YOUTH FORUM

(a NEW Q&A grouping)

Compiler's note: This Question & Answer department ran in THEOSOPHY magazine from November 1962 to April 1967. If it turns out to be in every monthly issue, it will end up being a total of 54 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 were scanned from a total of 80 pages in the magazine, which is an average of 3 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; only some of them have sub-titles above the question, or questions, asked. 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 questions being asked and answered, I will first mention the sub-title, if there is one, and only the question or questions next to each date and link, hoping that this will be enough to help the reader to find and get back to the article whenever desired and/or necessary.

(1) November 1962 [This Question is answered: It has been said that the fundamental principles of Theosophy cannot be proven by present scientific methods. Considering that these principles are universal and operate on all planes, one wonders why the findings of science, even though limited to physical phenomena, should not constitute proof of these principles, at least to the extent that they are evident on this plane?]

(2) December 1962 [This Question is answered: Confronted all our lives with physical appearances, we are likely to have some difficulty comprehending the idea that reality lies not in these external forms, but in an invisible and intangible substratum of spirit. How are we to understand this basic doctrine, and overcome the illusion of the senses?]

(3) January 1963 [Under the sub-title of MEMORABILITY, this Question is answered: Throughout the history of Western civilization, and in epic literature from its beginning, efforts have been made to render the life of men or the occurrences of dramatic events "memorable." From the Theosophical point of view, what are the psychological roots of this seeking for "memorability"?]

(4) February 1963 [Under the sub-title of BELIEF AND KNOWLEDGE, this Question is answered: More books are being printed and read today than at any other time in history; yet despite (or perhaps, because of) this enormous impulse towards scientific and literary awareness, there has seldom, if ever, been a more poignant sense of alienation from genuine, first-hand knowledge. We hold innumerable beliefs about almost every subject, but what do we really know?]

(5) March 1963 [This Question is answered: The tragedy of life for most people seems to lie in their inability to grasp the hidden meaning in all external events. And indeed, without some inner sense of perspective, life does seem chaotic and unjust. Yet how much real perspective do even Theosophists have? And do not even they, when struck with personal tragedy, repeat the words, "It is our Karma," with much the same inner despair and ignorance as any Christian might say, "It is the will of God"?]

(6) April 1963 [This Question is answered: Man, "the most intelligent being in the universe," seems also to be the most unhappy being in the universe. In our present era it is a rare moment when we are not oppressed by vague anxieties or boredom or a devastating sense of loneliness. If we really do represent the spearhead of evolution, why have we so little sense of our own magnificent, heroic destiny?]

(7) May 1963 [This Question is answered: One sometimes wonders what would happen if people spoke what they really felt. We deceive each other, almost automatically, every day. Is there some way to free ourselves from this subtle web of dishonesty, or is it an inevitable condition of civilization, and must one always, in the words of Eliot, "prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet"?]

(8) June 1963 [This Question is answered: Every so often, and in almost any situation -- perhaps talking with others at a social gathering, or standing in line, or riding on a crowded bus -- one may be struck by the realization of how little one knows of his fellow human beings; and, too, of how very little they seem to know of themselves. One is forever being confronted with the mere "persona" of people, the mere mask, sometimes attractive, sometimes repellent; and one senses despairingly that in these contacts the real ensouling entity is not being reached. What can one do to see beneath the masks and establish a real communication with one's fellow souls? And then, perhaps even more basically, how can one see beneath his own mortal mask and communicate with his own higher self?]

(9) July 1963 [This Comment is answered: It seems that as soon as a person attempts to raise himself out of mediocrity and to lead a more sensitized kind of life, he finds himself constantly hindered, interrupted by a thousand trivial situations. He may, for example, be trying to read or write a poem, -- or "feel" a symphony, or sense some of the mystery behind a simple object -- when suddenly the phone will ring or a friend will come in and slam the door. At such moments, a person is likely to have a sinking feeling, a sense of desperate frustration. Yet surely there must be a better attitude one could take, a more positive reaction to the flood of dulling trivialities in which we live.]

(10) August 1963 [This Question is answered: Charity has always been considered the greatest of virtues, so great, in fact, that without it no other virtue has any real meaning. But if this is true, then why does the word "charity" seem to carry such a bad connotation nowadays?]

(11) September 1963 [This Question is answered: Sometimes, as one observes the people surrounding one, it is natural to wonder about their motivations in life -- and about one's own motivations as well. What are the assumptions "about life" which commonly underlie actions? What are most people trying to achieve during these short harried years on earth?]

(12) October 1963 [This Question is answered: There seems to be a new spirit in the air, a sense of urgency and apprehension, which has become prevalent only since the last world war. This new restlessness, considered in relation to the explosive world situation, makes evident how essential it is for Theosophical ideas to gain greater currency. It is therefore a bit disheartening to realize that while there are usually one or two newcomers at each Theosophical meeting, very few come back for study. Why do these ideas so often fail to "catch on"? Is there some element in the present world atmosphere for which we are not adequately providing?]

(13) November 1963 [This Question is answered: Pride seems the most insidious and powerful of human vices, probably because it feeds on human virtue. It is therefore a strong indictment when outsiders, and particularly Christians, voice the suspicion that the Theosophical philosophy, with its emphasis on man's innate divinity, does much to foster this sense of pride. Has such an accusation any basis in truth?]

(14) December 1963 [This Question is answered: It is taught that after a long period of evolution each individual soul is at last reunited with the Absolute, and a great period of Pralaya begins. Yet certainly the individual (so long as he remains an individual) is finite, and the finite can never comprehend the infinite, any more than the infinite can comprehend the finite (see Secret Doctrine I, 56). Might it not then be considered a contradiction to speak of the individual as being reunited with the Absolute? Might not in fact the word "annihilation" be more applicable here than "reunion"?]

(15) January 1964 [This Question is answered: Even the commonest of men secretly aspires to do great things, sometimes channelling this yearning into what seem minor endeavors, such as becoming the patriarch in a family, the president of some struggling little business, the possessor of some kind of valuables, or perhaps the author of some book, any book, no matter how bad. The pathos is obvious to us when we see such shabby attempts to seem great, to attract admiring eyes, but, since all things are relative, it is not impossible that even kings, premiers and presidents can be seen in a ridiculous light -- appear as just so many frogs in the rather shallow puddle called the world. Where did this almost universal egocentricity come from? Will the human race ever outgrow it?]

(16) February 1964 [This Question is answered: There comes a time when one feels surfeited with the vast number of words, some bitter, many oversweet, none satisfying, which compose our social and literary diet. Even the wise words of the ancients are taken by most people with a grain of salt, because the continuing existence of apathy, insanity, and absurdity, is taken as indication that all their wisdom has brought about little practical good for mankind. But more particularly and acutely, as a person looks back and remembers his own words -- his own efforts and failures to help some other person through words of advice and encouragement -- he wonders, Can words really help anyone; or rather, is not the help they sometimes do bring usually outweighed by the sense of unreality, of mental abstraction, of emptiness, which seems so often to accompany them?]

(17) March 1964 [This Question is answered: At times (rather few, these days) we complete some task well, then feel an exuberant sense of satisfaction. Yet there often seems to be something ambiguous about such feelings of accomplishment. Are they positive or negative feelings -- the joyous taste of fulfillment, the sense of duty done and lessons learned, or just self-indulgent gloating?]

(18) April 1964 [This Question is answered: Every human being, we are often told, and every other point of consciousness in the universe, has its own unique place and function in relation to the whole. Yet many people are privately in despair because they do not know what their real place should be. Just what can each of us do to find out and fulfill the special secret intention of his life?]

(19) May 1964 [This Question is answered: People have a tendency, as they become more and more caught up in the complexity of daily affairs, to become numbed and confused by life and to regard it merely as a senseless newsreel or a jumbled dream. As a result, when they hear such exhortations as "Man know thyself," it is likely that frustration will be only heightened because they feel unable to extricate themselves from the dream they are part of; one may in fact doubt whether a man can ever know himself deeply since such knowledge, to be complete, would seem to imply separation of one's self from one's self, and surely that is impossible. After all, how can a part of something see itself clearly, or understand its context in relation to the whole? Can that much glorified faculty of "self-awareness" really give greater depth and explicitness to our presently vague sense that "I am myself"? Is it really possible, in other words, ever to awaken from the dream?]

(20) June 1964 [This Question is answered: Theosophical writings, although they help one gain invaluable perspective on life, present somewhat of a problem to the student, since they speak a great deal about invisible processes and supramental states of being and are therefore likely to be incompletely or incorrectly understood. The teachings are said to appeal directly to the soul of man, yet at times the student may read about such concepts as the "Higher Self" or the "Nirmanakayas," and find himself unable to feel any deep response. How can one reach beyond the words and in some way grasp the reality underlying them?]

(21) July 1964 [This Question is answered: Horace Walpole once remarked, "This world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel." This epigram, though probably correct in its implication that tragedy is as much a view of life as a literary form, seems nevertheless a great oversimplification of the nature of literary tragedy, since it indicates that anyone who "feels," and who has talent, could write one. Many writers and critics think otherwise, however, declaring that a tragedy could not possibly be written today in our complex and compromised world; our view of life is too secular and too muddled to permit it.
    What view of life, then, would allow for tragic expression? Is it conceivable that a Theosophist could write a tragedy?]

(22) August 1964 [This Question is answered: It has sometimes happened that intelligent people, after engaging in a certain amount of study, have turned away from Theosophy; and not always because they disagree with its tenets -- perhaps simply because of the fact that "it" seems to be a System; while life, they feel, is far too vast, ambiguous, irrational -- too "real" -- to allow any logical structuring of process. How can this charge against Theosophy be answered?]

(23) September 1964 [This Question is answered: Despite numerous public exclamations of admiration concerning various "great" paintings or poems, there seems still to be an undercurrent of apathy and even distrust in most people's attitudes about æsthetic subjects -- an attitude which is reflected in clichés such as "more truth than poetry," and in a general disparagement of "art for art's sake." But what is art, really? And why do so many people resist it? (See Youth-Companions Ask--And Answer for December, 1960, also July, 1962, and Youth Forum for July, 1964.) [Note: The above three references are a corrected version because even though the dates were correct it mistakenly listed them all as being in the "Youth Forum" department.--Compiler.]

(24) October 1964 [This Question is answered: Far beneath the anxious or the smiling surface of our normal lives, so far indeed sometimes that we ourselves do not suspect it, there exists in many of us (not all, no doubt, for some of us must be sane) a kind of disaffection, a dark and subtle self-contempt. But if men are really immortal, and potential gods, as Theosophy has declared, why should such feelings exist at all -- or at any rate, why so deeply?] [Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-part article; all 3 parts have this same question.--Compiler.]

(25) November 1964 [This Question is answered: Note: This is Part 2 of a 3-part article. The Question is the same as the one in number (24).]

(26) December 1964 [This Question is answered: Note: This is Part 3 of a 3-part article. The Question is the same as the one in numbers (24) and (25).]

(27) January 1965 [This Question is answered: What is the essential nature of pain, or anguish? And what is the essence of joy? We all, of course, experience these things, but we do so automatically, and seem to have little understanding of them.]

(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 5th 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 (54) 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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