In this article I like to make the case that Theosophy
has not been sufficiently exposed to one of the West's most
fruitful philosophical movement, phenomenology, as founded
by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl and further developed
and/or radicalized by philosophers like Max Scheler, Martin
Heidegger, Eugen Fink, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty,
Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas and many more.
As complex both schools of thought are, the more complex
their possible interactions. Following are six reasons why
I think interaction is important, the linchpin being point
IV, in which I try to bring out a few of phenomenology's
crucial findings and their possible applications in Theosophy.
I. Appropriating Phenomenological Philosophy
The subtitle of H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine
makes the quite extraordinary claim by proclaiming the book
in its subtitle The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and
Philosophy. These fields of endeavour are continuously
changing, creating ever-new hypotheses, laws, insights,
even going through radical transformations like paradigm-shifts.
In order to stay contemporary and dynamic, it behooves Theosophy
to understand, compare, elucidate and incorporate these
many advances into its synthesis. So far in the fields of
transpersonal psychology, psycho-therapy, parapsychology,
religious studies, physics, biology, ecology, Asian thought,
history of esotericism, cross-cultural understanding and
many other fields, Theosophy has either contributed significantly
or functioned as an understanding and sympathetic clearing-house.
[1a] What seems to be missing is a critical
evaluation and appropriation of post-Blavatskyan Western
thought especially phenomenology in its many variations.
With its rich and fruitful insights and methods phenomenology
can be important for the deeper understanding of relevant
Theosophical themes as:
a) Consciousness in general in its structures and dynamics
b) Religious, mystic and occult experiences 
c) The hidden power of 'categorial intuition' (see point
II. Updating Theosophy by Phenomenological Philosophy
Besides appropriating phenomenology into Theosophy from
a Theosophical point of view, the tables could be turned
by giving phenomenological philosophy a chance to bring
Theosophy to a deeper philosophical self-understanding.
Phenomenology could elucidate, for example, the essential
demarcation between--and interactive complementarity of--science,
religion and philosophy, and thereby lay out an internal
dynamic of Theosophy. One idea that could be explored is
the way science, religion and philosophy can work as a system
of checks and balances upon each other, thereby evading
materialism in science, dogmatism in theology, post-modern
relativism in philosophy and other aberrations. Another
Theosophical subject phenomenology can contribute to is
the question of the seven constituent principles of man.
Can these principles be phenomenologically understood in
their essential differences and unity as different ontological
regions, or ways of being? As far as I have tried, I think
that is the case. [3a] More importantly
is the possibility that phenomenology can help Theosophy
in understanding and re-experiencing its own roots and origin
of its meaning, thereby countering the tendency of its self-interpretation
into superficiality, self-alienation and self-forgetfulness.
III. The Spiritualization of Phenomenology
In one of the Mahatma Letters an appeal went out that is
eminently applicable to phenomenology: "The crest wave
of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided
into spirituality."  As phenomenology
is a fruitful open-ended research-program with "infinite
tasks," it tends to be molded and appropriated by many
different anti-spiritual, if not anti-esoteric tendencies
like Marxism, fascism, absurdism, relativism, nihilism,
Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. Theosophy should enter
the fray of the ongoing discussions by presenting its own
spiritualized interpretation of phenomenology and, with
the tools of phenomenology, present more precise refutations
of its alternatives. Too many young people are sucked into
the quagmire of scientistic, fundamentalist or post-modern
relativistic worldviews, which doesn't need to be so.
An intriguing field of research would be a Theosophical
investigation of Heidegger's philosophical development.
Heidegger's development can be understood as a phenomenological
self-interpretation of his own underlying theological and
spiritual development in his grand quest for the meaning
of Being. This latter development can then be understood
within a Theosophical framework as steps on the initiatic
path, with a troubling slip-up. Theosophy, in its capacity
of interpreting history along esoteric lines, can also help
illuminate this troubling aspect, i.e. the very thorny issue
of Heidegger's mistaken vision of Hitler and his occult-political
sect the Nazis as
some new revelation of Being potentially
open to overcome the dead-end techno-centric metaphysics
of the West. Overlooked aspects feeding
at a sub-conscious level into Heidegger's complex motivations
in his aim at becoming Germany's philosophical Führer,
would be the collective conscious and sub-conscious messiah
expectations unleashed worldwide by Theosophy's World Teacher
Project with Krishnamurti. And connected with that, Theosophy
can help in understanding the occult mind manipulations
by Hitler and the Nazis--who projected themselves as such
saviors into the vacuum left by the abrogation of fore-mentioned
project--not the least by the fact that the Nazis appropriated
many Theosophical ideas, which by itself still needs a thorough
critique. Here Theosophy finds itself in the same boat as
Heidegger for different groups see both as leading to fascism.
IV. The Latent Power of Categorial Intuition and Essence
The third object of the TS asks for an exploration of latent
powers within the mind. Phenomenology does explicate, develop
and apply such a special power. It is the power of having
philosophical insights or intuiting essences, but now in
a way in which 'having an insight' has come, within western
philosophy, to an unprecedented level of self-evident self-understanding.
Phenomenology's founding father Husserl called these philosophical
acts 'essence-intuitions' (Wesenschau) and through
such acts he also made some penetrating investigations into
the necessary conditions to make such acts possible. This
claim can become really intelligible only on the basis of
understanding a) the intentional structure of consciousness,
b) a peculiar perceptive capacity called categorial intuition,
c) a philosophical technique called eidetic reduction and
d) the specific subject-matter phenomenology is interested
in, i.e. the essential structures of consciousness.
Intentionality in phenomenology means that consciousness
is always consciousness of something. In all psychological
acts like seeing, remembering, counting, discussing, etc.,
we are directed or focused on a certain seen, remembered,
counted or discussed object and not on the act itself or
the 'I' enacting the act. Consciousness is not a container
of some sorts within the brain, duplicating what is outside
itself with the senses acting as intermediaries. Who would
be then conscious, and in what way, of what is contained
in the container? Another container? Properly speaking consciousness
is always already outside itself, directly, through its
senses, in the world of its cares, whether practical, social
or theoretical. An important part of
intentionality is the phenomenon that we can emptily intend
an object and also experience different grades of fulfillment
of the intention, through which then a temporal self-sameness
of the object can be experienced. Examples of empty intentions
are: looking for a lost object, trying to remember a forgotten
phone number, the content of any statement before it is
personally verified, not understanding a self-evident statement
like A=A, or not seeing yet that intentionality is a basic
feature of consciousness. This dynamic of intentionality
is important for a deeper phenomenological understanding
of issues like knowledge and evidence, mistakes and misunderstandings,
and the philosophical trio of necessity, possibility and
b) Categorial intuition
The really important issue here is what Husserl calls categorial
intuition (kategoriale Anschauung), a term Heidegger
also uses. Categorial intuition organizes
and structures, on a pre-theoretical, pre-thematic level,
our simple perceptions into complex 'states of affair.'
This happens for example when we go from seeing just a house
to seeing that the house is white, or that it is bigger
than its neighbor or any other specific feature or relation
it might have. On a more complex level we can use the example
of seeing a row of trees or hearing a melody. The peculiarity
is the following. The trees and notes are sensuously given,
but the row and the melody, though they are experienced,
they are not sensuously given. The pattern and melody are
items that are not part of the raw data entering our senses,
and because of that they might even not be experienced at
all. You might just see some trees and not perceive the
row pattern, and you might just hear a sequence of musical
notes without experiencing the melody. At the same time,
when these patterns are experienced, it is obvious that
they are not merely subjective in the sense of an arbitrary
processing of information, or some form imposed upon the
data by consciousness. Once perceived, the pattern and melody
are really out there and have their own kind of objectivity,
which can be pointed out to others, and shared with them.
To come back to the example of the house, one could ask
where or how in the sensuous experience the 'is' or 'bigger'
is when the perception is articulated in the statement 'the
house is white' or 'the house is bigger than its neighbor.'
We can see the house, the white color, its neighbor, but
where and how do we see the feature and the relation? It
is these kinds of structuring of our experiences that find
their way, when expressed in language, in the non-sensuous
parts of language, in words like 'being,' 'this,' 'and,'
'or,' 'unity,' 'plurality,' etc. These items of experience
are not merely subjective forms imposed upon sensuous experience,
nor are they to be found in sense perception. These items
are given to consciousness with and founded upon sensuous
experience, through a non-sensory kind of perception, i.e.
c) Eidetic reduction
Eidetic reduction is a technique by which one gradually
comes to understand the essence or univocal meaning of an
issue through imaginative variation. If the issue is understanding
the essence of the practical object 'coffee-cup,' one would
take its various features and relational aspects and change
them in imagination until it becomes obvious that one couldn't
speak of a coffee-cup anymore. For example, imagine changing
the opening at the top to being gradually more tilted and
ending up on the side, at which point it can not contain
any fluids anymore and therefore hardly qualifies as a cup.
Or gradually change it weight, size, or material. What one
ends up with are those features without which a coffee-cup
wouldn't be a coffee-cup, that is, its structural essence.
These features could then be gathered into an extended definition
of the item, like 'a small non-porous, heat-resistant delivery
device, weight- and size-wise proportionate to a human body,
for intake of warm water-solved caffeine.' In the previous
example the issue was the essence of a specific practical
object, an issue phenomenology is hardly interested in.
What it is interested in--among many issues--is the essential
complex structures of the experience of using any practical
object whatsoever, though it could proceed or abstract from
the example of a coffee-cup, or a hammer as Heidegger does,
to uncover these essential ideal forms. In this way Heidegger
developed a phenomenological description of tool, here compressed
in the following 'definition': A tool is something non-thematically,
non-theoretically understood as ready-at-hand; belonging
to a totality of equipment within an assignment context;
circumspectively used in a series of involvements 'in-order-to'
produce a work, which is its 'towards-which;' used in the
end 'for-the-sake-of' a possibility of human being; constituted
by serviceabilty, conduciveness, usability and manipulability;
revealing a public world of co-producers and co-users and
the natural world as resource. This
'definition' might strike one as a strange hybrid of obvious
and obscure ideas about the essential structure of a practical
object in general. But reading the chapter from which the
fore going was abstracted, with an understanding of phenomenological
method in the background of one's mind, the whole exercise
becomes quite rigorous and revealing. And the insights thus
obtained can be retained and put to fruitful use in subsequent
deeper phenomenological investigations.
d) Phenomenology's subject-matter
Phenomenology is the philosophical study of consciousness
and as consciousness is intentional in its structure, it
is the investigation of the essential structures of intentional
experiences. It studies a) the essence of the experiencer
or that identity that stays self-same throughout all experiences,
or the unity of consciousness; b) the essential features
of the many different modes of experiencing like perception,
imagination, thinking, remembering, reflection, coping,
moods, relating, etc. and their interconnections; c) the
essential features of the many kinds of 'objects' as connected
with, or constituted through, the different modes of experience,
like the essence of perceptual objects, imaginings, thoughts,
memories, tools, cultural objects, intersubjectivity, etc.;
and d) the unity of these structures in the context of one's
life and world. Mostly the structures of consciousness would
be 'read off' the object of experience, because the form
of the experience comes necessarily with the experienced
object, though it is not explicitly given, for the experience
focuses on the object itself and not on the form of the
experience. Through different moves--like bracketing (resisting
the temptation to explain the phenomenon in naturalistic
causal terms) and applying eidetic reduction--these forms
can be brought to evidence.
Next step is to show that when we make statements about
the essential structures of consciousness itself we are
dependent on categorial intuition. For example, when Husserl
makes the case that consciousness is always intentional,
he could not do so by merely reflecting upon his own consciousness.
He had to structure that peculiar investigative reflective
experience and have it confirmed and refined through varying
repetitions, i.e. eidetic reduction. He saw that when one
wills, something is willed; when one thinks, something is
thought; when one sees, something is seen, etc., etc. He
saw that every act of consciousness has its own peculiar
correlative 'object' to which it is directed. Consciousness
is always consciousness of. The importance here is
not this structure of intentionality itself, but the idea
that once you see this structure for yourself it is because
of categorial intuition, which means that you are categorially
intuiting a non-sensuous item with its own claim to objectivity.
Moreover it is a philosophical act. It is not a scientific
hypothesis to be tested in a psychological laboratory. It
is categorial intuition in the first place that makes science
possible by ongoingly and in ever more refined ways structuring
its subject matter. Science even doesn't need to know about
this possibility condition to proceed successfully. And
it is not a religious experience either. Phenomenology can
uncover things about ourselves, and these revealings can
be experienced as a revelation of some sort, but phenomenology's
subject matter does not reach farther than the necessary
possibility conditions, or ideal forms, of our experiences
and can't say anything about its content qua content. It
is by an act of faith that faith's specific content is constituted,
which will provide a content only for theology to investigate,
while phenomenology can only investigate the essential structure
of the act of faith and the correlative kind of being of
its intended object, regardless of its content.
Husserl called these philosophical acts 'essence-intuitions'
(Wesenschau), which only bring out what comprises
the structuring ingredients implicitly within any experience
whatsoever and make them therefore more intelligible. Heidegger
refines this notion of phenomenological explication of the
structures of experience with his idea of 'formal indication'
(Formalanzeichnung), of which Dasein (Being-there)
and Being-in-the-world are his most well known. These peculiar
Heideggerian concepts, here emptily intended (formally indicated),
will find their own appropriate fulfillment in acts of understanding,
which can only be called acts of transcendental self-knowledge,
because the concepts indicate the essential dynamic structurization
of our very own being.
In short, categorial intuition is an important 'power'
inhering in the dynamic structure of consciousness. This
'hidden' ability can be explicated and refined with the
help of eidetic reduction into a philosophical attitude
along the lines phenomenologists have investigated, and
applied in any intellectual endeavour whatsoever, including
Theosophy. The main subject coming
into view for investigation would be the interconnected
questions about a) the how of Theosophical insight and knowledge,
b) the originary experiences underlying its intellectual
super-structure, c) the role of inter-subjective factors,
d) its concept formation, e) the interaction between Theosophical
understanding and psychological transformation, and much
V. Phenomenology and Krishnamurti
There are different reasons why Phenomenology and Krishnamurti
are relevant to each other, and in their relationship are
relevant to Theosophy.
1) First of all there are already two book-length studies
by Indian philosophers comparing Krishnamurti with phenomenology.
One compares Krishnamurti with the existential phenomenologist
Sartre and another one compares him with phenomenology's
founding father Husserl. Sartre is
also the focus of an article by one of Krishnamurti's friends,
And the important Theosophical study of Krishnamurti's esoteric
life by Aryel Sanat makes numerous appreciative references
to phenomenology in comparison to Krishnamurti's approach.
Meanwhile, not all studies with 'Krishnamurti' and 'phenomenology'
in the title are to be considered phenomenological in the
2) Secondly, phenomenology is important as a device to study
and clarify the way Krishnamurti proceeds in his own proto-phenomenological
investigations. It can help clarify statements like 'the
observer is the observed' and 'you are the world.' The leading
question here is if Krishnamurti really shows at every turn
of his monologues the matter or issue itself, or is he sometimes
making short cuts and introduces speculative elements? For
example his statement that "thought is matter"
might be up for a good phenomenological critique.
3) Thirdly, phenomenology, in tandem with Theosophy, can
help clarify the nature, structure and development of Krishnamurti's
own long list of mystical and occult experiences and their
4) Out of point 3 can come a more philosophically balanced
Theosophical appreciation and critique of Krishnamurti's
experiences and teachings and thereby help the Theosophy-Krishnamurti
dialogue in a new and promising vein.
5) Krishnamurti's proto-phenomenological investigations
into such existential themes like fear, desire, death and
conflict can contribute to the existential-phenomenological
understanding of the same. For example the interaction between
Heidegger's analysis of fear and anxiety and Krishnamurti's
analysis of fear might get to something bigger than the
sum of their separate parts. In an experimental vein I recently
stated the following: "Being non-fearful doesn't exclude
anxiety, which might well be the mood accompanying the act
of detachment when one slips from a fear of something into
the anxiety of nothing, which then might slip into bliss
of Being, when the nothing is seen as the veil of Being,
and anxiety turns inside out as bliss."
VI. Phenomenology and Eastern Thought
There are numerous studies by both western and Asian scholars
that point out, or fruitfully use, phenomenology as a tool
for a deeper understanding of Asian philosophy and religious
experiences and/or see striking parallels between the two.
One of the most amazing events in this regard is the Heidegger
reception by Japanese philosophy.
They apparently can't get enough of Being and Time
and have translated that masterpiece at least six times
now. At the same time some scholars are making headway in
uncovering the Asian, especially Zen and Daoist, influences
on Heidegger himself. Indian philosophy
seem to gravitate more towards Husserl with his stratification
of different levels of consciousness and their accompanying
egos. As far as Husserl's and Heidegger's
responses are concerned regarding Asian thought, we find
Husserl writing, after reading some original Bhuddist texts,
the following enthusiastic assessment:
"For to any sympathetic reader it
soon must become clear that Buddhism, as it speaks to us
out of its pure original sources, is concerned with a religious
and ethical method of the highest dignity for spiritual
purification and pacification, a method thought through
and carried out with an internal consistency, an energy
and a nobility of mind that are almost unmatched. Buddhism
can be paralleled only with the highest formations of the
philosophical and religious spirit of our European culture.
From now on it will be our destiny to blend that Indian
way of thinking which is completely new for us, with the
one which for us is old, but which in this confrontation
becomes alive again and strengthened."
Heidegger is several times on record to the effect that
what Zen Buddhism expresses is something he tried to say
throughout his writings. In order
to further an East-West dialogue it has been pointed out
that the work on the nature of interpretation and dialogue
by hermeneutic phenomenologists like Heidegger and especially
Gadamer can be very productive. As
Theosophy intends to make the rich heritage of eastern thought
available to the West, phenomenology can be of great help
in facilitating that agenda.
Many more reasons could be brought forward to make my case,
but I think these six, sometimes somewhat overlapping reasons,
are enough to establish The Relevance of Phenomenology for
Theosophy, while also touching upon its reversal.
1. For a quick overview of phenomenology
a) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2003
Edition), s.v. "Phenomenology"
by David Woodruff Smith,
b) Lester Embree, "What
is Phenomenology?" at the web site of the Center
for Advanced Research in Phenomenology.
1a. Meanwhile many of these subjects
have received extensive help in their development from phenomenology,
especially in their methodological and theoretical aspects.
This suggests to me that phenomenology can become an integrating
factor for most, if not all, of these disciplines. Find
here a bibliography
of studies in which phenomenology contributed to the
understanding of certain academic subjects and professional
2. In a 1961 lecture philosopher and
Theosophist J.J. Poortman presented an overview of the philosophical
interests of prominent Theosophists and an assessment of
the interaction of Theosophy and philosophy. According to
Poortman there used to be a quite active scene of philosophizing
Theosophists and theosophizing philosophers in Holland,
with the latter category not necessarily sympathetic to
Theosophy as presented by the Theosophical Society, but
anyway doing interesting 'Theosophical' investigations along
Hegelian lines. Poortman himself made it to the University
of Leyden occupying the chair of "Metaphysics in the
Spirit of Theosophy" and it was due to a Theosophical
couple that the International School for Philosophy in Amersfoort
was founded, which recently had to close its doors. See
J.J. Poortman, "The two Sophia's or the Relationship
of Theosophy and Philosophy" in Philosophy, Theosophy,
Parapsychology: Some Essays on Diverse Subjects (Leyden:
Sythoff, 1965). Poortman did study some of Husserl's philosophy
and actually dedicated a whole chapter to phenomenology
in his four-volume Vehicles of Consciousness, 4 vols.
(Adyar, Madras, India: T.P.H., 1978), in which he also stated
that some of its sections were "entirely phenomenological
in their plan and intention." (IV:16)
3. See for example the outstanding introduction
to Experience of the Sacred: Readings in the Phenomenology
of Religion (Hanover/London: University Press of New
England, 1992) edited by Sumner Twiss and Walter Conser,
Jr. Poortman refers to the work of the "well-known
parapsychologist" Gerda Walther, who to others is more
known as an early student of Husserl. She presented a small
paper, combining the two fields, titled "A
Plea for the Introduction of Edmund Husserl's Phenomenological
method into Parapsychology" Report no. 44, Proceedings
of the International Conference of Parapsychology, Utrecht,
3a. See also: "The
Seven Theosophical Principles: An Initial Experiential Grounding
in Reflective Experience" (Theosophist Blog,
June 26, 2008)
4. See for example Christopher Richardson's
appeal countering that direction in his article "Radical
Theosophy" in Theosophy World, no. 100,
5. C. Jinarajadasa (ed.) Letters from
the Masters of Wisdom, First Series (Adyar, Madras,
India: T.P.H., 1988, 6th ed. ), p. 123. "The
last Letter," no. 59 from K.H. to Annie Besant, received
6. For a concise overview of the issue
see Thomas Sheehan's "Heidegger
and the Nazis," review essay of Victor Farias'
Heidegger and Nazism in The New York Review of
Books 35/10 (June 16, 1988), pp. 38-47. [For an in-depth
study of the connection between Heidegger's philosophy and
politics see: Iain Thomson Heidegger on Ontotheology:
Technology and the Politics of Education (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2005)]
7. One venue of research, with probably
fruitful results, would be the comparison of Husserl's faculty
of 'essence-intuition' with Henri Bergson's notion of intuition
and Theosophy's faculty of spiritual intuition residing
in the Buddhic principle. For a start see J.J. Poortman
's "The two Sophia's
," pp. 52-53.
8. The ever so interesting Rupert Sheldrake
has recently developed a scientific hypothesis about visual
(and extrasensory) perception that comes closer to this
phenomenological datum that consciousness is really 'out'
there. He presented his theory and supporting experimental
evidence in The Sense of Being Stared At: And Other Aspects
of the Extended Mind (New York: Crown, 2003). He combines
the 'intromission' theory if sight--which became the dominant
theory in the 17th century after Kepler's theory of the
retinal image--with the 'extramission' theory with its roots
in Pythagoras' school, Plato and Euclid. Sheldrake proposes
that "vision involves a two-way process, an inward
movement of light, and an outward projection of images,"
(207) done through the mind, which is "extended in
space, and stretches out into the world around you. It reaches
out to touch what you see," (12) and in that way "the
subjective world of experience is projected outward into
the external world through fields of perception and intention."
(284). This latter notion of 'mental fields' is an extension
of his earlier theory of formative causation through 'morphogenetic
fields' and 'morphic resonance,' as presented in A New
Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation (London:
Paladin, 1987, 2nd ed.) and The Presence of the
Past: Morphic Resonance and The Habits of Nature (Rochester,
VT, Park Street Press, 1988). Besides being fascinating
in itself, Sheldrake's researches are exceedingly relevant
for both philosophy and Theosophy, and I see the possibility
of a fruitful dialogue between Sheldrake and phenomenology
with the latter providing some conceptual refinements of
such notions as perception, intentions, images and projection.
Meanwhile he does err in his assessment that the "materialist-dualist
debate has stayed stuck within the narrow limits of an outmoded
way of thinking about matter." (208) Most phenomenologists
would heartily disagree. For Sheldrake's relevance for Theosophy
Sheldrake: A Theosophical Appraisal" by David Pratt.
9. The important foundational text about
categorial intuition is Edmund Husserl, Investigation VI,
"Elements of a Phenomenological Elucidation of Knowledge,"
Second Section, "Sense and Understanding" in Logical
Investigations, Vol. II (New York: Routledge, 2001 ),
pp. 269-320. For Heidegger's appropriation of the term see
Martin Heidegger, §6 "Categorial Intuition"
in his History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena (Bloomington,
IN: Indiana U.P., 1992), pp.47-71. See also Theodore Kisiel,
"Heidegger (1907-1927): The Transformation of the Categorial"
in his Heidegger's Way of Thought (New York: Continuum,
2002), pp. 84-100. For an effective introduction see: Robert
Sokolowski Introduction to Phenomenology (Cambridge,
UK: Cambridge U.P., 2000), pp. 88-112 or his more thorough
Husserlian Meditations: How Words Represent Things (Evanston,
IL: Northwestern U.P., 1974), pp. 31-42.
10. Because it is non-sensory, categorial
intuition should not be confused with something like clairvoyance,
which, as a special kind of sensory experience (extra-sensory),
is also dependent, in its complex modes, on the structuration
enabled by categorial intuition. The extent to which phenomenological
insights and methods found their way into the clairvoyant
investigations by Rudolph Steiner is an interesting and
open question. Based on a communication with a Husserl scholar
and anthroposophist I can relay that Steiner studied in
Vienna under Husserl's teacher Franz Brentano, in whose
philosophy intentionality was a prominent theme, and that
Steiner was on speaking terms with Max Scheler, a prominent
phenomenologist, to whom Steiner even dedicated one of his
books. In this connection it is also interesting to read
Husserl stating: "Other beings may gaze upon other
'worlds', they may also be endowed with 'faculties' other
than ours, but, if they are minded creatures at all, possessing
some sort of intentional experiences, with the relevant
differences between perception and imagination, straightforward
and categorial intuition, meaning and intuition, adequate
and inadequate knowledge--then such creatures have both
sensibility and understanding, and are 'subject' to the
pertinent laws." Logical Investigations, Vol.
II, p. 315.
11. Extracted from Martin Heidegger, Being
and Time (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1962, trsl.
by Macquarrie and Robinson), pp. 96 ff.
12. An important aspect of Being
and Time is the careful differentiation between the
kind of being of things present-at-hand, ready-at-hand and
human being (Dasein). He does so in order to show that the
philosophical tradition, at least since Plato, has tried
to understand the being of Dasein with the predicates belonging
to the kind of being of things present-at-hand and ready-at-hand,
that is, things we are most familiar with. In this way human
beings are seen as some kind of object like a clockwork,
a machine, a process or a computer, etc. Also, other way
around and maybe less objectionable, we might predicate
objects with characteristics specifically belonging to Dasein,
like when we say 'the table touches the wall.' What Heidegger
tries to do is to liberate Dasein from inappropriate categories
and develop a set of new categories, which he calls existentialia,
which better bring out the unique kind of being Dasein is.
This problematic of inappropriate predication is identical
with the Advaita Vedantic idea of Adyhasa or superimposition,
"when a person superimposes on his self attributes
external to his own self
," as Shankara states,
though Heidegger would disagree with the predicates Shankara
used in his examples. See Eliot Deutsch Advaita Vedanta:
A Philosophical Reconstruction (Honolulu: University
of Hawaii Press, 1969), p. 33.
13. See here for example the investigations
of Paul Tillich in his Dynamics of Faith (New York:
Harper and Row, 1957). Summary
14. A first trial in that direction
was executed during a class at the Theosophical Society
in America in the fall of 2004. I gave a presentation titled
Ascension as Ultimate Transcendence," in which
I aimed at a phenomenological understanding of transcendence
in order to get a deeper theological understanding of the
idea of ascension.
15. See: M.M. Agrawal, Consciousness
and the Integrated Being: Sartre and Krishnamurti (Shimla,
India: Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, 1991) and V.
Gunturu's Jiddu Krishnamurti's Gedanken auser der Phaenomenologischen
Perspective Edmund Husserl's [Krishnamurti's Thought
from the Phenomenological Perspective of Edmund Husserl]
(Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1998. Ph.D. thesis).
16. René Fouéré,
"Krishnamurti et l'Existentialisme," Appendix
2 in Robert Linssen, Krishnamurti et la Pensée
Occidentale (Brussels: Editions "Etre Libre,"
n.d.), pp. 156-176.
17. Aryel Sanat, The Inner Life of
Krishnamurti: Private Passion and Perennial Wisdom (Wheaton,
IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1999). On page 144 Sanat
states that Krishnamurti's "approach was akin to those
of existentialism and phenomenology." See also pp.
101 and 246.
18. Most of these studies do not clarify
or justify the use of this term. They seem to take the term
phenomenology to be equivalent to descriptive psychology
and find that both Krishnamurti and their own study of Krishnamurti
are studies in descriptive psychology. Though illuminating
and interesting in their own way these studies are, strictly
phenomenologically speaking, 'naïve' and at best proto-phenomenological,
which is meant here in a technical sense, not a moral one.
In this category belong the following studies: Peter Butcher,
"The Phenomenological Psychology of J. Krishnamurti"
Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 18/1, 1986, 35-50;
Veronica Boutte, The Phenomenology of Compassion in the
Teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) (Lewiston:
Edwin Mellen Press, 2002, Studies in Asian Thought and Religion,
Vol. 24); Lawrence K. Holden, "The Structure of Krishnamurti's
Phenomenological Observations and its Psychological Implications"
(Ph.D. dissertation, United States International University,
19. See for example the following reductionist
account by Krishnamurti in which the essence of thought
gets reduced to a totally different essence, the one of
matter and energy. What he overlooks is that thought is
peculiar to consciousness and has meaning, something that
can not be predicated of matter. "Those who think a
great deal are very materialistic because thought is matter.
Thought is matter as much as the floor, the wall, the telephone,
are matter. Energy functioning in a pattern becomes matter.
There is energy and there is matter. That is all life is.
We may think thought is not matter but it is. Thought is
matter as an ideology. Where there is energy it becomes
matter. Matter and energy are interrelated." J. Krishnamurti,
Freedom from the Known (San Francisco: HarperCollins,
1969), pp. 101-102.
20. In a recent post on the Theosophy
and Krishnamurti Yahoo-group I posted a preliminary
stratification of K's experiences and their connectedness.
Though the facts come from K's own writings and the terminology
is predominantly Theosophical, the working out of this idea
of stratification was very much helped by my own phenomenological
insights into the structure of consciousness. See "Higher
Self - K versus Blavatsky," message of March 14, 2005
at . See also the 'flip-side' of this in message of March
19, 2005, "K's states of consciousness."
21. See Parkes' introduction to Graham
Parkes (Ed.) Heidegger and Asian Thought (Honolulu:
University of Hawaii Press, 1990 ).
22. See Reinhard May, Heidegger's
Hidden Sources: East Asian Influences on His Work (New
York: Routledge, 1996). Translated, with a complementary
essay, by Graham Parkes.
23. See for example A.N. Balsev "Analysis
of I-Consciousness in the Transcendental Phenomenology and
Indian Philosophy" in D.P. Chattopadhyaya, Lester Embree,
Jitendranath Mohanty (Eds.) Phenomenology and Indian
Philosophy (Delhi, India: Motolal Banarsidass, 1992),
pp. 133-140. The stratification of Krishnamurti's experiences
in Indian concepts as referred to in note 11 is here of
24. Edmund Husserl, "Ueber die
Reden Gotama Buddhos," review of some original Bhuddist
texts in Der Piperbote, spring 1925. Quoted in Karl
Schuhman, "Husserl and Indian Thought" in Phenomenology
and Indian Philosophy, p. 26.
25. Heidegger's Hidden Sources,
26. See Wilhelm Halbfass' comments on
Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer in his India and Europe:
An Essay in Understanding (New York: SUNY, 1988), pp.