From the archives of some theosophical e-mail lists.

English ?enter=theos-l

Subject: Response to Dallas 
From: Gerald Schueler
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000

>>[Dallas:]let me say that I pay little regard to the opinions of modern Indologists, Orientalists, Buddhists, etc... as to me most of their conclusions are the result of dead-letter interpretations.>>

While I can agree with you here in principle, the fact remains that the actual works of such great Buddhists as Tzongkapa are now available in English, allowing us to read them and reach our own conclusions. HPB not only praised Tzongkapa but was herself a Buddhist and stated that at least some of the Masters were Tibetan Buddhists and that she herself had been trained in Tibet. What we Theosophists need to do now is to try to unite the Gelupa teachings with the those of Blavatsky, and I have been trying very hard to do this.

>>For instance ESP, telepathy, etc to me are the phenomena that relate to the plane of psychism.<<

Whether we want to include psychism under Esoteric Wisdom or Esoteric Tradition or not is debatable, but it is clearly under the umbrella of Occult Science by almost everyone's definition.

>>MONAD, to my understanding is (T. Glos. P. 216) : "...the unified triad, Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or the duad, Atma-Buddhi, that immortal part of man which reincarnates in the lower kingdoms, and gradually progresses through them to Man, and then to the final goal -- Nirvana." [ In several places in the SD she repeats this definition and adds to it.]<<

Look, I agree that the above is Blavatsy's definition. I have also stated many times that it is both wrong and misleading because a monad is defined by Liebnitz (who coined the term) as something that cannot be divided - a non-aggregate. Theosophical terminology is terribly out of wack. The usage of "monad" for compounds is both wrong and misleading, and I can only assume that Blavatsky and her followers did this because there was no other English words that fit. What is really meant by Atma-Buddhi-Manas is monad-like or relatively monadic but not monad per se. You probably think that I am just splitting hairs, but I am not - the usage of the word "monad" for what is really a mayavic monadic "ray" is exactly what prevents modern Theosophy from adopting a more esoteric viewpoint, and is likely to kill the movement by the end of this century if not sooner. Theosophists, for example, think that the human monad is an inherently existing "thing" whereas it is not. Tzongkapa himself states that this very kind of misleading situation is the ultimate cause of our continuing to reimbody.

<<What then is the ATMA-BUDDHIC DUAD ? The "Atma-Ray" of the UNIVERSAL SELF conjoined to a line of indestructible experience extending over an infinity of time in the past of that ENTITY. To me that is a COMPOUND.>>

Yes, it is indeed a compound, and thus is unreal. Tzongkapa would say that this "entity" has no absolute reality, but only conventional reality. I happen to agree with Tzongkapa.

>>You will not be able to find any spot (actual or metaphysical) where there is TOTAL PRALAYA, nor will you find one that is TOTALLY MANVANTARA.<<

Of course not, because they are two sides of a duality and one side cannot exist without the other.

>>Pralaya and Manvantara eternally co-exist and at no time does one entirely prevail over the other.<<

They both have conventional existence and both are what Tzongkapa would call "dependent arisings."

>>We find in practice that the thinking capacity of the DUAD (embodied in physical matter limitations) is still able to think of and consider ultimates.<<

Here again, Dallas, we should not be surprised because relatives and ultimates are also two sides of a duality and one cannot exist without the other. However, Truth is non-dual and thus all so-called absolutes have only conventional reality.

>> How can it do this, unless those roots, the ULTIMATES, are also a part of its thinking base? <<

I agree - ultimates and absolutes exist only in the mind.

<<this may be true, but WHY is it rejected? Who titled it "exoteric?" >>

Tzongkapa rejected it because it is not necessary. The only reason for postulating a storehouse consciousness is to provide something to hold the skandhas between lives. This is not necessary, according to the Gelupas, because life causes death and death causes life. The Buddhist 12 links of dependent origination suggests that life/birth ultimatly causes death (the last link of the chain) and that death causes ignorance (the first link of a new chain) which causes a new birth and so on. Karma from eons ago can effect us today without any need for a Higher Self or Reincarnating Ego or Monad etc. While one school in Tibet does teach a storehouse consciousness, Tzongkapa and his Gelupa school firmly reject it. I agree with Tzongkapa.

>>Then follows what to me is one of the most important statements: "Before thou standest on the threshold of the Path; before thou crosest the foremost Gate, thou hast to merge the two into the One and sacrifice the personal to Self Impersonal, and thus destroy the "path" between the two -- Antaskarana. [ The statement on p. 62 and footnote (copied above) are valuable also.]<<

This is pure exotericism. It is a model of what happens, and expresses conventional truth but expresses no absolute truth. Now, as models go, I agree that it is a good one.

>>All this may seem most vague, but to me the statements are vibrant with verity and hope. None of us having acquired knowledge need sequester it. Our duty is to diffuse, it, to pass it around.<<

Agree that it is vibrant with hope and so on. But it ignores the bottom-line fact that we are already spiritual and perfect and that the whole evolution business is maya. The real spritual path is not slowly becoming more spiritual but rather in becoming more aware of our own inherent divinity.

>>I agree that newcomers might well be confused. However we do have the SD, confusing to many it may be. But it is there for those who DARE.<<

Problem is, it won't help us recruit very many new members. My own take is that the SD is *unnecessarily* confusing because we tend to get caught up in all the monads and atoms and gods and mistakenly think that they are real.

>>Even if the Buddha and Tzongkapa left statements recorded in words then of certain limits, does not imply we cannot ask questions or think of logical reasons that need to be answered -- where do we find answers?<<

Tzongkapa and the Gelupas used reason and logic to conclude that all compounds have only conventional existence - they exist only because we impute them as existing things based on those compounds that our senses detect. There is nothing wrong with using logic and reason.

<<I think you misunderstand me and attribute to what I say a meaning I have not the slightest desire to advance. My prime thesis is that we are (ALL BEINGS) eternal, Divine MONADS. Eah Monad is at some stage of its individual pilgrimage. It is however en rapport with all the rest, who are its BROTHERS having more or less experience than it has.>>

Because Theosophists tend to take the SD literally, they miss the boat when it comes to emptiness and the whole Buddhist teaching that all compounded things are unreal. Life is seen in a whole new light when one begins to understand emptiness. This esoteric view is sorely missing in Theosophy and I am predicting that if it is not emphased more, the whole TM will die out as just another religion. Lets hope I am wrong, but this is an intuitive feeling that I have had for a few years now. Many years ago I came into Eastern teachings and read a lot of books. Some were by authorities who claimed that the reason India and other countries were so backward and non-technological was because of their belief in reincarnation. They pointed out that people didn't worry much about this life, knowing that they could do things in the next (kind of like putting off till tommorrow, etc). This idea bubbled to the surface of my consciousness a few years ago when I read the postings of many Theosophists to the effect that enlightenment would come only in future lives - not this one. This seems to me to be the TS party-line view, and I find the similarities striking. If Theosophy continues to harp on the exoteric view of reincarnation then it, like India, will stagnate and is like to die out.

<<As we pass through the successive experiences offered by living in the various kingdoms, these undying MONADS (us, now) learn (have learned) the experiences that existence offers in those areas of learning.<<

The notion that we are here to learn lessons is pure exotericism and dangerous IMO. It does seem like this is what is going on from a purely conventional viewpoint. Maybe Purucker said it best when he pointed out that all evolutionary development is in two arcs, a downward arc into matter that evolves or expresses our spiritual potential followed by an upward arc of involution, a return to our spiritual state. Why does anyone think that a divine monad would need lessons???? Evolutionary life is a vast creative expression, driven by need and desire that is itself born out of ignorance. We already are spiritual and perfect.

Jerry S.

Subject: Some Responses to Dallas Ten Broeck
From: Gerald Schueler
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000

<<The main difference between us is that (I think): You seem to place the output (translation) of current Orientalists at the same level as HPB's Theosophical work.>>

What I am really trying to do, is to align Tibetan Buddhism with Theosophy. Perhaps you and others don't care, putting Blavatsky first and Tibetan Buddhism as described by Tibetans themselves last (?) While I can understand this view, I cannot share it because my own experiences over the years have indicated to me that a "stream-of-consciousness" approach is more correct than a "monad" approach. I have tried for many years to find an independent "I" within myself and so far I have found only a graduated series of dependent compounds. While I have indeed found what I can only assume in retrospect is the "divine monad" this experience suggested no "I." Personally, I think that Tibetan Buddhism as described in today's literature is the same as Theosophy but worded differently and each have different emphases. Where the Tibetans, including Tzongkapa, are detailed, Blavatsky gave us only hints and pieces. This is at the "high" end of the religious spectrum (i.e., Dzongchen and Mahamudra). There is almost perfect agreement at the lower (i.e., sutra) end.

<<I, personally, and because of my experience with the wanderings of various renditions from one language (I know several) to another, realize that it is always the MEANING that is important (to me) and not the literal transliteration, more or less exact, of any translator>>

I agree with you, and this is most certainly true with Dzongchen and mahamudra, where experience goes beyond any words to describe. But the doctrine of emptiness expressed and practiced by Tibetans such as Tzongkapa are purely mental gymnastics and so can be used by anyone. I first came into emptiness in Zen back when I was a teenager reading D.T. Suzuki. Zen translates sunyata as suchness, while Tibetans call it emptiness, but it is the same thing (i.e., there is emptiness and there is no suchness).

<<I would say that HPB representing Theosophy, is a universalist, and only by token may be said by others, to be a Buddhist, a Gnostic, a Mason, or anything else.>>

She was indeed many things and not just a Buddhist. However, she did say that several Masters were Tibetans and she did praise Tzongkapa.

<<[ That is: if on testing, one finds that Theosophy is sufficiently eclectic and all-embracing -- so as to enclose any and all systems of religion, faith, belief, etc... -- into ONE UNIVERSAL SYSTEM. >>

Believe it or not, I agree here. However, I do have a problem with what we could call the ultimate goal or desired outcome. The goal of Buddhism is liberation. Dzongchen and Tzongkapa both say the goal is liberation from both samsara and nirvana and that this can be done by obtaining Gnosis or enlightenment that karmically results in the consumption of personal karma. Theosophy seems to be saying that the goal of liberation is long-term and will only happen at the end this manvantara or at the very least after many more lifetimes. I have called the former an esoteric view and the latter an exoteric view.

>>I seek for those standards which will withstand the passage of time and the confusion of opinions, if such can be found.>>

All of the world's religions meet this standard, but all also include a confusion of opinions.

<<And, so far, Theosophy alone (as a system) seems to meet that challenge and deepen my perceptions (and I also realize that in others' eyes and minds I may be considered to be quite mistaken). ]>>

I am not asking you to quit Theosophy and become a Buddhist. I am rather suggesting that the hints given out by Blavatsky point strongly to the teachings of emptiness. If so, then we need to get a better grip on the word "monad" i.e., that monads exist conventionally but not absolutely.

<<But I do not feel at ease if I put the current translations of Tsong-kha-pa's writings into English on a par with HPB's and Masters' ORIGINAL writings.>>

Why do you not feel at ease? Have you read Tzongkapa? His wording is every bit as abtuse as Blavatsky. He teaches in a personal and a collective karma, and so on.

<<I trust (after long testing) the ORIGINAL theosophical literature. >>

Reading and study have to be bucked up against personal experience or all we have is blind faith.

<<DTB As above said -- the ESOTERIC BASE is important and the EXOTERIC LABELS are not (to me).>>

I know what an exoteric label is, but what is an esoteric base? Do you mean our own personal intuition? Do you mean the writings of Blavatsky (which became exoteric the moment she wrote them).

<<In other words "psychism" would be unbridled use, careless of results to self and others. >>

OK, but most people say magic=psychism and that the definition you give above is for black magic.

<<The True Occultist, seeks to know the causes and laws that underlie "psychic," as well as "Spiritual" phenomena. >>


<< His primary motive is BENEVOLENCE and the SERVICE of HUMANITY (the description HPB gives of such an One is in SD I 207-210 (the standard I assume to be of the Highest). >>

This seems a bit one-sided to me. Anyone who studies "the causes and laws that underlie "psychic," as well as "Spiritual" phenomena" who is not compassionate is thus, by your definition, a false occultist. I think the standard terminology of white vs black is better suited here than true vs false. My own feeling is that perhaps you are taking HPB too literally here.

>>In other words as HPB states in Theosophical Literature, there is a wide distinction in motive between the "psychic" (or devilish) Wisdom, and that of the "spiritual" or truly WISE WISDOM >>

Here again we have a terminology problem. My take on "psychism" is that it address the astral and mental planes while "intuitive" addresses the causal plane and "spiritual" addresses the upper three planes. You are throwing in morality here, which is a white vs black issue. I think that psychism can be either white or black while you seem to be saying that it is always black.

>>MONAD, to my understanding is (T. Glos. P. 216) : "...the unified triad, Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or the duad, Atma-Buddhi, that immortal part of man which reincarnates in the lower kingdoms, and gradually progresses through them to Man, and then to the final goal -- Nirvana." [ In several places in the SD she repeats this definition and adds to it.]<<

If so, then what is a "mineral monad" and what is a "vegetable monad?" This is exactly why Theosophy gets troublesome for new students - a monad is defined as something that cannot be divided, and yet you give us a triad and a duad as definitions. I am not confused because I waded threw all of this years ago, but it is a sore point and one, I think, that makes Theosophy appear confusing to some and inconsistent to others. A monad by its very definition cannot be a duad or a triad. A duad and a triad are both compounds and thus are empty of inherent independent existence.

<<I really don't worry at all if "Theosophy" as a word survives. The IDEAS that are conveyed in it are important.>>

It is the ideas that I am worried about. In point of fact, I am saying that the atma-buddhi is a conventional truth while you are saying (and I do not doubt that most Theosophists agree with you) that it is an absolute truth. If we can each hold these conflicting views and remain Thesophists, then so be it.

<<[Jerry:] I happen to agree with Tzongkapa.>>

<<DTB Why?>>

Because of my own personal experience as well as my intuition.

>>[Jerry:]They both have conventional existence and both are what Tzongkapa would call "dependent arisings." DTB I agree, but, FROM WHAT ? What is that basic absoluteness ?>>

There is no basic absoluteness. Even emptiness is empty. There is neither absoluteness nor nothingness because both of these are extreme views and the truth lies in the middle. In Theosophical terms, Truth is whatever lies outside of the whole 7-plane solar system. What we call the absolute is what lies within the upper three planes, sometimes called nirvana or void. But samsara (the lower four planes) and nirvana (the upper three planes) are all maya. What lies outside our 7-plane solar system is non-dual and therefore no dualistic terminology can describe it. HPB called it BENESS with all caps to indicate a valiant attempt to name the unnamable.

Jerry Schueler.