Theosophy Northwest View

The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
January 2007 -- Vol. 9 Issue 11

Ethical Values and Mysticism

Intuition derives from our center of awareness, which has been called the immanent Christ, inner Buddha, or higher self. It is innate in everyone, though few realize its existence and reality except in the occasional hunch or dream. In his thought-provoking book, The Observing Self, psychiatrist Arthur Deikman holds that organized religions encourage this lack of awareness when they locate God outside rather than within us. Traditional religions, as belief systems, differ sharply from mysticism, which is a psychological science. In religions, he points out, the motive for good behavior is reward, "the accumulation of heavenly credit, duly noted by a divine accountant, in a layaway plan for life after death." To the mystic, on the other hand, virtue is necessary for the development of intuitive perception: "The ability to receive Knowledge is a functional matter, having nothing to do with reward or punishment in the usual sense. Thus, one does not 'earn' enlightenment, one becomes capable of receiving it."

The state of intuitive knowing, as opposed to intellect and sense perception, characterizes the evolution of human consciousness by self-devised means: "human beings evolving themselves through a special type of learning that they choose to acquire." It requires perceiving ourselves as more than objects, and sustaining that perception. As Sufi mystic Rumi said: "New organs of perception come into being as a result of necessity. Therefore, O man, increase your necessity, so that you may increase your perception."

Unfortunately most of us live automatically, half-asleep, immersed in fantasies brought about by unconscious needs and desires. To vanquish such limiting illusions is not easy, for we must want to upgrade our priorities. One successful method is to continually lessen self-interest, the source of selfishness, since any sincere effort in this direction opens us to the healing influence of the ground of our awareness which Dr. Deikman terms the observing self.

Meditation is a proven way to increase awareness and intuition, but Dr. Deikman points out that the purposes and requirements of those who originally created meditation systems are often ignored, particularly as concerns motivation. Traditional schools began with purification and development of a selfless orientation before seeking special powers, a process that might take years of effort. This step tends to be skipped today. Especially vital is recognizing "the practical importance of shifting from an acquisitive orientation to one centered in learning and service" when using such practices. Otherwise meditators will find that their efforts result in "garbage in, garbage out."

In discussing human development, Dr. Deikman also stresses the importance of the virtues. Ethics are not arbitrary since "the unity of all human beings, their interconnection and interdependence, is the primary vision of mysticism. It says that the virtue mystics practice is necessary not only be-cause of its functional utility but because it is realistic. One should treat the other as oneself because below the surface we are all aspects of one being; the Golden Rule is not an arbitrary, culturally determined morality but an expression of the actual nature of the world. Our continued existence as a species and our further development depend on our capacity for recognizing this reality despite the compelling influence" of our everyday self which identifies with the contents of its own awareness. Moral relativism has undercut the rationale for ethics and the recognition of an underlying reality; yet the traditional virtues "provide the possibility of knowing that reality. Virtues prepare the mind for a more advanced perception." -- Enid Brandon

We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers;
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.
Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and variety.
I do not call one greater and one smaller;
That which fills its period and place is equal to any. -- Walt Whitman

The January 11th meeting is canceled -- Bellevue Library is closing at 4 p.m. that day

Monthly Discussion Group

This month "Living Well and the Paramitas" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: What does it mean to "live well"? Are there universal standards or one way that is best for everyone? Is it responsible or invasive to tell others how they should live? What are some of the guidelines or aids offered by world traditions for living a good life? What is the purpose and benefit of following ethical rules like the Paramitas, Ten Commandments, or Sermon on the Mount and what is their basis? How are they related to realization of oneness with all or divinity -- and to love and compassion? Where do pleasure, freedom, and the whole range of human feelings and imperfections fit in? Come and share your ideas!

Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge

Upcoming Topics

These subjects are currently being considered for the Monthly Discussion group. As always, those who have a particular topic they would like to have featured are encouraged to contact us.

February 15: Who Are We?
March: Health and Healing

Theosophical Views

The Paramitas

[Paraphrased and merged from H. P. Blavatsky's Voice of the Silence and G. de Purucker's Fountain-Source of Occultism.]



1. DANA, the key of charity and love immortal. If someone comes and asks for anything, as far as we are able, we should grant the request ungrudgingly and in a way to benefit them. If we see anyone in danger, we should try every means we have to rescue and impart to them a feeling of safety. If anyone comes to us desiring instructions in the Dharma, we should, as far as they are able and according to our best judgment, try to enlighten them. And when we are doing these acts of charity, we should not cherish any desire for recompense, gratitude, merit, advantage, nor any worldly reward.

2. SHILA, the key of harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for karmic action. Harmonious action. We should abstain from killing, stealing, adultery, lying, deception, gossip, greediness, malice (hatred or cruelty), persuading for personal benefit, and misleading. We should endeavor by our conduct to avoid all disapproval and blame, and by our example incite others to forsake evil and practice the good.

3. KSHANTI, patience sweet, that naught can ruffle. Patient forbearance. As we meet the ills of life we should not shun them nor feel upset. Patiently bearing evils inflicted by others, we should have no resentment. Neither should we be elated because of prosperity, praise, or agreeable circumstances; nor depressed because of poverty, insult, or hardship. Keeping our mind concentrated on the deep significance of the Dharma, we should under all circumstances maintain a quiet and equitable mind.

4. VIRAG, indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived. Non-attachment. A doing only of our duty without desire for results, for if we become attached we deter not only forward progress but fill the Path, not leaving it void for our passing. Attachment would necessarily draw to itself scenes of passion which would cloud the view. Attachment to the Supreme Goal, however, draws us toward it, to ever-increasing splendor.

5. VIRYA, the dauntless energy or fortitude that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial. Courageous vigor. In the practice of good deeds we should never become complacent. We should look upon any mental or physical suffering as the natural consequence of unworthy deeds done in previous incarnations, and should firmly resolve that henceforth we would do only those things which are in keeping with a spiritual life. We should always make deliberate effort in the direction of the Path, never tarry or assume we have reached an "end," for there are no ends, just subtle and gradual transformations.

6. DHYANA, whose golden gate once opened leads the adept toward the realm of Pure Being, eternal, and its ceaseless contemplation. Intellectual insight is gained by truth-fully understanding that all things follow the law of causation, but in themselves are transitory and empty of any self-substance. There are two aspects of dhyana: the first is an effort to suppress idle thinking; the second, mental concentration in an effort to realize the emptiness (shunyata) of Mind-essence. We should contemplate the fact that although all things are transitory and empty yet, nevertheless, on the physical plane they have a relative value to those who are cherishing false imagination; to these unaware ones, suffering is very real -- immeasurable and innumerable sufferings. Be-cause of this, there is awakened in the mind of every earnest person a deep compassion for the suffering of all beings.

7. PRAJNA, the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a bodhisattva. Direct perception or intuitive wisdom. When we by the faithful practice of dhyana attain to samadhi, we have passed beyond discrimination and knowledge, we have realized the perfect oneness of Mind-essence. With this realization comes an intuitive understanding of the nature of the universe. We now realize the perfect oneness of essence, potentiality, and activity. This principle makes of wisdom a separate thing from knowledge. Knowledge is learning from the physical apparatus, while wisdom is an innate understanding or intuitive glimpse. It affords us wider perception of the view of the universals and their patterns.


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