O my Divinity! thou dost blend with the earth and fashion for thyself temples of mighty power.
O my Divinity! thou livest in the heart-life of all things, and dost radiate a golden light that shineth forever and doth illumine even the darkest comers of the earth.
O my Divinity! blend thou with me that from the corruptible I may become Incorruptible; that from imperfection I may become Perfection; that from darkness I may go forth in Light.
-- Katherine Tingley
By Eldon B. Tucker
This is the 100th issue of THEOSOPHY WORLD. It is a special issue on the topic of what Theosophy is and where it is going in today's world. Nearly everything in this issue was written in the past month by many theosophical friends throughout the world. They represent a broad spectrum of backgrounds and views.
People were asked if they would write something short, perhaps a few paragraphs to a page or so. Contributions were to be in the writer's own words, without quotes by Blavatsky, the Masters, Judge, Purucker, Tingley, Leadbeater, Besant, Krishnamurti, or anyone else.
Each contribution is a personal viewpoint, where someone is writing down their thoughts in their own words. They were told not to bother with citations since the viewpoints they present would be their own, and not an official statement that others, especially new students, have to accept as authoritative.
As editor, I might say that the views expressed do not all match what I think of Theosophy. Even so, I find it valuable to show what is going on in the Movement, since our future grows out of the present, and we theosophical students are that present.
Read it over. See what you think. Then ponder. Come up with your own perspective on Theosophy and its future. What is it really? Where is it actually going? It's really up to all of us, including you, what happens next.
By Rick Nurrie-Stearns
Theosophy in its essence is a concept that does not have existence outside of the minds maintaining it. Being a set of concepts it has no real life itself and consequently no future.
Theosophy as presented by the theosophical organizations of today has become much like the dead language of Latin. Latin is useful for scholars, academicians and historians but it no longer serves a need in society at large. The useful teachings, concepts and principles presented in the original theosophical teachings have been absorbed and disseminated into other movements and teachings that are better suited to serve the needs of our time.
Those who justify theosophy's meager appeal as proof of it being superior and only for the special few make of it a cult and mock the spirit of its founding principles. To cling to a crumbling institution is unwise and senseless.
Embodying the core spiritual truths presented in Theosophy is the only way that theosophist can serve humanity and thus keep the teachings alive. Then the theosophist becomes like Gandhi who made his life his message.
By Wesley Amerman
'Theosophists,' either individually or as members of the various Theosophical Societies, have a long history to live down. No one living today, of course, had anything to do with the problems of the early twentieth century, when our predecessors chased after 'Ascended Masters' and made gurus out of brilliant but fallible men and women. However, we are still in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past and of failing to learn from them.
Many 'Theosophists' today do not know much about Theosophy, and those that do talk mostly among themselves. Two things -- Ignorance of Theosophy and isolationism -- have deadened the practical expression of theosophical thought so that it is virtually stillborn in the Twenty First Century.
Unless we know what it is that we are trying to share with the world, of what value can it possibly be? This does not mean that there has to be unanimity among Theosophists as to doctrines, since we are all entitled to our personal opinions as to which authors to read and what their relative merits might be. Still, the variety of metaphysical and philosophical systems loosely called 'theosophical' is so diverse and contradictory that the thinking public, not to mention academia, long ago quit giving much credence to the hodge-podge of ideas called 'theosophy.' When, for example, prominent Theosophical writers of the early Twentieth Century encouraged prayer to an outside Deity, and others seriously proclaimed the coming of the next Avatar, many people wrote them off as crackpots.
Attending lectures and participating in study classes and workshops may help our inner, spiritual life and make us feel good about ourselves, but it ultimately does little or nothing for the world at large. The occasional visitor who drops by and finds solace in Theosophy can find virtually the same ideas in any good book store under a score of names and headings. We can try to convince ourselves that individual insights somehow 'leaven' the minds and hearts of collective human family, but do we really know this to be true?
So, we really do not know what we have, we talk mostly among ourselves and the world goes on, still in need of Theosophy and not much the better for over a hundred years of effort. What should and what can we do? Here are a few proposals:
First, we should recognize that there are no easy fixes. What took a century to develop cannot change overnight, but we can make some beginnings to alter our course. There are always entrenched interests that will resist change, not only on the merits of it but also because it is change. Yet, rudderless, fragmented, and aging, all Theosophical groups are barely hanging on, book sales are lagging and Theosophia (Divine Wisdom) has hardly a functioning vehicle in the world.
Second, we need to move toward recognition of what Theosophy teaches, and what it does not. So-called 'source' Theosophy, represented by the writings of Blavatsky, Judge and their Masters, needs more prominence and be made available as originally printed. Abridgements and collations are fine, so long as they are clearly indicated as such. If we are going to edit what someone else wrote, we at least should have the respect and courtesy to tell the reader. (While scholars would not change a line of Shakespeare without footnoting it to explain why, the same thing has been done, and continues to be done to Blavatsky's and others' works, without editorial explanation or comment). Much unnecessary energy and work has gone into correcting this simple but powerfully important problem. A useful but unpopular and therefore unlikely corollary would be for Theosophical publishers to step away from the so-called 'secondary' literature.
Third, in support of this sort of recognition, theosophists need to know what Theosophy is, and what it is not. Learning requires study, whether individually or in groups, and comparative classes that show similarities and differences between Blavatsky and later writers would go a long way toward educating members and the public.
Fourth, we need to expand the dialogue among the various theosophical 'traditions,' as a re-dedication to the Objects of the Theosophical Movement, which represents the thread binding all Theosophical Societies and students together. Te closer we can come to a unified voice, the greater impact we can have on the world.
Finally, with that unified voice, let us make some collective noise! With a renewed sense of common purpose, theosophists could have a lot to share with the world, on subjects ranging from abortion to war, education to genetic engineering, environment to prison reform. Let us put some of our collective energies into annual conferences, press releases, news bulletins, websites, and any practical endeavors that we can find the time and money to fund. There is a huge void in the world's dialogue on so many important issues, and Theosophy, if anything like we think it to be, has a lot to contribute.
These are just a few suggestions, given in rough outline only and not meant as a complete program, but only intended for consideration as part of an open, honest, and constructive dialogue on the future.
By Erica Letzerich
Strive to give back the Divine in yourselves to the Divine in the All.
Could divine wisdom or theosophy be a written system? Would that not contradict the very meaning of the word theosophy? How could intellectual knowledge which is superficial and absent of wisdom be theosophy? Can we win in the battlefield of free thinking and do not surrender to the creation of dogmas?
For so long humanity is in constant but silent battle that seems to not have an end, and whose battlefield is within human mind. The battle between dogmas and freethinking is one of the major causes of conflicts. Two paths are unrolled: the path of those who lost in the battlefield and are prisoners and generators of dogmas, and the path of the freethinkers that are searching for the truth and do not associated it to dead letter.
Within the theosophical circles we can see the reflexes of such battle, and many have already surrendered to the powerful human tendency to dogmatize: quarrels disagreements original teachings, non original teachings, this is theosophy this is not theosophy etc. Exactly like Christians, Buddhists, and every other religious movement with intellectual division and conflicts.
Today the word theosophy is generally associated to a set of doctrines based upon the genesis presented into the Secret Doctrine of Blavatsky, and numerous have been the authors that have written books in an attempt to simplify and explain the so called theosophical system. Other interpretation common given for theosophy is the ancient wisdom-tradition, and also the wisdom underlining religion, philosophy and science or the perennial philosophy. A third interpretation is that theosophy is pure altruism, the realization of the oneness of life.
The Greek word theosophy has two compounds: Theos (god) and Sophia. In ancient Greece Sophia (wisdom) was one of Plato's four cardinals Aretes (Virtues). According to Plato the spiritual harmony of the soul where related to the four cardinal virtues, which he considered expressions of the three basic energies of the Soul. Wisdom was an inner condition that would be an expression of one the three basic energies of the soul.
Divine Wisdom or Theosophy is related to the energies of the soul, consequently can be understood only from within, there are no words in any language able to express the Divine Wisdom or theosophy. You may learn by heart the whole system presented in the work of Blavatsky and in the work of others, you may write, debate, teach, and affirm this knowledge is theosophy. But you will be still trapped by the intellect, consequently unable to know what theosophy is. Theosophy, Divine Wisdom, ought to be a potential alive within human nature, consequently theosophy can't be the lifeless letter, expressed in any book or writing.
Theosophy is a deep awareness of the unity of life of someone else's suffering that is also our suffering. It is compassion, altruism and love. Can you teach love, compassion and altruism? You may describe it, transform into words, but you will never be able to make the other to experience it merely by intellectual discussions. It is only the ability to experience it that will teach someone what theosophy, Divine Wisdom, is.
Our great challenge in a world immersed in problems, where violence increases, wars, millions of children die every year of hunger is to try to realize theosophy from within and do not create dogmas. But if one cannot realize theosophy from within, can still be a fighter for freethinking and do not surrender to the battle. Only the cultivation of an open mind, investigative and a pure heart would irrigate the field making possible to flourish theosophy -- Divine Wisdom.
If you cannot see the light in the eyes of the forgotten children, because you cover it with the darkness of human indifference, you don't know what theosophy is. And many that spread the darkness of indifference think they know what theosophy is and that they are able to discuss about theosophy. But they cannot see, as they cannot see the light in the eyes of the forgotten children, which they are simply generating dogmas, divisions, illusions, and that is not theosophy. Theosophy is the ability to see the light in the eyes of the forgotten children because their hopes, their dreams, their pain and happiness are also our hopes our dreams our pain and happiness.
By Alan E. Donant
Theosophy is much more than a body of knowledge -- it is what this knowledge points to. Theosophy is an ocean of inner-life just below the surface of existence, where millions of swimmers thrash about trying desperately to keep their heads above water. When we first experience it, we get a glimpse of things as they are. Though subtle at first, if we pay attention to these brief insights, a new and larger view of life emerges, and it transforms our awareness.
How deep each of us chooses to go, within karmic limits, may vary; yet every person who enters this sea acknowledges the common experience in which all of us participate; and in time we each come to recognize everyone else as an equal participant. Sooner or later we realize we receive and produce the currents of fortune and adversity that affect others. There is no beginning or end to these currents but all of us choose -- consciously or not -- what influence we will leave in the wake of our thoughts and actions. It is this understanding of brotherhood that theosophy speaks to -- not the utopian ideal, but the actuality. Neither gender specific nor anthropocentric, in the one life universal, ego is abandoned, altruism arises, and compassion manifests. Upon its collective acceptance, ethics is understood, the disparities of the human condition are lessened, and conflict among peoples and nations disappear.
Buddhas and avatars are at one with this sea of inner-life, so much so that they are perceived by humanity as an ocean of compassion. Others such as Plotinus, Lao-tze, Hypatia, Jacob Boehme, St. Theresa of Avila, Patanjali, and Meister Eckhart, to name a few, have swum in and experienced this ocean. No one is left out, every person who has sought an inspiration of his or her own enters the stream leading to the ocean of compassion.
No book can contain theosophy, though many point to it. Nor is theosophy the same as its principles. Much as the principles of art are necessary to make art and to recognize the artistry of others, so the principles of theosophy are necessary. But just as the principles of art are not art, the principles of theosophy are not theosophy.
If we want to avoid drowning in the chaotic surface of life, an active participation in the depths of life is absolutely necessary. The way to begin is to live to be of help to others. This is also the end-result, because the foundation of theosophy is Universal Brotherhood. This is what moves us to work selflessly and creatively to awaken that greater inner life within our fellow human beings.
By Rodolfo Don
Theosophy, or "Ancient Wisdom," is the accumulated wisdom of the ages. It is the core of the teachings of all the great religions of the past; each one contains an aspect of Theosophy. The "Ancient Wisdom" or Theosophy has been kept pure and uncontaminated by the "Brotherhood of Adepts" of our humanity. For many generations these Adepts spent centuries studying, checking and verifying these teachings and keeping them secret from the world until humanity became ready.
When the Theosophical Society was founded in 1875, those teachings were revealed for the first time to the world through the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and her Teachers. All books written on Theosophy by later theosophical writers are only their own interpretation of the teachings. They are not the original teachings.
What are we supposed to do with the teachings of Theosophy? If we accept this definition of Theosophy, which is the same definition contained in the teachings themselves, then, we have to accept the same method of learning and verification used by the Adepts. It means that we are supposed to check and verify those teachings before we accept them as true. This point of the need for verification shows the uniqueness of Theosophy when compared to regular religious teaching that usually demands blind faith from its followers. Theosophy expects from the student a corroboration of the Truth in the teachings. The student is not to believe in them by exercising blind faith.
If the student's approach to Theosophy is correct and accompanied by a pure and unselfish motive and an honest determination to find Truth in the teachings, he will be on his way to self-knowledge. This journey will take him to the inner chamber of his own heart, and through it, to the heart of the universe.
By Katinka Hesselink
Theosophy is divine wisdom. In that sense, it is changeless and eternal and isn't going to go anywhere in today's world. It was always there, and it will always be there. What does change is the expression it gets in the world. Blavatsky's theosophy is very different in its expression from the theosophy of Proclus (interest in his work seems to be on the rise). Every expression of theosophy is an earthly reflection of divine wisdom. What we see is merely a bit of the light and a lot of the shadows cast by the light. Unfortunately, as long as we aren't enlightened ourselves, we are likely to be distracted by the shadows and blinded by the light (or both).
Theosophy isn't going anywhere, but what people understand of it differs enormously. Some focus on rounds and races, others on transformation. Some focus on comparing religions, others on finding wisdom where they can. Some focus on understanding reincarnation, karma, the All, others start by trying to understand themselves. All these are relevant approaches, because "the means must vary with the pilgrim."
And then there is the theosophy that isn't called theosophy. Each searcher for truth is a theosophist, as long as the basic motivation is the good of mankind.
Still, theosophy isn't going anywhere. Will it change with the times? Yes, as much as people change with the times. Still, at heart, it will always stay the same. That which changes is by definition merely the temporary guise divine wisdom cloaks itself in, in order for people to understand more of it.
Theosophy isn't going anywhere. Only if theosophists keep remembering that their own understanding of theosophy is merely one reflection of the truth and that there must be various very different reflections are they likely to be close to the light and not distracted as much by the shadows cast by the light.
By John Algeo
Theosophy is a contemporary expression of the timeless Wisdom of humanity, a Wisdom originally derived from teachers greater than us in knowledge and insight.
That timeless Wisdom has had many expressions over time and across cultures, and it will have many more in the future. But contemporary Theosophy is an expression uniquely adapted to the concerns and needs of our time. Yet, as it was intended for a particular cultural milieu, it must adapt itself to changes in that milieu. It must be rearticulated for each generation in language appropriate to that generation, while preserving the essence of the underlying timeless Wisdom. Theosophy in its various articulations must indeed preserve the timeless Wisdom, but not in formaldehyde. Rather its preservation must be of the sort used for a living, growing, and therefore changing thing. All living things change, at the same time preserving their own inmost identity or dharma. And so must Theosophy.
The Theosophical Society is a training ground for those individuals who will commit themselves to a wholehearted cooperation with the work of those great-souled teachers who caused the Society to be founded. The Society recruits new members to their band by spreading knowledge of Theosophy, and it welcomes back into mutual association those who were members of the band of servers in days of yore and who have come back into incarnation to continue their service and their training in how to serve. In speaking of the Theosophical Society here, I do not limit these remarks to my own organization. Today several bodies spring from the same source and identify themselves as Theosophical. Though independent, they cooperate on issues of common interest and they display mutual respect for their differences. They are all training grounds.
If we believe the words of the Maha Chohan, the major work of the Theosophical Society still lies before it. Theosophy has been a powerful influence on the world, in ways that most Theosophists are hardly aware of. And the Theosophical Society is to be the cornerstone, the foundation, of the religious future of humanity. That is a powerful charge. But humanity stands desperately in need of such a cornerstone and foundation, as present events make clear. So it is a powerful challenge to us. The Theosophical Society is an abstraction consisting, in its concrete form, of those who are its members. Only as Theosophists accept the Maha Chohan's challenge will his charge be fulfilled. And that is where we must go, now and always.
By Gerald Schueler
What is Theosophy to me? I see it as a spiritual Path, one leading from the mind of a child to the mind of an Adept. The Theosophical umbrella is very broad, and allows for a variety of interpretations and techniques.
In essence, many years ago a group of Adepts decided to record their experiences and observations while in meditation. It was found, over long years of comparing notes, that while a variation of observations were recorded, there were many reports of similar or even identical observations. These similarities slowly over many years became accepted as valid, and in time became known as the Esoteric Tradition, a tradition of interpreted observations made in mutual agreement by high Adepts while in meditation.
H.P. Blavatsky, an Adept herself, came across this Esoteric Tradition, and put it into her own words for the West under the broad title of Theosophy. Her Theosophy is an exoteric interpretation of the meditation experiences of at least one lineage, and probably several, of Adepts at least some of whom were Tibetan Buddhists. It is well known today that recording the observations of Adepts within lineages is typical of Tibetan Buddhism. In addition, her writings indicate an intimate knowledge of Mahayana Buddhism, one that was largely unknown in the West at that time.
Her writings, like all thoughts when put into words, form an exoteric interpretation of esoteric experiences. Her masterful modeling of evolution through conditional reality as presented in THE SECRET DOCTRINE demonstrates her Adeptship. Her Theosophy naturally divides itself into an Exoteric Theosophy and an Esoteric Theosophy, and this fact led her to form an Esoteric Section to her Theosophical Society shortly before her death. After her death, her students have been regurgitating her writings so much that today outsiders, and possibly even some insiders, think that Theosophy is only exoteric.
The major problem that I see for the future is the heavy emphasis currently placed in Theosophical literature on Exoteric Theosophy with an almost total lack of any Esoteric Theosophy. Esoteric Theosophy gives life to the Theosophical Movement, not Exoteric Theosophy. Exoteric Theosophy brings in new students, but without Esoteric Theosophy to fuel their souls they will not remain long. Esoteric Theosophy is the Theosophical interpretation of the Esoteric Tradition, the recorded observations of Adepts. It needs much more emphasis in the theosophical literature if the movement is to continue.
By Dallas TenBroeck
As I see it, THEOSOPHY is a comprehensive view of conditions in all departments of Nature, from the deepest past through the present. It is a record of eternal continuity. It maintains an actual history of the past. It states that the present always emerges from past choices and these choices are both individual and cooperative.
It shows the existence of the present Laws that operate in human relations (such as virtue, generosity, morals, vice, and selfishness) and the life and civilization-supporting laws that operate in the Universe (such as mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, hydraulics, thermodynamics, atomics, electricity and magnetism, engineering, and healing).
This vast evolutionary urge, an inevitable and basic component of all existence, Theosophy calls "Nature's Ways." In considering this, it posits that "Space" (sometimes called "the Void") is actually many-layered, both tangible and intangible, and a surrounding substantial element in which everything is included.
Insofar as we understand, Nature (a term representing the "Universe") shows an impersonal uniformity best described in its manifestation as the "laws of being and of all life." Further, we see Nature exhibiting sensitivity to all impressions and causes, cooperation in all departments, and a surprising attention to all those minute details that show care and support for all of its milliards of components. The Universe is as alive as our own bodies are.
Theosophy states that each of its component entities (life-atoms) is alive and each is at core a deathless "Monad" (a "spiritual" child of its Universe). Each such "immortal entity" is a "Force of individual power" with the right to work and live wherever nature and the laws of coexistence (Karma) have placed it.
Humans are each a "mind-monad." Each has reached the stage of being independent, having acquired the ability to choose his own "Path." As a "Mind-Power," each is presently learning to understand and control his mind and to distinguish emotions, passions, desires, and feelings from his Power to Think.
Each has all the potentials of the whole Cosmos, and even if he is unaware of it, he has tremendous individual responsibility. This is a highly cherished but important "secret." For this reason, the "power to choose" is most important in the advancement of human intelligence (the mental power of moral choice and self-motivation). Here in the human kingdom, individual paths and "goals" diverge into generosity and selfishness. In man, this power of choice creates individual intelligence.
Each ever-evolving entity -- atom, human being, or an Earth -- has its own self-evolved, ruling, and independent intelligence. Each has a right to live and work. Under her immutable laws, Nature gives it a position in which it can do so while cooperating with its neighbors intelligently.
To better guide this enormous enterprise, each independent intelligent entity (Monad) lives and coexists under definite laws of behavior and inter-relationship. These laws, ruling the whole of Nature, are called "Karma" in Sanskrit. They have always existed, are immutable, and cannot be transgressed.
A brief expression of this is, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is "Golden Rule," basic in religion and philosophy. Simply put, it is recognition of the deathless Soul of Man and the universal facts of cooperation, neighborliness, and "Universal Brotherhood." It also speaks to the enormous responsibility under Law of all entities who attain to the final goal of "Wisdom."
As an example of the power of speech and choice, Theosophy offers as a valuable injunction:
Let him say what is true. Let him say what is useful. Let him say what is pleasant. Let him utter no disagreeable truth. Let him utter no agreeable falsehood.
Theosophy offers for consideration a reasonable philosophical goal for the end of any one course of its many great evolutionary programs, called "Manvantaras." This has been called "Wisdom-ism" or "Sublime Perfection."
As a whole, all beings -- human or not, Earths, Worlds, Systems of Worlds, Galaxies, and beyond -- are completely filled with an ocean of ever-living monadic entities that cooperatively work towards this elevated and ideal end. In this, Theosophy most emphatically states that brotherhood and cooperation are the sole methods to be employed for final success.
This enormous learning process calls for many embodiments in successive vehicles of flesh and matter. Reincarnation is held to be a universal fact, banishing the fear of "death" from the minds of those understanding that rebirth brings us all together repeatedly. We do not fear sleep, and death is only a longer "sleep." Those who have experienced a near death experience know that there is life after death.
This goal is a common one. It draws friends and relatives back into a unity where they continue to work and assist each other in the path of ideal perfection, and to make possible the progress they are jointly mastering in the here and now.
Theosophy, as at present, is an example of the living progress of history. It welcomes all contributions to its ever-growing record. It always adds such evidence, and it uses a process of review and questioning as a basis for self-criticism and as fuel for present cooperative thought and experience.
It seeks to use the wisdom of the past and bring it into the current context so that today's passing "modernity" is always under consideration. There is an "Eternal NOW." Past, present, and future merge in such a concept.
Theosophy welcomes all considerations and ideas, and provides a forum for reflecting on the evidence provided. In doing this, it reviews all information presently amassed, and it seeks to provide accuracy in response to all.
By Jerome Wheeler
As a student, I firmly think theosophy is healthier than it has ever been -- mainly because it is achieving what the several Initiates who came together to initiate its activity in 1875 intended to accomplish. That ONE among the "several" who founded the impulse became the MANU for the cycle so founded -- not in the anthropomorphic sense of "he did it," but viewed as a "KEYNOTE OF CONSCIOUSNESS."
A nucleus of Universal Brotherhood can only begin its accumulations, when a body of literature potent with the magic of self-reform for those who assimilate it, is made available. Madame Blavatsky agreed to be the scapegoat or "seed" by which the new KEYNOTE OF CONSCIOUSNESS could be made present and available on a lower plane. The process corresponds to planting a seed. The seed has to be dead (i.e. dried out and having no life from the cycle in which it was harvested). Then it can be planted, SPROUT underground, and undergo a second death. All this is according to Cyclic Law. In the East, the word for it is PADMAPANI (PROTECTOR OF THE CYCLES).
Thus, the most important part of Madame Blavatsky's work was unseen, for events germinate in the astral BEFORE they sprout above ground into the noisy, boisterous world we inhabit. The work was prenatal, and we students of history are privileged to read the vast array of changes proceeding in the cosmic womb. These changes came first to America for collecting the past and planting on fresh ground, then to India for denial, crucifixion, and expulsion, and finally to Italy, Germany, and England for purposes of beginning "a new movement in the West."
Yes, the Movement is healthy as never before, and I have yet to meet a genuinely serious student of the Blavatsky-material who does not show the marks of REAL OCCULTISM.
By Dara Eklund
There are at least three ways in which members of the various Theosophical groups seem to have kept up with the times. One of these is by being in the forefront of the ecology movement. Our age-old teachings of respecting all life have spread into the conscience of society for the most part, so in this sense the Theosophists have been ahead of the times. We are grateful to hear from conservationists the importance of respecting all Life as One. This approach was not embedded in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as HPB pointed out in her article, "Do Animals Have Souls?" The anti-vivisectionist groups have also adopted a protection of domesticated wildlife and pets, and although weakened at times by sentimentalism have at least made strong efforts to change the world's degrading treatment of the lower life forms.
Another forefront area we can credit Theosophy itself with, is its vision of the future of Science. The ideas of physicists are often in harmony with the ideas presented in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, and expanded upon by present day scientists in manners suggested by HPB. Many professors of science, such as Rupert Sheldrake and Paul Davies, have works that so nearly dovetail with the Occult Sciences that our Theosophical journals will quote them or carry their articles. By "Occult," we mean hidden and not the psychic sciences, which unfortunately have obscured the Esoteric Philosophy. Many modern Psychics try to draw on their associations with Blavatsky's writings, but unfortunately distort their intent. While HPB regretted the early Theosophical Society over-emphasis on Spiritualism, she had hoped it would be examined scientifically by experimentation and observation. We present-day members have not been able to alter that trend, all though some Theosophists may feel that the Near-Death research they participate in has helped toward that goal.
The recognition of the one source for all religions is perhaps the greatest impact Theosophists have had in today's world. No one will deny that our consciousness of the diversity of religions, found even in our schools has grown in this past century rapidly. Where once parochial schools would not even have deigned to study Eastern and Buddhist religions, students often have been assigned this comparative exploration; a regular assignment in public schools. Comparative mythology and religions are now offered degrees at our Colleges and Universities. We now have a number of Theosophists holding positions as professors and instructors to help broaden this open-ended philosophical approach. Our effort to network with diverse Theosophical groups has been a strong help in reunifying the movement.
In summary, Theosophy has made an impact, although we are tardy in the area of ethics, and weak in holding to the defense of Theosophical principles through fear of being thought dogmatic. We still need to acknowledge that we do have key prescribed philosophical tenets, which are to be upheld but not forced on others. It may be that another tide of Eastern thought and religion has overtaken Theosophy in numbers, but we cannot help to observe that Western Society is still as entrenched in Materialism as it was during the Industrial Revolution when HPB brought her message to salvage the race. In short, we still have much to do.
By Shelley Steijl
I write from a background of isolated learning and reading. I am interested to read how others -- especially South Africans -- found themselves on this path of discipline and been able to conduct their everyday life within the ethos of Theosophy.
Here in South Africa, I know of no lodge or organized body that Theosophists can belong to -- despite it being home to people such as Aart Juriaanse, who compiled the writings of AAB. While I was a teenager, my Mother, Euni Newell, introduced me to theosophical thinking and reading. She is a silent and dedicated student of the Tibetan, Djwahl Khul. In the 30 years since then, I have pursued the learning and aspirations solo, like her, only occasionally coming across like-minded thinkers with whom a rapport is formed and correspondence entered into.
Like many western countries, South Africa is predominantly Christian, although it benefits from a large Moslem and Hindu populace. The higher income Caucasians find it fashionable to belong to a recognized congregation of worshippers and be seen active within that community. The conventional Christian liturgy is observed, although there is a strong born-again Christian movement towards which many are moving.
Many people frown upon New Age or New World practices. At a young age, I learned that unconventional thinking is seldom welcomed. Many a well-meaning friend has tried to save, pray for, exorcise, or even condemned me! Someone close and special recommended a good psychologist!
I need to remember that when I am ostracized, it affects more than me. It also affects my two preteen daughters and my husband Colin. I have chosen, therefore, to DEMONSTRATE a way of living and thinking that others may choose to follow or question, rather than to ADVOCATE such.
Every now and then, someone will ask me where I find my peace, my love of life and people. Then I tentatively share a little of my thinking. Usually they are exploring themselves and as soon as the discussion becomes too diverse, too deep, they back off. Consequently, my understanding is a private and personal pursuit, shared mostly with my Mother and with my children who will hopefully grow up to be thinkers and readers themselves.
Quite simply, I try to live each day based on the principles I have learned, being that of the will-to-good, love-wisdom, selflessness, and creating an environment with a "live to let live" approach. I attempt where possible to encourage the same in those with whom I live and work. I hope that each moment of thought, word, and action results in our world being a little richer, wiser, and healthier than it was the moment before. This sounds Utopian albeit somewhat simple, but there you have it!
Having said all of the above, I am of the firm opinion that there is a general widespread awakening within our community. People ARE thinking more, questioning traditional concepts. This is revealed in their fascination with the supernatural, such as the After Life, Spiritualism, and psychicism. The challenge is in finding people who have surpassed your own level, or who are of similar development. This is where I see value in there being a local network or correspondence group in South Africa.
I read the writings and teachings of other Theosophists and the Masters with hunger, awe, and a fair amount of humility as I realize I am many lives away from their enlightenment. I battle to marry my day-to-day physical life with the aspirations and experiences needed to further my progress during this life, and this is where a mentor or teacher would be of immense value. I am looking!
By Aryel Sanat
Theosophy is that which happens in theosophical states of awareness. That, in any case, is what we have been told by every single perennial teacher and school, since time immemorial -- including the present perennial renaissance that began with the work of H.P. Blavatsky's teachers, mainly through the Theosophical Society [TS]. No perennial teacher, present or past, has ever said that theosophy consists of holding certain beliefs -- as, for instance, reincarnation, karma, life after death, or a layer-cake-like conceptual view of the way everything is put together. Such beliefs and metaphysical (and therefore purely analytical) world-views can be part of an exoteric way of presenting the perennial wisdom. But confusing an analytical system with divine-like states of awareness is as absurd as confusing a printed menu with the nourishing and hopefully delicious food it merely refers to.
Because these purely exoteric notions are correctly understood as being aspects of a conceptual system (and are thereby part of a metaphysics), it is appropriate to capitalize the word "Theosophy" whenever referring to such systems. Evidence that such "Theosophical" systems are purely analytical (and therefore divisive as well as exoteric) is the fact that there are so many such systems going by the name, which are often even identified with separate organizations. Given the unavoidable reality of these "Theosophical" divisions, whenever I speak of "Theosophists" and their "Theosophy," I am referring here not just to TS members, but to all the members, students, and sympathizers of the sundry teachers, schools and movements that derived directly or indirectly from the work of HPB's teachers. So I give the words "Theosophy" and "Theosophists" -- I believe quite appropriately -- a far more comprehensive and historically accurate sense than they otherwise tend to convey.
In any case, words defining other such analytical systems -- which are always founded on conditioning -- are capitalized. Thus we have Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, as well as believers in analytical ideologies, such as Republicans, Democrats, and Fascists.
On the other hand, the theosophy that perennial schools have always practiced is profoundly, incompatibly different: It consists of transcending any and all such distinctions. Distinctions (such as those based on race, creed, gender, caste, color, belief system, and nationality, all stemming from ideologies), are the theosophy-excluding province of the analytical mind. A true, empathically-caring fellowship of all human beings, and of humans with all living things, is impossible for anyone who defines her identity in terms of any capitalizable "world-view" -- including a "Theosophical" one. After all, by the very nature of analytical "positions," holders of such views segregate against non-believers -- and that is what the TS was created to transcend. We live in a world in which the vast majority of humans, while presumably yearning for peace and harmony, simultaneously (and strangely) identify segregatedly with some necessarily divisive ideology identified with a capitalized word, which may begin with a "C" or an "I" or a "J" -- or a "T."
The perennial wisdom, or theosophy (uncapitalized, since it is unrelated to purely conditioning-bound analytical divisions) seems to be the one and only source for answers to personal, social, and global issues, given that it consists of caring deeply in one's daily life for others (especially the people one actually meets), and for the living things that impinge on one's life. This communion from moment to moment with that which is -- which theosophy consists of -- unveils intelligence and is itself intelligence (or divine wisdom, if you will). It is such sensitive intelligence that makes it possible to read all that is like an open book, and thereby yield divine wisdom from every experience, no matter how seemingly "trite."
This intelligence could be classified within a seven-layered (or a three-layered, or a five-layered, or a nine-layered) diagram that pretends to "explain" the nature of that which is: This divine intelligence has been so slotted analytically in numerous conceptual systems, in which it has appeared classified, for instance, as "Buddhi" or "Intuition" (or "You-Name-It"). So this has in fact been done numerous times, always in defense of some necessarily divisive analytical system.
Regarding the implicit divisiveness of all analyis, it should be pointed out that analysis is a wonderful tool that has made it possible for the human species to develop sophisticated levels of comfort and safety, which our ancestors did not enjoy. But all the great triumphs of analysis have taken place exclusively in the realm of the physical, the mechanical, the material. This is why analysis is so extrordinarily successful in areas such as engineering, carpentry, and computers.
On the other hand, analysis is totally out of its depth in psychological-spiritual aspects of human life, and is dismally inept and even dangerous whenever it makes inappropriate incursions into these areas, which involve human self-realization, relationships (between humans amongst each other, and also with other species), and social arrangements. Analysis, for instance, is incapable of understanding such realities as love, insight, or justice. It can TALK about these realities (and Lord knows it loves to do that), and thereby create partisan "views" about them, which invariably lead to conflict and to an absence of love, insight, justice, beauty -- or theosophy. So analysis does not have the capacity to truly understand these realities -- let alone "explain" them. I have documented the dual nature of analysis -- its success in the physical-mechanical-material realm, and its total failure in the realm of the true, the good, and the beautiful, which is the realm of theosophy -- in THE ANALYTICAL FALLACY. I further showed in that book that all analysis outside the realm of the physical-material-mechanical is divisive, for reasons that may now be aparent, in terms of the above.
The reality of the total inadequacy and inappropriateness of analysis delving into "truth" flies in the face of, for instance, "Theosophists" placing divine intelligence (or "Buddhi") as one of several modalities (others being the physical, emotional, mental, and causal), within a mere diagram. A diagram is a mode of classification, and all classification is purely analytical.
So no matter how clever or seemingly "inspiring" for believers, such a diagram, and the beliefs it inspires, is 100 percent unrelated to the lifestyle of sensitivity that theosophy is: In such a theosophical lifestyle there can be no division, at any level, between "us" and "them." Yet such divisions are the bread and butter of all analytical systems outside the realm of the physical-material-mechanical -- and an analytical system is precisely what all "Theosophical" systems pretend to be, and are.
A good example of the divisive innards of all analytical systems (in this case as applied to "Theosophy") is the innumerable divisions between "Theosophists," created exclusively on the basis of differences based on a diversity of mere opinions, that is, analysis, of leaders or "doctrines" differing from the ones each believer prefers. I submit to you, my brothers and sisters from all "Theosophical" organizations -- and I do so with genuine affection coming from deep within -- that this is a critical time for having comprehensive theosophy in our lives, not more tragically-fragmenting analyses. This is very serious business, my brothers and sisters. This is most emphatically not an analytical game in which "you have your opinion, and I have mine." We need to grow up beyond such an obviously childish perspective, especially when we consider that we are in the midst of the most wonderful opportunities for individual transformation on a global scale, as well as the most earth-shaking threats to planetary welfare to date. Incidentally, all analytical perspectives outside the realm of the physical-material-mechanical are childish and dangerous, as I have documented in THE ANALYTICAL FALLACY.
It should be clarified that "theosophical states of awareness" are not meant as a description of a pattern of behavior to be followed, since patterns of behavior are precisely what believing in systems yields. Rather, a theosophical lifestyle consists of engaging from moment to moment in divine-like (theos-sophia) states of awareness, a process that involves no methodologies or techniques (since these are always analytical), and which implies a transformation, if seen by the light of the kinds of conditioning-bound analyses that most humans erroneously consider "life" to be.
In the days before the transformative era that is obviously beginning as we speak, such theosophical, transformative states of awareness were referred to with the word "initiation," and to paraphernalia attached to that expression. Unfortunately, the word "initiation" has lost its eminently dynamic, living meaning as a result of people becoming mere believers in wordy analytical expositions of "initiation." Every single perennial teacher and school -- from the ancient past to the sobering present -- has stated and been about the fact that without "initiation," without transformation, there cannot be theosophy: It is only in "initiatory," divine-like, theosophical, NON-ANALYTICAL states of awareness that theosophy lives, and moves, and has its being.
By Anand Gholap
Today's scientists and psychologists are aware of most of the human needs. But they are not aware fully and acknowledge yet that human beings at certain stage of their evolution have spiritual need. What is this spiritual need? It is this spontaneous desire to know who we are, why we are born, what is right to do, what is wrong and how to decide that, what happens after death, what is nature of God. When person starts feeling this need from within he becomes restless, he starts search for getting answers to these questions. With the hope to get answers to his questions he reads books on spirituality, religions, philosophies, meets yogis, visits ASHRAMS, spiritual organizations and explores various way to get answers to these questions.
Like all needs, this spiritual need of man should also be satisfied if he is to live happy life, healthy life, and make progress. Man is evolving being and in every life, he evolves emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. So we see progress in so many fields. But human stage is not the last stage in this evolutionary process. As he evolves there are stages that may be called super-human stages in which man gets answers to all the above questions, and knows who he is, he knows by direct experience that he is one with omnipresent God. Before that, he was thinking he was separate from other people, animals, plants, and minerals. But now when he knows Reality or Truth, he knows by direct experience that he is part of God and so one with all, he loves all without distinctions.
There is a process in between two stages -- a stage in which he wants to know who he is and starts to find it and ultimately realizes his unity with everything. To help his spiritual progress, to solve his problems, to enable men to make wise decisions considering laws of karma or laws of Nature so that he can avoid mistakes and live life in such a way that he will become beneficent force in the world, he in his turn would help progress of other people and world, Theosophy was given. Theosophy literally means Divine Wisdom.
Theosophy includes everything. So although Theosophical literature is more focused on spiritual aspect of life, it considers development of sciences, philosophies, arts and material well being as important. So it considers all aspects of life and tries to help progress of humanity For that purpose Theosophical Society was founded. Knowledge of Theosophy, laws of Nature is given by various occultists who by their own occult investigations under the guidance of the Masters of Wisdom found laws of Nature and created a comprehensive body of knowledge which can help people if they study it, live right life, facilitate evolution of themselves and that of others. Other aspirants also can know by direct experience who they are i.e. they are part of one all-pervading life which we call God.
After founding of the Theosophical Society, in last around 129 years, because of clairvoyant investigations and process of occultism through which some of the members have gone through and who wrote about it, there is now available considerable knowledge of laws of nature, evolution, laws of karma, laws of reincarnation and path of occultism. It appears that progress of the Theosophical Society in having sound philosophy is satisfactory, although more knowledge will be added from time to time as needed and as what is already given is digested by people.
What seems to be lacking is that knowledge is not available easily to most people. Theosophy is a vast subject. Nobody should expect to understand it by reading 7-8 books, whoever may be their authors. This world is extremely complex machinery governed by infinite laws. And so subject of Theosophy which aims at knowing these laws is also vast. Many deep students of Theosophy have studied hundreds of books, they are satisfied with what knowledge they got from it, but they also realized that this knowledge was only a small part of Theosophy. What we need now it to make available all the writing done so far on Theosophy to students in cheapest and easiest way. Best way to provide this knowledge is to give text of all books and articles on Theosophy on CDs. It will need around two CDs to provide all writing to people. Also, it should be made available on the internet so that it can be accessed from any country and as computer and internet is fast spreading in all countries, taking theosophical writing to people will be easy provided digitization of all books, articles, and speeches written by occultists is done.
Root cause of all problems has been most of the times ignorance about laws of Nature or laws of Karma. And if we give knowledge of laws of Nature, i.e. Theosophy, to all people we will have eradicated that root cause -- ignorance, to much extent. On this front i.e. Making available writing to people, making them know about Theosophy, it appears that Theosophical Society has not performed to the level it should. Very few people know about Theosophy and among those who know, few have read right books and understood it. Better guidance is required as regards what books to read and how Theosophy can be applied in daily life.
Causes of becoming Theosophical movement less effective are many. One major cause is idea among some section of members that they can understand this vast subject of Theosophy by studying 7-8 books. Because of this idea, they don't increase their knowledge by studying more books. Second cause is there is no much publicity given to Theosophy and the Theosophical Society. So many people don't hear about TS. Third cause is many people cannot afford to buy large number of books and as they stay far away from TS Lodges, they can't access Lodge library. But internet and distribution of writing on CDs will solve this problem. Fourth cause is members don't know which books on Theosophy to read as there are thousands of books on spirituality and yoga in market. Many of these are written by merely intellectual interpreters who read some books, draw some conclusions that are many time wrong and make people believe in those. So out of hundred books only one is written by true disciple who has firsthand experience and who is evolved spiritually. And aspirant does not know which book among hundred books to read. So I would advise students to read only those books which are written by disciples. Here are some of the authors who I believe had gone through initiations and their writing is extremely good for understanding Theosophy and can guide aspirant in life and on the path of occultism -- Annie Besant, C.W. Leadbeater, C. Jinarajadasa, Geoffrey Hodson, I.K. Taimni, G.S. Arundale, N. Sri Ram. H.P. Blavatsky was also a disciple and has written much on Theosophy but many students find her language difficult to understand. Still those who can understand, may read it. Here readers might ask how can I say somebody was disciple. These things cannot be proved with physical instruments and there is no way I can prove it to others. But if reader is sufficiently evolved he will understand from quality of the writing, by using reader's intellect and intuition, that these were indeed very evolved and experienced initiates.
Another important point is Theosophy, though it existed for ages, was always given in veiled language to keep secretes away from people whose moral, intellectual and spiritual development was not sufficient and so they might have misused this knowledge. Only few people who had required inner qualities were able to understand and were helped to understand true meaning. Understanding of Theosophy depends on person's own spiritual, moral, intellectual development and good karma done by him unselfishly to help others in previous lives and in this life. As these factors vary from person to person, even if he reads right books on Theosophy, his understanding will depend on these factors.
There is much scope for improvement and making TS more useful to the world. When considerable number of members study right books, understand Theosophy, live right life, supplement study with actual acts of selfless service of others done with only motive to help others, it will be able to draw life from Occult Hierarchy, which will make Theosophical Society more alive, more active and achieve its goal of raising humanity.
By Perry Coles
The question of what is theosophy is difficult to answer for many reasons. In its deepest sense, it is beyond description and label. How can we describe the indescribable and the Absolute? On another level, you could say it is a way of being and living altruistically. Someone can be a theosophist and never have heard the word "theosophy." Living harmoniously and selflessly makes him or her a theosophist in the true sense.
On another level, we have come to know a body of teachings as theosophy. We are told it was presented by Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky to the modern outer world for the first time. The Occult Brotherhood, to which Madame Blavatsky's teachers belonged, long kept many of these teachings secret.
These teachings are the essence of the great religious and philosophical schools throughout time. Sufism, Vedanta, Kabala, Gnosticism, Plato, Taoism, Buddhism, and the teachings of Zoroaster each contain aspects of this Ancient Wisdom Tradition's teachings known today as theosophy.
Madame Blavatsky continually emphasized that she did not intend these teachings to be dogma for the student to blindly believe, memorize, and repeat. Rather they were to provide a practical methodology of opening and expanding the mind, bringing about a completely new way of thinking. The teachings were to facilitate a broader and more compassionate vision of life and its purpose. This would impel humanity towards compassionate action, action not rooted in fear, blind faith, and superstition.
After Blavatsky's death, many authors in the Adyar Society changed important concepts, not subtleties of interpretation but rather major contradictions, significant inconsistencies. The manner of their writing promoted a blind belief based on a hierarchical leader-and-followers mindset. This resulted in claims of a Messiah and Second Coming, complete with blind obedience and all the paraphernalia that goes with it.
The Adyar Society still is in denial over this. Until these issues are openly faced in its publications, it cannot genuinely claim to promote freedom of thought. Such freedom includes open investigation, study, and challenge where required. Its publications appear unable to seriously debate and challenge these "second-generation" writings, termed "neo-" or even pseudo-theosophy by some students.
I ask the Society to seriously consider this problem and proactively address it, so that opposing sides of the debate may be heard, rather than simply one perspective currently expressed. This would be a watershed for the theosophical movement as a whole, adding tremendously to the credibility of our teachings and the ongoing development of the movement.
By Bee Brown
After all these years, I still find it hard to define theosophy in a few words. It is different to the varied members involved in it. To me, it is a body of valuable knowledge to live by insofar as my psychological makeup allows. In this chaotic world, my lifeline has been to absorb the reason for my life and all that is around me, little by little, year by year.
I have become aware that life has many choices every day -- big ones and little ones. My study of theosophy has supplied me ideas of brotherhood, of self control of deeds, words, and thoughts all of which affect what goes on around me. I believe that theosophy expands the mind and alongside it the heart. Both are necessary for wisdom.
I have renewed interest in death and the after life. Now in my 60's, I may meet that situation in the next few years. G de Purucker has much to say about them. Understanding how the Cosmos works as far as I can, I find peace and tolerance for myself, in today's world where there is violence and misery. They are part of this evolutionary stage of humanity, mostly due to ignorance and karmic conditions set up in the distant past. Understanding this, I find them bearable.
In the expansion of one's consciousness, a greater awareness of the rightness of everything becomes a beacon of hope. In due course, humanity will grow and we will become what we are meant to be. Each is responsible for his or her life. Until we become like the Elder Brothers, we can only proffer a helping hand when asked. We should not force our opinions on others, as our own opinions are just that -- mere opinions. Truth is tricky to expound from a soapbox and expect others to accept. Theosophy points to where truth might be found, something different than preaching it.
Our theosophical groups could be more accessible to the needs of the society in which they are active. The emergence of the Theosophical Order of Service [TOS] here and there is a good sign. It could be an arm of the Theosophical Society where Lodges have willing members wanting a way to live what they have learned and benefit their town.
I would like to see more information on the astral world made available. Many mental problems seem to arise from its influence. It is time people know how the unseen always affects them. It is difficult, but I hope the Theosophical Society will be able help those with one foot in each place without knowing it. The Society has the knowledge. Are there members who would study and apply it? There are souls coming into incarnation now that badly need to know more. The environment of psychic influences is stronger than ever. Some of the children of my friends are on drugs from their doctors, attempting to curb their behavior. It is sad that this is the only way society helps them.
How can we bring the Theosophical Society into the forefront to help these troubled souls? Perhaps other, younger leaders may be able to do so. Is the Theosophical Society solely a repository for books holding wisdom that the world needs to become a kinder place? Is the Society also meant to outreach to people seeking spiritual help? I still do not know, even after close involvement with the Society for years.
I have seen troubled souls come to lectures and join. No one knows what to do with them, so they are gently kept on the fringes so they do not disrupt proceedings. Then they move on to other places. It is difficult to speak about the esoteric to people without mental preparation. Even so, there are ways of presenting the basics of thought power, astral influence, and the elemental kingdoms understandably. This takes dedicated work by members. That is where the Society should move, perhaps using the TOS to reach into society to souls in need.
Surely the Society has knowledge useful for more than its few members. In the last hundred years, some of it has become common knowledge, so we have already made a start.
By Dick Slusser
[A submission originally printed in THE HIGH COUNTRY THEOSOPHIST for the 1992 Rainbow Gathering.]
The vast collection of ancient wisdom teachings given to humanity over the ages comprises what we know as theosophy.
"Theosophy" means divine wisdom, and it is the esoteric (hidden, essential) core of Religion, Philosophy, and Science. It includes teachings about the source and purpose of life, and the metaphysical laws and processes that govern the universe. It deals with man's spiritual nature and provides insights into cosmogensis (the origin and development of the universe), and anthropogenesis (the origin and development of humanity), including humankind's purpose and means of spiritual evolution.
Theosophical knowledge is not exclusive to any particular group or culture, but rather belongs to all of the spiritually awakened who are responsive to its wisdom. In modern times, theosophy has been widely identified with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and with the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 as a revival of theosophical thought.
The tradition, however, is much more ancient, going back to the original mystery teachings given to humanity before the dawn of historical records. In recorded history, the name "Theosophy" was first used in the third century A.D. in Alexandria, Egypt by Ammonius Saccas in connection with the teachings of Greek mysteries. He founded the Eclectic Theosophical System to show the correlations and similarities of teachings in all religious sects and nations of the times.
Mystical theosophical thought and teachings were thus advanced by ancient Greek philosophers, as well as by great thinkers in ancient Chaldea, Persia, Babylonia, Egypt, and China. The founders of all great religions taught some aspect of the esoteric tradition. A rich and profound source of theosophy has come from India in the Vedas (Hindu scriptures), the Upanishads, and The Bhagavad-Gita. We may also find aspects of theosophy in esoteric (Gnostic) Christianity, the Kabala of Hebrew teachings, Buddhism, Taoism, and Sufism (esoteric Islam).
Recognizing the essential unity of all major religions, theosophy does not seek to covert anyone from their chosen religion, but rather seeks to interpret and reveal the hidden inner meanings of the sacred texts.
Theosophy is a synthesis of the deepest thinking of the East and the West. It focuses on the large picture of the totality of existence -- of ALL THAT IS -- and uses an inclusive, correlative perspective. Though ancient in origin, it truly is ageless. Today it is seemingly modern as it provides correlation or the burst of knowledge in the Twentieth Century, offering a means of converting knowledge into wisdom, understanding and spiritual enlightenment.
By Bruce F. MacDonald
What is Theosophy and where must it go in today's world if it is to remain relevant?
At my present stage in life I tend to read what I find to be useful and ignore the rest. It isn't quite that simple, of course, but my approach tends to be quite utilitarian. Theosophical writing I found to be very useful. When I first read Theosophical writings I was on a long spiritual path, had been meditating for many years, and found in the writings of HPB and Judge an account which indicated that they had been along a similar path and could talk about it intelligently and with insight. I was interested mainly in their "experience" of the spiritual domains. Some of the material, about the development of the various Globes and some of the evolutionary ideas, I accepted as interesting, but not something I was terribly attached to.
I have not been in any Theosophical groups. But when I first jumped into the theosophical ocean, at least the internet discussion part of that body of water, I was surprised how much animosity there was among contributors. An organization devoted to the Brotherhood of Humanity seemed an odd place for such rancour.
Reactions depend, of course, on what one expects from a particular subject. Obviously, a number of people did not see what they wanted and reacted accordingly. In fact they seemed to find in the theosophical writings something they could attack with seeming impunity. Such a reaction seemed a bit "useless" to me. Why didn't they just leave the writings to those who found them of value and go find something they could value? It began to look, after a while, as if they actually were not looking for value, but merely wanted to attack for attack's sake. If Theosophy hadn't been around, something else would have suited them well, I am sure. The desire to attack will usually find an object, and for some, Theosophy just happened to be handy.
Most of my reactions, as you can see, have to do with "usefulness," because in the spiritual domains, what is not useful is discarded. It is not worth being attached to or fighting with what is not of any use on the spiritual path. Only the lower ego holds onto the useless and argues incessantly about it.
I comment on this animosity first in discussing where Theosophy is at the present, because it seems that from the first, Theosophy has had to deal with a lot of detractors, most of them motivated by personal hatreds rather than a considered exploration of the ideas which Theosophy presents. I assume that part of Theosophy's future, as of its past and present, will include these detractors. And that, I think, is a problem Theosophy's enemies will have to overcome in their own spiritual growth, and Theosophy will have to live with. Theosophists will have to concentrate on the ideas of Theosophy instead of on the detractors.
I came to Theosophy after many years of silent meditation and wide reading in the literature and traditions of the world. I found nothing offensive in Theosophy's teachings. In fact, they tended to clarify and bring together in an accessible format, many of the disparate religious and philosophical traditions of the world. In some instances they were quite wonderful in the way they clarified traditions which were hidden or obscure.
I had also gone through a life-changing Kundalini awakening and was looking for any writings which could clarify, or at least give an intellectual model for, my experience and help me understand it. Before I read HPB and Judge, I found very little which seemed to be an accurate reflection of my Kundalini and other profound spiritual experiences. In the theosophical writings of HPB and Judge I sensed "the real thing." These were people who knew what they were talking about from their own inner experience of a number of spiritual states and processes. It is easy to recognize a fake in the sphere of spiritual writing, especially when you have been through the actual experience being described. They seemed to me to be genuine.
I benefited greatly from reading their works as they related to my own spiritual pursuits. They gave a symbolic map of spiritual consciousness which was a true reflection of what actually happens in the process of spiritual growth: though I recognize that those who have not been through that growth will not be able to see the truth of what they are saying.
But back to the conflicts. They reflect a movement which is taking place at the present time in our society. I found in the internet discussions a lot of "head doctrine." Intellectual searching, the kind of thing our society concentrates on, can be helpful at first, but finally does not answer the deeper questions of life. People are looking for something beyond Manas and its dry logic. Theosophy will have to move beyond that if it is to survive at a time in history where people are searching for an actual awareness of what many Theosophists speak of theoretically.
The "heart doctrine" was what I was mainly interested in. Instead of just learning of the seven-fold nature of man (to use one example), the pressing questions now are, how does one actually move from the desire nature, through the ego conflicts and attachments of the lower Manas, to a direct apprehension of Atma/Buddhi? How does one take the intellectual map provided by the writings and actually walk the inner path for which they are symbols?
What is it, in experiential terms, to be aware of Jiva, of Prana, of Kama, of Linga Sarira, of Manas, Buddhi and Atman? I have found it is eminently possible to be aware of all these, and even to "use" them to bring healing to life, to body, to spirit. The bliss of the cleansing of "chit," of the central "knowing nature" of the Self, without ego attachments, is well worth seeking.
I have tried, in many years of inner exploration through meditation, through listening to the Sound of the Silence, to answer those questions. It is in the Silence of the inner Self that the theory of the writings is tested and shown to be an accurate guide. It is in the Silence that the perception of Buddhi arises. The Kingdom of Heaven IS within.
Manas always argues and fights, because Manas is so terribly tied to the self-protecting, limited identity of ego. But in order to progress, Theosophy, like the individual, has to move beyond the intellectual ego to the direct apprehension of the Self.
Theory is fine, and the early Theosophists presented us with that. But we can't just stop there, continually rehashing the past. What is needed now is to internalize the theory, to make it part of our own inner spiritual practice. I think that "Spiritual Practice" is what Theosophy has to emphasize now. We must listen to the Sound of the Silence and find there the kinds of experiences on which the teachings are based. That is the next stage of our human evolution, of Theosophy's evolution: moving from the limits of Manas, of intellectualism, of little ego, to the direct, intuitive perceptions of Buddhi, of Wisdom, of the Divine presence in all living, of Atman.
By Marty Lyman
|Ancient Wisdom||vast collection of ancient teachings|
|Discovery||uncovering ideals in lost knowledge|
|Inquiry||investigate Orient and Occident terminology|
|Quest||exploring the basis for religions and philosophy|
|Critique||comparing science and philosophy of known world with unseen world|
|Guidelines||collection of ethical ideas on how to live one's life|
|Mysticism||exploration of the hidden worlds within|
|Universal Brotherhood||realization of the "One" life|
|Grace||blessings from a brotherhood of realized masters|
|Not a dogma||but a body of teachings without boundary|
|Not a tantric practice||but a guidepost to exploration|
|Not a given path||but a discussion of a pathless land|
|Not a specific yoga||but a doorway leading to many yogas|
|Not an exclusive group||but an inclusive group of people willing "to try"|
Theosophy's body of teachings remains for those ready to receive them. Diehards will be willing to work with and for these teachings. However, Theosophy is for the few who are willing to explore beyond this physical world. Wherefore, those who remain with the organizations and study groups will remain small in number.
Many terms the early Theosophists presented are now common in our language, but the ideas take longer for the world at large to grasp. Unfortunately, because Theosophy remains a body of teachings rather than a practice, many come, study it, but move on to other disciplines. Some, such as me, will apply them to new yogas or disciplines. Others, such as Dick Slusser, will stay, helping preserve its unique history. Yet others will use the information in scholarly pursuits.
How active theosophical organizations are depends on how receptive to the teachings their people of a given region are, on how well Theosophists can incorporate the teachings into their lives, and on how current their methods of presentations are.
Most of the books are inexpensive or free online.
By Leon Maurer
Someone might say that theosophy is a method of dealing with life. True, but it also is a body of thought based on fundamental principles. It concerns the origin and genesis of the Cosmos, its reflection in the evolution of humanity, and the nature of being in general. One does not have to believe in it without thoughtful consideration, but rather verify it as a true synthesis of science, religion and philosophy. How does one do this? One looks within, studies the fundamental ideas about the actual metaphysical nature of reality, practices "living the life" and fulfilling one's duties -- while also meditating on those truths in relation to one's own inner nature -- all the time empowered by self-devised and self-determined efforts. Through these means, one finds and follows one's Teacher of the art of living and being that is one's own higher self -- the direct reflection of the all wise and all knowing universal soul. Otherwise, one might spend a whole life following the gurus and doing good works only to find in the end that the real teacher is within.
The theosophical experience leading to an understanding of Universal Brotherhood and its expression in relationships with others can only come about following a budding relationship with that true Master within. That is the only learning system of value in the end. "Theosophy is as theosophy does" and "Physician, heal thyself" perfectly reflects this.
Theosophy has no relationship to organized groups or the idolatry they might or might not promote. It directs solely to the self within. This is so we attain our individual self-realization or enlightenment, which has no dependence on authority, beliefs, rituals, or faith in idols or teachers.
By K. Paul Johnson
Consider issues of interdisciplinary rivalry. Whether or not the gnosis of sages is qualitatively superior to the knowledge of scholars is far beyond my grasp. What interests me is oneupmanship among different branches of scholarship, and how that applies to the Kantian "das ding an sich."
When I brought up the date of the Book of Mormon on a mailing list devoted to American religious history, the intensity of the objections was astonishing. Several participants were distinctly bullying, expressing their righteous indignation. The bottom line was, "How dare you touch the sacred scripture with your dirty historical hands?" (This is also the bottom line of some objections to a historical investigation of the theosophical Masters.)
The indignation on the mailing list came from people that disbelieved that the Book of Mormon was a translation from Reformed Egyptian. It was enlightening to observe them feigning outrage at my allusion to that fact and to get private email from historians saying in essence, "you go, guy."
Clearly, the disciplines of religious studies and history are engaged in a turf war. One could add psychology, sociology, and parapsychology, all of which can offer yet other reductionist accounts.
This leads us to the following template for considering Theosophy We state, "One cannot possibly begin to understand the Theosophical Masters," then pose many possible answers.
This list can go on and on; there are many other possible answers. It can apply to any figure in religious history.
I wish we would allow a thousand flowers to bloom without trying to destroy one another's flowers, saying they have no right to coexist with the others.
Not only academicians create problems by the application of rigid categories and insisting we understand a phenomenon only in terms of those categories. People come hard-wired that way. We have a build-in reaction of fight or flight, of eat or be eaten, in what is called the reptilian brain. But thanks to the neocortex, we also come hard-wired to perceive nuances and entertain multiple perspectives. Perhaps only sages can maintain that level consistently but therein we can find our future evolution.
By Pedro Oliveira
It has become a platitude to say that we live in an age of darkness. At times, it looks like an endless night, in which dawn is indefinitely postponed. Some would insist in characterizing this as a "post 9/11" world, as if every kind of horror didn't exist before the attacks on the United States.
The struggle between light and darkness within the human mind is all too evident today. There are those of who kill, torture and maim indiscriminately as a form of "ideological statement" about their own causes, the pronoun 'they' being very much a highlight of their own mindset. There are many others who exploit, abuse and traffic women and children not because of any ideological reasons, but out of sheer greed for quick wealth. Still others are there who make of their religion the last bastion against 'heathens', 'pagans', 'nastikas,' fiercely holding on to the notion that only THEIR tradition is the true one. They all do so while blissfully ignorant of the fact that an infinite cosmos is staring at them from every possible direction, making a mockery of every exclusivist view on the Eternal Order.
Yet, in every country, certainly in every city, there are those who renew in their hearts everyday the fresh realization of being related to everyone and everything, and who offer themselves in acts of service for no apparent reason other than to share the glory and awesomeness of life in every form. Some of them become volunteers for an ever-growing number of non-government organizations across the world that work for the alleviation of human suffering. Others serve in many other capacities, sometimes silently when they send out their affection, compassion and healing to many in sore need of non-physical help.
If it is true that the essence of Theosophy is altruism, then we need to recognize that there is quite a great deal of active Theosophy in the world. If theosophical studies cannot, or fail to, awaken a steady passion for altruistic action then perhaps the approach to them may be wrong or we are failing to reach their essential principles. Every fundamental theosophical principle is an eloquent statement on the profound relatedness that is at the very core of every expression of life.
We are all familiar with book-centered Theosophy. Can we now learn Theosophy from the classroom that is the world? Can we see how the spirit of the Wisdom-Teaching is informing many lives and organizations today, proclaiming with actions the essential oneness of all humanity? Or shall we maintain that Theosophy is for the few and that the Wisdom of the Ages is now under copyright?
Can the world teach us Theosophy?
By Chris Bartzokas
Unperceived by most, there is a stream of Truth or Knowledge that runs through the foundation of all major religions, philosophies and ancient lore: from the infant days of humanity to the present day. Philosophically, It has been variously referred to as Archaic Wisdom-Religion, Atma-Vidya, Eclectic Philosophy, Esoteric Knowledge, Philaletheia, Heart or Secret Doctrine, Theosophia.
Its veracity has been corroborated by the experience of an unbroken line of adepts and mystics, who are promulgating It from generation to generation by word of mouth, ideograms, and texts. Irrigated by Their compassion and charity immortal, It explains the mysteries of Universe and Man.
Existentially, It unravels the mystery of consciousness and helps sincere enquirers to learn about the Science of Life, practice the Art of Living, and perceive the Wisdom of Being. It is the quintessence of our spiritual inheritance.
When by study and unselfish conduct sincere aspirants begin to ascend towards Its Eternal Verities, it can be said that the quest for personal development has begun in earnest. However, mystically speaking, only those of exceptional moral purity may approach It and hear the Voice of the Silence.
Dark clouds began to gather well before the archaic wisdom-religion was re-launched in the nineteenth century. It is a sad reflection of the human condition that the noble organisation whose declared aim was brotherhood itself has brought on unbrotherly attitudes towards its principal exponent. And towards those who wished to remain true to the Cause, even in this day and age.
In spite of the odds (and, perhaps, because of them), Theosophy has outlived a long and painful dystocia. It has been sprouting in the most unlike places, unconstrained by the old outfits most of which are dying shells. Its message is now available to all. H.P. Blavatsky's COLLECTED WRITINGS are standard reference texts in public libraries; they are displayed in mainstream bookshops; and thanks to our American Brothers, they figure prominently in the world-wide web.
Increasing numbers of intelligent people are becoming active and loyal advocates of the Theosophical Cause. They work effectively but without much pomp and ceremony. Similarly to those Great Souls, who revived the old teachings, they remain unacknowledged and unthanked by anyone. A nucleus of universal brotherhood has been firmly established. The future is bright.
By Charles Cosimano
Damn, that is a tough couple of questions, especially since I have to take off my court jester hat and be serious. So here goes.
I am of the opinion that the definition of Theosophy and its direction are so intertwined that it is impossible to consider one without the other. Theosophy, as we know it, was a creation out of the nineteenth century, the time of Queen Victoria. We no longer live even in a shadow of that time, and our cultural perspective, at least in the American Empire, is not inclined to view the structure of the Cosmos with the same assumptions. The concept of a spiritual Hierarchy, as exemplified in the Mahatma Letters for example, is not merely alien to us. It is in some ways an unspoken abomination. Hence, any appeal to that hierarchical concept meets not only with conscious skepticism, but also with a culturally determined unconscious objection. (Theosophy is not the only victim of that. The Pope has to deal with it as well.) What has occurred in the last 50 years is that Theosophy has ceased to be cultural, in its own peculiar way, and has become counter-cultural, but not in a way that has appeal to the broader society.
This is not to say that Theosophy is doomed to be an institution made up of doctrinaire misfits, no matter what it may look like on the various mailing lists. It has shown a remarkable ability to evolve and adapt, sometimes in ways that the member of the Theosophical Society find disturbing and sometimes in ways they find utterly hilarious, but the process of evolution continues for all its occasional blunders and dead ends. It has learned to recognize its limitations. It is not going to be a world religion or any sort of world power as an institution and the older materials that promoted that are greeted now with justifiable revulsion from a goodly number of Theosophists, at least those who have even bothered to read them. The rejection of the dogmatic, at least in the Adyar society, has opened the doors for all manner of speculation and thought and this is a good thing for by being as open as it is, by allowing for spiritual experiment, it has created a zone of tolerance and freedom which is unlike any other spiritual organization.
When I first joined the Theosophical Society, over 25 years ago now, there was a little phrase on a bookmark in the Olcott Library. It said, "Find your path, dare to live it." Theosophy has become a safe haven for folks to do just that and that can only bode well for its future.
By Jake Jaqua
That "Theosophy World" is reaching its 100th issue is proof that there is health in the Theosophical world and that it has a future. E-zines such as T World, the "Aquarian Theosophist," and others reach thousands and have proved themselves of public appeal as they are still in existence after a trial of some years. These are esoteric publications mostly, or that one wouldn't understand what they are about without some previous philosophic delving. This is OK. I know I wouldn't have understood it either, or at least be attracted, without several years of interest and being enthralled by other systems and specialities. What I realize now is that Blavatsky Theosophy is in a class by itself.
What does the Future hold? It seems an odd occurence that one happens to be born in a time when such Philosophy as Blavatsky's is readily available. Why now?, one wonders. Such avatars come often previous to a time of chaos for civilization in general, one can gather from the literature. Look at Jesus coming just a few centuries before the medieval European period, the destruction of all the mystery-schools, and the plunging of Europe into a dark age. Is something similar or a grander scale about to happen to our present civilization?
There's a Theosophical claim that an effort is made since the time of Tsong-Ka-pa by Blavatsky's Trans-Himalayan school to elevate we western barbarians in the last 25 years of each Century. We're now in the negative automatic reaction to that effort. It was perhaps poorly expected that such an effort would be made through the Theosophical movement, and this did not overtly happen. We did, however, have a huge surgence in interest in Buddhism and the Dalai Lama becoming a world figure and winner of a nobel prize. This is satisfying of the Theosophical prophecy fulfilled, I think. What may happen at the end of this century, one wonders -- a democratic world-fulment, a new religion that arises out of computer science and the internet, a resurgence of Druidism, evidence and contact with a civilization on a planet of Alpha-Centauri, or a resurgence and purifying of Hinduism?
Or our civilization may descend into chaos. First and second world countries are relying nearly totally on computers, and will more so in the future. Computers require a very high degree of perfect order to work at all, and thus the corresponding potential for complete chaos exists as well. The likelyhood of an underground technocracy also exists, and possibly already does exist to some extent. Science Fiction novels and movies (Mad Max, The Terminator, etc.) of "life after the fall" are omniprevalent. Perhaps this is the voice of the subconscious seeing the future, and what has occured many times before in our own and Atlantean civilizations. The future of Blavatsky Theosophy, the wisdom-religion, may be the property of isolated books here and there, of computer files saved haphazardly and ending up at anarchistic communities.
Why worry about it, one wonders. Well, for one thing, from a quasi-selfish viewpoint, one passing on the information to following generations may increase the likelyhood that when he is reborn again, that the information may be available, and lives saved and improved in a real sense. So that web file of those Blavatsky articles you decided to take the time to save to disk, might inadvertently save a civilization down the road, or even a few more lives.
By Joy Mills
As is well known to all students, the word "Theosophy" has never been defined in any official document of the Theosophical Society, but this does not mean that Theosophy itself is simply an amorphous "something" nor is it a "catch-all" term for anything one wishes to believe. Rather, then, than saying what Theosophy IS, I prefer to suggest certain distinguishing characteristics of the term.
First, Theosophy as a word which can be explored either in terms of its roots or in terms of whatever has usually been understood as its content. Second, as a "doctrine" or "teaching," a philosophy or a metaphysic embracing a specific worldview. And third, as a way of life, a mode of being in the world. Each of these characteristics may be examined separately or seen as interdependent, one leading to and including the others.
As a word, then, Theosophy is usually defined in terms of its Greek origins, THEOS and SOPHIA. Theos we consider as the basis for such words as god, the gods, divine, sacred, but when examined more deeply, we may note that its verbal root has the essential meaning of that which grows or expands from within, a creative energy or force. Sophia as wisdom or discriminative intelligence is then inherent in the creative process, and one may recall the Scriptural text that "By wisdom God created all things," which by implication tells us that not only did intelligence or wisdom come first but that it inheres in all that exists in a manifested universe, hence all things are sacred. This has always been, for me, the fundamental premise of Theosophy: the universe and all that it contains is not only one substance, one "thing," however diverse may be the forms through which that one-ness exhibits itself, but in its manifoldness is everywhere sacred, participating in the divine.
As a doctrine or teaching, Theosophy comprises fundamental principles, among which may be numbered unity, polarity, cyclicity, lawfulness, etc. A full detailing of Theosophy as teaching would take us far beyond the bounds of this brief exposition and, of course, has been the subject matter of numerous books from ancient times to the present, with modern Theosophy dating more explicitly from the time of the publishing of the works of H.P. Blavatsky.
Especially significant, I believe, is the recognition that Theosophy, to be truly meaningful as a doctrine, must be exhibited in one's life. It is, essentially, a way of life, which means a way of being, of acting, of thinking, of feeling, in the world. Theosophy, from such a point of view, is not so much a noun as a verb. It is not so much a teaching to be learned as a process to be experienced, just as in the mystery schools of old, the neophyte was led to the experience of an inner reality that could never be fully explicated in any language, but which by its very nature transformed the initiate, a new birth revealing a new being. This is the age-old process known as theurgy, for we are called on to perform a work of the gods, by so transforming ourselves that we transform the world.
And it is because of this third characteristic of Theosophy that we can perceive where it may be going. First, Theosophy as a wisdom reveals itself in our being as we grow into it; until we do grow into it, transforming ourselves in the process, the principles and concepts remain fragmentary. We must accept, in all humility, that no written text or scripture, however profound, could ever contain the whole of a wisdom which is as vast as the universe itself. As a wise sage once said, "You must not only learn the truth, you must suffer it." And to suffer the truth, to bear it, is to live it in such a way that even as we discover deeper and deeper aspects of truth, our lives are transformed. So where is Theosophy going? It must pierce the very essence of our being until we become the carriers, the embodiment of that wisdom, becoming in some mysterious and perhaps limited manner co-creators with the Ultimate One, with the responsibility for aiding the upward ascent of all life. If we are true to the inherent meaning of Theosophy, as a word, as a teaching, as a way of life, we -- like those great ones who have gone before us -- may become by our presence a blessing on the world, we may become authentic Theosophists.
By Jerry Hejka-Ekins
What is Theosophy? Its Greek derivation, THEOSOPHIA, literally, "wisdom of the gods" or "God" is often presented as a definition of sorts. However, it does not include the fact that there are many theosophies -- or, to put it another way, theosophy takes many forms, and did not begin with the Theosophical Society. For instance, the German mystic Jacob Boehme called himself a "theosopher" over two centuries before the Theosophical Society was established. The seventeen or so founders of the Theosophical Society, who discovered (says Olcott) the word in Webster's dictionary, would have noted that Webster's definition speaks of theosophy as a quest for the divine through certain practices, and includes the Kabbalists and Fire Philosophers among the practitioners of theosophy. From that definition, we can easily add the Gnostics, Jnana and Raja yogis, Christian mystics (including Boehme), Buddhists, Sufis and so on.
Is the development of a technique or practice for exploring the divine secrets of nature what the founders had in mind? I suspect so -- at least partly. However, within twenty years the Theosophical Society began to splinter into numerous traditions. So even the Theosophical Society has spawned many theosophies.
HPB required daily meditation for her E.S. members. Near the end of her life, she had a meditation room constructed that featured a skylight of blue glass. It appears from her actions and from Alice Cleather's testimony that HPB was preparing to further initiate one or more of her closest followers into some kind of practice. So, I would conclude that practice formed an aspect of what HPB meant by Theosophy. Of course, HPB's voluminous writings also suggests that her Theosophy has a knowledge aspect -- that is, the kind of knowledge, that when properly understood, would lead one toward the divine.
Therefore, I define theosophy as any system of knowledge or practice, or combination of both, designed to, and when properly executed, leads one towards a realization of the divine.
Where is Theosophy going in today's world? If you mean the theosophies spawned by the Theosophical organizations, they appear to be in decline everywhere except in South America. At their height of popularity, those groups, even taken together, never numbered more than fifty thousand or so followers. I suspect that the karma these organizations created for themselves has and will continue to dampen their growth for the foreseeable future.
More important, are the ideas the Theosophical organizations put into the thought atmosphere. These ideas seem to be reappearing everywhere and, I believe that, in their various manifestations, have been an important factor in moving, at least the Western world, towards a greater tolerance and inclusiveness -- though there is much more to be done. Then again, if one means theosophy in the more universal sense that I defined above, humanity as a whole, is evidently already "hard wired" to respond to this theosophy, and this theosophy will continue in its numberless forms as long as there is a humanity to respond to it.
By Andrew Rooke
I think we first need to draw a line between how we see the future of Theosophy and how we see the future of the TS, though many of us who've been in the movement a long time sometimes confuse the two! Theosophy being an attempt to describe the 'Truth,' 'God Wisdom,' or 'Nature as it is in Itself' is eternal -- past, present, and future. There will always be students yearning for this Wisdom, and friends of the 'Light' who will seek to apply it in a troubled world to alleviate suffering as our forebears have done in ages past. Here in Australia, we have recently been the subject of terrorist attack on our citizens in neighboring Indonesia and we have the heart-wrenching spectacle of the recent atrocities of the school hostage crisis in Russia. These spectacular events drive home how much the message of Brotherhood as a fact in Nature is needed in the world and how much work we have to do individually and as a group to make brotherhood a living reality and not just a platitude in today's and tomorrow's world.
The TS on the other hand, is one of many organizations throughout the ages and today that has attempted to provide the living message of the Hierarchy of Compassion to the world as long as it remains a sincere and vital instrument to do so. Many people within the TS watch with alarm at its declining membership and influence in the world. In Universities and amongst informed readers of our vast literature, the TS is generally looked upon as an historical phenomenon rather than a living force for spirituality and alleviation of suffering in today's world. How are we in the TS to deal with this perception and remain enthusiastic and vital servants of the Hierarchy of Light through the TS? Ask each TS worker and you'll get a different answer! Some see it as a question of becoming more 'relevant,' 'modern,' or 'popular' in terms of the subject matter of our meetings and literature. Others, in using the Internet and other modern communications technology more effectively.
For me, I would see it in remaining sincere and capable outlets for the 'Light' into the world for the sake of alleviating suffering. To do this we need to reach for the original 'Fire' that animated and characterized the work of the TS Founders. This is an inner work largely, which reflects itself in the outer world in many ways including service to the TS. It also means remaining open-minded and responsive to the many ways in which the 'Fire' reaches the outer world. This requires an open-mindedness, enthusiasm, and questing spirit characteristic of the early years of the TS and not to become too comfortable with what we have achieved within the walls of our TS temple, so carefully constructed over the past 130 years.
In essence, I don't believe we can look to the TS as a popular spiritual movement attracting multitudes of devotees. To me we should look to ignite the 'Fire' of brotherhood and spiritual knowledge in the hearts of all we encounter in our daily life inside and outside of the TS. We should also attempt to provide philosophic depth when appropriate, as far as we can, to the spiritual experiences of those we encounter, rather than looking to build yet another monolithic spiritual organization. In the words of The Buddha, I believe we should do what we can to 'Light a thousand lamps' in the hearts of individuals and the light will gradually grow to illumine a dark world.
By Steven Levey
I have known the quest for Theosophical truth most of this life. It has been the high point of this life and perhaps its focus. In truth, although there is family and the work-a-day world, which are of strong significance, the search for truth in each of those is always in the background. For how can an individual really understand himself well enough to make decisions that are meaningful and with consistency and integrity, if the truth be left out of these worldly concerns.
However, this does not mean that love, humor, and malleability are overlooked, as if they were somehow secondary to an honest life. And, let know one think that such an aim implies the ability to be all that one would. Here Paul's phrase from The New Testament is useful to recall, regarding the problem; that which one would do, one does not, and that which one would not do, one does.
There is the Karma of the past, in all three modes of Spiritual, Psychological, and Physical to contend with. This karma will fight one for the high ground of control over ones thoughts and actions. Here is precisely where Theosophy is needed to be brought into the fight, and that is the message of the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna might be seen as Theosophy in Arjuna's life.
First, so that one can apply Theosophical concept in the world, one needs to know the field of application. To that end an individual needs to admit that this field is first himself, for this karma is their own. During this process, they may become fit to assist others to do the same. Yes, this should be the aim of an altruistic life from the beginning, and to this, the following quotation from THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE comes to mind, "Self Knowledge is of loving deeds, the child."
By Judith Ann Christie
The Mission of Theosophy or Theosophists in the Twenty-First Century can truly provide a bridge or footing for the curious human ego through which the serious and the spiritually gifted or the inspired may ponder the cosmic self evident within the body Theosophical truths in order develop and enhance the conception of human knowledge, a perception of one's own Spiritual abilities. And last but not least one's own connection with IT.
In such place or space, one may pursue and work with the imaging processes, within the Theosophical tenets to control this part of self with discipline so that he or she may clearly see or perceive beyond entrenched and enslaving musty ideas that corrode modern thought. It so obvious that ultimately the Theosophist or student of Theosophy not only reveals Theosophy to themselves and others but also in fact reveals one's own eternal mission in this lifetime and all others. This discovery brings the knowledge as to how to guide ones own empowerment, life experiences and path regardless of the problems or obstacles, which may arise in your environment.
Thus, with Theosophy as your tool or artists paintbrush you now become the creator of your own reality and life instead of being torn and dashed by negativism, which often bombards the student from the world outside of Theosophical thought, study, or lifestyle. Consequently, you remain the calm in the balanced center of your being.
What a gallant idea for 'In My View!' You may truly become the vessel, the vehicle, or the temple of Theosophy to shed the illumination and Light for humanity in this century and all others.
By Bill Meredith
Theosophy is a philosophical world-view that offers me more nearly complete answers to the question, "Why is it that I am that I am?" The answers of theosophy I find more whole than do those of any other philosophy, science, or religion with which I am aware. The various disciplines of modern science offer only a stale slice of the answer that at best often becomes a dry loaf of information on "How" more than "Why." It is the same with the diverse religions. In a sense, it is the same within the divisions of theosophy itself. For me then, theosophy is more an internal state of affairs reflecting upon the nature of "Why." When my heart is open, my mind clear, my soul searching, and my spirit illuminated -- then theosophy is active in me.
My reunion with theosophy this time was via the internet. Internet theosophy is growing. A great majority of the texts both ancient and modern are available online. New web sites are being started and the older ones are being updated regularly. There are several E-zines as well. The discussion lists are also multiplying and should the trend continue, perhaps awareness of theosophy will "mainstream" into the public consciousness.
In some ways, internet theosophy is quite distinct from brick and mortar theosophy. The internet allows me to experience and validate for myself the many facets of theosophy instead of just the one or few perspectives housed in a particular building. The internet allows me an opportunity to find theosophy where I last left it, to pick it up again and examine it from every angle, and through theosophy to regain my sense of balance and ultimately my sense of Self. Finally, the internet allows me to meet and exchange ideas with people of diverse backgrounds and unique theosophical interests on a much broader scale than I might expect to find in a lodge-type setting.
In the end, I recognize that theosophy is not a "thing" on the internet anymore than it is a "thing" found in books or a building somewhere. Theosophy is an internal process that gives my soul a voice originating from the monadic center of my being and affecting every aspect of my life with an appreciation for the unity of all things. It is the catalyst for recognizing the essence of my Self in all others and the essence of all others in my Self. Most of all, to me, it continually draws me inward to my own experiences on other planes for meaningful verification through Self-illumination. I believe that this illumination of the Self is the purpose of theosophy. As such, I find that theosophy fills the natural world in the forms of art, literature, poetry, music, comedy, and love, to list but a few forms. Whatever contributes, however great or slight, to the opening up of the self to the presence of the Self is theosophy. For this reason, I try to avoid arguments and debates that point to a particular external rendition of theosophy as being more "true" than others are. In my view, once the Self is illuminated, the potential for Truth is rediscovered internally. As such, all external renditions of theosophy, no matter the authority, are only shadows in comparison.
By Francis O'Kelly
Some say there have been profound shifts in perception since the founding of the Theosophical Society some 130 years ago. Others argue that these are minor, possibly cyclical shifts in the age-long understanding and practice of the perennial, Ancient Wisdom. I will touch briefly upon four aspects.
One element undoubtedly new today, or at least apparelled in new garb, is our perception of scientific knowledge and understanding. We accept, for example, that in the axial era of the Pre-Socratics and Plato, and of Lord Buddha and early Oriental thought, a similar openness of perception and keenness of insight existed. Today, significantly in the West, a mass of scientific application and technological advancement now provides an immensely wider field of vision for philosophy and metaphysics.
From the beginning of the last century through its first decades, the discoveries of relativity and quantum mechanics played a vital role in the shifting of metaphysical perceptions. While startling at the time, we now find popular science routinely dealing with parallel universes, multi-universes, string theory, and first causes, albeit material. (See the article by Tegmark in the May 2003 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN and many of the subsequent issues on similar topics.) The "laws of complexity," and complexity theory, commonly referred to by scientists and philosophers today, are similar, if not identical, to the laws of KARMA in their effect. When we study, as we are encouraged to do, comparative science and comparative philosophy, we are undoubtedly, and literally, in a brave new world.
Another element -- one which, sadly, flags in creative energy -- is constituted by some of the mass spiritual movements or religions. Anybody with an inkling of understanding of KARMA will perceive that the action and its consequences count, not the actor. You cannot, for example, have righteous evil, or unrighteous good; the laws of KARMA just do not function in that way. Just as the Creator Gods who, wrapped in meditative adoration of the Supreme, thus went lacking in their task of creation, were condemned to rebirth. (See THE SECRET DOCTRINE.) St. Paul rightly compared the righteousness of faith (ROMANS, Chapters 3 and 4) -- or preferably the righteousness of conviction -- and the righteousness of law. In our study of religion and theosophy, we must strive to understand and practice the righteousness of our conviction. That alone leads to our objective, the formation of the human brotherhood.
Understanding versus Practice
An issue that has long accompanied the declared theosophist is the relative roles of theory (the acquisition of learning and knowledge) versus the daily practice of brotherly theosophy. In this respect, Eastern cultures, particularly Buddhism, have always laid more emphasis on the DHAMMA, the practice of theosophy in everyday life, with which the probing mind of the Western occultist needs to be more in harmony. We need to find an ever-greater harmonious balance between study (the quest for knowledge), meditation (the "in-spiration" of divine insight), and service (the quest for and practical application of brotherhood). As the Hindu would say, we need to achieve the harmonious integration of Jnana, Bhakti, and Karma Yogas. (See THE SYNTHESIS OF YOGA by Sri Aurobindo.)
This leads us to the principal Object of our Society. It is far more important and encompasses the others, namely, "to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour" (first Object). "Nucleus" does not imply an elite sub-sect of the great Universal Brotherhood, but rather the recognition that everything cannot change overnight. We begin with a nucleus and work forward from there. In these terms, the exhortation of our Objects is still and perennially valid. We equip ourselves with learning and understanding, each to our own ability (second Object). We strengthen our spiritual frame in manifestation by insight, meditation, and detachment (third Object).
We operate integrally in this life in service to and within humanity, our brothers and sisters. Indeed, this service includes all sentient manifestation, as Annie Besant correctly recognizes. (Consider her invocation, "O Hidden Life.") We serve as best as we can perceive in executing the Divine Plan for Humanity and for the overall evolution of the manifest universe.
By Reed Carson
We Theosophists care a very great deal about the spiritual state of the world. In this topsy-turvy world of the Kali Yuga, we may look around and be quite distressed at the apparent immorality and injustice of the world around us.
Of course, it can be difficult for us to assess the state of the whole human race on this score. We know the affairs of man less well as we reach our minds to further and further removed places and situations on earth. We may sense that even the immediate world around us may not reflect well the larger whole. We hear various forms of remarks that the Theosophical groups have reasons to be discouraged about their abilities to attract and hold newcomers. Finally, there may come a time when, like Arjuna, we feel like dropping the bow. So the purpose of these few words is to offer a few ideas that may suggest a broader more underlying success for Theosophy in this world.
The information presented here is of course not definitive. It leaves many questions. But hopefully it will raise many questions and, after some thought, encourage us to keep up the battle.
To me, the most striking data point is found on Amazon.com. Amazon gives there the sales rank of THE SECRET DOCTRINE. The paperback version of THE SECRET DOCTRINE as published by the Theosophical University Press is listed with a sales rank that to me is very high. At the moment of writing this, it is about 72,000. That means only about 72,000 other books are selling better at Amazon than THE SECRET DOCTRINE. Isn't that amazing? For some perspective, they offer about one million books. That means about 928,000 books sell worse that THE SECRET DOCTRINE. That suggests that there is a strong desire on the part of people to reach for the knowledge contained in that book. We know it is difficult reading. All the more striking that they purchase the book in that quantity.
Another suggestive indicator comes from google.com. We can visit that site, enter a variety of different terms, and see at the top of the resulting page, the number of pages on the internet that contain the given word. For example, I asked about the word "justice" and Google said there were 28,000,000 pages on the internet containing that word. Quite impressive! The total number of people concerned about the subject will of course be much larger. Some people don't put up web pages. Some don't have access to the internet. And some sites have more than one page on the subject. In this case, there is one caveat. Many of the references were to Departments of Justice and that was not quite what I had in mind. However, the word "ethics" seems just right. It yields 11,000,000 web pages! That seems to me dramatic.
The idea of ethics is so important to the internet world that eleven million pages have been put online containing that specific word.
So there is a conclusion. Yes, our organizations are having trouble sustaining their numbers. However, the interest level in the world at large in the subjects of concern to us is much larger than we might have suspected.
By Frank Reitemeyer
The appearance of the hundredth issue of THEOSOPHY WORLD is remarkable in our fast-living time. For a number of years, I happily find it in my email regularly on the first of the month. In the days of the esoteric and theosophical supermarket, this magazine stands for genuine theosophical information of high quality. Over many years, hundreds of selected articles have appeared. It presents hard-to-find quality articles without distinction of theosophical lineage. Its goal is to promote the truth of our pukka theosophical doctrines rather than the selfish ideology of party-liners who primarily want to make their organization look good.
That is the right way. We need access to unaltered source information, an insight growing among Blavatsky students, which is a good sign. Every 2,160 years, the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion send a Messenger from the snowy ranges to launch a new era, reminding human beings of the perennial wisdom, the divine knowledge. The keynote is struck once more. Although tuned to the special outer and inner conditions of humankind, the melody is always the same. In each era, those with ears to hear will hear.
So it was in the past and so it will be in the future. An Avatara came down to restore the lost heritage to us spiritual greenhorns of weak mind and will. Never before in recorded history has one of them opened the horn of plenty so widely. Also remarkable was that this outpouring was not simply oral teaching.
The Messenger himself -- note I refer to him as male -- and his chelas were allowed to write down the fundamentals of the occult science. The result is that since the last quarter of the nineteenth century we have in the West a quantity of esoteric literature never seen before. We can trace every modern esoteric group -- under whatever name, be it Rosicrucian, freemason, kabalistic, new psychology, or whatever -- back directly or indirectly to the last great messenger, whether they know and admit it or not.
We are now in the second century since Helena Blavatsky did her work. It is the most remarkable presentation in thousands of years. Honest critics admit it. From decade to decade, people understand her better. Part of what HPB taught orally is lost for the Theosophical Movement and humankind in general. Among the various theosophical lineages, there is even disagreement on those tenets that came down to us in written form. That is natural, as there is more than one form of reading in the occult realm.
Some claim to know all that HPB taught. Some believe the convictions of another theosophical lineage are wrong because they find this information missing in their own tradition. Nowadays, 113 years since HPB's physical passing, Theosophists do not even agree if she had a successor. The belief depends on which lineage's viewpoint we accept and whether we accept exoteric or esoteric insights.
After each outpouring of Wisdom, it fades away, increasingly misunderstood or lost over time. That is the karma of every Messenger and of every human generation. We saw this happen when the Christ and the Buddha did their work. Party-liners, those taking all in a blind-letter way believing they understood best, aggressively persecuted the early Christians that still knew most of the occult tenets.
We Theosophists of today must not repeat the errors of old. We must not follow the same astral tracks. The Blavatsky Tradition is the middle way, the way of the Bodhisattvas. To be of benefit for the world, we must face its problems and needs. We must speak out. Theosophists must lead, preventing the world from dangers, by stirring up the interest of the highest minds, as one of HPB's gurus wrote so well. Theosophy ensouls us and makes a better world.
The Great Ones do not work from to time. They are always working for us, but do not do our homework. We must become responsible and wise. We must learn our lessons and do our duties. All they can do is help us help ourselves. That archaic truth never changes. We do not draw them down to us. We rise up to them by becoming increasingly ensouled, ever-more wise.
That is the way out of our moral crisis, not by a lower desire to become a clairvoyant or to learn other lower siddhis. The astral world is in opposition to the spiritual world. The Masters of Wisdom and Compassion call us up to them. Do we heed their calling?
By Christopher Richardson
The time is ripe for a revitalization of theosophy. I dare say that a radicalization is necessary for theosophy to become a force for the transformation of the world once again. Radicalization is most literally a return to roots and in this aspect superficially resembles reactionary movement. These are in fact the two choices facing the stewards of theosophy today: continue echoing the utterances of a century ago with thinly veiled faith in a theosophical dogma, or reinvoke the spirit that propelled the original voices on to the world stage. We can be reactionaries, or we can be radicals.
It has been said that every institution, in order to perpetuate itself, must betray the impulse that founded it. Individuals are charismatic, dedicated to growth, even self-transcendence, and capable of challenging norms; institutions are not. Theosophy today is as the state of Israel in Jesus' time, an ossified spiritual impulse impotently acting out the letter of the law in a land dominated by forces antithetical to higher callings. Blavatsky was in her time a voice crying out in the wilderness, but who has the ears to truly hear?
Theosophy, in its institutionalized form, has betrayed itself. This betrayal is undoubtedly rooted in a compassionate spirit for it wishes to live on to share the teachings it has found so valuable. In its drive to stay alive, however, it risks forgetting the reason for its existence. Theosophy is nothing if not a call to awaken, but can we really awaken others with nothing but recitals of insights from past generations?
We must remember that the founders of theosophy sought to create a nucleus of the universal brotherhood, show the truth behind religion, philosophy, science and the arts, and explore the richness of human potential. To do so they had to combat the dogmatism and materialism of their day. If we want to be true to the theosophical mission, if we wish to be radicals rather than devotees, we must return to this spirit rather than the letters they carved. Our resources, in every possible way, should be put towards developing and embodying spiritual community, encouraging quality scholarship on the commonalities underlying the sciences, philosophies, religions, and arts of both history and today, and actively acclaiming and heralding advances in transpersonal psychology, paranormal studies, and any other field pushing the boundaries of what we know about humanity and nature. In doing so we would be challenging the still dominant cognitive paradigm of scientific materialism and offering an alternative to the increasingly dangerous world of religious fundamentalism.
As theosophists, we are well schooled in the law of cyclicity. Further, theosophical teachings provide us with a historical perspective that slows the movements of time to glacial speed. Given this, we can be prone to a dangerous passivity, a too quiet faith that theosophy will survive. And yes, in as much as it is a perennial truth, theosophy will survive, even if it must hibernate in a pralayic slumber, patiently dreaming while it awaits a new Spring of human consciousness.
I, for one, sense winter's thaw and a new dawn. I, like many, believe the new generation of theosophists has returned to aid humanity in a crucial period. I, like everyone else, know that theosophy is uniquely equipped to sow seeds of transformation. We each have a grave responsibility to participate. What shape will that participation take? For my part, it will be radical theosophy.
By M.K. Ramadoss
My earliest exposure to theosophy was through its primary emphasis on Universal Brotherhood and the lack of any formal dogma or blind beliefs and this has not changed over the years. Keeping this idea in mind in our everyday activities, we make theosophy a way of life rather than a theoretical and intellectual speculation.
Advances in transportation and communication have dramatically changed the world environment in the last couple of decades. Distances have shrunk due to airline transportation. Communication with instant access to anyone in any part of the world is eliminating geographical and national boundaries. The Internet is providing a means to access a vast amount of information instantaneously on any subject, at little cost, from any part of the world. In the past, vested interests controlled information using various tricks and techniques, all of which are crumbling before the juggernaut of the Internet.
With the shrinking of the world, men and women are getting interested in other cultures and philosophies. This is slowly getting them out of their blind belief systems. Today, no one questions the idea of Universal Family (Brotherhood and Sisterhood). Who can tell what the visible or invisible contribution of theosophy is in the dissemination of this idea? With the increased interest in everything eastern, individuals are exploring eastern philosophy, leading to various ideas theosophy has expounded. While we may not find much attention paid to ideas formally labeled "theosophy," these ideas are bound to affect people, however slowly. Indeed, the fundamental objective of the modern presentation of theosophy is to better the world thorough changing human nature. While we may not see dramatic evidence of this change, it is happening. In the changing environment, formal organizations with their vested interests are increasingly ignored. One day, we may wake up and be pleasantly surprised to find a radically changed world. Who can foresee what that would be it and how long it will take?
By Morten Olesen
Theosophy is experience of life through a method of dealing with life and human relations. This method is based on an understanding of man, which places at one's disposal the means to organize one's relationships and one's learning systems. So instead of saying that Theosophy is a body of thought in which you believe certain things and don't believe other things, we say that the Theosophical experience has to be provoked in a person. Once provoked, it becomes his own property, rather as a person masters an art. Theosophy is a learning about how to provoke the Theosophical experience and learning how to learn.
Theosophy is to be aware of, that before man can know his own inadequacy, or the competence of another man or an apparent institution, he must first learn something that will enable him to perceive both. Note well that his perception itself is a product of right study; -- and not a product of instinct or emotional attraction to the individual, nor of desiring to 'go it alone'. This is Learning How To Learn. And this is truly Theosophy.
Theosophy is also altruism, whereby we theosophists always manifest our compassionate nature. Theosophists understand with their hearts what the most learned scholars cannot understand with their minds. Theosophical thoughts always come from the heart of compassion. The deeply rooted energy of compassion pours out from our spiritual hearts and grows up through our heads as wisdom. Then out the top of the heads, it spreads to benefit all beings in our boundless spiritual universe.
The use of Theosophical ideas and teachings are to shape a man or woman and life in general, not to support a system -- which is viewed in a limited manner. This is one way in which the Wisdom Teachings are 'living' and not just by the perpetuations of ideas and movements like for instance The Theosophical Society or similar groups.
Theosophy is the Wisdom Teachings of all ages. It adapts it self to time, place, people and circumstances. It is not the promotion of materialism, but it is the promotion of esoteric matters. It is however aware of the need for attracting individuals when they are in need for such an attraction. We also know that Theosophy is at its core spiritual quality much more than it is spiritual quantity. Quality members and quality teachings are best.
By Etzion Becker
Theosophy, as well as other paths of wisdom, looks to me as an inspirational tool which can help the sincere person to find his or her way to living a life of harmonious activity with the Cosmic Divine Impulse. It took many years of assimilating the basic truths, which I have received, and how to implement them in daily life. Today I would call it a transition from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from a source of suffering to a cause of healing.
It worked out simultaneously with a deeper and deeper feeling that I am part and parcel of a vast DIVINE MACHINERY, and I have a part to play. I had to learn basic truths: That a person on Earth, in this phase of spiritual evolution, can obtain only a fraction of the picture, i.e. a human vision is always limited. A broader picture can be seen only when humans cooperate and work together with harmony. Their limited understandings are being brought together, and together, as a unified body, their collective vision is being broadened.
I could feel a deeper and deeper communion, deep in the heart, with majestic Divine Beings, infinitely intelligent, compassionate and wise. Willing always to help ignorant humanity, but humanity, excluding very few, has turned her back to the light and sank into darkness.
I see that my role is staying attuned to these Loving Divine Beings; the key for healing humanity is with their hands. Humanity will never be able to heal itself independently, in spite of all the knowledge she is accumulating through the physical science. I always can choose to stay tranquil and loving amidst the tumult of desperate humans, who try to find a sane corner in this mad asylum which they have created for themselves. I can always keep silently my focus on the Divine Beloved, whose residence is within the heart, but a heart which reached a certain degree of stability, a heart that the wild winds of the world cannot disturb. The assimilation of divine Truths can help us reach this state, a tranquil mind and a stable heart, and this seems to me at present as the highest form of service on Earth, and of course, the more people will join, the bigger the hope for the New Humanity. Theosophy can serve as a great help here.