European School of Theosophy 2017
The EuST 2017 was, perhaps, one of the best I have ever attended. It not only allowed the participants to discuss in depth the subjects explored, but also the study sessions and discussions involved quite a lot of depth. In the opening ceremony of the School, Erica Georgiades explained the aims of the School, introduced the speakers and made some comments on H.P.B.'s life, more specifically on her research about Agardi Mitrovitch and the incident with Yuri. This was followed by an aria once performed by Mitrovitch when he played the role of Count Rodolfo in La Sonnambula by Vincenzo Bellini. Click here to listen to it.
The study sessions conducted by Jon Knebel focused on The Theosophical Movement & the Spiritual Path. This included a discussion of the objects of the Theosophical Society, how they changed over time and what we think about their role in the work of the TS, as well as in relation to the issues we face in the contemporary world. This was followed by a detailed reading of the Mahachohan's Letter, in which the viewpoint on what ideally should be the work of the Theosophical Society is the central issue. One of the questions raised during the discussion of this letter, was the Christian language used by the Mahachohan whilst promoting esoteric and exoteric Buddhism. For instance, notions such as "preach," "religion," and the "white dove of truth" are intrinsically associated with Christian Western thought and culture. After this, Jon focused on the letter "Some Words on Daily Life," which among other things suggested that "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."
The study sessions directed by Pablo and Michele Sender explored The ‘Spiritual Path, Probation & Discipleship’. They opened their first session focusing on The Two Paths as outlined by Subba Row, the Religious and the Occult Path. Some discussion was raised about the problem of such division and the parameter used to establish what is religious and what is not. After this, they focused on Probation: its Nature and Laws and Life as a Disciple. Overall, Pablo's and Michele's presentation comprised of reading and commenting epigraphs of H.P.B., Subba Row, Mohini, and others. Quite a lot of discussion on the meaning of some Sanskrit terms was raised. Their study sessions exploring the many layers linked to the notion of Spiritual Path.
The lectures presented by Erica Georgiades focused on Theosophy & the Spiritual Path. The first lecture explored the meaning of the word Theosophy; the problem of definition; Theosophy & Neo-Platonism and the many different interpretations H.P.B. gave to the term Theosophy. For instance, Theosophy as doctrine; Theosophy as mysteries hidden in mythological accounts and metaphoric discourse able to be unveiled only by persons initiated in the mysteries of the mind; Theosophy as a perennial ethical system, consequently, as a transformative agent in our lives and more. The second lecture focused on the Spiritual Path; Sophia & the Divine. One of the subjects which raised quite a lot of discussion was related to the notion of consciousness. The term consciousness is quite controversial. The concept was coined by the philosopher John Locke (1632 – 1704) in his theory of mind and is closely related to the Cartesian School of Thought. Prior to Locke, the term consciousness did not exist. So, what was the way perennial philosophy interpreted the mind, prior to the term consciousness being coined?
The study session conducted by Gary Kidgell focused on The Inner Journey. Gary discussed and interpreted a number of symbols and demonstrated how they are related to the idea of an 'inner journey’, unfolding different layers of awareness. He did so by outlining some archetypes of spiritual transformation such as the symbolism of the chrysalis; the Norse myth of Odin; the symbolism of hero myths and more. He closed by saying: "The Caucasian Eagle which pecks at the liver of Prometheus is representative of the five senses and the spiritually excruciating effects which they exert upon one who is governed by one’s instincts and desires. When seeking to effect spiritual transformation, one must effectively release one’s subjective Prometheus whereby one may then access the spiritual fire on the “Burning Ground” of initiation." Overall, it was a very engaging presentation followed by a rich discussion on symbols and metaphors related to the Spiritual Path.
The Musical Bouquet of Flowers, in honour of Ingrid Eberhard-Evans, was organised by Martie Velthuis at the Chrystal House. It was a beautiful and inspiring evening.
The study sessions directed by David Nieuwejaers focused on Plotinus on the Spiritual Path: Truth - Virtue - Beauty. The first session was a general introduction to Plotinus’s philosophy. It also emphasised the importance of the Neo-Platonic tradition in the writings of H.P.B.: "In the beginning of her book The Key to Theosophy H. P. Blavatsky postulates that the origin of Western esoterism and mysticism lies in the Neo-Platonic School founded in Alexandria by Ammonius Saccas (3rd century A.D.)". The following study sessions focused on the three dimensions of the Spiritual Path in the Neo-Platonic tradition: truth, virtue and beauty: "Truth consists in the comprehension of Reality, representing an intellectual element, to which traditional spiritual teaching bears witness. Virtue has to do with our conformation to Reality, representing a volitive element, for what a sincere man knows to be true, he also wills to be. Beauty constitutes the configuration of Reality, representing an affective and aesthetic element, to which belong the beauty of virgin nature, symbolism, and sacred art. In short, an authentic spiritual life depends upon doctrine, ethics and aesthetics". Overall the study sessions were very interesting because it introduced the participants into some of the main precepts of the Neo-Platonic Tradition.