23 July 2014

THE AQUARIAN THEOSOPHIST, JULY 2014


Volume XIV, Number 9


This is the opening sentence of the July edition:     

“Our civilization is suffering from a Karmic Fever of transition
between different Ages, and this accelerates its inner and outer challenges.”

On pages 1-2 we reproduce a few paragraphs from Albert Einstein entitled “Why Do They Hate the Jews?”  Then we have “The Secret of Right Action”. 

On page 3 there is a note by Dr. N. C. Ramanujachary. Writing from India, Dr. Ramanujachary examines the keys to evolution: intelligence and love.  

On pp. 4-5, one can see “Helping the Planetary Transition: a Time to Have Priorities Clear”. 

Karmic Fever and The Birth of a New Cycle” is on p. 6.  Pages 7-8 present “Hidden Blessings in Life”, by Robert Crosbie.  From the United  States,  the long-time ULT associate Steven H. Levy, M.D.,  writes “Studies in Self-Development: The Need for Personal Responsibility” (pp. 8-10)

These are other topics in the July edition:

* The Joy of Simplicity;

* On Facing Repetitive Novelties;

* Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto in 2014-2015; and

* Freedom from Attachment to Pain.

The 17 pp. edition ends with the List of New Texts in our websites.  




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You can find the entire collection of The Aquarian Theosophist” at  www.TheosophyOnline.com.


If you want to have access to a daily study of the original teachings of Theosophy, write to  lutbr@terra.com.br and ask for information on the e-group  E-Theosophy.

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18 July 2014

JACOB BOEHME IN RUSSIA

No Effort for the Good of
Mankind Remains Unhelped


Carlos Cardoso Aveline



 An idealized portrait of J. Boehme (1575-1624)



A selfless sacrifice may open room for real change. In the 17th century, for instance, Quirinus Kuhlmann - a student of Jacob Boehme’s philosophy - travelled to Moscow and started preaching the mystical doctrines of that German thinker, which are widely known to be theosophical in essence. 

Kuhlmann was soon denounced to the Russian authorities as a heretic.

He was taken to prison, tortured, and finally killed in 1689. [1] By the second half of the 18th century, however, things had changed. Jacob Boehme was now among the most influential Western philosophers in Russia, as N. Lossky writes in his “History of Russian Philosophy”.[2] Masonry was also popular then among higher classes in Russia. And this was not an isolated fact.

While the exact worldwide impact caused by Boehme’s life is unknown, it may be great. In “The Secret Doctrine” [3], H.P. Blavatsky says - while quoting some other source - that Isaac Newton derived all his knowledge of gravitation and its laws from Jacob Boehme. She says that Boehme “was the nursling of the genii (Nirmanakayas) who watched over and guided him”. 

A poor and humble man from the point of view of social classes, Jacob Boehme is among the “theosophers” who lived before Russian thinker Helena P. Blavatsky and prepared her work.

William Q. Judge, Blavatsky’s disciple, wrote in an article about Boehme: 

“Born a Christian, he nevertheless saw the esoteric truth lying under the moss and crust of centuries, and from the Christian Bible extracted for his purblind fellows those pearls which they refused to accept. But he did not get his knowledge from the Christian Scriptures only. Before his internal eye the panorama of real knowledge passed. His interior vision being open he could see the things he had learned in a former life, and at first not knowing what they were was stimulated by them to construe his only spiritual books in the esoteric fashion. His brain took cognizance of the Book before him, but his spirit aided by his past, and perchance by the living guardians of the shining lamp of truth, could not but read them aright.”[4]

Indeed, it is said that no effort for the higher good of mankind remains unhelped, and Jacob Boehme’s pioneering life constitutes one more example of that. 

NOTES:

[1] Kuhlmann was born on February 25, 1651. His work and death is mentioned in the two-volume work “Histoire de la Philosophie Russe”, by B. Zenkovsky, Librairie Gallimard, Paris, 1952, Tome I, pp. 40-41.

[2] “History of Russian Philosophy”, N. Lossky,  George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London, first published in 1952, 416 pp., pp. 10-11. For his influence on Vladimir S. Soloviev, see p. 131. On Sergius Bulgakov, p. 204. On Nicolas Berdyaev, p. 235.   A reference to the way Russian philosopher S. L. Franck sees an aspect of Boehme’s intuition is on p. 277.

[3] “The Secret Doctrine”, H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, volume I, p. 494. On Boehme, see also “The Secret Doctrine”, volume II, p. 630.

[4] “Theosophical Articles”, William Q. Judge”, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, 1980, volume I, p. 271. The title of the article is “Jacob Boehme and the Secret Doctrine”.

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An initial version of the above article was published at the June 2013 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, p. 15.

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On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.


  
 
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.

On Facebook, see the pages The Aquarian Theosophist  and  E-Theosophy.
  


 
 
If you want to have access to a daily study of the original teachings of Theosophy, write to  lutbr@terra.com.br  and ask for information on the e-group  E-Theosophy.


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JESUCRISTO, EL GUERRERO DE LA VERDAD

El Maestro de la Sumisión Adorado
por Roma No Existe en el Evangelio

Carlos Cardoso Aveline



Los Evangelios

A  lo largo de la historia humana, ha habido religiones perseguidas, y ha habido religiones perseguidoras. La evolución de la religión cristiana ilustra bien este hecho.

Después de sufrir persecución durante un tiempo, en un determinado momento el cristianismo es adoptado y adaptado por los poderosos y pasa a ser una religión de Estado, una religión imperial basada en Roma.

Fue a partir de entonces que se generalizó gradualmente la aceptación de una imagen de Jesucristo como un maestro de la obediencia, de la resignación, de la pasividad y de la sumisión.

Cuando leemos los Evangelios del Nuevo Testamento, sin embargo, la idea de un Jesús sumiso y obediente se cae por tierra. Existe numerosa evidencia en el sentido de que Jesús fue, en realidad, un guerrero de la luz. Desafió a las estructuras religiosas y sociales de su tiempo. No creó alguna iglesia autoritaria o centralizada. No se adaptó a las rutinas de su día: las cuestionó todas.

La filosofía esotérica afirma que hay una sola sabiduría universal presente de diversas formas en varias tradiciones religiosas y filosóficas de nuestra humanidad. Por eso ella promueve el estudio comparativo de las religiones. Para la teosofía,  la figura de Jesús va más allá de un maestro que vivió en un determinado momento. La idea de Jesús simboliza sobre todo la energía crística o búdica que está presente dentro de cada ser humano.

La palabra sánscrita “Buddh” significa luz espiritual, y “Buddha” o “Buda” no es el apellido de Gautama, sino que significa “El Iluminado”.

Por lo tanto, la Luz de Cristo es la luz búdica. Jesús es la voz del alma inmortal, la voz de nuestra conciencia. La fuerza del espíritu no se aferra a la rutina automática de los viejos apegos. Al contrario, la voz del alma cuestiona las rutinas y las amenaza y, por tanto, es perseguida, reprimida - y sustituida por la obediencia ciega.

Por un lado es cierto que el nacimiento de Cristo o de la sabiduría de Buda en el alma humana trae paz interior. Por otro lado, esto provoca externamente contraste,  conflicto, combate y lucha. De ahí la necesidad de ser guerreros. Este fuerte contraste corresponde a lo que las grandes religiones llaman “pruebas” y “tests”. He aquí algunos extractos de los Evangelios cristianos que sirven como evidencia de esto.

Al inicio del Evangelio de Lucas, en la profecía de la futura misión de Jesús, Simeón anuncia: “He aquí, este niño fue puesto para la caída y el levantamiento de muchos en Israel, y como signo de contradicción ...” (Lucas, 2:33-35). 

Sí, es un signo de contradicción. Jesús es alguien que va a poner a las personas frente a decisiones difíciles.

Años más tarde, ya maduro y armado con la espada sutil de la verdad y discernimiento, el Maestro Jesús aparece como un guerrero. En Mateo 10: 34-39, advierte:

“No penséis que he venido para traer paz a la tierra; no vine para traer paz, sino espada. Porque he venido a poner al hombre contra su padre, a la hija contra su madre, a la nuera y su suegra. Por lo tanto, los enemigos del hombre serán los de su propia casa. El que ama a su padre o madre más que a mí, no es digno de mí; el que ama a su hijo o hija más que a mí, no es digno de mí; y el que no toma su cruz y sigue en pos de mí, no es digno de mí. El que encuentre su vida, la perderá; quien, sin embargo, pierde su vida por mi causa, la encontrará”.

Este pasaje tiene una fuerte correlación con algunas frases del  libro del Éxodo, en el viejo testamento.  En Éxodo, 32:27-29, Moisés dice a sus seguidores, en nombre de Jehová:

“Ciñe la espada sobre cada lado, y pasa y vuelve a pasar por el campamento de puerta en puerta, y matar, cada uno a su hermano, su amigo, su pariente.”

El absurdo, desde el punto de vista espiritual, es evidente. Una lectura literal de este pasaje no tiene sentido, porque uno de los mandamientos de Moisés era “No matarás”.

De hecho, tanto el pasaje de Jesús como en el de Moisés, tenemos aquí la dura lección de la impersonalidad.

Uno debe mirar con desapego a nuestras relaciones personales más cercanas. Es allí que se da un combate donde es indispensable la espada de la verdad, una lucha contra la falsa paz de la rutina y el acomodamiento. No se trata de estar en conflicto con las personas más cercanas a nosotros, y mucho menos matarlos. Es, más bien, luchar y matar a nuestro propio apego o  rechazo hacia ellos.  

Jesús no promete comodidad. Anuncia una vida difícil e incómoda para los que quieren “tomar su cruz” - es decir, llevar a su propio karma - y seguir el camino de la sabiduría y el alma inmortal que él, como maestro, simboliza y señala.

En  Mateo, 10:22 y 10:23, advierte:

“Y seréis aborrecidos por todos por causa de mi nombre. (...) Cuando os persigan en una ciudad, huid a otra. Y si os persiguen en esta, tendréis que huir a una tercera”.

La necesidad de transcender los apegos y rutinas personales aparece nuevamente en Mateo, 12: 46-50:

“Jesús también habló al pueblo, he aquí que su madre y sus hermanos estaban afuera, buscando hablar con él. Y alguien dijo: ‘Tu madre y tus hermanos están afuera y quieren hablar contigo.’ Pero él respondió a quien trajo el aviso: ‘¿Quién es mi madre y quiénes son mis hermanos?’ Y extendiendo su mano hacia discípulos, y dijo: ‘He aquí mi madre y mis hermanos. Porque cualquiera que hace la voluntad de mi Padre celestial es mi hermano, hermana y madre.’

¿Qué es, exactamente, el “Padre Celestial”? Para la filosofía esotérica, “Padre Celestial” es “Atma”, la divinidad dentro de la conciencia de cada uno. No es una autoridad externa. Jesús no edificó una iglesia centralizada. Él no creía en las autoridades externas a la conciencia humana.

La pedagogía espiritual de la filosofía esotérica ve dos aspectos esenciales en la manera en cómo Jesús enseña.  Una es la autonomía del estudiante, respetada gracias a la ausencia de una estructura asfixiante de poder centralizado. Otro aspecto es la franqueza y la autenticidad del maestro. 

Hay, hoy en día, una cierta religiosidad espiritual de clase media según la cual Jesucristo es alguien incapaz de una actitud áspera. De acuerdo con este punto de vista, no sólo Jesús, pero cualquier persona espiritual jamás puede o debe poner límites a los que actúan mal. Y cuando alguien lo hace recibe de inmediato la etiqueta de “no espiritual”, “poco evolucionado”, “insensible”, “hosco”, etc.

No es así, sin embargo, lo que vemos en Marcos 11:15-19.

El fenómeno de la limpieza del templo muestra una batalla abierta entre la sinceridad y la hipocresía. El evangelista dice:

“Y fueron a Jerusalén. Y él entró en el templo, comenzó a echar fuera a los que vendían y compraban; volcó las mesas de los cambistas y las sillas de los que vendían palomas. No permitía que nadie condujera cualquier utensilio por el templo; También les enseñó y dijo: ‘¿No está escrito que mi casa será llamada casa de oración para todas las naciones? Pero vosotros la habéis convertido en una cueva de ladrones.’ Entonces los escribas y los principales sacerdotes oyeron estas cosas, y buscaron una manera de quitarle la vida, porque toda la muchedumbre estaba maravillada de su doctrina. Al llegar la tarde, salieron de la ciudad”.

Es interesante observar que Jesús no usa medias palabras. Él dice que el templo fue transformado en nada menos que una “cueva de ladrones”. De este modo, los sacerdotes más notables pasan a tramar su muerte. La conclusión para nosotros - los estudiantes de la sabiduría antigua - es que el camino espiritual es peligroso. Este camino estrecho y difícil requiere coraje, desapego y determinación.

Por eso la metáfora del caminante espiritual como un guerrero es correcta desde el punto de vista de la filosofía esotérica.

La dimensión guerrera de Jesús aparece con fuerza en Mateo 23. Allí, a lo largo del capítulo, él desafía abiertamente los principios doctrinales dominantes en cualquier ocasión, y advierte contra la hipocresía religiosa presente en las más diversas épocas. Veamos un pequeño extracto  de este sermón fundamental: 

“... ¡Guías ciegos, que cuelan el mosquito y os tragáis el camello! ¡Ay de vosotros, escribas y fariseos, hipócritas, porque limpiáis lo de fuera del vaso y del plato, pero dentro estáis llenos de robo y de desenfreno! ¡Fariseo ciego, limpia primero lo de dentro del vaso y del plato, para que también su exterior se haga limpio!”(Mt 23, 24-26)

Y continúa:

“¡Ay de vosotros, escribas y fariseos, hipócritas, porque sois semejantes a sepulcros blanqueados, que por fuera lucen hermosos, pero por dentro están llenos de huesos muertos y de toda inmundicia! Así también vosotros por fuera parecéis justos a los hombres, pero dentro estáis llenos de hipocresía y de iniquidad.” (Mt 23:27-28)

Sin ninguna preocupación diplomática o apego a las palabras exteriormente amables, el severo Maestro Jesús los llama a los hipócritas “serpientes” y “raza de víboras” (Mt 23, 33). Antes él ya los había calificado de “insensatos y ciegos” (Mt 23: 17). La sinceridad, en Cristo, vale más que la cortesía obligatoria y meramente diplomática. Él sabía que la cortesía aparente, cuando obligatoria,  pasa a ser una cáscara externa que a menudo conduce a la falsedad y la ilusión.

La representación teatral de la bondad y la necesidad de satisfacer las expectativas de los demás a cualquier costo también provocan una incapacidad de tomar decisiones.

Por falta de fe en sí mismas, muchas personas se pasan la vida aplazando y evitando la elección de su propio camino. Estas personas avanzan o retroceden según la marea, como barcos sin timón, o barcos en los que no hay nadie en el timón.

Sobre la necesidad de tomar decisiones claras, Jesús dice:

“Nadie puede servir a dos señores; porque o aborrecerá a uno y amará al otro, o se apegará a uno y despreciará al otro. No podéis servir a Dios y a las riquezas” (Mateo 6: 24).

El Apocalipsis también condena fuertemente la indecisión, porque impide el avance a lo largo del camino. La conciencia divina dirige estas palabras al ángel de cierta iglesia:

“Yo conozco tus obras, que ni eres frío ni caliente. ¡Ojalá fueras frío o caliente! Pero por cuanto eres tibio, y no frío ni caliente, te vomitaré de mi boca”. (Ap. 3:16)

A continuación, el autor del Apocalipsis justifica su lenguaje duro. Él nos da un ejemplo vivo de la vieja y sabia tradición de que un verdadero maestro - o un hermano verdadero - no está preso de las palabras amables externamente, sino que trabaja con rigor y sinceridad:

“Yo reprendo y castigo a cuantos amo. Sé, pues, celoso, y arrepiéntete. He aquí, yo estoy a la puerta y llamo; si alguien oye mi voz y abre la puerta, entraré en su casa, y cenaré con él, y él conmigo.” (Apocalipsis 3: 19)

“Casa”, aquí, simboliza “alma”, consciencia. La voz del espíritu llama a la puerta de la consciencia del aprendiz.

El mismo rigor sin medias palabras entre compañeros del camino espiritual surge en muchos otros pasajes del Nuevo Testamento. Una vez, él va en un barco con sus discípulos cuando surge una gran tempestad. Los discípulos despiertan al maestro, asustados. Jesús reprende al viento, lo controla, y llama la atención a los alumnos:

“¿Por qué estáis así amedrentados? ¿Cómo no tenéis fe?” (Mc 04:40)

En otra ocasión, Jesús explica a sus discípulos que será necesario que él sufra muchas cosas. Él será rechazado por los ancianos, los sumos sacerdotes y los eruditos religiosos;  será asesinado y después de tres días va a resucitar. Al oír esto, Pedro lo llama aparte y empieza a estar en desacuerdo, tratando de defender la lógica del mundo y la comodidad.

Marcos, 8, narra la reacción del maestro a la actitud de Pedro:

“Jesús se volvió y, mirando a sus discípulos, reprendió a Pedro y le dijo: ‘¡Quítate de delante de mí, Satanás! Porque no pones la mira en las cosas de Dios, sino de los hombres’.”

Entonces, convocando a la multitud y sus discípulos: ‘Si alguien quiere venir en pos de mí, niéguese a sí mismo, tome su cruz y sígame’.”

El contraste entre error y acierto está claro. Aquí, vemos nuevamente la franqueza severa que es necesaria entre hermanos de camino, o entre maestro y discípulo.  Jesús manda “negarse a sí mismo y tomar su cruz” para poder seguirle.

“Tomar su cruz” significa asumir su proprio Karma. Es aceptar plena responsabilidad por su vida. No es rechazar o apegarse a las circunstancias desagradables o agradables, sino hacer lo que es correcto, plantando el bien y la verdad que se desea cosechar un día.

Sin embargo, cualquiera de nosotros puede bien pensar:

“Estas diferentes actitudes hostiles de Jesús son atípicas. El auténtico Jesús es el de Mateo, 5: 38-45 - Jesús de amor incondicional”.

Realmente, hay una fuerte contradicción entre las actitudes severas y las actitudes suaves de Jesús. ¿Podría ser este un signo de incoherencia del Maestro? No. De hecho, tenemos que aceptar que la actitud espiritual viva y dinámica. La coherencia no es sinónimo de inmovilidad emocional. El peregrino maduro tiene discernimiento como para saber cuándo hay que ser firme (en las cuestiones decisivas) y cuándo debe ser flexible (en las cuestiones secundarias).

Hablando de la venganza, por ejemplo, el maestro dice:

“Ya has oído lo que se dijo: Ojo por ojo, diente por diente. Pero yo os digo: No resistáis al que es malo, pero a cualquiera que te hiera en la mejilla derecha, ofrece también la otra mejilla; y para luchar contigo y llevará su túnica, déjale también el manto” (Mt 5, 38-40).

Estos párrafos no significan que un buen cristiano deba aferrarse, masoquisticamente, a algún acto de injusticia cometido contra él, buscando su repetición y su profundización. Eso no sería el amor o el respeto a sus enemigos. Como sabemos, no es buen Karma para nuestros enemigos hacer injusticias contra nosotros. Por lo tanto, si vamos a ayudarles, debemos evitar que ellos insistan en pisotear nuestros derechos.

Lo que se siembra, se cosecha.

El que hace injusticia a alguien está llamando desgracias para sí mismo. Si queremos el bien de nuestros opositores, tenemos que tomar medidas para evitar,  hasta donde sea posible, que se cometan injusticias o agresiones gratuitas contra nosotros o cualquier ser.

De hecho, el significado de los versículos anteriores es que el alumno deberá abstenerse de toda venganza personal o represalia contra los que le atacan. Coincidiendo con este pasaje del Nuevo Testamento, la filosofía esotérica oriental deja en claro que la búsqueda de la venganza está prohibida para los que deseen recorrer el camino espiritual. El establecimiento de relaciones justas y basadas en el respeto mutuo es esencial para caminar correctamente.

Consideremos ahora otra parte de la enseñanza de Jesús que se ha utilizado hasta la saciedad para justificar, erróneamente, la represión neurótica de la diversidad y la aceptación ilegítima de la injusticia.  Jesús afirma en el evangelio de Juan:

“Os doy un nuevo un nuevo mandamiento a: que os améis los unos a los otros. Así como yo os amé a vosotros, que también os améis los unos a los otros. Por esto conocerán a todos quienes son mis discípulos, porque tienen amor los unos a los otros.” (Juan 13:34-35)

Esta afirmación es absolutamente central. Corresponde también con un axioma milenario de las escuelas esotéricas de los Himalayas: el apoyo mutuo entre condiscípulos es mucho más que un deseo meramente emocional. Constituye una condición indispensable para el verdadero aprendizaje sobre la esencia de la vida. Sin ella, no hay eficiencia en la enseñanza o el aprendizaje. Debemos recordar, sin embargo, que poco antes Jesús alertara sobre el hecho de que había un traidor, había un Judas, entre sus discípulos más cercanos. (Juan 13:21-27)

Pero, ¿Qué es un Judas? 

Un  Judas no es más que una variedad más peligrosa de aquellos sepulcros blanqueados que vimos anteriormente, que son leales y puros en el exterior, pero en el interior huelen a podrido (Mateo 23).

El rigor y el afecto van juntos y son inseparables en lo que respecta a la trayectoria espiritual. En esto, el Nuevo Testamento es perfectamente coherente con la tradición esotérica oriental.

El camino del medio, que establece la armonía y el equilibrio entre los dos extremos de un total rigor y una total flexibilidad,  no es la lamentable combinación de un “medio rigor” con una “media flexibilidad”.

El camino del medio es tener un firme rigor en preguntas centrales, y una total flexibilidad en cuestiones secundarias.

Naturalmente, es necesario discernimiento para diferenciar lo secundario y lo esencial, y  resistencia para soportar las inevitables tormentas. El camino espiritual sólo puede ser recorrido si hay una buena dosis de persistencia, y también indiferencia al dolor personal.

El rigor y la buena voluntad son como dos pies en nuestro caminar. No hay ninguna razón para saltar en un solo pie. El camino del medio se abre ante nosotros cuando aprendemos a combinar conscientemente el uso de los dos hemisferios cerebrales, el analítico y el sintético.

El peregrino hace como los árboles, que crecen de forma flexible en sus las hojas (lo secundario) y con firmeza en el tronco (lo esencial).

Cuando afirmamos la afectividad (según Juan 13: 34-35), debemos examinarnos a nosotros mismos y examinar nuestras relaciones para ver si están libres de la hipocresía, la astucia y las segundas intenciones (según Mateo 23). Al mismo tiempo, cuando combatimos la falsedad, debemos examinar nuestros sentimientos para ver si se conserva la buena voluntad. La franqueza no puede destruir el afecto; el afecto no debe abandonar la verdad.

Porque el amor es la verdad cuando se expresa en el nivel emocional, así como la verdad es amor, cuando se expresa en el plano mental.

Mente y emoción son inseparables.  Verdad y amor son lo mismo.

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El texto “Jesucristo, el Guerrero de la Verdad”  fue traducido del portugués, en 2014, por Juan Taréis. Título original: “Jesus Cristo,  o Guerreiro da Verdade”.

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Acerca del papel del movimiento teosófico en el  despertar ético de la humanidad, lea el libro The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, de Carlos Cardoso Aveline.

  
Publicado en 2013 por The Aquarian Theosophist, el volumen tiene  255 páginas y puede ser obtenido en Amazon Books.

En Facebook, vea las páginas  Carlos Cardoso Aveline, The Aquarian Theosophist , y  E-Theosophy.

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Visite siempre las sesiones en lengua española de  www.Esoteric-Philosophy.com www.TheosophyOnline.com   www.FilosofiaEsoterica.com .


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14 July 2014

THE PROBLEM OF ETHICS

Chapter One of the
Book “Man for Himself”


Erich Fromm





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Ethics is a decisive factor
in Theosophy and Psychology.
The text below is reproduced from
the book “Man for Himself”, by Erich
Fromm, Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
New York, 15th Printing, November
1960, 254 pp., see Chapter One, pp. 3-7.

(C. C. A.)

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“Surely, I said, knowledge is the food
of the soul; and we must take care, my
friend, that the Sophist does not deceive
us when he praises what he sells, like the
dealers wholesale or retail who sell the food
of the body; for they praise indiscriminately
all their goods, without knowing what are really
beneficial or hurtful: neither do their customers
know, with the exception of any trainer or physician
who may happen to buy of them. In like manner
those who carry about the wares of knowledge, and
make the round of the cities, and sell or retail them
to any customer who is in want of them, praise them
all alike; though I should not wonder, O my friend, if
many of them were really ignorant of their effect upon
the soul; and their customers equally ignorant, unless
he who buys of them happens to be a physician of the
soul. If, therefore, you have understanding of what is
good and evil you may safely buy knowledge of
Protagoras or any one; but if not, then, O my friend,
pause, and do not hazard your dearest interests at a
game of chance. For there is far greater peril in buying
knowledge than in buying meat and drink (…).”

Plato, in Protagoras




A spirit of pride and optimism has distinguished Western culture in the last few centuries: pride in reason as man’s instrument for his understanding and mastery of nature; optimism in the fulfillment of the fondest hopes of mankind, the achievement of the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

Man’s pride has been justified. By virtue of his reason he has built a material world the reality of which surpasses even the dreams and visions of fairy tales and utopias. He harnesses physical energies which will enable the human race to secure the material conditions necessary for a dignified and productive existence, and although many of his goals have not yet been attained there is hardly any doubt that they are within reach and that the problem of production - which was the problem of the past - is, in principle, solved. Now, for the first time in his history, man can perceive that the idea of the unity of the human race and the conquest of nature for the sake of man is no longer a dream but a realistic possibility. Is he not justified in being proud and in having confidence in himself and in the future of mankind?

Yet modern man feels uneasy and more and more bewildered. He works and strives, but he is dimly aware of a sense of futility with regard to his activities. While his power over matter grows, he feels powerless in his individual life and in society. While creating new and better means for mastering nature, he has become enmeshed in a network of those means and has lost the vision of the end which alone gives them significance - man himself. While becoming the master of nature, he has become the slave of the machine which his own hands built. With all his knowledge about matter, he is ignorant with regard to the most important and fundamental questions of human existence: what man is, how he ought to live, and how the tremendous energies within man can be released and used productively.

The contemporary human crisis has led to a retreat from the hopes and ideas of the Enlightenment under the auspices of which our political and economic progress had begun. The very idea of progress is called a childish illusion, and “realism”, a new word for the utter lack of faith in man, is preached instead. The idea of the dignity and power of man, which gave man the strength and courage for the tremendous accomplishments of the last few centuries, is challenged by the suggestion that we have to revert to the acceptance of man’s ultimate powerlessness and insignificance. This idea threatens to destroy the very roots from which our culture grew.

The ideas of the Enlightenment taught man that he could trust his own reason as a guide to establishing valid ethical norms and that he could rely on himself, needing neither revelation nor the authority of the church in order to know good and evil. The motto of the Enlightenment, “dare to know”, implying “trust your knowledge”, became the incentive for the efforts and achievements of modern man.

The growing doubt of human autonomy and reason has created a state of moral confusion where man is left without the guidance of either revelation or reason. The result is the acceptance of a relativistic position which proposes that value judgments and ethical norms are exclusively matters of taste or arbitrary preference and that no objectively valid statement can be made in this realm. But since man can not live without values and norms, this relativism makes him an easy prey for irrational value systems. He reverts to a position which the Greek Enlightenment, Christianity, the Renaissance, and the eighteenth-century Enlightenment had already overcome. The demands of the State, the enthusiasm for magic qualities of powerful leaders, powerful machines, and material success become the sources for his norms and value judgments.

Are we to leave it at that? Are we to consent to the alternative between religion and relativism? Are we to accept the abdication of reason in matters of ethics? Are we to believe that the choices between freedom and slavery, between love and hate, between truth and falsehood, between integrity and opportunism, between life and death, are only the results of so many subjective preferences?

Indeed, there is another alternative. Valid ethical norms can be formed by man’s reason and by it alone. Man is capable of discerning and making value judgments as valid as all other judgments derived from reason. The great tradition of humanistic ethical thought has laid the foundations for value systems based on man’s autonomy and reason. These systems were built on the premise that in order to know what is good or bad for man one has to know the nature of man. They were, therefore, also fundamentally psychological inquiries.

If humanistic ethics is based on the knowledge of man’s nature, modern psychology, particularly psychoanalysis, should have been one of the most potent stimuli for the development of humanistic ethics. But while psychoanalysis has tremendously increased our knowledge of man, it has not increased our knowledge of how man ought to live and what he ought to do. Its main function has been that of “debunking”, of demonstrating that value judgments and ethical norms are the rationalized expressions of irrational - and often unconscious - desires and fears, and that they therefore have no claim to objective validity. While this debunking was exceedingly valuable in itself, it became increasingly sterile when it failed to go beyond mere criticism.

Psychoanalysis, in an attempt to establish psychology as a natural science, made the mistake of divorcing psychology from problems of philosophy and ethics. It ignored the fact that  human personality can not be understood unless we look at man in his totality, which includes his need to find an answer to the question of the meaning of his existence and to discover norms according to which he ought to live. Freud’s “homo psychologicus” is just as much an unrealistic construction as was the “homo economicus” of classical economics. It is impossible to understand man and his emotional and mental disturbances without understanding the nature of value and moral conflicts. The progress of psychology lies not in the direction of divorcing an alleged “natural” from an alleged “spiritual” realm and focusing attention on the former, but in the return to the great tradition of humanistic ethics which looked at man in his physico-spiritual totality, believing that man’s aim is to be himself and that the condition for attaining this goal is that man be for himself. [1]

I have written this book [2] with the intention of reaffirming the validity of humanistic ethics, to show that our knowledge of human nature does not lead to ethical relativism but, on the contrary, to the conviction that the sources of norms for ethical conduct are to be found in man’s nature itself; that moral norms are based upon man’s inherent qualities, and that their violation results in mental and emotional disintegration. I shall attempt to show that the character structure of the mature and integrated personality, the productive character, constitutes the source and the basis of “virtue” and that “vice”, in the last analysis, is indifference to one’s own self and self-mutilation. Not self-renunciation nor selfishness but self-love, not the negation of the individual but the affirmation of his truly human self, are the supreme values of humanistic ethics. If man is to have confidence in values, he must know himself and the capacity of his nature for goodness and productiveness.

NOTES:

[1] A Master of the Wisdom wrote: “It is divine philosophy alone, the spiritual and psychic blending of man with nature, which, by revealing the fundamental truths, that lie hidden under the objects of sense and perception, can promote a spirit of unity and harmony in spite of the great diversities of conflicting creeds. (……) And this ethical standard must be unflinchingly applied to daily life.” See the first lines in the text “Some Words On Daily Life”, by “A Master of the Wisdom”, which can be found at   www.TheosophyOnline.com  and its associated websites. (C.C.A.)

[2] “This book”, that is, “Man for Himself”. (C.C.A.)

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On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.


 

Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.

On Facebook, see the pages The Aquarian Theosophist  and  E-Theosophy.
  


 
 
If you want to have access to a daily study of the original teachings of Theosophy, write to  lutbr@terra.com.br  and ask for information on the e-group  E-Theosophy.


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9 July 2014

FREEDOM FROM ATTACHMENT TO PAIN

Understanding the Causes of Sadomasochism,
In Intimate Relationships as in Social Structures 


Erich Fromm



 An Ethical View of Life Widens One’s Horizons



An Editorial Note

Life implies a degree of suffering. “Pain” or “Dukkha” corresponds to the first Noble Truth of Buddhism.  However, there is an unnecessary attachment to pain in human soul, and there may even exist a desire to cause suffering, whether to oneself or to others. Such a double impulse is often involuntary. Human individuals learn to get rid of such a disease as they search for wisdom and happiness. 

Masochism is entirely different from self-sacrifice. A generous renunciation to comfort belongs to the higher self and implies an indifference to personal pain or pleasure. Such a stoic attitude is ethically and philosophically correct. It is theosophical. It produces equilibrium. Attachment or rejection to pain or to pleasure, on the other hand, are both expressions of spiritual ignorance and threaten the individual’s emotional balance.

This set of unhealthy impulses is at the root of all systematic hatred among nations. It explains wars, long and short. It marks many a social movement and political conflict. It is present in struggles involving the conquest of “political power” within the modern theosophical movement. Conventional religious devotion often has a sadistic or masochist trend which stimulates religious conflicts, violence and intolerance, in the Middle East and elsewhere. Satisfaction in pain is not exclusively social: Erich Fromm shows that no family or marriage is easily free from attachment to suffering as a cause of false satisfaction. And freedom comes from understanding its whole process. 

The following text by Erich Fromm is a fragment of his 1941 extraordinary book “Escape from Freedom”. [1] It discusses the individual and collective “pleasure” involved in inflicting pain to others or in feeling pain oneself.

In order to make a deeper reading easier, we have divided longer paragraphs into shorter ones.


(Carlos Cardoso Aveline)


Freedom from Attachment to Pain



Erich Fromm

The first mechanism of escape from freedom I am going to deal with is the tendency to give up the independence of one’s own individual self and to fuse one’s self with somebody or something outside of oneself in order to acquire the strength which the individual self is lacking. Or, to put it in different words, to seek for new, “secondary bonds” as a substitute for the primary bonds which have been lost.

The more distinct forms of this mechanism are to be found in the striving for submission and domination, or, as we would rather put it, in the masochistic and sadistic strivings as they exist in varying degrees in normal and neurotic persons respectively.  We shall first describe these tendencies and then try to show that both of them are an escape from an unbearable aloneness.

The most frequent forms in which masochistic strivings appear are feelings of inferiority, powerlessness, individual insignificance. The analysis of persons who are obsessed by these feelings shows that, while they consciously complain about these feelings and want to get rid of them, unconsciously some power within themselves drives them to feel inferior or insignificant. Their  feelings are more than realizations of actual shortcomings and weaknesses (although they are usually rationalized as though they were); these persons show a tendency to belittle themselves, to make themselves weak, and not to master things.

Quite regularly these people show a marked dependence on powers outside themselves, on other people, or institutions, or nature. They tend not to assert themselves, not to do what they want, but to submit to the factual or alleged orders of these outside forces. Often they are quite incapable of experiencing the feeling “I want” or “I am”. Life, as a whole, is felt by them as something overwhelmingly powerful, which they cannot master or control.

In the more extreme cases - and there are many - one finds besides these tendencies to belittle oneself and to submit to outside forces a tendency to hurt oneself and to make oneself suffer.

This tendency can assume various forms. We find that there are people who indulge in self-accusation and self-criticism which even their worst enemies would scarcely bring against them. There are others, such as certain compulsive neurotics, who tend to torture themselves with compulsory rites and thoughts. In a certain type of neurotic personality we find a tendency to become physically ill, and to wait, consciously or unconsciously, for an illness as if it were a gift of the gods.

Often they incur accidents which would not have happened had there not been at work an unconscious tendency to incur them. These tendencies directed against themselves are often revealed in still less overt or dramatic forms. For instance, there are persons who are incapable of answering questions in an examination when the answers are very well known to them at the time of the examination and even afterwards. There are others who say things which antagonize those whom they love or on whom they are dependent, although actually they feel friendly toward them and did not intend to say those things. With such people, it almost seems as if they were following advice given them by an enemy to behave in such a way as to be most detrimental to themselves.

The masochistic trends are often felt as plainly pathological or irrational. More frequently they are rationalized. Masochistic dependency is conceived as love or loyalty, inferiority feelings as an adequate expression of actual shortcomings, and one’s suffering as being entirely due to unchangeable circumstances.

Besides these masochistic trends, the very opposite of them, namely, sadistic tendencies, are regularly to be found in the same kind of characters. They vary in strength, are more or less conscious, yet they are never missing. We find three kinds of sadistic tendencies, more or less closely knit together.

One is to make others dependent on oneself and to have absolute and unrestricted power over them, so as to make of them nothing but instruments, “clay in the potter’s hand”.

Another consists of the impulse not only to rule over others in this absolute fashion, but to exploit them, to use them, to steal from them, to disembowel them, and, so to speak, to incorporate anything eatable in them. This desire can refer to material things as well as to immaterial ones, such as the emotional or intellectual qualities a person has to offer.

A third kind of sadistic tendency is the wish to make others suffer or to see them suffer. This suffering can be physical, but more often it is mental suffering. Its aim is to hurt actively, to humiliate, embarrass others, or to see them in embarrassing and humiliating situations.

Sadistic tendencies for obvious reasons are usually less conscious and more rationalized than the socially more harmless masochistic trends. Often they are entirely covered up by reaction formations of overgoodness or overconcern for others. Some of the most frequent rationalizations are the following: “I rule over you because I know what is best for you, and in your own interest you should follow me without opposition.”  Or, “I am so wonderful and unique, that I have a right to expect that other people become dependent on me.”  

Another rationalization which often covers the exploiting tendencies is:

“I have done so much for you, and now I am entitled to take from you what I want.”  

The more aggressive kind of sadistic impulses finds its most frequent rationalization in two forms: “I have been hurt by others and my wish to hurt them is nothing but retaliation”, or, “By striking first I am defending myself or my friends against the danger of being hurt”.

There is one factor in the relationship of the sadistic person to the object of his sadism which is often neglected and therefore deserves especial emphasis here: his dependence on the object of his sadism.

While the masochistic person’s dependence is obvious, our expectation with regard to the sadistic person is just the reverse: he seems so strong and domineering, and the object of his sadism so weak and submissive, that it is difficult to think of the strong one as being dependent on the one over whom he rules. And yet close analysis shows that this is true.

The sadist needs the person over whom he rules, he needs him very badly, since his own feeling of strength is rooted in the fact that he is the master over someone. This dependence may be entirely unconscious. Thus, for example, a man may treat his wife very sadistically and tell her repeatedly that she can leave the house any day and that he would be only too glad if she did. Often she will be so crushed that she will not dare to make an attempt to leave, and therefore they both will continue to believe that what he says is true.

But if she musters up enough courage to declare that she will leave him, something quite unexpected to both of them may happen: he will become desperate, break down, and beg her not to leave him; he will say he cannot live without her, and will declare how much he loves her and so on. Usually, being afraid of asserting herself anyhow, she will be prone to believe him, change her decision and stay. At this point the play starts again. He resumes his old behaviour, she finds it increasingly difficult to stay with him, explodes again, he breaks down again, she stays, and so on and on many times.

There are thousands upon thousands of marriages and other personal relationships in which this cycle is repeated again and again, and the magic circle is never broken through. Did he lie when he said he loved her so much that he could not live without her? As far as love is concerned, it all depends on what one means by love. As far as his assertion goes that he could not live without her, it is - of course not taking it literally -perfectly true. He cannot live without her - or at least without someone else whom he feels to be the helpless instrument in his hands.

While in such a case feelings of love appear only when the relationship threatens to be dissolved,  in other cases the sadistic person quite manifestly “loves” those over whom he feels power. Whether it is his wife, his child, an assistant, a waiter, or a beggar on the street, there is a feeling of “love” and even gratitude for those objects of his domination. He may think that he wishes to dominate their lives because he loves them so much. He actually “loves” them because he dominates them. He bribes them with material things, with praise, assurances of love, the display of wit and brilliance, or by showing concern. He may give them everything - everything except one thing: the right to be free and independent.

This constellation is often to be found particularly in the relationship of parents and children. There, the attitude of domination - and ownership - is often covered by what seems to be the “natural” concern or feeling of protectiveness for a child. The child is put into a golden cage, it can have everything provided it does not want to leave the cage. The result of this is often a profound fear of love on the part of the child when he grows up, as “love” to him implies being caught and blocked in his own quest for freedom.

NOTE:

[1] “Escape from Freedom”, by Erich Fromm, Rinehart & Company, New York - Toronto, 1941, 305 pp. The fragment is on pp. 141-147 and belongs to the item “Authoritarianism”, which is part of chapter V, entitled “Mechanisms of Escape”. We have compared the 1941 edition with the 1965 edition of “Escape from Freedom”, Avon Books, Discus Books, 333 pp. 

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See also the text “Love Without Violence”, by Erich Fromm, which is available at www.TheosophyOnline.com , www.Esoteric-Philosophy.com and www.FilosofiaEsoterica.com .

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On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.


Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.

On Facebook, see the pages The Aquarian TheosophistE-Theosophy, and  Carlos Cardoso Aveline.

 


In order to have access to a daily study of the original teachings of Theosophy, visit https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/E-Theosophy/info and join the YahooGroup E-TheosophyYou can also write to  lutbr@terra.com.br  and ask for information on our regular studies.

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