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Feb 25, 1996 03:52 PM
by Alan


 From a text supplied by Eldon Tucker
Converted to ASCII by Alan Bain

Exoteric and Esoteric Theosophy

What the Modern Theosophical Society is Not

Q. Your doctrines, then, are not a revival of Buddhism, nor are
they entirely copied from the Neo-Platonic Theosophy?

A. They are not. But to these questions I cannot give you a
better answer than by quoting from a paper read on "Theosophy"
by Dr. J.D. Buck, F.T.S., No living Theosophist has better
expressed and understood the real essence of Theosophy than our
honored friend Dr. Buck:

The Theosophical Society was organized for the purpose of
promulgating the Theosophical doctrines, and for the promotion
of the Theosophic life. The present Theosophical Society is not
the first of its kind. I have a volume entitled: Theosophical
Transactions of the Philadelphian Society, published in London
in 1697; and another with the following title:

Introduction to Theosophy, or the Science of the Mystery of
Christ; that is, of Deity, Nature, and Creature, embracing the
philosophy of all the working powers of life, magical and
spiritual, ant forming a practical guide to the most sublime
purity, sanctity, and evangelical perfection; also to the
attainment of divine vision, and the holy angelic arts,
potencies, and other prerogatives of the regeneration.
(published in London in 1855.) The following is the dedication
of this volume:

To the students of Universities, Colleges, and schools of
Christendom: To Professors of Metaphysical, Mechanical, and
Natural Science in all its forms: To men and women of Education
generally, of fundamental orthodox faith: To Deists, Arians,
Unitarians, Swedenborgians, and other defective and ungrounded
creeds, rationalists, and skeptics of every kind: To just-minded
and enlightened Mohammedans, Jews, and oriental
Patriarch-religionists: but especially to the gospel minister
and missionary, whether to the barbaric or intellectual peoples,
this introduction to Theosophy, or the science of the ground and
mystery of all things, is most humbly and affectionately

In the following year (1856) another volume was issued, royal
octavo, of 600 pages, diamond type, of Theosophical
Miscellanies. Of the last-named work 500 copies only were
issued, for gratuitous distribution to Libraries and
Universities. These earlier movements, of which there were many,
originated within the Church, with persons of great piety and
earnestness, and of unblemished character; and all of these
writings were in orthodox form, using the Christian expressions,
and, like the writings of the eminent Churchman William Law,
would only be distinguished by the ordinary reader for their
great earnestness and piety. These were one and all but attempts
to derive and explain the deeper meanings and original import of
the Christian Scriptures, and to illustrate and unfold the
Theosophic life. These works were soon forgotten, and are now
generally unknown. They sought to reform the clergy and revive
genuine piety, and were never welcomed. That one word, Heresy,
was sufficient to bury them in the limbo of all such Utopias. At
the time of the Reformation John Reuchlin made a similar attempt
with the same result, though he was the intimate and trusted
friend of Luther. Orthodoxy never desired to be informed and
enlightened. These reformers were informed, as was Paul by
Festus, that too much learning had made them mad, and that it
would be dangerous to go farther. Passing by the verbiage, which
was partly a matter of habit and education with these writers,
and partly due to religious restraint through secular power, and
coming to the core of the matter, these writings were
Theosophical in the strictest sense, and pertain solely to man's
knowledge of his own nature and the higher life of the soul. The
present Theosophical Movement has sometimes been declared to be
an attempt to convert Christendom to Buddhism, which means
simply that the word Heresy has lost its terrors and
relinquished its power. Individuals in every age have more or
less clearly apprehended the Theosophical doctrines and wrought
them into the fabric of their lives. These doctrines belong
exclusively to no religion, and are confined to no society or
time. They are the birthright of every human soul. Such a thing
as orthodoxy must be wrought out by each individual according to
his nature and his needs, and according to his varying
experience. This may explain why those who have imagined
Theosophy to be a new religion have hunted in vain for its creed
and its ritual. Its creed is Loyalty to Truth, and its ritual
"To honor every truth by use."

How little this principle of Universal Brotherhood is understood
by the masses of mankind, how seldom its transcendent importance
is recognized, may be seen in the diversity of opinion and
fictitious interpretations regarding the Theosophical Society.
This Society was organized on this one principle, the essential
Brotherhood of Man, as herein briefly outlined and imperfectly
set forth. It has been assailed as Buddhist and anti-Christian,
as though it could be both these together, when both Buddhism
and Christianity, as set forth by their inspired founders, make
brotherhood the one essential of doctrine and of life. Theosophy
has been also regarded as something new under the sun, or, at
best as old mysticism masquerading under a new name. While it is
true that many Societies founded upon, and united to support,
the principles of altruism, or essential brotherhood, have borne
various names, it is also true that many have also been called
Theosophic, and with principles and aims as the present society
bearing that name. With these societies, one and all, the
essential doctrine has been the same, and all else has been
incidental, though this does not obviate the fact that many
persons are attracted to the incidentals who overlook or ignore
the essentials.

No better or more explicit answer, by a man who is one of our
most esteemed and earnest Theosophists, could be given to your

Q. Which system do you prefer or follow, in that case, besides
Buddhist ethics?

A. None, and all. We hold to no religion, as to no philosophy in
particular: we cull the good we find in each. But here, again,
it must be stated that, like all other ancient systems,
Theosophy is divided into Exoteric and Esoteric Sections.

Q. What is the difference?

A. The members of the Theosophical Society at large are free to
profess whatever religion or philosophy they like, or none if
they so prefer, provided they are in sympathy with, and ready to
carry out one or more of the three objects of the Association.
The Society is a philanthropic and scientific body for the
propagation of the idea of brotherhood on practical instead of
theoretical lines. The Fellows may be Christians or Muslims,
Jews or Parsees, Buddhists or Brahmins, Spiritualists or
Materialists, it does not matter; but every member must be
either a philanthropist, or a scholar, a searcher into Aryan and
other old literature, or a psychic student. In short, he has to
help, if he can, in the carrying out of at least one of the
objects of the program. Otherwise he has no reason for becoming
a "Fellow." Such are the majority of the exoteric Society,
composed of "attached" and "unattached" members. These may, or
may not, become Theosophists de facto. Members they are, by
virtue of their having joined the Society; but the latter cannot
make a Theosophist of one who has no sense for the divine
fitness of things, or of him who understands Theosophy in his
own, if the expression may be used, sectarian and egotistic way.
"Handsome is, as handsome does" could be paraphrased in this
case and be made to run: "Theosophist is, who Theosophy does."

[Read before the last Theosophical Convention, at Chicago,
America (April, 1889).  An "attached member" is one who has
joined some particular branch of the T.S. An "unattached," one
who belongs to the Society at large, has his diploma from the
Headquarters (Adyar, Madras), but is connected with no branch or

Ancient Wisdom for a New Age

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