists, I think, have been frustrated by this sort of impasse. Any suggestions?]

(14) December 1963 [This Question is answered: It seems inevitable that an enthused Theosophical student finds himself in a paradoxical position regarding dissemination of basic Theosophical ideas. In the first place, he should be the first to know that philosophical comprehension must be won by "self-induced and self-devised efforts" -- so that attempts to proselyte or convert are ill-advised on principle. On the other hand, he feels a strong impulsion to express and discuss Theosophy with men of many differing persuasions.
    In encountering the often-cynical "man of the world," the confirmed skeptic, a Theosophist may find that any expression of optimism in regard to an improved evolution of humanity will usually elicit only derision. But one does, nevertheless, wish for some solid line of reasoning to defend idealism -- in respect to international relations, public and private affairs, as well as in the fields of religion and philosophy. Just what sort of "logic" can the Theosophist use without finding himself in the position of defending his own doctrine of "perfectibility," et cetera?]

(15) January 1964 [This Question is answered: I have noticed that THEOSOPHY no longer carries a list of ULT Lodges on the back cover, and wonder if this indicates a change in policy. The opportunity to know that many Theosophists who also subscribe to THEOSOPHY are meeting for study in widely separate locations on most of the continents is encouraging. Also, when one travels, it is possible that a list of Lodges will present the traveler with an opportunity to visit one or more ULT groups. And then, too, did not the magazine THEOSOPHY literally grow out of work undertaken by students on the ULT modulus? Such an acknowledgement would be natural, I think, and simply a matter of properly "giving lineage" as well as credit. A final question has to do with the fact that THEOSOPHY would seem to be the logical place for public discussion of ULT methods, successes, failures, etc.; and to indicate a connection with ULT could very well encourage good discussion which might not otherwise be initiated in print.] [Note: "ULT" means "The United Lodge of Theosophists".--Compiler]

(16) February 1964 [This Comment is answered: I noted in Manas for October 9 a somewhat appreciative commentary on psychologist B. F. Skinner, whose utopian novel Walden Two has been provocative of so much discussion since its publication in 1948. Dr. Skinner, as an avid and "utter" materialist -- that is, one who believes a better ethical life must be conditioned into existence by environmental manipulation -- is automatically criticized by Theosophists. Actually, though, H. P. Blavatsky makes a strong statement in The Key to Theosophy on behalf of those who seek to improve the condition of humanity through the "planned environment" approach: "True evolution teaches us that by altering the surroundings of the organism we can alter and improve the organism; and in the strictest sense this is true with regard to man."]

(17) March 1964 [This Question is answered: I have a question that has been discussed many times, but this appears to be inevitable. To what extent are the writings of Theosophy "progressive"? That is, while one may grant that certain fundamental axioms remain the same in all Theosophical teachings, regardless of era, is it not also inevitable that each new presentation of Theosophy will contain elements of synthesis not present before, and applications which are "new" simply because each human being is evolving, reaching levels of subtlety in understanding not previously possible?]

(18) April 1964 [This Question is answered: If the ethical implication of the teaching of Karma is that of individual responsibility for surrounding circumstances, how great an obligation does this suggest in respect to the Theosophist's involvement with community, state, and national political affairs? To say "the ego is timeless" may become a way of begging the question, and neglecting the person's need to become an active agent in relation to whatever point of space-time he occupies. Have not Theosophists often isolated themselves from the obligations which attend upon the social contracts that govern human affairs through legislation? In other words, a feeling of alienation from efforts to improve human affairs by unprincipled methods may need to be resolved by discovering for one's self an active, if different, role to play in political campaigns, polls preceding debates on current legislation, etc.]

(19) May 1964 [This Question is answered: What is the difference, really, between a Christian theological prophecy of "eternal hell" for condemned souls and the Eastern religious teaching of soul annihilation? In the Judge-Crosbie Notes on The Bhagavad-Gita (p. 191) he speaks of the possibility of annihilation and then says that the true disciple, of course, "does not by Ahankara destroy his own soul." What is meant by this?]

(20) June 1964 [Because a letter writer's Comments & Questions to the Editors take up a third of this 3-page article, which is then followed by the reply by the Editors, these first six sentences by the writer should be enough for you to get a good general starting-idea of what the overall article deals with and is about:
    Editors, THEOSOPHY: A primary theosophical objective, as everyone knows, is an honest brotherhood of all races and creeds -- a venture not beyond the capability of success. But the existence today of several societies bearing the name theosophical, largely fenced off from each other by decades of misunderstandings and outworn tradition -- this is a mockery of brotherhood, the brotherhood all profess. No Theosophist denies that Brotherhood is the basis of his society's platform, but does he face the logical corollary deductions that stem from this simple declaration? Are we furthering our objective when we remain aloof from each other, uncommunicative, when we view each other's activities with suspicion verging on antipathy? In our minds we may give service to working towards brotherhood. But in our hearts we fail, because when it comes to other theosophical societies we hedge, we dodge, or we ignore the issue. And because of this we...]

(21) July 1964 [This Question is answered: The fact that so few people are able to "get behind" appearances -- either in events or in men -- seems to be a continuing cause of confusion. Is it possible that a concept of Karma might help one penetrate these outward appearances?]

[Note: This department was not in the August, September, and October issues of THEOSOPHY magazine.]

(22) November 1964 [This Question is answered: Last month's discussion of Karma raised some further questions: If a person intends to set forces in motion toward a specific end, to initiate a certain kind of activity, how does he know whether the motivation proceeds from the "higher" or the "lower" man? Does one cease to "make karma" by retiring from the world? Does not undue solicitude about making karma, either "good" or "bad," indicate a lack of philosophic understanding of the Law?]

[Note: This department was not in the December 1964 issue, nor was it in the January through August 1965 issues of THEOSOPHY magazine.]

(23) September 1965 [This Question is answered: To accept the doctrine of reincarnation, we must first accept the immortality of the Soul as a fact. Is there any substantial proof of the Soul's immortality?]

[Note: This department was not in the October and November issues of THEOSOPHY magazine.]

(24) December 1965 [This Question is answered: Words, because they are the concrete expression of the subjective, inner man, become his tools as found in language; but contemporary speech often proves inadequate for lack of proper words. Is it not, therefore, desirable to invent or redefine words to convey meanings? Certainly, language "grows," as witness most of the philological developments found in our lexicons. Scientists, and scholars in particular, have aided by a constant minting of new words.]

[Note: This department was not in the January 1966 issue of THEOSOPHY magazine.]

(25) February 1966 [This Question is answered: Theosophy teaches that the power of discerning values, resident in the principle of Manas, is the true locus of will in human nature. Why, then, is Manas so easily made the servant of the egocentric aspects of personality -- the selfish, combative passions and desires?]

[Note: This department was not in the March issue of THEOSOPHY magazine.]

(26) April 1966 [This Question is answered: There is frequent allusion by platform speakers to Prometheus -- his tortures, his struggles, his endurance, etc. -- but nothing is said about another aspect of Prometheus' character that is emphasized in the original myth as recounted by both Hesiod and Gayley: Prometheus' trickery, his cunning. (In fact, Prometheus was called "the cunning trickster.") Prometheus was not punished for his original impudence in taking the fire without permission, though Zeus was naturally infuriated by it and was looking for an opportunity to punish Prometheus. This came when, during a conference between gods and men to determine the prerogatives of each, Prometheus tricked Zeus into taking the bones of the sacrificial bull, leaving the palatable portions for men. Zeus retaliated by taking the fire from mankind, whereupon Prometheus stole it in a "hollow tube." Only then did Zeus punish Prometheus directly, by having him chained to the rock, where he had to endure endless torture until Hercules (the Saviour) released him.
    It seems to me there must be a great deal more to this myth than is usually suggested. Can you elaborate?]

[Note: This department was not in the May issue of THEOSOPHY magazine.]

(27) June 1966 [This Question is answered: The statement is often made that the Self shines in all, but in all it does not shine forth. If this Self is as great as is indicated in the philosophy, it is hard to see what could prevent its "shining forth." How should this statement be understood?]

(Compiler's note: Because I won't be back here for a while, here's the link to the location on the "Additional" articles Index page where you can see the "Nine Groupings of Articles" that I'm currently working on, little by little, which this 8th grouping is in. You will see a link to each grouping's index page, a notation of how many articles are currently finished in each one, as well as a notation showing you the particular grouping that I'm presently working on. Once you see that I'm working back here again, and that the next article, number 28, has already been done, but you don't see it when you come here, all you have to do is click on your system's Reload or Refresh button in order to bring this page up to date.
(28) [Next article]

...and so on, up to a possible total of (414) articles. All of the ones not listed haven't been pulled off the bookshelf and scanned yet.

Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".



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