Radha Burnier – India
From the private collection of Ananya Sri Ram Rajan. Radha Burnier in Brazil, 1974
[Recognizing regeneration as the kernel of all Theosophical work, the International Theosophical Centre at Naarden, the Netherlands, jointly with the Federation of Theosophical Societies in Europe, organized two seminars in July 1990, with a number of office bearers, workers and members of the Society from different countries as participants. Proceedings of the seminar were published as a book under the title Human Regeneration: Lectures and Discussion (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij der Theosofische Vereniging in Nederland, 1990). This chapter (discussions) is here slightly revised.]
Our Approach to Theosophy - What is Theosophy?
GW: It is the art of living.
RB: That is a very good and brief description. The word ‘art’ conveys the idea of beauty harmony, sense of proportion – many things.
HG: In my lodge the consensus was that it is a belief in the oneness of all life.
LR: Perhaps it is divine and human cooperation, or spiritual and human cooperation.
EA: We should not make a concept of Theosophy or define it. It is a method of approaching life that implies questioning; a Theosophical mind is a questioning mind.
CB: A meaningful answer to this question can only come in dialogue between a person who asks with genuine interest and someone to whom the question can be asked.
RB: Did Helen’s lodge mean belief in the unity of life, or realization of the unity of life? If we only believe, it does not amount to much. The unity must manifest itself in daily life. As Einar said, this will always remain a question. Even when we feel we understand what theosophy is, the same question should arise again, for we need to understand theosophy in a deeper way and get to the heart of things.
Is it necessary to go through suffering, in order to arrive at truth? What place have suffering and sorrow, as far as a fundamental change is concerned?
LR: We can understand suffering if we also try to understand happiness. We are happy when we expand, when we understand more truth. We suffer when we decrease, when we are under pressure. In approaching truth, first we have a vision of some true idea. If we really understand it, then we try to put it into practice, which causes difficulty, because our personality and our surroundings create obstacles. But this force is pushing us. It is like what artists may feel when they have a vision, an experience and want to create something to express it. They always suffer when they try to express it, because it is difficult to deal with matter. The idea and the experience are there, but to express them in the material world means suffering. One is never really successful in expressing the experience, but one can approach it. So we suffer mostly when we by to understand or approach truth. We can approach truth but in reality we rarely reach it or succeed in putting it into practice. This is a kind of suffering.
NJ: First we see personal suffering in the world, e.g. poverty, illness, pain. Yet there is another kind of suffering. You can suffer from ignorance or from not being in a natural state of bliss. All the misery that we see in the world is a reflector of our inner turmoil. Do we suffer because we see ourselves as individual beings, as separate? To have true perception, to see the truth, we have to dissolve this sense of separateness, this ego, the thing I call 'myself'. That is a very painful process. There is also joy in it but, to destroy yourself, you have to suffer. I don't think there is any other way.
SL: Suffering is the result of resistance. Maybe ending resistance is the only way to be free of suffering.
CB-W: Is the lower self or the higher self-suffering? The higher self must often suffer when it sees the lower self-stumble and fail. When you try to be in harmony with all things, you can be happy and still grow towards fundamental change.
FI: In all Greek traditions, as in the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and in the philosophy of the kleshas in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it is said that we suffer because we attach ourselves to the personality, to what we think is the ‘me’. So perhaps suffering is necessary for us to find out what we are and what we are not.
RB: Nicky suggested that suffering is within ourselves, suffering is the egotism which is the ‘me.' We think suffering comes from outside and we say: ‘Can it help me to bring about change or not?’ But does it come from outside? There may be difficulties outside, such as earthquakes. That is different from the psychological problems we have, that is the suffering through loneliness, frustrated ambition, anxiety about security, etc. Ultimately all suffering can be reduced to the desire of the ego and its frustrations over not obtaining that desire. So we should not separate the ‘me' from the suffering. The ‘me’ is suffering. If the ‘me’ did not exist, there would be no suffering.
So is it necessary? Suffering is not necessary in order for me to undergo a fundamental change, because the ‘me’ is the suffering. The fundamental change comes when the 'me' dies. Then there is no suffering. Perhaps we can also say suffering is necessary because egoism seems to be a necessary part of the involutionary process. We all seem to be born with it. Certain philosophical schools say egoism and suffering have no beginning, but they will end. When the ego sense ends, suffering ends.
What is the difference between spontaneous action and impulsive or reactive action? Is there a relationship between intuition and impulses and hunches?
CB: I do not think there is any relation between impulses or hunches and spontaneous action.
RB: A reaction appears spontaneous because it can be quick. If somebody hits you, you react immediately. In what way is this different from spontaneous action?
CB: Impulse or reaction comes from the content of the mind. Spontaneous action is the action of a consciousness free from the impulses and influences of the mind. It is beyond thought. It comes from a fresh fountain within.
LR: Reactive action is connected with the vehicles of our personality, and their consciousness built by habit and heritage into the nervous system, the psyche and the sub-conscious. Spontaneous action differs from such reaction, because it comes from deep inside ourselves, without premeditation. Spontaneous action can be sometimes very creative.There is another class of action which we have not really considered.
MD:There is action which takes place out of habit. Every time it deepens the groove of habit within and it reinforces itself. There is the kind of action which takes place because ‘I’ am in the centre and I like it or do not like it. The next kind of action would seem to be an act of will, accepting events, thinking, creating, a deliberate karma-forming action, either good or bad. Finally there is the spontaneous kind which occurs because ‘this’ [meaning oneself] is out of the way altogether. It has simply to do with what is needed, what is drawing forth the action.
PO: The mind may be very active, but there may be a lack of awareness in a very active mind. The mind, having as its basis the brain, is bound to be reactive. As long as a state of attentiveness or perception is absent, reactions take place, and never spontaneous action arising from a deeper source within.
RB: Attention or awareness must bring to light that separative self which Someone feels hurt. He may not react outwardly but if he nurses the hurt, that is also reaction. Why does one feel hurt, dishonored? The Bhagavad Gita declares there is a state in which there is no honor or dishonor, no feeling of gain or loss. We are not aware that what is hurt is the self-image. If a person does not have a self-image, a preconception that the other person ought to regard him with respect, and so on, he does not feel hurt at any time. So awareness is necessary to see the existence of the self-image. Then there is the power ‘to be as nothing’, mentioned in Light on the Path.
To be continued