aloha_gary wrote:Is there anyone out there who is familiar enough to answer these questions?
I have quite a collection of books by members of the Theosophical Society, including The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled (I have a rare copy signed by Alice Bailey when she was head of the society in 1919, and gifted to a member as a Christmas present.) so I'll give this a good stab, if you like.
aloha_gary wrote:1) Her books seem to draw heavily on the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita and other Eastern texts, so are they simply a summary, or a westernised version for easy(!) consumption by westerners?
Blavatsky (HPB) claimed that her primary source was an ancient Tibettan script called the Book Of Dzyan, which (According to the Secret Doctrine part 1) was written down some 10,000 years ago, having passed by word-of-mouth for some 300,000 years previously. Whether such a document actually exists is open to conjecture, but it was HPB's assertion that this provided the basis for the Rig Veda, Bhagavad Ghita and other texts, which in turn led to the Kabalah and Gnostic texts. It was her goal to provide a common linking motif between all the major world religions, by indicating that they have a common root. Although The Secret Doctrine is somewhat heavy going, it is worthwhile to the persistent, as in my case, this led to an interest in Buddhism, and reading her texts certainly helped me to understand some of the terminologies discussed in tracts such as the Dhammapadha, and the Suddharma Pundarikha, so in that context they do provide a ready guide to Eastern mysticism for the Western layman- especially considering that the mystically minded and more educated late Victorians the works were aimed at were, by and large, better read than the average person of the present day.
aloha_gary wrote:2) Do they add anything to Hindu, Taoist or Buddhist teachings etc, and if so what?
As I have mentioned in point 1, they do help in making some of these teachings easier to grasp for the Western mindset, mainly by direct comparison to the Western tracts that HPB claimed they were the direct predecessors of.
aloha_gary wrote:3) To get specific in only one area, Blavatsky asserts that Karma arises from our past lives.
a)In Hawaiian Huna (or at least the elders I've spoken to) say that all Karma arises in THIS lifetime only, and to blame past life times is to give yourself an easier ride. For example, I've heard people say they are fat in this lifetime because they starved in a previous one. Hawaiians would say, nope it's all down to you now. Hawaiians would also say ALL Karma is changeable by you right now in the moment, and that it is our purpose in this lifetime to clear up your past and by so doing raise your vibration, and to be fair, many other esoteric traditions also say this.
b) In Druidry, there is much focus on clearing our Ancestral karma or 'baggage', which from a scientific point of view makes sense as our DNA originates from our parents, and theirs from their parents and so on. Following Dr Bruce Lipton in 'The Biology of Belief' our DNA changes with our environment and life experiences, so perhaps 'karma' is simply genetic emotional baggage? E.g., a therapist friend was telling me she has recently cleared a lot of ancestral baggage arising out of world war 2, the people at the time being too traumatised to deal with it there and then, and so this passed down through genes for resolution!
Interesting idea, yes?
The one thing I began to notice when reading both Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine is that there were many passages that seemed to predate scientific discoveries by at least a century or so. For example, in The Secret Doctrine, HPB explains that the universe began as a single point of matter, which then expanded infinitessimally until it reached its' present size, and which continues to expand. While this doesn't much resemble the Big Bang theory, it does sound greatly like the theory of Universal Expansion that was posited about a year ago in New Scientist
magazine. In this theory, (Which is over-simplified here) quantum fluctuations in the space-time continuum led to a particle of matter forming, which then caused instability in the continuum in the form of a bubble, which, by its' nature, then expanded exponentially, which in turn caused further fluctuations that caused more particles to form within this bubble, thus further accellerating the expansion and in turn creating our universe. In Isis Unveiled, HPB also mentions how priests in Egypt used to show very detailed images to initiates using light reflected and focussed through crystal lenses and mirrors. This greatly reminded me of laser holography, which uses rubies to focus laser beams, and which were unknown to us until we invented them in the 1960s.
Based on this and many other instances in her books, I began to take great interest, and often wondered if it was possible for any of the other articles in her books could be explained by quantum physics. It was with great fascination that I began to read Tony's book ITLAD, as I could see how some of these things could have come about. My own personal pet theory is that reincarnation can be explained by the CTF theorem, and that reincarnation actually refers to the CTF event, with the universal higher plane of consciousness being our Daemon. In this case, our karma would be the accumulated foreknowledge of our Daemon- attained during our Virgin Life- and that our Daemon, by precognition, deja-vu and other phenomena, can clue us in to forthcoming events and thus help us to make different decisions that will place us within another Everett Universe; thus enabling us to 'repay our karmic debt'. Elsewhere on this board, there is also the 'Bucket and Sea' theory, which has given me much food for thought on the whole issue of reincarnation, past-life experiences and karma.
In my humble opinion, and for what little it's worth.
"Don't wait for the light at the end of the tunnel- stomp off down there and turn the darn thing on for yourself" - Sarah Millican.